Heath will return to The Walking Dead, but likely not this season according to showrunner Scott M. Gimple. The fan-favorite character, played by Corey Hawkins, was last seen on a supply run with Tara but the duo were forced apart after coming under attack from zombies in season 7's "Swear". While Tara wound up with the all-female Oceanside community, Heath's fate remained highly ambiguous and when Tara retraced her steps to find him, all that remained was a mysterious keycard with "PPP" written on it.
"Swear" proved to be the last confirmed sighting of Heath and there has been little news on that front since, with Alexandria perhaps being too busy with Negan to go out looking for him. Nevertheless, Heath is a relatively important character in the comic books and his TV incarnation has already made a positive impact despite limited screen time. Furthermore, The Walking Dead very much operates on the basis that if a main character doesn't die explicitly on-screen, they're probably still alive.
Although many fans were both assuming and hoping Heath was alive and well, showrunner Scott M. Gimple has now confirmed as much and claims that the character will return to The Walking Dead at some point, although seemingly not in the near future. In an interview with EW, Gimple was asked if there was a chance Heath might return in the forthcoming season 8, to which the producer replied:
“Not a huge chance. But we definitely have not seen the last of Heath, period. I will say that. I don’t mean to disappoint the Heathies. He will be on the show. He will be within The Walking Dead again.”
Gimple's assertion that viewers will see Heath again in The Walking Dead doesn't completely rule out the possibility of the character simply returning briefly as a Walker but it seems far more likely that the showrunner has genuine plans for Alexandria's missing man to return alive and well. It's also worth considering that Gimple could be telling a white lie about Heath not appearing in season 8 so as to not spoil a future surprise.
Taking the news at face value however, it seems that the most probable path for Heath is re-integration into Alexandria after the conclusion of All Out War against the Saviors. However, it'll be incredibly interesting to see how The Walking Dead goes about re-introducing the character. Will Heath simply be present in Alexandria after the forthcoming timeskip in a "look who finally found his way home" kind of fashion? Or will Heath's disappearance prove more significant and potentially lead Rick and co. towards their next big enemy?
The Walking Dead season 8 premieres October 22nd on AMC.
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