“The Walking Dead,” a show that took television audiences by storm, was initially rejected by major networks HBO and NBC due to its violent content.
This gripping tale of survival amidst a zombie apocalypse went on to become a signature series for AMC, but it could have been a different story altogether if HBO or NBC had decided to take it on.
Frank Darabont, the creator of “The Shawshank Redemption” and the original showrunner of “The Walking Dead,” first pitched the series to HBO. He was met with reluctance and eventually refusal due to the series’ explicit violence.
As Darabont recalled in an interview with “Variety,” “They were very excited about the idea of doing a zombie show until it came time to buy a zombie show. Then, suddenly, it was like we were selling the most horrific thing imaginable.”
NBC, on the other hand, also passed on the show. The network was not comfortable with the high levels of graphic violence that were central to the series. Darabont described his experience with NBC saying, “They wanted to do a zombie show without any zombies. It was crazy.”
Eventually, AMC saw potential in the series and decided to take a chance on it. “The Walking Dead” quickly became a massive hit, attracting millions of viewers worldwide. Its success spawned multiple spin-offs and established AMC as a competitive player in the realm of dramatic television.
Despite the violent content that initially led HBO and NBC to turn it down, “The Walking Dead” has been praised for its character development, storytelling, and special effects.
It has shown that there is a large audience who appreciates intense and gripping drama, even when it is accompanied by graphic violence.
Looking back, the decision of HBO and NBC to pass on “The Walking Dead” seems like a missed opportunity. But their refusal turned out to be a blessing in disguise for AMC, which took the show and ran with it, creating one of the most successful series of the past decade.