UPDATE: Deadline reports that Glen Mazzara, the executive producer and Darabont’s former #2, has taken over showrunning duties for The Walking Dead. Before joining, he had served on The Shield and Criminal Minds, among others.
Frank Darabont was sitting in front of the Comic-Con masses on hand for The Walking Dead panel. On Tuesday, Deadline reports that Darabont had stepped down as showrunner for the AMC blockbuster. It isn’t known whether he’s absolving himself of the show completely or will stay on in some production or supervisory capacity, but he won’t be the guy in charge of The Walking Dead anymore.
This news is shocking, and it isn’t. The series, based on Robert Kirkman‘s graphic novels, was Darabont’s labor of love for five long years before it premiered on AMC, but despite a truncated first season of only six episodes, the show was criticized for wooden dialogue and heavyhanded exposition. So much so that Darabont had considered forgoing a writing staff and outsourcing writing duties on a freelance basis.
Eventually, AMC convinced Darabont to stick with the more traditional approach. He hired The Shield Alum Glen Mazzara as his EP and second-in-command. The show was an unmitigated ratings success for AMC, but fans of both Darabont and the graphic novel voiced hoped for more.
It is not thought that Darabont’s resignation will affect the premiere date of October 16th, however, the mystery behind his resignation should come to light shortly, as millions of rabid fans will want to know why the guy that fought so hard to get this show to be was so quick to walk away.