The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Had a Major Death—And the Actor Is More Than OK With It

The Sunday, Nov. 25 episode of the hit series featured another major twist.

By Chris Harnick Nov 26, 2018 2:37 PMTags
The Walking DeadAMC

Pour one out for another The Walking Dead character. In the Sunday, Nov. 25 midseason finale, the AMC drama took another major diversion from the comic book source material and killed off a character who is still kicking major butt in print. Warning, spoilers follow!

The Walking Dead parted ways with Tom Payne's Jesus. Yes, the swashbuckling hero met his maker when he fought the Whispers, the new group of villains who wear skins of zombies to travel within walker herds. And it seems Payne is more than OK with that.

"I just wanted to be part of telling a good story that shocks people. That's what the show has been about for me," Payne told The Hollywood Reporter.

Ranking The Walking Dead's Most Important Deaths

"When they came to me with the idea, I said, ‘As long as it's a really cool moment, let's do it!' I know a lot of people are going to be bummed about it, but I've been bummed for the last two years, that the character hasn't gotten as much cool stuff [on the show] as he has in the comic books. They gave me a really cool ending, and I'm happy with that," Payne added.

Payne is well aware of what his comic book counterpart has done over the years. He told THR that he made producers aware he "wouldn't be unhappy" if they killed off his character.

"I expressed unhappiness last season. I was very frustrated with what the character had been doing. He arrived in a very cool way, and then he floundered at the Hilltop. During the war with the Saviors, the only person he had a fight with was a man who was on his side [in Lennie James' Morgan]," Payne said, citing in the comics the many battles Jesus has fought and won, including catching a grenade and tossing it back at his enemies.

"He's the most capable member of the entire group! And he wasn't used at all [on the show]. In the background, I was training every single week. I was ready and raring to go. You can't help but feel a little bit despondent when you're not released to do some cool stuff. It was mutual and they knew I would be OK with it. It's an amazing show and I was so honored to be a part of it, but at the same time, being the same character without anything fun to do is a bit frustrating," he said.

See how his death ranks among the other significant Walking Dead departures below.

44. Sam (Major Dodson)

Without Sam we wouldn't have Carol's cookies. That's about it. He served to only annoy. Bye Sam!

43. Carter (Ethan Embry)

We hardly knew Carter, but we knew from the minute he challenged Rick in the season six premiere that he wasn't long for this world. We were right: He didn't survive the episode.

42. Olivia (Ann Mahoney)

Olivia didn't deserve to be offed at random by the Saviors after Rosita's failed assassination attempt on Negan in the season seven midseason finale, but she was also the very definition of "expendable." 

41. Aiden (Daniel Bonjour)

We're not really sad to see him go, but Aiden's death clued viewers in about what some citizens of Alexandria are really like...untrustworthy.

40. Jim (Andrew Rothberg)

Bitten in the chest, Jim succumbed to the infection in season one. Forgot he existed? So did we. 

39. Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott)

An early Walking Dead player, Jacqui stayed at the CDC with Dr. Jenner, effectively committing suicide. See above statement about forgetability.

38. Summer (Addy Miller)

The first kill of the series was a memorable one: Rick shooting a zombified little girl. Welcome to the future, folks!

37. Spencer (Austin Nichols)

He had it coming, he had it coming. He only had himself to blame. If you've been there, if you've seen it, I betcha you would've done the same.

Spencer was a weasel to the very end. His hatred for Rick and his own inflated sense of self earned him a shockingly brutal death in the season seven midseason finale. Apparently Negan doesn't value turncoats. Who knew? Deanna would've been so ashamed of her son. Adios, Spence.

36. Amy (Emma Bell)

An early casualty to the walkers in season one, her death helped motivate Andrea for a hot minute. 

35. Zach (Kyle Gallner)

In the grand scheme of things, not that important, but still, dude was killed by a helicopter crashing through a roof. Epic.

34. Sam (Robin Lord Taylor)

Sam died so the Penguin could live. Sort of. Robin Lord Taylor's Walking Dead character brutally got his throat slit by the Terminus cannibals in front of Rick and the gang.

33. Ron (Austin Abrams)

Michonne gutted annoying Ron after he tried to shoot Rick in the midst of the zombie siege on Alexandria. By stabbing Ron, Michonne saved Rick, but it cost Carl his eye. Ron's death is only important for furthering Carl's character development and potentially Michonne's.

32. Dawn (Christine Woods)

Beth's captor and the head the hospital in Atlanta was stabbed by Beth…and then shot the fan-favorite character out of reflex.

31. Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge)

Jessie's whole family was a big problem for Rick Grimes. Her death is important because of two reasons: She reintroduced Rick's capacity to love again and he had to chop off her arm to save his son.

30. Tomas (Nick Gomez)

A prison inmate up to no good, Tomas' death by machete impalement was one of the big turning points when viewers—and other zombie survivors—learned, that you don't mess with Rick Grimes. Ever.

29. Milton (Dallas Roberts)

A victim of the Governor and his murderous rage. At least we still have Dallas Roberts as Owen on The Good Wife!

28. Mika (Kyla Kenedy)

Killed by her sister Lizzie who didn't believe there was a difference between the living and the dead. BRB, crying.

27. Noah (Tyler James Williams)

Noah was still relatively new to the world of The Walking Dead, but his gruesome death will likely have an impact on Glenn. It was caused by a cowardly citizen of Alexandria and sort of on Glenn's watch. And it was totally gross.

26. Sophia (Madison Lintz)

We all remember the quest for little Sophia. But all along she was a zombie in the barn. Walkers killed her off screen and when she busted out of that barn, Rick shot her in the head.

25. Karen (Melissa Ponzio)

Karen must be toast 'cause she just got burnt...literally! She was fried to a crisp by Carol after succumbing to the flu.

24. Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh)

As leader of the Alexandrians, Deanna was pretty out of her element whenever the real world encroached on her settlements walls. Naturally, once those walls fell, she took a bite to the belly while trying to protect Rick, but not before imparting some wisdom on Rick, Maggie, and, especially, Michonne that should push those characters into stronger leadership roles in the future. Deanna herself may not have mattered much, but her impact will be felt for seasons to come.

23. Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.)

Poor Bob. He was bitten by a walker and then captured by Gareth. They removed his leg and ate it…but Bob still lived. As he slowly died, Tyreese made sure he wouldn't come back as a zombie.

22. T-Dog (IronE Singleton)

While attempting to save Carol and the rest of the prison group, T-Dog paid the ultimate price. RIP, we hardly knew you…despite your presence on the show for three seasons.

21. Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn)

Damnit, Carl! Dale and his fisherman's was attacked by a walker Carl had previously seen and provoked, but didn't kill. That walker got to eat Dale's insides. Daryl took mercy on him and shot him in the head. Only on TWD is a shot in the head showing someone mercy. This. Show.

20. Gareth (Andrew J. West)

Here's why you don't kidnap, torture and kill any of Rick Grimes' people: he'll cut off your fingers and then stab you to death.

17, 18, 19. Henry, Enid and Tara

For such a pivotal moment in the comics, the deaths at the hands of Alpha and the Whispers during the Alexandria fair on the TV show were...a bit underwhelming. Yes, these characters have ties to major players on the show, but not as major as the characters offed in the comic book source material. Henry seems like he was created just to die. However, they represent how ruthless Alpha is.

16. Merle (Michael Rooker)

Merle was almost like a phoenix on The Walking Dead. Until he died. Viewers first met him in season one when he faced off with Rick, but he didn't die when they left him chained on a roof. Instead he lost his hand and joined up with the Governor. But everybody knows the Governor is a big @$$hole and he shot his once-trusted ally in the chest. Daryl eventually had to kill zombie Merle.

15. Denise (Merritt Wever)

Denise, we hardly knew ya. Merritt Wever's character met an untimely end at the end of season six. Her death is significant for a few reasons: Denise was Alexandria's doctor and she was an out LGBT character. Her exit is another in The Walking Dead's troubling trend in killing off minorities.

14. Gregory (Xander Berkeley)

While many fans might not be sad to see him go, Gregory's death says a lot about where Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is going as the leader of the Hilltop. She's stretching her wings out from underneath Rick's leadership and finding her place.

13. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)

The first of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) big kills in the season seven premiere, Abraham's death was sadly overshadowed by Negan's next kill...which we'll get to a little later. But still, it was a pretty significant loss for the group.

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The Walking Dead airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on AMC.