Walking Dead breathes new life into zombie genre

Emily Phariss

Most people think shows about zombies are all the same; they believe that all zombie TV shows and movies centralize around a pandemic and those that aren’t infected attempting to survive. The main focus is the protagonist’s skill and their ability to save themselves in seemingly impossible situations. Although this might be a run-of-the-mill case for many zombie movies, it isn’t for The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead may have several parallels to these average undead TV shows and movies, but it is also chock full of drama, action, and more obviously, zombies. However, the protagonist’s main focus isn’t just surviving in this new, demolished world: it’s making sure that while they survive they are helping others. Humanity reigns over survival, with many different obstacles in the way. One of the main issues confronted in the show is whether they have the right to kill someone if they are on the verge of being undead or if it is wrong since they are still technically living. Many people have no doubt where their line stands on the issue and end up killing the newly infected person. Some of the characters in the show take it too far, killing almost everyone who has come into seemingly insignificant contact with any of the “walkers” (zombies).

Furthermore, they start to ask themselves if it is right to kill the murderers of living people. Some of the leaders in small bands of survivors clash with one another, which causes conflict. Psychological and physical warfare are conducted, leaving several people completely dead. But, since the stances on living have changed as a whole, people’s morality has shifted with it. People start to ask: if you murder a murderer, are you any better? Is the world any better? There is hardly any middle ground on this subject, a handful of people believe that only the purest people should survive and the rest need to be exterminated while others think everyone deserves a chance.
Children are being pulled and born into the world of undead. Some of these kids think the undead are simply still alive in another state of psychological being while others are murderous, angry at the world for allowing these monsters to take over. They are forced to learn to kill at a young age; many of them are mentally suffering from the guilt it brings to kill what seems to be living people. Even some of the adult characters feel tremendous guilt when killing a “walker” because they believe there’s hope to heal them eventually.

The moral conflicts like these are what make the show different and enjoyable. Conflict brings people together in an odd way, and in the world of ‘walking dead’, there are plenty of situations to help the groups band together. It is truly a world of kill or be killed. But, in a realm of life where all social structure has collapsed, the question is: would you run with the wolves and kill who or whatever was necessary to keep your life or stick to your beliefs, religion, and social standards?