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Here's Why Tom Payne Asked To Be Killed Off On The Walking Dead

When AMC's long-running zombie drama The Walking Dead airs its final episode, it'll wrap one of the more tumultuous runs in the history of cable television, with the one-time ratings powerhouse now boasting a seriously depleted fandom. The show will leave the airwaves with almost an entirely different cast than it began with, too, as only a pair of O.G. cast members – Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride – are still making their way in the post-apocalyptic landscape.

As for those who've departed The Walking Dead, they've typically done so in gruesome fashion, either at the hands of flesh-eating zombies, or their often far more dangerous human counterparts. In the case of Tom Payne's character, Jesus, it was a mix of both (sort of). 

As the actor noted in a 2018 interview with ComicBook.com, Jesus' series exit was essentially one of Payne's own making, after he voiced frustration that not enough characters were dying in the ongoing war with The Saviors. "I had even said last season [7], I was like, 'I mean, 'cause we're having a war, you know, and people aren't dying.' I was like, 'There's too many people on the show, you need to kill some people. Kill me, I don't care, just kill some people.' And then, lo and behold, they kill me!"

After getting over the initial surprise of Jesus' demise, Payne's thoughts quickly turned to the question of how his exit would play out. "And then I was just worried — not worried — apprehensive. 'Okay, so how's it going to be?' Because if it's Jesus it has to be like a bunch of people taking him out or it has to be something that he can't prevent because he's the most capable fighter out of anyone." 

Tom Payne is quite happy with how Jesus departed The Walking Dead

Luckily, Tom Payne went on to offer he was happy to exit The Walking Dead in such high fashion, and in service of furthering the story by introducing the nefarious Whisperers, via a kick ass fight scene to boot. 

"But then the way that it happened, I think was really cool. I was saying that ["kill me"] knowing that I would be cool with it. All I care about is the story, and if the story is good, and they do it in the right way, then I don't care. And if I help to tell that story, in a cool, surprising, and shocking way, then I'm down with that, and I think they really did that with the exit. So I'm super happy actually. I loved my beginning on the show, and I loved my ending on the show. The middle was meh, but the end was really cool and I'm really, really happy with that."

Given that death doesn't always mean the end in The Walking Dead, many fans wondered if we might see Jesus again somewhere down the road. When asked about that possibility, Payne admitted it was unlikely the divisive Jesus would return, noting the structure of the show still might permit such a twist. "No, but there's always the possibility in the universe of The Walking Dead for people to return. I mean there's a whole six years that we haven't seen, so yeah, there's always a possibility that Jesus could pop up again, or anyone, you know." As it is, there's likely just not enough time left in The Walking Dead's run for the second coming of Tom Payne — even if his character's nickname all but demands a resurrection.