The Walking Dead, Survival Rule Of The Week: Complacency

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Karl Makinen as Richard, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Karl Makinen as Richard, The Walking Dead -- AMC /

We’ve seen people grow used to zombies in The Walking Dead. It’s inevitable in a zombie apocalypse, but, never lose sight of how dangerous the dead can be.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article providing counterpoints to WhatCulture’s “Nine Problems With The Walking Dead That Nobody Wants To Admit” video. The first amongst those problems addressed was the fact that the zombies simply aren’t really presented as a threat anymore on the show.

While this is certainly true, I argued that part of the reason for it was simply that, over time, survivors of a zombie apocalypse would, frankly, get used to zombies being around. It’s just natural.

Think about this: When we’re introduced to a bad smell, over time, we just adjust to it. After long enough, for one reason or another, we just get used to the smell and move on; A similar thing is bound to happen with the undead in a zombie apocalypse, eventually.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, The Walking Dead — AMC
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Extended time having to survive attacks by the dead will eventually numb us to the sight of them. Some zombies may look worse than others, or they may be of someone we knew before the outbreak, but, barring those, eventually, they’ll be no more unusual of a sight to us than the crows that feed on them.

And that is the problem I want to tackle today. You see, between writing my counterpoint article and last week’s Survival Rule Of The Week, it occurred to me how critical of an error getting complacent with zombies can be.

Now, obviously, you don’t want to be perpetually terrified of them, as you will likely end up powerless to stop them if they decide to bite you or somebody else; That said, you can’t just pretend zombies are harmless, either.

That last statement might seem unnecessary, but, remember, I’m talking about after you’ve been spending weeks, months, or even years surviving a zombie apocalypse; It’s inevitable for the shock of their existence to wear off at some point.

Karl Makinen as Richard, The Walking Dead — AMC
Karl Makinen as Richard, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Why am I saying all of this? Well, because, no amount of adjustment to zombies is ever going to make them stop being dangerous. Sure, being used to them means you’ll know when and how to fight them, but, at the end of the day, they can still kill you with one bite.

In fact, and, I know this will sound counter-intuitive, but, I think not being afraid of them at all is actually more dangerous than being at least a little bit afraid of them.

Again, this might sound counter-intuitive, as I often rail against being a chickenshit who’s terrified of zombies, but, terrified isn’t what I’m asking for. No, what I’m saying is, in order to truly survive a zombie apocalypse, you need to be a little afraid of the undead, just enough to have a healthy respect for what they can do.

Let me give you an example…

Katelyn Nacon as Enid, The Walking Dead — AMC
Katelyn Nacon as Enid, The Walking Dead — AMC /

You may recall during Enid’s origin story in The Walking Dead season six episode, “JSS”, we caught a brief glimpse of her with her parents during some unspecified point in the apocalypse. Enid served as lookout while her parents attempted to hotwire an SUV.

As her parents fumbled around trying to start the car, Enid warned them that walkers were approaching, but they ignored her. While Enid watched the walkers approach from the front, several more emerged to her left, surprising her and her parents. Enid managed to hide in the SUV for safety; Her parents…weren’t so lucky, as the dead  devoured them in front of her.

You see, I think Enid’s parents had reached a critical and, frankly, dangerous point in their apocalypse experience: They became complacent.

Enid’s parents clearly weren’t afraid of the walkers anymore; If they had, they’d have grabbed Enid and ran like Hell the moment she warned them. They clearly hadn’t reached that “healthy respect” I mentioned earlier, either. If they had, they’d have killed the walkers or led them away and doubled-back for the SUV; Neither of those things happened.

Ethan Embry as Carter, The Walking Dead — AMC
Ethan Embry as Carter, The Walking Dead — AMC /

That, ultimately, is the problem with not being afraid of zombies: It lulls you into a false sense of security.

Once you’ve reached that point, it opens the door to recklessness; You start thinking you can handle anything they can throw at you, and so, that critical alertness you need to survive erodes, and you take unnecessary risks when the dead are present. All it takes is one mistake for what appeared to be an easy situation to get completely out of hand, and people start dying.

So, what can you do? It’s tricky, as being too afraid of zombies can make you incapable of fighting them, and that’s just a death sentence; Conversely, not being afraid enough can leave you vulnerable to surprise or ambush by zombies because you underestimate them.

What you need to do is strike the balance. You need to know that you have to fight the dead and have to make your way through them from time to time. However, you need to also remember just how dangerous zombies are. You need to remember that you don’t need a million zombies to kill you. All you need, is one.

When you know or even suspect there are zombies around, be careful. Take in all of your surroundings and make sure there aren’t any hiding behind, on top or underneath wherever you might need to be. If you hear them, don’t just ignore them and go back to what you were doing; Assess the situation and make sure that, if you decide to continue what you’re doing, it won’t leave you open to an ambush.

You need to stay alert. You need to stay vigilant.

This is why you followThe Rules.

Next: The Walking Dead, Survival Rule Of The Week: Vigilance

And that’s our survival rule of the week!! Hopefully, it will help you should you ever need it and give you that mental edge that will prove so crucial once the dead start eating everyone.

If you like this and want to find out more rules to survive the zombie apocalypse, why not pick up a copy of my book, The Rules: A Guide To Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse! You can get it on Kindle here and on iTunes here!