Given the level of secrecy on a show like AMC's The Walking Dead, even seemingly-unrelated casting announcements for different shows have an impact on the zombie series. Last month, CBS All Access announced that Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha on The Walking Dead, has been cast as the series lead on Star Trek Discovery, marking the first time an African-American female has been given the lead of a Star Trek series, and the first time that the lead character won't be a captain. This announcement had many fans scratching their heads as to what this could mean for her Sasha character on The Walking Dead, which returns with the back half of Season 7 on February 12. Today we have some new insight from Sonequa Martin Green and showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
As far as The Walking Dead is concerned, Sasha is a unique character because she is one of the few that doesn't have any roots in Robert Kirkman's comics, so it's difficult to gauge when she may be killed off. The Walking Dead Season 7 has already wrapped, with filming on Star Trek Discovery slated to begin this week. Since she's the lead character on Star Trek Discovery, that likely won't give the actress much, if any, time to split between the productions, if in fact she is coming back for The Walking Dead Season 8. Entertainment Weekly caught up with Sonequa Martin-Green, who wouldn't offer a concrete answer about her character's fate on The Walking Dead.
"Well, I can't say anything. I can say that the story is as impactful and powerful and dynamic as it always has been, and there's nothing to worry about where that's concerned."
While Sasha isn't based on one of The Walking Dead comic book characters, one of her Season 6 storylines, her romantic connection to Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), was mirrored in a comic book character named Holly. In the comics, after Abraham was killed, Holly sought revenge against Negan, as she ended up sacrificing herself at the Sanctuary to help the group escape. She was later brought back to Alexandria with a bag over her head, when it was revealed that she was actually a zombie, and she bit and killed Dr. Denise Cloyd, who was still alive in the comics. In the TV show, Cloyd's character essentially took the same death as Abraham in the comics, getting an arrow right through the eye. And the bag over the head trick has already been used on the show. While it's possible that Sasha's fate could play out similarly to Holly's, showrunner Scott M. Gimple wouldn't say one way or another, although he did go on to praise star Sonequa Martin-Green.
"Sonequa Martin-Green can do anything. I've seen her battle a horde of walkers this year while simultaneously battling a stomach flu that would have had most people crying in the dirt. She can fulfill the duties of a Lieutenant Commander on a Constitution-class starship whilst battling walkers, Saviors, and whatever gets in Sasha's way. We've had to juggle before. I will certainly juggle for Star Trek any day of the week. Okay, maybe not on Sunday."
Despite the cagey answers from both Sonequa Martin-Green and Scott Gimple, there is a history of casting announcements foreshadowing the death of Walking Dead characters. Jon Bernthal's casting in TNT's Mob City was reported while he was still alive on The Walking Dead, and confirmed by the network just one day after The Walking Dead episode aired where his character Shane was killed in Season 2. The next season, Sarah Wayne Callies was cast in the film Into the Storm, while production was still under way, and she was eventually killed during that season. David Morissey was also cast in an AMC pilot entitled Line Of Sight just before his character The Governor was killed off, even though the network didn't pick up the pilot. And, most recently, Steven Yeun started filming a new Netflix original movie entitled Okja for Brad Pitt's Plan B productions, while The Walking Dead Season 7 was in production. Fans learned in the Season 7 premiere that his character Glenn was one of two characters killed by the nefarious Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), along with Michael Cudlitz's Glenn.
However, there are exceptions, with Corey Antonio Hawkins' Heath remaining alive, seen briefly in a Season 7 episode after a long hiatus away while on a supply run in the show, which enabled him to star in Fox's 24: Legacy, which debuts next month after the Super Bowl. There are also a few other Walking Dead characters who are busy with other projects at the moment. Danai Gurira (Michonne) is currently filming Black Panther, while Lennie James is creating and starring in a new U.K. TV series entitled Gone. While it hasn't been officially announced when production begins on The Walking Dead Season 8, filming typically begins in May, so, depending on how demanding her Black Panther shoot is, Danai Gurira will likely be wrapped on that Marvel movie before filming takes place on The Walking Dead, although the production schedule for Lennie James' Gone remains to be seen.