Read through current issues of The Walking Dead comic book, and you’ll find that Hershel Green’s strong and independent daughter, Maggie, is alive and well. As any fan of The Walking Dead can tell you, however, that means nothing on AMC’s televised iteration of Robert Kirkman’s successful print series. Just as the show prepares to kill off Carl, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie and her unborn baby, too, may be facing the chopping block.
Unlike other unexpected or untimely deaths in the show, though, the loss of Maggie would leave the production in a tight spot. Rumors of Lauren Cohan’s departure after season eight started to spin when it was revealed she had not signed on for the ninth season. Making matters worse was the news that Cohan had agreed to star in ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier. Created by Bill Lawrence and Dave Hemingson, the hour-long action-dramedy’s shooting schedule would allegedly not interfere withfilming The Walking Dead. Still, fans of the zombie drama are panicking at the thought of losing the Hilltop’s willing leader, and they should be.
The Walking Dead may not pick off characters at the same pace as Game of Thrones, but the past few seasons have proven that nobody is safe. The issue with a Maggie-less post-apocalyptic world, though, is that it would leave the Hilltop leaderless. In the comic series, Maggie takes over the Hilltop community after the death of Glenn, much as she’s done in the show. If she were to kick the bucket, however, there aren’t enough strong and logical characters left that could fill her shoes. As many have pointed out, The Walking Dead has been spreading itself too thin and lacking the character development it once had. The list of potential replacements for Maggie is small, if it exists at all.
Tom Payne’s peace-loving Jesus may seem like the next logical choice, but since his introduction, he’s been better suited as a background schemer and not a foreground character. With Rick’s hands full at Alexandria and Michonne likely preferring to stay with her beau, Carol and Daryl are the only remaining original survivors, but neither has shown that they can lead without growing volatile and unpredictable.
So, if Maggie departs, will Hilltop be left to its own devices? The showrunners could nix Alexandria altogether, especially considering the level of damage done to it at the close of season eight’s first half. This would allow Rick to transplant the community's survivors to Hilltop where he takes charge. Otherwise, it’s not looking good.
Then again, nothing is set in stone. Despite stalled contract negotiations, Cohan may still sign up for season nine, securing Maggie another season alive in an undead world.