The Walking Dead: Here's How the Zombie Virus First Began

Throughout ten seasons, two spinoffs, a long running comic series, and additional video games, many fans of The Walking Dead have been curious about how the zombie apocalypse actually began, and now creator Robert Kirkman has provided an answer. The show's first season included an arc where the survivors are still early on in the zombie epidemic, where society has collapsed but everyone is still hopeful for answers and a way to move forward. But when they arrive at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, they learn that there is no hope for preventing the creation of more zombies because everyone has been infected. And now Kirkman has revealed where it all comes from.

The writer of the comic of The Walking Dead and longtime producer of the AMC TV show said the zombie outbreak occurred because of a "space spore" when asked on Twitter, which is likely another homage to the godfather of the zombie-horror genre George A. Romero. In his classic film Night of the Living Dead, scientists speculated the creation of zombies could have been caused by a space prove to Venus bringing back radiation with unintended effects.

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."

For more The Walking Dead intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.