Jon Bernthal’s career has really blown up since leaving The Walking Dead. He’s landed his own series, The Punisher, along with roles in Fury, Sicario, The Accountant, Wind River, Baby Driver, and The Wolf of Wall Street. But now he’s set to reprise his role as Shane in the ninth season of the hit AMC zombie series.
There are no details on how exactly Shane will return. Fans know that he met a fairly definitive end after being stabbed by Rick and then, once he was a zombie, shot in the head by Carl. However, there are plenty of ways for Shane to make a “return”, whether it’s in the form of a flashback, hallucination, dream sequence, etc.
A few weeks ago, we reported that Andrew Lincoln was set to leave The Walking Dead in Season 9, so it’s probably safe to assume that Shane’s return is somehow tied into Rick’s conclusion. It makes sense that the series would reflect on Rick’s journey over the course of the series, and Shane was a major part of that journey in the show’s early seasons.
THR notes that if Shane returns, it probably won’t be for long. Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Bernthal’s role as a series regular on Netflix’s The Punisher, in which he plays Marvel antihero Frank Castle, limits how many episodes he could appear in on Walking Dead, as the standard rule is three.
THR adds that Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee, is also set to leave in Season 9 after a handful of episodes. However The Walking Dead continues, it will be a bit of an upheaval to have two long-time stars leave, especially when one of them is the lead actor. You can’t help but wonder if it might be better for the writers to start pursuing an endgame for the show overall.