Frank Darabont Reflects on ‘Walking Dead’ Controversy & ‘Sociopaths’ at AMC

Published 1 year ago by

Rick and Daryl in The Walking Dead Frank Darabont Reflects on Walking Dead Controversy & Sociopaths at AMC

The Walking Dead season 4 had barely begun before AMC announced that it was being renewed for a fifth season - hardly surprising in the wake of the excellent audience numbers that the show has been drawing in recently. Season 4 follows the continued struggles of the survivors in the prison grounds, as the walls threaten to come down and a grave new danger threatens to wipe the group out from the inside.

Season 5 will once again be helmed by Scott M. Gimple, the third showrunner to be placed in charge of the show’s direction. Prior to Gimple the position was filled by Glen Mazzara, who was fired after running the show for just a season and a half. Mazzara, in turn, took over from The Walking Dead‘s original showrunner, Frank Darabont, who was also unceremoniously kicked off the series at the beginning of the second season.

Darabont’s departure was quite controversial at the time, since stars like Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn were veterans of Darabont’s previous works, and in many ways AMC owed the success of The Walking Dead‘s first season to Darabont’s ambitious handling of it. It’s worth noting that actor Jon Bernthal also departed the show shortly thereafter and is currently starring in Darabont’s new crime drama, Mob City.

Frank Darabont and Jon Bernthal on the set of The Walking Dead Frank Darabont Reflects on Walking Dead Controversy & Sociopaths at AMC

During an interview with Variety on the subject of Mob City, which premieres on TNT in December, Darabont was asked whether he still watches The Walking Dead. The short answer? No. No, he does not.

“Oh god no, why would I? If the woman you loved with all your heart left you for the Pilates instructor and just sent you an invitation to the wedding, would you go?

“There’s a deep commitment and emotional investment that happens when you create something that is very near and dear to you, and when that is torn asunder by sociopaths who don’t give a shit about your feelings or the feelings of your cast and crew because they have their own reasons to screw everybody, that doesn’t feel good.”

It’s safe to say that this is one wound that time has not yet healed. Being situated so far outside of the meetings and e-mail inboxes and on-set discussions where the breakdown of the relationship between Darabont and AMC took place, it’s nearly impossible to know whose side to take on this issue, especially since we can now only view the dispute in retrospect. Even with possession of all the facts and details, it would probably still be difficult to assign blame to just one party.

Perhaps one of the most in-depth accounts of Darabont’s dismissal was a report by THR that was based on sources close to production. It’s been widely reported that the budget cuts for The Walking Dead‘s second season caused a strained relationship between Darabont and AMC (read more on that HERE), and according to THR‘s sources the network sent production notes that, among other recommendations, suggested shooting at least half of all the scenes inside, and only playing zombie sounds rather than actually showing the zombies in order to save on makeup costs.

Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead Season 4 Frank Darabont Reflects on Walking Dead Controversy & Sociopaths at AMC

A number of fans did voice their disappointment with the show’s second season, due to its sedately-paced farm setting and dearth of memorable action-oriented setpieces. Those episodes did feel like the budget was necessitating lengthy scenes of the characters sitting around and talking, whereas the prison story arc of season three and four has allowed room for a healthy balance of character development with more active exploration and, of course, plenty of gross zombie executions.

The overall conclusion that can be garnered from the various accounts of Darabont’s firing is that The Walking Dead was launched at a time when AMC was still finding its feet in terms of original programming, and the combination of this inexperience and Darabont’s strong personality culminated in a very messy break-up. On a more positive note, the show does seem to have firmly found its feet again as the fourth season gets fully underway, and hopefully in the future any drama will be kept strictly on-screen.





The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Dead Weight’ @9pm on AMC.

Source: Variety

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  1. I still blame AMC executive(s) , and right after Comic-con to give Darabont the boot after he and the cast sold the show to its audience further. You take the surprise hit in your hands, stretch out the order for episodes but provide less budget and say see less zombies, hear them instead, shoot in a bottle, it’ll save money even if it doesn’t meet your vision. It’s been quite the roller coaster.

  2. I seriously hope he is not angry.

    He portrayed his character very well and had a good death in a climactic scene.

    Andreas character however…

    • Haha I’m sorry but I had to comment.

      I understand the confusion, but this is NOT the guy who played Dale. It is the creator and original showrunner of the show. I don’t know if you were being sarcastic, and I’m not making fun of you, but I just thought I should point that out.

      It’s funny because i have thought before that they look similar.

      • Doh!!

  3. Amen Frank, those idiots at the studios or at AMC are capitalist pigs. Shame on them for removing the “art” from the series and dragging on plots that you had surely written in ahead of time. You had a great run and all the fans appreciate you for it Frank.

  4. wow, sounds like Darabont’s just holding a hard headed grudge, and as for Jon Bernthal…well I love his portrayal of shane, but after reading the comics….I can see darabont kept his character around waaaaaay longer than he should have been

  5. Kirkman booted this guy because he was trying to hijack the story and take it in a direction totally different from the wildly popular source material. Kirkman pretty much says this in a roundabout way at one of the comic-cons a few years ago. Plus with Darabont gone the show has continually increased in ratings, so no big loss.

    • But hasn’t the biggest complaint since season 2 been how far the show has strayed from the source material, and didn’t Kirkman and others involved with the show say they were not sticking strictly to the source material?

    • I somewhat agree with that. The show has gone away from the comics to a point, introduced new elements, and drawn out certain plots that has decreased the quality of the show to a point. I think the thing that got Darabont canned was the fact that he valued Shane as the main character rather than Rick so much so that there were reports that he wanted to kill off Rick in place of Shane. I think that didn’t fair well with Kirkman(something he also says as much in a roundabout way at a Comic Con a couple years ago). I think if Darabont want to explore new things but also follow the source material then he probably would have still be the showrunner. Also, rumors a few years back have said that he didn’t like the fact that he had to run things by Kirkman. It’s a tough situation but I think a situation that will work out for both parties. TWD is the top rated show on Sundays and I think Darabont will bring an equally great series as well

    • Quantity does not mean Quality.
      TWD will never be as good as it was in the first season.

    • Darabont is the creator of TWD tv show. He and Kirkman worked well together. Kirkman didn’t fire him. the AMC exec did. It was the next show runner Mazzara, that Kirkman fired.

      • They did at Season 1 but it’s very well documented that they had issues when it came to the lead character of Rick where Darabont felt like he was just another character and Kirkman said Rick is the character of the whole WD premise. From what I’ve read, yes the executives did fire the guy but Kirkman had a hand in the decision as well

    • Its success and ratings are because of Darabont’s work to begin with. Now the show drags stories out waaay toooo looooong , What the show in three episodes could have been done with one.

  6. “…torn asunder by sociopaths who don’t give a s*** about your feelings…”
    One of the few men who can perfectly weave poetry and curse words into one coherent sentence.

  7. he’s not missing anything, it’s pretty terrible.

  8. I just wish we could have seen his vision come together. I wanted to see that web series about the soldier he was going to make featuring sam witwer.

  9. the show has become a “let’s watch to see how stupid these people are” kinda thing. from taking guns from people, to always having 2 people separate and dialogue all the time just makes this a really crappy soap with zombies! the sopranos was a soap with the mob. the best episode so far this year was the last one with the governor. we’re in season 4 and these people are still 30 miles from where they started from. they need to show a detailed existence story line. where’s the food coming from, the fuel,the diapers,how come they go get medicine and not completely clean out the pharmacy and take a few pill reference books with them,and why don’t they have better security. there’s zombies gathering outside the gate, get with the program and kill and stack them. the prison administration building still has garbage and papers everywhere, clean this place up and make it secure and liveable, that means absolutely no holes in the perimeter wall and 1 well armed einsatzgruppe to clear out a 50 mile radius of zombies and to gather provisions. after , what, 2 years into the storyline, these people are getting stupider, as is the show. i’ll watch, but someone needs to take a few lessons from breaking bad, for 5 seasons you could’t put that show down!!!!

    • Everything he said.

    • you wanna watch an hour of people cleaning a prison and carrying pharmaceuticals? yea ok sounds fun. and btw, a dramatic show does not equal a soap opera. sopranos was a drama. dialogue doesnt make something a soap opera

  10. If it’s any consolation, his successor Glen Mascara absolutely ruined the show. f****** AMC dumbasses.