The fact that Walking Dead zombies used to be smarter has been discussed. (They used to do things like pick up toys, look in peep holes, open door knobs, unzip tents, and pick up rocks to break windows; but this last season they could not even reason enough to get in the prison fence.)

However, after season one episode 3, I don't recall ever hearing any more about the fact that zombies can smell people. That episode is the last time we ever see a zombie sniffing the air.

Am I forgetting something? Has the zombies' smelling ability come up again?

2 Answers 2


I don't think it has changed. How do you think all those zombies pile up outside of the prison? They smell the people in there.

Also, don't forget that they are zombies, which means they're not smart. So how could they get through the fence of the prison? The only thing they could think is just to push it and push it till it falls down (like it almost did).

Also, it would be good to add (this was mentioned on the comic, after they

left the prison)

that they are not smart, so if a zombie just randomly falls upon a door because it didn't see it, another zombie might think that it is trying to get inside because it smelled/heard something. So it would go there and help it. Then more zombies will see them and go assist them.

That means that zombies could get together for no real reason. (This might be why they were gathered at the prison).


If you are looking for an in universe answer, then it is possible that if a walker has been turned for a long period of time, then their senses and mental capacities would have been diminished. Their brains are actively decomposing, and they are clearly controlled by their brains because walkers are destroyed when their brain is sufficiently damaged.

An out of universe answer would be that the rules for walkers changed after the first few episodes. They definitely appeared to be more organized and intelligent in the beginning. This answer could be subjective since the survivors were much weaker and untrained compared to today. Now walkers pose little threat to the group and the real enemies have become other human groups.

  • As we see in the Season 5 premiere, they clearly still have a sense of smell. Oct 30, 2014 at 14:34
  • @DaveJohnson that's true, Carol disguised herself in the premiere by covering herself with the smell of a walker. I don't dispute that their sense of smell is still there. I was just saying that the longer a walker is around, their senses would most likely diminish over time. I can't imagine that their vision would be good at all. Oct 30, 2014 at 14:56

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