The first half of The Walking Dead Season Eight ended with the shocking promise of impending doom for longtime survivor Carl Grimes, and another series veteran could be making their own exit shortly after: actress Lauren Cohan, who has played fan-favorite Maggie since Season Two.
The actress is said to be in talks with AMC for a pay raise.
Cohan is weighing her options for other series, and is reported as having nearly half a dozen offers on the table for new television pilots — meaning a failure to reach an agreement with AMC could see Maggie being axed from the show. Per the original report from Deadline:
"There had been rumblings that Cohan had sought parity with her male co-stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, who are paid significantly more than all of their female colleagues. I hear that was brought up early on but was not made a make-or-break requirement for Cohan to come back as she had joined the show later than Lincoln and Reedus who, on average, appear in more scenes than just about anyone else on the series. I hear AMC offered Cohan a modest salary increase in exchange for a long-term contract, which was rejected, a standard practice in talent re-negotiations."
The bombshell inspired mixed reactions from fans — most hope to see a satisfactory resolution allowing Cohan's Maggie to continue on in the series, others showing support for Cohan to earn pay closer in scale to her male co-stars — while others preemptively came to terms with the idea of The Walking Dead minus Cohan.
She's the only thing that keeps me from quitting the show. Once she's gine i can get rid of this burden— Valkyrie - Odette A. for S4! (@ValkyrieLLuthor) February 3, 2018
"She's the only thing that keeps me from quitting the show," writes Twitter user ValkyrieLLuthor. "Once she's [gone] I can get rid of this burden."
"Maggie is just as important as Rick and Daryl," writes Facebook commenter Jeannie Childers. "The show is nothing without Maggie."
"Give her a damn raise, she is a main person on the show and will become an even bigger part soon," Marisa Hanley wrote on Facebook in reaction to the news. "Fans love her and I think if she left that would really be the beginning of the end of the show."
"With Carl AND Maggie gone TWD is good as done," adds Chris Hoffman on Facebook. "Now it really is the Rick and Daryl show."
A fan-site dedicated to The Walking Dead alum Sonequa Martin-Green had harsh words for the show, writing it's "not worth being underpaid, missing in half the [episodes] & barely getting screentime. She deserves better than TWD."
SonequaOnline cites Green's leap to the Star Trek universe and Michonne actress Danai Gurira's leap to the Marvel Universe as the kind of possibilities awaiting actresses beyond The Walking Dead.
Go Lauren Cohan! It's not worth being underpaid, missing in half the eps & barely getting screentime.— Sonequa Online? (@SonequaOnline) February 2, 2018
She deserves better than TWD.
Sonequa was the same, deserved better & got that with Star Trek: Discovery; Danai Gurira with Marvel. Move on. AMC sucks.https://t.co/hlagLQZMrh
"Here's hoping TWD starts paying Lauren Cohan what she's worth," luciddaydreamin writes on Twitter. "It made sense for her to be paid less when she started, but she's been with the show for 7 years and she's a huge character. Deserves just as much as her male costars."
Here's hoping TWD starts paying Lauren Cohan what she's worth. It made sense for her to be paid less when she started, but she's been with the show for 7 years and she's a huge character. Deserves just as much as her male costars.— Jessica Wiebe (@luciddaydreamin) February 4, 2018
shivasezekiels shares the sentiment, writing Cohan "deserves to be paid just as much as her male costars. Maggie is literally one of the main focuses especially now."
Lauren Cohan deserves to be paid just as much as her male costars. Maggie is literally one of the main focuses especially now.— wayward beckah (@shivasezekiels) February 2, 2018
"Maybe it’s time to end the show," Christina Schoenherr writes on Facebook. "Maybe go out on top. Maybe end it while it’s still got core characters. Maybe end it with the few originals still alive. Maybe see the whisperers and bring it all to a close. Maybe find a cure. Or kill all the walkers and start rebuilding. Just end it."
"IF this is true," Anita Reed writes, "then it's a sure sign that the Walking Dead is about done. People need to face the fact, that it's just a show and nothing lasts forever."
Reading these @LaurenCohan stories regarding #TheWalkingDead. Wow! Complete shock. First losing Carl, but to then lose Maggie would be devastating to comic book and all fans! I hope @AMC_TV comes to the table and retains her and gives her what she's worth! The show needs Maggie!— James Frazier (@JamesAFrazier) February 3, 2018
Losing Maggie "would be devastating to comic book and all fans," JamesAFrazier writes on Twitter.
If anymore top people go think the show is finished— P-R (@Lfc7R) February 3, 2018
"If any more top people go [I] think the show is finished," Lfc7R adds.
"She's my favorite and I'm so excited to see her story on the show," writes RebecaDamasG. "I hope AMC gives her what she deserves because her loss would be devastating but at least Lauren would be getting what she's worth somewhere else where she can be appreciated."
Exactly. She’s my favorite and I’m so excited to see her story on the show. I hope AMC gives her what she deserves because her loss would be devastating but at least Lauren would be getting what she’s worth somewhere else where she can be appreciated— Rebeca (@RebecaDamasG) February 3, 2018
"Killing Maggie would be plain idiocracy," IsaacWelch_ writes. "Why would they be building her story up for seven years to put her in the position she's in just to kill her immediately after?"
Killing Maggie would be plain Idiocracy. Why would they be building her story up for seven years to put her in the position she's in just to kill her immediately after?— Isaac Welch (@IsaacWelch_) February 4, 2018
The last few years of The Walking Dead have sculpted Maggie into a leader in her own right, a role she's filled nicely by establishing herself as de facto leader of the Hilltop community in lieu of the treacherous and cowardly Gregory (Xander Berkeley).
Other fans were less reserved in their reactions:
TO THIS DAY I STILL MISS GLENN AND AM NOT OVER NEGAN KILLING HIM. @AMC_TV YALL BETTER PAY MY GIRL LAUREN COHAN WHAT SHE DESERVES— kiara❅ (@malhaeblanc) February 4, 2018
"I'm f—king outraged for Lauren Cohan," writes reyswintrfell.
I’m fucking outraged for Lauren cohan— ᴄɪɴ (@reyswintrfell) February 3, 2018
Chandler Riggs' Carl Grimes was once believed to be among the few characters considered "safe," but Carl's upcoming death on February 25 proves practically no one is safe.
I forgot to tweet this last night but if lauren cohan does indeed leave the show I would not be incredibly surprised. I don't want maggie to die and I did not expect her to any time soon, but all bets are pretty much off at this point.— meg (@smilewhovian) February 4, 2018
"I don't want Maggie to die and I did not expect her to any time soon," smilewhovian writes, "but all bets are pretty much off at this point."
Maggie "needs to become the leader Hilltop needs," Miss_woods21 writes. "I like they don't stick to comics, but Carl was a massive shock — may help shape Rick... but we need Maggie!!"
Other fans are less worried about potentially losing Maggie, but nonetheless support Cohan's attempt at bigger wages:
I don't like Maggie at all and I wouldn't care if she was gone, but I'm glad Lauren is standing up for herself. It's pathetic how women in this industry are treated.— Julia (@jdogjms) February 3, 2018
"I don't like Maggie at all and I wouldn't care if she was gone," jdogjms writes, "but I'm glad Lauren is standing up for herself. It's pathetic how women in this industry are treated."
"She needs to be careful," Amy Burleson says on Facebook. "You ask for money your character dies. Then they say it was all about the story line. Example: CARL. TWD makes enough to give their actors more money.They're going to keep on till no ones left, except Negan of course."
"If anyone deserves a raise it's Carol," Anthony Core writes of actress Melissa McBride's fan-favorite character, who has been with the show since its first season. "Maggie is really stale at this point [when is] the last time she's been interesting? How is she Rick and [Daryl's] level other than being with the show since early seasons? If Carl dies you know she's expendable."
Some fans blasted now former showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who recently vacated the showrunner position in favor of a promotion where he'll now oversee all Walking Dead related productions on AMC.
Lauren Cohan running from Scott Gimple after finding out what he did to Carl pic.twitter.com/wCuXFvQS8j— Leigh ◟̽◞̽ (@AsPerLousual) February 3, 2018
"At this point... I'm sure Gimple will completely finish off ruining what was once my favorite show," Stuart Burman writes on Facebook.
"Gimple [signed] the death warrant for the show by killing Carl off," says Robbie Pulliam.
"She might as well get out before it gets cancelled," Bob Wenger writes. "Gimple has killed TWD along with Carl."
the only thing keeping me watching twd are danai gurira and lauren cohan, if them ladies are out well pic.twitter.com/6ruDpOI9bt— shai (@KSTEWARTVEVO) February 4, 2018
"Lauren Cohen is an integral part of the show just like Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus," Brad Donald writes on Facebook.
"If Maggie leaves, we riot," writes Facebook commenter Joe Jamal Caldwell.
"If Maggie leaves I am done watching the show," threatens Facebook user Terry Hutchinson.
"If everyone keeps leaving I will stop watching, I've been here since the beginning," Lynn Draves says on Facebook. "If there will be no original cast members in the next few seasons, I'm done."
"Whatever she does, Lauren Cohan will be great," writes Kimberly Sliter-Hawkins. "She is an amazing actress."
Maggie is such a crucial and integral part of #TheWalkingDead, yet she is so underutilized. Her growth and ability to keep moving forward is what TWD is all about. She is probably the strongest character in the story, yet she is repeatedly overlooked. https://t.co/Wgu0wQ8uqy— The Walking Dead World (@TWalkingDWorld) January 30, 2018
"Maggie is such a crucial and integral part of The Walking Dead, yet she is so underutilized," TWalkingDWorld writes on Twitter. "Her growth and ability to keep moving forward is what TWD is all about. She is probably the strongest character in the story, yet she is repeatedly overlooked."
Cohan recently headlined small budget big screen horror The Boy in 2016 and made a cameo appearance as Martha Wayne, doomed mother of Bruce Wayne, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that same year.
The actress made two appearances on sitcom The Mindy Project as Ashley and portrayed Leila Steinberg in Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me, which also starred Danai Gurira.
Cohan is currently film Peter Berg-directed action flick Mile 22. The film co-stars Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey, and John Malkovich.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, February 25th.