The Reason Why The Walking Dead Doesn’t Use The Word Zombie

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead universe is one of the most grounded takes on the zombie genre around, focusing more on the struggles of a band of survivors trying to make it through a post-apocalyptic world alive than the zombies themselves. This includes not even naming the zombies zombies. As fans will know, “walkers” is the traditional term used for the undead in the series. Although, other groups and individuals separate from Rick Grimes’ community have different names for them, including Biters, Creepers, Lurkers and, as per the Whisperers, Guardians.

But why is the word zombie a no-go for both the show and the original comic books? Well, creator Robert Kirkman has previously revealed the answer. He’s explained that The Walking Dead exists in a world where zombies were never a pop culture craze. In the real world, George Romero’s classic of the Dead movies were what started the modern zombie genre as we know it. So, essentially, the TWD universe is one where Romero never made his films. Hence why the average survivor has no knowledge of what a zombie is.

This is a fun idea that makes a lot of sense, but it’s also pretty much the case with all zombie movies and TV shows. It’s only really the comedic takes on the genre, like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, that feature protagonists who are well-versed in the tropes of zombie fiction. Because of its more grounded tone, The Walking Dead doesn’t lean into any of that meta-commentary on the genre in order to ensure that the horror and turmoil of being stuck in a planet overrun by the undead is played straight.

As Kirkman told Conan O’Brien, though, in the same interview where he revealed all this, the word zombie is still used in the scripts for the comic and the TV show. Likewise, all the fans still use the familiar term. It’s just the folks living in The Walking Dead that have no idea what the Z-word means.