Now that it's been renewed for a fourth season, and we're a handful of episodes into season 3, there are a handful of fans who are understandably interested in getting caught up on iZombie, The CW's DC/Vertigo adaptation.
The first two seasons of the series are on Netflix, which means many of our readers need only to find the first handful of season 3 episodes (all or most of which, depending on when you're reading this, will be available on The CW's website or app).
You can also buy the show, if you're so inclined, on a variety of streaming sites; on DVD at retailers (including Target, who have been regularly carrying it in many parts of the U.S.); and on Blu-ray through the Warner Archive.
It can sometimes be hard to jump on the moving train of a series that isn't based on well-known IP, or doesn't have the kind of larger following that makes Daredevil or The Flash an easy follow.
So we've put together a quick guide to what makes iZombie one of the best, most fun comic book adaptations on TV, and why you should check it out.
iZombie airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, following episodes of The Flash. You can see our rundown below.
The rules of iZombie are simple, but they tend to confuse some people who are either zombie neophytes or the zombie hardcore who have a very fixed idea of what the genre should be.
Basically, the show is aimed at people in the middle, so it's probably fine that those two groups are a little confused at first, but we'll run this down anyway.
Basically, in the world of iZombie, you don't immediately become savage and decayed when you are "turned." You can remain in control of your faculties, as long as you consume human brains regularly. Unfortunately, the brain-eating comes with the side effect of psychic visions/out-of-body experiences in which you can "see" parts of the life of the person who used to own your brain.
Your body changes, too: Your heartbeat slows significantly, your hair and skin turn very pale, and you lose most of your sense of taste.
As a result of this last thing, almost everything the zombies on the show are depicted as eating is smothered in ultra-hot hot sauce, as "spicy" seems to be the only taste that registers properly.
There are "Romeros," the zombies like you see in the movies. Thats what happens when a zombie doesn't eat brains for an extended period of time.
There's also a real-life George Romero, and zombies as an entertainment genre exist. Early on in the show we saw a few lips from Night of the Living Dead, and later, they revealed that in-universe there's a popular teen soap called Zombie High, which seems to be what The Walking Dead would be if it were air on The CW.
Zombies who are in control of their faculties can go briefly "savage," which comes with enhanced strength and a lack of control, and then be eased out of it, but there's always the risk that going full-on rage zombie can lead to a lack of control that will cause them to do something they regret. Typically Liv only "rages" a couple of times a season, usually as an involuntary response to physical pain.prevnext
Olivia "Liv" Moore is a former type-A, standout med student who was engaged to the perfect guy when she joined a fellow student on a boat party and was scratched during a zombie attack.
She woke up in a body bag on the shore of the boat party massacre, scaring a nearby crime scene tech and hungering for brains, which she obtained from one of the deceased. Shortly thereafter, she dropped out of med school and took a job at the local coroner's office, where she could use her medical expertise and also have easy access to brains without having to hurt anybody.
Little did she know, the coroner she worked under was a former scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who had been let go after offering crackpot theories about the existence of zombies. He recognizes her symptoms almost right away, but he's cool with it: in exchange for helping her remain nourished and hiding her secret, he asks for her help studying "zombism" in the hopes of finding a cure.
Liv also decided to contribute to society by eating the brains of murder victims and using her visions to assist the police in finding their killers. She's not always easy to work with, though, because in addition to the visions she often gets a little piece of the murder victim's personality -- and even though they're victims, that doesn't always make them good people.
Liv was always close with her mother and younger brother -- at least until becoming a zombie, when her apparent lack of ambition marked her as a burnout to her type-A, overachieving mom. Her family was a major presence in the show's first season, until a tragedy tore them apart at the end of that year. They have appeared a couple of times since, but Liv is seemingly ostracized from the family.
Her best friend, Peyton, and her ex-fiance, Major, both play major roles in the series as well; Major is her on-again, off-again love interest (and a live-again, undead-again zombie), and Peyton is her roommate and a deputy distict attorney, which means that she gets to stick her toes into both the personal and crimefighting side of Liv's life.
But more on that in a minute...prevnext
THE SUPPORTING CAST
In a show like this -- much like when superhero shows start -- a big part of the currency of the show lies in the drama of who does and does not know about Liv being a zombie.
It's not spoiling much to reveal that the rift between Liv and her family stems from zombie-related problems, and throughout the first two seasons, other members of her inner circle gradually become "in the know." We won't spoil it here, in case you're on the way to Netflix after you read this to binge through the first two (excellent) seasons, but if you pay attention to the ads you can generally suss out who does and doesn't know.
Who's hanging around the show, week in and week out?
Ravi - Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti is the Seattle coroner who, as mentioned earlier, reveals in the pilot that he's aware of the existence of zombies and has been suspicious of his new hire. Played by Rahul Kohli, Ravi is often cited as being a high point of the series; he's charming, funny, and always has the right Star Wars reference for the occasion.
Blaine - Blaine DeBeers (yes, the name is a reference to Party Down, which iZombie EPs Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright also worked on), played by David Anders, is the drug-dealing zombie who initially scratched Liv at the boat party. After being the season one big bad, he's hung around with a slightly altered role in each season (much like the rest of the cast).
Major - Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) is Liv's ex-fiance and the character most likely to be her OTP if they both survive the series and Liv is eventually cured. In season 1, he sussed out the existence of zombies and set himself about proving it and/or ridding Seattle of its zombie problem, blissfully unaware that the love of his life was among the undead. His quest for truth (and to discover what happened to kids who vanished from the homeless shelter where he worked) nearly ruined his life...and it only got worse from there...but Major always seems to find a way to land on his feet, and in an entirely different variety of trouble.
Peyton - Peyton Chares (Aly Michalka) is Liv's best friend, roommate, and a law student who eventually graduates to an assistant district attorney position. Keeping her in the dark was particularly challenging for Ravi and Liv, because doing so often interfered with Peyton's ability to do her job -- and her budding romance with Ravi.
Clive - Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) is a homicide detective who joins up with Liv in the pilot, when he's desperate to close a difficult case. She tells him that she's psychic, rather than a zombie, which allows her to let him in at least a little bit while still keeping the potential for an undead apocalypse out of the police department's memos. Clive is the one who most regularly finds himself exasperated by Liv's bizarre mood swings, but becuase she's effective, he manages to make it work.prevnext
THE BAD GUYS
The world of the show evolves every season, very nearly a reboot each time around, and with it you'll get big changes to the villains.
In season 1, Blaine ran a butcher shop where he surreptitiously turned kidnapped homeless people into zombie food. Uncovering that conspiracy and bringing him to justice put Major and Liv on a collision course, as each was doing it without the other's knowledge and in a dramatically different way.
Season 2 pitted Team Z (which, to an extent, included Blaine, although he's never really been a part of the show's "Scooby gang") against two new foes: Blaine's wealthy father who was starting up a competing zombie enterprise, and Max Rager, an energy drink conglomerate whose recipe had interacted with a designer drug Blaine was selling to spark the zombie outbreak on the boat party.
In season 3, so far there's no one "big bad," although our money is on Fillmore Graves, a military contractor staffed by zombies who are planning for the day when word gets out that zombies exist and they have to fight their way to a private island to avoid persecution by trigger-happy humans who have seen too many episodes of Zombie High.
There's also Blaine's father, back in the picture again, this time running a "zombie speakeasy" with one of Blaine's old drug-dealing partners.prevnext
iZombie is based on a DC/Vertigo comic from writer Chris Roberson (Edison Rex) and artist Michael Allred (Madman).
The series ran for 28 issues from 2010 to 2012 and its story was wildly different from the TV series, although its tone was largely carried over.
Allred provided the art for the TV show's opening credits, and the title cards that typically pop up after each commercial break are rendered loosely in his style.
In the comics, there's no Liv Moore but instead Gwen Dylan; she is a gravedigger rather than a coroner, and there's a lot less of the "police procedural" and "hunt for justice" elements in the book.
There are also a lot more supernatural beings than just zombies in the series. Gwen's supporting cast includes:
- Eleanor "Ellie" Stuart (née Roosevelt): A ghost who died in the 1960s and had never left Oregon.
- Scott "Spot": A were-terrier, friend to Gwen and Ellie.
- Gavin Price: Gwen's brother and Scott's prospective boyfriend (later husband as of iZOMBIE #28).
- Vincent Tan: A friend and co-worker of Scott.
- Ashok Patel: A friend and co-worker of Scott and Vincent.
- John Amon: A zombie who was responsible for Gwen Dylan becoming a zombie.
There was a reference to a were-terrier in an episode of the TV show; it's a character that Ravi plays in a MMORPG. Similarly, there was an episode of the TV series that took place at a paintball range, an echo to a story in the comic, although those references are about all that the two share explicitly.
iZombie is available in a variety of formats, including trade paperbacks, digital editions and an omnibus hardcover.prevnext
In the third season, Liv has discovered there are more zombies living in Seattle than she previously believed. In fact, there is a private military contractor employing a small zombie army, and that army is preparing for the day humans learn of their existence. Major finds a job and acceptance in this army.
Liv and Clive investigate the murder of a zombie family that may just set off an all-out zombie-human war. Ravi's former boss at the Center for Disease Control shows up in Seattle to investigate the Max Rager massacre.
Blaine finds living as a human with no memory of his evil past is more blessing than curse. Peyton pulls at a thread in one of her cases that may lead to the villain that's pulling all the strings.
This season, Liv will eat the brains and take on the traits of a dominatrix, a JACKASS-style stunt man, an office gossip, a pre-school teacher, a conspiracy theorist, a dungeon master, and many more.
Along the way, there will be a lot of corporate intrigue, some relationships tested to their breaking point, and a zombie speakeasy called "The Scratching Post."
More iZombie news:
- iZombie: Get a First Look at "Twenty-Sided, Die," and Watch Rose McIver Describe the Episode
- iZombie EP Rob Thomas Warns, "An Angry Blaine is a Dangerous Blaine"
- Did iZombie's Vivian Kill Wally and Anna To Earn Trust From Liv, Major and Clive?
- iZombie's Rose McIver Wants To Know What Season 4 Is About