The Walking Dead has a been a cash cow for AMC since 2010, and fans can't get enough of the show that made zombies a cottage industry for the network. The program is so popular, it spawned a companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, and a review show about its episodes, The Talking Dead.
Despite its up and down storylines and some reviewers who call it an overrated TV show, The Walking Dead has countless people tuning in each Sunday to see what shocking events will take place next.
The Walking Dead has seen as much drama behind-the-scenes as what goes down in front of the camera in its tragic, eerie, and often violent universe. There's been a revolving door of cast and crew members over the years, lawsuits, arrests, and even the death of a stuntman, making the show's production as nightmarish and troublesome as a world with flesh-hungry walkers would be.
AMC wanted to slash The Walking Dead's budget from $3.4 million to $2.75 million in Season 2 and wanted twice the number of episodes - 13 after the previous season's six. AMC also demanded the 30% per episode tax credit the show received from the state of Georgia while filming there.
Even that wasn't enough to make the show cheaper for AMC. The network suggested half the shooting schedule for each episode should take place indoors to save on location fees and the zombies should be heard from and not seen quite as much to save money on makeup.
In July 2017, stuntman John Bernecker fell to his death while performing a stunt with actor Austin Amelio during the filming of Season 8. In one scene, Amelio’s character was to push Bernecker from the balcony. The scene had not been rehearsed and Bernecker fell short of the padding below during the stunt. He later expired from his injuries.
Bernecker’s family sued the production, blaming AMC's budget cuts for his death. Their filing says, “The production of Season 8 of The Walking Dead, like seasons before it, had an emphasis on keeping production budgets low and profits high… the AMC Defendants are each independently responsible for the failure of The Walking Dead production to take reasonable safety precautions to protect its performer, John Bernecker."
William Riggs, father of Chandler (who played Carl), concurs with the fans’ allegations against showrunner Scott Gimple, as he also believes Chandler was unfairly fired. He posted to Facebook about the incident, saying his son was slated to be on the show for three years according to what Gimple had told him during an April 2018 phone call.
By June of the same year, Chandler and his parents were called into the Walking Dead production offices only to find out he was being let go by Gimple. William said, "Chandler was absolutely devastated. I was disappointed Scott had been dishonest with a 17-year-old making life decisions and waited to tell us.”
Early in 2018, Stalwart Films, LLC, the production company behind The Walking Dead, was fined $12,675 by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the on-set death of John Bernecker. After the accident, OSHA investigated the location for two weeks and concluded it warranted a "serious citation.” The fine was the maximum amount allowable for "the company’s failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards."
Stalwart responded to the fine by saying, "We take the safety of our employees extremely seriously on all of our sets and comply with - and frequently exceed - industry safety standards. We disagree with the issuance of this citation and are considering our response."