The Walking Dead Star Laments Major Missed Opportunity

Former Walking Dead star Tom Payne regrets the zombie drama only lightly touched on the dynamic between comic book boyfriends Jesus (Payne) and Aaron (Ross Marquand).

“What could have been,” Payne tweeted Saturday with an upside down smiley emoji. The tweet was in response to a fan-posted image of the comic book showing Jesus and Aaron in action.

The capture is a snippet from The Walking Dead #173, where Jesus and Aaron fight off and ultimately kill Beta, then acting leader of enemy group the Whisperers. Payne’s Jesus didn’t live to encounter Beta, who wouldn’t premiere until the back half of Season 9, where he’s played by Ryan Hurst.

Jesus was killed off in the mid-season 9 finale as the first victim of the Whisperers, leaving Aaron devastated. Aaron and Jesus’ relationship was depicted platonic onscreen, but both Payne and Marquand agree a hookup happened during the largely unseen six-year time jump that separated episodes 905 and 906.

“I would have liked to have hooked up with Jesus,” Marquand said during Walker Stalker Cruise 2019. Added Payne, “Yeah, they kind of like teased that a little while, and then they went and killed me, so wah-wah [laughs]. I think it happened in the six years in-between.”

The romantic development “probably, probably” happened, according to Marquand. “That’s what we called it.”

TWD173
(Photo: Image Comics)

Jesus’ death, a divergence from Robert Kirkman’s comic book, was deemed by Payne to be a “mutual decision.” The star was admittedly unhappy over Jesus being underserved and was “disappointed” by the failure to bring two of his standout comic book moments to screen.

“The fight with Negan, and catching the grenade,” Payne said at San Jose Fan Fest in December when asked which comic book scenes he was most disappointed not to see realized in live-action.

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“It was weird, I just felt like he’s such a capable character. 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 [Lennie James’ Morgan] that’s on my team.”

Payne has since filmed crime drama pilot Prodigal Son, which was picked up to series by Fox earlier this month.

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