14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned  

Jim Rowley
70 votes 25 voters 1.4k views 14 items

List Rules Vote 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. 

The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned
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: 2010

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Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned
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: 2011

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Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned
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: 1963

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Lost is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 14 Major Plotlines TV Shows Completely Abandoned
Photo: Lost/NBC

By the second season of Lost, the survivors of Flight 815 have discovered that another group of people are living on the island, whom they called the Others. The island proves to be not nearly big enough for the both of them. 

In episode 11, "The Hunting Party," the Others have just taken Michael's son Walt, and Michael has gone out alone to search for them. Jack, Locke, and Sawyer head into the jungle to find and assist Michael, but instead, they get ambushed by some of the Others, who have also captured Kate. The Others hand over Kate in exchange for the survivors' side arms, and warn the survivors not to leave their side of the island. 

Back at the beach, Jack approaches Ana Lucia and asks for her help training a group to attack the Others. This is presented as an end-of-the-episode cliffhanger, but the idea is never revisited. Instead, the tail-section survivors and the Others engage in a slower and more drawn-out conflict. 

Given Lost's production history, the dropped plot is really a microcosm of the entire series up to this point. Creators J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse, and Damon Lindelof weren't shy about changing anything on the fly, from character backstories to major plot points, all for the sake of making the show more dynamic. 

Premiered: 2004

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