The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Finally Explains Zombie Origin

The Walking Dead has kept the zombie virus' origins secret for over a decade. Now, World Beyond's post-credits explains how the outbreak began.

After avoiding the issue for more than 10 years, The Walking Dead has finally explained how its zombie outbreak began. When writing his Walking Dead comic series, Robert Kirkman deliberately chose not to reveal the virus’ origin, 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.

But times are a-changing for The Walking Dead. As the main series draws to a close with season 11, the live-action franchise moves further and further away from Robert Kirkman’s source material. Not only does the main show’s Commonwealth storyline exhaust the comic books’ last major arc, but the addition of the CRM takes AMC’s Walking Dead franchise into loftier territory, where talk of a cure and restoring civilization is more than just a faraway dream. Ahead of this next chapter, Walking Dead: World Beyond’s finale post-credits sequence answers the question viewers have been asking for more than a decade. How did the zombie virus happen?

Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s closing scene takes place at a biomedical facility in France. 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 the 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.”

From these two huge clues, only one possible conclusion can be drawn – The Walking Dead’s zombie virus is man-made, and began at this particular laboratory in France. 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 Walking Dead’s infamous virus. Since Primrose team had traveled to the U.S. shortly before the outbreak, it’s possible other countries were involved in the fateful study too, rather than France alone shouldering the blame. Past theories that the virus was extra-terrestrial or a natural phenomenon can now officially be ruled out, though why such a self-destructive pathogen was being created by the French remains unknown at this stage.

Though it was French scientists who designed The Walking Dead’s virus, it’s obvious the researchers had no intention of releasing it into the population, but World Beyond’s post-credits sequence also hints at how the infection 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 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’ movie 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 to write.

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