The Walking Dead is a hardcore fan favorite at conventions from coast to coast, and the cast showed up in full force for fans at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) this year.

Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, confirmed that she is leaving the show, although she kept tight-lipped on the details. “This has been one of the purest joys of my life to play this role and to be among these people,” she said at Hall H to a standing ovation.

Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple teased that this might not be the last of Michonne. “She has some amazing things ahead of her and we’re not completely done with her, I’ll say that,” Gimple said during the TWD press conference at SDCC. “We’re not completely done with anyone who comes and goes on the show,” he added, which fans saw last season with cameos from Jon Bernthal and Scott Wilson.

“It’s always a big deal when you lose a character,” says Norman Reedus, who plays crossbow-wielding legend Daryl Dixon, one of the few characters still standing from the first season. “It’s always a big deal when you’re such a tight-knit group.”

“I’ve been begging her to stay. She’s such a strong character and Danai is such a sweet lady and a joy to work with,” Reedus says during the press conference.

SDCC The Walking Dead

Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, were pretty chummy at SDCC considering their gruff characters don’t exactly see eye to eye. But maybe the tides are a-changin’ for vicious villain Negan. Reedus hinted that their characters “might need each other” in the new season. “I like what Jeffrey’s doing with the character this year. It’s a completely different character than we’ve seen before,” Reedus said.

“These men have a very parallel path, Daryl and Negan,” Morgan says. “They’re both kind of outsiders in this community.”

But don’t expect Negan to turn into a teddy bear. “Negan is always Negan. He may not be bashing you in the head with Lucille but now that he’s out of that cell a little bit — and as the season goes we’ll see what happens — he’s sharp, and witty, and a little bit cutting with the words he has to say, and we’ll see what happens if he gets a weapon in his hands and what goes down. But he’s not gonna hurt Judith, I can tell you that right now.”

Andrew Lincoln was missed, especially after his emotional goodbye at New York Comic-Con last October. Reedus has always been especially close to Lincoln. “We spoke to Andy Lincoln, I said, it’s weird being here at Comic-Con without you. I don’t know where to put my room service charges, I used to spend literally thousands of dollars that I would put on his room. He said, ‘I want you to know, that’s the sole reason I left the show,’” Reedus jokes at the press conference.

Reedus and Morgan also revealed that one of the people who works at their hotel plastered pictures of Lincoln all over their rooms: in the bed, in the shower, and even in the toilet. Morgan shared the scene on Twitter.

Rick stans, don’t fear: there are still three Rick-centric movies to look forward to… ON THE BIG SCREEN! AMC announced back in November that the movies would be big-budget, feature-length, made-for-TV films but fans were flabbergasted at the surprise announcement at the end of back-to-back SDCC panels for Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead that all three movies are hitting theaters instead, to be distributed by Universal Pictures. The TWD panel in Hall H ended with a 24-second teaser featuring Rick Grimes making his helicopter departure from the show, rounding out with an exciting message: “Rick Grimes Returns: Only in theaters.”

The most precious cast of all time also surprised fans at AMC’s #DeadQuarters activation outside of the convention center, as well as at the Walker Horde at Petco Park, singing autographs, taking selfies, and keeping the zombie love burning strong.

The Walking Dead returns for its 10th season on Oct. 6, following New York Comic-Con.

Photos: Jacqueline Cucco