The Walking Dead is overflowing with danger. The very nature of a zombie apocalypse, after all, is inherently dangerous. There’s nothing safe about living in a world where everyone who dies comes back as an essentially mindless creature with one thing on their mind: eating your flesh. But the show’s characters have shown time and time again that they can usually hold their own against a zombie or two—even the ones that have that pesky habit of popping out of nowhere to surprise them. And several locations in the series have shown that fortification against zombies is possible—the prison, Woodbury, even apartments can be a somewhat stable place to live in. At the surface, then, it might seem like things aren’t so dangerous, as long as you watch your step and find a good place to stay.
But the real dangers in The Walking Dead are not lone zombies popping out of bushes or lurking in the hallways of an apartment high rise. The real dangers are far more intense—and getting a lot more problematic for the characters.
A “herd” refers to a massive group of zombies which travel more or less together. Not only do these zombies travel in groups of dozens, hundreds—even thousands—of walkers at the same time, but they are attracted to sound and noise. A gun shot miles away can lead a herd of hundreds of zombies towards a home—as season 2 showed us. As more people die, the herds become even larger. While the group can take a dozen zombies finding their way into the prison’s gates, they won’t be able to take on hundreds of them.
The human characters in the show can be just as dangerous as the dead. As the Governor storyline has shown, people are not always going to band together to help one another out—it’s “kill or be killed,” and some other groups will have no qualms about killing other people in order to get their supplies or even their “home.”
Health is often the last thing on the group’s mind. But illness and disease—as season 4 has shown—can kill just as quickly and unmercifully as walkers and rival groups. Without access to hospital care or even a regular pharmacy, even a “mild” problem like the flu or infection can kill.