Why do the Walking Dead Zombies only show intelligence in the very first episode?
I enjoy The Walking Dead, however one question keeps nagging me. The 'Walkers' are always shown to not have any intelligence or memory of having been human. This is for all seasons except the very first one.
In the very first scene of Season One, Episode One, we see a little zombie girl stop to deliberately pick up a teddy bear from the ground.
Later in the same episode we see a zombie apparently try to turn the door knob to get into Morgen Jones' house.
Also at Atlanta they can climb fences and used rocks to break glass.
After season 1 I do not recall seeing any such intelligence demonstrated by a zombie again.
My question is: are these initial displays of intelligence a discrepancy in the story, or is there a plausible explanation why the Walkers performed these actions?
Tough to put as an answer- but TV shows, especially ones adapting other works, often have 'bugs' in their initial episodes.
@Solemnity I also believe this to be the correct answer
great question coming from great observations. i was always bothered about the female zombie trying to go home but never really seeing that kind of stuff again . . . but i completely glossed over the little girl zombie picking up a bear.
Thanks @FoxMan2099 . I hope Season 4 may try to reveal some more insights into the Walkers later this year!
In the pilot we also saw zombies sitting in a burned-out bus. They had clearly not been in the bus when it burned, but what do you do when there's a bus standing at the curb? You get in and take a seat. These actions aren't intelligence exactly, they're more like sleepwalking.
Would that not actually provide more weight to the view that the pilot is actually an exception in terms of zombie behavior?
My take on this: The zombies in The Walking Dead have been decaying for a long time now. Behaviors that might have made sense at the beginning of the series, memories and normal human behavior, are now impossible due to progressively more decayed brains. It was only when a zombie was freshest that he or she was able to display human behaviors.
@JasonPatterson Good point, over time this has to take a toll on the brain and the longer you are a zombie the more you decay and go to more of a primal state. So anyone that dies now rarely lives very long passed turning to see if they still hold some of their motor skills. Muscle memory and cognitive thinking doesn't necessarily go away when you become a Zombie, if it did they would all just fall over and flop around. We could talk about this for years and never have an agreement.. lol
Zombies tend to follow instinct, but have been known to react to certain stimuli that do not involve food.
George Romero is responsible for the typical 'zombie rules', and his original trilogy set those rules. Zombies are slow and essentially mindless, they crave living flesh and prefer human, zombies are drawn to sounds and motion, zombies do not attack other zombies, zombie bites are fatal, and dead people rise as zombies (often changed to 'dead from zombie bites').
Even in Romero's original trilogy, he broke these rules whenever it was needed to make a better movie, as I've said before.
But there are some actions which are so automatic that they become instinctive. For instance, many people who drive the same route frequently don't need to focus on it. They'll frequently have their minds on other subjects, yet still drive safely and on the correct route. It's possible that different zombies retain different 'learned instincts'. Remember Bub from Day of the Dead? He was an outstanding example of a zombie retaining some learned instincts, even before the training he was given.
Further, in the 'Day by Day Armageddon' series the protagonist comes up with a theory of what he calls 'ten-percenters', noting that about 1 out of every 10 zombies seems slightly more capable than the rest. They retain some problem solving skills, can recognize patterns they've seen frequently, are better able to climb stairs or ladders, or something similar that sets them apart.
In a town that's been abandoned as long as Rick's home town, only the most capable zombies will still be present and successful in hunting. Thus, the ones we see that are most active are likely the highest-functioning.
Later in the series, when we're in areas with higher (or recently higher) populations, the most capable zombies just don't stand out as much (or got to the harder-to-reach, better defended 'food' first and have been head-shot already).
The concept that the zombies retain memories was a part of season 3, with the governor especially keen to know if any memory of the zombies past life still remained. I believe that the series has not yet indicated whether this is actually possible, although your answer provides a very interesting context to this with the idea that zombies could have different levels of ability, possibly taken from their past lives.
The most common and believable explanation is that all new Zombies show the same intelligence because they retain some of the intelligence that they had as humans. This explains why almost all of the zombies in the first season are fast because most are newly turned. You can see the same behavior in the newly turned Merle. As time progresses they will get slower and dumber. Although Kirkman has said they do not rot. Their cell structure is not replenished as it would be if they were alive.
Not sure about this one.. Merle (for example) did not demonstrate any intelligence, nor do any other 'fresh' zombies that come to mind.
The behavior demonstrated by the Walkers (Zombies) in Episode 1 of Season 1 was likely to be a discrepancy in the story writing as a result of being right at the beginning of production.
As pointed out by the User Solemnity, this is a relativity common issue in early TV episodes generally.
Therefore not too much should be read into the actions of the Zombies in the first episode.
In season 1 episode 2, as the walkers attempt to break through the doors of the department store, one male zombie is seen using a rock to break the glass. He would of had to deliberately pick this up to do so, right? I find it hard to believe that he would of had any emotional attachment to the rock, unlike the little girl with the teddy bear and Morgan's wife with the house.
Later in this episode we see walkers climbing the gate at the construction site, but when Rick and the gang first arrive at the prison in season 3 none of the walkers there attempt to scale a similarily sized gate in the yard.
Also in season 1 - I think episode 3 - a zombie unzips the tent where Carol's husband is sleeping, something which I consider intelligent behaviour for a creature with very limited activity in the brain. That walker chose to look in the tent for someone. Carol's husband was lying sulking, and he ddn't make a noise until after the walker had unzipped his tent. However by season 3 the walkers appear to just shuffle around until someone crosses their path. They never actively seek out someone unless that person has made their presence known.
It seems to me that the zombies have become much less intelligent as the show has progressed. This is either a deliberate part of their lore in-universe or the shows creators decided to make other humans the main threat to our heroes to keep it interesting. Because, let's face it, there's only so many times you can use a zombie attack to shake things up - even in a show about a zombie apocalypse!
These are valid observations, and they support the question, but there's no answer offered.
Zombies at first are still connected to their own self in a way. But as they continue to progress into a zombie they lose theirself and become the virus completely.
The failed experiment on Michael Coleman in season 3 pretty much proves that that isn't really true.
Agree with @phantom42 . Additionally, I have seen no evidence of any connection whenever anyone 'turns'. (End of Season 3, it seemed Merle still had some recognition of his brother, although there was no way to know for sure)
Robert Kirkman wrote on Reddit:
...In the beginning of the show we saw walkers do things like using a rock to help bash the doors in or turning a door knob, is there a reason we've stopped seeing them do that?
"Older zombies are less together and capable or doing things like that. Fresher zombies, which there were more of in season one, are able to do more than older, more rotted zombies.
As a result of decay, the part of their brain stem reactivated degrades over time, leaving them with the herd following behaviour and the drive to hunt out prey
As described by Eugene in the comic book, a herd is when a group of Walkers acts with a mob mentality. One zombie might brush his hand on a door knob, and another will see this and mistake it as an attempt to get in. Then he will beat on the door to get in, and the first zombie will see this and try to get in. This will spark a chain reaction. An example of this is in the start of the Season 2 finale where a zombie sees a helicopter and follows it to Hershel's Farm. -Wiki
That's what I was talking about. In the comics, Abraham explains herds, not Eugene.
I imagine that the impulse to eat overrides every other impulse. When the girl picked up the doll she wasn't aware of any food source so she did have the capacity of very limited thought.
The old guy that was alive and later died and became a walker wasn't able to react to those control stimuli because of the presence of food.
Not sure that I understand the reference to the 'old guy'
I found that strange and out of character for the show as well.
If we take the last episode of the first season, the doctor shows us that only the Walkers cerebellum and closer parts are functional. This is in charge of basic instinct and the need to feed, among other things. Without getting too technical into the medical part (as the whole argument for Zombies falls apart), it is unlikely that a Walker would even think to pick up a doll as that wouldn't satisfy any real basic instinct. However when the doctor is showing us the brain, we also see that there are synapses going throughout the brain, even partially. This could possibly lead to human-like responses if a certain area of the brain lights up long-enough. Perhaps a Walkers previous-self might shine through for just a second.