Longtime The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan will step away from the series in the front half of season 9 — but the actress might not yet be fully saying goodbye to widowed Hilltop leader Maggie Rhee.
“I’m in the first six episodes of the show, and then a lot happens in the sixth episode of the show,” Cohan told People. “But the possibilities for how Maggie remains in the story and re-enters the story and kind of stays alive through — not physically alive — but, you know what I’m saying, are multitudinous.”
Cohan is only half out of the door on the series: the actress, who has been with the show since its second season in 2011, inked a deal to appear in six more Walking Dead episodes following a contractual dispute. The new deal came after she signed on to headline upcoming spy dramedy Whiskey Cavalier alongside Scott Foley, which was ordered to series by ABC in May for a 2019 debut.
Despite moving on to lighter fare, Cohan hinted to EW during San Diego Comic-Con Maggie’s part in the upcoming season 9 leaves the door open for a future return.
“I’m so grateful that this has been my stomping ground for so long, and my family here is never gone,” Cohan said. “And also, Maggie’s story is open-ended.”
Cohan joins longtime leading man Andrew Lincoln as the other biggest departure from the show this season. Lincoln confirmed season 9 would be his last during The Walking Dead’s Hall H Comic-Con panel.
“For Andy to have poured his entire life almost into the show is — you can understand how much you need to then go and tend to [his] own life and see his kids,” Cohan told People of the father of two. “They’re little and he doesn’t get to spend as much time as he’d like to, so nobody really had a moment’s hesitation. I think on that show, we just really want each other to be happy.”
Cohan explained on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live yesterday she didn’t ask for an exit but that her contract simply had ended, calling a request for a pay increase “pretty standard renegotiation.”
“My Walking Dead story is open, it’s not finished,” Cohan said. “You don’t break up with someone and forget about them and delete them from your life, no, things transition into different places.”
The Walking Dead premieres its ninth season Sunday, October 7 on AMC.