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At the end of the Season 4 midseason final, the group has to split into smaller groups of 2 or 3 peoples in go in different directions from the prison.

Maggie goes with Bob and Sasha, and her only will is to find her boyfriend Glenn, who leaves the prison with Tara (soon joined by Abraham's group). He also seek to reunite with his significant other. They are clearly looking for each other, up to the point of risking their own safety (Maggie prefer to be alone than staying safe with Bob and Sasha, while Glenn tries to go through a tunnel full of walkers to save time).

At the same time, Beth, who is Maggie's sister, has to take the road with Daryl, before being abducted by, we learn it later, a group that took shelter in an hospital in Atlanta. With the exception of Beth, all the group meets at Terminus. The only moment (if I remember correctly) where someone mentions Beth is Daryl telling to Rick that she "has just gone".

My question: Why is nobody caring about Beth's fate and looking for her? Especially since Maggie and Beth are the only survivors of the Greene family and they just witnessed the murder of their beloved father. Also, Maggie accepts to follow Abraham and his fellows to Washington DC without knowing what happened to her younger sister.

The group only decides to act when Daryl and Carol see the hospital car and follow it to Atlanta. This leads to a conflict between the two groups, that is solved by an exchange of hostages, but Beth is killed during the meeting. Why wasn't Maggie looking from her sister the whole time between she reunites with the group and the tragic fate of her younger sister? Did I miss something important that explains her behavior?

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    I just figured the group had reached the point of assuming a lost member is truly lost. Once separated, only chance brings them back together. Merle, Sophia, Andrea, Beth, etc. Plus, as I think Shane said, going out and actually searching just puts the group at risk. – Geoff Feb 4 '15 at 17:22
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    Looking where? It's a big world out there, danger around every corner, limited food supplies, strength in numbers (which were diminishing) and NO CLUES. Unless you have a plan or the means, at some point you have to cut your losses or put everyone else at even greater risk... – Thaddeus Howze Feb 4 '15 at 20:46
  • I want to say just cause Beth is a small person but can handle a gun and Maggie prbly knew that that since she couldn't get to Beth that she would prbly be able to leave with someone else. And she did. She got out with daryl. Somewhat – Christin_kate24 Jun 5 '16 at 2:45
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TL;DR: Because they have no idea where to look.

It would take at least 50 years to search all of Georgia for her, and along the way, they'd encounter ten million zombies and die.


Between the prison attack and Terminus:

Why did Maggie seem more focused on finding Glenn than Beth?

Because she thought she had some idea of where Glenn had been seen last and where he was heading; she didn't know anything about where Beth was, or whether she was alive. Sequence of events:

S4E8, Too Far Gone:

Maggie and Beth are near the bus when everyone is about to flee the prison. Maggie tells Beth to get the kids on the bus, then runs off to find Glenn.

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Maggie finds Glenn.

enter image description here

She gets him on the bus, realizes Beth isn't there, and runs off to find her.

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She asks Sasha and Bob if they've seen Beth; they haven't.

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As she's talking to Sasha and Bob, the bus leaves.

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Sasha, Bob, and Maggie run away, presumably after deciding that Beth has left. After they're gone, Beth appears, finds Daryl, and says she's been looking for Judith.

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Beth and Daryl see that everyone else is gone, and they leave.

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S4E10, Inmates:

Maggie decides to leave Sasha and Bob, armed only with her knife, to find Glenn and the bus. She says:

Maggie: The bus got out. Glenn got out. I'm gonna find him.

Sasha: Maggie, with any luck, the bus is gone.

Maggie: It was heading east down the main road. If I follow in that direction, I might be able to pick up its tracks.

Sasha: Alone? With just that?

Maggie: I'm out of ammo, so, yeah. I couldn't find Beth, but I know Glenn got out and I know which way he went. I'm gonna go get him and I'm gonna come back for you. We both are.

Of course, Sasha and Bob don't let her go alone, and they all follow the road the bus was on.

Maggie, Bob, and Sasha find the bus, full of zombies.

enter image description here

They kill them all, and Maggie checks the bodies and sees Glenn wasn't aboard the bus.

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As we now know, Glenn had gotten off the bus before it left the prison, and stayed there for a while after everyone else had left. Maggie, however, didn't know this. All she knew was that she had some information about where Glenn should be, and she had no such information about Beth.



Between Terminus and finding Beth:

What they know:

Daryl is the only person who was there when Beth disappeared, and here's the sum total of useful information he shared:

Daryl: I was with Beth. We got out together. I was with her for a while.

Rick: Is she dead?

Daryl: She's just gone.
- The Walking Dead, S4E16, A

So Maggie knows nothing beyond "Beth is gone". That isn't much to work with.


Places to look:

The United States is a huge country - about 4,000,000 mi2. The contiguous United States is about 3,000,000 mi2. It is roughly 3,000 miles from east to west, and 1,500 miles north to south. People have walked across the country in less than 2 months, but on average, it takes 6-8 months at a reasonable pace.

There are almost 20,000 villages, towns and cities in the country, and 134,000,000 homes. Let's say it takes an average of 5 minutes to search a home - not counting travel time, it would take about 11,200,000 hours (465,000 days; 1,300 years) to search every home in the country.

Even if we assume that she's somewhere in Georgia, that leaves us with 60,000 mi2, 535 towns and cities, containing a total of 3,600,000 homes to search, which would still take us 35 years of searching.

Add to that 680,000 registered businesses in Georgia, and 30,000,000 nationwide. There are nearly 6,000,000 commercial buildings in the US - about 1/5 the number of businesses. If we assume that this ratio is true of Georgia, that leaves us with 136,000 commercial buildings to search. If it takes 5 minutes to search a commercial building, that will add another year and a half to the search time.

Let's assume it takes them two minutes to move from one building to the next (it would take seconds to get from one building to the next within a town, but it might take hours to walk from one town to the next, so we'll average it out to two minutes). Grand total: 50 years of looking for Beth.


What they'll be dealing with while they search:

There are 10,215,000 people in Georgia. The ratio of zombies to humans in The Walking Dead is 5,000 to 1. That means they'll probably run into 10,213,000 zombies along the way.

There were 16 people in the group after they reunited. In seasons 1-4, the group killed 956 zombies, and eight of them were killed by zombies. This means that one person died for every 120 zombies killed. At that rate, they will only be able to kill 1,920 zombies - about 0.019% of the total - before they're all dead.


Does Maggie care about Beth?

Absolutely. Look at her reaction when Michonne tells her that Beth is alive and the rest of the group has gone to rescue her:

enter image description here enter image description here

She loved Beth, and wanted to find her, but she had no way to make that happen.



Conclusion:

As Maggie said, "I couldn't find Beth, but I know Glenn got out and I know which way he went." This is why it didn't make sense to look for Beth before reaching Terminus.

After Terminus, they still had no information about where she might be, and if they decided to look for her, it would take them at least 50 years to search every building in the state. While they're looking, they'll run into over ten million zombies, and they'll all be dead before they've searched a meaningful percentage of the state. Maggie loves Beth, but not enough to get 16 people killed on a 50-year-long search of the entire state of Georgia.

  • I was more thinking about Maggie looking on her own for her sister right after they got separated (as she did for Glenn). All you wrote also applies to Glenn. Does it just sum up to "she prefers her boyfriend to her sister"? – Taladris Jun 4 '16 at 14:42
  • @Taladris - The same thing applies to just Maggie. She'd be alone against 10 million zombies searching through 3,736,000 buildings in 535 towns spread over 60,000 square miles. It is simply an impossible task, and there's no way she'd last longer than a week. Again, it sums up to "it's just impossible". – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 15:12
  • @Taladris - After everyone split up, and before they reunited at Terminus, the most likely way to find Beth would be to look for everyone else. Everyone had splintered into small groups, and Beth was bound to be in one of them - in fact, she was, until she was separated from Daryl. The most logical course of action was to find everyone else, and the most probable way to find them would be to assume they had seen the signs for Terminus, and go there. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 15:16
  • @Taladris - Answer edited to cover the pre-Terminus period. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 16:28
  • That's an amazing answer! Thanks – Taladris Jun 5 '16 at 3:37

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