It was shown in season 1 by Rick and Glenn, and in season 3 by Michonne, that covering yourself in zombie guts is a pretty effective way of avoiding walkers. Sure it wasn't foolproof, but it was still better than trying to manouever your way around a herd of ravenous walkers without it.

So why haven't the survivors used this technique more often?

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    Would you want to cover yourself in zombie guts when you don't necessarily need to in order to get around? They've found other effective methods and generally haven't been dealing with large groups in close proximity for some time.
    – Tony
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 20:31
  • I don't recall Michonne showing them this. She showed them how to use zombies to protect themselves from other zombies. But, using the show's story line as my basis, I say that it's because Zombies aren't really the main story anymore. Zombies just happen to be around sometimes just to let us remember that we're watching a zombie show. I'd also say that because it didn't work in the first season (it started to rain) that there isn't a point in trying again. Plus, it was probably too gross for the audience. Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:16
  • Being on the farm, they didn't need to do this. Additionally, with the new method of using walker body guards, there is no need. Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:17
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    There's a lot of speculation on this site typically.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:42
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    Actually how does no one realise how dangerous it is to smear dead body's intestines on you?! They're obiously full of pathogens. The show is in general very lax with hygiene. Like people being sprayed with zombie blood all the time and nothing bad comes of it. The show at times seems to forget that microbes exist despite being invisible to the naked eye.
    – tee
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 13:18

5 Answers 5


I'm going to convert my comment into a better answer. Unless it's explained in the comic series, there is no explanation. But, if we look at certain facts from the show we can speculate as to the reason to a point that could make sense.

  • The first attempt failed (started to rain)
  • That type of scene may have been too much for audiences. It was pretty grotesque.
  • The group encountered a herd while on the freeway and hid under cars. They were left alone meaning that covering themselves with guts isn't necessary. More on this below.
  • Once they reached the farm, there was no reason to use this technique as they only encountered one or two stragglers until the very end but at that point, they could only run.
  • In season 3, they reached the prison and again, there wasn't any reason to use this technique. They wanted to clear the zombies from the yard, not sneak past them.
  • In season 3, Michonne shows us that you can "disarm" a zombie and use them to protect yourself. It's long lasting and effective without requiring you get all gooey.

The show has a set of rules for Zombies but there are several articles that point out that the show doesn't follow the rules at all times. In this article Are The Walking Dead's Zombies Following the Show's Own Rules? the author specifically points out the guts scene with contrast to the freeway scene. Rule #6 says "Zombies have poor eyesight but they do have a strong sense of smell." If that's the case why were they able to get by just hiding under cars? The response was

"The smell thing that we saw in the first season is really just a rudimentary sense [the zombies have] that we don't smell like a dead person in some way, so they have some sense of smell that enables them to differentiate people from zombies. But they're not bloodhounds, you don't see them walking around and sniffing, following their nose or something. So hiding under a car is going to work."

Which seems to contradict rule #6. I bring this up because if we examine the way the story is going, the show is no longer about zombies, but human interaction and society in a post-apocalyptic world. So it's ok if the rules are broken because zombies are just there every now and then to remind us how scary the world is.

Another question would be, why not wear zombie guts when going on runs? It would make runs far safer. If we go back to rule #6 and it's contradiction, it would suggest that only a small amount of guts should be sufficient to deter the walkers. But, this isn't a 2hr movie, it's an ongoing series so making every scene safe would be boring.

In the end, I say 3 points to consider an answer are

  • There wasn't another reason to do this
  • Zombies don't matter as much as they did in the first few episodes of season 1
  • Fear factor for audience

Of course, this is only speculation on my part.

Edit: Thinking about the contradiction to rule #6 again, even if it did start to rain on their first attempt, if they were able to hide under cars, why would a little rain cause them to become noticeable. A little guts should have been enough for them to get by. Food for thought.

Edit 2: Having reread the response to rule #6 contradiction, proximity could be a factor here. Covering yourself in guts may only be necessary when in very close proximity as they were in that scene, but hiding under cars and using disarmed zombies at a distance will keep them away. But, if proximity is the answer, why did Andrea get followed when walking back to Woodbury? She was further away from them than the group when they were under the cars AND with the noise of the truck, they should have been distracted away from her. We've seen members of the gorup walk past a single walker and not have any trouble.


That question was also directed to Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead comic book creator and also a writer for the TV show), in Talking Dead S05E08 (aired after S06E08 "Start to Finish", the mid-season finale*). His response was (paraphrased slightly):

Well, look. One, it's not very practical. Being in close contact with that material is also gonna cause all kinds of illnesses, aside from any kind of zombie-related nonsense. So you don't want to be doing that all the time.

Two, it's not going to last. You would have to be replenishing those zombie guts constantly because they're gonna dry out. They're gonna lose their nastiness. They're not gonna smell. It's just not a practical way to go about things.

* Where Rick's group attempts to escape a walker horde by covering themselves with walker guts.


If you've EVER smelt a rotting corpse you'd understand. You NEVER acclimate to that smell...EVER. We actually have a VERY hard time acclimating to that scent, and a few others (vomit comes to mind)...if we ever can.

Plus ANY open wound would INSTANTLY become infected and you would have to SERIOUSLY scrub after to prevent this. ANY mucus membrane (urethra, anus, eyes, mouth, nose...etc) would become infected regardless of scrubbing. You think MRSA is bad NOW...


For one, they couldn't touch the intestants or blood with their skin, or they'd get infected. So it wasn't an easy thing to do, time consuming, and tricky as well. They did it at that point, if I remember correctly, because they had no other options.

Secondly, because it wasn't fool-proof, it's probably too tricky. Better to move around freely than to walk slowly amongst the real zombies, I'd think.

  • This isn't correct. They get blood on their hands and face every episode. You're thinking of the rules from other Zombie movies/shows. It seems that in the Walking Dead, you only turn when bitten which means the disease is transmitted via saliva. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:00
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    I've seen this episode and am not mistaken with any other zombie movies/shows, but I'm not sure about this anymore... I remember some details wrong, I guess, but there was definately something they were extra careful about when smearing the blood on them. Mabye it was something like making sure they wouldn't get it in their eyes or something?
    – paddotk
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:04
  • It was because they didn't want to get it on their clothes. they made zombie suits from rain coats. The smell was terrible and they had a hard time chopping the bodies up. In other zombie related stories, contact with the blood of a zombie will result in infection especially with soft tissue areas such as the mouth, eyes and nose or any open wounds. In TWD, they freely slaughter walkers with knives at close range and hand-to-hand combat. While I haven't seen it enter their mouth I have seen it on the lips to a degree. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:08
  • If you think about it further though, everyone already has the disease iside of them so you don't even need ot be bitten, you just need to die and you'll change. so this might explain why they can touch it without getting "infected". Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:11
  • I haven't seen much of this show, so I don't know about that. Makes sense though :)
    – paddotk
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:13

The short and correct answer is simply that the characters in the show are not very strategic, make extremely bad decisions and have no fore-thought. The characters are like this to create drama. It is pointless to try to analyze, debate and justify their actions and decisions because they are built around creating tension and chaos while trying to balance some sense of realism and empathy.

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    "The short and correct answer?" Well, you don't lack confidence. Still, this isn't much of an answer to the question. It's more rant than anything helpful. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 5:28
  • Nope. It's a tight answer. If you want to run a successful TV show you need drama, success, mistakes and innovation. The zombie guts thing was a combo of all 4. If they were smart characters the show would be boring. So, no, I am definitely contributing a very valid answer to the question. If you consider it a rant and of not much help then you wrote a thoughtless reply before considering my contribution. If it is not helpful to you then maybe you should either ask what I meant by my answer or thought more about it. My answer's title was a bit of fun and spice. You sound boring and plain.
    – James
    Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 18:04

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