Warning, major spoilers for Sunday’s The Walking Dead are below.
As one might expect from a show taking place during the zombie apocalypse, AMC’s The Walking Dead is no stranger to killing off characters, even major ones. For proof, look at the shocking death of Carl Grimes during season 8, which still has some fans angry and sad.
There’s already been multiple big deaths and happenings in the currently airing season 9, including Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) being written out of the story, and Maggie finally getting sick of Gregory’s duplicitous behavior and making an example out of him.
On Sunday night’s midseason finale, The Walking Dead killed off a character whose death nobody saw coming: Jesus (Tom Payne). Jesus has been a fan favorite since his introduction, but now he’s dead, becoming the first victim of newly introduced villains The Whisperers.
While most actors would be saddened to leave one of the biggest shows on TV, Payne is the opposite, telling THR that he’s been frustrated for a while with how Jesus has been used creatively. He also still thinks that pairing Jesus and Aaron up would’ve been lazy.
On leaving: They were aware I wouldn’t be unhappy if they got rid of me. I expressed unhappiness last season. I was very frustrated with what the character had been doing. He arrived in a very cool way, and then he floundered at the Hilltop. During the war with the Saviors, the only person he had a fight with was a man who was on his side [in Lennie James’ Morgan]. In the comics, he has this massive fight with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He catches a grenade, and throws it back [at his enemies]. He’s the most capable member of the entire group! And he wasn’t used at all [on the show]. In the background, I was training every single week. I was ready and raring to go. You can’t help but feel a little bit despondent when you’re not released to do some cool stuff. It was mutual and they knew I would be OK with it. It’s an amazing show and I was so honored to be a part of it, but at the same time, being the same character without anything fun to do is a bit frustrating.
On Jesus/Aaron: I liked that they had a friendship, but I felt like a further relationship wasn’t necessarily required. I thought it would have been a bit lazy: “Here are two gay characters. They should get together!” But someone else asked me about the six-year time jump [that followed Lincoln’s departure], and I was like, “Maybe they did hook up once or twice in those six years!” Maybe that contributed to their [friendship], but as you do, you just become friends afterward. I could see that happening. But a long-term [relationship]? I’m not sure about that. They have a lot in common, and they did connect in a few different ways. It was nice to have them chatting; their sensibilities were similar. They were quite natural friends.
Well, there you have it folks, you might be sad to see Jesus leave The Walking Dead, but Tom Payne doesn’t agree with you. To be fair, his criticisms about Jesus not being given much to do are pretty accurate, and it’s not hard to imagine why that would frustrate an actor.