Lynette Rice
November 02, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EST

A major development to report from the set of NBC’s Heroes: has learned that co-executive producers Jeph Loeb (left) and Jesse Alexander, two of the show’s most instrumental writer/producers, are leaving the three-year-old series. Their departure comes at a watershed moment for Heroes, which has taken a serious hit in the ratings amid complaints by critics and fans alike that the show has lost its zeitgeist-tapping appeal. The drama is averaging 9 million-plus viewers this season, down from last year’s 11.6 million average.

Loeb and Alexander are celebrities in their own right among the fanboys. Loeb is an author of many comic books, including Batman, The Hulk, and Superman for All Seasons, which inspired the creation of Smallville. Loeb joined the then-WB drama in its second season. Alexander was previously a co-executive producer on Lost and Alias. It’s unclear whether Heroes creator/executive producer Tim Kring will replace the two writer/producers.

addCredit(“Loeb: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Alexander:Fraz”)

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