Nowadays, The Walking Dead stands as one of the most successful TV franchises around. The parent series is a decade old and still going, it’s spawned a spinoff that’s already five years in and it’s about to debut a third show set in the same world. It’s strange to think, then, that TV networks were initially afraid to commit to producing a screen version of the Robert Kirkman comic books.
But that was indeed the case, according to producer Denise Huth. Huth, who’s worked on the series since its early days, alongside original showrunner Frank Darabont, spoke about how difficult it was to get TWD picked up during an interview that aired as part of The Walking Dead – Season 1: Beginnings marathon, which took place yesterday on AMC.
First, she explained how she immediately saw the potential in the comics when she initially heard about them, saying:
“I first became involved with The Walking Dead way back in 2005. I worked for Frank Darabont, and he told me about this comic book that he found in a comic book store,” Huth recounts. “And as he was telling me the story, I remember saying, ‘That’s a television show.’ It just had all the great elements of a serialized drama.”
However, it then took five years of pitching the idea to various networks before AMC jumped on board. Huth also discussed how the way the show was produced – nearly entirely on location, with few sets – was so different from typical television, explaining:
“It kicked around for about five years before AMC was finally brave enough to say ‘yes’ and actually put it on the air,” Huth says. “It was one of those things that hadn’t been done before.”
Producer Gale Anne Hurd previously revealed in 2016 that TWD could have been very different if it had ended up on NBC. When the idea was pitched to that network, execs suggested it should be a procedural show involving two detectives “solv[ing] a zombie crime of the week.” Another exec, meanwhile, wondered why zombies needed to be included in it at all. Clearly, AMC was the best fit for the franchise, then. And all these years later, the risk they took in taking on the project has paid off.
The Walking Dead returns for its delayed tenth season finale on Sunday, October 4th.