The Walking Dead season 11c thrills and shocks more with each episode. In the current episode 19, walkers/zombies with previously unknown abilities appear: The variants are smarter, stronger, and more agile than previously known. We explain where the variants come from and reveal a secret…
What’s going on? The final 11 season of The Walking Dead is currently running on Disney+ and can so far convince all along the line. In the newest episode 19, our friends had to deal with new intelligent zombies. They were already hinted at in a teaser of season 11, but we didn’t really expect such a consistent change. Or is this not a change at all and the new intelligent variants are just returnees?
The Walking Dead gets intelligent zombie variants – What’s their Origin?
What are the variants capable of? As we saw in the eponymous episode 19 “Variants,” some walkers, biters, zombies, rotten — Whatever — have special abilities:
- Variants can use doorknobs and latches.
- They climb over walls and onto roofs.
- Walker variants use tools like rocks.
- They think abstractly and have a sense of their surroundings.
- Help other zombies find food & overcome obstacles.
Our buddy Jerry almost had to bite the dust. A Walker variant climbs onto a roof where our friends are hiding from a horde. The walker grabs a rock and wants to hit Jerry with it, but he notices it in time and calls Aaron to help. Aaron thinks the walker is a whisperer, tears the skin off his face, and realizes: “well, ssshhhoot, that b*tch’s really dead!”
Are the variants new to The Walking Dead? No, there have always been somewhat intelligent zombies in The Walking Dead. We’re not trying to throw in a lesser-known story arc from the comics here. The Walking Dead TV series itself already presented this seemingly new walker variant in season 1 of the show. Let’s remember for a second: Morgan Jones and his son are hiding out with Rick Grimes in Morgans home in suburban Atlanta. Outside, hundreds of walkers march down the street, but one turns to the front door of the house. It’s a woman, Morgan’s wife to be precise, and she turns the doorknob of the front door.
Also in season 1, we can see a walker breaking the glass in a door with a rock. Thus, he opens the way for the horde to chow down on the heroes stuck on the roof. And once again, season 1: A zombie climbs over a fence and literally sprints towards Rick and Glenn. His friends stay behind the fence. So intelligent zombies and variants are not new to The Walking Dead, but where have they been all this time?
That’s why the variants haven’t appeared in The Walking Dead in 10 years.
Where were the variants until now? There is one in-universe explanation and one explanation for behind the scenes reasons:
- Where were variants in-universe? Aron mentions that he has heard stories of such zombies before. Until now, however, he thought they were nonsense. That is, the variants from The Walking Dead season 1 are not isolated cases. The reason for which the intelligent zombies are seen so often in season 1: There are simply more zombies in the big city, there was no walker migration (wandering herds) yet, and they all just freshly mutated. Meanwhile, we’ve survived 12 years since Atlanta and the walker are rotting, many millions should be dead, and rural densities are also lower.
- New show runners are to blame: Outside of The Walking Dead’s lore, the only explanation for the variants’ abstinence is the change in showrunners. In season 1, Frank Darabont was responsible for the zombies. Darabont wanted zombies that had some residual intelligence, could go back to familiar places and use simple tools. They were so far more dangerous than the slow nonentities of the later seasons. Darabont had to leave AMC at the time due to various disputes and freakouts. Subsequent showrunner Glenn Mazarra subsequently took over the ship, on whose deck there was now no room for clever zombies.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond showed a new variation of zombie as early as 2021.
With the end of the second season TWD: World Beyond, we looked abroad for the first time in the series history: France, to be exact. In the post-credit scene, a scientist looks at the notes of Dr. Jenner, who was researching a cure at the Atlanta CDC (Center for Disease Control) in season 1 of The Walking Dead. At the time, Jenner mentioned that the last active researchers were the French, and he was putting all his hopes on them.
However, the end of World Beyond showed, “Oopsi, bet lost.” The French have indeed accomplished something in zombie research. While they haven’t found a cure, they have unleashed a new variant of zombies on The Walking Dead universe. And this variant can use doors and tools, even run, and survives brain damage.
What does this mean for the spin-offs? For the future of The Walking Dead, the new intelligent zombie variants mean one thing above all: more excitement and a return to the danger of the show’s namesake, “The Walking Dead”. We are very excited about this and hope we could give you a better understanding of the new zombie variants in The Walking Dead with our TWD knowledge!