Had the stars aligned, The Walking Dead fans could have been welcoming the return of Lennie James’ hardened survivor much sooner than Alexandria.
As Entertainment Weekly reveals, showrunner Scott M. Gimple had initially mapped out plans for a dramatic reappearance, wherein Morgan would have reunited with Rick and the crew during the season 4 finale. If that sounds like straight up fan-fiction, it turns out that Gimple’s idea came within touching distance of becoming a reality.
“At the end of 416, Rick would say, ‘They’re screwing with the wrong people,’ and a gentleman would come out of the shadows of the train car and he would say, ‘Yeah, they are.’ And that would be Lennie, as Morgan. And it looked like it almost could have happened.”
As is often the case, scheduling conflicts scuppered those initial plans – “we almost made it happen,” concedes James – pushing Morgan’s re-reveal out of Terminus and back into season 5. Gimple himself admits that it could have been “super cool” to bring back Lennie James ahead of time, but revealed that the actor’s commitment to another series forced the showrunner to shuffle his deck.
“Because it looked like a show that Lennie was on was ending. The time was right. But Lennie had a commitment to another show, which allowed us to do something super cool, which allowed Morgan to go on a journey after this episode in season 5 to see how he catches up to Rick and the group.”
With Lennie James’ character now safely back in the roster, The Walking Dead season 7 will premiere via AMC on October 23 and, according to series stalwart Greg Nicotero, things are about to get “a lot worse” before they get better.