'The Walking Dead' showrunner Frank Darabont stepping down


Image Credit: AMC

Wow: Just a few days after acclaimed director Frank Darabont took the Comic-Con stage to promote season two of AMC’s The Walking Dead comes this news that he’s stepping down as the series’ showrunner.

Sources say Deadline’s report is true that Darabont will no longer serve as the chief writer-producer on the series.  Without saying whose decision it was, the decision is attributed to Darabont never quite having gotten the hang of switching from films (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) to a TV show.

At Comic-Con, Darabont certainly seemed excited about continuing on the hit series and working with the second season writing staff. “We also have writers that are really fans of [the show],” Darabont said. “The first six episodes, nobody knew what the hell they were dealing with, except me.”

Darabont’s been involved with the project for a long time, too — he pitched it to NBC about six years ago. He could stay on the series in some kind of capacity, though such positions are sometimes merely honorary when a big talent steps down as showrunner. Glen Mazzara (The Shield) is Darabont’s No. 2 on the show, though it’s not yet clear what sort of succession plan is being laid out. Either way, the series is expected to continue shooting as planned and still debut Oct. 16.

The news is sure to disappoint fans of the series (and, okay, us too), given how involved Darabont was with the terrific first season of the show.

UPDATE: Mazzara named Walking Dead showrunner

Walking Dead season 2 trailer

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Comments (89 total) Add your comment
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  • Jason

    Jesus. Is Nicotero next? I hate this news.

    • kl

      I hate it too.

      • Govnuh

        This is awful news! Darabont’s eye and feel helped create the masterpiece that this show has become, and am worried that without him at the helm that the show will not fully reach the level that it could.

      • CG

        He probably realizes season 2 will start to go downhill and is getting out while the getting is good.

      • Mike

        I was actually surprised when he signed up to stay on as showrunner for season 2. The man is a MOVIE guy. Makes sense, but I’m not a fan of the news either. But, I’m guessing he’s a perfectionist also. I’ll be optimistic and hope that he wouldn’t leave the show if he wasn’t leaving it in good hands. And if he stays on as a consultant, that works too. Hey, Kirkman (author of the graphic novels) is still attached to the show too so maybe it will be okay.

      • ERNIE

        I’m fine with this as long as he finally makes the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Long Walk.

      • RickterScale

        How can the director of The Majestic be a perfectionist? That doesn’t pass the sniff test.

      • Mike

        Because most people know him for directing The Majestic and not Shawshank Redemption, right? sniff that.

      • Mike

        Okay, now that my gut reaction is out of the way, maybe perfectionist was the wrong choice of words. My point was that he probably won’t want the show to start to unravel just because he’s stepping down. And if he has decided to step down, then he probably knows that it’s in good hands.

    • sash fan

      Give Glen Mazzara a chance — he was great with The Shield.

  • schaden

    Wonder what happened. These will be very big shoes to fill, for whoever will replace Darabont.

    • Matt

      Does Kirkman have any authority on the show? Cause he always seems to be the mouthpiece.

      • myprettypony

        It sucks but honestly the show is based on a well established series of graphic novels. Everything is written out for the most part. Waiting for them to get to the prison!

  • James

    He probably watched some of the 2nd season and it probably sucked like the 1st season so he doesnt want his name to be part of it anymore. Even he admitted that the 1st season wasnt very good and thats why they fired some of the writers.

    • trent

      he must have some pretty high standards to think season one sucked
      also, please hold on to nicotero! don’t let him go too!

    • dee

      You seem to be confusing The Walking Dead with Fallen Skies.

      • Devin “Badass Digest” Faraci

        No, he means True Blood.

    • Matt

      Hey, whatever crack you’re smoking seems pretty potent. How’s about you log off the computer and smoke yourself into stupidity for…oh, I don’t know…forever? Better that than listen to your moronic prattle.

    • Tim

      Don’t feed the trolls guys.

      • Summer

        But Fallen Skies DOES suck.

    • Baco Noir

      Or mistaking Walking Dead with AMC’s excerable The Killing.

  • Sam

    I HATE this news, say it ain’t so Frank!

  • James

    I loved the first episode, and I enjoyed the rest of season one, but I didn’t think the first season was as amazing as many claim it was.
    The writing seemed to be the weak link in season one (though I believe Darabont wrote the first – aka my favorite – episode), so I’m curious to see what changes a new showrunner will bring to The Walking Dead.

    • James

      PS: I’m not the same James who posted

      • jp

        You are clearly not that same James! LOL!

      • Mac

        The first episode made the short season and most of the other episode were merely adequate. However, there was the sense the show was heading in the right direction, because of the popularity.

    • tvgirl48

      I agree completely. It had so much potential, and visually it looked amazing, but the writing was never as strong and creative as the style.

      • Sabre

        You guys are crazy. The entire season was amazing and I think this is bigger than Darabont(although I love him).

      • Steph

        Agreed. The writing was inconsistent and the season felt rushed. I like the characters and the concept, plus the visual quality was great.

  • Antonio of Gilead

    Sad news indeed…

    • Justin

      I agree, but the show must go on.

  • charlotte

    This is bad news.

  • Kevin

    I am not happy with this.

  • charmuse

    Likely another shallow result of a executive money grab. It will likely ruin the show.

  • Mikey M

    Just don’t give the show to the creators of Heroes or Weeds.

    • Bobby’s Robot

      …or Glee

      • MPBerry

        Pretty sure the Glee peeps are not next in line to inherit the Zombie show. If this were network television, then maybe…

    • WI

      good call Mikey M

    • Baco Noir

      Or The Killing.

  • sean

    not good at all. something very negative is happening in the background of all this…willing to bet nothing in any future seasons will top the quiet, contemplative hand that Darabont had in The Walking Dead’s excellent pilot.

  • Avie

    Damn, that sucks. Darabont’s a tremendous talent. I’m not looking forward to hearing more details as to what caused this sudden departure. Hopefully the remaining creative team keeps this series at the same level of excellence, but I’m skeptical.

  • Rick G

    I’d find it hard to believe that this is a coincidence coming after AMC’s big squeeze play on Matthew Weiner and Mad Men, plus Darabont noting his concerns a few months ago about budget cuts. AMC doesn’t sound like the best place to be a creative type these days. Makes me worried for my favorite show, Breaking Bad.

    • MortalKombat

      Luckily, Breaking Bad season 4 is already done filming and season 5 will most likely be the last so as long as AMC can put up with one more season, we should be good.

      • Andrea

        Also I imagine The Walking Dead & Mad Men both cost more to produce than Breaking Bad, so maybe BB isn’t on the top of the list for cuts. I thought season one of TWD was great, so I am sorry to hear someone so involved in it is leaving. Crossing fingers for a great season II.

  • JP

    Terrible news. . . Darabont was the creative juggernaut that made this show more horror legit than even movies are these days. I am deeply saddened by this and dread the kinda number this will do on the show.

  • Jacob

    Meh. The show might be better off for it. Darabont’s a fine talent in the feature world, but the first season was one of the most boring and long-winded five episodes I’ve seen on TV in a long time (I loved the pilot).

    • darrin

      and he directed the pilot

      • Mike

        ZING! And it was 6 episodes.

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