When Robert Kirkman and Frank Darabont approached AMC with the concept of a Walking Dead television series, it was with the prevailing idea that the show would depict what happened to zombie movie protagonists after the credits rolled and they were forced to live in a world overrun by the living dead.
A lot of things have changed since the first season of the series. Showrunners have come and gone; the walkers have seemingly gotten dumber; and for whatever reason the hordes of the dead never seem to diminish. But with all the high expectations for the writers to maintain a certain degree of realism, it’s easy to get lost in all the hubbub about plot holes and continuity errors.
Taking a look back at the journey so far, we’re putting the series under a magnifying glass. From Rick’s miraculous coma survival to the lack of the ‘Z’ word used on the show, we’re breaking down a few of fans’ biggest frustrations with The Walking Dead so far and exactly why each plot point may not be the big deal it’s cracked up to be.
For all the curious-minded TV theorists and zombie aficionados, these are the 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About The Walking Dead.
15. Rick Could Have Survived His Coma
We all remember the scene. Weeks after being shot in a shootout on a rural Georgia road, Rick Grimes awakens from a coma in a dilapidated hospital. As the protagonist searches the premises for any living souls, he sees the remains of a military outpost stationed inside the city – signs of a standoff between the dead and the heavily-armed gunmen.
According to Robert Kirkman, Rick’s Coma lasted somewhere between four to five weeks. Two weeks after the outbreak, Shane barricaded the door to Rick’s room, giving him a fighting’s chance if he happens to wake up. When Rick finally roams the halls, he clearly spots a flickering light from the hospital’s back-up generator. Given that a hospital’s generator typically lasts no more than 24 hours, the mayhem between the walkers and military would have only recently gone down.
In addition, in the webisode “The Oath”, it’s revealed that a nurse named Gale could’ve been caring for many of the hospital’s patients, explaining how Rick could have received food or water while unconscious.
14. The Show’s Timeline So Far
In the land of television, continuity errors run rampant, infuriating die hard fans who’ve tuned into their favorite shows since the beginning. Like every other series, The Walking Dead is no different. Although we’ve seen Carl Grimes sprout from a young, prepubescent boy to a scraggly-haired teen and watched as Rick’s beard slowly gets grayer, the truth is the series may not take place over as many years as viewers think.
Roughly 694 days have passed since the start of the outbreak and the season seven episode “New Best Friends”. A recent interview from Josh McDermitt (who plays Eugene), suggests only three weeks have passed since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, which seems to fit the timeline in question. As for all the miraculous aging in these two years, we can chalk it up to a combination of hard living and Hollywood magic.
13. The Zombie Guts Disguise
In the season one episode “Guts”, so named because of the grotesque outfit worn on the show, Rick Grimes and Glenn Rhee are shown fashioning a disguise made from entrails. The viscera isn’t just for looks, however, as it is explained that the smell of intestines is enough for the survivors to blend into a horde of zombies without being detected.
The question from viewers since the beginning has been why the clever disguise hasn’t been used more often.
From the mouth of Robert Kirkman himself, who appeared briefly on an episode of Talking Dead, the answer comes down to practicality. Besides not being very hygienic, the characters would only last so long wearing the blood and guts before the stench wore off – if they don’t catch a deadly disease first, that is.
Then there’s the matter of being mistaken for a walker. With so many marksmen looking to knock off the dead with headshots, you would be lucky to walk away unscathed after dressing up like the enemy in public.
12. Atlanta Wouldn’t Have Survived the Outbreak
One of the most iconic images of The Walking Dead’s seven year run has to be Rick’s lone ride on horseback through the desolate interstate leading into Atlanta. Abandoned during the outbreak, the streets appear bare until a horde of walkers swarm Rick, forcing him to take shelter inside a heavily armored military tank, but according to many deep-thinking viewers of the series, the city should never have fallen to the virus in the first place.
As the United States’ ninth largest metropolitan area, anyone who’s ever been unfortunate enough to navigate Atlanta traffic knows how many travel through the city. Even with the Center for Disease Control, top tier medical facilities, and a few skyscrapers to take shelter in, a study suggests the city would be among the ten least likely to survive the outbreak, based on the ability to contain the virus and supply ample food for survivors. Overall, the city ranked 48th out of 53 cities, making this fan theory less feasible than everyone imagined.
11. The Outbreak Isn’t Just in the U.S.
At the launch of Fear the Walking Dead in 2015, Robert Kirkman teased audiences with an expansion series which would deliver a new perspective on the outbreak from a different location. Although the series offered new insights into the virus leading up to the starting timeline of TWD, it did little to answer how widespread the epidemic truly is.
According to Kirkman, the lack of talk about the extent of the virus’ outreach is all by design, but that hasn’t stopped a few answers from slipping underneath the cracks. In season one of TWD, Dr. Jenner of the CDC mentions collaborating with people across the world to find a cure, with France being the last one in communication before going quiet.
10. Animals Aren’t Extinct
One burning question since the start of TWD has been, “Where are all the zombified animals?” Since the focal point of TWD thus far has been the lasting human relationships of the series, you can’t blame the writers for skipping over seemingly distracting details like flesh-eating deer, but the show’s lack of details could provide the answer fans are looking for.
Throughout The Walking Dead’s history, Rick’s group has had a few tragic run-ins with animals. The horse Rick rides into Atlanta is eaten alive by walkers, the deer Carl approaches right before being shot near Hershel’s farm is killed immediately, and the Greene family’s chickens are fed to the walkers in the barn. Still, despite being shown on screen, none of these animals have been reanimated as flesh-eaters, suggesting the virus doesn’t affect them in the same way.
9. Sophia and the Barn
In the season two mid-season finale, the barn doors were opened and a flurry of enraged fans went online to share their opinions about one of the show’s biggest mysteries. When a zombified Sophia stepped outside, it sent shock waves across the Walking Dead fan base, but how exactly did Carol’s daughter get into the Barn without Hershel or another member of the Greene family knowing? For the answer, we have to do a little digging.
As Robert Kirkman later acknowledged, it was Otis, the man responsible for shooting Carl, who likely put Sophia in the barn, which would explain why he never informed the Greene family since he was killed by Shane before he had the chance. But there’s also the possibility that some of the members of the Greene family did know, but chose to hide the secret out of fear of how Rick’s group would respond.
8. Food Isn’t As Scarce As People Believe
In an apocalyptic wasteland, food is a precious commodity, but it isn’t as uncommon as one may think. While some viewers have argued that the days spent scavenging for food should yield better results for the survivors of the show, the reality is that the series is set largely in rural areas. Given that the majority of the show is filmed in Senoia, a town of only around 4,000 people, it’s entirely feasible that the surrounding areas would only have so many food options.
When many of the survivors of the show are depicted exploring the shelves of abandoned grocery stores, few foods can be found, likely due to the few remaining residents taking what was left before departing town. Since the cast sticks to the backroads, they’re left to mostly scavenge people’s homes.
Considering everyone must feed an ever-growing community of players, the problem isn’t that food is rare to come by, but rather that it is spread out over multiple areas and must be obtained in bulk to accommodate everyone.
7. The Outbreak Wouldn’t Spread So Quickly
By the time Rick wakes from his coma, an estimated 59 days have passed since the start of the zombie outbreak – a remarkably fast rate, as some theorists have been quick to point out. According to these fans, the vast governmental resources provided to the public should have been enough to contain the pathogen causing the dead to reanimate. From there, the outbreak would have lasted a few days before being exterminated, giving the CDC enough time to find a cure.
According to research conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, the virus would only take sixty days to spread to two million people if it started inside a major city. Given that the virus infected everyone at an alarming rate, it’s safe to assume that the cause was airborne, which would make it easier to travel across the globe. Within a matter of days, the dead would revive in spontaneous spots around the world, making it entirely possible that the disease infected a large portion of earth’s population by the time Rick became conscious.
6. The Governor Had Clear Motivations
Described by producer Gale Anne Hurd as a delusional messiah with psychopathic tendencies, Philip Blake was a ruthless leader whose end game wasn’t so clear when he was first introduced as the Governor of Woodbury. When he runs into Rick at the prison, he begins his plan to take over the heavily fortified location, despite the fact that Woodbury is already the more secure area, leading many to ask, “Why did the Governor want the prison in the first place?”
As actor David Morrissey explained, it’s Blake’s authority issues that drive him. When he’s challenged by Rick’s promises of a brighter future, he fears the group will attempt to assimilate into Woodbury, eventually winning over the town. Before the threat can go any further, he challenges Rick’s authority.
So while the Governor’s skills as a leader can be questioned, in his eyes he’s the only one capable of leading his people, which is why he feels he must eliminate all opposing figures before they become a nuisance.
5. The Walking Dead Universe Is Different Than Ours
In its eight years, The Walking Dead has referred to the dead as “biters,” “rotters”, and “walkers” but one word has eluded the series so far. Early into the development of the show, Robert Kirkman made a conscious effort to differentiate TWD from the rest of Hollywood zombie fiction by excluding the use of the “Z” word from the universe. This slight difference means that the show’s universe, though much like our own, isn’t set within the same reality.
Although avoiding zombie lore is an easy way to give each character their own unique approach on how to handle the apocalypse, it’s also a simple excuse for why many of the plot holes of the series may exist. For instance, if the survivors have a hard time finding guns in modern day America, the writers have the safety net of falling back on the show’s parallel universe setting where guns may not be so readily available.
4. The Virus Is Not Spread Through the Blood
Despite concerted efforts to distinguish TWD from the classic image of the zombie popularized by George A. Romero, many fans still believe the virus in the series can be spread from the bite of a walker. In the season one episode “TS-19”, Dr. Edwin Jenner informs Rick that the virus found inside the dead is a deadly pathogen which lies dormant in the brains of everyone. Although a bite from a zombie will likely kill the one infected due to the spread of bacteria from the mouth, it isn’t the cause of a person’s transformation into a walker.
Due to the lingering virus residing in the living, it must be assumed that the viral outbreak spread through the air, which could explain how the disease escalated so quickly. Although we’re unlikely to ever learn the truth behind the cause of the outbreak due to Robert Kirkman’s lack of interest in the subject, we know the reason is unlike anything in zombie movie history.
3. Negan Isn’t the Merciless Killer Everyone Believes
Perspective is everything. Coming straight from the horse’s mouth, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan has said in the past that he doesn’t just play the character of Negan as a deranged psychopath, but rather as a leader looking to protect the community he’s built. Although his ethics have been questionable so far, his brutality can actually be justified when looking at his actions through his eyes.
As producer Greg Nicotero puts it, the death of Glenn at the hands of Negan and his barbed wire bat Lucille were as much the fault of Rick’s group as they were his own. Although Nicotero admits there’s a menace to the character which viewers hate to love, it’s through Negan’s unspeakable acts that he’s become a survivor.
Prior to killing Abraham and Glenn, Rick wiped out one of the Saviors’ outposts, forcing the leather-clad antagonist to retaliate. As Morgan would explain it, Negan is a man of rules, which he enforces through fear and intimidation, but that makes him a survivor, not unreasonable.
2. The Show Will Never Run Out of Walkers
When it comes to scientific accuracy, TWD isn’t the best source of realism on television. As walking, flesh-eating corpses go, a member of the dead can only go on for so long before turning into a pile of mush and bones. The showrunners over the years have addressed the issue slightly, making the walkers more grotesque over time as they continue to decay, but the reality is the dead are never going to diminish for the survivors.
Forgetting that the zombies of the Walking Dead universe don’t follow real world laws of science, Robert Kirkman has given a number for exactly how many walkers exist in his world. According to him, there are 5,000 members of the dead for every one person left alive. By that count, most of the survivors can continue killing their way through hordes of the dead without really getting anywhere. Take into account that not every survivor is a killer who can be relied upon and the zombie to human ratio only gets worse for everyone involved.
1. Rick Isn’t Such a Bad Leader
In the age of the anti-hero, Rick Grimes is the epitome of the unlikable good guy. The parallels between Rick and Shane have continually gotten worse as the show has worn on and the leader of the survivors has gradually lost his grasp on self-control, but ultimately how bad of a leader is the grizzled ex-sheriff?
Although we understand the complaints thus far from fans who’ve questioned the Ricktatorship on TWD, the truth is his group could have easily turned on him at any point of the series. Their loyalty to Rick isn’t just a testament to their confidence in his abilities, it’s a truth-bearing revelation which speaks to the lack of other leadership options.
Although Carol and Daryl have shown signs of leadership, they’re both ultimately lone wolves. Meanwhile, others such as Maggie, Morgan or Michonne haven’t shown much interest in taking over.
As things go, Rick may appear beyond crazy at times, but he’s lasted this long, which is more than we can say for others on the show.
What other common mistakes to people make about The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments!
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