In 28 Days Later, the infected weren't the undead species we see in The Walking Dead. Major West chained one of his infected soldiers up as an experiment, and at the end of the flick, we saw the beast slowly dying... Remember?
Meanwhile, The Walking Dead's walkers are rotting corpses controlled by a brain which manages — somehow — to reanimate itself, all while their bodies are still decomposing.
Here's what Season 2-3 showrunner Glen Mazzara said about the decomposition of a walker:
A walker would not starve to death, but the corpse would continue to rot so over months it would probably rot and fall apart... As we continue from season to season and those months turn into years, we do think that the older walkers would continue to deteriorate. But now we learn that anybody who dies becomes a walker so there would always be new walkers — fresh walkers.
You might assume that technical accuracy on the AMC show would come second to zombies getting smashed with crowbars and crazed survivors shooting aimlessly at each other from abandoned locations. However, the show's executive producer, Greg Nicotero, wants those corpses to decompose - and he damn well wants them to do so realistically. As we know, Nicotero is an absolute master at showing gore with special effects makeup, and if you don't believe us here's the evidence:
Okay, so she's far from cute, but Summer, the little girl walker from Season 1 of the show still has mostly human attributes. Nothing a couple of trips to the dentist wouldn't sort...
More evident sores and wounds start to appear on the majority of walkers by Season 2. Their clothing is also starting to deteriorate, heading towards that muddy brown color all walkers seem to favor in later seasons.
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Yep. He's definitely seen better days. Reminds me of the college beer pong aftermath when I woke up face-down in a garden, clutching a block of cheddar in one hand and an empty beer bottle in the other.
Is it a tree? Is it a zombie? Whatever it is, it ain't a "walker" anymore. Either way, I'm going anywhere near it - even if it is just a halfie!
Notice how later in the series, zombies fall apart like a well cooked joint of lamb falls deliciously from the bone. Because — inappropriate simile aside — that's just what would happen to the infected if they were left out in the sun for months..
Walkers began to get less steady on their feet in later seasons, stumbling more than usual, whether because they have less flesh to support them or because they've broken bones on random items they've come across. This little beauty was one of the Wolves walkers, and the lack of nose of cheek skin shows she's on her way to decomposing to nothing, though she has maintained most of her hair.
Season 6 we really started to see a lot of melt-y faced walkers, with large chunks of flesh having torn away from the walkers faces, and features such as ears, noses and eyes having disappeared completely. A lot more walkers also seemed to have lost their hair, with short-haired walkers left with thinning mops, and formerly long-haired walkers reduced to sparse, lank locks.
We also got a look at what might have happened to a person who was disabled when they died (similar to the disabled neighbor the Governor found way back in Season 4). Unfortunately, the walker in the apothecary was basically rotted away to nothing, her leg still in a cast.
By the time we've got to Season 7 the very first walkers to have turned are now around two years post-death, which means that they're looking seriously funky. While many have rotted down to the bone, others have bloated out. Often their skin is very loose and discolored, falling apart easily meaning that their limbs can basically be pulled off at will. It also makes it easier to put a walker down, with their brains more exposed than ever before.
So the next time you hear somebody criticizing The Walking Dead for having characters that don't evolve, bear this in mind and let them know how wrong they are!