On a surface level, “The Walking Dead” is a simple, formulaic show that doesn’t challenge the audience’s way of thinking too heavily. Zombies roam the planet, humanity is on its last legs, and so it’s up to a handful of survivors to make the best of a bad situation, eventually rebuilding society from the ground up. There’s action, horror, suspense, and drama along the way. Standard stuff. However, every now and again, AMC’s flagship title will present viewers with more nuanced themes than other forms of zombie media have, which has likely contributed to the show’s overall success.
In the grand scheme, “TWD” focuses a lot on what humanity needs to survive the apocalypse, but it doesn’t forget to address how certain individuals go about doing so. Some form loving communities that help each other out, scavenging for resources and sharing shelter. Others, meanwhile, prefer to take advantage of the chaos by instilling fear in those around them, allowing them to step on their supposed allies and become tyrants. In this way, “The Walking Dead” becomes a tale of morality and how abandoning it can make humans even more monstrous than the zombies that plague them.
Speaking of morality, here’s a fine example of a moral conundrum presented by “The Walking Dead” that left fans rather divided.
Could and should walkers be used as an energy source?
To call zombies — or “walkers” — anything other than a nuisance or a threat wouldn’t quite make sense. As wandering mounds of decay with an insatiable hunger for flesh, what redeeming qualities could they possibly have? As proposed by TilionDC on Reddit, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to use them as a means of energy. “Would it be possible to put them in hamster wheels to generate infinite electricity?” they wrote, prompting the members of the “Walking Dead” community to toss in their two cents on the matter.
On one side of the fence, some folks believe that this is an efficient way of keeping society running in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Redditor catwoahman recalls that on “Fear the Walking Dead,” walkers helped the survivors of Tank Town extract oil so it could become fuel. “At least they would be useful instead of roaming around eating people,” adds KramItFoo, and they do make a compelling point. Why not try to get something out of them instead of killing them or leaving them to their own devices to potentially worsen the outbreak?
Others in the “Walking Dead” Reddit community weren’t so keen on turning walkers into undead batteries. Minimalistmacrophage explains that there are ethical, personal, and religious issues with this concept, concluding that “generally no Benevolent Stable Society would accept such practices, not to say there wouldn’t be exceptions.” Sharing in this school of thought, Bermanator-Turkey127 notes that not only is this idea morally wrong, but the smell of decaying walkers is horrific, and their prolonged existence within a community could attract more.
Both sides of the aisle make strong points, but given how few “Walking Dead” settlements have used walkers as an energy source, it stands to reason that the anti-zombie battery crowd has largely won out.