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The Real Reason The Walking Dead Characters Use Bows And Arrows

With AMC's post-apocalyptic juggernaut The Walking Dead rapidly approaching its final season, fans continue to reminisce over one of cable TV's most influential programs. For the better part of a decade, the series based on Robert Kirkman's original graphic novel supplied some shocking, violent, and truly emotional moments that set TWD apart from its many peers in the zombie genre. One of the show's biggest genuine surprises came during its ninth season, when it ushered in a new era in the Walking Dead canon through a six-year time jump that put Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) center stage in her father Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) absence.

Given so much time has passed, the world naturally looks quite different than it did when Judith was just a toddler. Civilization is starting to return — albeit in a new, adapted form considering the state of the apocalypse — and it's becoming clear that walkers are less a terrifying threat and more so an inconvenience, especially to those who've taken the apocalypse head-on from the very beginning. However, the tenets of modern society have yet to come back on a grand scale, so the cast of characters has to continually adapt to their — to steal a quote from every TV and radio ad in 2020 — "new normal."

Essentially, their means of survival, weaponry, and technological capabilities are regressing, leaving them to live a drastically different lifestyle than they did in years past. These days within the world of TWD, characters are horses instead of cars, and bows and arrows instead of guns. 

The Walking Dead's world is going backwards technologically

With the outbreak now spanning over a decade, The Walking Dead is knee-deep in a post-industrial world where necessities for life that many of us take for granted are growing increasingly scarce or are running out altogether. As explained in a Reddit thread by user u/httpher, "It's like the world has gone back 200 years. There are no cars, no guns, no ammo. In S9 they use majority horses to get around."

Logically, one has to wonder why the remaining humans wouldn't find a way to replenish their supplies to make their already difficult lives just a tad easier. In a comment by Redditor u/53134, such a solution isn't so simple. "It's likely they don't have the materials to make bullets anymore. They may still have a little ammo left but they mostly use bows and arrows now to preserve it," adding on that cars "ran out of fuel and [they] probably can't find any batteries for electrical cars." With this lack of raw materials in mind, it's pretty understandable why The Walking Dead is creeping back toward the Middle Ages.

Even still, not every Walking Dead viewer is willing to buy into this plot point. User u/penitentialarts argued that, statistically speaking, guns and ammunition shouldn't have run out yet, considering how plentiful they are in the United States alone. Also, when it comes to making their own ammo, "the stuff required to make bullets wouldn't be in short supply, either." The Redditor added, "Even if people had time to raid all the stores, the stuff they got would still be where they took it." Additionally, they mentioned, "Electric cars could still be charged, since there would be plenty of ways to generate electricity. Diesel vehicles can be adjusted to run fully on biofuels that they can make."

Whether or not The Walking Dead's bullet and fuel shortages are entirely factual is up for interpretation, but the fact remains that, in their fictional universe, bows, arrows, and horseback transportation are the best they can conjure up to stay alive.