The Walking Dead: Does the cause of the outbreak matter?

Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC
Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC /

The Walking Dead fans have long wondered what caused the dead to rise in the zombie apocalypse, but in the end does it really matter?

There was a moment at The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con when executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman joked that Breaking Bad’s blue meth caused the zombie outbreak. While this was very likely in jest, it raises an interesting question: Does it matter how the outbreak happened?

Eight seasons into The Walking Dead and fans still don’t know how the dead suddenly started walking. Early on, following a trip to the CDC in season 1, Rick learned that the best scientists in the country were able to discover that the virus was already in survivors, but that’s about it. After that revelation, no one has talked about what caused the outbreak. Eugene offered hope that a cure was being developed, but that hope was shot apart when he admitted that he was lying about being a government scientist.

Creator Robert Kirkman has been asked about what led to the collapse of society, but he’s not interesting in telling that story:

"I still maintain that’s not an important aspect of the story. I think watching Fear the Walking Dead, you’ll get a bigger picture of the world, but as far as digging down to actually find the smoking gun and realizing what that causes, it’s really just unimportant to the overall story. If we were to do a companion to The Walking Dead and it was about a bunch of scientists that were working to find the cure and finding out the origins, that would bore me to tears."

This leads us to wonder whether knowing what happened matters. Now that we know how far the world collapses, it would be hard to go back to the early days, before things fell apart, to see them fall apart again. That’s what fans got with Fear the Walking Dead, which offered a look at the moments immediately before and after the collapse of society.

Kirkman has a valid point about watching scientists developing a cure. That story could be interesting for an episode or two, but it’s not worthy of an entire show. It could work if the survivors find their way to a lab in Washington, DC and come across scientists working on a cure. That’s plausible. We could also see the members of the Fear the Walking Dead cast make a similar discovery, perhaps in New Mexico during a trip to Los Alamos.

As the show wraps up in subsequent seasons, it would be nice to wrap up the mystery, but it’s looking more and more likely that those answers won’t come because they really don’t matter.

dark. Next. The Walking Dead showrunners discuss origin of the zombie outbreak

What do you think? Is it important to know what caused the outbreak, or are we better off not knowing?