Rumours are rife that Jon Bernthal will be returning to The Walking Dead in season 9. The actor that played Shane in the first couple of seasons has been spotted around Georgia eating and drinking with various cast members. Nothing is confirmed, but fans are hopeful that Bernthal will be in season 9 to help see Rick off.
But will it be a happy reunion, or is Shane going to return to haunt Rick in horrifying ways? Though Rick and Shane were once like brothers, fans of the show only really got to see the pair as feuding semi-enemies. It all came to a head with Rick stabbing Shane and then Carl shooting the zombie-fied Shane stone dead.
So why will Shane return to The Walking Dead? Bernthal recently posted two interesting photos to his Instagram feed. One featured Shane and the also long-deceased Dale with the caption “Missing. This. Guy. Will always love my Walking Dead Family.” Then just three days ago, Bernthal posted another photo of him as Shane wiping away tears from Rick’s face. The cute caption: “I love you brother. Always.”
It’s all very sweet and fans of the show will know that the cast have become a tight-knit group in their time filming the show. But will this close bond between Bernthal and Andrew Lincoln translate onto the screen?
Flashbacks or hallucinations?
I doubt it. Speculation says that Shane will appear in either flashbacks, hallucinations or perhaps even in the afterlife if Rick dies. One particularly bonkers, but kind of awesome theory has it that Rick has actually been Shane ever since we all thought we saw Shane die. I like this theory for its outrageousness and if you go back and watch Shane’s death, it doesn’t make much sense why he didn’t just shoot Rick while he had the chance.
Sadly, I don’t think the writers would be so bold/crazy. The ‘Shane is Rick’ theory would also mean that Bernthal would probably be committing to a long stint and he clearly doesn’t have time for that, what with being The Punisher over at Netflix and all.
Rick has hallucinated before, especially when he loses someone special. He hallucinated Lori and he hallucinated Shane after they both died. So I think the most likely thing is that Shane will appear to Rick as a hallucination.
Taunting Rick to death
But what could possibly stir up this old trauma? How bad will things get before Rick starts having visions of his old best frenemy? Again, if you look at Shane’s final scene from season two, the answer might not be very happy. Shane taunted Rick as he decided whether to kill him or not.
I believe that Shane will return to drive Rick mad with guilt and rage. Shane will repeat what he said to Rick before Rick stabbed him: that Rick is not capable of being a good father, or a good enough husband. Perhaps Shane really was the right man to look after Lori and Carl. Perhaps Shane is going to return to crush Rick’s perception of himself. Perhaps Shane will return to drive Rick to suicide even. How unbelievably dark would that be?
What would you like to see Shane do if/when he returns to The Walking Dead?