Why Are We Obsessed With Zombies?

From the Walking Dead to Plants vs. Zombies, we nerds seem to have an obsession with the Undead.  It's particularly prevalent during the Halloween season, but there is a subset of nerd culture that bathes in zombie media all year round.

Why is this?

Do we have an innate desire to kill things?

Does unloading a shotgun into a zombie satisfy that need, without the pesky guilt that would accompany shooting an actual living person?

I'm not really sure.  There must be a deeper reason.

So I ask you...

Why are we obsessed Zombies? 


  1. I've wondered about this; zombies just seem so trendy lately, and I'm almost getting bored by them.
    I think that part of it is how it's kind of a blend of so many of our favorite things to fear. It's a disease, it's a person who wants to kill you, it's cannibalism, it's hopelessness in the face of death, it's something that can control you against your will; all things that make great horror plots on their own. Plus it kind of plays to the sense that you and maybe a few other people are "cool" while the rest of humanity is pretty much a mass of mindless automatons.

    There's a cynical side of me that also sees zombie as a new "other" that political correctness can't object to, making them a metaphor for all kinds of things. They're the "other" that seems to have just appeared one day, and they can turn you into one of them just by touching you: your only defense is aggression and isolation. Let them fill the streets while you and your friends keep yourselves safe inside a commercial industrial complex - but be careful, because one of your friends might secretly be one of them! It's vague enough that everyone can fill in the blanks with their own fears, making it the one thing we can all actually agree on.

    I don't really think that that's what anyone's actually doing, but the zombie mechanic is pretty simple and lends itself well to a lot of different things. I suppose it's built up enough critical mass now that it's kind of an iconic thing, where we can have things like plants vs. zombies and that sort of thing. PvZ doesn't really use any uniquely zombie-type mechanics (your plants don't turn into zombie plants that try to eat your other plants, though that would be cool too), but I don't think it would have worked at all if it had been "plants vs. aliens" or something.

    1. Jeremy, wow. I think you nailed it. I really didn't understand the proliferation of Zombie media. I thought it was just another trend, like Vampires. But the points that you made all make perfect sense. I get it now. Thank you for such a well thought out comment.

  2. zombie stories are never really about zombies; they tend to explore some aspect of the human condition, using the zombie hordes as a catalyst.

    Romero hit the red scare, and capitalism/consumerism. The Walking Dead plays with class, group dynamics, and family. Jonathan Coulton's "RE: Your Brains" can be read as a commentary on modern business culture. Others have hit isolation, friendship, and romance.

    I think it's the versatility that keeps creative types coming back.

    1. Excellent points Chuck. That makes sense to me. Zombies do act as a great stand in for a larger issue. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. Actually, I just think people are sick of sparkly vampires. I used to be a vampire fan, but I switched. Kind of like switching from decaf to caf. :D

    What personally appeals to me is that the genre is so versatile. They can be horrifying and tragic so you can exorcise your dark side without fear of reprisal, or they can just be funny. I tend to like the more humorous tales, but sometimes gross can be fun too. Also if you like scary, what's more scary than watching a loved one turn into a monster?

    Sorry my answer isn't all that deep, just my thoughts. :)

    1. Makes sense. You're right, I think the versatility may be the reason for the abundance of zombie media. Thanks Cathy.

  4. I have often wondered this myself, I do know if we ever see one in really life we would be shit scared, which is ironic in a way, when someone dies we often wish they would come back.

    Happy Haloween!!

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