Why Robert Kirkman’s Reason For Not Revealing The Source Of The Outbreak In ‘The Walking Dead’ Is Wrong

Entertainment Features
04.15.15 46 Comments
Premiere Of AMC's "The Walking Dead" 4th Season - Arrivals

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In discussing details about the next season of The Walking Dead (including teasing a major character death), Robert Kirkman revealed more details on the companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, beyond everything we already know about the series.

Kirkman reiterated that Fear the Walking Dead will return to the beginnings of the outbreak, when the zombies were a bigger, more present and deadlier danger. He also said that it’s not really a prequel, either, because it’s not like it will end when Rick wakes up from his coma. There will be some time overlap.

But if Fear the Walking Dead is going back to the origins of the outbreak, does that mean we’ll find out the source of the zombie pandemic?


“[Learning the origins] is not the priority in The Walking Dead; that’s not the priority in Fear The Walking Dead. Every other story deals with that stuff and we’re concerned about the heart.”

That’s fine and dandy, and who doesn’t love a series that’s more concerned with the “heart?” But that statement he made about “every other story” dealing with “that stuff?” That’s not entirely accurate, actually. Because more often than not, “that stuff” is either glossed over or its left unexplained, as in The Walking Dead. In nearly every single zombie story, the source of the outbreak is — at best — a minor detail.

For instance, no George Romero zombie film has ever definitely revealed the source of the outbreak (although Return of the Living Dead — which is not part of Romero’s canon — did suggest that the outbreak was started by an army experiment gone awry). Moreover, no source is revealed in Shaun of the Dead. In Warm Bodies, we are not told the source of the outbreak, although we do discover that “love” is the antidote. There is a patient zero in World War Z, but the cause of the plague is unknown.

Sure, the source is revealed in 28 Days Later (chimpanzees infected with the “Rage” virus), Dead Alive (the rape of tree monkeys by plague-carrying rats), Zombieland (a mutated strain of mad cow disease) and Re-Animator (a mad scientists serum), but the source of the outbreak does not figure heavily into the plots of those movies.

In other words, while there have been a ton of zombie stories, very few deal with “that stuff,” and the ones that do only give it short shrift. If Kirkman really wanted to make Fear the Walking Dead unique to the zombie genre, he would spend more time dealing with the origin of the virus and, perhaps, developing a cure.

One of the other major tropes in the zombie genre is the unhappy, devastating ending where practically everyone dies. If Kirkman wants to avoid that fate for characters he has been developing over the last five seasons (and probably another five seasons, at least), it might actually behoove him to explore the origins so that he can find a cure. Either that, or — according to science — he can remove the zombie threat by simply waiting it out.

(Quote via Mashable)

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