What is going on at AMC in The Walking Dead writers’ room? The fandom was shocked this past year as Chandler Riggs – Carl Grimes was killed off. Now it has been announced that two more major characters will be leaving next season.

Understandably, people come and go on The Walking Dead; it’s the nature of the beast in a world full of zombies and humans killing each other when society is completely ripped apart. That said, Carl Grimes — who in the comic world has become a leader — was killed off in a shocking death on the AMC program this year. This came as a surprise to many fans who called for the head of show Scott Gimple. It also appeared to be a surprise to Riggs who had recently bought a home close to the shooting location and his father who shot off an angry Facebook post.

Walking Dead Shocker #1

An even more shocking announcement came last week that Andrew Lincoln – Rick Grimes would be leaving the show next season and only appearing in six of the 16 episodes. Now be it comics or television, Rick is the main man. Yes both the tv and comic book series has grown to include and showcase many other characters but Rick waking up from a coma is literally the opening of this series. Sure, there have been some changes; I mean he still has a hand on tv, but the fact is he is the lead character of this show. That he announced his departure not only ruins the element of surprise, but it completely changes the direction of the show. AMC is a ways behind the comics and there is plenty more story for Rick, but it looks like they are choosing to veer from the comics in a major way.

Walking Dead Shocker #2

Next came the announcement Norman Reedus is going to be a very wealthy actor. In a deal that will reportedly pay him $20 million, his contract was renewed. Now, it is not known if this is over the next few seasons or if it is a single season. If so, that would be over a million dollars an episode. This would seem to point to him becoming the new leading man. Norman’s character Darryl Dixon is a fan favorite but is a character that does not exist in the comics. So the writers can basically do whatever they wish with him with little fan displeasure. Will Darryl be able to save a show that has had sinking rating for the last few years?

Walking Dead Shocker #3

Another blow to the show was announced that Lauren Cohan – Maggie Rhee will be leaving this season. Maggie has been around since Season 2 and is one of the oldest characters on the show. Reportedly this was a dispute of her contract more than anything. Over the last couple of seasons, she has become one of the central characters. After the murder of her husband (which actually breathed life into this show) she has been a community leader and seems to have been pregnant forever! A few large storylines circle around her and supposedly she only has six episodes left to wrap them up. Including an attempted coup of Rick’s leadership was hinted at.

Diverging from the comics doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It will give a chance to tell a different story than what the comics have done. It also prevents major spoilers since you can’t just run down to your local comic shop and pick up the graphic novel. My major concern is can the show survive.

First, let’s be sensible, yes the ratings are down. They are still over 5 million consistently so even though they are not at the 10 million which has been reached before, it is still performing. The worry is the loss of so much of the characters. We have seen Glenn and Abraham get their heads bashed in; the moral compass and the one-liner king. We lost Carl who if you want to look deeper into the long-term success of the show, was the future. Now we are going to lose Maggie and Rick who have been two of the three leaders for the last couple years. Morgan walked to the Fear the Walking Dead set and with so many people leaving, can Darryl hold up the show?

The bigger question might be, what is going on at AMC to lose so many?