It seemed like a major pop culture no-brainer when The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead brought their universes together for a Morgan-tethered crossover. Actor Lennie James revealed that part of the motivation there was to bring more focus and attention to the character on the series that could actually allow it, while also hinting that Morgan's story may end sooner than we might have expected. Here's how James put it:
It was a way of exploring the character on a speed and a level that isn't possible on The Walking Dead, because there's so many characters. And it was an opportunity to get a little bit more Morgan-focused in a way that could happen on The Walking Dead, but it would've just taken a lot longer. . . . And I'm not sure that they could hold onto Morgan in the way that they wanted to hold onto Morgan in the main show, and Fear was a way of exploring him a little bit more before he finishes.
Twice in those quotes given during Comic-Con Honoloulu (via the Star-Advertiser), Lennie James seems to be implying that Morgan's future within the live-action franchise may be limited. It sounds like the star and the creative teams had story beats and angles to nail down with Morgan, which would have taken too long to get to on the flagship series. But by making him one of the main characters within Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead, the franchise's powers-that-be were able to explore the character's solitude and presumed reawakening to the power of communities, as seen in the opening minutes of the midseason premiere.
Why would they need to get more Morgan story into a shorter timespan "before he finishes?" One easy guess is that Lennie James may not see himself sticking around The Walking Dead shows for future seasons with this being his fourth year as a series regular on one series or the other. It's possible he may want to follow in Andrew Lincoln's footsteps by exiting the show to return to the U.K. on more of a full-time basis. It's also possible that he was just speaking generally by saying they would only explore him "a bit more before he finishes," but this franchise's cast and crew tend to be pretty deliberate with their words in that respect.
Even if Lennie James would leave Fear the Walking Dead and its AMC predecessor in the near future, that obviously wouldn't necessitate the character's death on either show. Lauren Cohan is taking a potentially permanent vacation from The Walking Dead in the midst of Season 9, and she has seemingly already confirmed that Maggie's absence on the show won't be due to a fatal event. Of course, if Morgan truly does intend to make it back to Alexandria and the surrounding communities, that pro-o-o-obably means he won't die in the next eight episodes of Fear the Walking Dead. Unless the whole point is that it's a trip he won't survive long enough to make. (Cue the sound of lifeless feet dragging themselves across the ground.)
Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 returns to AMC on Sunday, August 12, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Get ready to see lots of crazy weather and some rough days for Alicia. Be sure to head to our fall premiere schedule to keep current with all the other shows coming your way, both terrifying and otherwise.