In the first season Shane says that Rick died and had no heart beat. That in itself would qualify him as "dead."

So how is it that Rick has not turned into a walker, while

Shane and Randall both died of non-bite- or scratch-related deaths and both turned to Walkers.

I thought it could have been that it wasn't airborne yet, but Jenner told Rick about it in the first season. Jenner also mentioned he was put down there in the beginning of the outbreak, so if he knows it’s airborne, then it must have been since the beginning.

So is Rick immune or the key to a cure, or am I overthinking it?

  • 8
    Having no heartbeat doesn't, in and of itself, qualify him as dead. – Jeff Mar 7 '14 at 4:54
  • Oh my god, Rick is immune to the virus and already 'turned' alive. – Secret Apr 3 '14 at 17:07
  • 2
    Shane was probably lying, never expecting to see Rick again. – Meat Trademark Jun 12 '14 at 18:59
  • 1
    I always thought that Shane just couldn't feel Rick's heartbeat. That doesn't mean that Rick actually had no heartbeat, it just means that Shane couldn't find one in his rushed and panicked state. – ZenLogic Jun 11 '17 at 1:03

If I remember correctly, test subject 19 (Jenner's wife) turned only after being brain dead. It seems likely that brain death is the defining criterion for death, not the stopping of the heart.

So, following this definition, Rick was never dead to begin with.

  • Hm, I just saw that @Jeff posted the gist of my answer as a comment on the question six hours ago. - I'll let mine stand, though, as it adds a little info. – I'm with Monica Mar 7 '14 at 11:29
  • A lot of people have died with various ways and turned. Also, if your hearts stops and doesn't start to beat again, won't your brain die also? – Shevliaskovic Mar 7 '14 at 11:30
  • 2
    @Shevliaskovic Yes, the brain would die of the lack of oxygen that results from not getting any fresh blood to the brain, wouldn't it? But a stopped heart will only lead to death but isn't death itself. - German organ transplantation law, for example, requires a donor to be dead, defined as "finally and irreversibly ceased function of cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem" (translation by me). – I'm with Monica Mar 7 '14 at 11:40
  • Anyway, look at Lori for example: She died in childbirth and turned – Shevliaskovic Mar 7 '14 at 11:56
  • 2
    Brain death is when the brain dies. It usually happens shortly after the heart stops as the oxygen supply is cut off. If you die from other causes you still experience "brain death". – Tim B Mar 7 '14 at 14:29

I wouldn't count Shane as a reliable source considering he was in love with Rick's wife. He had motive to lie; to save face and to "justify" his sleeping with his friend's wife.

Shane was probably lying, never expecting to see Rick again since he was leaving town with Lori and the others.

  • 4
    It's also possible that Shane was just mistaken. Taking a heartbeat is something that takes a decent amount of skill, and Shane wasn't exactly in the most calm frame of mind or possessing of the best training in first aid. A weak or thready pulse could have easily been missed. – Jeff Mar 7 '14 at 4:54
  • 1
    @Jeff - Technically as a police officer he should've known/been able to check Rick's heartbeat properly. This what always pisses me off when it comes to shows starring or containing police. All police are trained in basic first aid, which includes checking heartbeats - 1-2 fingers along the carotid artery (the one in the neck) is the proper way. – Robotnik Mar 7 '14 at 5:09
  • @Robotnik: Sure, they're trained. But training has to be kept up. If you don't use it, you lose it. In a stressful situation, training can be forgotten. This is especially true when the training has been unused for a while...and Shane didn't exactly do a stellar job when Rick got shot, now did he? – Jeff Mar 7 '14 at 6:02
  • 4
    @Robotnik: The (fictional) sheriff's department of King County, Georgia may not be as strict about first aid certificates. Or maybe Shane barely passed his first aid recertification and then forgot most of it; and given that the dead had risen, society was breaking down and he'd just seen soldiers murdering unarmed civilians, we can forgive him for freaking out a little. Or maybe he failed his first aid course and persuaded his good buddy Rick not to fire him for it. Whatever the explanation, I'd say Shane being rubbish at first aid is both plausible and dramatically justified. – Royal Canadian Bandit Mar 7 '14 at 9:51
  • 1
    @RoyalCanadianBandit - Still, I don't know if there's a level of being scared/crap at first aid you have to be at to use your ear instead of your fingers – Robotnik Mar 7 '14 at 10:03

Well no one can answer with certainty, as this has never been explained neither on the TV show nor the comic.

The only logical explanation is that Shane lied to Lori and Carl OR Rick's heart actually stopped for a while, but the doctors where able to save him.

Also, on the comic book, it is mentioned that every person takes different time to 'turn' since he is killed (not bitten). So, Rick might have died for a few seconds/minutes, but he was stronger than other people and didn't turn immediately and the doctors brought him back to life, wired him up and then left/died.

Lastly, Rick has mentioned quite a lot, that everyone is infected. We haven't seen anyone who has died (whichever way) and not turn. As far as we know, no one is immune.

  • Also, a stopped heart doesn't imply death. – Andres F. Mar 7 '14 at 13:08

Here is my opinion. . Rick was shot and Hospitalized before the outbreak.. I believe that the cure actually was within all patients that were in the Hospitals that were on Oxygen. Being on Oxygen at the time of the release of the Virus into the atmosphere. Those patients did not absorb it so there for their blood was not infected. When the dead started killing and things went into a panic. Patients were either killed by walkers or by people or the military from the outright panic of what was happening. Being Rick is the lone survivor of the Hospital and he was on oxygen while being a patient. And that Carl was given a blood transfusion and It was Ricks blood. Both Rick and Carl are immune to the Virus. If this is ever discovered by a Doctor examining blood samples with a Microscope.He may discover the difference between infected Red Blood Cells and Red Blood Cells that are not infected by the virus. Pure Oxygenated Red Blood Cells not infected could or would look as if they have a Outer Halo around them as of a protected shield. This could probably be discovered by the Doctor using a colored glass slide in order to cause the Halo to stand out and be noticed. With questions from the Doctor to Rick about what happened differently in his life at the time of the outbreak maybe a key to figure out the cure. The only way Carl or Rick can be infected is just by being bitten. If they were shot or stabbed and died. They would not change over and become one of the Walking Dead.


I assume this was before Rick "woke up" in the hospital.

He shouldn't be infected at that point, should he? I thought the infection needed to "spread".

  • Everyone is infected. It is assumed that the infection spread throughout the entire population shortly before the dead started walking. And the apocalypse did not start in Rick's town. – BitNinja Jun 12 '14 at 17:54
  • Hmmm... let's say the first person who turned died @ time/date=t1. The anyone who died before t1 wasn't infected yet, right? (otherwise THEY would have been the first one to turn). And not everyone would be infected immediately (there had to be time for the virus to spread) I thought Rick "died" before t1 (before most people were infected). – Clay Nichols Jun 12 '14 at 21:29
  • We don't know if there was any news of the walkers before Rick was shot. We should assume that there was not, meaning that this took place before t1. Unfortunately, we don't know anything about this infection, therefore it is possible that Rick was not infected yet. But, with so many people around him who were bitten, including zombies right outside his door, it can be assumed he was infected. – BitNinja Jun 12 '14 at 21:58
  • As a patient (probably in intensive care since he was near death) he should have been isolated with everyone following Universal Precautions to minimize infections of any sort including the Walker "disease" – Clay Nichols Jun 14 '14 at 2:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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