10:15 pm EST, March 3, 2019

Can ‘The Walking Dead’ survive without Michonne?

It would be an understatement to say that The Walking Dead is a show all about adaptation and change. The apocalypse saga has taken us to several locations from Georgia to Virginia and featured a few staple survivors among a rotating cast of random faces and those who made an impact but didn’t survive.

It makes sense in this world, so fans have rolled with the gut punches to see what happens next. However, the past couple of seasons have been particularly difficult with a string of major losses including Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, Carl, Jesus, Maggie (sort of?), and even Rick Grimes himself.

Sure, he’s going to appear in his own movies, but anyone who says that the TV show is the same without Rick is a straight up liar. And now another big blow is coming our way with Michonne making her exit by the end of Season 10.

This news has sparked a ton of questions: How will she leave? What will happen with the kids? Who will lead Alexandria? Is she going to reunite with Rick in the movies? This will all be addressed in due time, but there is another question that doesn’t have an easy answer.

Can The Walking Dead really survive with Michonne?

As a self-proclaimed Michonne stan, I’d like to say it absolutely cannot survive and should end immediately with her departure, but alas, it will continue on after she is gone. The Walking Dead is no slouch in terms of ratings, even if they have declined drastically over the years. Episode 11 brought in approximately 4.39 million views, which is a lot better than some other TV shows but a drop from last season’s average of 6-8 million views per episode.

Ratings are tricky now with opportunities to watch via apps and other methods of consuming TV, but they do still matter. Michonne’s exit will certainly drag them down even more as weary fans decide they really can’t deal with another major loss on the show.

However, The Walking Dead is likely not going anywhere anytime soon based on the deals inked by Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride as well as another spinoff series being launched sometime in the future. This is likely an early setup to keep the franchise going when they do end the TV series, but AMC is going to keep this show going until they find solid ground with the new projects.

So, even though Michonne’s exit is a big deal, there is still cash to be made.

Generally speaking, Daryl has been a fan favorite and an AMC darling for a while, so those fans will continue to follow his journey on the show. He’s been around even longer than Michonne and is experiencing some character growth as he preps to lead at the Hilltop in Maggie’s absence.

Carol is also an old-school survivor who has her own set of fans, but we don’t see nearly enough of her at this point. She’s almost been pushed aside since going to the Hilltop, so the show will have to do some work to make her prominent before Michonne leaves.

There are also die-hard fans who have invested years into this series and are determined to see it through, especially since the show has seemed to improve under Angela Kang’s leadership.

But there’s a strong argument that the show simply will not be as good without Michonne. She’s the brilliant and bold katana expert who has been an invaluable source of logic and wisdom to her comrades.

Fans watched her grow from a silent, resourceful, and observant survivor to Carl’s best friend, Rick’s lover, and a powerful leader in her own right.

She’s played a key role in many storylines, including getting the OG group to Alexandria and fighting to keep the community safe and well. I’d honestly argue that Alexandria has always belonged to Michonne more than Rick.

She knocked Rick out when he jeopardized their chances of staying, worked to rebuild the community multiple times, and now fiercely protects the home where her children reside. Both Rick and Deanna basically told her that she was indeed a leader and now she occupies that role in a big way as the only person who is worthy of filling Rick’s shoes.

It’s likely that Aaron will take over at Alexandria in her departure (it’s highly unlikely that she will die), but while he’s a great character, he doesn’t have the same level of gravitas and leadership qualities as Michonne. Her presence has softened the blow of Rick’s departure for many fans because they were co-leaders as well as lovers, but her absence is going to take away that last great leader on the show.

Think about it. Who else could have come up with such a brilliant government document to make sure the communities could thrive collectively as well as independently?

Who can put fear in someone’s heart with just a look yet has the emotional intelligence to not go too far over the edge? The others may not give her the thanks and respect she deserves all the time, but they know Michonne is a force to be reckoned with and is clutch in a crisis.

She has undoubtedly been the overall backbone of The Walking Dead for several seasons and it just won’t be the same without her in the picture.

Richonne fans are either excited to see her go, in hopes of a family reunion in the movies, or sad about their fave leaving a show they have dedicated their time and energy to for many years. It’s crushing when a long-running show loses the last element of what used to make you tune in each week.

If you can’t find something that truly makes you want to watch a show, then it’s better to leave than stay to prove that you are a “real fan” to people who don’t really matter. No one can deny that the show is becoming less recognizable with so many big characters leaving, and it’s not going to get any better after the fair, which will take place later this season.

Michonne’s departure following on the heels of this massacre is only going to throw salt on a gaping wound. Her exit will also affect what the show planned to do with Judith and RJ Grimes.

It seems unlikely that Michonne would leave her kids to go off on some adventure, so this could be the end of a Grimes presence on the show, period. This doesn’t sit right with many fans who want to see Judith take over some of Carl’s storyline from the comics or those who can’t fathom how upcoming storylines will work with no Rick, Carl, Michonne, and possibly Maggie.

Personally, I won’t be watching the TV series after Michonne leaves because she is the primary reason I am still watching right now. It’s bittersweet because I have watched and written about the series for years, but my enjoyment has declined significantly during the past three seasons.

I do like long-term characters like Carol, Jerry, and Rosita, but they honestly don’t play a large enough role in the narrative to make me want to stick around. I am not as invested in them as I am in Michonne.

This is the same sentiment for Connie, Yumiko, and Kelly, whom I really like but haven’t known very long. I will likely check in via recap articles every now and then, but that’s going to be it for me unless a spinoff piques my interest.

I hope the fans who continue to watch the series truly enjoy it, and I wish every single actor and creative on the show nothing but the best.

Michonne’s exit on The Walking Dead will be the end of an incredible era, but hopefully this character will get the awesome ending she deserves. Only time will tell how much steam the show will have without this iconic character.

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