"It's tough, is everybody still mourning Shiva?" Payton asked fans assembled at the interview and Q&A panel. "It's tough, man, it's been a tough one. I'm in therapy, my dad won't talk to me. I was literally like, 'it's not my fault, it was written in the script, dad!'"
Payton knew losing Shiva was "gonna suck," saying "I knew it was coming, I knew it from the comic book that that was the way the story was gonna be told," but explained that didn't make the casualty any less gut-wrenching.
"What [the show] does is, it builds you up just enough to stick its hand in your chest just like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and just tears your heart out and has it bloody and beating as you slowly die," Payton said.
"That's what this show does, and then right before you die, it stuffs it back in your chest, sows you back up, and goes like, 'come back next week!'"
Shiva met her brutal end in episode 8x04, "Some Guy," which came as a particularly devastating blow for Ezekiel: the theatrical Kingdom leader had just witnessed the slaughter of almost all of his pack of warriors, who were mercilessly gunned down by a .50 caliber machine gun.
The Swiss cheese-ing of his loyal followers and Shiva's death at the hands (and mouths) of walkers shattered Ezekiel, who later regained his confidence in the ongoing battle between the AHK alliance and the Saviors.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in November, Payton said of the episode: "It tore my heart out."
"We lost pretty much everybody [from the Kingdom]. That's the thing about The Walking Dead. You get very close to these people, and then you end up having to say goodbye, and not knowing when you're going to see them again," Payton said of his Kingdom guard co-stars.
"Carlos Navarro, who plays [Kingdom knight] Alvaro, is one of my favorite people in the world. Besides Shiva, letting Carlos go was one of the hardest things that I've done on this show," Payton said.
In the comics, Ezekiel told Michonne the origins of his close bond with Shiva, who died similarly in that continuity.
During his time at the convention, Payton, a notable voice actor who lends his talents to Young Justice, confirmed the fan-favorite show has finished recording on its upcoming third season.1comments
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
"It really did feel like all my people got ripped away from me. It was more emotional than I was expecting it to be. I've already had that feeling when Karl Makinen, who played Richard, and Logan Miller, who played Ben [died on the show]. You think it would get easier, but it doesn't."