The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira on Her “Heartbreaking” Michonne Exit

Soon exiting Michonne star Danai Gurira is opening up about her "heartbreaking" departure from The Walking Dead after eight seasons with a message of "love and support" to fans, cast and crew. Gurira first confirmed her exit from the series at San Diego Comic-Con in July, where the emotional Michonne star received a standing ovation from fans during the zombie drama's Season 10 panel. Since the season launched in October, Gurira has appeared sporadically across just four of 11 episodes — "Lines We Cross," "Ghosts," "Silence the Whisperers," and "The World Before" — and will next appear in episode 13, "What We Become," her sendoff episode.

"To all those out there who have shown love and support to The Walking Dead over the years, I just want to express so much love and support to you. Leaving the show has been such a heartbreaking thing because it's such a beautiful family, both when we get to share it with the world and when we make it together," Gurira told Entertainment Weekly. "Playing Michonne has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, and I have deeply learned from her, and grown with her, and adored how I've been challegened by her and the amazing relationships I got to form with her and through her."

Gurira will "not just miss her, but her weapon, and we had a lot of fun and a lot of wonderful years," she said of the katana-wielding zombie slayer.

"I cannot express more love to the amazing cast and crew that I got to become family with. And also all of you," Gurira added. "So I just have to say thank you and goodbye to Michonne."

There is speculation Gurira could follow Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln to the still untitled Walking Dead feature film franchise planned to release as a trilogy under Universal Pictures.

The lack of updates on that project, first announced following Lincoln's departure from the television show in Nov. 2018, could be explained by Gurira's potential involvement.

Michonne was last seen in November's midseason finale, "The World Before," where she parted with daughter Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) at Oceanside before setting sail with Virgil (Kevin Carroll), a stranded survivor who offered to trade weapons capable of destroying Whisperer Alpha's (Samantha Morton) walker horde in exchange for being reunited with his family.

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"What We Become" premieres Sunday, March 22 at 9/8c on AMC. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.