How does violence in TWD compare to other shows?


At what point does a television show become too violent?  After The Walking Dead’s Season 7 premiere, some fans say it went too far, but how far is too far?

The Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was gut wrenching. We all knew it was coming and we had six months to mentally prepare, and even all of that preparation only went so far as we watched beloved characters meet their maker. Backlash about the level of violence in the episode started almost immediately. Even die-hard fans were upset about over the top violence that seemed to only be there for shock value. But how much violence is too much, and do we hold different shows to different standards? (Spoilers for the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead and Season 6 Episode 7 of American Horror Story)

The Walking Dead is at its best when it sticks to its gritty reality, and in that gritty reality there are certain truths about people that are hard to swallow. While some people try to hold on to the way things were, and try to live good lives in a horrible situation, there are other people who have a very different view of how to run things in the New World Order. Rick is an example of the former (most of the time) and Negan is an example of the latter. Negan is following in the footsteps of just about every other dictator the planet has ever seen.

For those who follow the comics, Negan is known to be terrifying and horrific. To portray him as anything but terrifying and horrific would be disrespectful to the source material and the fans. The Walking Dead is often criticized when the pace slows down, such as when the group spent time on Hershel’s farm. So now that we’ve witnessed Negan’s brutality, some fans are upset at the graphic violence seen in the season premiere. The Walking Dead must walk a fine line, for sure, but is it fair to attack the violence when it really isn’t the most violent thing on cable television?

Incidentally, and on that note, I also write about American Horror Story. (Last chance for spoiler warning if you’re not caught up to AHS Roanoke Chapter 7) The sixth season of the FX juggernaut has been twisting and turning through shocking moments all season long, but in this last episode, the season’s seventh episode, something really interesting happened. In the midst of several eviscerations and deaths of main characters, one of the show’s characters had a Negan moment. Shelby discovers her husband with another woman and she bashes his head in with a crowbar. Later, Kathy Bates’ head is split in two with a meat cleaver. Indeed, the handle ends up sticking out of her face, right next to her nose. These were two graphic scenes that were laden with violence, sandwiched between more violence and death of main characters in the episode. It has been a while since I’ve seen anything like that, even coming directly on the heels of The Walking Dead’s season premiere.

Both shows air after 9pm and both are on cable television stations so they have the ability to use certain expletives and deliver over the top moments without censorship. The Walking Dead doesn’t feature scenes like we saw in the premiere every week, whereas it is expected that American Horror Story delivers the shocks, thrills and gore on a regular basis. In fact, the show is criticized when it doesn’t do those things. The same can be said of Game of Thrones, but I’m not going to go into detail on that show since it’s on HBO and the standards are much different.

Related Story: The Walking Dead: The violence and brutality question

So is it fair to critique The Walking Dead for too much graphic violence? Again, that’s a fine line. There are some horror fans that didn’t bat an eye at the Negan scenes. There were also fans that had to turn their heads. There is no easy way to navigate these waters; AMC received approval to show the scenes, so the censors didn’t believe the scenes to be too graphic for television. At that point, then, it becomes up to the individual viewer as to whether or not to tune in and watch.