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Fear the Walking Dead numbers game

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader


The series The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on TV with up to 17 million people watching each episode. Over the last five seasons we’ve learned a lot about what happened after the zombies came to dominate the planet but not much of what lead to their takeover.

We do know that at some point between the time character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was shot and wounded on a seemingly normal day and awoke a few weeks/months later in an abandoned hospital is when society fell apart and the ghouls with a taste for people took over. And other than a few flashbacks in other episodes that’s it.

Now the new The Walking Dead spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead is set to go back and tell this missing history of how the zombies ate their way to world domination from the very first bite.

Which got me thinking; if what happened in The Walking Dead happened in real life how would it go down?

First, let’s assume that at some point at the same time all over the planet the virus in The Walking Dead that turns anyone who’s died for any reason into flesh eating zombies strikes. And from that point on anyone who dies will reanimate and come looking for lunch. Which would be bad news for us since 56 million people die each year which means at a minimum there’s be 56 million zombies on the planet!

Well, actually no.

It’s true that on average something like 56 million people die every year but that’s over the course of an entire year. In a month about 4.6 million people die, in a day around 153,000. Which again is a lot, until you look at the population as a whole.

Currently, there are more than 7 billion people on the planet. And that’s 7,000,000,000 people who’d be against 153,000 some zombies the first day. While the zombies might have surprise on their hands since I’m assuming that in the universe of The Walking Dead there’s no movies like Night of the Living Dead to prepare the populous on how to fight and destroy the beasts (“If you have a gun, shoot ’em in the head. That’s a sure way to kill ’em. If you don’t, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat ’em or burn ’em. They go up pretty easy.”), my guess is that 7 billion vs. 153 thousand would be able to take care of the zombie plague relatively quickly.

Especially since zombies aren’t smart or cunning. Once a zombie is created it doesn’t go around looking for other zombies to start building an army in secret, it goes out looking for regular people to bite. Regular people who probably don’t want to be bitten. Regular people who’d fight back.

And again, 153,000 might sound like a big number but that would be the total amount of zombies created world-wide on the first day + any people unlucky enough to be offed by them. To put that number into perspective, there are about 8.4 million people living in New York City where we’d see about 150 zombies created on the first day. Again, 8.4 million vs 150 is no match.

In a city like Fort Wayne there’s be something like five zombies created the first day. Five vs 257,000 is no match.

Looking at the numbers I just can’t see how the zombies took over in The Walking Dead? Maybe it was some crazed politician who outlawed killing zombies because he or she was afraid of losing votes? Or maybe people tried to ignore their dead friend’s pasty completion and penchant for cannibalism too long before the zombies started taking over?

I just don’t get it.

Realistically, I could only see something like in The Walking Dead happening if something else happened along side it. Like say a something like World War 2 where tens of thousands of people were dying every day in certain places where the population was already displaced and dislocated and not able to effectively fight the zombies. Or if something like the 1918 flu pandemic happened again that was bad enough that 25% of the population became sick, and in a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t be able to fight back, and tens of millions of extra people died as well.

Then we might be in trouble.

Otherwise, as long as we had enough heavy sticks to club the zombies with in the first weeks of an outbreak I think we’d be okay. Fear the Walking Dead is set to answer these questions on AMC Sunday, August 23. Visit me online at DangerousUniverse.com.

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