Rick’s BFF-turned-baddie Shane is returning in The Walking Dead season 9 – but how?

The Walking Dead season 9 has already gone down a puzzling route by announcing Rick will be leaving the show after only six episodes, but things are about to get more head-scratching (or should that be head-rubbing?). That’s because joining Andrew Lincoln during his last hurrah will be Jon Bernthal. That’s right: Shane is back for one last time.

According to TV Line, Shane is back for just the one episode in The Walking Dead season 9. Which can surely mean only one thing: Rick’s biting the dust, right? Let’s look at some of the ways Shane could (realistically) return.

Rick's death hallucination

Shane already showed up post-being stabbed in the chest during a Rick hallucination in season 3. The Walking Dead season 9 can go one better by killing off Rick and having one brief reunion between Shane and Rick. Maybe we’ll finally find out who Judith’s real dad is?

Shane returns as a walker

Unlikely, but you never know. Seeing the gross, gruesome face of Shane would probably the best way to go shock-wise while still remaining grounded in the reality of the show. How ironic would it be if Shane’s decomposing walker jaw was the one who took a bite out of Rick to kill him off?

Is a flashback on the cards?

I really hope they don’t bring back Jon Bernthal just for a flashback – we’ve had plenty of those over the years – but, if we must, it’d be nice for the show to go full circle and head back to those season 1 Georgia days where everything seemed so calm and peaceful. There was a lake and everything. A short, sweet scene between the two former best buddies would be a nice capper for both Bernthal and Andrew Lincoln on the show.

Rick snaps. Finally.

Or, The Walking Dead season 9 could go the other way and show Rick completely losing it, seeing visions of his dead ex-BFF. The show has always teased Rick having more than a few screws loose, and Shane taunting him to finally send ol’ Grimey over the edge would be poetic, if nothing else.

How do you want Shane to return? Let us know in the comments!

The Walking Dead season 9 is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing from the batch of new TV shows coming out this year.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.