[Warning: Spoilers! For Both Z Nation and Walking Dead]
Quick answer: Yes, it possibly did. Read on for more.
I’ve been having a lot of fun watching Z Nation on Syfy. The show is entertaining, dark, but also more “tongue-in-cheek” than The Walking Dead, with some Sharknado-like moments thrown in. However, Episode 3 (which just aired on Friday) really took me by surprise by going REALLY REALLY REALLY DARK.
I mean… It basically took a nose dive into a chasm and kept going, going, going, and going… I had to hide my eyes during one particular scene because it was just TOO MUCH. The stuff of nightmares.
So I posted on Twitter about how the show had just “out-darked” The Walking Dead. TWD is dark too, but it never went there. Well, an alert Twitter user who goes by @LennyTheTroll (UPDATE: no longer on Twitter) quickly tweeted me a correction. No, he said, this exact story line was taken from The Walking Dead comic — Issue 65, to be exact, about a group called “The Hunters.” He said that even the signal the Z Nation guy gave to his group mimicked The Walking Dead.
Of course, I had to research this immediately! Sure, cannibalism is pretty common in a post-apocalyptic storyline. But just how similar were these two plots? So I went to The Walking Dead Wiki (for the comic book) for help.
Very similar to TWD comic
Z Nation episode 3 is VERY similar to the comic issue’s plot. In the comic, “The Hunters” (who are not on the The Walking Dead TV show) were indeed cannibals. In fact, they practiced the same type of cannibalism — eating people while they are still alive. (ewwwwwww) In both universes, this is necessary because the dead automatically turn into zombies, bitten or not. The big difference is that on TWD, this happened to a main character. On Z Nation, it happened to a roomful of NPCs.
TV Show Similarity
On Z Nation, when our heroes broke through the cannibal family’s gates with a truck blaring music that the zombies were following, it was the same tactic that The Governor used when he broke into the prison on The Walking Dead TV show.
Now, Z Nation hasn’t been shy about paying homage to The Walking Dead. It even mentioned “survivors living in a prison” on its very first episode! But this last episode might be viewed as a little unfair to The Walking Dead, since it used the exact same type of cannibalistic practices (except showing “cattle” scenes even more in-depth.) As for The Walking Dead TV show, people are theorizing that its Terminus storyline might lead to cannibalism. That would mean that Z Nation beat them to the punch by just a matter of a few weeks.
This happens quite a lot on TV shows. Voyager once had a two-part “Workforce” storyline that mirrored a Stargate episode called “Beneath the Surface,” which aired just a few months earlier. Deep Space 9 and Babylon 5 aired at the same time, and their storylines were often very similar. It’s bound to happen when two shows cover the same topic. But I wouldn’t be surprised, in this case, if Z Nation really did borrow that idea straight from the pages of The Walking Dead comic, banking on people’s interest in an upcoming storyline to help sell it. Or maybe a writer came up with the idea from reading the comic a long time ago, but now didn’t know where the inspiration came from. I certainly don’t know for sure!
I think there’s more than enough room in the universe for both zombie shows. But it’ll be interesting to see if more Walking Dead plots show up in Z Nation episodes.