The Walking Dead

Daryl’s Spinoff Must Address Walking Dead’s Longest Zombie Plot Hole

The Walking Dead never properly explained the existence of Variant Zombies, but Daryl Dixon's spinoff show is now positioned to fix this plot hole.

Daryl’s forthcoming spinoff series needs to make sense of one lingering plot hole that The Walking Dead never justified when the show explained its mysterious zombie variants. For a series that lasted 11 seasons, The Walking Dead left a surprisingly high number of story details unexplored in its fictional universe. This was in part because of the nature of The Walking Dead’s plot. This narrative saw the show’s ever-changing band of survivors wandering the country, meaning the characters weren’t searching for clear explanations for the enigmas underpinning the undead plague. Instead, Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, and everyone else was simply eking out an existence, meaning many mysteries went unresolved.

However, another reason The Walking Dead didn’t explain everything about the show’s world had more to do with the franchise’s future. There are four Walking Dead spinoff shows in the works, and there might be even more projects in the pipeline due to the immense popularity of the series. It makes sense for these shows to delve deeper into some of the storylines that were only touched on by The Walking Dead. In the process, The Walking Dead’s spinoffs can explain away many plot holes that the original show opened up. In particular, Daryl’s spinoff might explain the biggest lingering problem with The Walking Dead’s zombie variants.

The Walking Dead’s Variants Can’t Be Evolving Zombies

the walking dead variant walkers tease

For the longest time, the zombie variants seen on the show simply were not explained. This changed in The Walking Dead season 11 when it was suggested that variants resulted from zombies evolving or learning. Season 11’s new zombie variant could conceivably be the result of some evolutionary shift among the undead since a long time has passed since the apocalypse at the start of The Walking Dead. However, on the whole, this explanation falls apart under scrutiny. After all, Rick encountered variants in The Walking Dead season 1, long before the undead could have had time to evolve.

This suggests that there could be a different, more thorough explanation behind The Walking Dead‘s variants. While The Walking Dead season 11’s explanation isn’t much of an answer, a better one is hidden in the franchise’s lore. A post-credits scene in Walking Dead: World Beyond‘s finale sees a scientific research team cryptically concede that they “made it worse,” which could translate to a tacit admission that they inadvertently created variant zombies. Since variant zombies display more intelligence than Lurkers or Roamers (and are seen opening doors, running, and using rudimentary weapons), they could be the results of this research team’s attempts to cure the virus.

World Beyond Hinted At A Different TWD Variant Explanation

Josh Hamilton as Lance in Walking Dead and Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis in World Beyond

The French man implied the variant mutation was due to scientists meddling. This explanation would better explain why Rick encountered a variant zombie at the beginning of The Walking Dead. It seems like these variants soon disappeared, only to come back later. While most of the zombies seen in The Walking Dead were either Roamers or Lurkers, the idea that variant zombies were a scientific anomaly caused by doomed attempts to cure the disease would explain why they only appeared occasionally in the series. This would also account for their increased intelligence, as scientists may have been attempting to restore human sentience in the undead subjects

Daryl Dixon’s Spinoff Can Finally Address Walking Dead Variant Zombies

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon

Daryl’s spinoff is poised to address this lingering franchise mystery for two reasons. For one thing, Daryl’s status as a fearless killer means the character is better equipped to take on variant zombies and live to tell the tale than most of The Walking Dead’s heroes. This means it wouldn’t be jarring or (unusually) unrealistic for Daryl to face off against them (meanwhile, although Rick and Michonne’s spinoff show features two equally adept killers, those characters have enough tangled plot threads to tie up already). Meanwhile, Daryl’s familiarity means his spinoff will need a hook, and new villains could provide this.

While the worst villains of The Walking Dead have always been the humans who the heroes stumble across in the show’s post-apocalyptic setting, the main threat of the show remains the wandering undead hordes. This is true of variant zombies, which are faster, smarter, and deadlier than Lurkers and Roamers. As such, The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon spinoff can reignite interest in a character that viewers might otherwise grow tired of by giving him a new villain to contend with, and variant zombies can ensure that this new threat will be scary enough to leave even Daryl’s future feeling uncertain.

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