Michonne Star Danai Gurira's Heartfelt Farewell to The Walking Dead

Danai Gurira feels "so blessed" by her time as Michonne on The Walking Dead, which came to an end after eight seasons in Sunday's "What We Become." Like Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes before her, who survived The Walking Dead and will reappear elsewhere in The Walking Dead Universe outside the mothership television series, Gurira's Michonne exited the show without being killed off: Michonne was last seen traveling north in search of the missing Rick, having learned the father of children Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor) is still alive. Whether Michonne resurfaces in the Walking Dead movies or somewhere else, Gurira's time with the television series is finished.

"I'm thankful for the fact that I was able to play a character that had an arc and an evolution and allowed me to see her through so many different colors of her humanity, and get to a place where she was who she ended up being in the end," Gurira said on Talking Dead. "And for any resonance that that had with everybody, but women and girls who have come up to me over the years, and really strengthened me with their love for the character."

One such encounter with a fan helped inspire Love Our Girls, a global advocacy and awareness program for girls and women.

"I've been so blessed by the love and the connection that I've been able to have with the audience and the fans, and to me that's been an absolute gift," Gurira added. "As well as the love I've had with TWD Family who I've made the show with, all the amazing people you never get to see behind the scenes, I couldn't be more thankful for having them in my life. It never ends. The connections, the friendships, the love, the family."

Since joining the zombie drama as the katana-wielding walker slayer in Season 3, Gurira discovered in Michonne a multifaceted character.

"All that she went through and all that she's navigated through as a woman, and where she ends up being, and the choices that she makes, is something that I found inspiring at times, seeing the journey she's taken as a character," she said. "And her ferocity and her care at the same time, her warrior aspects and her maternal aspects at the same time, her vulnerability and her armor at the same time. All these things I find to be this very complex and very beautifully-dimensioned woman, and at the same time, the beauty of it all is we also got the arc of her as a leader."

Michonne stepping up as more of a leader "was something I was very thankful for, and very much enjoyed being able to see a woman do all those things on screen for that long over that time."

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"So I'm thankful to everybody for that," Gurira added. "Of course [The Walking Dead creator Robert] Kirkman for coming up with her, and [TWD chief content officer Scott] Gimple and Angela [Kang, showrunner] for arcing her with so many different dimensions and colors."

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays on AMC. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.