The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus revealed his funny reaction when Jon Bernthal returned to the set of the AMC zombie drama to shoot his season 9 appearance. Bernthal, of course, exited the series in season 2 when his character Shane was killed by his former best friend Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and then had his zombie form put down for good by Rick’s son, Carl (Chandler Riggs). Shane did make one appearance in season 3 as part of a hallucination, however.
News of Shane’s season 9 return broke this summer after fans spotted Bernthal hanging around on the Walking Dead set. Of course, Shane will not be returning in the flesh as he is long-dead, and speculation is that his appearance will once again be of the hallucinatory variety. Rick Grimes himself is set to exit the show, as Andrew Lincoln has decided to move on with his career after 8+ seasons as the series' lead actor.
Speaking to ComicBook, Daryl Dixon actor Norman Reedus talked about Bernthal’s return to the set of The Walking Dead after six years away. As it turns out, Reedus and Bernthal see each other frequently on the convention circuit, so their reunion was not exactly tearful. As Reedus put it, when he saw Bernthal again his reaction was, “You know I see Jon all of the time already. So, to me I was just like, 'Hey a--hole, welcome back!'"
However, the reaction was different for the crew members who are still around from season 2 and who haven't seen Bernthal in years. Reedus explained:
"To the crew it was really good for them, you know? I mean we have so much of our crew from the beginning that are still there, you know, which is kind of unheard of. And you know, sure people get promoted and they move on to other things just like life but we have a lot of the old core group there and they're still fans of this show. And for them to see them it was kind of cool to sit in the back and then just watch everyone freak out, you know. Cause we are kind of a big family on there but it's, that was cool. But I see that jerk all the time anyways, so…"
The big Walking Dead family Reedus referred to is about to undergo some major defections, as both Lincoln and Cohan are set to exit the show. However, it appears both Lincoln and Cohan have designs on returning at some point down the line. Lincoln wants to come back for season 10, but as a director instead of an actor. Cohan, meanwhile, has kept the door open on a return for season 10, saying her character Maggie Rhee does not in fact die in season 9. Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has expressed her desire for Cohan to return in the future and continue the arc she and the writers have mapped out for Maggie.
In the near-term, The Walking Dead season 9 starts out with Maggie and Rick in conflict over how to run the group after Rick’s decision to imprison rather than kill Negan. Maggie of course has deep personal reasons for wanting Negan dead as he was the one who brutally murdered her husband Glenn, but Rick ultimately decided to follow his late son Carl’s advice and show mercy to their enemy. How this all resolves itself is anyone’s guess. But fans do know that Rick will be departing, and Shane’s brief return will somehow play into his exit.