Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's Season 8 finale, so be sure to watch before reading on.
By capping off its All Out War with Negan's ongoing survival, The Walking Dead unlocked quite an interesting storyline avenue by setting Maggie up as a Hilltop leader with a massive under-the-radar grudge against Rick and Michonne. Of course, fans weren't sure if that narrative would ever get fleshed out, since actress Lauren Cohan has been involved in contract negotiations that threatened to take Maggie away from her biggest fans. Now, it appears a deal has been worked out, as Cohan has confirmed she will be returning for Season 9.
No doubt, waves of relief-filled sighs have been flowing throughout the fanbase because of this stellar news. In our heart of hearts, no one truly expected Lauren Cohan to vacate her longtime gig at this point in the show, but considering pay wages were on the table, it was impossible to know how things would play out. Thankfully, it appears financially lucrative heads prevailed, and the negotiations ended with the guarantee that the Hilltop will have its dedicated leader for at least part of Season 9. That said, we still don't know if Maggie will be around for the entire season, or just the first chunk.
Complicating matters is Lauren Cohan's relatively recent choice to sign on for a new TV project, the crime drama Whiskey Cavalier, which has a pilot order at ABC. The Walking Dead will kick off production as April turns into May, which is a few months before Whiskey Cavalier would start filming its Season 1 installments, assuming ABC orders it to series. If the series order goes thruogh, then Cohan would likely only have those initial months to bring Maggie's story to life on The Walking Dead; or perhaps more, if Whiskey Cavalier is pegged for a midseason debut. On the flip side, if ABC passes on the lawful pilot, then it's reasonable to assume Cohan would be around for the entirety of Season 9.
Unfortunately, Lauren Cohan's reveal to EW didn't actually go into how the contract situation played out. It's to be expected, of course, since Lauren Cohan is too classy to boast about dollar signs on camera like that. But we'd love to know if the new deal has any time-oriented limitations locked up, so that we'd know if we need to get all worried about Maggie's chances to make it to Season 10. I'll be content, though, if I get to watch Maggie kick Negan so hard in the balls that Lucille sheds a tear.
The Walking Dead Season 9 won't be here until this fall, so we'll be waiting quite a while to see Lauren Cohan's Maggie kicking up dust anew. So be sure to keep watching Fear the Walking Dead on AMC every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. And in the meantime, head to our summer premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.