According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gurira has signed a deal to return as katana-wielding zombie apocalypse survivor Michonne for "a handful of episodes" in Season 10 before making a likely transition to the spin-off movies that will reunite her with former costar Andrew Lincoln. (AMC declined to comment when reached by TV Guide.)
Gurira is the latest in a string of Walking Dead stars to leave the show in the past year or so, following Chandler Riggs, who was written off in Season 8, and Lincoln and Lauren Cohan, who both left partway through Season 9, though Cohan may return in some capacity in Season 10.
Gurira joined AMC's horror drama in Season 3 and has become one of the show's breakout stars, rising to the second-billed spot behind Norman Reedus after Lincoln and Cohan left. During her time on the show, her star as an actor and writer has risen immensely, thanks to a high-profile role in Black Panther and a Tony nomination in 2016 for her play Eclipsed. It was probably only a matter of time before she left to focus on her own projects, which include writing and producing an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's hit novel Americanah into a limited series that will reunite her with Eclipsed star Lupita Nyong'o. Keeping Gurira long enough to finish her story on The Walking Dead and appear in the movies is a bittersweet win for AMC; Michonne's arc will likely see her get some signal that her lover Rick Grimes (Lincoln) is still alive and then set out to find him.
With most of the previous stars gone, Reedus and Melissa McBride are getting big raises, reportedly signing three-year deals that will pay them somewhere in the range of $50-90 million and $20 million respectively and allow them to move between Walking Dead properties, including current spin-off Fear the Walking Dead and potential future movies and spin-offs as AMC carries out its Walking Dead universe expansion plan.
The Walking Dead returns for the second half of Season 9 on Sunday.