As the saying goes, "nice guys finish last." The kind-hearted and the righteous watch their entire-world turn upside-down during an apocalyptic scenario; morality is thrown out the window.
When we watch a show like The Walking Dead, or read the comics of the same name, we witness characters who struggle with their definition of morality in order to survive in a different world. Rick Grimes wrestles with the idea of "democracy" in several instances, often resulting in the deaths of several innocents while he tries to do the "right thing," according to his old view of the world. Without spoiling too many events within the books that might be depicted on the show, we understand that anyone who takes charge of an entire group may not be the most well-liked, because difficult, morality-challenging decisions are made for the sake of a majority. Consider this: why was Dale killed in season two of the show? While Shane descended into madness, how many of his decisions seemed to contain a semblance of logic? Even if we question his methods, his motives were often clear while some of his arguments posed solutions that might have been better-suited to their situation. While Rick debated with the opposing forces hovering over his shoulders, Shane's lust fragmented his desire to lead the group out of the moral sludge in which—as it seemed to Shane—Rick was drowning the group. Shane's arguments and his own selfish desires collided, and he couldn't overcome his own failings as a man.
How about the Governor? Isn't he a lot like Shane? If Shane had ruled his own little town, I'm quite certain his grip on reality would shatter; all the violence and bloodshed he witnessed would further confuse his ability to lead with his lusty desires, which would only become more depraved over time. Think about how Rick's own struggle with sanity is so much like the Governor's; this is the man Rick never wants to become, but as he fights this transformation, how many others will die under his watch?
In an attempt to be brief without writing a book about the topic as it relates to a television show, the connection to my own zombie fiction is clear. In Necropolis Now, many of the "good" people die because their ideas of normality and sanity are no longer applicable. An apocalyptic scenario showcases the "survival of the fittest" notion. Necropolis Now provides sort of a backwards version of The Walking Dead, as it relates to morality. The characters in this novel discover redemption through violence, and these changes should be clear to the reader by the first book's conclusion. As some of these characters rediscover themselves, these changes may not be timely, as we'll see in the second book; the characters become more emotionally "fragile," and their hardened personalities are challenged. If we understand that the "weak" will perish during a zombie epidemic… we may see a reversal of this concept in the second book…
While morality might challenged, what about the social norms that children are taught? What if the standard of morality is inherited, not natural. This is an idea, of course, not necessarily my philosophy. My first zombie novel, Under a Red Sun, includes a girl was born during the zombie apocalypse and was raised in the post-apocalyptic era; what "version" of morality was instilled upon her?
Fans of zombie fiction are able to consider the scenario from a variety of different angles and philosophies. Some colleges have recently considered the inclusion of a class that analyzes the distortion of social norms in an apocalyptic scenario. Playing in the world of a fictional apocalypse gives a writer so many opportunities to explore the human condition while having fun, notwithstanding the flesh-eating, undead "walkers."
P.S. If you saw a dead dude walking around on the street, wouldn’t you just call it a zombie? Or is that giving credibility to an unreal, fantastic idea that you can't acknowledge is real? Give the dead guy a different label, then? Does that change what it is? How come we don’t have so many different names for vampires? Don't we normally call them vampires in most of our fiction? Hmmmmmm….