"I can confirm that this is the last season I will be on this amazing TV show as Michonne," said Gurira during The Walking Dead's Comic-Con panel Friday afternoon. Her announcement was met with an audibly sad reaction from the audience that gave way to a standing ovation. "I would just like to say that this has been one of the purest joys of my life to play this role and to be amongst these people and those who are not here right now and amongst all of you," she added. "I'm very thankful for the experience I've had in ways I can't state right now. My heart does not leave in any way, shape or form. The TWD family is forever. The connection between us never ends...It was a very difficult decision. It is not connected to my heart. My heart stays right here. It was about my calling and other things I feel called to. The opportunities I've had, exploring it as a creator of work. I'm filled with a lot of pain about leaving and a lot of gratitude. I am thankful to all of you. I love you guys, and I love this show. The TWD family is forever." Showrunner Angela Kang said of Gurira's exit: "We will miss the hell out of her. Danai's importance to the show cannot be overstated, the mark she's left, the excellence she brings every day, the way her professionalism and passion…it's been a remarkable journey. It's been remarkable seeing her spread her wings out in the world as well. On the writing side, we take the responsibility very serious. It's important to the fans and to us...We want to do right by this incredible actress and this story. I hope we haven't screwed it up. We put her through her paces this year. She's a spectacular actress. She brought her A++ game, as she always does. I'm very excited to share what she's doing."