Jon Bernthal is set to return to The Walking Dead in season nine, according to reports.
The news will come as something of a surprise to many, considering he was pretty conclusively killed off back in season two.
Bernthal played police officer Shane Walsh in the show from the first series, the deputy and best friend of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes who, when he believed Rick to be dead, took on the role of protector of his wife Lori and son Carl.
He later fell in love with Lori and became a surrogate father to Carl, only for Rick to return, resulting in tension that came to a head with Rick stabbing and killing Shane, who had by that time gone right off the rails.
As if to draw a definitive line under this, he was then shot in the head by Carl when he returned as a zombie.
But it seems that line was not quite as definitive as we thought, as it’s now been confirmed that Bernthal will be be back.
How this will work is unknown, but it’s most likely to be in a flashback, dream sequence or similar narrative device.
Bernthal, who went on to make movies like Fury with Brad Pitt and The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese, arrives at a time when the series appears to be in a state of flux.
Ratings plummeted last season, and it’s been reported that both Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohen are to leave after ‘a handful’ of episodes in season nine.
It’s said that Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon in the show, has been offered millions in order to become the show’s new lead.
News of Bernthal’s return has come from The Hollywood Reporter, which has added that since he’s also starring in The Punisher for Netflix, he’ll likely only be contractually allowed to appear in a few episodes of another series – most likely a maximum of three.
But it could also just be an appearance in one episode.
Season nine will likely premiere in late October, before a mid-season break in mid-December, with it winding up in February 2019.