Top 3 Character Clichés In Zombie Movies

By Maggie Tan

There’s just something about apocalypse movies that I seem to love. However, when there are zombies involved: even better. The case with zombie movies, though, is that once you’ve seen a zombie flick, you’ve basically seen them all. As zombie movies flood the market, so the clichés come peeking around the corner. The question is whether fans will continue to watch zombie movies despite of it all. Let’s take a look at some of the most common character clichés in zombie movies.

Characters who fail to recognize zombies

I find it particularly striking that there are always characters in zombie movies who just do not seem to get their head around the fact that, yes, they have indeed come face-to-face with a zombie. Some character’s friend would be standing in his doorway and this person would be totally oblivious that his friend has turned into a zombie. What with the blood-soaked shirt, the missing jaw and the decomposing body, you’d think that this character has picked up on the fact that his friend is a flesh-eating cannibal. But no. As this character proceeds to approach his friend, stupidly asking: “Hey man, are you alright? Maybe you should see a doctor”, his friend will just rip off a chunk of his neck. What are the odds?

Characters who cannot outrun zombies

Zombies are not particularly known to be the stealthiest beings in zombie movies. They make themselves known. They groan loudly, stumble over obstacles and knock down every possible object down the road as they advance toward the characters. At the pace the zombies are moving, the survivors could have just sauntered slowly to any vehicle and got away, if they so desire. Given the fact that a zombie walks at the speed of a confused old lady, the characters probably do not even need a vehicle to be at a safe distance from the zombies. They could have simply walked away from them. I can’t help but wonder how the characters always manage to be caught up by the zombies and get devoured. In recent movies, though, zombies can run like Olympic sprint champions. Whatever works.

Characters who endanger other group members

In zombie movies, there is always a character’s dad, boyfriend, or what have you, who got bit by a zombie and decides to keep this little piece of information from the rest of the characters. Yes, why not? Eventually, someone lets the cat out of the bag and the character would beg and wail: “Please don’t kill my father, he is the only one I got!”, and the dad would get shot in the head anyway. Other times, a character would deny that he got bit, or he’d say: “Oh, it is just a scratch. No need to worry.”, while standing there with blood oozing out of his gaping wound. A somewhat intelligent group member catches on and prevents a catastrophe from happening by bashing that person’s head in with a bat. As baffling as it sounds, most of the time the characters would believe the infected person’s story and they happily get on with their lives. Until the inevitable happens: that person transforms into a zombie and turns some of the group members into his zombie friends. Classic.

In the end, zombie movies are not free from clichés. But then again, which movies are? The cinema will find new ways to reinvent the theme, even if we’ve seen the same clichés over and over again. I’m sure most fans don’t even mind the clichés in zombie movies, and neither do I. My only complaint is that I can’t get enough of them.


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