While the world may have survived the Mayan apocalypse, behind the scenes, the survival rate on ‘The Walking Dead’ may not have fared as well. In a statement released today by AMC, the network announced that the highly acclaimed series has been renewed for a fourth season (which is no surprise) but will continue on without their current show runner and executive producer Glen Mazzara.

Here’s what the release had to say:

Today, AMC announces the season 4 pick-up of The Walking Dead.

AMC also jointly announces with Glen Mazzara today that for future seasons, the two parties have mutually decided to part ways.  Glen guided the series creatively for seasons 2 and 3.  AMC is grateful for his hard work.  We are both proud of our shared success.

Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways.  This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for post-production on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer.

The news comes as a shock to those in the industry as this marks the second showrunner to have exited the series. Mazzara had originally taken the reins of the series prior to the start of Season 2 after AMC fired Frank Darabont apparently due to budgetary disagreements but according to Mazzara, that was not the case and indicated it may have been more about storytelling and disagreements about the Season 2 premiere episode.

Since taking on the show runner role, ‘The Walking Dead’ has made some revolutionary steps winning over critics and viewers alike in it’s fearless storytelling and the unwillingness to make any character safe from the zombie apocalypse. All one needs to do is recall the episode, ‘Killer Within,’ to see this! In fact, ‘The Walking Dead’ achieved the astounding feat of becoming the biggest scripted series on television in its time slot under Mazzara’s direction.

Both Robert Kirkman, creator of ‘The Walking Dead’ comic books which the series is based upon, and Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of the series, have released their own statements about Mazzara’s departure.

Here’s what Kirkman had to say:

photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

“I am in full support of both AMC and Glen Mazzara in the decision they have come to and believe the parties came to this decision in the best interest of the future of the show. I thank Glen for his hard work and appreciate his many contributions to The Walking Dead and look forward to working with him as we complete post production on Season 3. I am also excited to begin work on another spectacular season of this show that I know means so much to so many people. This show has always been the result of a wide range of extremely talented men and women working tirelessly to produce their best work collectively. I believe the future is bright for The Walking Dead. Thank you to the fans for your continued support.”

Hurd’s statement echoes the same sentiment as Kirland’s:

“I am appreciative and grateful to Glen for his hard work on ‘The Walking Dead.’ I am supportive of AMC and Glen’s decision and know that the series is in great hands with one of the most talented and dedicated casts and crews in the business. I look forward to the show’s continued success.”

As for the departing showunner himself,  Mazzara has released this statement:

“My time as showrunner on ‘The Walking Dead’ has been an amazing experience, but after I finish season 3, it’s time to move on.  I have told the stories I wanted to tell and connected with our fans on a level that I never imagined. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey.”

At this time it is unclear as to who will replace Mazzara for the fourth season. Will they chose someone who is already working on the series as they did with Mazzara or bring someone brand new to the series? We’ll let you know once the news is released.

The second half of Season 3 of ‘The Walking Dead’ returns to AMC on February 3, 2013.