Michonne hasn't left The Walking Dead just yet, but the season 10 winter finale begins to pave her exit route from the show. Introduced in The Walking Dead's second season, Michonne is not only one of the longest-running characters currently left alive, but also one of the most consistently popular among fans for her tender heart, no-nonsense attitude and badass samurai skills. Played by Danai Gurira, Michonne's role has increased since the departure of lead actor Andrew Lincoln last season, but rather than stepping up permanently, Gurira will also be leaving The Walking Dead, with Michonne confirmed to be gone before the end of the season.
Currently in The Walking Dead season 10, Michonne is busy coping with the ever-increasing threat of the Whisperers. Although Alexandria and Hilltop were under the impression that a ceasefire had been in effect since the community fair, Alpha's treachery has now been uncovered in full after Dante was outed as a Whisperer spy. With Siddiq dead, Lydia AWOL and the whereabouts of Alpha's horde unknown, Michonne's to-do list was overflowing as The Walking Dead season 10 reached its midway point. Much of this week's episode ("The World Before") dealt with the aftermath of the Dante twist, however, it also found time to potentially trigger the storyline that will see Danai Gurira bid farewell to the zombie apocalypse for good.
While travelling to Oceanside, Michonne's party come across a mysterious stranger who appears to still have an intact moral compass. After later catching the man trying to spirit away one of Oceanside's boats, Michonne is left unsure of whether to trust this newcomer, who identifies as Virgil, or to learn from mistakenly trusting Dante. Insisting that he only wants to get back to his settlement - a camp on a nearby island naval base - Virgil offers Michonne some heavy duty military weaponry in exchange for a vessel and safe passage back home. Knowing the risks of trusting Virgil, Michonne says a lingering goodbye to Judith before departing, and this mission will likely keep Michonne out of The Walking Dead's main story for most of the season's second half.
Nevertheless, "The World Before" is not Michonne's farewell episode, and the sword-swinging fan favorite will be back in some capacity before season 10 ends for a more fitting end to her story. Assuming Virgil is telling the truth, Michonne will return Gandalf-style in The Walking Dead season 10 with enough firepower to repel a horde tens of thousands strong. Alexandria is already pretty well-stocked with firearms, so Michonne is more likely to return with explosives of some kind - stuff that'll take down zombies en masse. The problem with explosives is that someone always needs to be around to trigger them, and in her exchange with Judith, Michonne states: "it would have to be me, just me, taking that kind of risk" unequivocally revealing her willingness to sacrifice for the good of the group. Judith replies, reasoning, "but it would end the war?"
While the mother and daughter duo were talking about setting sail with Virgil, this conversation could be foreshadowing a scenario whereby Michonne rides to the rescue with enough bombs to neutralize Alpha's zombie army, but is forced to maintain a certain proximity in order to set them off, ultimately leading to her demise. It would be a neat mirror of Rick's death if Michonne died triggering explosives in order to save her people, but Andrew Lincoln's exit also causes an unfortunate conundrum for those plotting Gurira's fate. If Michonne does die, she never gets to find out that Rick survived. If she lives, any future resolution to that storyline is still dependent on the actress being willing to return, as Lincoln was.
Alternatively, some fans have theorized that the naval base Michonne is heading towards will be the mysterious location Rick is being held at, causing Michonne to send for her kids and relocate to Virgil's community. This would go against previous hints that the Rick Grimes movie would be set in Philadelphia, and it's also difficult to see how this plot point could be delayed until the upcoming film without feeling like a major oversight.
The Walking Dead returns in 2020 on AMC.