As audiences were discovering The Walking Dead back in 2010, there was a bit of a s–t show going on behind the scenes. Though it’s long since been in the hands of others, TWD started out as a creation of filmmaker Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile), adapted from Robert Kirkwood‘s comic book series and inspired by his longtime love of the genre that started with the seminal Night of the Living Dead.
Darabont served as showrunner, directed the pilot and co-wrote four of the six episodes that constituted season one, and both critical acclaim and millions of viewers awaited the gripping, graphically violent drama, which would become the next feather in AMC’s cap alongside Mad Men.
But that December, after all that success right out of the gate, came a Deadline report that Darabont planend to fire his whole writers room. Hurd quickly sought to chop the head off of that rumor, clarifying that writer and executive producer Charles Eglee was leaving, and if anyone else was going it was to pursue other opportunities (as opposed to because Darabont was mad with power or something).
Production on season two got underway and Darabont took part in the series’ panel at Comic-Con in July 2011—days before he was fired. He sued AMC in 2013 for breach of contract and what he felt was his rightful share of the millions TWD was earning, starting a years-long court battle that may outlive the show itself. Documents filed by the defense in 2017 stated that he had been axed over his “erratic and unprofessional performance,” which included writing abusive emails and other “volatile and disturbing interactions with staff.”
Darabont’s team has argued that those emails have nothing to do with his deserved profit share and AMC was just muddying the waters with the more salacious reveals. The case (which is more convoluted than anything a roomful of sci-fi writers could come up with), encompassing this suit and another financial issue Darabont sued over in 2018, is now set to go to trial in April 2021.