While The Walking Dead remains the clear leader among basic cable genre dramas, Syfy has managed to strike up a sizable cult following for its own apocalyptic zombie series: Z Nation. In contrast to TWD, Z Nation has carved out its own niche in the undead arena by assuming a much more absurd and bizarre tone, and avoiding the almost relentless dourness of its more famous predecessor. That’s not to say that Z Nation can’t ramp up the drama when it needs to, but it’s worth noting that the show offers viewers needed breaks from the near-constant downbeat sadness endured by TWD’s survivors.
Premiering back in the fall of 2014, Z Nation began roughly three years after the start of a virus-caused zombie outbreak, with most of humanity having gotten wiped out along the way. The show’s initial focus was Murphy (Keith Allan), an ex-con who – thanks to a government experiment he was forced to participate in – had seemingly become immune to zombification, and whose blood held antibodies that could enable scientists at the CDC to develop a cure for the prolific plague. As one might imagine, things have changed quite a bit in the years since, with major characters both coming and going.
Thankfully for Z Nation devotees, Syfy has announced a season 4 renewal for the series, per THR. As with prior seasons, season 4 will consist of 13 episodes, and is set to begin airing in fall 2017. The renewal announcement comes while Z Nation is hitting the home stretch of season 3, with three more episodes still to come in December.
Airing on Friday nights, Z Nation has been a consistently reliable performer in the ratings since its debut, especially when live plus three day viewership numbers are considered. While Z Nation’s ratings obviously don’t compare to what TWD draws, it’s no slouch either, regularly placing in the upper echelon of cable dramas. As a testament to the show’s growing popularity, a regular Z Nation character made an appearance in the third installment of Syfy’s on-going series of Sharknado TV movies. Then again, the fact that The Asylum produces both properties also probably had something to do with that happening.
Is Z Nation likely to ever reach the level of cultural ubiquity that The Walking Dead enjoys? No, probably not. But that won’t stop the show from continuing to please the fans it has, and hopefully earn new ones too. After all, not every show can be a massive hit like TWD, and as long as Syfy is happy enough with Z Nation’s performance to keep ordering new seasons, that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
Z Nation season 3 airs Fridays at 9pm on Syfy.