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For just about every actor on The Walking Dead, each season comes with the innate possibility that a character can and will be killed off. Lennie James' Morgan Jones found a new lease on primetime life when he was revealed to be the first crossover character to hop over to Fear the Walking Dead for Season 4. But the longtime star thought Morgan's fate was heading in a completely different direction, since phone calls from former showrunner Scott Gimple had gained their own reputation. According to James:
It was in my mind when Scott phoned me up. We'd already had our meeting, which we have at the start of each season, where he talks to the regular actors about what their arc is going to be. And then Scott called and said, 'Can we meet again? There's something I forgot to talk to you about.' And at that point I obviously thought that the thing he forgot to talk about was that Morgan was going to die in Season 8 of The Walking Dead.
I mean, what else was Lennie James supposed to think, right? I'm sure Scott Gimple would occasionally call actors up for further discussions about characters and plots, meaning not all of his communication efforts were engineered with such ominous intentions. But still, he's the one entity on The Walking Dead who could make or break someone's career with a five-minute conversation, and because of that, Lennie James thought Morgan's expiration date had been reached.
It wasn't the most outlandish line of speculation to go down for the U.K. actor. Both before and after his eventual return at the end of The Walking Dead Season 5, Morgan has been through majorly tough times in the post-apocalypse, having lost his wife and son, and not ever having found any meaningful relationships to fill those voids. He's gone from vengeful killer to mentally fractured killer to calm zen master to mentally fractured zen master. So in terms of character development, it was time to either end things for good, or to put him within a completely new environment, and Scott Gimple & Co. chose to go with the latter.
Speaking with The Telegraph, Lennie James said in the time before he had that not-so-damning conversation with Gimple, he took some time to reach acceptance with saying goodbye to Morgan. In his words:
The few days before we met...I 'd be lying if I didn't say I'd kind of reconciled myself -- and justified to myself -- why Morgan's time was done. He'd had a good innings -- survived longer in the show than in the comic books. It wasn't necessarily the thing I was wishing for. But you are constantly thinking -- 'Do I want to do more? Where is this taking my character?' I'm very proud of my work on The Walking Dead and the position Morgan holds for fans.
Thankfully for the actor and for Fear the Walking Dead viewers, Morgan survived through the end of the All Out War and thereafter hit the road for a road trip down to Texas, where he caught up with Maggie Grace's Althea, Garret Dillahunt's John, and most of the Fear regulars. Will he survive this all-new set of blood-soaked adventures? We're not sure, but he probably won't have to worry about hearing any bad news directly from Gimple, at least.