Actress Danai Gurira will be leaving the AMC zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead next season. Gurira has been playing the katana-wielding zombie slayer Michonne since the show’s third season. Rumors of Gurira’s departure have been circulating for quite a while now, but The Hollywood Reporter officially confirmed the actress’s exit earlier this week. Gurira’s final episodes will be interspersed throughout the series’ upcoming tenth season. While no exact number has been given, sources close to the show say that Gurira will only appear in a handful of episodes. While The Hollywood Reporter did not mention why Gurira decided to leave the series, it might be because since starting the show, she has become a big star in Hollywood. After landing the part of Michonne, Gurira joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise of films, playing Okoye in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
Gurira’s exit marks the third big cast member to depart The Walking Dead this year. Earlier this season, leading man Andrew Lincoln, who played Rick Grimes in the series, left after wanting to spend more time with his family. Actress Lauren Cohan, who played Maggie, left after reaching an impasse with AMC over renewing her contract. While Cohan has left the door open to return in some capacity in a later season, Lincoln will headline a trilogy of Walking Dead movies that are set to begin production later this year. The Hollywood Reporter claims that producers are planning for Gurira to join Lincoln in the upcoming film trilogy. The decision to include Michonne in the films seems like a sensible decision as, as fans of the show know, Michonne and Lincoln were romantically involved for much of the series. Following Rick’s disappearance, Michonne has withdrawn from much of the Alexandria group, showing that she still feels grief for her lost love. It would be entirely in character for Michonne to go off on her own in search of Rick.
The Walking Dead will have its midseason premiere on February 10. The remainder of the season will focus on Alexandria and the other communities’ efforts to stop the Whisperers, a nomadic group of survivors who disguise themselves as zombies.