When The Walking Dead universe says farewell to one of its own, it's not often the star gets to return so quickly, but such was the case with Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. After being temporarily suspended by AMC over abuse allegations made by his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, Hardwick returned to his duties heading up Talking Dead's after-show commentary in time for Fear the Walking Dead's Season 4 premiere. Things got very emotional from the earliest moments, as you can see below in his heartfelt thanks to supporters.
For Talking Dead fans, that was about as emotional as an episode could start off, even considering the installments that aired after major Dead-verse characters bit the dust. Chris Hardwick's feelings certainly weren't hinging on any of the twist reveals that the franchise is known for, as he laid out his earnest appreciation for everyone who offered support and kind words in the two months since Chloe Dykstra's essay first put Hardwick in the #MeToo spotlight, though she never called him out by name.
For those who didn't actually watch the episode's opening above, Chris Hardwick sidestepped his traditional spiel in order to directly address his recent suspension. It was arguably a smart move, considering the whole ordeal was such a big elephant in the room, so it would have been awkwardly strange had Talking Dead kicked off the return of Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 by completely ignoring Hardwick's off-camera developments. (The episode was pre-taped instead of the usual live telecast, also.)
Below is a chunk of Chris Hardwick's verbal gratitude, which was delivered with tear-filled eyes.
This show is not just a job to me, this is a vital part of my life. This has been a sanctuary these last seven years we've been here. This has been with me through good times and bad times, and I have so much gratitude to you the fans, the producers, and the casts of these amazing shows for allowing me to be a part of this community every week. This is what this is, a community, and we're on the precipice of a lot of changes on both Walking Dead shows in the coming weeks and months, and I am so looking forward to going on that journey with you. I've said the following words a million times, countless times, [and] I've never been more thankful than I am in this moment to say to you: I am Chris Hardwick and this is Talking Dead.
Back in June, Chloe Dykstra released an essay alleging that Chris Hardwick was responsible for longterm emotional and sexual abuse, at which point AMC, NBC and Nerdist Industries put Hardwick's future on hold as internal investigations were held. At this point, frequent Talking Dead guest (and Hardwick's good friend) Yvette Nicole Brown replaced the host for both a Talking Dead installment and for his San Diego Comic-Con panels. Following the investigations' findings, or lack thereof, Hardwick was allowed to return to each of his former duties, which also include hosting the game show The Wall and putting in a guest judge appearance on America's Got Talent.
While many on social media applauded Chris Hardwick's return, not everyone was so overjoyed by it. Not long after it was announced that he would be back in the host seat for Talking Dead, one female executive producer and multiple staffers all quit the AMC series.
Talking Dead airs on AMC every Sunday night around 10:00 p.m. ET, after episodes of the popular new series Lodge 49. While waiting to see where things go next, head to our fall premiere schedule to keep track of all the other great shows coming to primetime.