Lauren Cohan's Hilltop colony leader Maggie won't return to The Walking Dead until it airs its planned Season 10 finale as a special episode later this year, but creator Robert Kirkman's comic books hint how Maggie might re-enter the series after more than a year away. Season 10 episode 15, "The Tower," ends with evacuees from the allied Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside communities taking refuge in an abandoned hospital tower while Beta (Ryan Hurst) carries out the final battle of the Whisperer War, fulfilling the plans of slain leader Alpha (Samantha Morton). After finding Alexandria abandoned, Beta's herd changes direction and the now trapped heroes find their hideout under siege in a cliffhanger ending.
In issue #162, following a devastating attack by the Whisperers on their community, Maggie and other refugees set up camp outside the burned Hilltop with plans to seek shelter at Alexandria. The community led by Rick Grimes has been targeted by Beta, who has already unleashed his massive walker horde to wipe out the survivors.
When an ocean of the dead reaches Alexandria's gates in issue #163, a desperate plan is formed: with no time to evacuate, a team of riders — Michonne, Eugene, Dwight, Magna, Yumiko, Jesus, Heath, and Andrea — set out to redirect the herd into the ocean. Andrea's group lure most of the walkers away, leaving the rest to be cleaned up by Rick and other Alexandrians, including a conscripted Negan.
Rick's plan to thin the herd out at Alexandria's gate fails when the overwhelming number of walkers breach the walls, and Alexandria is overrun by thousands of the dead.
Issue #164 opens with Maggie and the Hilltop caravan, including Carl Grimes, witnessing the carnage from a distance. They're met by Michonne and Jesus, who report the Alexandrians know to take cover inside their homes. Maggie and Dante then join the riders tasked with sending batches of walkers into the ocean.
Showrunner Angela Kang has hinted Maggie will return in the nick-of-time, suggesting she might first come across the destroyed Hilltop before following the herd to the hospital where the survivors are now trapped. Kang also hinted Maggie's return is tied to the hospital cliffhanger when she said Maggie has a significant role to play.
"I don't want to spoil too much about it, but we're really excited about that Lauren's coming back," Kang said on a past episode of Talking Dead. "We've been saying for a while that we have more stories to tell with her, and so, I'll just say she comes in and there's a lot of stuff going on. And there's some stuff of significance that she does."
Kang also told ComicBook.com Cohan receives a "nice, big arc" when she rejoins as a series regular in Season 11, teasing we "very well may be seeing the start of that in Season 10."
The Walking Dead next airs "A Certain Doom" as a special episode later this year. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.