The Walking Dead brought back a trio of characters for cameos in Rick's final episode: Hershel, Shane, and Sasha. Each one was methodically chosen to serve the story of Rick's sendoff.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 9x05 follow. Major spoilers!
While many fans were excited to see familiar faces in Rick's final outing on AMC's zombie show, the promised returns or Jon Bernthal, Scott Wilson, and Sonequa Martin-Green were the only three presented in the latest hour. Those fans hoping to see Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs, or Steven Yeun pop in as Lori, Carl, or Glenn were left hanging. However, the nature of each return was much more than fan service as director of the episode Greg Nicotero explained on ComicBook.com's After the Dead.
"It's funny because there was an episode earlier where they're reading 'The Wizard of Oz,' and when [Andrew Lincoln] and I were looking at the script and he's like, 'It's the cowardly lion, the tin man, and the scarecrow,'" Nicotero said. "So if you really think about this, it's the three people that have something to say to Rick."
Each character brought different messages of forgiveness and encouragement as Rick's inner monologue played out through familiar faces but they all served more specific roles. "Shane, who of course is the courage, and Scott Wilson was the heart, and Sonequa was the intellect," Nicotero explained. "So, we ended up sort of subconsciously mirroring that. So, for me I really always wanted it to be Scott, and I had even sort of sent him a note and said, 'Hey, what do you think man?' And the day he came to set, when he walked on set and everybody clapped and I pulled Andy aside and I'm like, 'This is what the show is.' Scott Wilson. And that feeling reminded all of us of the heart of the show."
Lori, Carl, and others did appear in the episode in some form, though. "Well, you know, we had in the field of the dead there was a lot of bodies there, and actually at one point we had the dummy of Chandler that we had made from season six," Nicotero explained. The "field of the dead," as Nicotero calls it, also featured Shane, Beth, Negan, and many other familiar faces.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.