Goodbye to Michonne, ‘TWD’s Katana-Swinging Badass With a Heart of Gold

Spoiler Alert
Eliza Morse/AMC

“My s**t never stopped being together,” Michonne (Danai Gurira) once snapped at Andrea (Laurie Holden), responding to her friend’s assertion that they should stay at Woodbury and, well, get their stuff together. It’s hard to remember all the way back then — back when Michonne hadn’t met Rick (Andrew Lincoln), hadn’t become a mother figure to Carl (Chandler Riggs) or Judith (Cailey Fleming). Granted, she’s heading off to find the love of her life — hello, Rick movies! — so this isn’t a tragic sendoff. It feels more like a temporary farewell.

But even so, this quote exemplifies so much of what we’ll miss about Michonne. We’ll miss her humor. We’ll miss her stone-cold badassery. We’ll miss her leadership, and most of all, her heart. Read on for an exploration of why TWD just won’t be the same without her.

The Mat Said Welcome

Especially in earlier seasons, before we were laughing at Eugene (Josh McDermitt)’s ludicrous vocabulary or Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)’s irreverent comments, Michonne had some of the funniest lines on the show. It’s hard not to smile when she reveals that iconic painted cat and tells Carl it was “too gorgeous” to leave behind, or when she starts eating Morgan (Lennie James)’s food (“The mat said ‘welcome.’”). Her comment to Rick in later seasons about his beard — “Your face is losing the war” — is equally hilarious.

No, Michonne isn’t a comic. But on a show as bleak as TWD can be, her occasional funny commentaries were always welcome, and they provided brief diversions from the dark world in which the main characters live.

A Practical Weapon

Another hallmark of Michonne’s character has been, since the beginning, her weapon… and the skill with which she wields it. There’s a good reason so much of TWD’s merchandising, especially in the early seasons, leaned on her, Rick, and Daryl. Michonne was, and is, iconic. That katana is synonymous with her name, like a crossbow is to Daryl, except a katana doesn’t need any additional accessories to be deadly. Remember the time she wrote “Go back” in walker parts as a warning to Woodbury’s militia? Yeah, Michonne’s just cool.

TWD has had its fair share of cool characters with signature weapons, but at the risk of sounding too simplistic, Michonne’s pure badassery is going to be missed. She’s been around for so long that it’ll be odd not seeing her swing her blade and chop down dozens of walkers every Sunday. That blade is also symbolic of her smarts; it’s a practical weapon, highlighting her practicality and rationality in every facet of surviving the apocalypse. This woman was once a lawyer. It shows.

Important Representation

TWD’s always had awesome female characters, but Michonne’s really the first woman we saw who was dedicated to fighting and skilled at it. Yes, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) helped clear the prison and Andrea expressed an interest in learning to shoot (and then promptly shot Daryl). But Michonne was playing chess while many of ‘em were still playing checkers, not yet the dangerous fighters they’d become.

Why does this matter? We’re definitely not trying to pit female characters against each other, but Michonne was important representation in a number of significant ways at a time when the show didn’t have a character quite like her. She defied stereotypes at every turn. She was allowed to be deadly and dark as well as maternal and caring. That was a breath of fresh air to TWD.

Sword of Steel, Heart of Gold

But perhaps what we’ll miss most of all, beyond her skill set and humor, is Michonne’s heart. She doesn’t quite wear it on her sleeve, but it’s obvious she cares about her family and friends even if doing so ends up backfiring tragically on her, as it did in “Scars.” This is a woman who didn’t stop looking for Rick for years, who was more than willing to give up on finding him in order to stay with her children. This is a woman who helped Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura)’s group even though it went against her “no-helping” policy at the time. Even when she did her darnedest not to care, Michonne cared. A lot.

And for that reason, her end on The Walking Dead is incredibly fitting. Michonne’s always cared about her people, and about people, in general. It seems right that she leaves to help someone she loves, and to — hopefully! — bring her family back together. Although we hate to see her go, if her tenure on the show has been any indication of how her quest will fare, we know she’ll succeed.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC