The creators of AMC’s The Walking Dead have said that “no one is safe” for the entire run of the show, though fans always assumed that protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) would be one of the few to make it all the way to the end. But if outgoing showrunner Glen Mazzara had his way, even Rick could’ve been walker bait next year.
Mazzara did an interview with Hero Complex promoting the back half of season three, which is the final run of the show he had a hand in before parting ways over creative differences. When asked about the high body count during his tenure as showrunner, Mazzara said he used death as a way to drive the narrative and affect those left behind.
So could Rick have gotten axed at some point, assuming it’d make for a compelling story about the remaining members of the gang? Absolutely, which could be one reason he and the AMC execs didn’t see eye to eye:
“Every day I get tweets from people saying, ‘If you kill Daryl, we riot.’ I’ll say this: I would never kill a character just to shock the audience. It’s about finding further story. When Dale was killed that put Shane in motion, when Shane is trying to kill Rick, Rick ends up stepping up as leader, that puts his marriage in jeopardy. It affects Carl. Carl was also affected with Lori’s death. All these deaths are very meaningful. So if there was a story in which killing Rick or Daryl or Hershel or anybody, the Governor, Andrea, Maggie, really affected the surviving characters and led to other stories I would do it. That would obviously be a big deviation from the book but in my mind when I’ve said no one is safe, I’ve been 100 percent sincere.”
Mazzara has never really opened up about what those creative differences were behind the scenes, but the end of season two and early part of season three took a much more intense “war-like” approach to the comic canon. Before Mazzara, show co-creator Frank Darabont went for a slow and suspenseful vibe. But after Darabont exited the series Mazzara threw the laborious storylines out the window and jumped right into the action, which is a much better fit for the premise. Plus it’s a lot more compelling.
It makes sense that Mazzara would want to tell the most interesting stories on the show, regardless of which characters are still kicking in the comic book series. Considering the popularity of the show, you’d have to think that at least Rick is safe by network mandate now, though the cast around him will probably keep evolving. But man, could you imagine a show about Daryl and the rest of the gang trying to get on without Rick? It’d be risky, but it’d probably be really good, too.
(Via Hero Complex)