“I really just want to take a minute and I want to say that I’m so appreciative to be standing here right now, and I want to thank you, ‘The Walking Dead’ community, for all your support over these past couple months,” Hardwick said at the opening of the show. “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.”
“It’s been with me through good times and bad and I’m so grateful to the fans, producers and the amazing casts of both of these shows for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week,” he continued. “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. And 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.’”
Hardwick was suspended from hosting the aftershow back in June after his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Dykstra, posted an essay accusing Hardwick of being emotionally and sexually abusive during their relationship. Following an internal investigation, AMC reinstated Hardwick in the end of July.
“We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step,” AMC said in a statement at the time.
The network tapped Yvette Nicole Brown to sub for Hardwick as the interim host of “Talking Dead” amid the initial uproar over Dykstra’s claims. Brown, a frequent and popular guest on “Talking Dead,” hosted the Aug. 5 “Walking Dead” Season 9 preview special. Brown also served as the moderator for the San Diego Comic-Con panels for both “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead,” a role Hardwick has held for years.
AMC has still not set a date for the return of “Talking with Chris Hardwick,” the season premiere of which was pulled from the network’s schedule following Dykstra’s accusations.