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Despite facing lowered Sunday night ratings in Season 8, The Walking Dead was never really in danger of getting cancelled by AMC, with the network actively trying to build the franchise to greater heights. But with the upcoming Season 9, The Walking Dead is changing showrunners for the first time since Glenn Mazzara left in the middle of Season 3, with now-former head honcho Scott Gimple taking on broader creative duties. Longtime TWD writer and executive producer Angela Kang has been promoted to the new showrunner, and we're wondering if this fairly huge change will be a good or a bad thing.
If the Internet is anything to gauge things by, the general consensus will likely be that The Walking Dead is making the right choice by replacing Scott Gimple as the lead creative engineer behind upcoming seasons. Many outspoken viewers have decried Gimple's storytelling decisions, from how the comic-to-TV moments were handled to how recent seasons have been full of confusing time structures. Following the midseason finale and its shocking twist, some overzealous fans -- or would it be underzealous fans? -- crafted a petition to get Gimple ousted from showrunner duties. Those kinds of reactionary petitions don't generally lead to their desired changes, but this would almost seem like an exception, just with the reversal caveat that Gimple's franchise omnipotence and power has actually grown with his new role.
Of course, for however many thousands of fans there are getting their rampant gripes out on a weekly basis, The Walking Dead is still watched by many millions of people, even if the numbers aren't as staggering as they were a couple of seasons ago. Sunday nights have taken a hit, but the show's delayed viewing numbers are as impressive as ever, with its Monday-Saturday audiences often numbering more than some network shows' live stats. So for any former fans who actually did stop watching for one reason or another, The Walking Dead is still making up for a big chunk of that viewership, and it involves people that don't spend a lot of social media time complaining and wishing for it all to go down in flames.
While mileage will likely vary a great deal over Scott Gimple's particular job changes, it's hard to argue against Angela Kang taking over as The Walking Dead's showrunner, especially for a season that will follow Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, which will also feature a pair of new showrunners replacing former boss Dave Erickson. Kang, who was a staff writer on the brilliant cancelled-too-soon drama Terriers, has been with the zombie drama since Season 2, and has written such memorable episodes as "Judge, Jury, Executioner," with Dale's death; "Infection," where the prison situation went haywire; "A," where Rick got a taste for Claimer blood; and "Sing Me a Song," where Carl and Negan bonded. She also co-wrote the polarizing midseason finale "How It's Gotta Be," so make of that what you will, I guess?
As a show veteran, Angela Kang is fully aware of the expectations and opinions that fans express on a yearly basis, and as the new driving force of the show's post-Season 8 future, she will be taking the reins during another completely transformative period in The Walking Dead's narrative. Assuming, of course, that things play out somewhat similarly to the comics, where the All Out War is followed by a time jump and a renewed shift towards civilized society. Plus, the comic story adds quite a bit more femininity at that point, with Maggie and other female leads taking on more plot agency, as well as the arrival of the villainous Whisperers, which are led by a complex woman dubbed Alpha. Having Kang guiding those particular arcs and more could lead to some Walking Dead episodes that are unlike anything we've seen before, both visually and tonally.
Scott Gimple is, of course, still going to be above both Walking Dead TV shows, as well as future projects from the brand. But it doesn't sound like he'll be anywhere nearly as hands-on as he has been during the bulk of his career on the show. So it'll be very interesting to see how these new dynamics play out, with 2018 possibly being the biggest game-changing year in the franchise's history. We're keeping our optimism high, as the virtuous Jesus would have it.
With that whole Carl shebang left to wrap up (which was teased in a new look at the midseason premiere), The Walking Dead will return to AMC on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Let us know what you guys think about the changes, and to see what other new and returning shows will be arriving in the coming months, head to our midseason premiere schedule.