Danai Gurira Struggled to Tell Walking Dead Fans She's Leaving the Show

After the departures of fan-favorite actors like Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, and Andrew Lincoln, it was a gut-punch to the viewers of The Walking Dead when news broke that Danai Gurira (who plays Michonne on the hit zombie drama) was leaving, too. She knew that was going to be the case, and as a result, struggled to find the right way to break the bad news to the fans who have helped make her a household name in genre entertainment. Gurira told Entertainment Tonight during a red carpet for the Season Ten premiere of The Walking Dead that she will miss the cast, crew, and fans of the series, which has become AMC's signature show.

The actress, who says she got to be a "collaborator" in her final season and help to shape the direction of her character's arc, was visibly moved during her farewell speech at Comic Con International in San Diego earlier this year.

"It's really what I shared at Comic-Con with the fans, which was really the key place to share it with all those amazing fans who devote themselves to coming and spend time with us every year," Gurira told ET. "And where I really felt the first embrace from what the TWD family meant was there, seven, eight years ago. So, it was very difficult to tell that to the audience and I struggled through it because it wasn't an easy decision to make, but it was time for me to start exploring other aspects of what I do as a storyteller."

While Gurira stayed mum on whether or not she has filmed her last scenes for The Walking Dead yet, she did promise fans that the way her character exits the show is "special." After Cohan and Lincoln managed to score series exits that, rather than killing their characters, left the door open for a return, fans have been wondering whether Michonne might get the same treatment.

The star was tight-lipped when asked if she could transition into the movie side of the franchise to be headlined by Lincoln, who reprises his role as Rick across a trilogy headed to theaters. Despite the secrecy surrounding her final season, franchise chief content officer Scott Gimple appeared to hint Gurira’s exit from the show isn’t the end of Michonne in TWD Universe:

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“She has some amazing things ahead of her and we’re not completely done with her, I’ll say that,” Gimple said during a Season 10 press conference at Comic-Con. “We’re not completely done with anyone who comes and goes on the show. But she has some amazing things ahead.”

The Walking Dead kicks off Gurira’s final season with a fiery action scene in the Season 10 premiere, airing Sunday, Oct. 6 at 9/8c on AMC. Customers subscribed to AMC Premiere can view the episode one week early.