SPOILER ALERT:  This post contains details of the November 11 episode of The Walking Dead 

In prophetic words at San Diego Comic-Con this year, Andrew Lincoln confirmed he was leaving The Walking Dead and told the thousands inside Hall H that “no one is bigger than the story.” Turns out that the now departed actor who played Rick Grimes was right, at least when it comes to the ratings.

Though the AMC series based on Robert Kirkman’s comics has seen some significant declines this year, Sunday’s “Who Are You Now” episode was pretty steady with the much hyped and sleight of hand departure of Grimes by helicopter of the week before.

Undoubtedly leaving AMC execs mopping some stress sweat off their brows, the Sunday Night Football-facing Veterans Day broadcast of TWD snagged 5.4 million viewers and 2.0 rating among adults 18-49.

With a six-year time leap, some big changes, new characters and the debut of the Whisperers from the comics, that translates into being down 1% and 3% respectively from the cameo filled “What Comes After” episode of November 4.

As has been the case all of this Season 9, the picture wasn’t’ quite so pretty year-to-year.

Compared to the low of the December 3, 2017 sixth episode of Season 8 of the now Norman Reedus and Danai Gurira-led TWD, the sixth episode of Season 9 was down a hard 39% in the demo and 28% in total sets of eyeballs. Aftershow Talking Dead also had a bit of a rough ride with a 22% audience drop and a 28% demo drop from the week before, which featured an interview with Lincoln on his departure of sorts.

Now, stepping back for a sec, holding on steady one week is a good sign for the now almost fully reset TWD, with its very plucky near teen Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) taking on her father’s mantle in more ways than one, but the obvious maintenance challenge will be going deeper into the season and beyond.

A greater indication of that could come with the Live +3 rating later this week.

BTW – if you didn’t know, Rick Grimes has left TWD but not the franchise. Lincoln will be back as the sheriff’s deputy in a trio of AMC movies to start production next year. Grimes is gone, long live Grimes!