The Walking Dead Star Says Lauren Cohan Exit Left “Maggie-Shaped Hole” in the Story

The Walking Dead stars are excited to welcome back Lauren Cohan’s Maggie Rhee, whose absence left a “Maggie-shaped hole in the cast and the story” in seasons 9 and 10. As announced at New York Comic Con earlier in October, Cohan will officially end her hiatus from TWD with a return in the back half of Season 10 before she’s fully reinstated as a series regular in the freshly renewed Season 11. Cohan quietly stepped away after episode 905, “What Comes After,” the sendoff episode for Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln, for a leading role in short-lived spy action-comedy Whiskey Cavalier, cancelled by ABC over the summer.

“We’re really excited to have her back. I mean, to not have her for most of last season, I feel like there was kind of a Maggie-shaped hole in the cast and the story, and so it’s very exciting to get her back,” Cohan’s longtime TWD co-star Josh McDermitt told TV Insider. “She’s a tremendous friend and a tremendous actress, and I’m excited for the stories we get to tell with Maggie Rhee.”

Maggie exited the Hilltop colony some point during the six-year time skip that followed the disappearance and presumed death of Rick. Cohan’s absence was explained when Siddiq (Avi Nash) informed Michonne (Danai Gurira) that Maggie was away helping Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) with a new community.

In the time since, interim Hilltop leaders Jesus (Tom Payne) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) fell victim to Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers, the same skin-wearing pack who murdered Maggie’s close friend Enid (Katelyn Nacon). Her community is now led by King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) following the shuttering of the Kingdom, the two communities merged into “Kingtop.”

Amid these significant changes, Maggie will receive a “nice, big arc” in Season 11, showrunner Angela Kang told ComicBook.com, adding that arc will start to take shape later in Season 10.

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“She’s one of the originals so it’s nice to have her back,” Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus told us at NYCC. “I mean, there’s so many new cast members, it’s nice to get some of that, I don’t wanna say old energy ‘cause she’s still a young lady, but to get some of that, you know, the feeling of that original crew together, because, I mean, this show started with magic, with that original cast and original crew. A lot of the original crew’s still there, but, I mean, we built this baby, you know what I mean? So it’s nice to have that energy back on set.”

In her first comments since her surprise announcement in New York, Cohan said she is “super excited to see what this next chapter of Maggie will be.”