As Morgan Jones braces for "the end" in the sixth season finale of Fear the Walking Dead, actor Lennie James says he expected his character to die on The Walking Dead. After two appearances in The Walking Dead, where Morgan met Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the first season episode "Days Gone Bye" before their reunion in the third season episode "Clear," James returned to the mothership series for a recurring role in its fifth season and joined the cast as a series regular in the sixth season. Morgan would ultimately leave The Walking Dead in its eighth season finale for the fourth season of spin-off Fear as part of the first crossover between the two shows managed by Walking Dead Universe chief content officer Scott Gimple.
"When Scott became the showrunner [of The Walking Dead], I think one of the early conversations that he had was phoning my agent to ask whether or not I was interested in coming back to the show [in Season 5]," James recalled during a stream with TWDUniverse on Twitch. "And a lot of it was based on the experience that, strangely, the experience that I had on 'Clear' as opposed to the experience I had first time around [in Season 1], even though both of them were fantastic experiences. And I said yes, and I went back and I had a great time and they wrote really well for Morgan."
Gimple penned "Clear," the third season episode revealing what became of Morgan after his first season encounter with Rick. When Gimple was promoted to showrunner in the fourth season, Morgan returned in a coda ending the fifth season premiere, "No Sanctuary," also scripted by Gimple, later joining Rick's Alexandria to start the sixth season.
Morgan aligned himself with the militia that went to war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors in the eighth season, which ended with Morgan going into self-exile before running across the country and ending up in the Texas-set Fear.
"At a point when I thought that his journey was probably coming to an end on Walking Dead — I think once Negan joined the cast, there were certain points that the story had to hit because of the source material. There were just certain big things that need to happen," James said. "Alpha was coming, the Whisperers were coming. There were certain things that were gonna happen, and my character was long dead in the graphic novels."
Because his character died shortly after reaching the Alexandria Safe-Zone in issue #82 of creator Robert Kirkman's comic book, James believed Morgan would not survive The Walking Dead. Gimple called a meeting James thought was a death talk, but Gimple pitched a crossover that would send Morgan to the spin-off.
"When I was driving to Scott's house to have this meeting that he had called, I expected that conversation to be about how we ended Morgan's journey," James said. "And as it turned out, Scott said, 'Well, how about this as an alternative?'"
"I tried to find an actor that I could talk to who had been offered the opportunity that I had been offered, to leave a flagship show to go to a spinoff show that was already happening, and I couldn't find one that did it," James added. "That was a major thing in my decision to go and do it really, because it was a rare opportunity. It was like going to the moon. It was like taking a risk. It was like making yourself frightened again and challenging yourself again, and that's what this character of Morgan has been doing to me and for me over and over again. That was mostly my reason for saying yes."1comments
Read ComicBook's full interview with James ahead of the Season 6 finale.