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Walking Dead Storylines That Disappeared Without Explanation

From the opening scenes of the pilot episode, "The Walking Dead" wooed viewers with promises of epic world-building and intricate character arcs. As its post-apocalyptic world expanded, so did the show's plots and main characters. By Season 5, our ragtag group of survivors joined Alexandria and we followed the detailed storylines of over a dozen people. The series' timeline and various subplots multiplied, but hooked viewers continued to immerse themselves in the post-apocalyptic world.

In the Season 7 opener, after Negan's brutal murder of the beloved Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), some critics and fans felt the show veered wildly off course. Central protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) departed the show in Season 9 and left a gaping hole. But some "Walking Dead" storylines inexplicably vanished long before these fan-favorite characters did.

The most powerful storylines in "The Walking Dead" have always highlighted how our heroes react to humanity's evil toward humanity. The undead threat proves the catalyst for the best and worst aspects of people. While some storylines fleshed out satisfying, finished plots — like Negan's redemption and the Whisperer War — others have simply disappeared.

Answers at the CDC

Season 1 of "The Walking Dead" soared with excellent, tightly packed action and plot. With only a six-episode offering, the debut season allowed characters quick, rich development, and little room for expansive subplots. After Rick makes his way to Shane (Jon Bernthal), Laurie (Sarah Wayne Callies), Carl (Chandler Riggs), and friends, the group agrees all answers they seek may wait at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

In the first season's final episode, "TS-19," our survivors finally reach their destination. Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) greets them but is the only remaining CDC scientist. Dr. Jenner promised his now-deceased wife he'd search for a cure for the walker virus, but he's ready to give up. He holds more knowledge about walkers than the entirety of Rick's group. Finally, some answers? Do viewers and survivors finally glean the cause of the undead? No.

Before blowing up the CDC labs, Dr. Jenner whispers a secret to Rick. His reveal — the infection lives inside every human still alive — doesn't answer how or why the virus began. Offscreen, "Walking Dead" executive producer and comic book author Robert Kirkman has alluded to an alien origin, but a lack of answers at the CDC leaves viewers hungry.

The Letter A

From the Cherokee rose Daryl gives Carol to the lyrics of Beta's song from the "world before," "The Walking Dead" runs deep with symbolic moments and plot points. One symbol with prevalence throughout Season 4-Season 9 is the use of the letter A.

The A typically appears in bold writing as a purposeful background image. Most think of the As as an homage to Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel "The Scarlet Letter." However, Jadis also uses it to denote the caliber of our survivors in messages to the CRM. In Season 4, the A shows up as train car graffiti outside of Terminus. It's emblazoned on the scarlet hand stamp Sam greets our survivors with to welcome them to Alexandria. When Daryl's taken hostage by the Saviors, a large mustard yellow A adorns his prison jumpsuit.

The A has such significance that "Walking Dead" showrunner Angela Kang expanded on it in a 2018 interview with Insider. In discussing the importance of the A to CRM, Kang recalled the junkyard container Jadis uses to trap Rick. "The container (Rick) was in was marked with an 'A', so Rick is clearly an 'A'," she said. After Rick and Jadis leave in a CRM helicopter, the scarlet As never show up again. The significance of the symbol has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

Grady Memorial Hospital

The "patients" and their law enforcement leaders at Grady Memorial Hospital provide one of the most intriguing and promising plots of "The Walking Dead." When Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) awakens in Grady Memorial Hospital in "Slabtown" (Season 5, Episode 4), impending doom exudes through each camera angle and grows palpable as details unfold. Lt. Dawn (Christine Woods) informs Beth she must pay off her rescue with free labor at the hospital.

Corrupt law enforcement officers prevent "patients" from leaving hospital grounds. Sexual predators and mentally broken leaders control the rank and file. After our survivors eradicate the official threat, they invite the remaining inhabitants of Grady Memorial to join their ever-growing group. However, other than Noah (Tyler James Williams), all decline the invitation. Rick and company leave this group in the figurative rearview mirror, and the Grady survivors are never seen again.

What happened to the remaining group? Does Grady Memorial still support a thriving community with ample medical supplies? Did any of those freed from the oppression of the Grady leaders move on? The path of the Grady survivors may have led to interesting truths, but none were revealed on "The Walking Dead."

Big, bad Wolves: huge barks, little bites

The first whispers of the potential wolfy Big Bad appeared midway through Season 5. The Wolves don't appear in the comic book canon of "The Walking Dead," but their foreboding signs show great villainous potential. In "What Happened and What's Going On" (Season 5, Episode 9), our core group of survivors accompanies Noah back to his hometown of Shirewilt Estates. There they find torched, ruined homes and a horrific pile of body parts. Newly zombified Shirewilt Estates residents have a "W" carved into their heads. A spooky Wolves not far graffiti adorns a brick wall. A few episodes later, the survivors notice a walker with a "W" carved into his head — far away from Shirewilt Estates.

The Wolves continue to circle closer and closer to Alexandria. In the first episodes of Season 6, the Wolves infiltrate Alexandria's walls. They don't kill any main characters and are dealt with swiftly. No wolf ever faces Rick head on. The leader of the Wolves, played by Benedict Samuel, was only given the name "Owen" after his demise. The Wolves' murky motives for human destruction were never exposed, and these potentially excellent villains fizzled out without a huge impact.

Rick and Jessie's almost romance

In Season 5, when Alexandria welcomes our survivors into the fold, new connections form quickly. A plethora of new "Walking Dead" plots are ripe for exploration. Alexandrian Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), the timid and abused wife of Pete Anderson (Corey Brill), notices Rick right away. Sparks flicker and a potential love connection for our hero is established. But it's not in Rick's character to go after another man's wife, and Jessie's sweet meekness doesn't mesh well with Rick's apocalyptic experiences. Rick's eventual romance with and love for heroic fighter Michonne (Danai Gurira) stays far truer to his character.

However, a build-up to romance for Rick and Jessie begins in Season 5, Episode 12, "Remember." A possible romance lasts until Season 6, Episode 2, "JSS." Flirtatious scenes include an intimate haircut that married Jessie gives Rick.

Pete is executed after Rick exposes his abuse of Jessie and their sons Ron (Austin Abrams) and Sam (Major Dodson). Jessie and Rick share a lackluster kiss, but romance never truly blossoms here. The wannabe couple never shares physical intimacy, and walkers devour Jessie a few episodes after their kiss. The romance never made much sense to fans, and the showrunners apparently agreed. Jessie's untimely death put the kibosh on the blossoming love before it could truly begin.

Enid and the Wolves

Orphaned teenage survivor Enid (Kaitlyn Nacon) shows up in "The Walking Dead" in "Remember." She doesn't have family in Alexandria and mysteriously sneaks outside of the walls late at night. Her shifty behavior seems to coincide with the lurking presence of the Wolves. Carl catches her sneaking out one evening, and they form a bond, yet Enid won't speak of her past.

When Season 5 originally aired, fans speculated Enid was an undercover Wolf spy. Then showrunner Scott Gimple was vague when the Hollywood Reporter asked him about Enid's allegiances. To viewers, a connection between Enid and the season's major antagonists felt like the twisty reveal "The Walking Dead" so often excels at. However, the Wolves suffered a quick demise, and Enid then revealed her past: Her entire family was slaughtered by walkers, and she was left with abandonment issues. She sneaks out of Alexandria because she's afraid of losing those she cares about. Enid has no connection with the Wolves on any level.

Henry's creepy crush on Enid

Poor Henry goes through a lot on "The Walking Dead." An original member of the Kingdom, he loses his family when he's only ten years old. Ezekiel (Khari Payton) forms a paternal bond with the boy, and they share several tender scenes. Later, along with Carol (Melissa McBride), Ezekiel adopts Henry as his son. During the Saviors' war, Henry travels with his adoptive parents to Hilltop and meets Enid. Their interaction is brief, but apparently, Henry never forgets it.

When he's 17, Henry (Matt Lintz) returns to Hilltop to apprentice with the blacksmith, Earl (John Finn). He sees Enid and asks her if she remembers him. Enid, now in her mid-20s, smiles. Later, she invites Henry to join her for dinner, but he declines when he sees Enid kiss Alden (Callan McAuliffe). He's angry, and it's a touch creepy. Henry is still a teenager and hasn't had any interaction with Enid in six years. And within a few short episodes, Henry hooks up with Lydia (Cassady McClincy). His crush on Enid disappears. He never visibly processes through his interest in Enid, nor does he mention it again.

Where is Heath?

Heath (Corey Hawkins) proved the rare Alexandria treasure — a character with both a name and a developed arc. When Rick and company reach Alexandria, they find most residents have never ventured outside the safe haven. Yet Heath has worked, along with two other Alexandrians (Scott and Annie), as a supply runner. Each day, he puts his life in danger to ensure the survival of his community. However, he hasn't experienced the horrors endured by survivors living outside of Alexandria's walls. Initially, Heath distrusts Rick and company, and he's not afraid to say so.

After Heath loses fellow supply runner Annie and other friends, his eyes are opened to just how bad the outside world can get. Heath's honesty, loyalty, and sarcastic persona endear him to viewers, and he begins to bond with our heroes too. He becomes a staple in our main group.

Heath makes it to Season 7 when he and Tara (Alanna Masterson) encounter an enormous swarm of walkers on a bridge. The two separate and Tara escapes with her life, falling off the bridge to the water below. Heath isn't anywhere in sight, though. Later, Tara returns to the bridge and finds Heath's broken glasses. Heath doesn't come up in conversation, and we're left to wonder what happened to him. Angela Kang confirmed that Heath was rescued by Jadis in the CRM helicopter. But this doesn't occur onscreen, nor has the flagship series explained Heath's fate in the four seasons since his disappearance.


Jadis (also known as Anne), leader of the Scavengers, was a divisive character among fans. Her stilted speech patterns and weird, futuristic look seemed at odds with the gritty realism of most characters on "The Walking Dead." In Season 7, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and her group kidnap Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). When Rick asks Jadis to get her group to join in the war against the Saviors, she makes him "earn" their allegiance through a series of crazy tests against walkers.

After agreeing to help and convincing Rick to give the Scavengers a stockpile of guns, Jadis double-crosses the group and tells Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) of their plan. Over the course of the next season, Jadis shoots Rick in the stomach and traps him in a shipping container; after the slaughter of her group by Savior member Simon (Steven Ogg), she joins Alexandria. During her apparent transformation, Jadis develops romantic feelings for Gabriel and helps the group on scavenging runs. Gabriel discovers her connection to a mysterious outsider group (the CRM), but Anne runs away to escape on the helicopter.

Once aboard the helicopter, Jadis spots a wounded Rick below and swoops in to "rescue" him. These exciting developments lead to so many unanswered questions. Although Jadis plays a role in "The Walking Dead: World Beyond," her storyline remains abruptly unfinished on the flagship series.

Lydia's bond with Negan

Teenager Lydia has it rough. Her mom, Alpha (Samantha Morton), is an insane and cruel zombie cult leader. When Lydia escapes the Whisperers to join Hilltop, she's ostracized by everyone. The Hilltop kids bully her mercilessly, and the adults want her to prove she isn't a spy. Even non-judgmental Carol has a hard time accepting this struggling kid. When her boyfriend Henry is murdered by Alpha, our protagonists wrongfully cast blame on Lydia. Daryl takes on a paternal role for Lydia and tries to help her assimilate, but doesn't fully trust her. Michonne tells the teenager she would help keep people safe if she left the secure communities.

Negan, struggling through his own redemptive arc, is the only survivor to see Lydia with empathetic eyes. He protects her from Margo's attack, a survivor who blames Lydia for Alpha's murders. Ultimately, Negan saves Lydia's life when walkers swarm her and Margo. The bond between the two misunderstood characters grows deeper. Honest interactions in Season 10 grow their friendship — they don't have to hide their true selves, and they confront each other with love and authenticity. Negan uses Lydia as bait to kill her mom and knows she's angry with him. He allows her to unleash her anger, and wisely tells her to grieve her mom. The budding relationship rings with authenticity. But in the first ten episodes of Season 11, Negan and Lydia rarely interact — and when Negan leaves the group, Lydia hardly reacts.

Is Luke still around?

Fun-loving music teacher Luke (Dan Fogler) joins Alexandria in the second half of Season 9. He quickly assimilates himself with the survivors and plays a pivotal role in the Whisperer War. He's loyal to both his original group with Magna (Nadia Hilker) and to Alexandria. We grow to enjoy Luke, and his thoughtful, artistic perspectives. His character development looks promising, and we become easily attached. Luke goes to Oceanside to train a militia for the Whisperer War and falls in love with Jules (Alex Sgambati). After the war ends, he and Jules journey back to Oceanside.

The first ten episodes of Season 11 have not seen Luke onscreen. We may have to wait for any further development in Luke's story. While he may show up in future episodes, ten installments without Luke cause emotional attachment to his character to wane. Are he and Jules just chilling in Oceanside? What has transpired for Luke since the end of the war?

Rick: A future left for spinoff films

It's a hard truth to swallow, but "The Walking Dead" isn't the same without Rick Grimes. He propelled the show through nine seasons — a significant feat for a single character. He served as the infuriating hero we hated to love, but always rooted for — we believed in his leadership, even when questionable. We yearned to see him stand tall at the show's end, and his departure from the flagship series leaves a gaping hole.

Carol and Daryl stand as the only remaining heroes from Season 1. We love these characters, but we miss Rick. Ostensibly, a trilogy of Rick-centered films is still in the works. But our hero left the series in 2018, and the it's yet to provide any answers regarding his fate.

After Jadis rescues Rick on the CRM helicopter, the films' timelines seem more lined up with "World Beyond" than the original "Walking Dead." The "Walking Dead" producers are taking a major gamble that fans will still care about Rick years after he left the show, and without his core group on board. The series still has a chance to tie up Rick's storyline, but fantasies of a last Andrew Lincoln appearance on the show have not yet materialized.

What the world needs now is Dog, sweet Dog

When Daryl meets a stray pup in Season 9, the duo forms an instant, beautiful friendship. Daryl had spent much of the season to that point roaming the woods by himself, hoping to find a sign of Rick. He aptly names his first new friend Dog, and the mangy mutt provides a sliver of light in a dark, chaotic world. Dog warns his master of walkers, and provides unconditional companionship. When the two later rejoin Hilltop, Dog injects much needed levity and general cuteness into the lives of our survivors.

In subsequent missions, Dog stands as an integral member of the team. He manages to survive the Whisperers, hordes of walkers, and undesirable living conditions. Dog never complains, and even when he runs off, he always finds his way home.

In Season 11, Episode 4, "Rendition," Dog rescues Daryl from a group of murderous Reapers. However, Dog's time to shine has faded since — it seems he may have gone the way of Ghost on "Game of Thrones." Out of all of the "Walking Dead" plots to disappear without explanation, this one hurts the most. We can only hope the Carol and Daryl spinoff will allow Dog further great adventures.