Robot 6

How many people are still alive in the world of ‘The Walking Dead’?


Although the creators of The Walking Dead comic and its hit television adaptation have kept the story fairly narrowly focused a ragtag group of survivors, questions about the state of the rest of the world gnaw at us like, well, ravenous walkers. How many other groups like Rick’s are there in the world? Heck, how many people are there?

Matt Lieberman at SourceFed takes a stab at the latter question, cautioning that there’s “a fair amount of assumption involved in my final number.” That said, he does some pretty impressive work in establishing a timeline for the zombie apocalypse, arguing that the outbreak began in January 2012.

But how could that be, if The Walking Dead premiered in October 2010? Well, acknowledges your skepticism, but points to the pilot for the companion series Fear the Walking Dead, which not only featured Apple products introduced in 2011 but depicted character in winter apparel (in a school that lacked any signs of holiday decor). Hey, it’s pretty tough to argue.


With that more or less established, Lieberman takes the global population at the time (a little more than 6.9 billion), and applies the ratio of zombies to humans provided by Robert Kirkman in The Walking Dead #10 (5,000 to 1) and arrives at the estimated number of people still alive when the outbreak went global: 1.4 million, give or take.


But, wait, he’s not finished. Taking into account that, of the 347 character introduced on The Walking Dead, 252 (72.6 percent) have died, Lieberman settles on an incredibly precise worldwide tally: 382,885 survivors. That, he notes, is less than the population of Arlington, Texas.

Of course, by the time it took to read that post, the number has probably dropped by at least a few. Oh! There goes another …

(via Buzzfeed)



That doesn’t really account for a number of factors in the premise of the ways zombies work on the show – particularly it taking place on the North American mainland. Generally, within more geographically isolated locations (like small islands or remote places in mountains) zombiism should be manageable – you only have to worry about people dying through conventional means and not external zombies coming in.

The other thing is I maintain that guns actually make things worse in a Walking Dead style zombie scenario and the US will have a far higher density of guns than most other large land areas – a weapon which there is finite ammo for in the world, needs reloading, needs specific scavenging for ammo, is realistically emotionally easier to use against other humans and actively attracts zombies when used is going to make things a lot worse in North America, particularly in cities where there was a higher human population, thus, more zombies.

Weird how, with such low population density, Rick et al can’t seem to turn a corner without running into some despotic black hat…

Mark J. Hayman

March 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

@Herb W

It escapes me offhand, but there’s a line from a post-apocalyptic type movie to the effect of “Who do you think is going to survive, the nice people or the bastards?” The actual quote is pretty far removed from that but you get the idea. And don’t forget that were Rick to lose Coral he’d probably become the blackest hat on Earth; he’s veered pretty close to the Dark Side even with the lad to keep him relatively sane.

That guy doesn’t know percents. 1,397,390 is 0.002% of the world’s population.

@ Mark J Hayman

What Herb W means is that with so few people around, it’s amazing how many people Rick DOES run into, good or bad. He referenced the bad because, of course, they are the ones who add drama to the story, but the main point is that with so few people apparently in the world, Rick and company should hardly ever run into anybody alive.


Actually, it’s 0.02%.

Mark J. Hayman

March 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

@Adam B

You’re absolutely right; though I didn’t miss Herb W’s point, I did completely fail to address it. In the hundreds of miles between Woodbury and Alexandria they didn’t encounter many survivors (maybe ten?) and the handful of communities they came to know, even at their peak (pre-war) totalled perhaps a couple of hundred people, many or most of whom had gravitated to the vicinity probably for the same reason that Rick decided they should continue after Eugene’s revealed duplicity. With luck and good or strong leadership (and dramatic licence) the communities hung on despite the odds but, again, it was never that many people considering the population of the Baltimore-DC-Philadelphia corridor and the proximate eastern seaboard megalopolis. That’s my theory and it’s much, much thinner at the other end. Ahem.

A much more important question would be this:

Why are the zombie corpses not rotting?

At this point they (those turned at outbreak) should be so rotted they’d be falling apart, unable to shamble, let alone attack.

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