Khary Payton as King Ezekiel on AMC's "The Walking Dead"

Khary Payton as King Ezekiel on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”

*Two different Ezekiels dominated television Sunday night during the same 9 o’clock hour (at least on the East Coast).

As running back Ezekiel Elliott was leading the Cowboys toward an overtime victory against the Eagles on NBC, the character King Ezekiel finally made his long-awaited debut on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” to the delight of fans across social media.

“Its a black man with locs running a camp. And he got a tiger. Already GOAT,” tweeted one fan of the character, who is played by actor Khary Payton.


Ezekiel was introduced as the self-appointed king of a survivor community known as The Kingdom. The man is clearly over the top with his Shakespearean vocabulary, pseudo throne and pet tiger named Shiva when we first meet him. Later in the episode, he reveals himself to Carol as a former zookeeper who saved the tiger’s life and is merely providing people with a leader to foster hope.

Morgan and Carol’s arrival in the Kingdom definitely changed Ezekiel’s perspective and allowed him to open up, Payton said last night on “Talking Dead.”

“I don’t know if he’s confided in anyone in the Kingdom,” Payton said. “I think his confidantes have probably died. In Morgan and Carol, I think he’s probably looking for that inner circle.”

On Ezekiel deciding to confide in Carol, Payton said: “I think it was important that he give a piece of himself to Carol. I think he needs her strength. He’s looking for a confidante. In Morgan and also in Carol, he can see that strength. He’s looking for that kind of advisor. And in order for her to bring down that wall, I think he needs to reveal something about himself.”

In the comic book, Ezekiel is eventually introduced to Rick in hopes of eventually merging The Kingdom with Alexandria and The Hilltop to defeat Negan and The Saviors.

In the meantime, Twitter has welcomed Ezekiel with open arms: