Shocker: Walking Dead Showrunner Steps Down

Mere days after his scoop-filled trip to Comic-Con, The Walking Dead‘s Frank Darabont has stepped down as showrunner.

According to our sister site Deadline.com, the show’s creator/executive producer/director has decided to vacate his post on the critically acclaimed series, which is currently in production on its second season. The reason, per Deadline, is that “Darabont hails from the feature world and… never quite adjusted to the daily grind of producing a TV series.” There’s talk Darabont may stay on in some capacity, perhaps as a consultant.

Ironically, Darabont told the audience at last Friday’s Comic-Con panel, “We’ve got people coming to the [writer’s] table going, ‘Wow, we love this and we want to be a part of it, and that’s a really cool thing.’”

AMC has yet to officially confirm Darabont’s departure.

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73 Comments
  1. xforce11 says:

    Get him to do a 2 movie version of IT.

  2. Matt says:

    Jumping before it sinks…..

    • Pete says:

      Before it sinks? In all probability, he bears most of the responsibility for why it has been so awful so far. Nowhere to go but up, I say.

      • Matt says:

        Pete, you’re kidding right? You probably thing Twilight is an instant classic too.

        • will says:

          twilight sucks and the walking dead needs some work..honestly that last episode was garbage

          • Justin says:

            I don’t believe the Walking Dead sucks, but the last few episodes seemed to lose what made the show great. After the first episode, I felt it had a lot of potential, but episode-by-episode the show began losing steam. The CDC felt rushed, and explained too much, too fast. It lost focus on the characters, while exploring something I don’t think would ever happen to anyone if zombies actually did rise from the dead. Going there makes sense, but uncovering what was there. What are the odds? I want as much realism as I can get from a zombie show, meaning more than just realistic deaths. Give me some realistic choices for these characters. Yeah, it doesn’t seem plausible Rick could have been in the hospital all that long without nourishment, but I let it slide, as everything else seemed to be going in the right direction. I hope season two is able to course correct itself.

      • Jim says:

        I deff agree Pete. The Walking Dead has been a massive disappointment. People only like it because there are zombies.

        • Blaine says:

          Really? If it’s such a disappointment then why is there SO many fans?

          • DrBeebo says:

            Because compared to the rest of the majority what’s on TV it’s good. But compared to shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and other actual GOOD shows on AMC, The Walking Dead is a flacid, poorly-written, overacted mess. Nobody likes zombies more than me…hence my disappointment and anger over the first six episodes of The Walking Dead. I haven’t given up yet…I think there’s potential.

        • Bea says:

          What’s not to love about zombies?

        • MichelleR says:

          What? I mean … what?!

          I ignored it until I saw Dennis Lehane — imo, one of the best writers today — talking it up. I have no overwhelming love of the zombies.

      • Omar says:

        Here, Here. Less hoke, more yoke.

  3. Desdemona says:

    Dear Mr. Darabont,
    Please take the reigns on the Dark Tower project. Please please please.
    Love,
    AnyonebutOpie

    • TheGunslinger says:

      My thoughts exactly! I reckon he’s the only one that can do this justice. Stephen Kings stupid to not let him take the helm. Im really hoping he’s pulled away from The Walking Dead so he can take on The Dark Tower!

    • Jawsphobia says:

      Darabont may have more edge but Ron Howard has been out from under the shadow of Opie and Richie for a long time and despite his friendly reputation and appearance in interviews he also can handle darker material. Ron Howard won’t be stepping aside. The only issue is that Universal reneged on financing the Dark Tower TV series which was to continue from the feature. They were only intrested in the Gunslinger feature. Howard’s team was gearing up to shoot some elements of the series at the same time as the featue, and had already spend time and money on casting and pre-production in good faith. Which turned out to be bad faith. They should have had a more firm commitment from Universal. But Ron Howard and his team kow what they are doing.

    • Kirstin Jewell says:

      THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was saying to my bf last night I was going to go to my happy place where he has left to head up the Tower series ON CABLE TV. Not a movie. Showtime or HBO.

    • Chris says:

      That’s the first thing I thought when I saw this article! One does not merely hold a panel at Comic Con if they intend to relinquish their post, with news that Universal will not do the Dark Tower and Ron Howard being tied up, my hope is Mr. Darabont was approached to direct and made the better choice! Any bets on Warner Bros. distributing it?

  4. Kristen says:

    Uh oh.

  5. KirkmanFan says:

    Thank god! I hope this means the show will return to Robert Kirkman’s beautifully-conceived story & characters, and abandon Darabont’s walking talking stereotypes.

  6. Sam says:

    I may be wrong, but I believe this is AMC’s most watched show ever. By like 2 million viewers. They won’t let it go anywhere.

  7. Sivat says:

    Surprising, but hopefully the replacement is just as good.

  8. cashley says:

    I just hope when or if the show does come back they will bring more of the “walking dead” back in more sences.. lol, don’t get me wrong I love the show but the reason why I started watching it was because it brought zombies into a series.. love it.. whatever the outcome of what the show will be.. I’ll be watching:)

    • Michael says:

      Well, actually Robert Kirkman intended for the undead to serve merely as a backdrop for the human drama to unfold. Zombies weren’t meant to be the story’s most significant threat; the people were. Besides, the “Walking Dead” refers to humans who have yet to perish. (B/c regardless of how a person dies, they will still transform.

      I long for the show to tone down the overpowered undead w/ fully prehensile limbs/appendages. But alas… the mistake has been set in stone.

  9. Justin says:

    This is a bad thing, but the show must go on. Hopefully, it will endure the loss.

  10. Roy Munson says:

    Does anyone happen to know how far along they are in completing the second season?

  11. EDLweiss1 says:

    I don’t think you know what “irony” means.

    But on the Frank Darabont front, I thought he did a pretty awesome job showrunning. Though I do agree with the earlier post about taking over Dark Tower. Heartily seconded!

  12. James Brown says:

    Great news. Maybe going forward they’ll stick closer to Kirkman’s source material and make this show even darker (those who have read the comic know how crazy it gets.)

    • Mike says:

      I have not read the source material, but I think Kirkman EMBRACES the fact that the show will veer away from the source material here and there. It’s not supposed to be a literal word for word, scene for scene adaptation. Not having read the source material but being a television junkee, I think they have put together a top notch show. I think we’ll all survive any deviations from the graphic novels with all of our limbs intact. Though, maybe some panties will be bunched up somewhere.

  13. Kel says:

    they only make 6 episodes a season. what’s the big deal? it’s not like a network series that produces 22-24. stop whining!!

    • Eurydice says:

      No, they only made 6 episodes of the first season – probably to gauge popularity before fully committing to a full series.
      The new season will have 13 episodes – 13 expensive episodes. And no network would never commit to source material like The Walking Dead.

  14. Eurydice says:

    Well that’s disappointing – but he could take over the Dark Tower project as suggested earlier.
    Or maybe he could sort out a decent adaptation of The Stand now that he has some free time.

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      In reference to your mention of The Stand. I was supremely happy that they even attempted to adapt such an epic story back in 1994, with the talented cast that was used.

      I agree that the 1994 miniseries was watered down considerably for TV, but I have to admit that I am truly frightened for the 2013 movie release. I just can’t understand how they can encapsulate such a vast, dark classic in the 90 minute to 2 hour format that the movie industry rarely strays from nowadays, in order to cater to the A.D.D. crowd.

  15. zimka says:

    So they’ve changed writers and now the showrunner? Are we sure we’ll end up with the same series that were considered a success last season?

  16. Nicky says:

    Isn’t he the guy who was like “were gunna make a movie”

  17. Amber says:

    I hope this doesn’t change the show. I really enjoyed the first season. I think they’ve done some pretty great dramatic material.

  18. Alek says:

    I don’t care who runs it, just as long as its storyline deviates from the comic in an interesting way. Having read the comics, I wish to be entertained with Kirkman’s alternative ideas, the good ones he chose not to use in the comic for whatever reason.

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      I’m intrigued by your reference to Kirkman’s alternative ideas. I’m not familiar with Kirkman’s works outside of The Walking Dead strip. Recommendations, please?

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      My apologies, I misinterpreted your post, Alek. Please disregard my previous inquiry. I realize now that you meant that you are in favor of the television interpretation deviating from the original events depicted in the strips, as long as it is in an interesting and provocative manner.

  19. Troven says:

    God, it was a good show. I don’t see why people are pinning it on him like it was a failure… The only episode he actually directed was the first one, which was by far the best one.

    • TV Gord says:

      The world is full of nerds who like to be the first to say that something good is horrible. I can say that without fear of retribution, because those types of nerds rarely read this far down a thread (unless they spot their name). ;-)

  20. Zombiebayt says:

    Honestly it’s good show but like said above would be better if it went hand in hand with the series. I understand after listening to Robert Kirkmans nerdest interview that it’s a ‘what if’ scenario but seriously even kirkman was getting flustered at things going wrong. That series is my favorite graphic novel series and hopefully the show continues but more down the path of what it should be and not what could have happened.

  21. Russ Tribe says:

    I loved series one thought it was amazing can’t wait for series 2

  22. Johal says:

    Walking dead writers awesome, battlestar galatica writters must have been high on some thing

  23. Evan Meadow says:

    As long as Robert Kirkman is still there, the show should be fine.

    While Darabont has been an important part of the show’s success, making sure the actual creator of the show is still working on it is far more essential.

    No doubt Darabont’s taught him all he needs to take over the reigns himself.

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      Agreed. Kirkman is the key element in the success of the show. Darabont is definitely talented, but is certainly more expendable in the grand scheme of things.

  24. Satans Hangnail says:

    Just kill Shane and get the story back on track

  25. Arash Rod says:

    So that means “it’s the end of the road.”

  26. The Crimson Phoenix says:

    First off, have to say that I really am hooked on the show. It’s about time someone grew a pair and made a tv series about a zombie apocalypse! Untapped vein of entertainment gold, imho.

    Started to browse the graphic novel, and was planning to purchase it (and most likely still will at some point in the future) and decided to put off the purchase when I heard that the show was coming out, as I initially thought that reading the novel first might detract from the live-action experience.

    I’m interested in hearing from those of you who have already read the graphic novel (I believe it’s still on-going, correct?) and are fans of the show. Would you say that the tv series deviates enough thus far from the GN, that reading it would not spoil the surprises in the plot?

    Also, how many zombie fans out there would like to see an adaptation of World War Z? Would probably have to be documentary-style presentation…

    • ACE677 says:

      Hey Crimson Phoenix
      Turns out they are making a movie about World War Z, starring Brad Pitt of all people! Should be interesting. It’s slated to come out in 2012, so something to look foreward to.

    • Zombar says:

      A World War Z movie is already in the works. Brad Pitt starring as far as I know.

    • Culver says:

      World War Z rights were purchased by Brad Pitt’s company in a bidding war against Leonardo diCaprio’s company. I have heard that it will take a lot of creative liberties however so it may not be a movie in a format of the book which would be difficult to bring to the screen. It is currently being filmed for a 2012 release.

      As for the Walking Dead GN vs the tv series, the way the tv show is going, there is nothing really in the GN that will give away what they will do in the show, they are already quite distinct and awesome in their own way.

  27. Cheri says:

    I’ve thought the show was great. Can’t wait for a new season. But I have a question. How is just 5 episodes last year was considered a full season?

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      I agree and wish that the first season would have consisted of more than 6 episodes, but this isn’t the first original series that AMC has done this with. I haven’t followed Mad Men or The Killing, but the first season of Breaking Bad was only 6 episodes, followed by a second season of 13 episodes.

      And although the constipated flow of new episodes is frustrating fans to a degree that is second only to George Lucas’ productions, I have to admit that it’s actually a fairly smart move on AMC’s part, as it makes more sense to test the strength of the show with an abbreviated initial season, instead of shooting 20-odd episodes and then only showing 2 or 3 because the show sucked and no one watches.

      • Mike says:

        Crimson, I made the same argument as you before with Breaking Bad (which actually had a 7 episode first season) and was corrected the same way I’m about to do for you! lol I wasn’t aware because I caught up on DVD but Breaking Bad’s first season was cut short due to the writer’s strike and had nothing to do with AMC’s strategy. Of course, it might still have been the inpsiration to only give Walking Dead a 6 episode 1st season lol

        • The Crimson Phoenix says:

          I stand corrected.

          Thanks, Mike. I had forgotten about the writer’s strike. Huh, and here I thought AMC had struck upon a more effective strategy of judging the strength of a show than the method used by many of the mainstream networks of running a single or dual episode pilot. I wonder if the situation with Breaking Bad influenced their decision to run only 6 episodes for the first season of The Walking Dead.

          I do think that they were very smart to run the contest for roles as zombie extras. Previous zombie films have used unpaid extras before to populate their undead hordes, but I reckon that this was quite an efficient way to recruit. Heck, I even thought about trying for it, but I doubt my wife would have appreciated me leaving her with our three kids to participate in the filming. :-D

          • Mike says:

            No problem on the correction. I really thought it was a new-fangled strategy on AMC’s part too. But hey, whatever works! I still enjoyed the abbreviated season of Walking Dead. It just made each episode that much more impactful (for me anyway). But I’d be kidding myself if I’m not excited to devour a full 13 this fall!

            As for the contest, yeah pretty cool idea! I’m sure your wife is happy you resisted as I’m sure mine would have been too! lol

  28. Jawsphobia says:

    Very depressing. But without Darabont involved, it might mean I have more free time and don’t have to worry about following the show. The obvious unspoken truth is that the money people have reneged on an agreement and have forced more of a time crunch that will reduce quality and most likely Darabont has already made it clear that he draws the line somewhere and likely has to follow trough and say enough is enough.

  29. Robert says:

    Darabont directed Shawshank Redemption, one of the most highly rated movie ever. The fact he’s coming off this amazing show scares me.

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      I am also saddened to see Darabont stepping down, as The Shawshank Redemption is an excellent adaptation, and I thought that he did pretty well in bringing my favorite Stephen King short story/novella The Mist to the big screen…twist ending was definitely ballsy.

      That being said, I think that there are a wide variety of able directors, even ones that have prior experience with this beloved specific genre, that might fit the role just as well. It goes without saying that whoever it is, would have to work EXTREMELY closely with Kirkman, and be big enough to give him the creative veto. Examples off the top of my head include John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, or Zack Snyder.

      Some might disagree with me on that last one, but I really thought Snyder did an outstanding job with the Dawn of the Dead remake. I am a huge fan of the 1978 original and a lesser director could have really screwed it up badly. The 2004 remake did not even come close to getting the recognition that it richly deserved. It was the masterpiece that revived the genre that the disappointment that was 28 Days Later should have been. Now that I’ve gushed enough about it, I’ll close by saying that I’m guardedly optimistic in light of this recent news.

      As long as it isn’t that fool Joel Schumacher. Sure he made The Lost Boys, which was good because it was the ’80s, but he’s going to smoke a turd in Hell for what he did to the Batman movies. Thank goodness for the reboot.

  30. Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead” is probably the best modern zombie movie made. It built and maintained a level of tension and suspense, had both violence and emotion, and looked like it was made with a much larger budget than it was.

  31. I honestly don’t understand all of the ‘love’ (read: surprisingly high amount of media coverage for its ratings) this show receives. I watched all of the first season and while I thought it was an okay show, I thought that it didn’t do much to maintain the tension of the premiere episode and the actors had an uniformly muted approach to their roles (this may have been by design).
    I don’t really understand what all of the shake-ups are about, but I think they bode ill for the show. It would seem that Darabont wanted more freedom (to not be bound by TV conceits and boundaries) and time (to not have to meet a regular schedule for new and finished scripts). I can respect that, but I would think it would be maddening for whoever is producing the show.

    • The Crimson Phoenix says:

      With all due respect, Tim, I don’t think AMC has given it enough coverage. I haven’t seen any promos devoted to the 2nd Season at all, and other than the internet buzz and fleeting glimpses of scenes from Season 1 in the general AMC originals promos, I haven’t seen any media coverage.

      I would say that the initial amount of hype during the ramp-up to the season 1 episodes is because of the boldness of the subject matter. AMC has balls of solid brass for doing a zombie television series, even on cable. Back in 1968 when Romero gave birth to the concept of a zombie apocalypse story, the idea that there would ever be a television series based on the same concept would have been inconceivable. There’s no way that any adaptation of Kirkman’s storyline could have been given any justice whatsoever in a feature film. It had to be done on TV, if at all.

      The first time I saw the opening scene of the first episode, I didn’t totally understand the significance of it. The one where Rick is confronted with the little girl zombie. But I think I do now. It was Darabont’s and AMC’s statement to the audience that this show is going to be dark, and served as a final warning to any squeamish viewers, that they would be better off changing the channel.

      I also think that it was tantamount to flipping the bird to the censors. The idea of children as victims of a zombie plague is among the most horrible implications of the zombie genre. When Romero did child zombies in the original Dawn of the Dead, the movie was banned in entire countries, or the scene was removed before being released to the public.

      I don’t mean to be disparraging of your remarks, Tim, and my previous statements are only a suggested explanation and of course, my personal opinion.

      That being said, I kind of hope that Darabont is leaving because he doesn’t like the rules and deadlines inherent in producing a TV series, instead of the possibility that he’s lost faith in the show and is to quote a previous post “Jumping before it sinks”. If this is the case, I also totally respect his decision and think that he should by all means make way for someone else who can adapt to the expectations.

      • Mike says:

        It’s a bit early to be promoting the return of The Walking Dead on AMC itself. But you haven’t seen the almost 5 minute season 2 preview yet? Click on my name to go to my blog. I’ve referenced the entire Comic-Con panel and the trailer for season 2. Looks outstanding!

  32. brendan says:

    i read the source material, and it was better than the tv series. but i also fully enjoyed the tv serries, and agree the first episode was the best. I would howevere like to see it sticking closer to the source material.. and i know in season 2 they will be getting to the farm.. so heres to hopin for the jail in season 3!

  33. archibald creep says:

    Battle Pope!

  34. KP says:

    I hope this is connected to some major King news, but even if it isn’t, he did a pretty good job adapting the series. I dunno why some folks are hating on it, because it focused on zombies more, although I did not think Robert Kirkman’s (the creator) episode was the strongest point of the season. I hope season 2 introduces Allen so we can get crazy psycho twin. :D

  35. Do you know when is the release of walking dead season 3?

  36. I have read an article that says it will be within this october. I forgot what website was that. Just check google :D google is your friend :D

  37. I already watched season 3. And its awesome. Im excited if what would happen when daryl and merle meet up. do they bocome ally? or daryl will stay at rick side?