22/09/2018 6:06 AM AEST

Ridiculous 'Walking Dead' Theory Actually Gets Some Support From Producer

Executive producer David Alpert talks “Walking Dead” theories and what to expect in Season 9.

Look, “The Walking Dead” is a TV show, so there are a few things viewers just have to accept. For instance, the lawns look a little too manicured given that it’s the apocalypse and all. And how is it that every car seems to have a full tank of gas?

However, one perplexing anomaly in the long-running AMC series may finally have an explanation:

How are zombies able to sneak up on people when they’re such loud goobers?

We see it happen all the time:

Zombies are loud mouth-breathers, and each one sounds like it’s gargling gravel. Despite this, living characters are ― somehow ― often taken unawares by the undead.

Characters repeatedly die by surprise attack, or, at the very least, get the bejesus scared out of them. They’re always like, “Oh, hi! Didn’t see you there!”

But maybe there’s a reasonable justification.

Two years ago, one brave soul on Reddit offered up a theory as to why zombies are able to sneak up on people:

In The Walking Dead, walkers can get so close unnoticed because the main characters are all suffering from a large amount of hearing loss from repeatedly firing off guns without hearing protection. 

During an interview at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, “Walking Dead” executive producer David Alpert voiced some support for the theory.

“I think hearing loss due to firearm use is a real thing,” Alpert told HuffPost. “I think when they attacked Sanctuary, when they attacked the Saviors, they fired off like a thousand rounds. That’s got to do some real damage to your ears.”

“They probably have low-level tinnitus,” he added.

The executive producer explained that the show hasn’t really delved into the issue of hearing loss, but said, “It’s a great reason people should wear earplugs when they go to concerts.”

“We should promote safe hearing so people don’t get eaten by zombies,” he continued. “It’s a public service announcement. Honestly, we’re here to improve peoples lives. That’s what the show is all about.”

Hear! Hear!

Along with the earplug PSA, Alpert hinted at what Season 9 has in store. And though Andrew Lincoln’s departure hadn’t been officially announced when this July interview took place, the producer opened up about the big changes viewers could expect.

Gene Page/AMC
Rick Grimes with his resting Rick face.

Besides zombies sneaking up on people, another question fans have had is about all the female zombies that appear in maxi dresses. Was there a sale on long dresses before the apocalypse?

Yes, there was clearly a sale, a clearance sale before the apocalypse. I also think we shoot in Georgia. It’s hot, so having something that’s breezy is probably pretty nice, and makeup takes about three or four hours to get into it. You probably want to be comfortable.

What was your favorite moment of Season 8?

I love pretty much anything with Shiva. Losing Shiva was really hard. Even knowing it was coming was hard for me, but honestly just the sheer craziness of Ezekiel and Shiva … I would say those are my favorite moments.

And speaking of deaths, what about Carl? Was his death any different before the final version we saw?

Oh, it’s a constant push-pull up until the day, especially character deaths. We take character deaths incredibly seriously because ... obviously we’re not killing the actor. We are, though, losing that actor from our life. Every year, we’re here. The show shoots from May to December basically, so ... it’s like letting go of one of your co-workers. You’re no longer seeing them, you’re no longer doing this. It’s a real decision everybody grapples with, so it’s constantly something. Especially [“Walking Dead” chief content officer] Scott Gimple, he agonizes over it to the nth degree.

So Carl’s death did go through changes before the final version with the zombie bite and Avi Nash’s character there?

Oh, yeah, but it’s that way with every death honestly. Everything gets looked at a million different ways to make sure we’re trying to give the most amount of respect to the character and to the actor and to the show.

What was up with those final Season 8 scenes? Are Daryl and Maggie really against Rick after he spared Negan’s life?

All relationships are complicated, but all the shit that they’ve been through ― I mean, look, he slit [Negan’s] throat. That’s like a big thing, and at the same time you’ve been in the trenches with this person, you thought you know everything about him and he does something different and really not explained. It’s set up, and there’s clues, so it’s not out of the blue, but it feels out of the blue when you see how that goes. I think they are a little angry. I think there are unresolved feelings there. They’ve been forced to live together and work together so long, but now there’s a little more space, so seeing how that blooms and blossoms, I think is an exciting thing to look at.

In Season 8, we saw a toxic sludge near a Savior facility that zombies may have been in. Are there toxic zombies running around?

I don’t think we’re doing any Toxic Avengers, but yeah there was definitely some weird looking sludge. I was not on set that day, and I was glad for it.

What are you most excited about for Season 9?

You’ll see that there’s a pretty significant look change to the show. There’s been an evolution as we’ve gone from the beginning of the zombie apocalypse to sort of stabilizing, and now here’s this bigger shift. The return of civilization and sort of how do you rebuild institutions and how do you look at the social contract in light of — for all intents and purposes we’re somewhere around, not Middle Ages, but pre-steam engine technology with hints and elements of more modern stuff — so how do you actually build institutions when you don’t have telecommunications? Who determines the law? Real basic things that are fundamental to all societies, really getting in there from a dramatic point of view. How does that affect people’s thoughts and actions? That’s the thing that gets me incredibly excited about this year.

What do you want to see happen in the future?

I used to say Carl would grow up and have kids and that his kids would take over with all his grandkids, so obviously it can’t work like that. But Judith, she’s a little ass-kicker. I think it’s possible we could see Judith grow up and take over the whole team.