On Friday, Oct. 9, hordes of screaming fans descended upon Madison Square Garden in New York City to celebrate the red carpet premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and catch a glimpse of their favorite zombie-fighting heroes Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and Michonne (Danai Gurira). An estimated 14.6 million viewers then tuned in at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11 when the Season 6 premiere aired.
Just weeks before, its companion prequel series “Fear the Walking Dead” celebrated an estimated 11.2 million viewer average during its six-episode inaugural season, making it the most highly-rated first season in cable history. The first installment of “Fear’s” related web series “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462,” which premiered on YouTube on Oct. 4, currently boasts over 1.15 million views.
While zombies are nothing new, it seems that their prevalence in pop culture and society has increased exponentially since George Romero’s 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” staggered onto the big screen. However, gone are the days of pale corpses mumbling their desire for brains and victims simply running and screaming their heads off. The zombie offerings of the 21st century not only feature the most gruesome displays of blood, guts, and gore, but their would-be victims fight back with kickass, yet elegant coordination and expertise.
And fans are eating it up.
Interactive, zombie-themed attractions such as The Walking Dead Escape (San Diego) and The Zombie Run (events nationwide) are quickly becoming popular destinations for zombie aficionados to put their walker-fighting skills to the test.
Walker Stalker Con—a zombie, horror, and sci-fi convention that began two years ago as a grassroots, fan-based movement—has become the largest zombie-focused fan expo in the world with events scheduled from Atlanta to London and currently boasting an average attendance of 20,000 fans per convention.
Even the U.S. Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control have pandered to the growing horde of zombie-obsessed fans, rolling out zombie apocalypse preparedness PSAs and full-scale training exercises focused on stopping the flesh-eating fiends dead in their tracks.
Alas, it seems that zombies will continue to infect the population into the foreseeable future. With new zombie-themed books, movies, video games, and television shows arising every day and ever-increasing concern over the real-life possibility of societal collapse, the zombie genre will surely enjoy its immortality for generations to come.