For example,

Abraham's family appear dead on the side of the road, apparently killed by Walkers. Well, their brains were intact - so they were killed/ripped apart....

meaning they should have turned also.... no?

  • Brains being in tact does not necessarily mean that they didn't receive enough brain damage.
    – phantom42
    Nov 12 '14 at 3:14
  • 1
    Also, turning is not always instantaneous (as with Shane, for example.) It looks like Abraham found his family very shortly after they left - probably within a few hours, or a day at most. It's quite possible that they would still turn, if their brains were indeed undamaged. (I'm guessing the down-vote is because of the spoiler-y contents.)
    – Chahk
    Nov 12 '14 at 15:18
  • My understanding was that, in TWD, you don't turn until you're dead. I think it was established early on (when they found the medical research bunker in season 1, IIRC) that they're all infected with the zombie virus. It just doesn't activate until death. This is different from most other zombie media, but everyone has their own take on the whole zombie thing.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 22 '14 at 22:58

The rate of turning varies widely. Some people turn relatively quickly, others may take some time before transitioning.

  • There may also be mitigating factors in whether people turn, the most telling could be if they have experienced blunt force trauma to their heads before dying. Since we know from the time at the CDC, the transition to being a walker occurs in the brain.

  • If the brain is damaged by a fall or a forceful blow, the process may be interrupted and the body may simply never take on its semblance of life because the brain is too damaged to trigger the autonomic search for...whatever it is walkers are searching for...

  • I also imagine nerve damage may prevent walkers from rising since they appear to utilize the motor control system of the brain/body interface. Spinal injuries may also prevent such ambulatory movement (though the head may continue to thrash about...)


  • I also suspect the time of turning varies on the overall health of the individual and whether an injury causes sepsis enough to lead to eventual death. If sepsis and major tissue death or infection sets in, it is likely that a person will die and turn rather abruptly.

  • We have see that if sepsis can be averted, a person may not turn at all. Hershel was bitten but his leg was removed and cauterized which allowed him to live for quite some time without ever becoming a walker.

  • A healthy body makes for a healthy zombie. These bodies turn the fastest since whatever the viral or infectious agent within the body that causes zombification can get right to work converting the body into a means of pathogenic delivery.

  • Less healthy bodies will be less effective zombies, so people who are injured, weak, sickly or otherwise not in peak performance will likely become substandard zombies as well, taking a bit longer to transition.

  • Does the "rate of turning varies widely" explain why in the first season, no one turns when kill not by walkers ? We just didn't get the chance to see someone turn fast enough ?
    – Kalissar
    Dec 23 '14 at 12:01

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