Jon Bernthal Is Returning To 'The Walking Dead' For Season 9

To say season 9 of The Walking Dead will be one of great change would be an understatement. Not only is longtime star Lauren Cohan leaving the show, but so is the series' main star Andrew Lincoln, who as Rick has been there from literally the first frame of the first episode. It's Lincoln's departure that will throw the series into greatest upheaval, and it may explain why we are getting the sudden return of Jon Bernthal as Rick's former friend and eventual enemy, Shane Walsh.

Bernthal had been spotted on film recently, which sparked a ton of rumors. Now THR confirms Bernthal's return to the show, although how long he'll stick around is unclear. Shane was a main character in the first two seasons. He was Rick's partner and friend, but had an affair with Rick's wife Lori and fathered a child with her. Bad blood ensued, and eventually Rick had to put Shane down when the latter became violently obsessed.

So yeah, Shane is about as dead as it gets, meaning he's probably returning in flashback or a hallucination. Considering Rick's deteriorating mental state it's probably the latter.

My hope is this is also a way for fans to get one last goodbye to the Shane character before the series ends. Nothing has been announced about it being cancelled, but fans have been unhappy about the direction for a long time and these departures aren't going to help. Daryl (Norman Reedus) will be elevated to the centerpiece character once Rick is gone, a move which sounds like a huge mistake. Daryl is best in doses, not as the focus.

I expect there will be greater updates next month at Comic-Con. There usually are.