Editor’s note: The original headline has been adjusted to reflect the most recent update. - ED
After establishing her cinematic dominance, it looks like it’s actually happening: Danai Gurira is finally resting her katana above the mantle after seven seasons and exiting The Walking Dead—for real this time. Per The Hollywood Reporter, sources confirm that Gurira, who arrived in the third season as the iconic Michonne, has inked a deal to return to the series for a final run, where she will appear in “a handful of episodes.” There is still a chance that she will follow her former leading man Andrew Lincoln to the three planned Walking Dead films, but nothing has been solidified (not publicly, at least) as of yet.
While Gurira’s exit feels like the latest blow to the franchise, it’s a logical next step in her skyrocketing career. After a scene-commanding turn as Okoye in Marvel’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, her continued participation in the AMC mainstay—which has seen ratings nearly as dead as its zombies over the past few years—seemed to be racing against her rising potential. Even AMC’s programming president David Madden knew the deal back in November, sounding hopeful, but realistic: “Right now, [Gurira’s] got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her,” he told THR. “But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it.”
Despite the departures of Gurira, Lincoln, and Lauren Cohen, the series continues to cling to precious, dwindling life, as it was renewed for a tenth season.
UPDATE, 7/19 @ 3:56 PM CST - While the reports surrounding Gurira’s forthcoming exit seemed pretty certain, the official confirmation came from Gurira herself during The Walking Dead’s panel at Comic-Con this afternoon. The show’s official Twitter account tweeted the confirmation shortly after the not-so-shocking reveal, though it does not elaborate whether or not Gurira will return in the franchise’s films. Still, news like this is always best directly from the source.