Jon Bernthal will reprise his role of Shane Walsh for The Walking Dead season nine, according to TV Line. The actor is set to appear in one episode of the upcoming season. Since Shane died in the show’s second season, we assume the character will show up in a flashback or as some sort of vision.
Bernthal’s return to the show would be surprising under any other circumstance, but it actually makes sense considering series star Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) may be exiting The Walking Dead in season nine. Shane may very well appear to Rick as he takes his dying breaths. After all, the character has appeared as a hallucination once before.
In season three, Rick saw Shane in Woodbury after his wife, Lori, died in the Prison. Now, with Rick reportedly on the chopping block, the Sheriff could hallucinate Shane once again. Whether it’ll be the specter of his former friend or the man who betrayed him after the zombie apocalypse remains to be seen.
Neither Bernthal or AMC have confirmed the news, although rumors have been making the rounds on the internet since last weekend after a fan spotted the actor hanging out with Lincoln and Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) by the show’s Georgia set.
Lincoln is reportedly only set to appear in a half-dozen episodes before his exit. It’s unclear how Rick will meet his end but the series’ track record points to a violent death.
Lauren Cohan (Maggie Rhee) could also be on the way out. According to TV Line, Cohan is only set to appear in a few episodes of the first half of the season as she transitions to ABC dramedy Whiskey Cavalier. AMC has reportedly offered Norman Reedus a substantial pay raise to stick around as The Walking Dead‘s new protagonist.
All of these cast changes come as Angela Kang takes over as The Walking Dead‘s new showrunner, ushering in a new era for the series. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about the shake-up.