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The Walking Dead - Why Does Hershel Have A Barn Full of Zombies?

Updated on November 21, 2011

5 Theories About Why Hershel Keeps Zombies Inside His Barn

If you aren't a fan of AMC's The Walking Dead, here's a quick summary to help catch you up to "Chupacabra" which was the title of last week's episode. A band of motley survivors in the midst of a zombie apocalypse find trouble when one of their members suffers a gunshot wound. The culprit, thinking he has only shot a forest creature, sends them in the direction of a nearby farmhouse where he is staying.

The owner of the farm is an elderly man named Hershel, pictured right, who uses his veterinary skills to patch up the wounded. He invites the group to stay, but only until their party is healed up, and as long as they meet all of his conditions. Within the first few days one member of the group manages to feed the shooter to zombies while another sleeps with Hershel's daughter. Oops.

Last week, during Season 2, Episode 5, we learn that Hershel's barn is locked up tight because -- it's full of zombies! AAAAHHHHHHHH! Why would he do this? Well, I have a couple of theories to share with you.

Sentimental Reasons

The comic version of The Walking Dead already explains that family and neighbors are among the "dead ones" in his barn. Perhaps he couldn't bear the thought of slamming them in the head with a shovel and ending what's left of their pitiful existence. Personally, if one of my family members wanted to feast on my flesh I'd have no qualms about taking them out. Maybe Hershel just couldn't bring himself to see them "die" once and for all.

Religious Nuts

Maybe Hershel is a religious nut. And if so, then maybe he follows the Good Book down to the letter, which would also explain why he's so hell bent on no unmarried couples having sex on his property. (Because like, married couples raising children in this mortifying existence would be perfectly acceptable, right?) Unwilling to commit murder in any form, Hershel instead keeps his people safe and the undead alive by safely storing the zombies away in his barn.

Cure for Zombie'ism

Hershel is a smart man. Maybe he has a secret laboratory where he spends all his off-screen time, working on a cure that brings zombies back to life. It could happen! If gaming enthusiasts can find a breakthrough in the cure for AIDS, why couldn't a hillbilly veterinarian find a cure for the zombie disease? Just because the Center for Disease Control failed in its scientific attempts to heal the undead doesn't mean that it cannot be done.

Food Source

Mmm, tastes like chicken! This phrase is used to describe so many things. However, I can't see this theory playing out because of the sheer nastiness of the odor reeking from zombie flesh. If you'll remember, in Season One our band of merry survivors coated their clothes in the stuff. The strong smell disguised the scent of their living flesh enough that they were able to walk through through a hoard of the undead creatures. But despite his initial, grandfatherly demeanor Hershel is looking more and more like he's about two bricks short of a full load, so who knows...maybe he is thinking, "Zombies -- they're what's for dinner!"

OCD Issues

That's right. Hershel suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He must control everything around him, or that poor man will go bat-poo crazy from the stress of it all. Let's think back. Hershel tells Rick something similar to: "You control your people, and I'll control mine." He won't let his twenty-two-year-old daughter make her own choices about sex. He doesn't even want the women sharing a kitchen to provide the entire group with a home-cooked meal! And he wants to "deal with" all the walkers personally. So he can put them in the barn, safely tucked away under lock an key, where they are under his...control.

Whatever the reason, last week's episode left my family in complete suspense. Unrelated home school science and social studies topics have segued into discussions about the barn full of zombies. We talked about it over yesterday's breakfast of pizza. And last night, when a storm knocked out power for a few hours, my thirteen year old at one point remarked that he was glad to be at home -- where there is no barn full of zombies. And then I reminded him about the cistern in the back yard. Muhahahahahaha!

Hey, thanks for reading this article! Your own theories and comments are welcome in the spaces below. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the episode!


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  • penelopae profile image

    Becky Muth 6 years ago from Harpers Ferry, WV

    Thanks! My youngest son, who is thirteen, got me into this series. On Sunday mornings we attend church, and on Sunday evenings we watch zombies. Can't wait to see which theory (if any of them) are correct!

  • Jools99 profile image

    Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

    Really enjoyed this hub. Hershel sounds like an archetypal conflict character doesn't he - he's going to be a difficult one for anybody to overcome, let alone Rick. He's the type of character you get annoyed at every time he comes on the screen, you love to hate him because he's incapable of listening and responding to reason. Voted up.