At some point, all good zombie shows must die. If the series is fortunate and not canceled prematurely, it can decide exactly how to end its story. But when it comes to the conflict between humans and the undead, what are the best possible story outcomes?
Of course, not all zombie shows are created equal. Most of them feature zombies that are mindless and hungry, like “The Walking Dead,” “Z Nation” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” But with “iZombie” and Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet,” zombies are people too. They’re pretty much the same as they were before, except for that pesky appetite for human flesh and brainssss!
The central conflict for “iZombie,” therefore, is a little more complex than to just kill ’em all. In the first two seasons, Liv Moore (Rose McIver) was able to keep her zombie-hood a secret – except for her unnatural pallor. She was even able to acquire food in a relatively humane (although not entirely ethical) way, by feasting on the brains of the dead that she autopsies at the county morgue. But now Liv and her pals have discovered that the zombie outbreak was much larger than they were aware, and it’s spreading.
“The days are numbered,” Thomas said. “When that secret comes out, do we believe humans are going to embrace us and help us with our need for brains or do we believe that we will be exterminated? And if you believe the first one, you behave in a certain way, and if you believe you will be exterminated, you prepare for that day in a completely different way.”
Scenario 1: Zombies Win
This season ratchets up the zombie-human conflict on a bigger scale, but the difference between this one and “The Walking Dead” is that the zombies shoot back. Liv was introduced to a sizable zombie group called Fillmore Graves, run by CEO Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage) – and they’re definitely pro-zombie domination.
“They are a Blackwater-esque military contractor outfit run, owned and staffed by zombies,” said Thomas. “Fillmore Graves is preparing for the day that humans discover zombies’ existence and they are arming themselves, they’re training themselves for the day that that comes.”
If zombies do eventually call the shots, they can’t eliminate humans altogether, since they’re food. Thomas said, “For now, Vivian claims that they have under-the-counter deals with various crematoriums that they’re getting brains in an ethical way, but at some point, they’d need more brains that they can get from a few crooked crematorium night managers. There will be a tipping point on that front as well.”
Scenario 2: Humans Win
In the case of most zombie shows, this is probably one of the most desired outcomes. The humans that we’ve come to know and love on “iZombie” are more conflicted, but still want to survive.
Malcolm Goodwin, who plays Seattle Det. Clive Babineaux, told reporters at Comic-Con, “If this were to get out, it would really be the apocalypse. I think that anything [Clive] can do to stop that, he will do.”
Aly Michalka, who plays Liv’s best friend Peyton, added, “[Peyton] is on a strange end because she is for her [zombie] friends, but she’s like, ‘I’m a human. I’m not undead.’ So I think there’s a different timeline for her when it comes to life.”
Of course, it could take a while for humans to achieve what may be a pyrrhic victory. Thomas also considered an ending where “a human family [or group] ends up on an island, and that is where humanity is reborn.”
Scenario 3: Living In Harmony
Granted, humans and zombies living side-by-side could only happen in the “iZombie” and “Santa Clarita Diet” universes, but even that would require some compromise. The three biggest issues: How would humans provide zombies with the food they need? How to keep zombies from turning humans without consent? And what about good old-fashioned anti-zombie racism?
Thinking of zombies as people too isn’t that hard, as long as you know one well. “When you’re related to a zombie, then they’re human to you,” Ruggiero-Wright said. “When it’s your favorite cousin Tom, who is now a zombie, suddenly they’re not these demonic monsters anymore. It’s a disease that your cousin got. So it’s easier to then say, well they’re not all bad.”
In order to function in the mainstream world though, zombies need to be careful not to scratch humans, which would zombify them. They also may want to fit in better by changing their very undead pallors.
“Liv already does cut her nails down very far,” said Ruggiero-Wright. Thomas added, “This happens very early I think in maybe the first couple episodes, you see that there are kid zombies taking classes there. There are big signs on the wall that say, ‘Clip Your Nails’ and ‘Tan and Dye.’ They’re being indoctrinated to be zombies in the shadows.”
Scenario 4: A Cure Is Found
This is probably the best possible outcome for this series, since it would allow zombified people to reclaim their lives. Liv’s medical examiner friend Ravi (Rahul Kohli) has been experimenting on lab rats to develop a cure, with mixed results. Liv’s ex-boyfriend Major (Robert Buckley) took the first strain, which unfortunately causes an early death, and the zombie Blaine (David Anders) tried the second, which causes amnesia.
“The cure is going to be ongoing,” Kohli told reporters at Comic-Con. “Obviously it’s still not perfected. And now, there’s the issue of does it have an amnesia side effect, which is preventing Major from taking it. But Major is a ticking time bomb.”
Thomas added, “Major is going to get sicker and sicker. He’s on Cure 1. He knows [in order to live] he’s going to have to take this cure that erases his memory like Blaine’s memory was erased. There’s a real sadness between Major and his friends, but more importantly Major and Liv realize that they may never know this version of each other again. That may heat up their relationship in those final moments.
”iZombie’s” End Game
At this point, Thomas hasn’t planned out how he wants the series to end. “We talked about finding a cure just as soon as both of my kids’ college have been paid for,” he quipped. “We’ve talked broadly about what upcoming seasons were going to be, but we haven’t talked about like, ‘And then at the end of Season 7 it’s over.’”
Ruggiero-Wright added, “We jokingly talked about a cure at the end of Season 7, and then werewolfism comes. Just as it’s cured, someone gets scratched by a wolf, and it’s like, ‘Aww, now we need to contend with this?’”
Check out Rose McIver and Robert Buckley discuss Season 3 in the interviews below:
“iZombie” returns for its third season on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.