Take the 2-minute tour ×
Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Cells need oxygen to function and clearly the cells in a zombie are at least partly functional. In the Walking Dead, do zombies need oxygen? Can they breathe? If they don't have functional respiratory or circulatory systems, do they absorb some oxygen through exposed tissue?

share|improve this question
2  
Down-voted due to lack of research effort: Several times in the series, it is shown that zombie heads are still active when separated from their bodies (so long as substantial damage has not been done to the brain) - even when kept underwater for extended periods. –  Iszi Mar 3 at 22:45
    
@Iszi: This is the makings of an answer, not a reason to downvote due to "lack of research effort" ! –  ThePopMachine Mar 7 at 16:44
    
The tooltip for the down-vote button explicitly states "does not show any research effort" as a valid reason for its use. –  Iszi Mar 7 at 16:50
    
@Iszi: Show me how you "research" that without sitting down and watching every episode. Seriously. "Does not show research effort" doesn't mean "OP isn't an expert so let's downvote" –  ThePopMachine Mar 7 at 17:26

2 Answers 2

No. In pretty much any mythology (at least where zombies are dead, not living 'infected') zombies do not need to breathe at all. There is no explanation given for how they function without oxygen, nor is there an explanation for where the energy they use comes from.

Zombies have been seen to operate just fine underwater for extended periods, and zombie heads are still animate (unless the brain is destroyed) even without lungs. It is probable that a zombie could function in a vacuum, unless they were frozen stiff.

This is, frankly, a conceit of the genre. There's no real explanation, and I don't think there can be one. We do, however, know that they don't need oxygen to function.

share|improve this answer
3  
Zombies...in...SPAAAAAAAACE!!!! I'd watch that. –  Monty129 Mar 3 at 17:59
2  
    
@GorchestopherH well played. –  Monty129 Mar 3 at 21:32
    
There is no scientific explanation. A supernatural one is perfectly consistent. People assume that the contagious nature indicates a pathogen, but this is almost besides the point. It is not that the bite spreads a disease, but rather that it defiles the victim enough that they too become susceptible to the supernatural effect. –  John O Mar 4 at 5:37

Why do you assume their cells to be functional? In fact, in every single zombie representation I am aware of zombies don't heal. If their cells were working, I'd expect them to have normal healing powers but generally, when you cut a zombie, the cut stays open and you get those wonderfully gruesome images that so enhance our viewing pleasure.

So, while no explanation is given in any canon I know, the fact that they don't heal would point to their being animate but non-living tissue (whatever that may mean) and as such I would not expect them to need or use oxygen, no.

share|improve this answer
    
Agreed, zombie cells don't heal, but they can still be partly functional. Which was OPs point. And a pretty decent assumption, considering the fact that zombies move. Movement in humans is induced by contractions in muscle cells, thus zombies need at least partly functioning cells in order to move. –  thomax Mar 3 at 19:20
    
@thomax actually, and I realize I'm being pedantic, muscle cells can contract even in dead tissue, a classic example is pouring soy sauce on a dead octopus. It is a matter of electricity and does not need any living cells. –  terdon Mar 3 at 19:30
    
Sure, zombie cells aren't neccessarily alive. However, a contracting muscle cell is fulfilling it's primary objective: generating movement. It doesn't matter if this movement is fueled by ATP, soy sauce or magic. It's hard to argue that a jerking muscle cell is not at least partly functional. –  thomax Mar 3 at 19:42
    
Zombies don't use their muscles to move. Zombies are powered magically by evil negative energy. In this respect, they work the same way as skeletons, which are just zombies where most of the body is gone and only the bones remain, or ghosts which are like zombies where no parts of the body remains. –  b_jonas Mar 3 at 19:50
1  
@thomax lol :). Anyway, the onus would be on you to demonstrate that zombie movement actually involves contracting muscles, else you'll need to defend yourself from zombie Popper. –  terdon Mar 3 at 20:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.