"Normally I recap the show we're about to talk about here, but instead I really just want to take a minute and say that I am so appreciative to be standing here right now," Hardwick said, starting the show.
"And I want to thank you, the Walking Dead community, for all of your support these last couple of months. 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, and the producers, and the amazing casts of both these shows for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week."
He continued: "This is what this is. 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'm so looking forward on going on that journey with you. And I've said the following words a million times, countless times, and I have never been more thankful than I am in this very moment to say to you, that I am Chris Hardwick and this is Talking Dead."
Then, turning to couch guest Yvette Nicole Brown, a clearly-emotional Hardwick thanked the frequent Talking Dead guest, who assumed Hardwick's San Diego Comic-Con panel hosting duties and served as interim Talking Dead host on The Walking Dead Season Nine Preview Special aired last Sunday.
"Oh my god, I'm sorry. First of all, before we start this, I just — I want to thank everyone for being here. But I just have to say to Yvette Nicole Brown, you are such an amazing friend," Hardwick said.
"You are a gift on this planet and you stepped in and did amazing jobs at the Comic-Con panel and last week on the preview special, and I just — I have so much appreciation for you. You are so much a part of this family and I was honored to have you sit-in. You are my true friend and I just love you so much."
Before getting to business, Hardwick added, "I really, really am so grateful to be here."1comments
AMC reinstated Hardwick after a month-long investigation into claims of emotional and sexual abuse made by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra. Following his re-hiring, a Talking Dead executive producer and a handful of other staff members quit the show.
It was learned Sunday the aftershow, typically aired live immediately following episodes of both Walking Dead shows, has instead pre-recorded all but one episode of Talking Dead to follow new episodes of Fear this half-season.