NBC Originally Wanted ‘The Walking Dead’ to Be a ‘Zombie of the Week’ Procedural

Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd says network also asked series creator Frank Darabont if he could do the show without zombies

August 30, 2016
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) investigates this week's zombie-related crime on "The Walking Dead" Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) investigates this week’s zombie-related crime on “The Walking Dead” Photo: AMC

Television producer Gale Anne Hurd spoke with Variety recently to preview Season 7 of her gritty, serialized zombie series “The Walking Dead.” In between teasing Negan’s masterplan, however, she dropped a stunning bomb about the origins of TV’s highest rated show:

When series creator Frank Darabont pitched the idea to NBC, the network asked him to make it a zombie procedural.

Here’s the story as Hurd remembers it: When Darabont — famous for adapting “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” — presented the script he had adapted from Robert Kirkman’s “Walking Dead” comic, NBC had several notes. First, they first wondered if the show really needed zombies. After finally acquiescing that point, they suggested Darabont transform it into a zombie procedural focusing on two leads who “solve a zombie crime of the week.”

Hurd didn’t specify whether the NBC execs envisioned violent zombie criminals eating folks brains or white collar zombie criminals embezzling pension funds and masterminding Ponzi schemes. Either way, Darabont eventually packed up his pitch and took it to AMC. The cable network greenlit “The Walking Dead,” sans procedural elements, and now it’s home to the highest rated show on TV.

Click here for the rest of Hurd’s interview with Variety.

“The Walking Dead” kicks off Season 7 on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 9 p.m on AMC.

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