When one sets their story in the zombie apocalypse, consumers of that story have to become accustomed to seeing favorite characters either perish in a terrible way or depart the show in another way. While that is certainly the case with The Walking Dead, viewers of the AMC juggernaut have recently had to deal with a lot of very high profile departures.
Following the recent departure of series lead Andrew Lincoln, who played former cop and leader of the gang Rick Grimes, co-star Danai Gurira reportedly is set to make her own departure as the sword-wielding badass Michonne in the recently announced tenth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
There had been a lot of questions about Gurira’s future involvement with the show now that her career outside of the zombie world (theater, roles in giant tentpole films like Marvel’s Black Panther, and more) has taken off and after co-stars Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride signed new multi-show/season deals. Reportedly she has signed a deal for season ten which marks it as her last and she will only appear in a handful of episodes that will be interspersed throughout the season.
“She has been very vocal about saying that she loves the show. We love Danai; we love that character. Right now, she’s got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her. But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it,” AMC programming president David Madden told The Hollywood Reporter in November. “We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays. Obviously, the lesson of Andy is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”
Interestingly enough there are also reports that she could also see her way over to the three Walking Dead films in development that were announced as starring vehicles for Lincoln’s Grimes now that he left the show. The main series leapt ahead six years following the apparent ‘death’ of Grimes, meaning there would have to be some timeline finagling to have the two appear in films together (the first film could easily cover Rick’s part of the six years with Michonne showing up at the end).
Seeing as there are potential plans for Michonne to head to the films & her character not only is mother to Judith Grimes but also the recently revealed R.J. Grimes (son of Michonne and Rick) it seems likely her departure will be less of one of grand almost death like Rick’s. Perhaps she’ll get word that Rick is still alive out there, and seek to reunite their family.
AMC executives have touted in the past their belief the world they have built could go on for decades, though the recent swath of departures is sure to be concerning for some. Along with Lincoln and Guirira the series also recently lost Lauren Cohan (Maggie, who could be potentially coming back) as well as Tom Payne (Jesus) in the ninth season as well as Chandler Riggs (Carl) back in season 8.
New faces have filled some gaps and with all the departures new showrunner Angela Kang and the writers have a lot more room to distance things a bit more from the comics because Rick, Michonne, Maggie, Carl, and others are still very much involved with the comic storylines that are well beyond where the show currently is.
The Walking Dead returns for the second half of season nine on February 10.