While The Walking Dead did feature zombie variants throughout the show’s run, this guaranteed that a major plot hole would eventually become obvious to viewers. It is easy to see why the creators of The Walking Dead felt the need to introduce new zombie variants as the series wore on. While it was fun to watch various bands of human survivors repeatedly prove that people are the true monsters after the end of the world, this post-apocalyptic trope started to wear thin after a few seasons. Eventually, by the time season 11 rolled around, The Walking Dead needed to make its zombies threatening again.
This was no easy task for the show’s creators. Since both viewers and the show’s characters were familiar with The Walking Dead’s two main zombie varieties, Lurkers and Roamers, these didn’t pose much of a threat as villains. Lurkers and Roamers could be used to ground a tense set-piece on occasion, but the cast was well-versed in handling their attacks, so the undead villains weren’t quite as effective anymore. As a result, The Walking Dead needed to introduce smarter, faster, more dangerous zombie variants late in the show’s run. However, there was one major plot problem with this approach.
The Walking Dead’s Zombies Evolving Would Make No Sense
In The Walking Dead season 11, viewers were informed that the zombies are evolving or learning and that this accounted for the more dangerous variants that characters encountered. This makes sense since over a decade had passed since the show began. However, while Daryl’s Walking Dead spinoff might fix this plot hole, that explanation currently doesn’t entirely add up. After all, viewers already encountered variants back in The Walking Dead season 1 at the beginning of the outbreak. Like their later depictions, the variants seen in The Walking Dead season 1 were smart enough to use basic tools and could open doors, as well as move at a faster pace.
As such, viewers can reasonably surmise that The Walking Dead season 11’s variants are the same type of zombie seen in season 1. This puts the kibosh on the “evolution” theory since these zombies had no time to learn anything at the beginning of the outbreak. Some of the first walkers encountered in The Walking Dead fit the description of variant zombies, which necessarily precludes the evolution theory. Fortunately, The Walking Dead has another explanation courtesy of The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s finale. Unfortunately, this explanation doesn’t work either, as it contradicts itself due to a messy timeline.
The Walking Dead’s Zombie Virus Being Altered Also Makes No Sense
The closing scene of The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s finale features a post-credits sequence where a research team mysteriously admits that they may have “made it worse.” It is something of a stretch but, from context, viewers could surmise that what happened is that the scientists attempted to cure the disease that befell the walkers and instead created variant zombies. However, if the variant mutation was created by scientists (as is seemingly implied in this post-credits scene), why did it disappear for 10 seasons of The Walking Dead? There is no reason that, once created, the variant walkers would have vanished for years.
The idea that research scientists inadvertently created The Walking Dead season 11’s zombie variants is a better explanation than the evolution theory for two reasons. For one, this would explain how The Walking Dead depicted variant zombies back in season 1, as this could have been one of the team’s earliest experiments that escaped. For another, this explains why the variant zombies appear to have more advanced intelligence. While evolution could account for this, it would make sense if the research team was attempting to reawaken human intellect in the walkers they experimented on and created variants zombies in the process.
How The Walking Dead Should Explain Variant Zombies
The Walking Dead can explain the presence of variants zombies in a way that doesn’t directly contradict The Walking Dead: World Beyond. It is possible that the French variant virus created by the research team came to the U.S. shortly after the outbreak began, but there wasn’t enough of it to take hold. Years later, more survivors could have arrived in France and brought the full variant over with them, thus creating The Walking Dead season 11’s variant zombies. This would explain how the variant zombies seen in season 1 and season 11 ended up so similar since The Walking Dead villains suffer the same virus years apart.