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In The Walking Dead, I've noticed that often when a person is attacked by the walking dead, the victim is totally consumed. For example,

Rick's wife was eaten whole by one zombie.

So if they usually consume an entire person (or leave not much left of the original person) how can there be so many walkers? Shouldn't their numbers be smaller because they eat people whole?

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A comment was made in early season 3 (IIRC), that "maybe half" of the population was now zombies. The way they portray things, you'd think closer to 80-90% of the population was zombies. Also: Who's been cutting the lawn at the prison? My only point: The series producers don't care about consistency, for one reason or another. – Flimzy Dec 3 '12 at 1:54
Flimzy, its harsh to say that they don't care about consistency. They have to battle both our expectations and reality. The prison has plenty of "un-mowed" area. Also not all grass grows tall if left to its own. ALSO the walking dead would trample the grass while still alive. I would expect grass to be fairly short in the prison yard when they came upon it for the first time due to this. – ktamlyn Aug 27 '13 at 2:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 26 down vote accepted

The number of zombies currently has little to do with the fact the zombies consume the living whenever they get the chance.

  • Not knowing the source of the original event, we are never privy to how many zombies there were initially or how the infection was spread. Since everyone is infected, unless their brains are destroyed, everyone who dies will eventually become a zombie.

  • Since people don't have to be bitten for them to become zombies, nor do we know for certain how long a zombie lasts, we could be seeing zombies from the absolute beginning of the event. If they are decaying, it is at a rate far slower than the normal degradation of bodies that are "dead" so we can't estimate how many should be left after a given amount of time.

  • Accidental deaths, suicides, from the horror of it all, starvation (likely to be one of the most likely cause of new zombie creation) are all likely sources of new zombie creation. People who may be bitten but not killed (but die later, anyway) are also good candidates to end up zombies without being eaten.

  • I suspect eventually, the roaming herds of zombies will diminish as free-range humans get harder to find (either through the experience of fighting the walkers, or being exterminated by them) and their populations will slowly diminish. This means humanity will likely never truly be zombie free and will develop new ways of dealing with the dead should free-range humans get their act together against the zombie threat.

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Keep in mind that there are over 7 billion people world-wide, and about 309 million people in the US (according to the 2010 census). That's potentially a lot of zombies. Having one or two living people completely shredded by a crowd of zombies never to rise again won't make much of a dent in the zombie population. On the other hand, if a small group of living people take out a dozen zombies every week, that won't make much of a dent either if there are millions of them. – Force Flow Dec 2 '12 at 22:56
Good point, but I'm still unconvinced that the number of people turned after death into zombies would out weigh the number of people actually bitten into zombies (if they survived actually being bitten/eaten). – Jared Dec 2 '12 at 23:33
+1 for "free-range humans" alone – MPelletier Dec 2 '12 at 23:41
+1 great answer. I assume new zombies are never created by non-interrupted zombie attacks (i.e. where the victim doesn't escape), because zombies are shown to dismember and completely destroy their victims. – Andres F. Jan 25 '13 at 21:20

Well, if the whole body is already consumed the dead body can still become a walker because remember when Michonne saw a head but it was still alive and it was trying to consume her. The infection won't stop just because it lost a body part, and it will never stop unless the walker's brain is destroyed.

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That's right, but how can there be so many walkers, i.e. reanimated corpses with most of their limbs and still capable of walking? – Andres F. Aug 16 '13 at 23:13

in the walking dead game they said whatevers left after they eat you comes back anyways. im not sure thats a good question

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – Solemnity Mar 11 '13 at 0:46

Everyon knows that people panic, so the first couple of days there will be riots and raids. And in those raids are people who die, and they become walkers and they kill more people.

It's 1 human out of every 5 walkers that die and there are at least 7.5 billion people. If every 5 walkers kills someone, that's around 1.5 billion undead in a pretty short period of time. Sooner or later they're going to get most or all of usS so pack up your shotgun good buddy and aim for da noggin'

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Oop, throwing numbers around. Please link to sources? – Solemnity Apr 17 '13 at 22:53

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