How Will Kalinda Leave 'The Good Wife'? She's Not An Easy Character To Write Out

Fans of CBS's The Good Wife, one of the best (if not the best) dramas on network television, were dealt a serious blow two weeks ago when it was suddenly announced that co-star Archie Panjabi, who has portrays series standby and Lockhart/Gardner investigator Kalinda Sharma, would be leaving The Good Wife at the end of Season 6. Granted, this is actually good news for the actress, since she's leaving so she can star in her own unnamed drama pilot produced by 20th Century Fox TV — but that does little to assuage viewers who have fallen in love with the sexy-but-mysterious woman and her always-stylish boots.

This is also the second time in two seasons that Wife's showrunners, Robert & Michelle King, have had to deal with a major cast member exiting the show. In a memorable arc halfway through Season 5, they wrote out Josh Charles' character by mowing Will Gardner down in a shocking courtroom shooting. Will Kalinda's end be similarly violent? Or will we have more time to prepare for her departure, like how Shonda Rhimes gradually paved the road for Cristina's exit at the end of Season 10 of Grey's Anatomy?

Here are a few ideas on how the Kings will write out Kalinda. Will it be one of these options? Or something we never see coming?

Image: Justin Stephens/CBS

Kalinda goes to jail.

Things aren’t looking too good for Cary right now. TVLine just broke the news that the show is casting a guest star to play Tim, an ex-con who now works as a “prison consultant,” who’s hired to give ”a day-long session on how to survive in prison (including physical and psychological pointers).”

But what if this is a bait-and-switch? What if the prison consultant isn’t for Cary, but for Kalinda? What if, in a last ditch effort to exonerate her lover and save him from going back to prison, Kalinda implicates herself in the Lemond Bishop case? 

Image: Jeff Neumann/CBS

Kalinda goes on the run.

Remember back in Season 4, when the writers tried to spice up Kalinda’s story line by introducing us to her husband, Nick? And remember how we were all grossed out by their nasty despoiling of a perfectly good ice cream cone? And remember how the writers realized what a huge mistake they’d made and hastily wrote Nick out of the show, implying that Kalinda had finally killed him?

Well, wouldn’t we all be surprised to find out that what we all thought was a waste of time actually turned out to be the Kings laying the groundwork for an eventual Kalinda exit? Maybe Kalinda will leave the show when Nick’s body is unexpectedly discovered, and she has to flee to avoid arrest for murder.

Image: Jeffrey Neira/CBS

Kalinda gets into a fight with Cary.

After five seasons of flirting and sleeping with just about anyone who might prove useful (including Alicia’s husband Peter), Kalinda has finally settled down into a stable relationship with Cary. Oh, except for the fact that she only started sleeping with him to spy on Florrick/Agos for Lockhart/Gardner. And he found out. And also, she’s now cheating on him with Lana.

Perhaps Cary will finally confront Kalinda about her infidelity and lies, and the couple will have an emotionally shattering, knock-down-drag-out fight that ends in Kalinda leaving town for good.

Image: CBS

Kalinda quits.

Remember how Alicia and Cary insisted they didn’t have enough money to hire Kalinda, the best investigator in Chicago, for their small, start-up law firm? And remember how Diane insisted they hire Kalinda anyway as part of her deal to leave LG and join them? Where is the money coming from to pay two investigators?

Maybe Kalinda will be angered when Alicia and Cary put their loyalty with Robin, the more inexperienced investigator, because she’s been with them from the beginning. If they pass Kalinda over for a promotion and Robin were to become the boss of her former mentor, that might be enough for Kalinda to call it quits.

This theory is complicated by the fact that apparently Robin’s portrayer, Jess Weixler, isn’t even sure if or when her character will be back on The Good Wife

Image: David M. Russell/CBS

Kalinda is forced to resign.

A couple of weeks ago in the episode “Oppo Research,” Alicia met with Eli and campaign manager Johnny Elfman to go over the S.A. candidate’s dirty little secrets. In the course of the hour, viewers were once again reminded that Kalinda and Peter once slept together. Eli doesn’t seem too worried that this little tidbit will get out… But what if it does?

If the whole world were to find out about the affair between the Illinois governor and an investigator working in his wife’s law office (his wife who’s also running for office), Eli would have to spin immediately into damage control mode. His likely solution? Find a way to get rid of Kalinda.

Kalinda doesn’t usually back down from a fight easily, but she might realize she has no reason to stay. Last season, she was already on the verge of quitting, and the only thing that made her stick around was Will’s sudden death. Now, a year later, she might finally decide it’s time to move on.

Image: Jeffrey Neira/CBS

Kalinda gets shot in a courtroom...

…or something equally unexpected and violent.

We certainly never saw Will’s departure coming — why would we expect to be able to predict when and how Kalinda will go? If the Kings have proven themselves good at one thing, it’s surprising their viewers. After six years of 22 episodes per season, they still manage to come up with twists no one sees coming. (Take Cary’s abrupt arrest in the Season 6 premiere, for example.)

Image: Jeffrey Neira/CBS

Kalinda just vanishes.

But perhaps Kalinda is destined to remain a mystery forever, including the motives behind her leaving Florrick/Agos. Sometimes when writers are forced to come up with a way to write off a character, the easiest solution is not to explain it, leaving the characters as baffled as the audience and struggling to pick up the pieces.

Think of Dr. Erica Hahn disappearing into the parking lot, never to be seen again, in Grey’s Anatomy. Think of Dr. Lawrence Kutner, who shot himself one day, leaving no note or indication of why, in House. Think of 2 percent of the world’s population, simultaneously vanishing into thin air, in The Leftovers. We never got an answer to where those people went. Maybe Kalinda’s exit, like the Sudden Departure, will be a question we never get a satisfactory answer to.

(God, I hope not.)

Image: David Giesbrecht/CBS