WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9 episode "Evolution," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
Just a few short weeks after star Andrew Lincoln bid farewell to AMC's The Walking Dead television series, fans had to once again say goodbye to a fan-favorite character in last night's mid-season closer, "Evolution." After being a part of the zombie-infested series for nearly three years, actor Tom Payne's Jesus was brutally -- and quite shockingly -- killed by the new villains of the series (whom comic book fans know to be The Whisperers).
The death of Jesus is quite surprising to fans, mainly because the character is still alive in the long-running comic book the television show is based on. Surely, actor Tom Payne must have thought his character's fate was safe for a while -- only that didn't turn out to be the case. And yet, the news didn't upset him.
In fact, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Payne reveals that he was totally "cool" with the twist.
When he got the call from Season 9 showrunner Angela Kang, Payne says that the news didn't surprise him. "I was like, oh, okay. It was pretty laid back, I had kind of reached a point in the show where I was a little bit in stasis, and like, “Well, you know, I have to do more with my character, otherwise I’m cool with being killed off.”"
"So when Angela told me, I think she might’ve been a bit surprised when I was like, “Oh, okay, cool.” Like, “How’s it gonna be?”" the actor continued. "Because at my heart I’m a storyteller, so as long as it’s cool and it tells a good story, I’m down with it. When I found out how we were doing it, I was super happy and excited to tell that story."
Jesus first appeared as a lone survivor in the Season 6 episode "The Next World," and he rapidly became one of the members of Rick Grimes' core group of survivors. His death is sure to have major ramifications for the rest of the survivors when Season 9 returns next year.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nadia Hilker, Dan Fogler, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Eleanor Matsuura. With the series now reaching its mid-season finale, The Walking Dead will return from its winter hiatus with all-new episodes Feb. 10, 2019.