The Walking Dead has already (supposedly) said goodbye to Carl Riggs in recent months. But could AMC's never-ending zombie drama be on the verge of losing yet another beloved character?
It's been reported that Lauren Cohan, the British actress who plays Maggie and whose contract is up at the end of the current season, originally asked for the same pay as her male co-stars, Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus.
It is understood that AMC offered Cohan a "modest" salary increase and a longer contract instead, which she rejected. Industry insiders claim that this initial rejection is standard practice in the industry. As she will be free of her contract soon, there is nothing to stop Cohan from starring in a new TV pilot (she's said to be fielding several offers) or jumping ship to a pre-existing show.
It would, however, be rather unsatisfying for viewers. Cohan joined the show in season two and became a full-time cast member in season three. Since then her character has become a fan favourite, and outlived her husband Glenn to become a fierce leader – a notable achievement in the only show to have a body count greater than Game of Thrones. Maggie is now heavily pregnant and in an important position at The Hilltop.
However, executive producer Scott Gimple told TVline: “These things do happen in TV, but we’re talking. And Lauren is an actor who has such intuition and such power. So yeah, hopefully it all works out."
Production doesn't start on season nine until May, so there is still time for AMC, the makers of The Walking Dead, to give Cohan a better offer.
If Cohan is negotiating for pay parity, she wouldn't be the first actress to tackle the Hollywood pay gap. Emma Stone says that she and her colleagues negotiated for equal pay together, whilst Charlize Theron made sure she got the same pay as Chris Hemsworth for The Huntsman.
The Walking Dead returns to Fox on Monday February 26 at 9pm