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In The Walking Dead, why aren't there more children zombies?

37

I suspect that in the Walking Dead universe there are the expected number of zombie children roaming about, we just don't see them in the TV show (I haven't read the comics so I can't comment on those) for a couple of out-of-universe reasons.

  1. I imagine working with adult actors is easier than working with child actors. No need for parental consent, less restrictions around working hours, etc. If you need a whole host of extras to act as zombies, adults are just less hassle.
  2. The audience is more likely to be comfortable seeing an adult zombie being killed than a child zombie. While they're reasonably dehumanized, the show having zombie children walking around and being killed by the survivors in every episode is likely to put some viewers off.

Plus, honestly, who wants to see at least one of the group agonize over killing a child in every single episode?

  • 5
    Agree that the idea of child zombies would be a huge turn off for many viewers. I believe they exist 'in universe' however the producers felt this was an area they just didn't want to go – user13789 May 10 '13 at 14:09
  • Agree with being easier to work with adult actors. They already had a zombie actor take a swig of water in the background of one scene. The Walking Dead Honest Trailer on Youtube pointed out that one. – grumpasaurus Oct 23 '13 at 15:50
  • The whole point of the series is to groan about ambiguous moral decisions... and then shooting the zombies of those decisions. – Mark Rogers Dec 3 '13 at 15:31
37

Getting your grub on, as a zombie, is a competitive sport.

And like most competitive sports, the strongest and fastest persist and continue to feed. The zombies in the Walking Dead have not had enough explanation given to their movement, their continued existence or how they retard the destruction of their now barely-living flesh but if we were to consider them viable, if undead, organisms, the reasons we don't see more children becomes more apparent.

  • If the lives of the undead are sustained through the consumption of flesh, child zombies are at a disadvantage. Smaller, slower, and weaker simply by being children, they get less flesh to eat, have to work harder to get it and will be pushed aside by larger adult zombies with greater strength/mass (such as it is) to work with. With that in mind, they will eat less often and thus have less fuel to work with.

  • Child zombies have less mass so their rate of decay may actually be faster because there is less of them TO decay. Given they weigh half of what the average adult does, I would expect them to decay faster, lose flesh faster and during cold weather, freeze faster and more solidly than their larger counterparts. If brain destruction is part of the process of rendering a zombie dead, a child brain should freeze faster than an adult one because there is less zombie flesh and bone to get in the way.

  • Humanitarian (again, a relative term) parenting: If people were able to suss out that dying meant coming back as a ravaging, flesh-crazed attacker of the living, parents might opt to put their sick children down upon death (chopping off heads, impaling brains, or shooting them in the head) to prevent them from rising up. This act of kindness/self-preservation, may be the simplest and most effective reasoning for the lack of child zombies from an in-world prospective.

  • Other answers have tapped the production rationales for not seeing as many child zombies. Workload, scheduling, parents, school schedules and the like.

  • 2
    Do Walking Dead zombies eat each other? If so, that'd be an even stronger factor driving your first bullet. – Dan Neely May 9 '13 at 17:12
  • I would say they don't prey on each other because if they did, their numbers would diminish over time much faster because there are more of them than their are of us. So there must be something about US as food which makes them chase us first. Since Michonne could use zombies as cover, there must be something about us that makes us their preferred food. – Thaddeus Howze May 9 '13 at 17:20
  • It's pretty clear that they don't need to eat, they are just driven to. For example, note all the instances of zombies being encountered after a long period of isolation. – jhocking May 9 '13 at 19:54
  • Needing to eat and being able to exist for a long time without eating are not mutually exclusive. Since no science has been done and we are likely never to know for certain, all we can assume is they attack, they eat, and derive something from it. Since they exist far longer than normal human bodies with a reduced decay rate, there must be something happening even if we don't necessarily understand it. If I were a scientist in their world, I would make no presumptions without testing it. As far as we can tell, they defy a lot of the rules of dead flesh. – Thaddeus Howze May 9 '13 at 19:59
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    One more reason: Children have shorter legs than adults. All else being equal, they will walk more slowly and be unable to keep up with the large herds of adults we see roaming the landscape. (There could be slower-moving herds made up of children, which would be unbelievably creepy, but we haven't seen it in the show for the obvious production-related reasons.) – Royal Canadian Bandit Feb 20 '14 at 12:18
30

Single-serving children don't leave enough corpse to become zombies.

In the Walking Dead universe the primary way one becomes a zombie is to be bitten by a zombie and expire from the ensuing infection. The thing is, it was the intent of the zombie that inflicted the bite to eat said individual. One must possess the wherewithal to end one's encounter with a zombie in few enough pieces to become a viable zombie oneself. Defenseless, bite-sized children are unlikely to escape said encounter alive and unlikely to be enough of a meal to satiate a zombie before becoming an unreanimateable collection of bones.

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    I had actually written your response in addition to my own. I read it to my My wife and she said I was going too far and it was kinda gross so I took it out. I guess great minds DO think alike. And she's right, it IS kind of gross when you think about it. – Thaddeus Howze May 10 '13 at 0:14
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    Good thinking though it begs the question, why are there any new zombies if one zombie can eat one person and all their brain tells them to do is eat? – n00b Dec 6 '13 at 20:08
4

So far I think they've had 1 zombie kid per season... Season 1- the little girl Rick killed in the 1st scene, Season 2- Sophia and Season 3- Penny. Season 4, they are pretty much implying "all bets are off" & there's a lot more people at the prison now that came from Woodbury, mainly Women & kids, because The Governor took all the others with him to attack the prison & ended up killing the ones who ran, so with the population at the prison, you might see more of it this season...

2

I think it is mainly an production decision. People (especially parents) are likely to respond negatively at seeing children's corpses walking around eating people before being shot in the head.

As an example I can cite my wife. She was never a big WD fan but once she saw the Governer's daughter she was unable to watch the show again and does not even like me talking about it (we have two young children ourselves) - luckily she missed the one about Sophie and I was able to lie to her about what happened.

2

When zombies bite children, they do not just bite, they eat it all!

  • Not necessarily, when Abraham's family was eaten in season 5, the majority of their bodies were intact... – Neffer_23 Nov 22 '14 at 20:24
2

It's probably mostly a production thing. As a mother myself, it tore me apart to see what happened to Sophia, whom we were given time to bond with as a character. It shocked me to see what Rick had to do to the little girl in season 1. Over time, maybe, I've become a bit desensitized to the zombie slayings (Penny didn't bother me) but the scene of the empty carseat on the highway and bits of flesh scattered ripped through me. Mothers, especially, would struggle to stay with the show if too many kids were eliminated, either by attack or shot after zombification. Sometimes I have to pause and take a break from it as is; I can't imagine that I'd be able to keep watching if there were more kids in it.

  • Utterly agreed! My used to watch the show until she saw the governor's daughter, now she can't stand even being in the room if it is on! – Stefan Dec 2 '15 at 21:50
2

They are in good part waist high or shorter and just get overlooked. Not only that but when a zombie starts eating kids they don't leave a lot to be turned as they can be eaten more quickly especially in a crowd.

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