Lew Temple of The Walking Dead is shedding light on some of his character's axed storylines, revealing that the fan favorite was originally intended to be a serial killer. In the premiere of The Walking Dead's third season, Temple made his debut on the series as Axel, a mustachioed prisoner with a southern drawl. Although he outlived all of the other inmates, Axel would ultimately meet his end later that season when the Governor shot him in the head with a sniper rifle. Still, because of his charming personality and memorable scenes with Melissa McBride's Carol Peletier, Axel is among the most beloved characters of the show's earlier years.
However, if season three of The Walking Dead had played out the way it was originally intended, fans may not look back at Axel quite so fondly. Speaking about his time on the show on the franchise's official Talk Dead to Me podcast, Temple says he was originally told his character would be revealed as a serial killer, only to be told on the day of filming that the storyline had been scrapped because it was too dark. "I showed up with the idea that I was going to be a serial killer and foreboding, and then the day of, got a note to switch that," Temple explains.
Although the idea of turning Axel into a serial killer was shelved early on, Temple also claims that producers told him that the reveal could still happen later on in the season. "The whole thing about being a drug addict was all a facade. The thing about the squirt gun and pistol is all bulls--t," Temple notes, suggesting Axel's claims that he was a low-level criminal were just to cover up his true nature. Worse yet, the idea was for Axel to brutally murder another character before severely beating another.
"There were some episodes that were written where I do take Beth out into the woods and slaughter her. And so we didn't get to any of those," Temple reveals. Played by Emily Kinney, Beth Greene would ultimately go on to survive until the middle of the fifth season with a death much more dignified than getting butchered in the woods. As if that's not horrific enough, Axel would have also pummeled Carol in another scene, which is especially dark considering Carol's history of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband. "Carol, he beats the sh-t out of her, just these really dark things that the writers were talking about," Temple says of Axel's storyline possibilities.
So, what happened? As longtime Walking Dead fans might remember, Axel took a bullet in the season three episode "Home," officially ending any potential for the character to become a serial killer. According to Temple, the writers had painted themselves into a corner with the Governor's arrival at the prison in that particular episode. Basically, someone had to go, and Axel was apparently the most expendable of the characters at that point in time. "The Governor's showing up and he's got to draw first blood, and it's looking like you're going to get the short straw," Temple added. It was a shame to see Axel depart the series so soon, but perhaps it was better for him to go as a hero before he came to become a villain.
In the original comic books, Axel is not a serial killer and suffers a fate very similar to how he dies on the TV series. Another prisoner in the comics, who was not featured on the show, is revealed to be a serial killer when he murders two of Hershel's youngest daughters - both of which are also not on the TV adaptation. The Walking Dead was certainly dark enough as it was by the third season of the show, so perhaps it was for the better not to include these particular storylines at the time. You can listen to the full interview with Temple in the Talk Dead to Me podcast video below, courtesy of Skybound on YouTube.