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When Rick wakes up, the hospital has power. Why? Sure, things are flickering and that, but it still has electricity.

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    Hospitals tend to have backup generators, and lots of battery backup for individual systems, both likely running on plot fuel and having plot capacity. But not having seen a single episode of the show, I don't know whether that comment is total BS. Feb 20, 2016 at 13:28
  • Umm yea well it seamed to be abandoned a few weeks before he wakes up. It has at least been a week, so it should not have been working. Who cares just a show.
    – mincoder
    Feb 20, 2016 at 13:30
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    @MichaelSchumacher having watched the show I can tell you it does indeed run on plot fuel with plot capacity. I like the show for the tension and drama but a lot of the more technical aspects have ruined the suspension of disbelief many times. That was the first case...
    – Skooba
    Feb 20, 2016 at 14:05
  • Curious if a similar scene appeared in the comics and how it was depicted. Just because they had some electricity does not mean all systems were functional. Wonder how longs some lights and some life support would last? Weeks is a stretch though.
    – Matt
    Feb 20, 2016 at 16:29
  • probably someone kept the backup gens going. one posibility could have been the army -- hitfix.com/comedy/…
    – Tasos
    Feb 20, 2016 at 17:37

1 Answer 1

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In Universe:

We don't know (it is never explained), but the only logical explanation is that someone fueled the generators fairly recently. As Morgan tells Rick after Rick leaves the hospital,

Gas and light have been down for maybe a month.

This answer gives us some insight into the timing of the hospital scene. The generators would only remain operational for a day or two after the tanks were last filled, so the producers and writers probably just hoped we wouldn't think about it too much. There are all kinds of other issues we're supposed to ignore as well - for instance, how Rick survived without water for several weeks in a hot Georgia summer with no air conditioning.

If ever there was a time for the willful suspension of disbelief, it is now.


Out of Universe:

Because they want us to be able to see. Aside from the brief sequence where Rick enters a dark stairwell, the hospital scenes are there to let us experience Rick's first look at the terrifying new reality he has found himself in. It would be silly to have him stumbling around in a totally black set for several minutes. We need to see what he's seeing.


The Timeline:

As best we can tell, about 4-5 weeks pass between the beginning of Rick's coma and the moment he wakes up. On the show, we have Morgan's statement about when the lights went out, which must have happened a week or two after Rick was hospitalized. We also have an indirect word of god statement from Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead, writer of the comics, and producer of the show) by way of Dave Erickson (showrunner of Fear the Walking Dead):

Robert has said for him... Rick was probably [in the coma for] four to five weeks.

In the comics, we have a bit more evidence, including this:

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We don't know exactly how much time passes between the hospital being abandoned and Rick waking up (on the show or in the comics), but in the comics, Lori suggests that the hospital was probably abandoned less than a week after she and Carl left home with Shane.

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But Morgan says the media was reporting "for weeks" after the outbreak came to the attention of the public, and just before broadcasts stopped, they told people to seek refuge in the major cities.

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However, Rick had no idea that an outbreak was happening before his coma (despite the fact that he, as a first responder, would be expected to know about the situation before the general public), so all of this must have happened after he was shot.

All of this adds up to a huge puzzle. It seems to be impossible to reconcile the various statements on the show and in the comics with all the other information we get from those sources.

In short, we can't explain why the hospital still has power. It is probably best to accept it without thinking about it too much, because it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

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  • Why couldn't they just be harvesting gas for generators? They keep their cars running...
    – user31178
    Feb 21, 2016 at 6:26
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    @CreationEdge - They want their cars to run. They don't care about keeping lights on in a hospital full of zombies. Priorities.
    – Wad Cheber
    Feb 21, 2016 at 7:01

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