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The Walking Dead

AMC

The Walking Dead shattered hearts, but not quite ratings records with its season seven premiere. Viewers turned out big time to find out who Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed at the end of season six. Spoiler alert!

Close to a record number of viewers, 17 million, watched Negan off Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). The premiere had a 8.4 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic.

The season five premiere still holds the ratings record—17.3 million viewers and an 8.7 rating. Mind you this does not include any DVR or online viewing.

A little more than 14.2 million viewers tuned in to see Negan's debut in the season six finale. The big episode had 8.8 million adults in the 18-49 demographic.

The events of the finale—the big deaths—were kept a secret by the cast for over a year, Cudlitz told us. In fact, he had to keep his fate from his kids as well.

"I didn't want them to have to process it when they weren't home and then maybe slip up and tell their friends at school," he said of his college-aged kids. "I wanted them to be at home and be able to look them in the eye and explain what was going to happen and how important it was to keep the secret—like really important…"

The Walking Dead also stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Sonequa Martin-Green, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Lennie James, Alanna Masterson, Ross Marquand, Austin Nichols, Seth Gilliam, Tom Payne and Austin Amelio.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on AMC.