The cause of the zombie apocalypse is still one of the biggest mysteries of The Walking Dead comic books and TV series, but creator Robert Kirkman teases he won't be dropping that bombshell anytime soon.
Since first putting pen to paper in comic book form for The Walking Dead back in 2003, Kirkman has crafted his own expansive world about the survivors of the terrible outbreak. Joined by AMC's popular TV show in 2010, both series have continued to have great success while carving their own path. That being said, neither the comics or the show have got any closer to revealing where this end of the world plague originated.
Answering fans on a Tumblr Q&A, Kirkman dished the dirt on The Walking Dead but confirmed he won't be giving away arguably the biggest secret of his universe. When asked if he would ever reveal what caused the outbreak, he answered in typical Kirkman fashion:
"I know… but it’s a crazy sci-fi thing that would make the story all that much weirder. Maybe years after it’s all over I’ll just casually mention it in an interview. That seems like a very J.K. Rowling thing to do. It couldn’t be less important to the story and the lives of these characters. It would be completely out of place in the story. Honestly if a scientist from Washington came to the character and told them what happened the characters would just shrug and say “Oh… okay…” it wouldn’t change their lives at all… and… I’ve said too much."
It may be a point of contention for some fans, but Kirkman is right - The Walking Dead has never been about what caused the outbreak. Remembering back to Issue #1 and the show's first episode, Rick Grimes misses the start of the outbreak by spending his days in a coma. As the storylines have gone on, The Walking Dead has become less about the walkers and more about the threat of humanity. While zombies will always be the unique selling point of the franchise, Kirkman has become a master at making humans the biggest villains of the piece.
As for origin stories and cures, they are only a tiny bit of what brings fans to The Walking Dead. The show has danced around the issue on a couple of occasions before quickly moving on to something else more interesting. Season 1's Dr. Jenner seemed to be the closest to understanding the outbreak with the big reveal that everyone was infected, but considering he was blown up in the first finale, there isn't much hope of revisiting him. The show also toyed with the idea of a cure when it introduced Josh McDermitt as Eugene Poter, but it all turned out to be a classic TWD ruse.
Movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and World War Z all give their own explanations for what can cause humanity to become ravenous for flesh, but you have to admire Kirkman's staying power for not following suit. While it would be so simple to include the big twist on the final page of the comics or a finale episode, it sounds like an origin story won't be part of either end game. Even when The Walking Dead is lying in its grave, Kirkman may just nonchalantly reveal the cause in some distant interview, but it isn't anything anyone should even be thinking about.