The Walking Dead's Zombies Will Eventually Decay And Die Off, Robert Kirkman Says

the walking dead snow zombies
(Image credit: amc press)

Remember that time when Rick Grimes woke up in an abandoned hospital, and zombies were literally the biggest and most worrisome threat that The Walking Dead had going for it? Those days aren't fully behind us or anything, but there may one day come a point when this universe's walkers will be so decayed and decomposed that they could actually die off. It's not the most likely scenario, of course, but the franchise's vocal creator Robert Kirkman says it's possible.

There have been zombies seen in the series that are much less mobile. Lurkers were what we called them. We’ve seen some extra decayed zombies along the way. The natural progression is that, yeah, eventually there will be very, very few zombies in this world because most of them will have died off and decayed away... will the series last long enough for us to get there? Only time will tell!!

Years ago, it would have been imperative to bring up the fact that Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's Walking Dead comic book would likely see zombies dying out first, because of the timeline issues. However, Season 9 of the AMC series brought The Walking Dead 7 years deeper into the future, which means it's not all that far away from reaching a similar groove in the chronology. As such, both properties could feasibly reach a walker extinction of sorts around the same time.

How would that even work on the live-action series, though? I mean, the fear of new walkers would presumably be ever-present, considering Robert Kirkman has also stated no one will ever discover a cure for the still unexplained plague. But would humanity truly be able to plant its feet to build up a global civilization again in the aftermath, or would the depleted population make such grand acts impossible? (Some TV spoilers below.)

One thing is for sure: the Whisperers would likely run out of proper clothing before too long if there wasn't a steady population of walkers to skin. The rest of their schtick wouldn't be nearly as effective, either. How hilarious would it have been if Alpha had taken Daryl to the top of that incline in "The Calm Before" to show him that walker herd, for there to only be like 15 zombies milling about, with half of them completely falling apart?

As well, that would completely change up the tone anytime a character was walking through the woods, or walking near an abandoned vehicle, or searching through a rickety old house. The fear of spontaneously getting attacked by the undead would eventually become outdated and passé, and people would once again gain the ability to thrive within nature. Assuming, of course, that those left standing would be able to revert back to morally bound sustainability. Something tells me characters like Alpha and Beta would fail hard in that respect.

Robert Kirkman made his walker claims in the "Letter Hacks" section of The Walking Dead's latest issue, #189. There, editor Sean Mackiewicz did point out that the possibility of walkers dying out is quite real, though he guesses that reality is still generations away from happening. So perhaps by the time Judith is a grandmother, the youngest generation of the Grimes bloodline will be able to live in a world where walker bites are as much of a threat as overeating.

In that Walking Dead issue, Robert Kirkman also offered his thoughts about how The Walking Dead TV show handled Jesus' death back in the Season 8 midseason finale.

We certainly had our reasons...and they've been discussed in great detail online, so do a little searching if you like. I'll just say Tom Payne was an AMAZING Jesus and I really loved his portrayal. And he couldn't have gone out in a COOLER way, and that moment was so expertly written and directed that I think everyone involved is very proud of the insane debut of the Whisperers on the good old TV.

It was indeed a grand introduction, and one that likely couldn't have happened the way it did if the world's walkers were largely out of the picture.

How long do you guys think it would take for The Walking Dead's undead to go the way of the (undead) do-do bird? Let us know, and don't forget to watch The Walking Dead's Season 9 finale on AMC on Sunday, March 31, at 9:00 p.m. ET to see how the show will possibly follow up on Alpha's mass beheadings.

As well, Telltale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season was finally released in full on Tuesday, March 26, and there are reportedly lots of other big announcements on this way this year.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.