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TWD: Khary Payton Wasn't Satisfied By The End Of Ezekiel's Story

"The Walking Dead" star Khary Payton joined the AMC series as King Ezekiel in Season 7, Episode 2, "The Well" on the heels of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) brain-smashing introduction. The television version of Ezekiel managed to escape being killed by the Whisperers' leader Alpha, unlike in the original source material. However, Payton, even after his character cheated an on-screen death, was anything but satisfied when it came time for the series to call it a wrap in 2022.

"No, I'm not satisfied at all," Payton said during an interview with Insider. "I wish that — there are so many places and situations that I would've loved to explore. But that's one of the things that happens when you have a show that has this many dynamic and interesting characters. 48 minutes or, sometimes, over an hour-long episode just isn't enough."

In issue No. 144 of "TWD" comics, Alpha decapitates Ezekiel and sticks his head on a pike to mark the bordering Whisperers' lands. The deadly event is adapted for TV in Season 9, Episode 15, "The Calm Before," but Ezekiel isn't amongst the victims, though. Rather, Ezekiel lives on, and Payton was one of the lucky actors who got to see his character survive the post-apocalyptic world's series finale. But if given the chance, Payton would have liked to explore his character further.

Payton wasn't happy with Ezekiel's ending

Khary Payton portrayed Ezekiel for a total of five seasons on "The Walking Dead," but the actor wasn't content with the way things ended. When Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors come across Ezekiel in Season 7, he is the leader of The Kingdom. But after the Season 11 finale, "Rest in Peace," the character moves forward as the Governor of the Commonwealth.

Despite having the opportunity to dig his acting chops into a number of juicy storylines, including Ezekiel's battle with thyroid cancer, Payton was disappointed to see "TWD" end. "I am very sorry to say goodbye to Ezekiel," Payton also told Insider. "And I cross my fingers and hope that maybe sometime down the road, we could tell the story of how Ezekiel came to be a king or something."

"These characters are beautifully constructed," Payton explained in the same interview. "I think the strength of the show is that these characters are nuanced, interesting, and there's so many of them that you just can't get it all in." With a total of five of the six "TWD" spin-offs still in various stages of production ("Fear the Walking Dead," "TWD: Dead City," a Daryl Dixon-centric show, Rick and Michonne's further adventures, "Tales of the Walking Dead") there's plenty of opportunities for Ezekiel to return. But Payton is disappointed he didn't go out in a blaze of glory.

Payton wanted Ezekiel to go out a 'badass'

Becoming the Governor of the Commonwealth just didn't send out Ezekiel the way Khary Payton wanted — with any pomp and circumstance. If the actor had his druthers, he would have preferred Ezekiel cashed in his chips like a Texas hold'em boss during "The Walking Dead," if his character had indeed been marked for death. "He better go out like a badass," Payton told the crowd at the Steel City Con in March.

With his character suffering from thyroid cancer, Payton resigned himself to the fact that Ezekiel might, in fact, perish. But he wanted Ezekiel to have a truly monumental death sequence if the storyline veered in that direction. "If he goes out laying on a bed somewhere, I'm going to shoot somebody," Payton joked with the convention's crowd. "I was like, 'He's too much of a light in a dark place to go out quietly, so he better go out hard."

"But then I didn't go out at all, so, you know, we'll be alright," Payton continued to the amusement of those in attendance. Since Governor Ezekiel remains one of the most beloved characters from "TWD," don't be surprised when he shows up on one of the spin-offs in the future.