It's the end of an era for The Walking Dead, as the hit AMC series is saying goodbye to Andrew Lincoln. Over the course of eight years and 120 episodes, the actor has starred on the zombie drama as central character Rick Grimes. Lincoln has been with the series since the very first episode, co-starring with Jon Bernthal, whose character Shane Walsh was Rick's partner. For Lincoln's final episode of the series, Bernthal returned to the set of the show one last time for another scene with his old co-star. On his Instagram account, Bernthal shared a photo of the two of them together on the set, and it's touching to see for fans who fondly remember the earlier seasons of the series.
Bernthal's version of Shane far outlived his comic book counterpart, with the actor giving him so much more substance than the printed source material. Notoriously, Shane and Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) had an affair in the aftermath of the outbreak, assuming Rick to be dead. Of course, when Rick is able to locate them in Atlanta, the love triangle strains each one of their relationships with each other. In love with Lori and feeling Rick will be unable to protect her and their son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Shane plotted to murder Rick in the tail end of season 2. Rick was then forced to kill his best friend in self defense, although he would later have visions of Shane when he began seeing people.
In retrospect, Shane's warning to Rick that he wouldn't be able to keep his family safe turned out to be true. Lori would die at the prison just a handful of episodes after Shane's death, despite Rick's best efforts. Carl fared much better, but ultimately met his own grisly end in the middle of season 8 when he was bitten by a zombie. We can only speculate on what would have happened if Shane were in charge, and if Rick's family would have really been better off without him. Still, it's sad and eerie how the character was able to accurately predict both Lori and Carl's deaths under Rick's watch.
The Walking Dead is now in its ninth season, with Shane Walsh's death now several years in the past. Still, the character was so important to the story that he remains one of the most well-remembered of them all. It's certainly bittersweet to see Rick's journey come to an end on the show, but seeing the two characters together again one last time seems like an appropriate way to close out his story. It's even more interesting to see the behind-the-scenes photo of the two of them on the set, as it shows a moment of the actors coming full circle for their work on the show.
Despite falling ratings and the absence of Rick Grimes, AMC has no plans of halting production on The Walking Dead anytime soon. Under new showrunner Angela Kang, the series will continue to focus on its remaining stars, such as Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. New episodes of the show air Sunday nights on AMC. You can take a look at the photo of Lincoln and Bernthal below from Jon's Instagram.