What Are Burners? The Walking Dead’s New Zombies, Explained

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

the walking dead

With the introduction of a new The Walking Dead spin-off comes the introduction of a new kind of zombie — the Burner zombies. This new kind of undead creature is featured in Daryl Dixon, the fifth spin-off of the world’s most famous zombie franchise, and with acidic blood and skin, they’re unlike anything Walking Dead fans have seen before. Unlike the slow-moving and predictable walkers, these new zombie variants break the rules of what we previously knew about the undead.

The origin of the Burners in the Walking Dead universe has been shrouded in mystery…

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premiered on September 10, bringing the audience’s attention back to one of the best fan-favorite characters. This six-episode season begins as Daryl washes ashore in the origin of the zombie virus, France. With no memory of how he arrived here, he embarks on a journey to piece together his past, but as he forges new connections, his quest to return home becomes increasingly complex.

Something else that makes things complicated is the introduction of a new kind of zombie called Burners for the way that touching their skin or blood will leave survivors with terrible acidic burns. The origin of the Burners in the Walking Dead universe has been shrouded in mystery, though there are two strong theories as to why these creatures exist. 

Another The Walking Dead theory is that the Burners could be man-made.

Clues from The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon suggests that one option is that the Burners were once regular zombies that got infected by noxious chemicals within a food processing plant. These chemicals, which were strong enough to kill a human, could have triggered the transformation of regular zombies into Burners, altering the zombies’ physiology and giving them their corrosive properties.

Another The Walking Dead theory is that the Burners could be man-made. Clues from the opening credits and later scenes suggest that scientists may have conducted experiments on zombies, resulting in the creation of Burners. The show’s opening credits feature an annotated book that seems to be referring to someone’s desire to “control the dead,” implying a deliberate attempt to modify zombie behavior and abilities.

More Zombie Variants On The Way?

Isabelle, a character introduced in the first episode of this new The Walking Dead series, drops a crucial piece of information: Burners are just one kind of zombie. This revelation suggests that France is home to a variety of zombie variants, each with its unique characteristics and abilities. This opens the door to the possibility of encountering even more diverse and dangerous undead in future episodes and installments of the franchise.

the walking dead
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

But if what Isabelle says is correct and there are many types of undead variants, why have Burner zombies never appeared in the main series of The Walking Dead or its US-based spinoffs? If Burners were created within the specific food processing plant in France, it would explain their absence in the United States. However, if variants are the result of man-made experiments, it suggests that France might be ground zero for these deadly zombies, making them more common there than in other parts of the world.

Burner zombies are more than just a new type of undead; they represent a seismic shift in the dynamics of The Walking Dead universe. Survivors are accustomed to certain strategies for dealing with zombies, such as using their blood or disguising themselves with their flesh.

However, Burners make these tactics unusable. Skin-to-skin contact with a Burner is just as lethal as a bite, making close encounters with them extraordinarily dangerous.

The introduction of Burners has forced the characters in The Walking Dead to reevaluate their approach to the undead. Burners have become the new apex predators of the apocalypse, and their presence has fundamentally altered the way survivors must navigate the treacherous world they inhabit.