Zombies are Dead

I’m requesting an intervention.

The next time someone wants to write a story, do me a favor… don’t include zombies.

If you have the urge to type that “z” word, stop yourself. Think long and hard about what you’re about to do… and then don’t.

It’s been done. It’s been done to death, raised, killed again, and then had a dozen boring variations on the theme brought out to try and make it seem cute, much like these “done to death” cliché lines.

Now, I understand your fascination with zombies. You can do SO MUCH with your story, using zombies as a metaphor for something else.

Zombies are symbolic of the human condition, and very tempting to use to make your point.

If you want to talk about how a person can feel alone in a crowd, few things represent it quite so well as having that someone running around surrounded by mindless, unresponsive, hostile zombies that just don’t ‘get’ you, no matter how hard they try. A sea of faces, blank or hostile, that are all around you, but no matter how loudly you scream for help, you are still all alone in a cold, threatening world that sometimes seems to hate you.

But here’s the thing. It’s been done. It’s been done, the point has been made, it wasn’t even a point, it was a massive sledgehammer of brutal obviousness ramming the entire concept down your throat.

Zombies do NOT equal subtlety.

So why is it people will not leave zombies alone? Why do we keep getting zombie movies, books, comic books, video games all in seemingly endless derivations?

Does someone out there think that there is still some untapped reserve of zombie goodness, some secret well that, once found, will gush forth with a fresh perspective that adds something new?

Here’s a secret for you. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.


I don’t have to be more specific. Whatever the hell it was, if you were thinking about it plus zombies, it’s been done.

If your idea was, just pulling something out of my butt, literary fictional classics and zombies, I bet it’s been done somewhere.

I’m sure if you looked, and I’m not even going to bother, but I’ll bet you could find a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, all done with added zombie.

Zombies in Space? Oh, please. There’s even been Jason Voorhees in space, for the love of memes!

Oh, are your zombies from a plague, the main characters are isolated and alone and fearing infection, and you’re making a witty statement by having the healthy be the minority, hurting and alone, and the sick be the uncaring, unfeeling masses? No, we missed that you inverted things to make your point. We are completely incapable of grasping your intended statement about aids or other communicable diseases, and how terrible the isolation feels, without the addition of zombies.

Oh yeah. You’re a freaking genius. Our silence stems from stunned admiration. Or a cowlike obliviousness. You pick. You will anyway.

Does your special zombie breed come from some alien cause, and part of the horror is being alone in a world that is not just hostile, but is unknown and unknowable, something you will never understand or be able to deal with, where all you can do is try and survive and keep ahold of your sanity, and find hope amongst the hopeless even when it seems there is no possible future to be found?

Well, just so long as it’s done with zombies.

Just, yes. We get it.

Funny zombies, scary zombies, adventure zombies, mercenary zombies going into war torn regions of the world to rescue political prisoners, a world of the living dead where humans are long gone and all that is left are zombies versus vampires, I DON’T CARE!

Just stop it.

Just… stop it.

We keep seeing the same cycles. New zombie story is very, very serious business. Next zombie story  is a variation on the theme, playing on some popular small bit the fans of the serious movie liked, like special forces vs zombies. Then the humorous take on zombies comes out, poking fun at the ‘serious zombie’ story. Then the self-conscious ironic take on the zombie story comes out, lampooning the whole thing, tongue sticking out of rotted cheek.

Then, a new serious zombie story comes out to remind people what a serious zombie story is, and is acclaimed as revolutionary, revitalizing the genre.

And it starts all over again!



Just say no.

If you still feel the urge, that primal drive to write or direct something that has zombies in it, if you feel that your message, whatever the hell it may be, can only be said through the use of the shambling undead, then prove it to yourself.

Take a moment of private time to contemplate Edward Hoppers’ painting, Nighthawks. Don’t think about it, don’t try to analyze it or break it down, just contemplate it. Let it seep in.

Now, while you’re contemplating Nighthawks, in the back of your mind, just let this thought seep into view…

Could I improve this by adding a zombie?

Think about it. Then go write a screenplay featuring cartoon characters from the ’80s in our modern world. You’ll display the same creative integrity, but aren’t they so cute.

If you’re a bitter nihilist, you’ll make the cartoon characters be zombies, just to spite us.

Zombie Smurf has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

At this point, straight up, I’d rather see just about any other damn thing than a new zombie story.

I won’t specifically name which zombie ‘thing’ was the inspiration for this post, I’ll leave it to your imagination to come up with the possible culprits. I’m sure you won’t be lacking possibilities. If someone somehow does guess right, I’ll say so, but I won’t confirm what type of media it was. Well, I’ll narrow it down for you. It was either a movie, book, comic book or video game.

Yeah, that narrowed it down. At least you won’t be wondering which music video set me off.

I will say, for the record, that it wasn’t “They Live“, only because, well, it was hilarious, I love Rowdy Roddy Piper, the alley brawl is legendary, and I feel like giving it a pass, even though you could use it as a freaking textbook case of what I’m talking about. 

Oh… and psych! If you made it this far, smile. I’ve been having some fun with you. What’s the point of doing Aprils Fools posts on Aprils Fools Day when everybody expects it?

You’ve been Bearwalled!

32 thoughts on “Zombies are Dead

  1. Meh. I was never really a fan of zombies in the first place to be honest. Never liked em. But in all seriousness, the epitome of zombie media in my opinion will always be World War Z. Best damn book I ever read. I’ve really never seen that take on zombies replicated anywhere else.


  2. Only zombies I’m worried about are in flippin’ Minecraft atm so I’ve probably missed the trigger somewhat.

    Anyhow, Braaaaaaiiiiinnnnnnssss!


  3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was actually pretty good. As was Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I recommend them both if you’re that unique brand of nerd who appreciates both English literature and zombies.


  4. You’re missing one point about zombies, BigBear. They are an attractive enemy in movies, games, etc because there’s no political group that can get angry about it. You can do anything to a zombie and pass it off as nothing more than crude violent humor. Nobody say “Oh, I see. Sticking his head in the deep fryer is funny because zombies love Fried Chicken, is that it?”

    I agree that we’re close to reaching overdose on zombies right now. But it’s nice to have one genre that can’t be taken away by people who want us to be more “sensitive to the feelings of the previously living.”


  5. If the stupid zombie media wasn’t the game dead rising then I’ve no clue what it could be. I would like to pony out that zombies could possibly be just zombies with no hidden meaning. I also need to agree with the comment of replacing zombie with vampire.


  6. And please add Vampires, Werewolves, child wizards, apprentice stories and every other bloody re-hash that we are seeing now. Don’t event start me on bloody Spiderman. Too soon…ya think?

    Game of Thrones has shown that good fantasy based fiction and adaptation is plausible and effective – do more of that. Don’t make Battleships into a movie, make one of the Culture novels by Ian M Banks into a film. The Player of Games is ripe for a film, or even Use of Weapons would be darn good.

    ahem..end nerd-rant.


  7. Man, bear, that was a kick straight to my egos crotch?


    I recently just started running a survival/horror table top role-playing game, and the primary threat? Zombies. Well, actually, the zombies have proven far less lethal to the players as to their “lets insult the other survivors with guns.” But the world is post Z-day.

    Of course, I’m not trying to make a political statement on the human condition and the depravity of man…I just wanted to give the players a threat that their “real world” characters could quickly comprehend and understand (and feel slightly less dirty killing), and super virus zombies was a much simpler concept then some convoluted Plan 9 from outerspace alien menace attempting to raise the dead style plot. I wanted to put my usual Monte Hall styled gamer buddies to have to work for their characters survival.

    Every piece of canned food becomes more and more valuable with each passing day, every bullet scrounged up is one to help prolong the inevitable. While they may be able to slaughter zombies, they need to stay constantly on the move lest they become over run, every injury slows them down while they are forced to recover. Am I writing the next great story, hell no. Am I and my players enjoying the hell out of the change of pace, yes.

    As much as this past decade has quickly become “of the zombie” sometimes they really do make the best villain for the situation.

    (PS: I seriously doubt this was one of the things that would push you over the edge, couldnt help replying though)


    • Based on World War Z?

      Gotta say that the Zombie Survival Guide is one of the funniest pseudo-tactical handbooks I’ve ever read.


      • Nopers, my own custom plot. Using the most recent world of darkness rules (except, all the players are straight up normal mortals, no true faith, no gnosis, no magic gypsy blood, nada) for the game system.

        If your familiar with the system the zombies I have inflicting bashing damage most the time unless they manage to knock someone prone. However, lethal damage takes a rather realistic length of time to heal. A shootout broke out with some other survivors (player made the mistake that southern accent = stupid) and two of the characters got shot before they managed to negotiate a ceasefire, their injuries will take a few weeks to fully recover from. It was definitely a wake up call for the party.

        How is world war z?

        I love the zombie survival guide myself, I also loved the CDC’s zombie outbreak guide they posted, even though it was just good standard survival stuff with some zombie shtick on top i still loved it.


  8. I’m hurt, I really am. People always pick on me and don’t want to sit beside me on the bus and now my favorite bear writes a personal attack bearwall? What is a poor Zombiee to do?

    Joking aside, I can’t agree more. While the industry seems to get stuck on a certain subject (comics, zombies, vampires, werewolves, remakes) zombies just keep sticking around. The day they make a movie of Zombies vs Alien vs Predator vs Universal Soldier vs Demolition Man is when I quit … unless the trailer looks good.


  9. There’s even a Star Wars book I remember picking up once (yeah, yeah, laugh all you want) and it was about a disease that essentially zombified Storm Troopers… … … Zombie Storm Troopers. Really? That desperate, Lucas?

    Or who can forget the hype about “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, and also by the same author, “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”?

    I loved being Bear Wall’d, by the way. ❤


  10. But, but, but….I totally agree with the fact that Zombies are SOOOOOOO overdone!! Maybe I’m still trying to re-cooperate from the Scourge invasion that took over WoW in 2009. But honestly the fact that Zombie movies are viewed as Horror is just an injustice to the Horror movie genre. Are you serious? I don’t view Zombies scary at all. It is always the same story…Person gets infected, person attacks other person and the rest of humanity runs for their lives. Seriously, come up with something NEW!!!! >.<


  11. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is my guess.

    I got Boneshaker, a steampunk book with zombies, not realizing zombies were an integral part of the book (basically they take over Seattle, which is walled in and only accessible by airship). Still haven’t finished it 6 months later, its just sooo dull.


    • I got Boneshaker because it was steampunk and set in Seattle (where I was born and only a couple hour drive North of where I currently live).

      I want to say that your description of “sooo dull” is very close to mine, although I would add “predictable”.

      I finished it, and sold it back to the bookstore, unfortunately for lots less than I paid for it. 🙂

      I have not yet had any desire to purchase any of the author’s other books.


  12. I can’t get me enough zombies. Ever since seeing Night of the Living Dead as the local midnight monster movie when I was something like 10, I’ve had this affliction. Even terrible zombie stuff… I have to watch, read or play it. Its a compulsion. I’ve had conversations with strangers in bars about the best weapons and tactics in the zombie apocalypse. These people seem to suffer from the same condition. I’ve later played the “Oh No, Zombies” board game with one of those persons.

    I think I may need zombie content to survive. I am also compelled to try and introduce people to new and interesting zombie content. iZombie is an excellent new comic from Vertigo that is not your typical zombie story.


  13. I love zombie movies but I had the same outpouring of emotion you describe when I saw a commercial the other day for what appears to be a remake of the movie Fright Night….gaaaaahhhhhh enough already with the remakes of cheesy movies about vampires!


  14. I was going to be all hurt and sadface because I adore everything zombie. But then I got to the end.

    If you’re looking for good fiction with zombies (even if they’re not really what the books are about), I would recommend the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. Third one isn’t out until next May, but the first two (Feed and Deadline) are out and fantastic. Feed is basically about politics and journalistic integrity and blogging against the backdrop of the world 20-some years after the Rising, and Deadline is about power and the lengths people or organisations will go to to get and keep it (again, agasint the backdrop of zombies), and I swear to god, they are the best books I’ve ever read in my life. And I was reading Jane Eyre when I was in sixth grade. (Just to point out that I read a fucking LOT)

    So… yeah. 🙂


  15. The interesting thing in your post-april fool’s joke is that I agreed with every word you said. The only change I would make is every time you see the word “Zombies,” replace it with “Zombies and Vampires.”


  16. If people stopped making zombie-related things, we wouldn’t have got Plants vs Zombies, or Shaun of the Dead 😀 More seriously, I can’t say I agree with the idea that just because something’s been done countless times already, that nobody should do it again. Today it’s zombies, tomorrow it might be heroic fantasy stories.


    • Now see, I agree with your counterpoint.

      It’s been said that everything has already been done, and we’re just spinning out variations on established themes. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the themes, or love revisiting familiar territory.

      Where I get irritated is at that point where people keep churning the same crap out over and over because some marketing team somewhere says, “Hey, blank is hot right now, we should get a product out there and make some money off blank. Let’s find some deluded soul that thinks they’ve got that new artistic take nobody ever imagined before, someone that will talk passionately about their grand vision in front of the making of cameras, and we’ll finance it, pump it out, and cash in.”

      Oh, and totally hilarious… I go to Yahoo, and one of the lead stories is controversy over the new Brad Pitt movie, “World War Z”, about the zombie apocalypse, and how people are furious that the movie will be a watered down version of the book.

      You can’t make this shit up, my friends. I never heard of the book or movie before, this is completely coincidence.


      • Oh definitely, generating content when money is the sole motivation almost invariably results in something devoid of artistic/cultural value, no disagreement from me there. I guess I was just being naive thinking people make things because their artistic urges compel them to; I tend to not think about other reasons as they make me sad 😦


  17. Sorry Ronove, let me explain.

    I do indeed think every part of that above, that does represent my point of view.

    Where the joke comes in, is when I was walking around this morning and a something was the inspiration… I had this sudden idea, “What if I took this and ran with it in full-on, totally serious, passionate nerd rage? What if I just made it sound like I was sitting in a cubicle somewhere, and this, THIS was the single biggest issue on my mind today. Just, frothing at the mouth grrr.”

    Being who I am, I didn’t really go much deeper than that. It made me laugh, and thus was a silly post born.

    I stand by every word, but, um, without quite that level of intensity. 🙂


  18. I was mentally agreeing with you all the way through this post, despite my desire to play Dead Island, and then I hit the April Fool’s day bit and now… Now, I’m just kind of confused. Well done, sir.


  19. Needs to be a T-shirt. Big brick wall made up of words, druid bear scrunched up against the wall like he just slid face-first into it, with the legend “You’ve been Bearwalled”.

    With zombies.


  20. But … but … there are still so many corners to go into.

    Steampunk zombies.

    Furry steampunk zombies.

    Zombie slipstream.

    Epic fantasy zombies.

    (OK, Blizz kinda did that one to death) (hurr hurr see wut i did thar)


Comments are closed.