|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||69 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Spokane, Washington |
Fort Casey-Coupeville, Washington
|Running time||41–85 minutes|
|Distributor||Dynamic Television (international)|
|Original release||September 10, 2014 –|
December 28, 2018
Z Nation was an American action/horror/comedy-drama/post-apocalyptic television series that aired on Syfy, created by Karl Schaefer and Craig Engler, and produced by The Asylum. The first season of 13 episodes premiered on September 12, 2014. Z Nation was filmed in the Spokane, Washington area.
On June 16, 2016, Syfy announced that Z Nation's third season would be preceded by a TV movie, set prior to the climax of season 2 and introducing central characters for the third season. However, the movie was instead presented as the first two episodes of the season, the two-part "No Mercy".
On December 15, 2017, Syfy renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on October 5, 2018. On December 22, 2018, Syfy canceled the series after five seasons. The 69th and ultimate episode aired on December 28, 2018, concluding the five-season series.
Z Nation begins three years into a zombie apocalypse caused by a virus that has already killed most humans. In the days just before society fell apart, Murphy was one of three inmates at Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine, who were unwilling participants in a government-approved experiment. Each inmate was given a different test vaccine. Murphy was the only one to survive the vaccine injection. He is the only known survivor of a zombie bite who did not turn into a zombie, and his blood contains antibodies that are mankind's last and best hope for a vaccine. However, he seems to be mutating into some form of hybrid between zombie and human—his skin is shedding and his body turning blue, and he seems to be able to control and even mesmerize certain types of zombies he encounters. Yet he has not turned into a full zombie and still maintains control of himself. The series revolves around his travels with a small group of survivors being led through the apocalypse by Simon "Citizen Z" Cruller, who watches the world from his multiple computers. The group is looking to use him to solve the zombie pandemic.
The group must transport Murphy from New York to the world's last known functioning Centers for Disease Control research lab in California. However, Murphy harbors a dark secret about his condition that threatens them all.
Cast and characters
- Kellita Smith as Roberta Warren
- Lt. Roberta Warren is a survivor of the zombie apocalypse. An ex-National Guard member activated out of Missouri, she is a member of the Westward-bound survivor group, and a former member of the Blue Sky Camp survivor group in New York. Like many other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, Warren lost nearly everything and everyone that mattered to her. She becomes the leader of the survivor group after the death of Garnett.
- DJ Qualls as Citizen Z
- PFC Simon Cruller aka Citizen Z, a former hacker, was working at the NSA's Northern Light listening post in the Arctic Circle. After a doomed rescue mission flight out of Northern Light, he becomes the NSA's sole surviving employee and uses his high-tech equipment to assist the group in its journey to California. He also runs a radio broadcast for other survivors, informing people to take cover when there is a threat of inescapable disaster-level weather or zombie hordes. He is slowly going insane from loneliness; his only companion is a sled dog named Pup.
- In the second season, the Northern Lights missile defense system intercepts a nuclear bomb, severely damaging the listening post and waking the zombies in the doomed evacuation flight wreckage. Citizen Z fights to survive the cold and the zombie onslaught, despite minimal shooting skills.
- At the end of season 2, Citizen Z decides to leave Northern Light when he realizes that all the post's resources are used up and it has sustained too much damage for him to survive there any longer. He leaves on foot with Pup, pulling a dog sled, in subzero temperatures. Near death, he is rescued by Kaya, an Inuit girl, and her surviving family members. They return to Northern Lights when they need food, and he and Kaya form a relationship, which results in her becoming pregnant. He leaves in a plane and meets the survivor group in person, but later returns.
- Michael Welch as Mack Thompson (seasons 1–2)
- A former hockey player for the Tri-City Americans, Mack Thompson is a survivor of the zombie apocalypse, and Addy's boyfriend. He is a former member of the Blue Sky camp in New York, and a member of the Westward-bound survivor group. A good shot, Mack protects Addy and stays behind when she chose to join the Sisters of Mercy camp, and watches over her from afar. He is eventually reunited with Addy and returns to the survivor group. He is killed ("mercied") by Addy after being bitten by zombies.
- Keith Allan as Alvin Murphy
- Alvin Bernard Murphy is a resentful and frail former convict who becomes the only known survivor of zombie bites after being part of a scientific experiment. The Westward-bound survivor group is tasked with transporting him to a government laboratory in California, as his apparent immunity is believed to be the sole solution to the ZN1 virus. Over time, Murphy's appearance changes, and he becomes part zombie. He can communicate with zombies, develops feelings for them and can make them do his bidding. He also develops a special gift: after biting a person or exposing them to his saliva or blood, he can direct them using telepathy. In season 3, after finding out the survivors at Zona want to use him only for themselves, he escapes, bites 10K and decides to make the human race into zombie-human hybrids like himself.
- Anastasia Baranova as Addy Carver (seasons 1–4)
- Addison Grace "Addy" Carver is a former member of the Blue Sky camp in New York and is Mack's girlfriend prior to his death. She is the survivor group's communication specialist and uses her talents with radio equipment to contact Citizen Z. Broken by unresolved trauma, she is slowly being worn down by the apocalypse. At one point, she chooses to leave the group and join the Sisters of Mercy camp, but after the camp is destroyed, she reunites with Mack, who refused to leave her behind, and returns to the Westward-bound survivor group. Her weapon of choice against zombies is a customized metal bat with spikes; in season 3, her bat is upgraded by Sun Mei and her team to emit an electric charge similar to a taser. Between seasons 3 and 4, she loses her right eye. She disappears early in season 4.
- Russell Hodgkinson as Steven "Doc" Beck
- Doc is a former psychologist and recovering addict, carries a drug supply he creatively uses in the capacity of the de facto medic of the Westward-bound survivor group. He is a former member of the Blue Sky camp in New York.
- Pisay Pao as Cassandra (seasons 1–2, guest season 3)
- Cassandra is a survivor of the initial zombie apocalypse. She is a former member of the Philadelphia cannibal survivor group, where she served as a "lure" to attract male survivors with the promise of sexual trade, in order for the group to trap and consume them. Cassandra joins the Westward-bound survivor group after being found in a locked cage at a rendezvous station near Philadelphia. A leg injury leads to an infection. Lacking antibiotics and near death, she is bitten by Murphy and becomes a zombie-human hybrid controlled by Murphy. She eventually attacks and is mercied by 10K.
- Nat Zang as Thomas "10K"
- 10K, often called "The Kid" by Doc, is the youngest member of the Westward-bound survivor group. In the season 1 finale, his real name was revealed to be "Tommy". 10K is quiet and observant. He is highly proficient with a sniper rifle and other projectiles, and is "pretty good with a knife". He loves killing zombies, and keeps track of each one he kills. His goal is 10,000 kills, hence his self-given nickname, and he has already reached 1,000 by his first appearance.
- His backstory reveals that 10K was forced to kill his father, making a promise to him that he would stay strong and fight. 10K harbors feelings of anger and hatred towards Murphy for turning Cassandra into a zombie-human hybrid, but does not act on those feelings, knowing that Murphy could be humanity's only chance to survive. In the season 2 finale, he is injured and taken with Murphy to the CDC submarine to be given medical attention for his wound. He escapes the submarine with Murphy, Dr. Merch and the others bitten by Murphy, and is openly opposed to following him. He is told by Dr. Merch that he was bitten after she gave him his first dose of the original cure. He stops counting during season 3, but resumes during season 4.
- Tom Everett Scott as Charles Garnett (season 1)
- Sgt. Garnett was with the National Guard, based out of Georgia, prior to the ZN1 outbreak. He is a former member of the Blue Sky camp in New York before taking on the task of transporting Murphy. He is the leader of the Westward-bound survivor group until his demise. Trying to protect Murphy, he is murdered and turned into a zombie by Priest Jacob and his Resurrection Cult. He is mercied by Warren, his second in command, and at that point, his girlfriend.
- Harold Perrineau as Mark Hammond (season 1)
- Lt. Hammond is the last surviving member of the Delta Force team transferring Murphy to a laboratory in California. He is mercied by the Westward-bound survival group after being bitten. (Despite being credited as a main cast member, Perrineau only appeared in the first episode.)
- Matt Cedeño as Javier Vasquez (seasons 2, guest season 3)
- Javier Vasquez is first encountered in the opening episode of season 2, "The Murphy". Vasquez was a DEA agent, but after he arrested some of Escorpion's men, Escorpion abducted his wife and daughter, later killing them in front of him. His wife and daughter turned into zombies during their funeral, and Vasquez seeks revenge on Escorpion. He tries to assassinate Escorpion during the group's Zeros induction ceremony, but is stopped by Warren and tortured by the Zeros before escaping. At the conclusion of season 2, he apparently leaves the main survivor group. In the season 3 episode "Heart of Darkness", Vasquez reappears, having assumed the mantle of "Escorpion" after suffering a mental breakdown, and is later mercied by Warren.
- Emilio Rivera as Escorpion (seasons 2–3)
- Hector Alvarez aka Escorpion is the main antagonist of season 2, first encountered in the second episode, "White Light". He is the vice president in charge of sales for a Mexican drug cartel known as the Zeros. He has a small Z-shaped scar on his right hand. Escorpion's weapon of choice is a golden gun. At the end of season 2, he has reformed, and joins the main survivor group. In season 3, he is killed by Vasquez, who has assumed his former identity, and is injected with an experimental vaccine. He opens his eyes once everyone has left.
- Tara Holt as Lucy Murphy (season 4, guest seasons 2–3)
- The daughter of Murphy and Serena. In season 2, she is a baby, but ages rapidly due to the virus her father passed on to her. In season 3, she ages from someone who looks 5 years old, to preteen, to teenager (and is thus portrayed by multiple actresses). In season 3, she looks like a young adult, and is portrayed by Tara Holt. She is kidnapped by The Man, who tries to bring her to Zona in her father's place, but this is impeded by Addy, with whom she forms a close bond, even referring to her as "Aunt Addy".
- Joseph Gatt as The Man (season 3)
- The Man first appears in the first episode of season 3, "No Mercy". Following a list created by his Zona employer, it is his job to collect people by any means necessary and ship them to Zona. He is ruthless and will take out anyone in his way. He is known to have completely decimated at least two survivor communities to obtain the people on his list. He has a perfect success rate and has yet to lose a target. As of the second episode of season 3, "A New Mission", The Man's current list contains only one name: "Alvin Bernard Murphy". His fate is unknown to the group following the season 3 finale, as he is not mentioned again.
- Sydney Viengluang as Sun Mei (season 3–5)
- Sun Mei is first encountered in the second episode of season 3, "A New Mission". She is a Laotian virologist from Beijing, China, where 200,000 survived the zombie apocalypse by sealing themselves behind the walls of the Forbidden City. She is sent with a team and equipment from China to collect DNA samples from the American survivor group and Murphy in the hope of synthesizing a cure. She is the sole survivor of her team's mission and for now, has joined the survivor group.
- Ramona Young as Kaya (season 3–5)
- Kaya is first encountered in the second episode of season 3, "A New Mission". Kaya is an Inuit girl living with her Uncle Koukou and her grandmother; they are the sole survivors of their village. She finds Citizen Z and Pup out in a blizzard, rescues them, and takes them to her home. She reveals to Citizen Z that she is a huge fan of his, telling him he needs to get healthy and start broadcasting again. They eventually form a relationship after they return to Northern Lights, and she becomes pregnant with their son, JZ.
- Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red (season 3–5)
- A survivor, guardian of 5K and love interest of 10K.
- Holden Goyette as "Nature Boy" / 5K (season 3, guest season 4)
- A survivor being protected by Red. He falls off a cliff when he pursues Addy, Lucy and The Man in the season 3 finale. Red hopes he is still alive somewhere, while 10K believes he is dead.
- Grace Phipps as Sgt. Lilly Mueller (seasons 4–5)
- Lt. Mueller's daughter, who assists him in running a refugee camp trying to get survivors to Newmerica. After her father's death, she joins the main survivor group. She begins a relationship with 10K at the end of season 4 after Red has gone missing. In Season 5, 10K meets up with Red again, and when both of them and Sarge are cornered by zombies, Sarge sacrifices herself to save 10K and Red, allowing herself to be bitten before setting off a grenade that blows her and the zombies up.
- Henry Rollins as Lt. Mueller (season 4)
- Sgt. Lilly's father, who runs a refugee camp trying to get survivors to Newmerica. He is killed by zombies and mercied by his daughter.
- Katy O'Brian as Georgia "George" St. Clair (season 5)
- A survivor turned political leader of Newmerica and an old friend of Warren.
- Mario Van Peebles as Martin Cooper (season 5)
- A farmer who was trained as a medic pre-apocalypse.
- Lydia Hearst as Pandora (season 5)
- A zombie "talker" who is a resident of Newmerica, who may be plotting a coup against George.
Z Nation is produced by Go2 Digital Media for The Asylum. On June 29, 2014, it was announced that the filming of 13 episodes for the first season of the series was underway. On October 12, 2014, Syfy announced that it had ordered a second season of Z Nation. Schaefer and Engler have described Z Nation as an attempt to "put the fun back into zombies", criticizing shows like The Walking Dead for being too serious. Z Nation's first season had a budget of less than $700,000 per episode.
The first season of Z Nation received mixed reviews from professional television critics. Its aggregate score on Metacritic is 48/100 based on reviews from 11 critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the show a rating of 53%, based on reviews from 17 critics, with the site's consensus stating "although it's hampered by an overcrowded narrative, Z Nation manages to muster up some fun scares without taking itself too seriously."
Chris Carabott of IGN noted that the show "continues to set itself apart in campy and inventive ways." Brian Moylan of The Guardian called Z Nation scary "in the same vague way as that talking green blob is in the Mucinex commercials" and concluded that viewers would hate all the characters, but that "Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) is especially horrible." Merrill Barr of Forbes magazine said the show had a high entertainment value.
In its first season, Z Nation averaged 1.42 million viewers per episode, including a .48 rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 12, 2014||December 5, 2014|
|2||15||September 11, 2015||December 18, 2015|
|3||15||September 16, 2016||December 16, 2016|
|4||13||September 29, 2017||December 15, 2017|
|5||13||October 5, 2018||December 28, 2018|
Z Nation is distributed internationally by Dynamic Television. The series premiered on Syfy in Australia on April 1, 2015, and was watched by 26,000 viewers. The United Kingdom premiere aired on Freeview channel Pick on July 21, 2015.
Season 1 was released on DVD on February 10, 2015, by Syfy in association with Universal Home Entertainment. It was also issued on iTunes, with episodes running approximately 41–43 minutes each.
Connection to Sharknado film series
The film Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, released in July 2015, featured a cameo appearance by Smith as Sgt. Warren. In the first-season episode "Home Sweet Zombie" (2014), upon viewing a tornado carrying and tossing zombies, Warren remarks, "They ain't sharks!"
Companion prequel series
On July 19, 2018, it was reported that Netflix had given an eight-episode, straight-to-series order for Black Summer, a prequel series set within the Z Nation universe. Actress Jaime King is set to star in the series, created by Schaefer and John Hyams. At the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, Schaefer noted that "Black Summer is before the apocalypse got weird and was just scary." He also said that the drama series is not intended to be the funny version of The Walking Dead that Z Nation is, but instead will be a more traditional take on zombie lore.
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