Fans were devastated when The Walking Dead killed off the beloved character Jesus, but actor Tom Payne has since moved on to a new popular series as the star of the FOX serial killer drama Prodigal Son, which is about to air its first season finale. And while viewers of The Walking Dead might have been upset over the death of Jesus, Payne himself admitted that he was "just kind of over it." Jesus' death came at the hand of the new major goes the Whisperers, who made their mark on their series as they wore skins of walkers and hid among the dead in order to attack their enemies. But Payne has since left the show after spending three seasons among the survivors.
"Ultimately it came down to just happiness in my job, and I was just like, 'Well, I've done this for three years,' and that was the longest I've ever done any acting job," Payne told ComicBook.com's Talking Shop. "And I had kind of done everything that I wanted to do on the show, and I didn't really see the point in hanging around and just waiting for something to happen. We'd done some fight stuff which was really cool, but it didn't seem like it was really going to go — his storyline wasn't going to develop much."
"And everyone is like jockeying for position on that show and waiting for their time to shine, and I was just kind of over it, really," Payne added with a laugh.
The sometimes overcrowded ensemble of The Walking Dead is "the nature of the show," Payne noted. "And I just felt like my career and where I was going was had been on this ascendant, and The Walking Dead is absolutely the bedrock of my career now, and it really helped me carry on. But I just felt like, 'Okay, I'm done, and I'm ready to move on to whatever the next thing is.'"
Payne wasn't sure if he wanted to sign on for another long-running television show so soon after The Walking Dead "unless it really pushes me and the part is worth it," he said. "And so many things locked into place with Prodigal Son."
The star had little opportunity to showcase Jesus' fighting abilities despite undergoing an intense three-year training regime, notably sparring with a crazed Morgan (Lennie James) in Season 8 episode "Monsters" before participating in a friendly match against Aaron (Ross Marquand) in Season 9 episode "Stradivarius."
Payne previously admitted he was "disappointed" the show didn't adapt two major Jesus moments from creator Robert Kirkman's comic book, including a fight scene that would have pit Jesus against then-Savior leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
"They gave me a very different beginning in the show, which was awesome, I loved that," Payne said during a December 2018 convention appearance. "And the fight with Lennie 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. 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."