It seems that Lauren Cohen returning for The Walking Dead season 9 is not a guarantee. There aren't many shows currently on television that can match the viewership and longevity that The Walking Dead has garnered. Currently in its eighth season on AMC, the show has grown larger than many ever expected. The popularity comes with the zombie apocalypse but also thanks to the show boasting a great cast. With Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in pivotal roles, The Walking Dead is far from over, even in the face of declining ratings.
Cohan herself is among the stars who have emerged thanks to the roles on The Walking Dead TV show. Since joining the zombie apocalypse in season 2 as Maggie, Cohan quickly became a fan-favorite thanks to her character's personality and relationship with fellow fan-favorite Glenn (Steven Yeun). She's become an even bigger part of the show since Glenn was killed, which makes it all the more surprising to learn that Cohen's time on the series may be coming to an end sooner than expected.
Deadline reports that Cohan is one of the most sought after talents among networks in the current TV pilot season. She is reportedly getting multiple offers for various projects - ones she could only do with a free schedule. This has sparked speculation that Cohan could be on her way out of The Walking Dead before season 9. She reportedly asked for a bigger salary closer to that of her male co-stars (like Lincoln and Reedus) in the negotiation process for her return in the ninth season, but AMC's initial offer didn't meet her demands and was rejected. Deadline also says that negotiations are still ongoing, so Cohen's exit is far from a sure thing.
As of right now, this could simply be a case of Cohan and her agent doing their part to gain leverage on AMC to get the bigger contract that Cohan desires. If she is taking meetings about joining other TV pilots, then AMC will have to make the decision whether to pay up or lose another key member of the show. Since both sides are still talking about a new deal, there is a good possibility that they will reach an agreement. At the same time, a deal is not a foregone conclusion at this stage.
If both sides can't come to see eye-to-eye, the exit of Cohan would mark yet another major cast member loss for The Walking Dead. The show has built up a reputation for killing off characters at a moment's notice, but has arguably been axing its players faster than usual of late. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Glenn all died in season 7, and season 8 is preparing for the death of Carl (Chandler Riggs). Not being able to keep Cohan involved would be an unfortunate turn of events for the series and give new showrunner Angela Kang an even bigger task in shaping season 9 and beyond.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 25 on AMC.