The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but The Hollywood Reporter is making it official: According to sources, Danai Gurira will depart The Walking Dead in season ten. Neither AMC nor reps for the actress provided comment, but based on THR’s report, “Gurira will return in a limited capacity — described as only a handful of episodes” that will be sprinkled throughout the tenth season. The trade adds, however, that she could still be involved with the Walking Dead spinoff films that the network is developing. As AMC’s head of programming told THR last year, “We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays. Obviously, the lesson of Andy is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”
Gurira was obviously a highlight of Black Panther, but she is also a playwright and theater actress, all of which made her eventual Walking Dead exit feel like it would come sooner rather than later. Andrew Lincoln, who played Rick, paramour of Gurira’s character Michonne, left after season nine, but he is definitely coming back for the planned movies, so maybe there is still light on the horizon for dedicated Rick and Michonne stans. But for now, it’s up to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) to keep the heart of the series beating.