AMC's The Walking Dead season 9 will be the last for Lauren Cohan, who has starred as Maggie since season 2, with the actress explaining in a new interview why she's leaving the show. Rumors swirled in February that Cohan may be leaving the show, since the actress was fielding multiple offers to star in a number of pilots. While Cohan did end up landing a role on ABC's Whiskey Cavalier, which was ordered to series, she was also able to finalize a deal with AMC that allowed her to return for part of season 9.

Shortly after the rumors surfaced that Cohan may be leaving the hit zombie series, it was reported that the actress was seeking paycheck parity, asking for pay equal to her co-stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, who are among the few remaining actors who have been on the show since season 1. Cohan's co-star Khary Payton, who plays King Ezekiel, even implored AMC to pay her, but it didn't exactly work. While Cohan was seeking equal pay, AMC reportedly countered with both a modest raise and a long-term contract, which she rejected before signing on for Whiskey Cavalier. Cohan eventually did come to terms for The Walking Dead season 9, but she won't be appearing in every episode.

In a new interview with the Associated Press, Cohan didn't discuss her contract dispute, but she did state that she left the show because she felt too "comfortable" in the job itself. She added that the eight years she spent working on the series was also "a really long time to be in those emotional depths," while confirming another report that her character Maggie won't die. Cohan said, "There's still a chance for me to explore the Maggie character," but how The Walking Dead will write her off, without killing her, remains to be seen.

Lauren Cohan coming back for season 9 of The Walking Dead likely helped soften what will be another major blow to the show, with Andrew Lincoln also leaving the show in season 9. There is no indication if Lincoln will be killed off, or if he is open to returning for future seasons as well. With the departures of both Maggie and Rick at some point in season 9, the leadership dynamic on the show will certainly change greatly, with season 10 possibly leaving Reedus' Daryl Dixon in charge of these survivors.

With The Walking Dead also in the midst of a ratings decline, many people will be keeping an eye on how the show performs in season 9. The show, which once looked like an unstoppable ratings juggernaut, has slid consistently in the ratings, with many wondering when, or if, the show will start gaining viewers again. Given how popular the show once was, the final episodes for both Maggie and Rick could very well pull in monster numbers, but whether or not anyone tunes in beyond that is a question that may very well plague AMC executives in the near future.

The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 on AMC.