‘The Walking Dead’s Tom Payne Disappointed Major Comic Book Moment Wasn’t in the Show

Former Walking Dead star Tom Payne was left “disappointed” by Jesus’ page-to-screen translation and hoped to realize his comic book counterpart’s fight scene against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

“The fight with Negan, and catching the grenade,” Payne said at San Jose Fan Fest when asked which of Jesus’ comic book scenes he was most disappointed didn’t make it into the show.

Payne, who long trained to pull off Jesus’ agility and fighting ability, lamented his infrequent showcases: Jesus’ hand-to-hand expertise was shown in a friendly bout against Aaron (Ross Marquand) in 907 before he used those same skills during a flashy graveyard battle against walkers and the Whisperers in the Season Nine winter finale.

“It was weird, I just felt like he’s such a capable character,” Payne said.

“He’s the best fighter out of anyone. And it never really got utilized. Which for me was just frustrating because I had worked really hard at it, as well, and when you work really hard at something you want to show off. And they did give me an opportunity to do that, which I’m very grateful for, against someone that’s on my team.”

Issue #114 of creator Robert Kirkman’s comic book series saw martial arts expert Jesus come to the rescue when Negan and his Savior forces invaded Alexandria, forcing leader Rick Grimes and other Alexandrians to their knees for a second Lucille execution.

Jesus mowed through Negan’s armed forces with a flurry of punches and kicks before handily defeating Negan and holding him hostage, moments before King Ezekiel and hungry pet tiger Shiva led a cavalry charge.

That issue played out in The Walking Dead’s Season Seven finale, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” where Jesus did nothing of note but was among the gun-wielding army led by Maggie (Lauren Cohan).

TWD Jesus vs Negan

When Negan and the Saviors retaliated in issue #120, assaulting Alexandria with grenades from outside its walls, Jesus famously caught a grenade midair and lobbed it back — obliterating a pack of Saviors in the process.

A similar attack on the community played out in 808, “How It’s Gotta Be,” where Jesus was not present at the bombardment of Alexandria. That episode instead acted as a sendoff for Carl (Chandler Riggs), who oversaw Alexandria’s evacuation before dying in 809, “Honor.”

Payne opined he was better off not reading the comic books because most of Jesus’ standout moments were left in their pages.

“Honestly, the comic books, I really enjoyed reading the comic books and I read them all because that was really the only thing that I had to go off of,” Payne said.

“Because we get the episodes like one episode before you get the script for the next episode. And so I kind of hung onto the comic books for a long time of like, ‘wow yeah, he does all this cool stuff,’ and I think that was the cause of a lot of my depression at times [laughs].”

Walking Dead Jesus grenade catch

Payne then had to “come to terms with the fact that, okay, it’s a different character, which is fine.”

“They gave me a very different beginning in the show, which was awesome, I loved that. And the fight with Lennie [James, who plays Morgan] was great. And then the end, I thought the end was one of the [best] moments in the show, and I’m really happy to have left my mark in that way,” he said.

“But yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have read the comic books, because then I wouldn’t have been as disappointed as I have been at times.”

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Jesus is expected to reappear in the back half of Season Nine via flashbacks surrounding the drama between Alexandria and Hilltop.

The Walking Dead returns with new episodes Sunday, February 10 on AMC.