There are big, big changes coming to The Walking Dead season 9.
Amid news that Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln – Maggie Rhee and Rick Grimes, respectively – are preparing to depart AMC’s flagship zombie series, thereby leaving the door open for Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) to assume leading man duties, we’re now hearing that Jon Bernthal has inked a deal to reprise as Shane Walsh for The Walking Dead season 9.
TVLine has the scoop, confirming that Bernthal, whose career has included everything from The Punisher to The Wolf of Wall Street since his initial Walking Dead stint, will appear in just one episode of the show’s ninth season. That tells us his surprise return will take the form of a hallucination – not unlike Rick’s vision of his former best friend during season 3 – or some pre-apocalypse flashback to help ease the transition from Andrew Lincoln to Norman Reedus.
Whatever the case, this will be Jon Bernthal’s first appearance on The Walking Dead since season 2, when his Shane Walsh was killed off by Rick in bittersweet fashion. It was a cruel and tragic fate for such a fan-favorite character, so we’re pleased to report that Bernthal will get another chance to leave his mark on AMC’s zombie drama, particularly now that it’s bracing for a period of flux.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead is currently aiming for an October premiere on AMC, when Rick Grimes will supposedly appear in only six episodes. The same applies for Lauren Cohan, whose Maggie has been tipped for a truncated role as well. It’s the beginning of the end, folks.