The Walking Dead Creator Won't Reveal Zombie Virus Origins

It's the most-asked question about The Walking Dead: what caused the zombies? Nearly 20 years have passed since Rick Grimes woke up to the walker apocalypse in The Walking Dead #1 in 2003, but creator Robert Kirkman's comic book ended without answers about the global epidemic that caused the dead to rise and feed on the living. As AMC's live-action Walking Dead Universe explores potential cures and causes for the outbreak — a post-credits scene ending The Walking Dead: World Beyond suggested a man-made origin for the zombie virus — Kirkman says the question will be left unresolved in the comics. 

In the latest installment of "The Cutting Room Floor," featuring new commentary from Kirkman in issues of the full-color reprint series The Walking Dead Deluxe, the creator explained his stance hasn't changed on ever revealing the origins of the zombie outbreak:

"I really was never interested in dealing with the cause of the zombie outbreak," Kirkman writes in The Walking Dead Deluxe #41. "My opinion has been well-documented, but the short version is… any detailed explanation would push things too far into the realm of sci-fi for me. I think it's better to leave it unresolved. That way, the story remains grounded."

Kirkman continued, "That said… Tons of fans wanted me to explore it, and I was not above pandering to them from time to time in ways I felt were interesting." 

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(Photo: Image Comics)

Kirkman did just that with the character Alice, a nurse who studied the undead to attempt to answer why walkers feed on the living and how they're "alive" in death. As she told Rick in issue #41, "What if I find a cure? Or at least something to save us... so that we won't turn into these things when we die."

Episodes of The Walking Dead and spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead and TWD: World Beyond, where Kirkman serves as executive producer, explored similar concepts. Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts) studied the dead and dying on The Walking Dead, and Dr. Leo Bennett (Joe Holt) and Civic Republic scientists researched ways to slow or prevent reanimation entirely on World Beyond. The latter explored the possibility of a cure, a thread likely to continue in the Walking Dead movie saga starring Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). 

After the first season of The Walking Dead ended with Rick's group of survivors encountering Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) at Atlanta's CDC, Kirkman said in an interview he "probably would have steered away from that stuff if I had to do it all over again." 

As Kirkman explained at San Diego Comic-Con 2017, "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 ... To go off and try to solve this would be a boring show." 

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The Walking Dead Deluxe #41 is on sale now. 

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