Why did Danai Gurira leave The Walking Dead?

She made her last appearance as Michonne in last Sunday’s episode of the AMC series

Last Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead ends with Michonne (Danai Gurira) going off on a quest to find her long lost love, Rick (Andrew Lincoln). While it’s almost certainly not the last time fans will see the katana-wielding character in The Walking Dead universe, it actually serves as the final episode of Gurira in the AMC zombie drama.

Gurira’s exit from the series was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter in February 2019. The actress, however, didn’t confirm her departure from the show until July of that year at the San Diego Comic-Con.

During the show’s panel at the fan event, Gurira revealed that it was her personal choice to leave the series. “It was a very difficult decision,” said the actress who joined the series in its third season. “It is not connected to my heart. My heart stays right here. It was about my calling and other things I feel called to. The opportunities I’ve had, exploring it as a creator of work. I’m filled with a lot of pain about leaving and a lot of gratitude. I am thankful to all of you. I love you guys, and I love this show. The TWD family is forever.”

While Gurira didn’t specify the other things that she feels called to, the Black Panther actress is a critically-acclaimed playwright, so it’s likely that she left the series to focus more on playwriting. Another potential reason behind her departure is her new role as showrunner of the HBO Max drama Americanah. Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of the same name, the upcoming miniseries stars Lupita Nyong’o in the lead role.

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When the news about Gurira’s The Walking Dead exit broke, it was reported that the actress will likely segue to the three Walking Dead movies that AMC is planning with Lincoln. While that remains a possibility, The Walking Dead franchise chief Scott M. Gimple recently told The Hollywood Reporter that Gurira may also end up starring in her own spinoff series.

Gurira, meanwhile, was reluctant to give details about her possible return to The Walking Dead Universe. “I don’t know how much I can talk about it; but we’ll see what way, shape or form that ends up,” she said.

The Walking Season 10 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.