Shane Walsh is one of the Atlanta camp survivors. Prior to the outbreak of Wildfire, he was Rick Grimes’s lifelong best friend and partner in the King County Sheriff’s Department. As the situation with Wildfire worsened and Rick lay in the hospital in a coma, Shane helped Rick’s wife, Lori and son, Carl survive by fleeing with them to Atlanta and the promise of an evacuation center. Thrown together by circumstances, and believing that Rick was dead, Shane and Lori began an affair. (Rick suspects nothing of the affair and does not learn of it until the show’s second season.)
At the Atlanta camp, Shane became the de facto leader. When Rick showed up at the camp, Shane’s influence among the group lessened, causing tension between the former partners. The two quickly found themselves on opposite sides of nearly every decision regarding the group. After her reunion with the husband she thought dead, Lori spurned Shane which only served to deepen Shane’s resentment of Rick.
Shane’s aggression about what the group needed to do grew over the course of Season 2, as did his anger toward Rick. The discovery that Lori was pregnant seemed to drive Shane further into his spiraling madness; he was convinced that the baby was his and that only he – not Rick – had what it took to protect Lori, Carl, and the unborn child. His rage against Rick culminated in the episode Better Angels when Shane led Rick into the woods, intent on killing his former friend. The confrontation between the two resulted in Rick killing Shane instead. Shane rose up from the ground as a walker, only to be put down by Carl who had gone looking for the two men.
Shane Walsh was played by American actor Jon Bernthal, best known for his performances on stage in regional theatre and off Broadway productions. He appeared as Al Capone in the popular family movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. He also starred in the much hyped, but ultimately short lived, CBS sitcom The Class and has done numerous television guest appearances including roles on Boston Legal, How I Met Your Mother, and two of the Law & Order franchises: Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit.
- In the 2007 movie Day Zero, Bernthal played a taxi driver named James Dixon – no relation to Daryl and Merle.
- Bernthal was once a pro athlete; he played for the European Professional Baseball Federation while studying theatre in Moscow.
- Shane’s tattoo, over his left breast, reads “Lil Bird.”
- In The Walking Dead graphic novels, Shane was shot and killed by Carl, who was defending his father as Shane prepared to shoot Rick.
- The pendant on Shane’s necklace, the number “22,” is the number he wore on his high school football jersey. This touch was Bernthal’s idea; his football number had been 21.