TVLine reports that Bernthal -- who starred on AMC's zombie drama for its first two seasons and now leads The Punisher -- will be returning for one episode of Season 9. AMC has not confirmed, but Bernthal was spotted with departing series star Andrew Lincoln near The Walking Dead's Senoia, Georgia set, as well as at Nic and Norman's, a restaurant in Senoia owned by actor Norman Reedus and executive producer Greg Nicotero.
Lincoln will be leaving the show in the first half of Season 9, so presumably Bernthal will appear in a flashback in one of Lincoln's final episodes. Bernthal played Shane Walsh, Lincoln's character Rick Grimes' pre-apocalypse patrol partner who became his post-apocalypse leadership rival after he hooked up with Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) when they thought Rick was dead. Shane also happens to be the biological father of Rick's daughter Judith.
Fans were understandably excited to hear that Rick's first and greatest foil would be returning to help send him off.
The Walking Dead will return for Season 9 this fall.