Why What Caused 'The Walking Dead' Zombie Outbreak Doesn't Matter

Whether you're a fan of the comics, the TV show, or both, there's no denying that The Walking Dead has an ongoing story full of endless intrigue. And though there are plenty of twists, turns, and shocks that give fans plenty of material to speculate over, there's one particular plot point that has continued to mystify us: what caused the zombie outbreak in The Walking Dead ? Well, the good news is that creator Robert Kirkman knows exactly what the source of the outbreak was. But the bad news is that he may never actually share that information with the rest of the world.

As reported by Uproxx, Kirkman told a New York Comic Con panel on Thursday that fans and characters alike will both likely never discover what caused The Walking Dead zombie epidemic:

I’ll never reveal what the source of the outbreak is in the comic. I’m never going to do that. I know what caused it. Any effort to have them become aware of the source would bring the comic into the realm of science fiction and I don’t think that would be necessary.

I know, you're pretty livid about that fact right now, huh? But just chill, because the news actually makes a whole bunch of sense. Kirkman, for instance, clarified his overall point by humorously adding that, should The Walking Dead comics ever end, he'd be more than happy to share the zombie outbreak secret with fans, stating, "I’ll publish a little book that explains it because I’ll be broke.” It isn't that Kirkman is deliberately toying with fans emotions; it's just that the man knows what's best for his story. And, if you ask me, he's absolutely right about it.


Though there's every possibility in the world that the TV show of The Walking Dead may still pursue a narrative that explores the potential causes of the zombie apocalypse, it still remains highly unlikely that the canon of those causes would remain the same as Kirkman's original idea. Just recently, Kirkman revealed his planned ending for The Walking Dead comics would be different to that of the TV show, so it's pretty clear that he's eager to keep the canon of both projects separate from each other.

But whether the TV show still decides to explore the origins of the epidemic will surely depend on the creative decisions of the shows team. However, they'd do right to not only respect Kirkman's decision but to also follow it. Though there's naturally a great deal of curiosity surrounding the mystery of what caused the outbreak of Walkers as we know (and love to hate) them, that plot detail has very little to do with the overall story of The Walking Dead.

Instead, both the comics and the TV show are deeply invested in the narrative of the living characters in the show. The Walking Dead isn't so much about zombies as it is about people striving and struggling for survival even when faced with a literal reminder of their mortality on a daily basis. To delve into what caused the dead to walk the earth and make it a central plot point, even just for one episode or issue, is to completely miss the point.


At this point in the narrative, too, it seems ludicrous to imagine that a single character would even care what the cause of the outbreak is. Understanding what has brought the world to the point that it's at in the comics and TV show does little to help the characters move forward in any way, or help them to understand how they might be able to better survive.

After all, we're at Season 7 now, and it's clear that the real enemies are not so much the zombies, but humanity itself. Who needs to know what created the undead when the living are presented as being capable of just as equal monstrosities as them?


As Kirkman also explained, exploring the origins of the zombie outbreak is something more in line with a science fiction story rather than a horror one. And, though it obviously has its own vast amount of possibilities and intrigue, it also isn't a story that fits the needs of The Walking Dead comics or TV show. The show is better for us not knowing, giving the zombies that extra element of horrifying mystery which makes them seem even more peculiar and uncanny than they would be if we knew too much about where they came from or why.

Images: AMC; Giphy (3)