Never let the truth get in the way of a good theory
The Walking Dead looms back onto our collective screens this weekend. The surviving troops look set to face further strife within the Alexandria safe zone no thanks to Rick's actions during the season five finale; a bloody, knee-jerk move that's guaranteed to land the group in trouble. And based on the trailers we've seen, season six looks to be dialling the drama up a notch or two.
To coincide with a fresh batch of episodes, we've delved into the show's loyal fanbase to drum up ten of the whackiest theories about the series. Some stretch all the way back to the early years, while some prophesize about the road ahead. Needless to say, there's a wealth of major spoilers for events in both The Walking Dead TV series - up to the season 5 finale - and the comic book series.
10. The virus is a cautionary dental hygiene warning
Let's kick things off with a topic most people fear with a dread that's unrivalled in modern society: dentists. No-one likes having their oral cavity poked and prodded by a pair of latexed hands, and so one Redditor suggests that the zombie virus is a result of poor dental hygiene. And that recipients of a zombie bite are doomed. Which, we already sort of knew. However it's well argued that walker blood doesn't appear to faze the survivors one bit; but what about their gnashers?
Think about it, Michonne's two leashed walker pets have their jaws removed and the Governor's sadistic walker fight club includes toothless zombies. On this evidence, it seems the virus cannot be transmitted through the fetid flesh dangling from their decaying corpses but their teeth are deadly. Why? Because, according to ThirstyOne, "the zombie apocalypse infection is actually a highly virulent form of gingivitis or other oral disease, no doubt caused by poor oral hygiene in the world the story takes place in. The condition of the zombies is caused by the proximity of the rotting teeth to the brain." Might be time to schedule that check-up...
9. Rick's still in his coma
This concept picked up traction late last year when the folks at Uproxx collated a bunch of interrelated theories suggesting the same outcome for the show. In short? Rick is still in his coma. None of the series has actually taken place in reality, the characters we've seen him meet along the way are merely other patients he met during his intake at the hospital. The Wizard of Oz meets Dawn Of The Dead if you will.
Thankfully fans were not short-changed by the "it was all a dream!" rug pull as creator Robert Kirkman promptly debunked the rumor. “Rick is NOT still in a coma," he tweeted. "The events of TWD are definitely happening." He did set another intriguing idea into circulation. “But Carl and everyone else are all imagined," he tweeted moments later. "He actually NEVER found his family. He’s been crazy since he killed his first zombie. #joking?”
8. Rick is actually a zombie
Really? Granted, this is one of the more far-fetched ideas, along the same lines of "Rick's in a coma", but it's still worth considering. The whole thing is explained by suggesting that Rick and his son Carl are both immune to the effects of the virus. Much like any real-life outbreak not everyone falls victim or displays the symptoms of particular viruses when they take hold.
Over at Reddit one fan implies that Rick dies repeatedly throughout the show -- probably multiple times before we meet him, and once during the start of season 5 when Carl nearly ices him -- because the way his body's biology responds to the infection is to mutate. It's so far gone that whenever he dies he doesn't return as a zombie, he simply returns to life. He can never die.
7. Solar-powered zombies?
Have you ever been watching a particularly gruesome Walking Dead scene wherein hordes of zombies are chowing down on a screaming human being in the throes of death, and wondered... but, what if there's no humans for the zombies to eat?
Wonder no more! This theory is unlike many others in that it's based on some of the shakiest ideas ever passed off as "science." Basically, the walkers survive and remain mobile through the energy transferred to their withered carcasses via the sun. One theorist posits that they all run on solar power, like those garden torches everyone went mad for a few years ago.
The idea behind this is that the walkers require minimum sustenance to remain 'undead' and therefore the sun provides them with the necessary energy to keep functioning. There's a lot of talk about vital organs and whatnot, but seeing as they're dead, that seems a bit irrelevant no?
6. It's all a part of a larger alien event
In order to get the go-ahead from Image Comics -- who were unsure about another zombie serial seeing as so many had flopped -- creator Robert Kirkman told a little white lie. The whole zombie angle was just a lead-up to a much larger alien invasion event. It wasn't, and since The Walking Dead brand is now such a success that's not even a consideration.
That hasn't stopped fans from theorising about the origin of the zombies. Many believe that an extraterrestrial race were keen to reap the benefits of our planet's extensive natural resources, and so enacted plans to colonise Earth. By sending down a bioweapon to wipe out humanity that's untraceable.
5. It's all one great big game
This one really takes the biscuit. A wholly unique idea, this one was put forth again by a Redditor who claims that all plot points in the show mirror the gameplay of a tabletop board game. More specifically, The Walking Dead RPG game.
Each character on the show represents a token on the board and their moves are governed by some unseen players on the periphery of... rational thought, it would seem. Every season thus far is a series of plays taking place in the real world, with each player assembled around this hypothetical board responsible for their character.
Amusing parallels include things like "Partway through all of this, the person playing Andrea started to get fed up and started sabotaging the group so they'd be able to start over" and "Around this time, the person playing Beth gets sick of the game. The person playing Maggie is a terrible roleplayer who barely even knows she has a sister." Interesting...
4. The survivors are viewed as baddies within the series
During Tyreese's final moments he either hallucinates or manages to somehow tune in to a never-before-heard radio station. Either way the content of the broadcast -- delivered by Andrew Lincoln in his true English accent -- chronicles the events of a certain pack of people roaming the country and leaving behind a trail of destruction.
Mentions of late-night village raids with machetes refers to what went down in Woodbury, the cannibalism points towards the events in Terminus and mutilation of children would strike a chord with Tyreese after what occurred with Lizzie and Mika. There's plenty more parallels to the group's activities in the full theory rundown, yet the most interesting observation is that of the Survivors' moral leanings. The author suggests that while we viewers have a bias toward the group and their actions, it could be that the world -- and Tyreese himself -- sees them very differently.
3. The zomb-pocalypse will end very, very soon of its own accord
According to this theory all that Rick's gang need to do in order to survive the outbreak is very simple. Stay put.
Birthed off the back of comments given by the show's FX guru Greg Nicotero -- that each season he pushes forward the decay of the zombies -- this idea is steeped in the science of how fast a body decomposes. Apparently time on the show since the outbreak began is approximately 500 days and so a year-and-a-half worth of decay by cadavers above ground matches Nicotero's zombie effects.
In order for a human body in those same conditions to completely disintegrate it should take two or three years. This theory supposes that for all living humans to survive they just need to hunker down for about 18 months or so to wait out the main 'tide' of walkers, then pick off those who turned post-outbreak as and when they encounter them.
2. Daryl will receive the fate of another character
For those of you who really don't want to know the fate of a central character, we advise that you click away NOW!
Rumors have been flying thick and fast about the arrival of one of the most fearful characters in the comics: Negan. Leader of The Saviors, he and our survivors finally meet around issue 100, and to lay down the law he brutally murders Glenn with his baseball bat Lucille. It's really, really bloody. Creator Robert Kirkman flat out spoiled this on Comedy Central's Midnight show in a 'fake spoiler' segment that left some fans wondering if he might go through with it.
Well, despite the mounting evidence hinting at tons of foreshadowing throughout season five -- Glenn features in many scenes with a baseball bat -- the consensus has shifted with many believing that the show will swap out his grisly demise and give it to Daryl. It wouldn't be the first time this happened, as Tyreese originally died the way Hershel does onscreen. And, with Michael Rooker (who played the long-deceased Merle) spotted on set this could point towards some sort of post-death dream sequence for Daryl.
1. It's actually a Breaking Bad sequel
Way back in season two it was revealed that Daryl had in his possession a bag of Merle's stuff when he rummages around in it for something to help T-Dog. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted his brother's stash of crystal meth at the bottom. And it's blue.
Fans of AMC's Breaking Bad put two and two together as Walter White's legendary cook-offs resulted in his signature blue brand of meth. This would suggest that The Walking Dead follows on from the events of that show, with Merle having purchased his ice from Walt or one of his various runners. Seeing as both are owned by the same network it's not too much of a stretch.
And further evidence emerged in season 5 when Daryl had a heart-to-heart with Beth, telling her about his dealer. Describing him as a "janky little white guy" he goes on to say that he once dished out a threat: "He says, 'I'm gonna kill you, bitch'." Sounds remarkably like one Jesse Pinkman.