Lauren Cohan appeared to leave The Walking Dead during the fifth episode of the current season without much of an explanation. Two weeks later, the AMC has provided an explanation for the fan favorite’s quiet exit, albeit one that is likely to leave the show’s followers with more questions than answers, according to a report from E! Online.
In the episode, titled “Stradivarius,” the series returned its focus to the Hilltop community for the first time since the series jumped six years into the future following the end of the fifth episode. In the time that’s elapsed, Jesus, played by Tom Payne, has ascended into the leadership position of the community. According to conversations, Maggie appears to be alive and well, just no longer at Hilltop. During the episode, Jesus receives a letter from Maggie where she writes about how she is currently happy. It’s also shown that Jesus is not using her office, signaling that her absence at Hilltop may only be a temporary measure.
In a conversation with Tara, played by Alanna Masterson, the door is left open for Cohan’s full exit when Jesus is told, “I know you think you’re just keeping a promise to Maggie, but you took this job. So, stop pretending it’s just for now. she’s not here, you are. Your people are counting on you. Maggie’s counting on you. I’m counting on you.”
While not revealing much else, fans of The Walking Dead now know with certainty that Maggie is still alive, but not with the community that is the primary focus of the show.
Cohan made her potentially permanent exit from the show during episode five, which coincided with the much-publicized death of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes character. In her final scene, Maggie was involved in a confrontation with series villain Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Following the end of the previous season, Cohan and AMC become locked in extended contract talks, during which the actress signed on for the ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier, where she will star alongside Scott Foley. The ABC show is currently scheduled for a mid-season debut. While working on a second show may decrease her involvement in the AMC series, the door is reportedly still open for Cohan’s return to The Walking Dead if she desires.
Speaking about her decision to leave the series, Cohan told Entertainment Weekly, “So much of it is really simple because eight years is a long time to spend in one character. Eight years is a long time to spend in the emotional mash-up that Maggie’s in and that Lauren is in by virtue of osmosis. I honestly just was looking at this on a multitude of personal levels, and it just made the most sense for me to do this.”