When I write about something, I try to find an angle to the story. Although I may have an idea, and it may be a good idea, I won’t write about it until I discover the hook. When it comes to zombies, as much as I enjoy the genre, the hook may not be so obvious. The reason for this stems from the fact that the genre has a number of mysteries I have yet to answer. I’m sure someone out there has the answer, but I don’t.
Today’s Monday Mayhem feature will concentrate on describing what three of those mysteries are.
Do Zombies Die?—I’ll have to admit I haven’t watched or read all the zombie stories out there. Yes, I also feel it is a travesty. Other than Warm Bodies, where, after some time, the zombies become Boneys, and in The Walking Dead, where the zombies show signs of aging, no stories of which I am familiar address this age-old question. What happens to the undead? Do they simply shrivel into a fetal position and drool their life away? Or do they rot until there’s nothing left? I don’t have an answer.
Do Zombies Sleep?—One of the lingering questions that has gnawed at my bones, no pun intended, is do zombies take time to have a regular siesta? In the last act of the film World War Z, the zombies stand in one position not really doing much of anything other than staring into the distance. They jerk around, but still, they are awake. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a zombie sleep in either a film or any other story. Why not? Don’t they tire chasing after people? The way I look at it is they don’t need sleep. Sleep regenerates cells, repairs internal damage from ordinary use and refreshes the brain in order for the mind to stay sharp and focused. I think zombies have passed the point of staying sharp. I could be wrong, though. What do you think?
Do Zombies Poop?—This, to me, is the biggest mystery of them all. With the amount of meat zombies consume, one would assume they digest and eliminate much like their human counterparts. But that would fly in the face of logic. If the undead are indeed undead, their digestive tracts would not function, their bowel muscles would certainly not work as well. So what’s the answer? Are we the audience to believe zombies can eat a whole man and not push him out the other end? What happens to the material the undead ingests? My theory? I think it piles in their stomach and comes out without digestion. My rule of thumb? Gravity rules.
That’s all I have for now. If I haven’t written about a mystery you feel needs addressing, go ahead and add it. I’m sure I will write a Part II to this discussion one day.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
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What great zombie mystery do you find unsettling? Have you yet found a reasonable explanation?
25 thoughts on “Do Zombies Poop?”
So many of you have chimed in already. I would think that zombies don’t sleep, they just go into neutral, like a car, until food passes by, then they shift into eat and go after the person for a nice snack. As for their excretion, I would guess if they had rotted enough for holes to develop in their torso, much of it would simply fall out. If this was not the case, and a zombie had to actually poop, can you imagine Hollywood portraying a zombie squatting? Too PC… I agree with both the gravity and explosion theories. I think it would depend on how rotten our friend was. The newer the zombie, the more likely to explode, unless the zombie had horrific torso wounds from his making – then all bets are off.
My, that was a very pleasant diversion. Thank you, M.
You’ve scrambled my brain !!
Love the head-grabbing headline, Jack! (Well, I never! ha-ha) My 2 cents’ is that since “suspension of disbelief” is already in effect with zombies, that almost anything goes with regard to whether they sleep, poop, fornicate, build rockets and travel into space, or whatever [it’s just that with movies, most of that is done or assumed or implied–or not even mentioned as it’s too weird or controversial–as being off-screen.]. Although, yes, biologically it doesn’t make sense that they don’t excrete anything after consuming all that meat and matter. They would have to or, as others have said, it seems that they would explode from the gas build-up. There’s a weird short story, can’t remember the author and the specifics, in the The Book of the Dead zombie anthology (ed. John Skipp and Craig Spector) I’m always citing, in which (if memory serves) a female zombie gets pregnant and gives birth to a normal human child. The father (also a zombie) is hard-pressed to take care of the child, but he does . . . but I think it does depict the mom-zombie and pop decaying and “dying” over time. [Okay, update. I looked it up online. I believe the story is “The Good Parts” by Les Daniels. If I remember correctly, its set in a pornography video store. I haven’t read The Book of the Dead, part 2–didn’t know there was one–but I do recommend the first, if one is into the horror/zombie genre… not to mention your books, Jack! And I am Legend, by Richard Matheson, is often cited as an early model in the zombie genre.]
FYI everyone that got back to me was certain that zombies, do in fact, poop. So I think we can put that challenging inquiry to bed finally.
The other side of the coin, however, is what if their stomachs have decomposed so much that the food falls out of their gut before hitting their digestive tract? Another mystery to ponder on in this great body we here call Earth.
In regards to whether zombies die, I think I’ve seen that accomplished in movies and such but it requires mega overkill (no pun intended) on the method – like say blowing the rotting buggers up. In regards to if they sleep, I think they do occasionally take a mini undead nap time every now and then – for some reason the zombie that appeared to be dozing off in a tank until Rick sat next to him in the first episode of The Walking Dead comes to mind. In regards to the third question, I don’t even wanna know. Zombies are mysterious supernatural magical creatures that never make a number 2 as far as I’m concerned. 😛
They poop and fart and snarl and eat. The only thing you note is that they are not dependable as far as work is concerned. They always have an excuse, like I bumped into my food and took a while for digestion. They also have been known for going to the pharmacy and get tums, they eat them after they eat the salesperson.
ok Jack I have given this some thought and what I have come up with is this. Zombies can’t die, their already dead but they do decay so eventually their bodies will break down to the point where they are just a pile of bones.
As for sleeping, I don’t think so, they do go into a sort of catatonic state when there is nothing around to stimulate them but they don’t need to sleep, they don’t get tired and their bodies don’t repair themselves during sleep so nope don’t think they sleep either.
And as for poop, what goes in must come out but I think it would be more gravity assisted rather than a conscious thing and undigested because their digestion no longer works, so that’s a yes and a no to poop.
And Jack I have to say, you come up with the most interesting questions. Nothing like stirring the old grey matter with zombie issues first thing in the morning. Looking forward to the next conundrum you bring me. Have fun.
That is my goal, Vicky. To keep everyone on their toes, never knowing what will come out of my mouth! 😉
I never really thought of it because I don’t think Zombies really eat the flesh. I think it’s a chewing thing because all their organs are dead. Oh wait, I don’t believe in Zombies except for the brain dead people in Congress.
If the digestive system doesn’t function properly they’ll either suffer chronic diarrhea or constipation. If it’s the latter they’ll probably explode when the build-up of gases becomes too much. And that would also answer point number 1.
My own mystery is regarding David Icke’s belief that the world is run by lizards. How do these lizard people rule cold climate countries without hibernating?
The Silurians used heat from thermal vents in the areas below Earths crust ( Silurians are reptilian beings who ruled Earth before humans, whom they regard as ” upstart apes ” in the Doctor Who universe. ).
Aha! You are David Icke and I claim my prize…
No, I’m The Doctor. I’m looking for a new companion since I tossed Clara out of the TARDIS. 🙂
Oh no, not Clara…
Yep. I don’t know how my predecessor put up with her. 🙂 Just chucked her out, I did.
Hilarious! I’m glad I’m not the only person who’s wondered about this. What goes in, must come out, even if you don’t know the difference because you’re already dead, gross, and stinky.
Oh wow, now I will have to ponder this one! Do they poop? hmm…and I, too, have wondered do they decay eventually? I mean, they eat, and yes are dead but obviously there is some body function. I don’t know. Been too busy stocking up ammo, swords, daggers and food for the coming zombie apocalypse.
Do zombies sleep ? I believe in The Walking Dead it was stated that their activity slowed down during Winter months. They don’t need sleep as we define it, since their neurological activity is practically non – existent, but they would need to conserve energy. As to eliminating waste – That’s better left to the imagination ! I would say their digestive processes are pretty much non – existent as well
Do zombies have any vestigial memories of their former lives & / or traces of their personality ? Maybe when their brain matter is newly undead & their synapses can still function, after a few hours pass, their higher functions degrade then stop & they’re basically animalistic.
Forget the crovel, the way to defeat a zombie is to feed it so much meat it pops.
Reblogged this on Bookshelf Battle and commented:
We don’t like to talk about it, but scientifically speaking, the removal of waste is an important biological function.
It’s not only necessary for sustaining life, it’s a sign of life itself.
In short, what goes in, must come out.
Zombies are, by their very definition, dead.
But they eat. Specifically, they want to eat you.
Say we’re in the zombie apocalypse. You’re the slowest member of our pack and a zombie eats you for lunch.
We did our best to help but you know, this is the zombie apocalypse and shit happens.
But does that shit happen for a zombie? Because if a zombie eats you, me, and a dozen other people, eventually it’s going to get pretty crowded in there.
In short, if zombies don’t poop, then eventually the principles of science dictate they must reach a critical mass after which their zombie bodies can no longer hold in matter and then they explode, a sea of consumed body parts exploding everywhere.
Author Jack Flacco posed this very intriguing question on jackflacco.com
Check it out, 3.5 readers. As God as my witness, I will not rest until this very important question is answered.
– Bookshelf Q. Battler
I think the ‘death’ one depends on the type of zombie. A parasite might create some biological processes to maintain the host indefinitely or at least for a few hundred years. It does bring up the question that ‘if zombies die or gradually decay then why can’t humans wait them out?’ After all, a zombie would probably decay at the same rate as a normal body. That is unless the consumption of meat doesn’t regenerate the body and there is an internal process that basically ‘replaces’ the damaged areas with the ingested material. After all, there are many stories where zombies seem to decay when they haven’t eaten in a while.
I agree with your thoughts on zombie sleep.
Maybe the first answer goes for the pooping too. Everything is used to replenish the constantly degrading body. Then again, I do remember a few movies that had zombies drooling greenish black, brown, or pure black goo. Never knew what that was and now I’m regretting eating breakfast while answering this.
Now that is an unusual angle!
Ha, you caught that, eh! 😉
Sir, you have blown my mind with these important questions.
Do zombies poop?
On one hand, they’re dead so one would assume no, they don’t engage in the various life sustaining activities, the removal of waste from the body being one of them.
On the other hand, if they don’t remove it, where does it go? To constantly consume flesh would eventually lead to a buildup of eaten flesh in the zombie’s body and if some of it isn’t removed then the zombie must eventually explode.
Perhaps they do and the movies just never show it.
My god, you have truly stumbled upon the great question of our age. I am going to ponder this some more.