What Sets Z Nation Apart from The Walking Dead

Craig Engler is the Co-Creator/Co-Executive Producer of Z Nation, Syfy’s hit zombie series that airs Friday nights at 10/9c.
Follow craig on Twitter @craigengler

In a nutshell, I love all things zombie, but the majority of Z stories tend to deal with the beginning of the apocalypse and a desperate group of people just trying to survive. No film does that better than the original Night of the Living Dead, and no TV show does it better than The Walking Dead. (Granted we pick up Rick’s story not on Day 1 exactly, but it starts early on in the apocalypse and at first everyone is just hanging on and hoping for a rescue of some sort.)

The concept for Z Nation was to fast forward and tell the stories of the people who’ve been living in the apocalypse for YEARS. Who’s badass enough to survive that long, and what are their lives like? That’s where Z Nation starts out, not on Day 1 on but on Day 1,000. When Z Nation begins, we meet a group that’s not just survived the outbreak, they’ve developed skills and tactics to create a safe haven for themselves.

But our elite zombie killers aren’t content to stay in one place and eke out a living among the dead. In our show the survivors get a chance to save the world when they come across the only person who’s ever been bitten by a zombie and survived: Murphy. If our everyday heroes can somehow get Murphy to the last operational CDC lab, the remaining scientists might be able to use his blood to synthesize a cure. Of course, there’s a catch.

Our intrepid survivors start out in New York and the CDC lab they need to get to is in California. That means they’re going to have to bring Murphy across 3,000 miles of zombie-infested land, fighting not only the living dead but also other survivors. Along the way they come across other small human communities, and we learn what’s going on in the rest of the world (hint: things are pretty effed up).

To make matters worse, Murphy doesn’t particularly want to go to California. He was given an experimental vaccine against his will while in prison, and he’s not feeling much love for humanity. Meanwhile the virus is slowly mutating him into something different, a cross between a zombie and a human who’s developing strange new abilities (along with a strange new affinity for the undead).

And while Z Nation is a serious show at its core, we’re not a afraid to have fun. A lot of fun. We crush zombies with the Liberty Bell, inflict undead animals on the world (zombie bear!), get stoned with the living dead and create all sorts of mayhem and carnage along the way.

In other words, there’s nothing else like this on TV, and if you haven’t checked out Z Nation yet, I hope you’ll give it a try. I think you’ll like it.