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14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned

Updated November 11, 2019 2.4k votes 647 voters 57.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the most frustrating times TV shows dropped a plot.

Television shows are a unique art form. They are rarely fully fleshed out when they first air, and the shows' writers, producers, and network executives can make changes at any point in the process. As fans, we tune in every week, (or if we have DVRs, whenever we feel like it), and we get invested in the storylines and characters. However, there are countless examples of shows that had to drop characters or even entire plotlines. 

There are many different reasons why TV show plotlines have to be abandoned. Sometimes, the realities of Hollywood get in the way - an actor might be obligated to leave a show to pursue a film career, for example. Other times, it comes down to budget - if a show's budget gets slashed between seasons, suddenly a cool season-long story arc might have to be scrapped. And sometimes, it's just part of the creative process. Even the best showrunners will come up with ideas that seem great in the writers' room but don't work on screen.

Here are 14 unresolved TV show plots that left fans wanting more. 

  • Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

    Game of Thrones offered its fans nearly as many moments of frustration as moments of exhilaration, and it did so from the very beginning. Daenerys spends most of the second season stuck in the merchant city of Qarth, on the southern coast of Essos. There, she gets wrapped up in the political intrigues of the Thirteen, Qarth's oligarchical rulers. At one point, an intriguing masked woman named Quaithe approaches Jorah Mormont and warns him that someone covets Daenerys's dragons. A warlock named Pyat Pree stages a coup, takes out the other members of the Thirteen, and takes Daenerys's dragons. Jorah and Daenerys manage to rescue the dragons, Pree is burned alive, Daenerys and company flee the city, and Qarth is mentioned only in passing for the rest of the series. 

    The fact that the show spent so much time in the city of Qarth only to abandon it definitely irritated fans. By introducing Quaithe, who seems to know a lot more about the main characters than she lets on, but never explaining her background or motivations, the writers seem to have missed an opportunity. 

    • Premiered: April 17, 2011
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  • Photo: The Walking Dead / AMC

    Whenever a TV show is adapted from a popular source like a novel or a comic book, some story elements will inevitably be left out, and ardent fans will likely be disappointed. This happened to fans of The Walking Dead graphic novel, who were thrilled to finally see one of the comic's major characters, Heath, appear on the TV show, only to disappear. 

    Heath is a supply runner living in Alexandria who is first shown in the Season 6 episode "First Time Again." He makes several appearances throughout the next two seasons, proving to be a capable survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. However, in the sixth episode of Season 7, "Swear," Heath and Tara embark on a supply run and find a barricaded bridge over a river. The bridge turns out to be infested with zombies, and in the ensuing commotion, Heath falls into the water and is swept away, never to be seen again. 

    Fans were hoping this was a setup that would pay off in Heath's triumphant return. In reality, showrunner Angela Kang revealed that the actor who played Heath, Corey Hawkins, was written off the show so that he could pursue film acting opportunities. 

    • Premiered: October 31, 2010
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  • Photo: Dr. Who / BBC

    When Doctor Who introduced the character of the legendary Time Lord's daughter - during the 10th incarnation of the Doctor played by David Tennant - fans were excited to see a potential new dynamic play out, but it was ultimately a letdown. The Doctor's daughter Jenny first appears in the sixth episode of the fourth series of the long-running sci-fi show's revival. When the Doctor visits the battle-torn planet Messaline, one of the fighting factions uses the Doctor's DNA to create a super-warrior, and the Doctor recognizes her as his daughter. The Doctor's pacificism encourages Jenny to give up her aggressive ways, but she perishes and the Doctor leaves. After his departure, Jenny suddenly revives and boards a spaceship for parts unknown. 

    When the show aired in 2008, the actor who played Jenny, Georgia Moffett (who would later marry Tennant), was never told of her character's ultimate fate. Then in 2015, showrunner Steven Moffat admitted in an interview that Jenny's spaceship crashed into a moon, ending her - basically, the same thing that happened to Poochie in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" episode of The Simpsons. Moffett was understandably unhappy to hear the news. 

    Fortunately for Moffett and her fans, Jenny was brought back from the afterlife in 2018 to star in a four-part audio drama that sees her embark on adventures of her own. 

    • Premiered: November 23, 1963
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  • Photo: Arrow / The CW

    The creators of superhero shows face a unique conundrum: They often have a whole universe of characters, but there's always a chance that those characters might be needed for a different project. This is what happened to the members of the Suicide Squad on Seasons 2 and 3 of Arrow

    The show spends multiple episodes introducing the crew of antiheroes who undertake the most dangerous missions for the government, from Deadshot to leader Amanda Waller. There were even plans to bring fan-favorite Harley Quinn into the mix. However, during Season 3, the show starts offing Squad members in quick succession. Deadshot is pierced through the eye with an arrow and is presumed deceased, Waller is fatally fired on, and the Squad is disbanded. 

    It's obvious that the CW was compelled to dump the Squad so as not to conflict with the 2016 film version starring Will Smith and Jared Leto. Arrow actress Willow Holland confirmed as much. And since DC Comics has an unofficial rule not to have two versions of the same character at the same time, it was time for the TV version of the Squad to be retired. 

    However, Arrow fans, (and perhaps fans who were disappointed with the film), had their patience rewarded: In Season 7, Squad member John Diggle returned to lead a rebooted version of the group called the Ghost Initiative

    • Premiered: October 10, 2012
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