Fans of “The Walking Dead” are still reeling from the departure of star Andrew Lincoln, and now another longtime member of the cast is ready to exit.
The Hollywood Reporter, first reported that sources said that Danai Gurira — who has played sword-wielding Michonne since the show’s third season — just signed a deal that would bring her back for one final season of the post-apocalyptic drama.
THR reports that the 40-year-old actress — who played a key role in Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” — will return in “a limited capacity,” described as “a handful of episodes… that will be interspersed throughout season 10.”
As THR points out, this is the latest creative blow to hit the wildly popular series following the departure of Lincoln, whose final episode aired last year.
Gurira confirmed that her time on the show would be coming to an end during Comic-Con.
“I can confirm that this is [my] last season. I will be leaving,” she said during a panel while holding back tears. “I would just like to say that this has been one of the purest joys of my life, to play this role. And to be amongst these people and those that are not here right now. I am very, very thankful for the experience I’ve had in ways I can’t even express right now.”
She added, “My heart does not leave, in any shape or form. The beauty of this show is that TWD family is forever. And the first time I came here in 2012 I felt this energy and it doesn’t ever end.”
Gurira then got a standing ovation from her castmates and the audience.
In an interview with THR in November, AMC programming president David Madden appeared hopeful that Gurira would stick around.
“She has been very vocal about saying that she loves the show. We love Danai; we love that character. Right now, she’s got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her. But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it,” he said.
“We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays,” he added. “Obviously, the lesson of Andy is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”