6 Wаlkinɡ Deаd Inсonsistenсies & Plot Holes Creаted By Zombie Vаriаnts

The Walking Dead’s zombie variants were a fun way to spice up the series and increase the stakes; however, they have also led to many inconsistencies.

Daryl Dixon holding a gun next to a group of walkers in The Walking Dead


  • Zombie variants in The Walking Dead create inconsistencies and plot holes in the franchise, undoing the groundwork laid in earlier seasons.
  • Variant zombies appeared in the first season but disappeared until season 11, making their presence and absence difficult to explain.
  • Few characters in the series have actually encountered variant zombies, and their origins and capabilities still remain a mystery.

As The Walking Dead universe continued to grow and develop, zombie variants proved to be an exciting new addition but also came with many problems. The concept of zombie variants revolved around the idea of creating new versions of the usual walkers found throughout the franchise. Rather than having typical slow-moving zombies, the series introduced smarter, faster, and stronger walkersThe Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon even added acid zombies, showing just how unique and versatile the undead had become. While these additions created some bigger stakes and fresh problems, they also created inconsistencies and plot holes throughout the franchise which haven’t been fully addressed.

By introducing variants, The Walking Dead essentially rewrote its own rules. The zombie apocalypse setting makes it hard to create concrete ways in which the world works, but the show did a good job of doing this early on. Establishing that everyone was infected and that a bite wasn’t necessarily fatal if the limb was amputated, created a clear way in which zombies and the threat they posed worked. Destroying the brain being the only way to kill them also became easy to understand. Now though, variants completely change what zombies are capable of and undo the groundwork the series had done previously, producing many inconsistencies within the franchise.

6 The Walking Dead Had Variants In Season 1

Variants Have Unintentionally Been Around Since The First Season

While it might not have been the show’s intended plan, variant walkers have been around in The Walking Dead since the first season. Their inclusion certainly feels like a new addition to the series, but these variants first appeared in season 1. In the very first episode, Morgan’s wife had turned into a walker and managed to remember where her house was, looking through the front door. This would indicate she could be a smart zombie, managing to have some form of memory that isn’t present in other zombies. Some walkers also ran in season 1 and jumped fences proving variants have been around since the start.

Variant zombies in The Walking Dead season 1 create plot holes though, as their early inclusion in America doesn’t make sense considering their supposed origins and their absence afterward. The biggest reason they may have appeared in the opening season is because of the change in showrunners. Frank Darabont oversaw the first season and probably had different ideas as to how the zombies would work compared to those who took over. When Darabont was replaced, the zombies’ behavior changed, making the early-season walkers become variants. These zombies were probably never supposed to be variants, but since the show reverted to slow walkers for the next decade, their inclusion makes even less sense.

5 Variants Disappeared Until The Walking Dead Season 11

The Walking Dead Didn’t Feature Variant Zombies For Over A Decade

the walking dead zombies Maggie

What makes variant walkers’ season 1 appearance worse is that The Walking Dead didn’t feature them again until season 11. In the main series, they only appeared in the first and last season, making the gap in between questionable. This time gap is arguably the biggest inconsistency with these unique zombies. It could be forgiven if the show’s timeline was much shorter than the show’s production length. However, the time jumps mean that despite appearing early in the apocalypse, variants did just disappear for around a decade, proving The Walking Dead zombie variants make no sense.

There has been no valid explanation given as to why this is the case. Perhaps it could be put down to walkers slowly adapting and evolving, but this wouldn’t explain why they appeared so early in the series and contradicts their loosely explained origin. Walkers also tend to decay overtime since they still rely on eating flesh to properly function, indicating the idea of zombies getting stronger over time is illogical. It is unlikely The Walking Dead will ever address why variants existed in season 1 before disappearing for nearly 10 seasons, highlighting just how inconsistent their presence in the show is.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in cell in Walking Dead Spinoff
How Zombie Variants Are Made: Daryl Dixon Confirms The Secret Ingredient

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon has delved further than ever into the concept of zombie variants, and now, the spinoff has hinted at how they are made.

4 Most Characters Have Never Seen A Variant (Including Negan)

Only A Select Few Of The Show’s Main Characters Have Ever Seen A Variant

Given variants haven’t been very prominent throughout most of the series, it is no surprise that few characters have actually seen variant zombies. Season 11 did allow a few groups of characters to react to them, but this was still limited. Rick and Glenn escaped walkers that ran and jumped a fence in season 1. There was also a crew who witnessed a zombie use a rock to smash glass in the opening season. Outside these incidents, no characters besides the season 11 survivors truly witnessed the variants in action. Season 11 did prove to have more frequent encounters though, making the variants’ involvement more common.

Negan and some of the other main survivors witnessed a zombie climbing, leading to one of The Walking Dead‘s rare F-bombs. There was also a glass-smashing scene in the season 11 finale, where Daryl, Carol, and a few others witnessed the variants’ intelligence and Daryl would go on to see more variants in his spinoff. Aaron, Jerry, and Lydia also saw one of The Walking Dead‘s smart zombies in action, which Aaron was able to kill despite the group’s shock. By the time season 11 rolled around, a lot more survivors had become aware of them, but in the grand scheme of things, most of the franchise’s characters never truly encountered them.

3 Variants Were Supposedly Created In France

Variants Being Created In France Make Their Appearance In America More Confusing

Daryl Dixon next to Genet in The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

The Walking Dead has hinted at variants being created in France, making their presence in America puzzling. The Walking Dead: World Beyond proposed the idea that the variants were a result of human experiments in France, with an unnamed character accusing a scientist of potentially starting the outbreak and making it worse. While this was never confirmed, The Walking Dead revealed the strong zombies’ origins in Daryl Dixon. The spinoff shows the main villain, Genet, having her scientists experiment on zombies, eventually creating a dart that makes normal zombies much stronger and more violent.

This does appear to explain one type of variant’s creation but still leaves the rest a mystery. Genet’s experiments still seem fairly new, raising more questions as to how the smart zombies and burners were created. While this could all be put down to French experiments, it remains unclear. Even if France was where they were created, it wouldn’t make sense to have them suddenly appear in America. Very few people could have made the trip from France to America during the apocalypse, and the fact that variants appeared so early in the show continues to leave plot holes regarding their existence.

2 The Walking Dead Has Never Revealed The True Origin Of The Variants

There Is Still A Mystery About Variants’ Existence

Zombie injected in Daryl Dixon Walking Dead

The zombie variants’ French connection does give a brief explanation about some of their origins, but it doesn’t fully explore everything. If every variant was a result of France’s experiments, then it still doesn’t explain how they managed to make it overseas. Moreover, how they were created is still unrevealed. Genet’s dart explains why some zombies got stronger, a classic Sci-fi reasoning of an injection making something wilder and out of control. Smart zombies don’t seem to follow the same logic though, as there was no suggestion Morgan’s wife was in France, yet she seemed to become a smart variant.

Acid zombies also don’t seem feasible through a simple injection. Their creation must be more complex, something the series still hasn’t revealed. Considering The Walking Dead is only beginning to fully explore variants, it is understandable why they may still be a mystery. Perhaps in the upcoming spinoffs, more will be explained, especially as the CRM could have some sort of connection to it all. For now, though, the origins of these special zombies are still unclear, and it’s possible they are never fully explained, leading to further inconsistencies surrounding them.

1 Daryl Dixon’s Burners Make Zombie Tricks Impossible

Many Of The Walking Dead’s Survival Tricks Can’t Be Done With Burners

Daryl Dixon alongside acid zombie variant

The Walking Dead‘s burners make the guts trick impossible. The iconic guts trick that allows survivors to blend in with zombie hordes can’t be done with acid variants. Trying to walk in among a group of burners would result in the survivors having their skin burned since Daryl Dixon highlighted a simple touch can leave a nasty wound. Acid zombies also make The Walking Dead‘s Whisperers tactic impossible as they can’t wear burners’ skin without doing severe damage to themselves. Although these variants haven’t appeared in the main series, they do nullify some of the show’s most iconic moments, further proving the variant zombie problem.

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