Have you ever tried to kill a query, but rather than just go away, it remained among the running ones for an extended period of time? Or perhaps you have noticed some threads makred with killed showing up from time to time and not actually dying. What are these zombies? Why does MySQL sometimes seem to fail to terminate queries quickly? Is there any way to force the kill command to actually work instantaneously? This article sheds some light on it.
Threads and connections
MySQL uses a separate thread for each client connection. A query sent to MySQL is handled by a thread that was previously associated with the connection over which the query arrived. Anyone with sufficient privileges can see the list of currently active threads, along with some additional details, by running SHOW PROCESSLIST command, which returns a table-like view where each connection becomes a separate row: