The Walking Dead wasn’t always the ratings powerhouse it has become over the years. Before it was the highest rated show on AMC, it was a financially-limited series that suffered from budget cuts and substantial behind-the-scenes drama between the network and the producers.
Michael Rooker – known for playing Daryl’s older brother, Merle, in seasons 1-3 – hasn’t ever been shy about pointing out how the show’s low budget in early seasons affected the cast’s pay. At a convention earlier this year, he was even heard calling AMC “cheap” and claiming that “nobody got any money.”
In a recent discussion on Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, he was asked about those previous statements, to which he continued his candid streak by saying:
Were they cheap? Of course they were cheap! Come on, give me a break! Are you serious? Nobody got any money those first three, four seasons. And we killed it, dude. We worked our asses off and we made that series. But nobody got any money.
But of course, you know, the show becomes popular and they started paying people after that. But I don’t blame them, I’d do the same thing. Why would I want to pay top dollar on a show that’s not proven? If I could get really good actors to do this for less money, go for it. That’s my producer brain thinking.
The show is now on its 10th season, and though recent years have seen the ratings fluctuate, the quality of the series has nevertheless improved in the past two seasons under the steady hand of new showrunner, Angela Kang. Writing and directing has seen a return to form after TWD hit a rough patch between seasons 6-8, and it’s done exceptionally well at remaining compelling despite the departure of major characters like Rick Grimes and Maggie Rhee – though the latter is expected to return in the season 10 finale.
Unfortunately for fans, The Walking Dead‘s season 10 closer was delayed until later in the year due to the ongoing pandemic, leaving the season to end abruptly and on a pretty big cliffhanger with episode 15, “The Tower.” No date has been set for the final outing, but stay tuned here for updates as we hear more about AMC’s plan to wrap things up.