Why The Letter A Is So Important On The Walking Dead

the walking dead rick

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's latest episode, "The King, The Widow and Rick."

The Walking Dead has had a special relationship with certain letters over the years, and I'm not talking about all the R.I.P.s we go through each season. Enid's "JSS" was a temporary head-scratcher, as was the "W" marking that the Wolves carved into walkers' heads. But none have been used as often as the letter "A," which just so happened to make an appearance in tonight's episode, with Jadis using that marking to tag the storage container that a sweaty, naked Rick is now trapped inside. What the hell can it mean, you ask? Let's discuss the ways The Walking Dead has used that letter in the past.


As steadfast fans are aware, The Walking Dead's most prevalent use of the letter "A" came back in Season 4 and Season 5, when Rick & Co. were being unwittingly herded to the Terminus community of non-purple people eaters. Gareth and his Terminus crew marked a ton of locations with an "A," largely referencing the main train car's letter, and at that time, it seemed like "A" was an ominous warning that only bad things would come from places that were distinguished in such a way. And considering Gareth's squad ate part of Bob and wanted to take out everyone else -- having themselves gone through some radically fucked up life decisions before that point -- the letter still brings about unease with Walking Dead fans. (Let's also not forget that the Prison's Cell Block A is where all the sick people were kept.)

But wait, what would that mean for Rick's current situation as a possible prisoner of Jadis and her junkyard dawgs? Would this somehow indicate that Jadis was part of the Terminus group at some point? Considering we never got a full head-count of everyone involved, it's definitely possible that some of them survived Team Family's slaughtering and then eventually set up shop within a big garbage dump. (If one was used to eating human beings for food at some point, trash likely doesn't have that much of an effect.) But is that likely? I mean, Jadis likes to stay quiet, so marking a building is right up her alley, as opposed to telling other people that Rick is in there for the targeting. Still, it might be a stretch.

The Saviors

Last season, when Negan took Daryl into the Sanctuary as a prisoner, he wasn't given the greatest treatment. He was kept naked -- kinda like Jadis and other Heapsters were during the episode -- and was forced to eat awful food. (Kinda like, say, the Terminus group, and probably the junkyard folks.) But more important for this story, Daryl was also made to wear that frumpy sweatshirt that featured a big old "A" across the front of it. Now, it was revealed after those episodes that the "A" actually just meant "asshole," with the reasoning being that the Saviors were a juvenile bunch, but since we don't know what Negan's end game for Daryl was, it's certainly plausible the "A" was an omen for something more sinister than just dog food sandwiches.

That whole "asshole" meaning likely doesn't tie in with Jadis' motivations at all. (Plus, her kind of burn happened earlier in the episode when she said he talked too much.) But if there's an alternate meaning behind the letter where Negan is concerned, then maybe that's what Jadis is doing with Rick's current location. Jadis already double-crossed Rick in the very recent past, which makes him all the more ignorant for heading back to ask for her group's assistance, and she may have indeed shown she was still siding with the Saviors by giving up his location like that. Could Jadis be the "Fat Lady" that has been referred to? Assuming, of course, that wasn't just a reference to the opera being blared on those speakers that Daryl smashed up.


Give me an "A" for "admittedly," because The Walking Dead's Season 6 use of the letter is the least likely connection to Rick's trailer marking. Back in Team Family's early days within Alexandria, before Negan's name was on everyone's lips, we got to see the letter make an appearance that -- you guessed it -- also came across as more of an ominous warning than anything with a big secret meaning. The ever-annoying Sam had an "A" ink stamp that he used to mark Rick and Jessie's hands, as well as the occasional front steps bannister. That use was seemingly more of a Scarlet Letter reference, since Jessie was married to porch-dick Pete whenever Rick started getting sweet with her.

But as it goes with the other cases, the letter "A" there also foreshadowed some particularly horrific events. In this case, it involved Jessie and Sam getting chomped on during the attempted escape from that massive herd. As well, that's when Carl got his eye shot out of his head, which gave Rick quite a bit of worry. We can't assume that Jadis was around and watching Sam putting his "A" stamps on things, so this use is probably more thematic in nature than something meant to tie into all the other instances. (OR IS IT?!?)

The Final Verdict

Hell, it's very hard to know what is actually going on here. Rick doesn't know that Jadis marked his trailer, even though he had an eye on her as she walked away. And since there was so little that went on between Rick and Jadis earlier in the episode, it's even possible that she's just getting him to sacrifice some of his time as a show of faith that he really needs their help and isn't just out for revenge. Perhaps instead of using numbers, she's just chalking that "A" to mean he's been in there for one day. (Probably not.) One of The Walking Dead's next big villains from the comics is named "Alpha," and some have speculated that Jadis will take on that role, but I can't imagine she would just start using the first letter of that name in this way instead of using the actual Greek letter. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments.

There's no telling when or if we'll find out any concrete answers about this "A" next week, or if we'll have to wait a little longer. (How dumb would it be if "A" somehow stood for "answers?") The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to keep watching to see what Rick's fate will be. And if you're in need of "A" new show to watch in the near future, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.