‘The Walking Dead': Andrew Lincoln Would Be ‘Surprised’ if Lauren Cohan Doesn’t Return for Season 9

Fans worry contract negotiations might lead to the fan-favorite character’s exit

“The Walking Dead” star Andrew Lincoln would be “surprised” if his co-star Lauren Cohan did not return to the zombie drama for Season 9.

“Lauren is a good friend and wonderful actress,” Lincoln told the UK’s The Independent. “What she has created with the role of Maggie has had an enormous impact on the world of The Walking Dead. I would be surprised if Maggie Rhee wasn’t leading from the front as she always has done next season. That is, of course, if she and Rick make it through the next four episodes.”

Lincoln’s comments come amidst reports of pay disparity between Cohan and her male co-stars. After rejecting an offer for a “modest salary increase in exchange for a long-term contract,” Cohan signed on to the “Whiskey Cavalier” pilot for ABC — a move that left fans online worrying about the return of the fan-favorite character. Maggie is one of a handful of characters left from the early days of the show; she first appeared in Season 2 and has been a regular since.

In the comics, Maggie plays a large part in the post-All Out War storyline as leader of the Hilltop. But as we learned with Carl (Chandler Riggs)’s death, the show isn’t afraid to kill off characters still alive in the books.

Earlier this month, Khary Payton, who plays King Ezekiel on “TWD,” posted an Instagram supporting a pay raise for Cohan. “Pay the woman,” his caption read simply, under a photo of Cohan as Maggie.

Seth Gilliam, who plays Father Gabriel, told TV Guide recently that losing Cohan “would be a loss for the show,” though he did recognize that the show “seems to find a way to go on [after] losing important characters and fantastic actors all throughout the years.”

And Scott Gimple said in early March that he’s “pretty positive” Cohan will appear in Season 9. “We’re talking; I’m pretty positive. We’re figuring it out. The timing could work well, so all good,” he said.

Pay the woman.

A post shared by Khary Payton (@kharypayton) on

“The Walking Dead” airs on AMC Sundays at 9 p.m.

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