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Why is Jon Bernthal hanging around The Walking Dead season 9 set?

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Is Shane Walsh back from the dead?

Probably not. But as The Walking Dead shoots its ninth season in Senoia, Ga., actor Jon Bernthal has been spotted near the set with former costars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, stoking fans’ imaginations about a possible return for Bernthal’s popular villain.

The stars showed up on Instagram yesterday while visiting Nic & Norman’s, the Senoia burger joint owned by Reedus and executive producer Greg Nicotero. (That’s Bernthal in the background.)

Another fan ran into the boys making a coffee run in town, and managed to get a selfie with Lincoln and Bernthal.

Now, there are plenty of reasons Bernthal could be hanging out near the Senoia set. The Walking Dead‘s cast members have been close since day one, working together on a series they had no idea would become a ratings juggernaut and pop culture touchstone. It’s entirely possible that Bernthal could have just been passing through and wanted to pay his former costars a visit.

What’s also worth noting, though, is that this upcoming season of The Walking Dead is set to be Lincoln’s last. A flashback sequence to Rick and Shane’s relationship might make sense in order to properly see Lincoln off, though another perhaps more plausible explanation is that cast members were simply gathering in order to celebrate Lincoln’s exit in person.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC this fall.

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