The Walking Dead’s Zombie Outbreak Virus Origin Explained
After avoiding the issue for more than 10 years, The Walking Dead zombie virus origin has finally been explained. When writing his comic series, Robert Kirkman deliberately chose not to reveal the TWD zombie origins, and throughout the entire story, he never comes close to deciphering the truth. AMC’s The Walking Dead TV adaptation inherited his philosophy and has consistently shied away from giving the audience a science lesson. Indeed, the closest The Walking Dead ever came to spilling the biological beans would be season 1’s CDC episode, which Kirkman later expressed regret over. The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2 finale post-credits sequence answers the question viewers have been asking for more than a decade. How did the zombie apocalypse start in The Walking Dead?
The Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s post-credits scene takes place at a biomedical facility in France, which seems to be where the Walking Dead zombie virus originated. Though long since abandoned, one of the lab’s former researchers has returned in hopes of continuing her work to discover a cure, but she’s accosted by an unidentified survivor smoking a cigarette. When the scientist declares her optimistic intention to end TWD‘s zombie apocalypse, her attacker replies, “End this? You started this.” On the wall, there’s also the rather ominous message, “Les Morts Sont Nés Ici.” For non-French speakers, this broadly translates to “The Dead Are Born Here.” Here’s everything known so far on the TWD zombie origins.
The Walking Dead Virus: How Did It Start?
From these two huge clues, only one possible conclusion can be drawn – The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse finds its roots in a French laboratory. According to the smoking man, the facility housed numerous teams (he mentions Violet team and Primrose team) that worked on a project that ultimately became the TWD zombie origins. Since Primrose team had traveled to the U.S. shortly before the outbreak, it’s possible other countries were involved in the study too, rather than France alone shouldering the blame.
Moreover, it’s implied in the World Beyond post-credits scene that the researchers had no intention of releasing the virus and infecting the world, hinting the virus somehow wriggled its way out. While the smoking man blames Primrose and Violet teams for creating the virus, the scientist makes an accusation of her own, vaguely stating, “When it [the outbreak] happened… When you did what you did.” Though there’s plenty of room for interpretation here, she could be implying that the smoking man was part of a group who, pre-The Walking Dead season 1, learned about the virus being developed and attacked the facility, only to accidentally release it, making both parties culpable.
Robert Kirkman believed The Walking Dead was better served by keeping the outbreak’s explanation a mystery, so it’s interesting to see the TV series finally abandon that founding principle. But as The Walking Dead seeks to expand beyond its original parameters and ramp up the scale for Rick Grimes’ miniseries adventures, it becomes impossible to avoid the matter any longer. Now that Kirkman’s comic material is spent, exploring the creation of the zombie virus (and how to stop it) is the next logical chapter for The Walking Dead.
Does Revealing The Walking Dead Virus Origins Kill The Show’s Mystery?
The revelation of The Walking Dead virus origin essentially kills the show’s biggest mystery, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for television’s longest-running zombie series. While viewers are still divided about whether it was a good choice for the ending of Walking Dead: World Beyond, there is always going to be some controversy attached to violating one of the zombie genre’s time-honored traditions – keeping the origins of the zombies a mystery.
Though the reveal also goes against the Walking Dead creator’s intentions, it’s a necessary risk that properly sets up the franchise’s next years, which will see the release of several spinoff series. The death of the show’s biggest mystery only opens up new mysteries that can support future stories, such as why the French created such a self-destructive pathogen or how the CRM is involved with how The Walking Dead zombie virus took over the planet.
The Walking Dead virus being manmade is just one piece of a convoluted puzzle, and more pieces will be revealed in spinoffs like the yet-unnamed Daryl Dixon series, The Walking Dead: Dead City series featuring Negan and Maggie, and Walking Dead Rick Grimes miniseries. The Walking Dead has always been about the sacrifices and moral dilemmas that accompany a catastrophe of global proportions, so keeping the focus on human nature rather than biological mysteries is in tune with the franchise’s overall direction.
As the reveal hints that pre-apocalyptic medical and military institutions are responsible for the fall of humanity, The Walking Dead is raising the stakes, ruling out extraterrestrial or natural phenomena, and potentially hitting a mark that’s closer to home for most audiences.
Daryl’s Spin-Off Will Show The Outbreak Ground Zero
Now it’s been established where the initial zombie outbreak occurred, the Daryl Dixon spinoff show will likely explore the TWD zombie virus ground zero, since it’s confirmed it will take Norman Reedus’s character to France. The geography around where the TWD zombie origins first emerged are going to look very different from where the flagship show was set.
While many of the characters on The Walking Dead were ripped straight from Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, Daryl was a wholly original creation made exclusively for the TV series, and therefore, so are his storylines. Now that The Walking Dead is over, Daryl will set sail across the Atlantic to continue his journey in whatever post-apocalyptic France looks like — and it’s likely to be a much more dangerous place given that’s where the virus started.
Several characters have been confirmed for the series, such as Quinn (Adam Nagaitis), who operates a nightclub and runs in the black market, and Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) who is a member of a religious group. Based on these characters, it seems that France is operating at a much more advanced and functional level than North America. The solo Daryl show will probably explore the origins of the zombies featured in The Walking Dead at a much greater capacity, and according to Norman Reedus via the San Diego Comic Con, it’s set to be “epic in scale.”
Kirkman Originally Offered A Different Explanation For TWD Zombie Origin
On a 2017 SDCC panel, Robert Kirkman said that it was unlikely AMC’s The Walking Dead would ever have the zombie virus origin revealed because it would make the show “boring.” The following year he teased fans in a since-deleted Tumblr Q&A that how the zombie apocalypse started in The Walking Dead was a “sci-fi thing that would make the story all that much weirder.” It wasn’t until January 2020 that the cryptic tease about the start of the zombie apocalypse in The Walking Dead paid off on Kirkman’s Twitter account, though it won’t appear in any of The Walking Dead spin-off shows.
In a tweet that has also since been deleted, Kirkman declared “space spores” as responsible for starting the zombie apocalypse. While that clearly isn’t the direction The Walking Dead chose to take after all, it still would have made for a fascinating choice in the otherwise very earth-bound series. Everything in the series is grounded in reality, but space spores would have stretched the imagination.
Whether any of the characters could have discovered a way to combat a “space spore” would have made for an interesting sci-fi concept for the show. Perhaps it was too similar of a concept for the series to George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead which featured radiation from space reanimating corpses. With zombie stories so prevalent in the horror genre, creators want stories to stand out.
Next: Daryl Dixon’s TWD Spinoff Proves The Outbreak Is VERY Different In Europe