One Walking Dead fan has settled the debate on the true paternity of Judith Grimes, offering new and indisputable photographic evidence the child is the offspring of the late Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal).
The capture comes from 904, "The Obliged," which saw a tender mother-daughter moment as Michonne (Danai Gurira) read to the budding ass-kicker. Michonne acknowledges both Judith and the late Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) as her own children, referring to them as "my daughter" and "my son."
Judith's father, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), already admitted to Michonne he knows the child was birthed out of the fling between Lori and Shane, confessing in 704, "Service:"
"I know Judith isn't mine.
"I know it. I love her. She's my daughter. But she isn't mine. I had to accept that. I did, so I could keep her alive. I'll die before she does, and I hope that's a long time from now so I can raise her, protect her, and teach her how to survive. This is how we live now. I had to accept that too, so I could keep everyone else alive."
During a convention appearance in 2013, Bernthal said Judith Grimes is "100% Shane's baby" before joking, "That baby's going to have a big old busted nose and giant-ass ears, you know what I mean? 100% Shane's baby."
Family Diplomacy, a Tampa Bay-based Collaborative Law firm, previously determined Rick would be considered Judith's legal father despite her being Shane's biological offspring: because Judith was born during an intact, albeit strained, marriage between Rick and Lori, Rick would be considered the legal father.
If the dalliance happened pre-apocalypse, Rick — not Shane — would then be entitled to making major decisions concerning the child, and would be responsible for her financial support.
Bernthal returns to the series Sunday in a cameo appearance as part of Lincoln's sendoff episode, reprising the long-dead Shane as a hallucination experienced by a delirious Rick as he tends to a bloody injury.
905 marks Bernthal's first reappearance on the series since 2012, when the dead Shane appeared to Rick as a vision during an assault on Woodbury in 308, "Made to Suffer."
Rick Grimes' last episode premieres Sunday, November 4 at 9/8c on AMC.