It’ll be a disappointment if the show brings back Shane but not Glenn. Of the two, Rick was closer to the latter: after all, it’s only because of Glenn that Rick made it out of Atlanta in the first place! Rick and Glenn formed a strong bond, and near the end of his tenure on the show, Rick thought of Glenn and Daryl as the people he trusted most.
Bringing back Yeun would be a treat for fans who miss the kind-hearted former pizza boy. A missing scene from the time they spent in Atlanta would be a great, heartwarming addition to the catalog of flashbacks and hallucinations the show has already amassed.
Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs)
It would be a gut punch for Carl to return the season after he died of a bite wound, and him showing up would depend on Riggs’ willingness to appear following his controversial exit.
That said, outside of Shane and Glenn, Carl would make the most sense for Rick to reminisce about. There’s little doubt that of all the losses he’s shouldered, Carl’s death hit him hardest. If Riggs were willing to return, it would be poetic to see the Grimes family on-screen one last time.
Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson)
Hershel was Rick’s friend and mentor at the Prison during the show’s third and fourth seasons, and his loss reverberated throughout the group as they headed for what they believed to be the safety of Terminus. He taught Rick how to farm and raise livestock — useful instructions, as the group moved to Alexandria — and offered advice on morality and staying sane.
If Alexandria’s leader needs advice or wants to remember a happier time in Season 9, it’s possible he’ll draw on a memory of Hershel for support.
Morgan Jones (Lennie James)
If The Walking Dead is opting for maximum nostalgia, they’ll feature flashbacks of Morgan and Rick in Atlanta before Rick met up with “the group.” Morgan isn’t dead, but he might as well be — barring his return at the end of this season of Fear The Walking Dead, he’s gone from Rick’s universe, potentially for good.
Rick and Morgan’s friendship is perhaps best described as “turbulent” — they both struggle with morality and questions about who deserves salvation in the post-apocalyptic world — but seeing them at a “simpler” time would be an excellent way to hearken back to where it all began.
Beth Greene (Emily Kinney)
If Lauren Cohan’s six episodes this season are to be her last, a Beth flashback might make more sense for her than for Rick. On the other hand, Beth represented a kind of purity and innocence that the show hasn’t seen since her death, and Rick was visibly shaken as the negotiation to free her failed and she wound up shot in the head.
Beth is a mainstay in Walking Dead flashbacks and hallucinations — when Tyreese died, he saw her, and Rick remembered Beth in the Season 4 finale (when he called her “a new sheriff in town”).
If he goes back to The Prison, so to speak, Beth might show up with a smile and a laugh to reassure him that everything’s going to be okay.
It’s been six seasons since he admitted it to Michonne at the end of “Clear,” but it appears Rick Grimes still “sees things.”
Shane is in no way the only important person in Rick’s life to meet a tragic end, though he’s probably the one with whom he had the most complicated relationship. After all, Shane did sleep with his wife and practically adopt Carl, which definitely strained their friendship.
Throughout the seasons Rick has lost mentors, friends and even his wife and son — and showing some of his treasured memories with them would be a good way to send off the beloved badass. Click through the gallery above for some of our ideas on who might rise from the dead to talk with Rick in Season 9.