The Walking Dead Ending Leaves a Major Question Unanswered

What caused the zombie virus that plagued the survivors of The Walking Dead? Creator Robert Kirkman ended the book Wednesday with a lengthy time jump that revealed the living have mostly reclaimed the world from the undead, but questions behind the infection, and the initial zombie outbreak, went unanswered.

The origin of the virus is "a crazy sci-fi thing that would make the story all that much weirder," and one the creator never intended to reveal in the pages of his monthly comic book.

"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 in 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 similarly shot down ever exploring a cure to the apocalyptic plague, explaining at San Diego Comic-Con in 2017 similar story turns have "been done on a lot of other zombie stories" and such revelations are "kind of a mythology-breaking proposition."

"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.

"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."

In April, just months before Kirkman would surprise end his book after a near 16-year run, Kirkman admitted he had grown less interested in the zombie aspect of The Walking Dead.

"The zombie aspect doesn't interest me all that much after all these years. Seeing people caught by zombies and eaten isn't fun for me. And narratively... for people to have lived this long, they need to be smart enough to avoid those kinds of traps... so that's why it doesn't happen as often," Kirkman explained in the "Letter Hacks" column following issue #190.

"For better or worse, this book has evolved past intestine-eating. I'm not saying it'll NEVER happen again... but it'll never be the focus. I said all I wanted to say about avoiding and getting eaten by zombies in the first 50 issues or so."


Kirkman earlier revealed he once lied to Image Comics executives to launch The Walking Dead, claiming the zombie outbreak was caused by invading extraterrestrials.