Did you catch The Walking Dead’s subtle connection between Maggie Rhee and Lauren Cohan’s Supernatural character? As The Walking Dead season 11’s “The Lucky Ones” begins, the Commonwealth is activating full-on sales pitch mode, encouraging Alexandria, Hilltop and Oceanside to assimilate with Pamela Milton’s burgeoning empire. While Alexandria can’t sign up quickly enough, Maggie proves a sticking point, unsure whether to trust these too-good-to-be-true corporate politicians with a glint in their eye and a knife behind their back. Maggie’s mistrust means plenty of “back on the farm…” and “my daddy said…” discussions, and it’s one such anecdote that crosses the divide between The Walking Dead and Supernatural.
Before Lauren Cohan was deftly avoiding the undead, one of her earliest breakout roles came in Supernatural season 3, where she made a handful of appearances as Bela Talbot, acclaimed thief of occult objects large and small. Occupying a gray area morally speaking, Bela left a lasting impression on Sam and Dean Winchester – and also on the motel room where she was decimated by hellhounds hungry for her soul. Bela Talbot’s trip to hell meant Maggie Greene could walk among the dead on Earth.
In “The Lucky Ones,” The Walking Dead nods to Bela with a line that only Supernatural fans can appreciate fully. Speaking with the serpentine Lance Hornsby, Maggie remembers, “I had a lucky rabbit’s foot once. My dog brought it home with the rabbit still attached.” Though carrying around a dead animal’s severed limb has, oddly enough, lost favor in recent years, the rabbit’s foot is a common symbol of good fortune. It was also the object at the center of Lauren Cohan’s debut Supernatural episode, where Bela and the Winchester brothers embarked on a rabbit-and-mouse chase for one such cursed foot. Though Bela constantly outsmarted the Winchesters, they tricked her into touching the rabbit’s foot, thus becoming affected by its curse. This left the thief no choice but to let Sam and Dean destroy it.
The Walking Dead‘s rabbit foot callback feels too specific to be coincidental, and it’s also interesting how Maggie mentions her dog dragging the rabbit home. Bela’s Supernatural career came to a grinding halt after hellhounds ripped her apart and dragged their prey to hell. With that in mind, you might say Maggie’s rabbit’s foot story is a callback to Lauren Cohan’s first Supernatural episode, and the dog comment is a reference to her last.
Amusingly, the disparate worlds of The Walking Dead and Supernatural have crossed over before. Jeffrey Dean Morgan featured in Supernatural season 1 as John Winchester, Sam and Dean’s father, before being cast as The Walking Dead‘s Negan some years later. Supernatural season 12 paid tribute to Morgan’s new gig by having Sam and Dean find a barbed wire baseball bat rattling around in their dad’s old junk – a weapon he loved using, apparently. By drawing this rabbit’s foot parallel between Maggie and Bela, The Walking Dead has now returned the favor for yet another actor who swapped Supernatural for the zombie apocalypse.