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As Dr Jenner said, all humans are infected and after being killed come back as walkers. But do the walkers killed with a blow to the head / brain, reanimate again?

If a blow to the head makes them permanently dead, and if in Season 3 the main characters stay mostly in one place, shouldn't they have killed most of the walkers around that area so that they stop returning "every half an hour"?

Am I missing something here?

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    "Am I missing something here?" Other than that it's a TV show about the survivors in a world overrun by zombies, and would therefore be really boring if there was literally no zombies in it after the first couple of episodes of the season? That aside, walkers seem to be pretty migratory in the show, so they're presumably wandering in from elsewhere constantly. – Anthony Grist May 28 '16 at 12:06
  • Given that so much of the population is undead, totally clearing out even a small area would be immensely difficult. – Rogue Jedi May 28 '16 at 12:20
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    You ask two distinctly different question here. Do they reanimate and shouldn't they have killed most of the walkers? Which is your question? – Meat Trademark May 28 '16 at 14:19
  • @AnthonyGrist - Agree that it's fiction, but looking at scores of questions on this site, from Star Wars to whatever, fans often discuss the reality and forethought of them, and in much greater detail too. I didn't feel this was asking too much simply by inquiring whether it is explained in the show somewhere, or whether there was an explanation offered? – Rook May 28 '16 at 19:27
  • @RogueJedi - Agree, but for example Season 3 occurs mostly between a prison and a small town, and I don't see how between the two the woods would be a densely populated area? – Rook May 28 '16 at 19:28
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In-universe, bodily trauma that would kill a normal human, including decapitation, dismemberment and severe burns are not enough to kill a zombie. The only thing shown to be effective in permanently stopping a zombie is significant damage to or destruction of the brain. A "blow to the head" would not kill a zombie at all, unless it was severe enough to damage whatever it is in the brain that keeps them animated. Once killed, zombies do not reanimate (or at least this has not been shown in any of the series).

From the Walking Dead wiki, a quote from the original author:

The rule is WHATEVER it is that causes the zombies, is something everyone already has. If you stub your toe, get an infection and die, you turn into a zombie, UNLESS your brain is damaged. If someone shoots you in the head and you die, you're dead. A zombie bite kills you because of infection, or blood loss, not because of the zombie "virus."" —Robert Kirkman

Or are you asking if humans reanimate after if they are killed by a blow to the head ? In that case I'd suggest it depends on how severe the damage to the head was.

To answer your second question, even if the characters killed all zombies in the immediate area it's been shown numerous times that zombies roam around quite extensively, sometimes in large herds of hundreds or thousands. As there are likely tens or hundreds of millions of zombies on the North American continent by now there will always be new zombies showing up.

  • Nathan, thanks. Got my answer. Don't know what in this question provoked 4 downvotes, but the SE network has become a little too sensitive for my taste anyways. – Rook May 28 '16 at 23:48
  • The question could have been phrased better, but I'm not sure why the downvotes either. – Nathan Griffiths May 29 '16 at 0:40
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Primary question:

Do the walkers killed with a blow to the head / brain, reanimate again?

Short answer: No. Assuming that you smashed the part you have to smash, and assuming that you smashed it sufficiently, the zombie will stay down.

Secondary question:

If a blow to the head makes them permanently dead, and if in Season 3 the main characters stay mostly in one place, shouldn't they have killed most of the walkers around that area so that they stop returning "every half an hour"?

Short answer: No. They will never stop seeing new zombies.


Secondary question in detail:

Demographic factors:

The prison the survivors use is fictional, but it is called the "West Georgia Correctional Facility", which tells us where it is supposed to be located: western Georgia. Atlanta is in the same area. Downtown Atlanta is home to a middling 450,000 souls, but the metropolitan area has a population of roughly 5,500,000 people.

The first five and a half seasons are set in Georgia. Georgia is bordered by Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama. Population figures are as follows:

Georgia: 10,100,000
Florida: 19,900,000
South Carolina: 4,800,000
Alabama: 4,900,000

Total for the four-state area: 30,700,000

Broadening the scope a bit, the Eastern United States - that is, the states east of the Mississippi River - has a population of roughly 190,000,000 people. That's nearly 60% of the population of the entire country (~300,000,000), in an area that occupies about 25% of the land.

I won't even get into the 36,000,000 in Canada and 120,000,000 in Mexico that might wander into the US.

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States by population

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Population density per square mile


Before you say "zombies there aren't an issue here", think back to season two. A helicopter flying overhead combined with an ill-timed gunshot led to this sequence of events:

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The Kill Count Prior to Season Five:

There are statistics for zombie and human deaths on the show up to the end of season four. This site lists the kill count in seasons 1 through 4; I don't know if their numbers are exactly right, but assuming that they aren't wildly inaccurate, they are good enough for our purposes. I have taken the liberty of breaking down the data and creating a spreadsheet.

enter image description here

The members of the group who are listed by name in the chart have killed 956 zombies and 39 people. Other human characters have killed 229 zombies and 136 people. Zombies have killed 78 people.

The grand total:

1,185 zombies killed

253 people killed

In the comic books, and to a lesser extent on the show, Rick's group are depicted as being among the best fighters left in the world. They have repeatedly fought off much larger forces of zombies and bad guys alike. In comparison, people who aren't in Rick's group are usually zombie fodder.

The first four seasons of The Walking Dead represent perhaps 2 years of time. In 2 years, the best zombie killers around have only managed to kill 956 zombies. This does not bode well for humanity.



How Many People Versus How Many Zombies?

The blurb for the tenth issue of the comic book says:

After the ordeal Rick has endured last issue, he sets out to find safer shelter. More is learned about the zombies that now out-number us 5000 to 1, but when it comes to some things, it's better not to know. Rick begins to wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel his life has become. Even if there is, how can he ever expect to make it there?
Source

In Issue #10, Carl is brought to Herschel's farm for the first time, having just been shot by Otis. This corresponds to the second episode of Season Two of the show. The second episode of Season Two takes place about a week after Rick wakes up in the hospital, and a few weeks since the outbreak began.

This means that within weeks of the beginning of the outbreak, only 0.2% of the population was still alive. What does this mean?

0.2% Humans, 99.8% Zombies:

  • Worldwide: 1,400,000 people against 6,998,600,000 zombies.

  • United States: 60,000 people against 299,940,000 zombies

  • Presumably, a significant fraction of the dead were eaten by the zombies such that they didn't reanimate, which would lower that 7B zombies number significantly. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Apr 21 '17 at 19:34

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