Warning: Potential spoilers follow for the rest of The Walking Dead's second season.
Back in November, almost four months after showrunner Frank Darabont was unceremoniously fired from The Walking Dead, TVLine carried a blind item asserting that in the turmoil that followed, one upset cast member asked to be released from his or her contract only to have a change of heart after the wheels had been put in motion to write the character out of the show.
Nothing more seemed to come of the item -- it's a safe bet the disgruntled actor wasn't Madison Lintz, who played poor Sophia -- until over the weekend, when a curious article appeared in Variety: It seems Jon Bernthal, who stars as the troubled Shane, is in early talks for the lead role in TNT's period crime pilot L.A. Noir, which is being developed by none other than Darabont.
Shane, of course, has far outlived his comic-book counterpart, who died in the sixth issue of The Walking Dead -- before the survivors ever reached the Greene farm. So his death in the second half of the season wouldn't come as a complete shock to fans. But it would help to explain why the show's writers have transformed the group, and the farm, into a pressure cooker, with the increasingly erratic Shane feeling most of the heat.
Perhaps the tension is building so that, just as the midseason finale saw the death of Sophia, the season finale will see Shane meet his end. If that's the case, then the question is who'll pull the trigger: the same person as in the comic, or someone else? From Rick and Lori to Dale and Hershel, there are certainly plenty of people with a motive -- and let's not forget Otis' widow Patricia.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.