Who wrote "Don't Open, Dead Inside" on the doors in the hospital that Rick sees after waking? Do they ever show it?

enter image description here

  • 17
    I doubt it was any named character. Probably someone credited as "Panicky dude soon to be Zombie #3". Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 23:17
  • 1
    lol. I was hoping there was some sort of backstory filmed in a webisode of the show that I missed.
    – elvis8664
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 23:23
  • 11
    I'm reasonable sure that says "DONT DEAD OPEN INSIDE"
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 8:33

6 Answers 6


It was never shown in the comics, upon which the series was based. The words were written there presumably before the hospital was abandoned, possibly after a large number of patients had been moved into that one area (to better concentrate care) and one or more passed, raising as walkers, and began turning the others.

The person who wrote it was warning others that there were no more living patients past that point. They presumably left the hospital when it was abandoned by the living (or were killed there, when it was overrun by the dead).

Edit: As pointed out in Blake's answer, written May 28, 2013 (please, upvote that answer), the video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct features two characters who write this on the doors of the hospital. Your character can watch as Merle spray-paints it there. Your character (Daryl) and Merle are important characters on the show, but do not feature in the comics (at least not prominently).

This leads to a question surrounding the canonicity (which, if it isn't a real word, should be) of the games. My personal (unsourced) expectation is that the games, show, and comics each have their own unique canon. The comics and show are dramatically different, so they certainly have distinct canon. The games, though, may be canon (possibly of a 'lower level', a la Star Wars) with either the TV show or the comics. My guess is that they would be tied to the show if anything at all - the appearances of the few crossover characters seem to match the show better than the comics.

According to Wikipedia, Survival Instinct is tied closely to the show, while TellTale Games The Walking Dead is tied to the comics. Whether these are actual canon for their respective tie-ins, however, is unclear.

  • The word you're looking for is "canonicity".
    – Plutor
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 14:16
  • @Plutor: Thank you. Spelling corrected. I'm still uncertain it's a real word (despite it having an entry on dictionary.com) but if it isn't one, it still should be.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 15:10

In the video game Survival Instinct where you play as Daryl Dixon you see Merle spray paint it and then lock the door up. It is the same hospital where Rick was in a coma.

In the webisode The Oath, you can see that it is actually sprayed by Paul. This is based on October 2013.

  • 2
    Has there been any statement regarding how canon the games are? King County seems to be more towards central Georgia (or at least south of Atlanta). The Dixons are said to be from northern Georgia.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 0:16
  • @phantom42: There has not. That said, it's entirely possible that TWD has a Star Wars style canon: canon so long as it doesn't contradict. Alternatively, games, show and comic may all have different canons (like the DC films). I expect that in the game-'Verse, this is a canon answer. That doesn't mean the same is true for the show or the comics.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 12:54
  • Blake, I've incorporated this fact into my answer above, along with a discussion of the relevant canon. If you would prefer, I will remove my duplicated information - you did the research, you deserve the credit.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 13:02
  • As the comics and TV series are different in terms of what when who, etc, I'd imagine each has its own canon. C-Canon for Comics, T-Canon for TV and I don't know if the games try to fit one or the other or if it's just G-Canon. It's a little confusing. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 3:17

The answer is; I did, along with Robbie Martin, the on-set Scenic. This is a production photo of the turn around shot, the second set of doors I did for the hospital set.

Notice the font is different? This version came from the Comic, that we used mostly as story boards. At the last moment, someone decided that, whoever it was that painted it? Wouldn't have taken the time to find a brush, so the spray-painted version was done to camera. It was a bit of a running joke on set "Who painted those doors?" to which they would reply "Johnny, or Robbie, depending on which one of us was around".

enter image description here

Robby's version, fatter to cover mine. You know when we did this, all we were thinking about was how awful this old gacky hospital was. And if we would get a disease for just being there! Who knew that that the show would turn into anything...

enter image description here

Looking back, it was really pretty work, given the time frame we had to produce it in, this is nice!

  • 5
    Great to hear from someone involved in the creation of the show. I hope you'll check out the other questions in the Show tag to see if there's anything else you can shed light on!
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 8:40

This can be seen in The Walking Dead Webisodes: The Oath.

The character Paul sprays "Don't Open, Dead inside" on the doors to the kitchen. He sprayed this after recovering from near death and escaping walkers (or decays lol), to find his friend Katrina dead, killed by lethal injection from a nurse.

The real crazy thing is that this would make that before Rick wakes up, possibly making Rick there still in a coma while all this took place.

  • 1
    Why is that crazy? Rick wakes up in the first episode and finds the door with the writing on it. If he was in the hospital since before the breakout, it would stand to reason that he would be laying in his room when the warning was written.
    – phantom42
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 2:33

The military could have been keeping them in there prior to shooting them. There are bodies lined up outside the hospital and evidence that the military was there. It seems like the military was shooting the walkers and placing the bodies there. It's right after Rick uses the matches to find his way out of the hospital using a stairwell. Also, in a later episode it shows how Shane went to check on Rick. The military can be seen in the hospital as I recall.


There's no reason to guess, AMC explained this ages ago in The Walking Dead: The Oath.

The Walking Dead: The Oath is a three-part web series based on the television series The Walking Dead. It aired in its entirety on October 1, 2013, on AMC's official website.

This series tells the origin of the "Don't Open, Dead Inside" paint on the cafeteria doors of the hospital Rick Grimes awakes in, post-apocalypse. It follows Paul and Karina as they escape their zombie-overrun camp in search of a medical station. The central theme of the series examines the will to persevere in the face of inevitable death.

  • So it was Paul and Karina who painted it? Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 8:52
  • @Gallifreyan: Paul, according to the older answers by Blake and Brandon.
    – chirlu
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 10:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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