Let's be frank: most shows heading into their tenth season would be coasting on autopilot and fumes by now – especially when the lead character leaves the series after nearly a decade. Not the case with AMC's The Walking Dead: on top of a ninth season that saw the show move in a larger, bolder direction under the direction of showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang, the series is spinning-off a second series in 2020 even while fans await news of the previously announced Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) trilogy of films. Let's not forget Fear the Walking Dead, either: another series that reinvented itself in a big way, and headed into what looks like a promising fifth season.
With that said, there's nothing wrong with turning a critical eye towards the series' past to offer some perspective on what has (and hasn't) worked for the series in the past – epecially when you're someone with the TWD street cred like Michael Cudlitz. Alongside his portrayal of Abraham Ford for six season (before being killed in the season 7 opener), the actor also spent some time behind the camera directing season 9 episode "Stradivarius" (and will return to the director's chair for the tenth season).
When speaking with The IMDB Show to promote his ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright (which you can view below), Cudlitz expressed his views on the way both his character and Steven Yuen's Glenn departed the series, how their deaths were portrayed, and what's been missing from the series that he now feels is coming back:
● On how the loss of Abrham impacted the series:
"I do think that what's missing, that had been on the show, and I think they're getting back to, is there's an element of humor. And there's an element of humor that Abraham brought to it, even in a serious situation, that I think is missing from the show."
● For Cudlitz, the loss of both Abraham and Glenn at the same time was a heavy blow for viewers to handle – perhaps too heavy:
"I always said, I personally thought it was not the wisest thing to take both Abraham and Glenn out in the same episode. It's too much of a loss for the fans, for the audience. He's [Glenn] like the moral compass and the heart of the show at the time, even pulling Rick back, he was almost the Hershel whisperer — he'd also become that other side of him that was able to guide him, or at least help guide him."
● Viewers remember that Abraham's death at the end of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) barbwired "Lucille" came as the result of payback for what Rick and the community had done to the Saviors, but Glenn's death wasn't originally planned. When Daryl (Norman Reedus) attempts to defend Rosita (Christan Serratos), his resistance is met with a harsh response: Glenn was graphically executed in front of his wife Maggie (Lauren Cohan) – perhaps a bit too graphically from the director's perspective:
"When we're dealing with losing somebody — and a very brutal, human kind of death — I think it's just taste. My taste is, I think it would be more disturbing just keeping the camera on Maggie's face. And maybe that's why I want to direct, because I want to make what I've been filming in my head."