The rumors are true: Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal will reprise his role of Shane Walsh during the zombie drama’s forthcoming ninth season, TVLine has learned. Although an AMC rep declined to comment, sources confirm that the Punisher actor will appear in one episode.
Bernthal was written off The Walking Dead near the end of Season 2 when Shane was fatally stabbed by his onetime BFF Rick (Andrew Lincoln). His character returned for an episode in Season 3 when he appeared as a figment of Rick’s imagination. Conventional wisdom suggests that Shane will either turn up in another hallucination or in a series of pre-death flashbacks.
Speculation about Bernthal’s return gathered steam over the weekend when a fan spotted him hanging out with fellow Walking Dead cast members near the series’ Georgia set (scroll down to view the evidence). His comeback also coincides with (unconfirmed) rumblings that Lincoln will depart the AMC hit during Season 9, allegedly after appearing in only a half-dozen episodes. To compensate for the possible loss of its leading man, AMC is reportedly looking to give Norman Reedus (Daryl) a “substantial” pay boost to stick around.
In addition, The Walking Dead is bracing for the potential departure of Lauren Cohan (Maggie), who will segue to ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier after appearing in a handful of Season 9 episodes.