AMC has released a statement regarding Darabont's departure. You can read it in its entirety below.
Although he gave no indication of the move while discussing season 2 of The Walking Dead at Comic Con 2011, acclaimed filmmaker Frank Darabont has announced he will be leaving his post as showrunner on the AMC zombie-fest.
At SDCC, Darabont was joined by much of The Walking Dead cast as well as executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and executive producer/creator Robert Kirkman. During the panel discussion Darabont spoke about the upcoming season and appeared excited for what was to come – making today’s announcement all the more surprising.
It’s unclear in what capacity Darabont will now serve on The Walking Dead – or if he’s walking away from the show altogether. At the moment, it is believed the filmmaker will stay with the program in one form or another.
As far as reasons for the departure go, the speculation is that, as a filmmaker, Darabont’s personal style did not take to the daily rigors of running such a large television program.
Darabont made headlines late last year for firing the The Walking Dead’s writing staff, just after the first season ended, and using freelance writers to compose season two episodes. That decision was later reversed – with a new staff of writers being brought-on with the addition of Glenn Mazzara as executive producer. For the time being, it’s unclear if this chain of events played a part in Darabont stepping down.
The concern now shifts to the actual program, however. As writer and director of the pilot episode, Darabont was able to strike critical and commercial gold with The Walking Dead. Now, the worry for fans is that without Darabont behind the proverbial wheel, where will The Walking Dead end up in terms of quality and how will his absence affect the show’s chances of landing heavy-hitters like Stephen King and Joe Hill for writing duties on future episodes?
Since filming on the second season is well underway, it’s unlikely that too many repercussions will be felt until a potential season 3.
So, who will fill Darabont’s shoes? Well, right now, the likely choice would be the man Darabont himself picked to be his second in command – Glen Mazzara. Other than having experience with The Walking Dead cast and crew, Mazzara has also served as showrunner on FX’s The Shield, which may be an enormous asset to a show that suddenly finds itself rudderless.
Stay with Screen Rant for more details on Darabont and The Walking Dead, as they become available.
Update: You can read AMC's statement regarding Darabont's departure below:
The Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara, writer and executive producer, is expanding his responsibilities to assume the role of showrunner. AMC is grateful to executive producer, writer and pilot director Frank Darabont whose contributions to the success of The Walking Dead are innumerable. We continue to discuss his ongoing role with the series.
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead graphic novels, executive producer and writer on the series, will remain in this role and will continue to steward the brand. Gale Anne Hurd will remain in her role as executive producer. The production continues on schedule for an Oct. 16 premiere.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, October 16 @10pm on AMC.