Since its debut on Halloween night in 2010, AMC's The Walking Dead has gone from an intimate adaptation of the Robert Kirkman's long-running comic book series to a massive cultural phenomenon thanks in part to the the rich storylines and the expansive cast that almost outnumbers the army of zombies that populate the show's landscape. And over the course of the show's first 10 seasons, many members of the cast like Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Jon Bernthal have become gone from relatively unknown actors to massive stars.
But with a cast as large as the one on The Walking Dead there are bound to be a few that leave the show either because their characters' stories are finished or they want to move onto something else and further their careers. And even though we'll be seeing the return of Lauren Cohan's Maggie when Season 11 premieres, what about some of the other former members of the cast who left the series. What are they up to?
Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes)
Andrew Lincoln served as the anchor of the larger The Walking Dead cast with his portrayal of Rick Grimes for the show's first nine seasons, but the English actor and aggressive zip-up sweater wearing hopeless romantic in Love Actually had been planning on leaving the show as early as Season 8 but stayed on for one more season before leaving to spend more time with his family. Since leaving the AMC series, Lincoln has kept a relatively low profile, but he is set to appear in the upcoming drama Penguin Bloom where he will star alongside Naomi Watts. And despite no longer being on the show, Lincoln recently gave former co-star Danai Gurira a touching sendoff following her final episode.
Speaking of The Walking Dead, we're still waiting for more news on those spinoff movies featuring the return of Rick Grimes.
Danai Gurira (Michonne)
It seems like it was just yesterday that Danai Gurira announced that she would be stepping away from her role of Michonne after Season 10 of The Walking Dead, explaining that she was being called to other things in her life during a panel at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. Even before and since her departure, Gurira has remained quite busy balancing time as a hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as a hero in the real world as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, which she was named in December 2018. On top of that, the former The Walking Dead star is busy at work writing the upcoming HBO Max series Americanah, as well as Godzilla Vs. Kong, which is slated to come out in the November 2020.
Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh)
Jon Bernthal is one of those quietly amazing actors, and that was no different in his portrayal of Shane Walsh, Rick Grimes' former best friend-turned-enemy in the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. The role was suspected to be short-lived from the jump, but there are times when you can't help but miss the gravity Shane brought to many of the situations early on in the series.
Since leaving the series, Bernthal has become one of the most prolific actors of our time with bit roles in a number of instant-classics as well as Frank Castle on the Netflix Marvel series Daredevil and Punisher. And with several upcoming projects including the TV adaptation of American Gigolo and The Many Saints Of Newark (the long-awaited prequel film to The Sopranos), it looks like we'll be seeing more of Bernthal for years to come.
Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes)
For three seasons on The Walking Dead, Sarah Wayne Callies portrayed Lori Grimes, but the character's fate when she sacrificed herself to give birth to Judith during a Cesarean section that ultimately took her life. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Callies stated that the character had to die in order to push Rick Grimes to the next level. After leaving the show, Callies went on to return to the Fox series Prison Break as well as the TNT drama Colony. The actress is currently on the NBC series The Council Of Dads, a series Callies told The Sioux City Journal stopped her from quitting acting altogether.
Laurie Holden (Andrea)
Laurie Holden was quite vocal about the death of her character Andrea in the Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead, the culmination of a storyline with the Governor the actress was not too fond of following her departure. Since leaving the show, Holden has remained quite busy both with her acting career (which most recently included television work on Proven Innocent and animated feature Arctic Dogs) and her work in charity and human rights work, including the Somaly Mam Foundation, Operation Underground Railroad, and Home From Home.
Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale Horvath)
Jeffrey DeMunn was one of the members of the original Atlanta crew in the first two seasons of The Walking Dead, but the actor asked to be killed off after Frank Darabont, the original showrunner, was pushed out of the production. DeMunn and Darabont have worked together multiple times over the years starting with the 1994 release of The Shawshank Redemption, so it should come as no surprise that the actor would leave in that fashion. Since leaving the show, DeMunn has remained busy in film and television, including the Showtime series Billions, where he currently plays Chuck Rhoades, Sr.
Steven Yeun (Glenn Rhee)
There is no death on The Walking Dead more shocking and unsettling than the brutal murder of Steven Yeun's Glenn by the hands of the evil Negan. Like many of the characters in the series, their deaths were predetermined in the pages of the original comic series, and that's the case for Glenn, though Robert Kirkman shared with Entertainment Weekly that there were talks of keeping him around. Those talks never panned out, but Yeun has stayed busy with projects like Sorry To Bother You, Burning, and the upcoming A24 feature The Humans, where the actor will star alongside Jayne Houdyshell, Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, and June Squibb.
Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon)
Michael Rooker only appeared in 14 episodes of The Walking Dead, but his performance as Daryl Dixon's older and antagonistic brother Merle is one worth remembering. There was no saving Merle after he turned into a zombie at the end of Season 3, but the death of his character hasn't stopped Rooker from continuing his career in film and television. After leaving the series, Rooker became an even bigger star following his portrayal of Yondu in Guardians Of The Galaxy and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2., where he reunited with James Gunn. The partnership, which started with Slither, will continue when Rooker appears in Gunn's 2021 The Suicide Squad. And expect to see the actor enter the Fast And Furious franchise with the 2012 release of F9.
Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes)
One of the biggest shocks of Season 8 of The Walking Dead was the early departure of Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes from the series when Rick's son was bitten by a walker, ending his run in the process. Fans and stars of the show were equally as shocked by former showrunner Scott Gimple's choice of killing off one of the central characters, but no one took it as bad as Riggs' father who had some choice words for Gimple after his son was written off the show. In 2019, the former The Walking Dead star was cast as Patrick "PJ" Nelson on the ABC drama, A Million Little Things, which was renewed in March 2020.
Sonequa Martin-Green originally auditioned for the role of Michonne in The Walking Dead. Though the part ended up going to Danai Gurira, Martin-Green snagged the part of Sasha. She recurred on the series in Season 3 and was bumped up to a series regular in The Walking Dead's fourth season. Like many of her other former cast-members, Martin-Green's character had a very memorable exit. After her departure from The Walking Dead, Martin-Green took a starring role in the CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Discovery. She's also expected to appear in Space Jam: A New Legacy in 2021.
David Morrissey (Philip "The Governor" Blake)
Before the introduction of Negan, there was no character more dastardly or deadly than David Morrissey's portrayal of Philip "The Governor" Blake" starting in Season 3 of The Walking Dead. Like many of the characters featured in both the comic and television series, The Governor suffered a violent death during the Season 4 midseason finale. Since leaving The Walking Dead, Morrissey has gone on to have roles in Inside No. 9, the Amazon series Good Omens, and the upcoming Dampyr adaptation.
Lennie James (Morgan Jones)
Morgan Jones, portrayed by the great Lennie James, was one of the first characters Rick Grimes meets in Season 1 of The Walking Dead, and the character showed up several more times over subsequent seasons before becoming a member of the main cast starting in Season 6. And despite dying in Season 8, Morgan had the rare distinction of showing up in the spinoff series Fear The Walking Dead, where James remains as a series regular. In addition to The Walking Dead universe, James has shown up in films like Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.
Those are just a few of former The Walking Dead stars that have gone on to continue their careers in film, television, and elsewhere in recent years. I'm sure whenever the show returns, we can expect to see more characters and actors on this list. If you want to know which former castmember hasn't watched the AMC series, you can check that out here on CinemaBlend.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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