The Walking Dead looks to be losing two of its longest running stars in the upcoming ninth season. Namely, Lauren Cohan’s moving on as Maggie Rhee after seven and a bit years on the show and so is Rick Grimes himself, Andrew Lincoln, who’s been the face of the hit AMC drama for the entirety of its run. But with these fan favorites on their way out, could a character we haven’t seen for a long while be coming back to soften the blow?
It looks possible, as Jon Bernthal was spotted near The Walking Dead set in Senoia, Georgia recently. A fan shared a snap they took of their family with Lincoln and Norman Reedus on social media and happened to capture Bernthal in the background. If you think it isn’t clear enough to make out The Punisher star, the user confirms it by name-checking his character in her caption, which reads: “Right after I took the food photo they walked in!!!!! (Shane,Rick,Daryl).”
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Of course, Bernthal played Shane Walsh on the first two seasons of the show. Rick’s former best friend, Shane developed a romantic relationship with Rick’s wife Lori which caused friction between them once Grimes returned. This came to a head in season 2, when Shane challenged Rick as leader. Lincoln’s character was eventually forced to kill his old pal to protect those he cared about, but his presence can still be felt on the show, as it’s been all but confirmed that Shane is Judith’s biological father.
As Shane’s well and truly gone, if he was to return, it’d have to take the form of flashbacks or perhaps a hallucination. If Rick’s about to die in season 9, either of these would make sense as a storytelling device to bring his journey full circle. That said, it’s equally plausible that Bernthal’s just in in the area to check in on his old friends as the TWD cast is known to be quite close-knit.
Either way, we’ll keep an eye out and update you on any further The Walking Dead season 9 stories that come our way.