Danai Gurira will exit The Walking Dead after appearing in only a handful of episodes, per the Hollywood Reporter.
Having a Master’s of Fine Arts from NYU, Gurira was already a successful playwright when she was cast as Michonne at the height of The Walking Dead’s popularity in Season 3. Ever since then, her stardom has only risen as she has featured in Broadway plays and movies, such as her supporting role in Black Panther and Avengers: End Game.
Fans can expect her to return for Season 10, but not as a series regular, appearing in only a few episodes throughout the season.
Rumors of her departure from the show began in November, following a statement by AMC programming president David Madden when she entered negotiations with AMC in the same year she was in two Marvel movies that made over a billion dollars at the box office.
“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.”
— The Walking Dead AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) February 6, 2019
Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, left the show halfway through Season 9 after being the protagonist since the very first episode. He will star in his own series of films set in The Walking Dead universe and Gurira is rumored to follow, but nothing has been confirmed so far.
The sour truth Michonne fans may have to swallow may be that Danai Gurira has outgrown The Walking Dead and doesn’t need it as much as it needs her.
As previously mentioned, she already was a successful playwright when she joined The Walking Dead cast, and she has used her newfound TV exposure to become even more successful in the theatre world.
And then there’s her film career, the Academy Award-nominated Black Panther was one of the most successful movies in the already massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while she wasn’t the titular character, her supporting role ensures at least a cameo in future Marvel films.
The Walking Dead comics that serve as the show’s source material still revolve around Rick Grimes and Michonne. This puts into question the future storylines of The Walking Dead TV show after the current “Whisperers” story arc wraps up.