The Walking Dead fans gave Michonne star Danai Gurira a standing ovation at San Diego Comic-Con Friday, where Gurira officially confirmed her exit for the first time after months of tight-lipped secrecy.
"I can confirm that this is the last season I will be on the amazing TV show as Michonne," a teary-eyed Gurira said from Hall H.
"I'd just like to say that this has been one of the purest joys of my life, to play this role, and to be amongst these people and those that are not here right now and amongst all of you. I'm very, very thankful for the experience I've had in ways that I can't even express right now. My heart does not leave in any way shape or form."
Gurira said at Comic-Con her exit comes as she pursues other roles outside the world of The Walking Dead.
"The beauty is that TWD Family is forever and I came in in 2012 and felt this energy and this connection never ends. It's not connected to the decision I made," Gurira added. "It was about my calling and other things I feel called to and the opportunities I've had through the other things I do as a creator or work."
Gurira's co-stars Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan made similar exits in the front half of Season 9. For Gurira, who has exploded on the big screen with roles in Marvel Studios' Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, her blossoming career resulted in a lot of "overlapping."
"There was a lot of overlapping that happened, from Walking Dead, into Black Panther, then Black Panther into Infinity [War], then back into Walking Dead, then into Endgame. There was a lot of flow between Michonne and Okoye," Gurira said when contrasting her TWD and Marvel roles during an April appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"There was one day I literally woke up and went into Michonne, and I was Michonne until like 11 p.m., and then I was picked up at 3 a.m. to go be Okoye all day. So that was a special day."
Despite her coming exit, showrunner Angela Kang promised Michonne still has a "significant" role in Season 10.
"We've kind of known that she would have a reduced role this coming season. We're excited to tell a nice, meaty story with her for Season 10 regardless, I can tell you," Kang previously told Deadline.
"I'm also so thrilled with all the great attention she's gotten for the work she's done on the show this year. Danai is not only an amazing athlete and warrior on the show, but she's such an incredible dramatic actress too in my opinion."
Gurira's last season of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.