Why Is ‘Walking Dead’ Co-Creator Frank Darabont Suing AMC?

Negan and Carl in The Walking Dead Season 7
Negan and Carl in The Walking Dead | AMC

The Walking Dead has long been one of the most successful shows on television, with an avid fan base that follows the storyline, character arcs, and all the hidden connections and Easter eggs with a passion. However, in the past several years, the zombie show has been making headlines for more than just plot points. The show and its creators have been hounded by legal troubles, most notably from original showrunner Frank Darabont.

How was Frank Darabont involved with ‘The Walking Dead’?

Frank Darabont was responsible for bringing The Walking Dead from comic-book pages to TV screens everywhere. He was the showrunner of the very first season, which debuted in 2010 on the AMC network and is still considered by many critics to be the best in the series. However, Darabont was unceremoniously fired in 2011, and Glen Mazzara took over for Darabont.

In 2013, the legal rift started when Darabont sued AMC for approximately $280 million, claiming he was cheated out of millions of dollars of profits from the hit show. Darabont also claimed he was wrongfully fired. In one of the very first testimonies that Darabont gave in court, he claimed that he had absolutely no respect for the AMC executives who would occasionally visit the set. The Walking Dead features a notoriously rigorous filming schedule, often in deadly Georgia heat, and Darabont claimed that the executives would always remain in air-conditioned accommodations rather than become involved with any activities on-set.

What are the other lawsuits against ‘The Walking Dead’ and AMC?

While the lawsuit leveled by Frank Darabont is ongoing, the executives at AMC have had to field several other legal matters from other parties involved in the show over the years. In late 2017, Robert Kirkman, the creator of the original comic books that the show is based on, along with producers Glen Mazzara (Darabont’s successor on the show) Gale Ann Hurd, and David Alpert, sued AMC, saying that they never received their fair shares of the show’s massive profits.

Throughout the legal mess, AMC denied any contractual wrongdoing and stated that everyone involved in the show had been paid fairly. In a statement¬†they released in late 2017, they pointed out that every major studio has gone through various litigations, and that the “baseless accusations” does not mar the respect that the executives have for the plaintiffs.

How do the lawsuits affect the future of the show?

Rick, looking sweaty and disheveled, looks directly into the camera
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead | AMC

Although AMC has consistently denied the show itself is in any trouble, it is likely that The Walking Dead will remain unaffected by the lawsuits leveled against the network, as the lawsuits are for unpaid profits. Unfortunately, the popular show has also been suffering its fair share of rating issues.

The season nine premiere, which debuted in October 2018, was the lowest-rated show since 2011. The abrupt drop in viewers can be traced to several different factors, including the departure of several of the leading characters. Also, season eight featured a story arc that resulted in the untimely death of lead character Carl Grimes, in an abrupt departure from the storyline in the comic books. This was a move that upset many fans, and show ratings haven’t yet been able to recover.

What’s next for ‘The Walking Dead’?

While The Walking Dead struggles to regain it’s standing on network TV, the legal battle between Frank Darabont and AMC continues. On December 10th, 2018, progress was made on the case that will likely move Darabont’s lawsuit to trial. Whether or not the negative press that the show will receive as a result of the legal trouble will have an impact on the show remains to be seen.

The Walking Dead will be returning for the second half of the ninth season in early 2019.