The Walking Dead

World Beyond Breaks The Walking Dead’s Zombie Headshot Rule

Zombies in The Walking Dead can typically be taken down by a well-aimed strike to the head, but World Beyond proves that doesn't always work.

How does The Walking Dead make its zombie apocalypse even scarier? Removing the headshot rule, of course! Since the dead began to rise, Earth’s few remaining survivors have endured one stressful situation after another in The Walking Dead. The best survivors quickly adapted to the outbreak’s rules – avoid bites, don’t make noise and, most importantly, aim for the head. Whether it’s a bullet to the brain or a knife through the eye socket, The Walking Dead’s heroes and villains have, until now, slept soundly in the knowledge that their undead enemies possess this devastating weakness to headshots.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2’s “Death & The Dead” reveals headshots aren’t always a sure thing – and demonstrates how much scarier the zombie apocalypse becomes without them. The spinoff’s penultimate episode finds Felix and Hope searching for the CRM’s stock of Project V – a deadly gas containing an experimental zombie cure. As they venture through the cold storage warehouse, the pair predictably encounter some zombie resistance in the form of past test subjects. Felix (a trained security officer from Campus Colony, lest we forget) aims his standard issue spear at a zombie’s head and thrusts… but the corpse keeps moving.

Because these zombies have partially frozen in cold storage, Felix’s blade is unable to penetrate the brain, merely yanking off a chunk of skin. The weapon is no flimsy kitchen knife either – it’s a heavy duty piece of equipment designed expressly for zombie killing. This means all blade attacks would very likely be rendered useless against chilled zombies. Maybe Michonne’s sword could do the job, but anything less gets caught in the frost. Neither Felix nor Hope draw their guns, but if they had, the hardened ice might’ve deflected any bullets fired, meaning gun headshots wouldn’t work either, unless the firearm packed some proper mustard.

The Walking Dead has shown previously how snow and blizzards complicate matters in a zombie apocalypse, and World Beyond season 2’s cold storage sequence further proves why nothing should be taken for granted where the undead are concerned. A wintry snap is all that’s required to remove headshots from the menu. Ultimately, Felix takes his zombie opponent to the floor and stamps on its head, destroying the brain entirely. Blunt force attacks or big guns are apparently the only solution to a frosty horde. The knives everyone carries become inert, as would Daryl’s crossbow, Rick’s axe, Elijah’s scythes, and the CRM’s gun-mounted spikes. While most weapons in The Walking Dead would come unstuck against ice zombies, Aaron’s spiky hand-ball and Negan’s Lucille bat might see them through – though they’d certainly expend more energy trying to break through the chill.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond proves snowy climes are less than ideal during a zombie outbreak, and it’d be interesting to see how locations such as Alaska and Canada are faring in the franchise. Do their survivors build weapons that actually compensate for a thick layer of ice surrounding a zombie’s skull? Or did everyone die out already because the undead are so much harder to take down?

Though frozen zombies are bad news for everyone inside The Walking Dead, it’s a welcome addition for those watching at home. With 3 separate shows and seasons in double digits, keeping the undead fresh is The Walking Dead franchise’s greatest challenge. All too often, the zombies become peripheral, and Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1 was more guilty of that than most. By shaking up the formula and introducing zombies immune to headshots, The Walking Dead proves there’s still life in reanimation.

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