These ‘Walking Dead’ Clues About Maggie Could Reveal What The Hilltop Leader Will Do Next

Gene Page/AMC

Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead Season 8 finale! On Sunday night's episode of The Walking Dead, things change for Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in a big way. Not only does Rick spare Negan's life, despite her protests, but the end of the episode shows her plotting with Daryl and Jesus about showing Michonne and Rick that they were wrong for keeping him alive. Even aside from that big moment, there are plenty of clues about Maggie in The Walking Dead Season 8, which could point to where she'll go from here.

Things remain a little murky in terms of Maggie's future, to say the least, but the finale definitely hints that big things are in store for her as she plots against former allies and friends Rick and Michonne. It's even suggested that Maggie could be a villain next season — a stark contrast from the Maggie that viewers first met back at the farm, who always wanted peace and was reluctant even to kill walker at first. The Maggie of today has some big plans up her sleeve, and she's made it clear that she's capable of leading groups of followers in order to pull off those schemes.

While The Walking Dead fans will probably be waiting until the fall for next season, they can spend the hiatus speculating about how this long-time character will have changed when the show returns. Here are a couple of clues that point to Maggie's state of mind:

She Wants Negan Dead
Gene Page/AMC

This seems like it's going to be the biggie here for next season. Negan killed Maggie's husband, Glenn, and it seems like she will not rest until Negan is dead — there's no closure for her until that happens. On The Walking Dead's after-show, Talking Dead, showrunner Scott Gimple teased that she very well could be the villain for next season, saying, "It looks like that to me" when host Chris Hardwick directly asked. Given the ominous meeting she has with Jesus and Daryl, things could get dicey pretty quickly.

She's Got A Baby To Think About
Gene Page/AMC

It feels like Maggie has been pregnant for about 12 years, so Season 9 will hopefully progress that storyline more than the show has done up to this point. Motherhood could definitely change some of her more violent plans. I'm not saying that it's impossible for her to snuff out Negan while pregnant, but her unborn child's growth could definitely affect some of her decision making. That child is going to be a piece of Glenn, and she's going to stop at nothing to protect it.

She Can Be Ruthless
Gene Page/AMC

Earlier this season, Maggie and Jesus were at odds because she was willing to kill some of their Savior prisoners, while he wanted to spare them. Maggie essentially was keeping them alive for bargaining purposes, and she told Jesus that if they end up not needing them, they can't let them live. This shows that as a leader, she's not afraid to make tough decisions even when they might end in death, or be unpopular among the people closest to her.

People Will Follow Her
Gene Page/AMC

This is perhaps most evident when it's revealed that Jesus, fresh off his speech to Morgan about being as peaceful as possible, is supporting Maggie in her quest to kill Negan. Fans like MeowMagafe on Reddit seem to think that the only reasonable explanation for this out-of-character twist for him is that he has immense loyalty to Maggie. Despite the differences they've had in the past, he still has her back, and so does Daryl, hinting that she could be a serious power player next season. She's just as much of a leader as Rick.

She Believes In A Better World
Gene Page/AMC

Despite these ruthless decisions and the fact that Maggie has seen some seriously horrifying stuff — losing so many people she loves in the process — she never let it fully corrupt her. She might want to get rid of Negan once and for all, but in the Season 8 premiere, she joined Rick in rousing the members of their groups and telling them that the future could be theirs if they keep faith in each other, even as uncertainty plagues their world. Of course, this was when Rick was still on the whole "killing Negan" train, so Maggie's faith in the people around her is likely shaken. But at her core, she still seems to believe in humanity.

The Actor Could Be Poised For An Exit
Gene Page/AMC

This isn't necessarily a hint from the show, but it is relevant to where Maggie's character goes in Season 9. According to Forbes, actor Lauren Cohan had still not reached an official deal with AMC to return for Season 9 as of the finale airing, and even has another pilot in the works. There's been talk, according to The Hollywood Reporter, that this new pilot — Whiskey Cavalier on ABC — would allow Cohan to return to The Walking Dead in a "limited capacity" while she shoots in order to close out Maggie's storyline.

THR reported in another article that anonymous sources said that the main holdup when it comes to Cohan's contract struggle is salary, and she and her agents are not happy with what AMC has offered her in this months-long negotiation. It certainly seems that The Walking Dead anticipates her return after the semi-cliffhanger they set up in this finale, but until a contract is signed, anything could happen. It's also possible that if Cohan is indeed unhappy with the pay she's receiving from AMC, she could return for a short arc that ends with Maggie's exit. Bustle reached out to AMC regarding Cohan's salary negotiations but did not receive a response.

No matter what happens with Cohan's deal, Maggie's character will develop in some way in Season 9, and there are numerous directions in which her story could go. Not everyone is on board with seeing her as an antagonist, as this Reddit thread shows, but The Walking Dead has made some bold choices in the past. Having her at odds to the show's perceived hero would certainly be a departure for the character, and create a conflict like nothing the show has seen before. But until viewers see it play out for themselves next season, they'll likely be dissecting every move that led Maggie to this crossroads.