Zombie apocalypse

A zombie apocalypse is a particular scenario within apocalyptic fiction. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization.

In some stories, victims of zombies may become zombies themselves if they are bitten by zombies or if a zombie-creating virus travels by air, sexually, or by water; in others, everyone who dies, whatever the cause, becomes one of the undead.

In some cases, parasitic organisms can cause zombification by killing their hosts and reanimating their corpses, though some argue that this is not a true zombie. In the latter scenario zombies also prey on the living and their bite causes an infection that kills.

In either scenario, this causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading "zombie plague" swamps law enforcement organizations, the military and health care services, leading to the panicked collapse of civil society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain. Basic services such as piped water supplies and electrical power shut down, mainstream mass media cease broadcasting, and the national government of affected countries collapses or goes into hiding. The survivors usually begin scavenging for food, weapons and other supplies in a world reduced to a mostly pre-industrial hostile wilderness. There is usually a 'safe zone' where the non-infected can seek refuge and begin a new era.



An early inspirational work of the genre was Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend (1954), which featured a lone survivor named Robert Neville waging a war against a human population transformed into vampires.[1] The novel has been adapted into several screenplays, including The Last Man on Earth (1964), starring Vincent Price, and The Omega Man (1971), starring Charlton Heston. A 2007 film version also titled I Am Legend starred Will Smith, in a more contemporary setting.[2] George A. Romero began the idea with his apocalyptic feature Night of the Living Dead (1968) from Matheson, but substituted vampires with shuffling ghouls, identified after its release as zombies.[3]

Thematic subtext

The literary subtext of a zombie apocalypse is usually that civilization is inherently fragile in the face of truly unprecedented threats and that most individuals cannot be relied upon to support the greater good if the personal cost becomes too high.[4] The narrative of a zombie apocalypse carries strong connections to the turbulent social landscape of the United States in the 1960s when the originator of this genre, the film Night of the Living Dead, was first created.[5][6] Many also feel that zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world.[7] Kim Paffenroth notes that "more than any other monster, zombies are fully and literally apocalyptic ... they signal the end of the world as we have known it."[8]

Zombies NightoftheLivingDead
Night of the Living Dead established most of the tropes associated with the genre, including the unintelligent but relentless behavior of zombies.[9]

Story elements

There are several common themes and tropes that create a zombie apocalypse:

  1. Initial contacts with zombies are extremely traumatic, causing shock, panic, disbelief and possibly denial, hampering survivors' ability to deal with hostile encounters.[10]
  2. The response of authorities to the threat is slower than its rate of growth, giving the zombie plague time to expand beyond containment. This results in the collapse of the given society. Zombies take full control while small groups of the living must fight for their survival.[10]

The stories usually follow a single group of survivors, caught up in the sudden rush of the crisis. The narrative generally progresses from the onset of the zombie plague, then initial attempts to seek the aid of authorities, the failure of those authorities, through to the sudden catastrophic collapse of all large-scale organization and the characters' subsequent attempts to survive on their own. Such stories are often squarely focused on the way their characters react to such an extreme catastrophe, and how their personalities are changed by the stress, often acting on more primal motivations (fear, self-preservation) than they would display in normal life.[10][11]

Generally the zombies in these situations are the slow, lumbering and unintelligent kind first made popular in the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.[9] Motion pictures created within the 2000s, however, have featured zombies that are more agile, vicious, intelligent, and stronger than the traditional zombie.[12] In many cases of "fast" zombies, creators use living humans infected with a pathogen (as in 28 Days Later, Zombieland and Left 4 Dead), instead of re-animated corpses, to avoid the "slow death walk" of Romero's variety of zombies.


Academic research

While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often.
— Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad, and Robert J. Smith? [sic],
"When Zombies Attack!" (2009)[13]

According to a 2009 Carleton University and University of Ottawa epidemiological analysis, an outbreak of even Living Dead's slow zombies "is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, unless it is dealt with quickly." Based on their mathematical modelling, the authors concluded that offensive strategies were much more reliable than quarantine strategies, due to various risks that can compromise a quarantine. They also found that discovering a cure would merely leave a few humans alive, since this would do little to slow the infection rate.

On a longer time scale, the researchers found that all humans end up turned or dead. This is because the main epidemiological risk of zombies, besides the difficulties of neutralizing them, is that their population just keeps increasing; generations of humans merely "surviving" still have a tendency to feed zombie populations, resulting in gross outnumbering. The researchers explain that their methods of modelling may be applicable to the spread of political views or diseases with dormant infection.[13]

The Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies (ZITS) is a program through the University of Glasgow. It is headed by Dr. Austin. Dr. Austin is a character that has been created by the university to be the face of ZITS. The ZITS team is dedicated to using real science to explain what could be expected in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse. Much of their research is used to disprove common beliefs about the zombie apocalypse as shown in popular media. They have published one book (Zombie Science 1Z) and give public "spoof" lectures on the subject.[14]


On May 18, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse providing tips on preparing to survive a zombie invasion.[15] The article does not claim an outbreak is likely or imminent, but states: "That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this...." The CDC goes on to summarize cultural references to a zombie apocalypse. It uses these to underscore the value of laying in water, food, medical supplies, and other necessities in preparation for any and all potential disasters, be they hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, or hordes of ravenous brain-devouring undead.

The CDC also published a graphic novel, Zombie Pandemic, alongside a series of related articles.[16]


On October 17, 2011, The Weather Channel published an article, "How To Weather the Zombie Apocalypse" that included a fictional interview with a Director of Research at the CDD, the "Center for Disease Development".[17] Based on a seasonal attraction in the Atlanta area called The Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, Weather.com interviews "Dr. Dale Dixon" (subtle references to characters in AMC's "The Walking Dead") asking questions about how different weather conditions affect zombies abilities.[18] Questions answered include "How does the temperature affect zombies' abilities? Do they run faster in warmer temperatures? Do they freeze if it gets too cold?"[17]

Genre examples




  • The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) by Max Brooks that details how one can survive various sized zombie outbreaks, including a world-wide outbreak that collapses civilization.
  • Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet (2004–2004) by David Wellington.[39]
  • World War Z (2006) by Max Brooks which details humanity's efforts to defeat a worldwide zombie apocalypse.[40][41]
  • Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009) by Carrie Ryan which is set over 100 years after the zombie apocalypse in an isolated village surrounded by a forest full of zombies.[42] It was followed by two sequels set some years later, The Dead-Tossed Waves (2010) where the daughter of the first novel's protagonist returns to the Forest, and The Dark and Hollow Places (2011) which moves the story to a city on an island.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) by Seth Grahame-Smith which combines Jane Austen's classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice with elements of modern zombie fiction.[43]
  • Warm Bodies (2010) by Issac Marion is set in a zombie apocalypse but is told through the viewpoint of a zombie known only as R who regains his humanity after developing a relationship with a human girl that he spared.[44]
  • The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (2011) by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga is set within the universe of The Walking Dead comic books, which were also created and written by Kirkman. It follows one of the most villainous characters of the comics, Philip Blake, a.k.a. "The Governor", as he, two friends, his brother Brian and daughter Penny struggle to survive in a world where an undead plague has rendered the human race outnumbered.[45]
  • Feed (2010) by "Mira Grant" (Seanan McGuire)
  • The Enemy series by Charles Higson. The zombies are humans afflicted with a disease that only affects people above 16 years of age.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts (2014) by M.R. Carey depicts a world 20 years after the spread of a fungal infection that turns humans into "hungries". It explores the tense relationship between the non-infected and the partially immune infected who retain consciousness, pointing to a post-human future.


Video games

  • Zombie Apocalypse, released as a downloadable title for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade is a shoot 'em up title. The player takes control of four survivors and may fight against hordes of mutated zombies as a team, rescuing other survivors and investigating the cause of the infection.[52]
  • Zombie Panic features a human and a player-controlled zombie team fighting against each other in a zombie apocalypse.[53][54]
  • ZombiU, a first-person shooter/survival horror game wherein the player assume the role of a survivor during a zombie outbreak that decimates London.

Role-playing games


  • The zombie parody of The Beatles, the Zombeatles, began in 2006 with the song "Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead" and are set in a world where the zombies have eaten all the remaining humans.[58]
  • Technical death metal band Brain Drill's 2008 album Apocalyptic Feasting has cover art and songs depicting a zombie apocalypse.
  • All music, lyrics and imagery surrounding metal/hardcore band Zombie Apocalypse revolve around the idea of a zombie apocalypse.
  • The 2008 Metallica music video for the song "All Nightmare Long" features the Soviet Union using a spore found after the Tunguska event on the United States to covertly create an army of zombies, and then openly destroy all of them, in order to take over the US.[59]
  • Metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada released their Zombie EP on August 24, 2010. The five song EP is about an impending zombie apocalypse derived from lead vocalist Mike Hranica's strong interest in the subject.[60]
  • Songwriter Jonathon Coulton's 2006 "Re:Your Brains" satirizes office culture and buzzwords using the zombie apocalypse theme. Incidentally, this song can be played on the various jukeboxes found in Left 4 Dead 2. As it plays, a zombie horde is summoned.
  • Send More Paramedics were a horror film-influenced crossover thrash band from Leeds in the north of England. The band played in the 1980s crossover style, what they described as "Zombiecore...a fusion of 80s thrash and modern hardcore punk", with lyrics about zombies and cannibalism, and are heavily influenced by zombie movies. On-stage, they dressed as zombies.
  • The zombie apocalypse is frequently depicted in explicit detail in songs by death metal legends Cannibal Corpse.

See also

  • Zombie Squad, a non-profit charitable organization that uses an upcoming zombie apocalypse as its shtick.


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External links

Black Summer (TV series)

Black Summer is an upcoming American web television zombie apocalypse drama series, created by Karl Schaefer and John Hyams, and a companion prequel series to the Syfy television series Z Nation. The first season, consisting of 8 episodes, is set to be released on Netflix on April 11, 2019.

The series is produced by The Asylum, the same production company behind Z Nation, and will be written and directed primarily by Hyams. Jaime King stars in the lead role as Rose, a mother who is separated from her daughter during the earliest and most deadly days of a zombie apocalypse.

Christmas with the Dead (short story)

Christmas with the Dead is a zombie apocalypse short story by author Joe R. Lansdale. It's a story about a man named Calvin who's bound and determined to celebrate Christmas despite being the only human left in a town inhabited by Zombies. This short story is published as a limited edition chapbook and has been adapted to film.

Dead Reign

Dead Reign is a zombie apocalypse role-playing game published by Palladium Books. The first print of the main book was in November 2008.

Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse

Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse is a 2015 Australian zombie comedy horror film written and directed by Declan Shrubb and developed through ScreenACT's 2012 Low Budget Feature Pod. The film stars Jim Jefferies, Alex Williamson, Adele Vuko, Greg Fleet, Andy Trieu and Matt Popp, with cameos by Eso from Bliss N Eso, Jim Punnett and The Roundabout Crew.

Mortician (band)

Mortician is a deathgrind band from Yonkers, New York founded in 1989. They have released most of their albums since the House by the Cemetery EP on Relapse Records but have released their latest album on their own label, Mortician Records. They have toured several times through America and Europe. The band is heavily inspired by horror movies, which is expressed in the lyrics, the artwork, and the use of samples throughout their discography.

Mōryō no Yurikago

Mōryō no Yurikago (魍魎の揺りかご, Mōryō no Yurikago, literally meaning "Cradle of Monsters") is a manga series written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe. The series ran from 2010 to 2012 published by Square Enix and serialized in their Young Gangan magazine. The series has been published in French by Ki-oon under the title Le Berceau des Esprits.The series focuses on a group of students trapped on a capsized sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean while they fight for survival against an isolated zombie apocalypse on the ship and try to escape with their lives and sanity intact.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a 2015 American zombie comedy film directed by Christopher B. Landon and written by Landon, Carrie Evans, Emi Mochizuki and Lona Williams. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont and David Koechner. The film was released on October 30, 2015 by Paramount Pictures.

Survival game

Survival games are a subgenre of action video games set in a hostile, intense, open-world environment, where players generally begin with minimal equipment and are required to collect resources, craft tools, weapons, and shelter, and survive as long as possible. Many survival games are based on randomly or procedurally generated persistent environments; more-recently created games are often playable online, allowing multiple players to interact in a single persistent world. Survival games are generally open-ended with no set goals and are often closely related to the survival horror genre, in which the player must survive within a supernatural setting, such as a zombie apocalypse.

Tales Told by Dead Men

Tales Told by Dead Men is a split album by English crossover thrash band Send More Paramedics and American crossover thrash/metalcore band Zombie Apocalypse.

The Night of the Living Duck

The Night of the Living Duck is a six-minute 1988 Merrie Melodies cartoon starring Daffy Duck, directed by Greg Ford and Terry Lennon. It was released to theatres as a part of Daffy Duck's Quackbusters on September 24, 1988.

The title is a pun on Night of the Living Dead, although the cartoon has nothing to do with that film's theme of a zombie apocalypse.

Train to Busan

Train to Busan (Hangul: 부산행; RR: Busanhaeng, Hanja:釜山行) is a 2016 South Korean zombie apocalypse action thriller film directed by Yeon Sang-ho and starring Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, and Ma Dong-seok. The film mostly takes place on a train to Busan, as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country and compromises the safety of the passengers.

The film premiered in the Midnight Screenings section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival on 13 May. On 7 August, the film set a record as the first Korean film of 2016 to break the audience record of over 10 million theatergoers. The film serves as a reunion for Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi, who both starred in the 2011 film The Crucible.

An animated prequel, Seoul Station, also directed by Yeon, was released less than a month later.


A zombie (Haitian French: zombi, Haitian Creole: zonbi) is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works. The term comes from Haitian folklore, in which a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic. Modern depictions of the reanimation of the dead do not necessarily involve magic but often invoke science fictional methods such as carriers, radiation, mental diseases, vectors, pathogens, scientific accidents, etc.The English word "zombie" is first recorded in 1819, in a history of Brazil by the poet Robert Southey, in the form of "zombi". The Oxford English Dictionary gives the origin of the word as West African, and compares it to the Kongo words nzambi (god) and zumbi (fetish). A Kimbundu-to-Portuguese dictionary from 1903 defines the related word nzumbi as soul, while a later Kimbundu–Portuguese dictionary defines it as being a "spirit that is supposed to wander the earth to torment the living."One of the first books to expose Western culture to the concept of the voodoo zombie was The Magic Island by W. B. Seabrook in 1929. This is the sensationalized account of a narrator who encounters voodoo cults in Haiti and their resurrected thralls. Time claimed that the book "introduced 'zombi' into U.S. speech".Zombies have a complex literary heritage, with antecedents ranging from Richard Matheson and H. P. Lovecraft to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein drawing on European folklore of the undead. In 1932, Victor Halperin directed White Zombie, a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Here zombies are depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. Zombies, often still using this voodoo-inspired rationale, were initially uncommon in cinema, but their appearances continued sporadically through the 1930s to the 1960s, with notable films including I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

A new version of the zombie, distinct from that described in Haitian folklore, emerged in popular culture during the latter half of the twentieth century. This "zombie" is taken largely from George A. Romero's seminal film Night of the Living Dead, which was in turn partly inspired by Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend. The word zombie is not used in Night of the Living Dead but was applied later by fans. The monsters in the film and its sequels, such as Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, as well as its many inspired works, such as Return of the Living Dead and Zombi 2, are usually hungry for human flesh, although Return of the Living Dead introduced the popular concept of zombies eating brains. The "zombie apocalypse" concept, in which the civilized world is brought low by a global zombie infestation, became a staple of modern popular art.

However, the late 2000s and 2010s saw the humanization of the zombie archetype, with the zombies increasingly portrayed as friends and even love interests for humans. Notable examples of the latter include movies Warm Bodies and Life After Beth, novels Generation Dead by Daniel Waters and Bone Song by John Meaney, and TV series Pushing Daisies and iZombie. In this context, zombies are often seen as stand-ins for discriminated groups struggling for equality, and the human-zombie romantic relationship is interpreted as a metaphor for sexual liberation and taboo breaking (given that zombies are subject to wild desires and free from social conventions).

Zombie Apocalypse (band)

Zombie Apocalypse is a crossover thrash/metalcore band formed by current members of Shai Hulud, Shallow Water Grave, and The Risk Taken, as well as former members of the '90s New Jersey band Try.Fail.Try. In 1998, Shai Hulud members created a zombie-themed band project, called Boddicker. Boddicker recorded a 2-song demo in 1998 that was never released. Those two songs are now Zombie Apocalypse songs.

Their music is characterized by very short, thrashcore-like, fast songs thematically concerned with zombies and the apocalypse, as the band name would imply. Their lyrics have a political undercurrent that uses horrific imagery as a metaphor to touch on various political, personal, and social issues. They have released two albums: This Is a Spark of Life, on Indecision Records and featuring artwork by Dan Henk, and a split with Leeds, UK-based, and fellow zombie enthusiasts, Send More Paramedics, called Tales Told by Dead Men, released in North America on Hell Bent Records and in Europe on In at the Deep End Records. They also contributed a cover of Welcome to the Jungle to a Guns N' Roses tribute album released by Reignition Records.

Although the term "zombiecore" has been used with reference to Zombie Apocalypse, the band itself has never made any claim to any specific genre.

Zombie Apocalypse (film)

Zombie Apocalypse (or 2012: Zombie Apocalypse) is a 2011 American zombie horror film by Syfy and The Asylum starring Ving Rhames, Gary Weeks, Johnny Pacar, Robert Blanche, Anya Monzikova, Lesley-Ann Brandt and Taryn Manning. It was released on the Syfy channel on October 29, 2011. It was released on DVD on December 27, 2011.

Zombie Apocalypse (video game)

Zombie Apocalypse is a downloadable shoot 'em up video game developed by Nihilistic Software and published by Konami. It was released in North America for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade on September 23, 2009 and for the PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on September 24, 2009.

In 2011, a sequel was released, Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone.

Zombie film

A zombie film is a film genre. Zombies are fictional creatures usually portrayed as reanimated corpses or virally infected human beings. They are commonly portrayed as cannibalistic in nature. While zombie films generally fall into the horror genre, some cross over into other genres, such as comedy, science fiction, thriller, or romance. Distinct subgenres have evolved, such as the "zombie comedy" or the "zombie apocalypse". Zombies are distinct from ghosts, ghouls, mummies, Frankenstein's monsters or vampires, so this list does not include films devoted to these types of undead.Victor Halperin's White Zombie was released in 1932 and is often cited as the first zombie film.

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