Tom Payne is no longer going to be a cast member on The Walking Dead moving forward, and as it turns out, this decision seems to be one of his own choosing.
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Speaking via The Hollywood Reporter, Payne confirmed that he wanted to depart the series all the way back in season 8, largely due to the fact that he wasn’t able to fully do some of the stories that he had wanted to from the comics:
“It was a mutual [decision], and I was really happy about it … I expressed unhappiness [to the producers] last season…. You can’t help but feel a little bit despondent when you’re not released to do some cool stuff … I loved the character, but there was just so much potential [with the comic-book version of the character] … that wasn’t realized. I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to that frustration. It was constant.”
Ultimately, we certainly do think that this departure is a way for the show’s producers and Payne to get just about everything that they want, given that the show needs to find a way to continue to produce high stakes. Killing off people is a great way in which to do that. Meanwhile, Payne’s desire to leaver makes things a little bit easier on them in that it allows them to have someone behind the scenes who they can write out without any animosity. Not everyone who has been killed off over the years, after all, has actually asked to be written out. Sometimes, people just need to leave because that is something required via the story.
Now, we will see precisely what lies ahead on the second half of this season given that The Walking Dead is more than likely going to be forced to reinvent itself once more. The Whisperers are the Big Bads that have emerged following the midseason finale and they do have a story that needs to be told. The challenge comes here in trying to find a new way to test all of these characters, while also pushing your established favorites forward in some surprising directions of their own. It’s more than likely that some other notable actors from the series could leave by the end of season 9, especially since the longer the show runs, the more certain people could want to do other things.
Remember here that new episodes of The Walking Dead will resume in February on AMC. We’ll be back with more coverage throughout the hiatus.
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