The Walking Dead has always thrived on dropping huge surprises on its viewers, generating classic TV water cooler moments that bring fans of the AMC zombie drama together as they discuss their mutual shock at whatever twist just occurred. Unfortunately, though, some of season 9’s biggest deals have already been spoiled.
One of those is that Jon Bernthal will be returning to the show tonight as Shane, Rick’s former best friend turned enemy, for the first time since season 2. Though the network tried their best to keep the surprise under wraps, The Punisher star was spotted in the vicinity of the TWD set in Georgia over the summer and folks managed to put two and two together.
Now, after teasing the character’s appearance in the promo for tonight’s episode, producer Greg Nicotero is looking to heighten the anticipation a little bit more by sharing the below photo, which sees Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal on set, hanging out like the old pals that they are.
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As longtime fans will know, Bernthal’s tenure on The Walking Dead stretches back to 2013, when Shane was killed at the hand of Carl Grimes – incidentally, this crucial scene was also one of the first telltale signs that everyone’s infected, seeing as he returned from the dead despite having not been bitten.
We don’t imagine Bernthal will have a huge role to play in tonight’s outing, but it’ll certainly be nice to see Shane and Rick together one final time, as The Walking Dead prepares to wave goodbye to its leading man. And it all goes down in just a few hours, when episode 9×05 “What Comes After” airs and fans everywhere say farewell to Andrew Lincoln after nearly a decade of following Rick Grimes’ journey on the hit show.