After wondering about the issue for 5 years, yesterday I came across an apparently canonical statement about how many humans are still alive in The Walking Dead universe. The promotional blurb for the tenth issue of the comic book1 reads as follows:

After the ordeal Rick has endured last issue, he sets out to find safer shelter. More is learned about the zombies that now out-number us 5000 to 1, but when it comes to some things, it's better not to know. Rick begins to wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel his life has become. Even if there is, how can he ever expect to make it there?
- Source

I am a bit surprised that I didn't notice this statement before, because I have been reading the comics religiously since just before the show began, and I have kept up with them ever since.

I'm also surprised that the situation is so dire at such an early stage. A zombie-to-human ratio of 5,000:1 means that there are only 1,400,000 people still alive worldwide, as compared to 6,998,600,000 zombies. In the United States, the figures are even more alarming: Only *60,000 people are left to fight against 299,940,000 zombies.

My question is:

Is the 5,000:1 ratio mentioned in the comics or on the show?

1For those who are curious about how this statement relates to the timelines of the comics and the show, In the tenth issue of The Walking Dead, Carl has just been shot by Otis, and the group is led to Herschel's farm for the first time.

Comic Book Timeline:

This issue takes place in the winter, several months after Rick wakes up in the hospital, and shortly after the incident at Wiltshire Estates. Tyreese, his daughter, and her boyfriend have just joined Rick's group.

Television Series Timeline:

This corresponds to the second episode of season two, which takes place about a week after Rick wakes up in the hospital.

  • If these numbers are correct, humanity as we know it is over. The species won't die out, but the knowledge base of the human race is lost. We are returning to a hunter-gather society. I doubt these numbers are correct because if they were, in less than three years, all the zombies will be dead. The series works better if the ratio is significantly less, allowing more people to continue to die, in order to perpetuate the continued zombie menace. 1800:1 would be a more interesting ratio as it still gives opportunity for pockets of humanity to fight and new pockets of zombies to form. Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 2:27
  • @Thaddeus - I'm curious as to why you say that the 5,000:1 ratio means that the zombies will die within 3 years. I don't see any correlation between the two.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 2:44
  • @Thaddeus - I can't help but speculate about what you meant. Is it an issue of the zombies' food supply running out? Since they don't digest, that doesn't matter.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 2:59
  • 2
    Okay. Let's agree to disagree. Each movie and book will cite different numbers and have different author's perspectives. Since a zombie apocalypse would be the worst thing imaginable, I will bow to anyone who deems themselves more knowledgeable than myself on the subject. Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 9:03
  • 1
    I think part of the appeal of the story is that we don't know. For all we know, entire nations or regions held off the zombies (like Israel in World War Z), or maybe everyone Rick and company have met are all that's left? Not knowing how much civilization remains not only adds mystery to the story, but leaves the writers open to explore new storylines with new groups of survivors.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


I've heard the 5'000 : 1 ratio before but never heard of it in neither The Walking Dead nor Fear the Walking Dead TV series. I've not yet come to read the comics.

However, a short google search and then following links revealed a ComicBook.com Article:

"It's about 1.6 million humans total, worldwide," Kirkman wrote in the Letter Hacks section of The Walking Dead issue #177. "There are VAST dead zones out there. There's like TEN people living in all of Montana. Canon."

It would IMHO also be highly illogical for the survivors to know how many zombies there are compared to the survivors. For that, not only a census would be required but also a walker-count, which is probably not really a possibility.

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.