Here’s the reason Ilyn Payne didn’t return after Game of Thrones season 2.
Wilko Johnson played Ser Ilyn Payne until season 2 of Game of Thrones, but the character was never mentioned again.
Based on the incredibly popular fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones was developed by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for HBO and concluded with the 8th and final season in 2019.
Johnson played the silent, gloomy knight and royal executioner in 4 episodes across two seasons.
Wilko Johnson’s Debut Small-Screen Credit was Ser Ilyn Payne on Game of Thrones
Wilko Johnson played Ser Ilyn Payne on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
The English actor was born as John Peter Wilkinson and later took the stage name Wilko Johnson when he started making rounds as a professional guitarist and singer.
As a part of Dr. Feelgood and The Wilko Johnson Band, the actor made a strong impact on the punk scene in England back in the 1970s. When it comes to acting, he made his television debut with a minor role in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Ilyn Payne first featured as King’s Justice in episode 2 of the inagural season of Game of Thrones. His job was to serve as King Robert Baratheon‘s executioner.
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Upon Robert’s death, Ilyn maintained his position under the command of Joffrey Baratheon. As Ned Stark was convicted of treason, Ilyn was the one to decapitate him on the orders of Joffrey.
In season 2, Ilyn was around during the Battle of Blackwater to shield the women amid Stannis Baratheon‘s onslaught. If something went wrong, Ilyn was expected to kill the women so that they did not fall into the custody of Stannis’ troops.
That was Johnson’s last performance, owing to the fact that the popular musical artist was struggling with a severe illness.
Ilyn Payne was Written Off on Game of Thrones After Cancer Took Toll on Actor’s Health
The reason Ilyn Payne was written out of the show's storyline after Season 2 despite continuing his role in the book series was due to the actor playing him, Wilko Johnson, getting diagnosed with cancer pic.twitter.com/zReNWt72IG
— Game of Thrones Facts (@thronesfacts) December 20, 2019
Johnson’s health started to worsen in 2012, which aligned with season 2 of Game of Thrones. Because of the severity of his illness, the character of Ilyn Payne was opted to be written off the series.
Johnson revealed in 2013 he had been hospitalized with late-stage pancreatic cancer. Despite refusing medication for the critical situation, Johnson later discovered he had a more surviving form of illness.
He underwent a successful operation despite claiming he had less than a year to live. Johnson was cancer-free in 2014, and he resumed his career as an artist at the age of 73.
As for Ser Ilyn Payne, the character most likely will have played a further role if Johnson’s health hadn’t declined and he was committed to acting. While his character never spoke, Ilyn would most likely have remained a faithful member of House Lannister.
Despite Johnson’s departure, Ilyn was still mentioned time and again on Game of Thrones. The character stayed on Arya Stark‘s murder list for much of the show.
Ilyn’s name was also stated in season 4 prior to the scheduled execution of Tyrion Lannister. Though his fate remained unclear, Ilyn was possibly killed in the Battle of King’s Landing along with the rest of the Lannister army.