Why Danai Gurira Is Leaving 'The Walking Dead' in Season 10

Michael Maloney
Gene Page/AMC

The San Diego Comic-Con 2019 panel for Season 10 of The Walking Dead was bittersweet. Sweet because of the sizzle reel and teases that producers and cast gave regarding what fans can expect when the show returns in October. It was bitter because Danai Gurira, who has played fan favorite Michonne since Season 3, announced that she’s leaving the show.

“I can confirm that this is the last season I will be on this amazing show as Michonne,” Gurira announced during the panel held at Hall H. “This has been one of the purest joys of my life and to be amongst these people who are here and not here and all of you. I’m very thankful the experiences I’ve had.

“My heart does not leave,” she continued. “When I came here in 2012, I felt that [wonderful] energy. The decision to leave is a difficult one. My heart says stay right here, but this was also about my calling in doing other things. I am filled with a lot of pain and gratitude. I love you guys and the show.”

Danai Gurira attends The Walking Dead Panel at Comic-Con 2019 (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for AMC)

A near-standing ovation followed as the houselights in Hall H lit up.

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Plus, the cast and creators bid farewell (sort of) to Danai Gurira, look back on the early days, and tease Season 10.

Panel moderator Chris Hardwick and host of The Talking Dead weighed in on the news.

“As a fan, it’s hard to say goodbye to Michonne and to you [Danai]," he gushed. "But as someone who is deeply a fan of yours, I know you’re an incredible playwright and actor. The second I saw you in Black Panther [as Okoye], I thought, ‘Oh, she’s doing to do a lot of this!’

Danai Gurira and Chris Hardwick (Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

How will the show send off the character and the actress?

“I don’t know,” said Angela Kang, executive producer. “It’s hard. Her importance to the show cannot be overstated. The mark that she’s left, the excellence that she brings, her professionalism, her passion – all of that has been a remarkable journey. We’ve seen her blossom and spread her wings.”

Angela Kang and Danai Gurira (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kang says a great deal of thought will be put into how to conclude the character. “We take that responsibility very seriously,” she says. “We want to do right by the actress and the story. We’ve put her through her paces… she’s a spectacular actress. I’m excited for people to see the depth of her beauty and her work, as always. We’ll miss the hell out of her.”

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Watch for Gurira to be involved behind the scenes in future projects. “I am involved very deeply in writing for TV right now,” she says. “I am so thankful for this [Walking Dead] family and to this astounding woman next to me [Kang]. I’ve learned so much from [her and the writers]. They’ve given me generous support.”

The Walking Dead, Season 10 Premiere, Sunday, October 6, 9/8c, AMC