Six characters will show up in any zombie movie you watch or video game you play, no matter how edgy or unique they think they’re being. The greats, George A. Romero and the Resident Evil series, helped define these roles, but they weren’t shy about re-using them, either.
The best way to prepare for the zombie apocalypse is to identify these people in your circles and make sure you’re not among the doomed archetypes.
The Zombie Sympathizer:
They’re either becoming a zombie themselves or harboring one, and they can spell big trouble for a group of survivors. They’re typically used to bring in the emotion of having to kill a spouse or a loved one before that person begins snacking on brains. Sometimes they feed an-already turned zombie, but most of the time they simply hide their own or someone else’s bite. Those who exhibit extreme loyalty and little common sense most often fall into this category.
Examples: Andre hiding Luda’s bite and their zombie baby in Dawn of the Dead, Britta and Rich from the zombie episode of Community, L.J. in Resident Evil: Extinction.
The nerd is usually a guy who is either very much into technology, the internet or finance. It might be an odd combo, but zombie movies typically reach for the stereotypical ‘nerd on the couch playing video games’ character. They usually look like they’re studying for an online MBA program at night while working as computer programmer during the day. They’re highly technical, busy with work and school, and often lack some social skills. The nerd usually has to stand up for himself and be brave at one point during the film or game, which he always manages. You’re probably in this category if you work in the IT department, are in college while working a full-time job, or spend your spare time playing video games.
Examples: Main character from Zombieland, Louis from Left 4 Dead
The Cool Loner Who Just Won’t Die:
No matter if they drop off of buildings, appear to have gotten eaten or end up left behind, this person simply will not die the first time. Occasionally they’ll come back just to sacrifice themselves for the group, but most of the time they return completely unscathed. This character is never the leader—but they’re one of the first people you would look to for solid advice. As a requirement, they must ooze coolness and have either an NRA membership or a black belt.
Examples: Tallahassee from Zombieland; Ada from the Resident Evil series; Rain from the Resident Evil movie
The Eight Year Old Who Somehow Survives:
There’s always at least one child to heighten the tension. After all, one adult can only be so responsible for another, but a child adds a whole different dimension to the relationship between survivors. They’ve miraculously survived on their own without adult supervision, but once they’re integrated into the group, they can’t be left alone and every decision will revolve around keeping them safe. Be sure to keep your child home if there are reports of cannibalistic murders to keep them from being separated from you in the apocalypse.
Examples: Angie Birkin from the Resident Evil movies, Sherrie Birkin from Resident Evil 2, Hannah from 28 Days Later, Tammy and Andy from 28 Weeks Later
The Annoying Idiot:
He’s marked as a red shirt from the start, since you’ll need a basic level of common sense to make it through the zombie apocalypse. Usually, the character is a smart-mouthed loner who doesn’t need other people. Usually about the time he starts to get really annoying, he rejects whatever plan the group is concocting, and then dies almost immediately. He’s the morality tale of the zombie universe. If you don’t want to be this guy, scale back a bit on the puns and stay with the group.
Examples: Numerous characters who don’t live long enough to be named
The (usually female) student is somehow always a natural shot. She’s been studying art history, or something as far removed from survival tactics as possible, but she’s one of the more likely characters to survive. She’s often protective of those around her and can handle more trauma than many of the other characters. The freshman 15 seems to have missed her, as she is always in perfect shape. This will be the girl you know who gets a B average and plays an equal amount of sports and video games. Chances are she already has a Resident Evil poster in her room next to her weight lifting set.
Examples: Claire from Resident Evil 2 and CVX; Zoey from Left 4 Dead; “High School of the Dead” characters; Hannah from 28 Days Later.
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EB Original by Whitney Jones