Read the latest developments here: Walking Dead Midseason Finale: [Spoiler]'s Death & NEW Villains Explained
The Walking Dead season 9 episode 7, "Stradivarius," explains what happened to Lauren Cohan's Maggie Rhee, who was written out so badly in Rick Grimes' final episode that most people didn't notice she had left. It's been known for quite some time now that Andrew Lincoln wanted to hang up his hat as Rick Grimes and exit The Walking Dead TV show. It was something that the producers were aware of for the past few seasons, so it wasn't too surprising when it was revealed season 9 would be his last one.
But when it was reported earlier this year that Cohan would also be leaving the series, it took fans by surprise. Instead of exiting the long-running drama because of spending too much time away from family or wanting to advance her career in film (or something along those lines), Cohan's exit boiled down to a contract dispute with the studio. After spending several years as one of the lead characters on one of the most-watched shows on television, it made sense that Cohan would expect a bump in salary, but AMC wouldn't budge, and so, Maggie is gone... for now.
It had been reported that Lauren Cohan's exit from The Walking Dead would happen in the first half of season 9 and that she was scheduled to only appear in six episodes. However, thanks to The Walking Dead's second time jump (of six years), Rick's final episode, "What Comes After," was also Maggie's final episode. But that doesn't mean she's gone forever. The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang hopes for Cohan to return in season 10, and is even leaving the door open for Maggie's return.
In The Walking Dead's latest episode, "Stradivarius," it's revealed in a conversation between Alanna Masterson's Tara and Tom Payne's Jesus that Maggie left with Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) to help start a new community (perhaps it's the community the Commonwealth?). For those that are unaware of who Georgie is or perhaps don't remember, she first appeared in The Walking Dead season 8 episode 12, "The Key," and offered Maggie (and the Hilltop, for that matter) a book, titled "A Key to the Future," in exchange for phonographs of music. That book is, presumably, what's helping the Hilltop survive all these years later compared to how the Kingdom (and possibly Alexandria) are struggling.
This particular plot point doesn't come as much of a surprise either, considering that Georgie had expressed interest in Maggie joining her in a previous episode - "The Bridge" - in season 9. However, it's unclear when Maggie left. It must have been quite some time now since Jesus is already being reelected as leader of Hilltop, but perhaps not too long since Michonne is unaware of her absence. With Lauren Cohan slated to appear on her new ABC series, Whiskey Cavalier, audiences will just have to wait and see what happens next year, to see if Cohan ultimately decides to return for The Walking Dead season 10.