If you’re a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, you’re not going to like this. Showrunner and lender of great gravity and sincerity to the science fiction show, Frank Darabont, is stepping down. Though he just appeared at San Diego Comic Con, spewing optimism about next season, spilling little tidbits of knowledge, and offering to shoot Chris Hardwick in the face, the man who brought the comic book adaptation to life is moving on. While that may mean future film projects for the Shawshank Redemption director, the real issue here is how will this affect the show?
Darabont has been paramount in working to keep the show at the highest production value and to assemble a team of writers who not only know the source material, but whole-heartedly love it. He didn’t direct every episode, but the one he lent an eye to was one of the single most epic episodes of television in recent years.
The AMC staple was facing budget cuts after the first year, something Darabont found conflict with — another AMC showrunner, Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner, faced similar issues earlier this year — so cutting Darabont’s surely sizable salary may be a way to cut costs without taking away from the rest of the show. And maybe — hopefully — we’re just giving Darabont a little too much credit. It is possible that the show can continue to wow us episode after episode, even with a new top dog. Perhaps this means the creator of the series of comics the show was born out of may step in; Robert Kirkman already served as Executive Producer last season and he’s been part of the creative force in writing Season 2. Could this sad news actually be great news for devoted fans of the comic books?