Well, the cat's out of the bag now, isn't it?  Michael Rooker's return as 'The Walking Dead's  unstable Merle Dixon wasn't exactly a secret, what with the character's official fate having gone unresolved, the actor flat out saying he'd be back for season 3, and those recent set photos, but now AMC has decided to up the ante.  Ladies and gentleman, let's all give a hand to Merle Dixon!

Today AMC confirms the return of Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon for 'The Walking Dead' season 3, unveiling an official photo of the character, sporting a very fashionable stump-like accessory where his right hand used to be.  Previously, Rooker had been photographed on set as part of new season 3 villain The Governor's entourage, brandishing a more hook-like attachment to his stump.

Though the character made an appearance in season 2 episode "Chupacapbra" as a hallucination of his brother Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), officially Merle hasn't made an appearance since the third episode of the first season, "Tell it to the Frogs."  There, the unstable redneck managed to saw his own hand off from Rick having left him handcuffed to a roof, cauterize the wound, and escape to parts unknown.

Rooker's appearance as Merle brings the most anticipated aspects of 'The Walking Dead' season 3 full circle, as we've now glimpsed official images of newcomer fan favorite characters Michonne and The Governor, as well as a brief look inside the prison setting first seen in season 2 finale "Beside the Dying Fire."

Time will tell how Merle reacts to encountering Rick's group, or even his own brother Daryl when 'The Walking Dead' season 3 shambles out this October on AMC, so in the meantime check out the official photo below, and tell us what you think in the comments!

The Walking Dead Season 3 Merle


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