The Walking Dead Creator Appears to Reveal Origin of Zombie Virus

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman appears to have revealed the extraterrestrial origins of the zombie apocalypse. Kirkman never addressed the cause of the unnamed virus before he ended his long-running comic book after 193 issues in July 2019, saying in 2018 the widespread infection and resulting apocalypse could be blamed only on a "a crazy sci-fi thing that would make the story all that much weirder." If Kirkman is to be believed, the pathogen originated as a space-born spore:

"Space spore," Kirkman wrote on Twitter when asked to name what created walkers. Kirkman's response is likely another homage to George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, where scientists speculated the rise of flesh-eating ghouls was caused by radiation from a space probe to Venus.

Before their book became The Walking Dead, Kirkman and original series artist Tony Moore pitched a 1960s-set continuation of Night of the Living Dead. Another tie to the extraterrestrial: when pitching The Walking Dead to Image Comics executives, Kirkman had to lie by claiming the apocalypse was caused by space aliens using zombies to weaken the world's infrastructure before invading.

Kirkman toyed with aliens again in a non-canon bonus ending for The Walking Dead #75 inspired by his fabricated origin story. According to a laser sword-wielding Michonne, an unknown alien civilization caused the dead to come back to life and attack humans, with the survivors being turned into a slave race to harvest water the aliens used as currency.

The Walking Dead 75 aliens
(Photo: Image Comics)

"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," Kirkman said when asked about the origin of the zombie virus during a 2018 Q&A on Tumblr. "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."

Kirkman also said the television series was unlikely to ever explore a cure for the virus, which has plagued humanity for a decade as of The Walking Dead Season 10.


"As far as actually trying to solve the thing, I’ve always thought that one of the best things about this show is that it’s not about scientists and it’s not about people that would take that on as a task – because I feel like that’s unrelatable," Kirkman said at San Diego Comic-Con 2017. "I think if there were a zombie apocalypse, I don’t know that there’s maybe five people in this room that would have that job. To go off and try to solve this would be a boring show, so definitely not."

TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.