The Walking Dead may still expand its universe even further, according to actress Lauren Cohan, who revealed that discussions regarding a Maggie-centric spinoff have taken place. The apocalyptic action-drama, based on the series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, is currently in season 9. Since it was first brought to the screen by Frank Darabont, the show has reigned as one of the biggest shows on television. More recently, however, ratings have continuously dropped to new series lows. Despite that, under the leadership of new showrunner Angela Kang, AMC renewed the show for a tenth season.
Cohan, who came to prominence on similar genre shows like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries before tackling the zombie apocalypse, played Maggie Rhee (née Greene) for seven seasons. Since debuting early in season 2, Maggie has been put through the emotional ringer. Not only did she lose her home when Rick and his group brought chaos to her family's farm, but she has lost her entire family along the way. Not long after her father was executed by The Governor, her sister Beth sacrificed herself to prevent a growing conflict. Later, her husband, Glenn, was brutally murdered by Negan, as a demonstration of power to her and Rick's group. Despite everything, however, Maggie proved herself to be one of the show's strongest survivors, ultimately going on to become a fan-favorite and serve as leader of the Hilltop Colony.
Fans were, therefore, left disappointed when Maggie was written off without much fanfare. With the focus firmly on Andrew Lincoln's departure, in which Cohan played a central role, Maggie's exit occurred off-screen. Following a time-jump, the audience merely learned of Maggie's departure when Michonne (Danai Gurira) was informed that she'd left to help a new community. Speaking to THR, however, Cohan teased that there may have been conversations regarding a spinoff. As such, Maggie's seemingly quiet exit may have been laying the groundwork for things to come. "There may have been some conversations but everything is so early days ambiguous," she said. "Me, as much as anybody, will have to see what happens."
Although Kang previously stated that the door was left open for a season 10 return, Cohan is currently busy on her new show on ABC, Whiskey Cavalier. Created by Dave Hemingson, the show follows FBI agent Will Chase (Scott Foley) as he's teamed up with CIA agent Francesca Trowbridge (Cohan) in order to lead an inter-agency team of spies. The show will also star Dylan Walsh and fellow Walking Dead alum Tyler James Williams.
How Whiskey Cavalier ultimately fares remains to be seen. Should it prove successful, however, it'll no doubt be increasingly difficult to schedule Cohan's return to the long-running zombie drama. Although fans would no doubt love to see Maggie face off against the looming threat of The Whisperers, the fact she (and few others) won't be around as they are in the comics could pave the way to really surprise even hardcore fans. As such, the idea of a spinoff could not only please fans eager for her return but it may also make the most sense. Much in the same way the 3-movie deal agreed to with Lincoln allows for further adventures for Rick Grimes while allowing the actor more time with his family, a Maggie-centric spinoff could allow Cohan to return while also exploring fresh opportunities.
Although the show went on to explain Cohan's exit, questions still remained regarding the character. Not only was it hinted at that some hostility had emerged between Maggie and Michonne, but the full reasons for Maggie's departure (as well as the new community's creation) were left largely unexplored. With AMC aiming to expand its universe beyond the flagship show and its already established spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, there's quite literally a whole world of material to explore. And a spinoff, rather than cramming more storylines into the main show, could be the best way forward.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 10, on AMC.