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All the Different Names for Walkers in The Walking Dead Universe

During 10 seasons of The Walking Dead and six seasons of Fear, the TWD Universe has seen many survivors and communities. In the fragmented world of the apocalypse, without a common government or system of information — like say, the Internet — the ties that bind the world have broken down, and that includes language.

While some of these characters live mere miles apart and speak the same language, they’ve developed different naming conventions. That’s especially true for the newest phenomena in their world: the dead bodies walking around, causing havoc and eating their friends. While Rick’s band of survivors settled on the term ‘walkers,’ there have been countless other ways to describe the undead even within the limited geographic areas his group has spread to in Georgia and Virginia.

In the newest TWD series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, which is set in Nebraska, it’s not surprising that there’s an entirely different nomenclature for the dead. They call them ’empties.’ With that in mind, we’ve collected all the creative ways the characters of the TWD Universe describe the flesh-eating monsters best known as ‘walkers’ across all three series for a brief refresher, beginning with the OG:

Walkers

Who Uses It?
Rick’s original group of survivors coined the term, and carried it with them wherever they went (or colonized depending on your perspective).

What Does It Mean?
The dead are walking around. They should not be. Thus, walkers.

Is It Accurate?
Not completely. Walkers crawl. They float. They roll. They shamble.

Did it catch on?
Yep. As Rick’s group wandered through Georgia and eventually settled in Virginia, they took their way of describing the dead with them. It’s now the dominant way of describing the menace of the undead within a variety of communities that previously used other terms.

Watch: The Epic Final Season of The Walking Dead Begins in 2021:

The Infected

Who Uses It?
Science types, including Dr. Edwin Jenner, and pretty much everyone early on in Fear.

What Does It Mean?
Well, people get a virus, die, and become undead.

Is It Accurate?
Definitely.

Did it catch on?
Not really. At first, this is what people called the undead, but it seems to have faded away quickly. It makes sense that, as society broke down, more clinical usages would die out and be replaced by earthier terms.

Empties

Who Uses It?
Residents of Campus Colony on the The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

What Does It Mean?
Jesus used the term in the comics, and according to Executive Producer Matt Negrete, the walkers are empty and that makes a good parallel to the show because Iris feels empty inside.

Is It Accurate?
Absolutely. Walkers are nothing if not empty husks.

Did it catch on?
Stay tuned, but since World Beyond is set years into the future of the apocalypse and the term is in widespread use in a developed society like the Campus Colony, the answer is likely yes.

Watch: New Trailer for World Beyond:

Roamers

Who Uses It?
When Aaron and the original Alexandrians led by Deanna appeared, this is how they referred to the dead. Up until that point, they had done an amazing job of keeping them out of their community.

What Does It Mean?
This is a pretty obvious one, as the dead mostly roam around, hunting for food (aka people).

Is It Accurate?
Not always. As with walkers, many of the undead are not exactly ambulatory, but still quite dangerous. Precision of language is important when labeling a threat like the undead.

Did It Catch On?
Not at all. As soon as Rick’s group showed up, this usage went right out the window.

Stinker

Who Uses It?
Connie, Kelly, Luke, Magna, and Yumiko refer to the undead this way when they first meet the survivors on TWD.

What Does It Mean?
Presumably because rotting corpses, like the undead, smell bad? This suggests walkers smell as bad as any other corpse, which puts an entirely new spin on the horrors of the apocalypse.

Is It Accurate?
If the above is indeed true, then definitely.

Did It Catch On?
Nope. The cultural domination of Rick’s group continues.

Watch: Extended Opening Scene From The Walking Dead Special Event:

Lurkers

Who Uses It?
A variety of survivors, mostly early on in the outbreak, especially in Woodbury.

What Does It Mean?
It refers to a specific type of the undead who sit around immobile, looking like a corpse (i.e. not walking or roaming) and then attack.

Is it Accurate?
100%.

Did It Catch On?
Lurkers seems to have died out early in the outbreak, but it should come back as it describes a particular type of walker, or non-walking-walker to be exact, very well.

Floaters

Who Uses It?
The core group, with the first known case being at Hershel’s farm when they encounter the infamous, grotesque Well Walker.

What Does It Mean?
This describes water-bound walkers.

Is It Accurate?
Mostly, though floaters can do other things such as thrash, bite, and be torn apart into grotesque, bloated bits.

Did It Catch On?
It’s been a while since the group used this one, but it’s possible they just haven’t had the opportunity to do so as it’s a highly specialized case.

Geeks

Who Uses It?
A few members of the original members of Rick’s group: first Daryl, then Glenn, Shane, and T-Dogg.

What Does It Mean?
That’s an open question. Daryl could’ve been mocking the undead by calling them geeks like a villain in an ’80s high school movie. It’s also possible this refers to an archaic carnival entertainer who would bite the head off a live animal during their performance.

Is It Accurate?
That really depends on what Daryl is referring to here.

Did It Catch On?
Definitely not. Daryl moved on to bigger and better things ,and everyone else who used this term is dead.

Biters

Who Uses It?
The residents of Woodbury.

What Does It Mean?
The undead have one job. It’s to bite.

Is It Accurate?
Yes. This is one of the best descriptors, to be honest.

Did It Catch On?
No. After Woodbury was destroyed, “biters” seems to have died out as quickly as Michonne put her sword through the Governor.

Lame-Brains

Who Uses It?
Dave and Tony, two guys who crossed paths with Rick’s group early in the apocalypse, tried to overpower them, and failed.

What Does It Mean?
The walkers are not smart (though they seem to have taken over the earth, so….).

Is It Accurate?
Maybe.

Did It Catch On?
Definitely not. This one died with Dave and Tony. Dave and Tony tried to kill Rick and company once they found out the survivors had a safe place to hang their hats (Hershel’s farm), and were immediately killed, thus raising the question “who exactly is the lame-brain?”

Creepers

Who Uses It?
Merle utters this one before he does his thing and kills a bunch of the undead.

What Does It Mean?
In the grand tradition of walkers and roamers, this describes the shambling nature of the undead.

Is It Accurate?
Yes and no. The undead do spend much of their time shuffling about, but they do so much more.

Did It Catch On?
No. Merle is sadly gone and this one went with him and his hook: to the grave.

Rotters

Who Uses It?
The police officers who run Grady Memorial Hospital.

What Does It Mean?
The dead are nothing but corpses, which are decomposing, albeit slowly. Hence, rotters.

Is It Accurate?
Yes. Though, as noted above, it’s an open question how much these corpses are rotting and what the accompanying olfactory response might be. But it was early in the outbreak and these were cops, not scientists with an endless amount of time on their hands.

Did It Catch On?
Like so many other groups, this one ran afoul of Rick’s group, was deservedly put down, and as far as we know, their terminology never spread beyond the hospital.

Deadheads

Who Uses It?
As far as we know, only Nicholas, who deviated from his group’s local idiom ‘roamer,’ and used the term.

What Does It Mean?
While it’s possible Nicholas was a huge Grateful Dead fan, the more obvious explanation is probably true.

Is It Accurate?
Yes.

Did It Catch On?
It did not.

The Wasted

Who Uses It?
Brandon group’s, the murderous surf party bros on Fear the Walking Dead, and also some members of the Kingdom.

What Does It Mean?
The undead’s bodies are literally wasting away.

Is It Accurate?
Definitely. This is a very good way to describe the undead, which is surprising for a group of boneheads led by Brandon, though less so for the Kingdommers. It’s likely Brandon’s group just liked the way it sounded because they enjoyed getting wasted.

Did It Catch On?
Surprisingly not. When the Kingdom, Alexandria, and Hilltop merged, this one was never heard again. They probably should have kept this term.

The Passed

Who Uses It?
John Dorie.

What Does It Mean?
Those who have passed on, and are still walking around… and eating people.

Is It Accurate?
Sort of. Regular dead people can also be passed.

Did It Catch On?
Like so many things, this seems to be unique to John Dorie, one of the truly singular characters in the TWD Universe. He probably wouldn’t mind that.

Watch: First Teaser for Fear Season 6:

Hissers

Who Uses It?
Amelia, a woman who along with her child Negan, tries to help before Brandon (different Brandon, same result) kills her.

What Does It Mean?
This is a reference to the undead’s trademark sound.

Is It Accurate?
Absolutely accurate.

Did It Catch On?
No, but it’s hard to say why not. It’s one of the undead’s signatures. Other nomenclature for the undead has focused on the way they move, smell, and look, but few are focused on the way they sound, even though it’s one of the best ways to identify them. Amelia may have been a genius.

Growlers

Who Uses It?
Molly, a Savior who takes Carol and Maggie hostage.

What Does It Mean?
Like hissers, this refers to the sound of the undead.

Is It Accurate?
It is. Though hisser is probably better. Your dog growls.

Did It Catch On?
Well, Molly is bludgeoned to death by Maggie, and the Saviors are pretty much wiped out, so nope.

Cold-Bodies

Who Uses It?
Martin, one of the Terminans. It’s not clear if this is widespread language among his community or they simply refer to walkers as inedible.

What Does It Mean?
This refers to the body temperature of the undead.

Is It Accurate?
Sort of. The undead’s bodies are cold. But so are dead bodies who are not walkers, so this is a little unclear.

Did It Catch On?
No. And with a good reason. Nobody wants to listen to a cannibal.

Rippers

Who Uses It?
Virgil, the guy who held Michonne hostage, inadvertently leading her to evidence that Rick is alive.

What Does It Mean?
Likely that walkers rip flesh. Gross.

Is It Accurate?
Yes.

Did It Catch On?
It’s not clear. We don’t really know who else Virgil, knows, where he’s been, or how he plays into things. So it’s possible he picked up this term from another society.

Watch: Rick Grimes Movie Teaser:

Find out how Rick Grimes relates to The Walking Dead: World Beyond and the larger TWD Universe.

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