What happens to the Grimes children when Danai Gurira’s Michonne exits The Walking Dead? Judith (Cailey Fleming) and younger brother RJ (Antony Azor) are dutifully raised by the Alexandria leader following the presumed death of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), but Season 10 of the zombie drama will be Gurira’s last: the star confirmed her exit at San Diego Comic-Con in July, leaving a question mark around the future of the Grimes children. Director and executive producer Greg Nicotero doesn’t expect rising star Fleming to exit alongside her TV mom in Season 10, so who takes over as caretaker for Judith and RJ when Michonne is out of the picture?
“Um, well, you know... The amazing thing about the apocalyptic community is it’s truly a village,” showrunner Angela Kang said on Talking Dead following Sunday’s TWD Season 10 premiere. “There’s so many people who love Judith and RJ, Michonne loves them so much, these people on the couch love them so much, and so, there will be some story about what happens in that aftermath.”
Couch guests Norman Reedus (Daryl), Melissa McBride (Carol), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) were similarly tight-lipped. But Morgan, whose Negan has formed the unlikeliest of friendships with Judith, quickly raised his hand with a smile when asked who might raise the Grimes children.
Morgan credits Negan’s bond with Judith as playing a big role in his reformation from baseball bat-swinging villain to vegetable-picking anti-hero.
“We know the pre-apocalypse life he had, he was a teacher, he worked with kids. I think he has a certain affinity towards kids anyway, and he really likes Judith,” Morgan said on a recent episode of Conan. “And I think seeing that side of him has done a lot for his reputation with fans, maybe they don’t want to kill me as much as they used to.”
Judith brings out “another side” of Negan, who has spent nearly eight years as the sole prisoner in Alexandria’s jail. With the threat of the Whisperers encroaching on Alexandria’s walls, Morgan hopes its survivors give him a chance to prove he’s changed.
“I think what we can look forward to this year is [he’s] out of jail, for one. Which way is he gonna go?” Morgan said. “I’ve been having so much fun this year, because now that we have seen different sides to him — we know the dark side, the really kind of rough leader and what he’s capable of — and then we saw him interacting with Judith, and you see another side of him.”
How Gurira exits is shrouded in secrecy, and that exit strategy is one that will raise even more questions, according to a Walking Dead producer. However it happens, Gurira’s final season story — which might not be the end of Michonne’s journey in TWD Universe —
has earned Fleming’s approval.
“I was really, really happy with the way that she leaves the show,” Fleming told ET Live ahead of Season 10. “I think that they did it really well and everybody did a very good job with her exit. I’m excited.”