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The Real Reason Sonequa Martin-Green Left The Walking Dead

No matter the fates of its characters, The Walking Dead is a show that continued to live on season after season. On the air since October 2010, AMC's zombie thriller franchise has spawned a spin-off entitled Fear the Walking Dead; will release another spin-off, The Walking Dead: Beyond, in 2020; and is preparing a movie trilogy centered on Rick Grimes. And though The Walking Dead will come to an end with season 11, the franchise will live on with even more projects, including a spin-off starring Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon and Melissa McBride's Carol Peletier. 

By all accounts, The Walking Dead has been AMC's crown jewel. And 10 years on air is a long time — long enough for dozens of characters to kick the bucket. When that happens, the actors who play them have no choice but to tip their hats and exit stage left (possibly after a brief stint as a walker). Sonequa Martin-Green, who portrayed Sasha Williams for four seasons of the show, is one such actress.

Let's take a look at how and why Martin-Green left The Walking Dead.

What happened to Sonequa Martin-Green's Sasha Williams?

Sasha began her time on The Walking Dead as many others did: on the run from walkers, looking for a way to survive. After some time on the villainous Governor's side of things, she and her brother Tyreese (Chad Coleman) join the main group. She becomes a valuable member of the group, and even finds a lover in Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.).

Unfortunately, Bob suffers the fate of many on The Walking Dead: being bitten by a walker. Barely any time later, Tyreese meets the same end, leaving Sasha broken. Her sanity barely in tact, she becomes quite accomplished at slaying walkers. When the group reaches Alexandria, Sasha has a rough time accepting that its residents can live such "normal" lives when danger is just outside.

It's none other than the gruff Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) who brings Sasha out of her depressive slump, to the detriment of his then-lover Rosita (Christian Serratos). The world wasn't done being unfair yet, however, and Sasha loses another loved one when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bashes in Abraham's skull with his trusty bat Lucille.

Going after the villain is a no-brainer for Sasha at that point. Unfortunately, her revenge plot goes awry when Negan captures her, and she secretly begins to worry that he'll use her against Rick — but she won't let that happen. Popping a cyanide pill Eugene (Josh McDermitt) made for her, Sasha stashes herself away in the coffin with which Negan plans to reveal her to Rick's group, then dies. By the time Negan opens the casket, Sasha's reanimated and nearly bites him. Later, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is forced to put the undead Sasha down.

Sonequa Martin-Green moved from The Walking Dead to Star Trek: Discovery

Sasha's death on The Walking Dead was shocking in execution, but fans who keep up with celebrity news actually saw it coming well before it came to pass. In 2016, it was announced that Martin-Green would be joining the cast of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery as Michael Burnham. Lo and behold, Sasha zombified just one year later on The Walking Dead's season 7 finale.

That's when the barrage of questions began: Did Martin-Green wiggle her way out of her contract so she could do Star Trek: Discovery? Were The Walking Dead's writers already planning on giving Sasha the boot? Was there tension on set that led to the decision? Once the speculation train leaves the station, there's no force in the world that can pull the brakes hard enough to stop it.

In April 2017, shortly after the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead and several months before Star Trek: Discovery premiered in September of that yearMartin-Green cleared the air in an interview with Entertainment WeeklyShe explained that Sasha's fate was already being mapped out when Star Trek: Discovery came along, so she didn't leave one series for the other; it was simply a matter of Martin-Green's Walking Dead character being written off anyhow.

"I'm just so grateful to God for it," the actress said of the opportunity to lead Star Trek: Discovery. "It couldn't have worked out more perfectly, because what was happening on Walking Dead was already underway. It was the path. It was definitely in place. And then as we were going into the very end of the season, the very end of our shoot for the season — that's when the opportunity for Star Trek came. And so I know some people might think that I left Walking Dead to do Star Trek, but it did not happen that way. It was after [my time on] Walking Dead was already ending that the opportunity for Star Trek came."

Star Trek: Discovery turned out to be a lucky break for Martin-Green, too, since she "didn't know what [she] was going to be doing next" after leaving AMC's post-apocalyptic hit.

What Sonequa Martin-Green has been up to since The Walking Dead

It's old news at this point, but COVID-19 has thrown virtually all Hollywood production schedules into disarray — and Star Trek: Discovery is no exception. Come October 15, 2020, however, Martin-Green will continue to go boldly where no woman has gone before when season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery hits CBS All Access. 

Being a space-traveling anthropologist takes up a lot of her time, but the role of Michael Burnham isn't Martin-Green's only on-screen appearance since The Walking Dead.

Just before COVID struck, she co-starred alongside Romany Malco in the 2019 Netflix Christmas film Holiday Rush. As radio producer Roxy Richardson, Martin-Green plays a complex role of the new love interest of a widowed man with kids. The holidays are stressful enough, but this puts quite a bit of extra pressure on the family. Without walkers or bat-wielding maniacs to mess things up, however, the conflict is resolved peacefully and Christmas goes smoothly.

In 2020's The Outside Story, Martin-Green plays Isha, the ex-girlfriend of main character Charles (Brian Tyree Henry). The premise of the film is simple: Charles gets locked out of his Brooklyn apartment in the midst of a video-editing deadline and needs a way back in. He meets neighbors and fellow Brooklynites on his odyssey, and ends up talking to many of them about Isha. She's more than just a mentioned character, though, and ... well, we don't want to spoil anything — you'll have to watch The Outside Story for yourselves.

Martin-Green's also got her next gig all set with Space Jam: A New Legacy, set for release in 2021. The original Space Jam is a classic, featuring Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes characters playing basketball together — against aliens, of course. Basketball legend LeBron James is hitting the court this time around, with Martin-Green playing his wife Savannah. It sounds like a fun role, and we'll be there for it — as well as any other project Martin-Green has lined up in the future.