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the walking dead season 9 michonne danai gurira

The end of an era is coming to The Walking Dead, as Danai Gurira is reportedly leaving the series as Michonne. Gurira has been a key part of the show ever since joining up for Season 3, and she really stepped up after the departures of Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan. Here's what we know.

Danai Gurira is reportedly leaving the show, but fans don't have to worry that she'll be out of the zombie apocalypse sooner rather than later. Much like Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan struck deals that brought them back for some episodes of Season 9, THR states that Gurira will be back in a limited capacity in Season 10. Her return will be comprised of a limited number of episodes, "interspersed throughout Season 10."

News of Danai Gurira's departure isn't altogether surprising. Rumors that she would leave have been circulating for a while, and she has found success on the big screen in recent years. Although projects like Black Panther in the MCU didn't require her to leave the zombie apocalypse, she almost certainly will not have any trouble finding new projects after The Walking Dead.

A big question is how The Walking Dead will handle her exit. As recently as this past summer (and before news of the Rick Grimes movies broke), many fans believed it possible that the show would kill off major characters like Rick, for whom it wasn't really believable that they would just bail on their settlements.

The movies that are now in the works mean another way to write out characters, and the odds are quite good that however Michonne leaves the main action of The Walking Dead, she'll be back in the movies. While nothing official from AMC or Danai Gurira herself has been announced about her appearing in the movies at the time of writing, the Walking Dead comics prevent the perfect way to write Michonne out without killing her off, and even reuniting her with her lost love.

The comics introduce a place called The Commonwealth, which is a community with a population of more than 50,000 people. Organized to the point that it actually resembles a normal society, The Commonwealth amounts to a surprisingly safe place in the zombie apocalypse. On the page, Michonne discovers that her daughter is alive and living there, motivating her to leave Alexandria.

Now, on the show, Michonne obviously doesn't have a long-lost daughter, although she has raised Judith as her own. Still, the show could totally adapt the comic storyline with only a few tweaks. If Michonne gets word that Rick is alive in The Commonwealth -- which is a likely twist for the movies, given how he left the series alive and on the way to being well -- then it would make sense for her to take their son and join him there.

That does raise the question of what would happen with Judith. The kid is Rick and Michonne's daughter, even if not biologically, and one would think that Michonne would take her along if she leaves Alexandria to find Rick.

That said, Judith has become a major part of the plot since the time jump, and it's difficult to imagine The Walking Dead writing out the last remaining Grimes from the Rick era. What could motivate Michonne to leave Judith behind? Or could The Walking Dead write the whole family out of the series and move them to the movies?

If you haven't watched already, The Walking Dead returns for the second half of Season 9 on Sunday, February 10 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For more of what will hit the airwaves soon, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule.

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