Season 9 will mark the end of an era on The Walking Dead when Andrew Lincoln takes his leave as Rick Grimes after the better part of a decade. Details are still scarce about how and why Rick will leave the series, but it seems that a long-lost friend-turned-enemy will turn up before the end. Jon Bernthal will reprise his role as Shane in one episode of the ninth season, and it's probably safe to say that Shane's arrival will be connected to Rick's departure.
Of course, Shane died way back at the end of Season 2, so The Walking Dead will have to find a way and a reason to bring him back without resurrecting him. After all, Shane died as a man and as a zombie, so he's not coming back in the flesh. The odds are that he'll be back in a dream or a flashback or a hallucination. The bigger question is why Shane will be back on Rick's mind after so many years, especially since Rick is probably going to have to die for Andrew Lincoln's departure to make sense in the show. So, in honor of the upcoming return of Shane, we've put together some ways that the show could totally bring him back.
Rick Remembers The Good Times And Finds Closure
Rick has lost a lot of people over the years of The Walking Dead, and Shane was arguably the first big personal loss for Rick. Sure, he was affected by the deaths of Sophia and Dale, but Shane was Rick's best friend and basically brother from before the zombie apocalypse. Even worse, Rick had to go ahead and kill Shane himself after Shane's mind was warped from jealousy and guilt, and Rick hasn't really gotten closure the way he did for Lori and Carl. Season 9 could see Rick thinking back on the good times before Shane lost his mind and gaining a sense of closure. Flashbacks to the good times could help Rick make peace with what happened to Shane, likely shortly before Rick himself bites the dust.
Rick Remembers The Bad Times
Hey, just because Rick feels forgiving enough not to murder Negan doesn't mean he's happy to forgive and forget everything that's happened in the zombie apocalypse, and Carl didn't leave any notes explicitly instructing his dad to think back to the farm and get over Shane's betrayal. Rick could flash back to moments of Shane showing his darker side, either before the zombie apocalypse or in scenes taking place back when the characters were still on the farm. Remembering the bad times could make sense if Rick is doubting himself for keeping Negan alive; if he remembers how everything went sour with Shane, he may be inclined to go ahead and kill Negan. Maggie, Daryl, and Co. wouldn't exactly disagree. Closure may not be a priority for Rick when it comes to Shane. Maybe he'll remember Shane as a hard lesson he had to learn about what it takes to survive.