Breaking Down the Different Types of Zombies Across Video Games, TV and Movies

latest 2 e1680711463604
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Chances are that if you’ve consumed anywhere near the average amount of media – whether that be in the form of books, comics, movies, TV shows, games or even music – you’ve come across the many different types of zombies in some way, shape or form. Zombies have been a staple in pop culture for a very long time and, ironically, throughout history when there have been periods where it looked like they were dying out, they rose again.

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The word “zombie” itself is likely of West African origin and although early on it referred to a dead body reanimated through voodoo or magic (think White Zombie), in the 60s, the late George A. Romero crafted what we now think of as zombies with his film Night of the Living Dead—albeit calling them ghouls at the time.

Since then, zombies have infected all kinds of media like those listed above, notably Dawn of the Dead in movies, Left 4 Dead in gaming and even Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ music video.

All of the different kinds of interpretations of zombies have blurred the lines a little in recent years, for example the debate about whether the infected in The Last of Us are zombies or just a take on them. Below, we’ve decided to list out some of the different kinds of zombies through media and explain them.


1 walkers

As seen in The Walking Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Days Gone

This is the most common kind of zombie out there and is likely exactly what you imagine when you think of what a zombie is. As suggested by their name, these are slow moving zombies that will rot over time and wander aimlessly until they see or smell some brains to eat. One slow moving zombie on its own might not seem to be the biggest threat, but as seen in the media listed above, walkers tend to herd up and are very durable, usually only able to be killed by attacking the brain itself. They’re strikingly similar to Romero zombies, a.k.a. the zombie kind popularized by the late legend George A. Romero.


2 runners
Fox Searchlight Pictures

As seen in World War Z, 28 Days Later, Left 4 Dead

Runners, as you might be able to guess by their name, are zombies that can run fast. Not just run fast either, but run at full sprint and usually for a long time because they do not tire in the same way that humans do, making them a very serious threat. Where they often fall short is that they’re not as durable as the aforementioned walkers and sometimes, a wound to the chest can be enough to eliminate them entirely. Of course, taking the legs out from running zombies is also a great antidote.


3 stalkers
Paramount Pictures

As seen in Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green, Left 4 Dead

Rounding up our trio of zombies that are defined by how they move are stalkers, also often referred to as ferals or hunters. They move around on all fours like a big cat which is a particularly frightening thought. One theory about why this happens is that they have regressed so much that they’ve fallen back on the evolutionary chain, making them quadrupedal. Moving on all fours makes them faster than walkers, but slower than runners. In the worst-case scenario (for survivors having to fight these zombies anyway), these zombies can crawl quickly up walls and have predatory instincts.

Armored Zombies

4 armored
Sony Interactive Entertainment

As seen in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, The Last of Us

Armored zombies are some of the hardest zombies to defeat, especially when you’re up against them in the later stages of a game like the one’s listed above. The armor here can come in the form of thick fungus that act as armor plates or even literal body armor that remain on zombies that the human versions of them were wearing when they died. The former you might recognize as the fierce bloater from episode 5 of The Last of Us that took a hell of a lot of shots before falling. The latter can be found in Black Ops Cold War, where the zombies are wearing helmets and vest, helping them out against gunfire.

Voodoo Zombies

5 voodoo
RKO Radio Pictures

As seen in I Walked with a Zombie

As we mentioned in the introduction, zombies initially started out as the dead being brought back to life by voodoo/magic. They also function a little differently to what we usually understand as zombies though. They’re brought back to life by some kind of witch doctor and are usually under the spell of that doctor until they die or are cured – yes, these kinds of zombies can often be cured. Somewhat strangely, they also don’t need to feed on human flesh.

Animal Zombies

6 animal
Next Entertainment World

As seen in Resident Evil Outbreak, Train To Busan, The Last Man on Earth

These zombies are a little less common throughout movies, shows and games etc., but when they appear and are done well, they’re a treat. They either appear on their own or intelligent zombies (which we’ll get to later) can sometimes keep them as pets. Some of the better examples of these are Oscar in Resident Evil Outbreak or the undead deer in Train To Busan. It’s a particularly eerie feeling to see a domesticated animal like a dog or cat as a zombie too.


7 exploding
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

As seen in Dead Island, 7 Days To Die, Dying Light

Exploders, a.k.a. suiciders, are zombies that commonly appear in games because the mechanic of trying to kill a zombie that will explode eventually is a lot of fun. What they project may not necessarily be fatal to humans, but if the explosion is big enough, bone fragments can get sent flying far, so they’re definitely something to avoid. Many exploders will have a bloated stomach, but otherwise, they might not be distinguishable from your average walker, runner or stalker, making them all the more dangerous.

Intelligent Zombies

8 intelligent

As seen in Marvel Zombies, Land of the Dead, Undead or Alive

Anyone that was a fan of the Marvel Zombies series of comics or the What If?... episode based around the series will have already come across intelligent zombies. In the episode (spoiler alert), some of your favourite Avengers turn into zombies but they retain their intelligence and awareness of their powers, making them superior threats. Like we mentioned earlier, they can sometimes keep animal zombies as pets and will have reasoning skills, making them arguably the most formidable threat of all zombies.

Cordyceps Zombies

9 cordyceps

As seen in The Last of Us, The Girl with All the Gifts

These are one of the most popular kinds of zombies out there right now, thanks to the success of the TV adaptation of The Last of Us. Of course, these kinds of zombies are infected with a parasitic fungus that wants to spread. In TLOU specifically, there are multiple stages of infection (if you’re a viewer of the show that hasn’t played the second game yet, spoilers ahead), starting from the standard runner all the way up to a Rat King, which combines multiple zombies together to form one inexplicably strong zombie that’s terrifying and difficult to kill, retaining all of the powers of the zombies from previous stages. There’s some debate about whether these Infected are zombies at all, but some consider the specific classification to be archaic.


10 regenerating
Mojang Studios

As seen in Dead Space, Minecraft

Imagine coming face to face with a zombie and taking off one of its limbs only to see it grow back immediately. This is an extreme example because the rate at which regenerators actually regenerate varies greatly, but it has been seen before. One thing they all have in common is that the longer they have to recover, the worse it is for humans trying to fight them. In Minecraft, zombies that consume a piece of rotten flesh can regen some health.


11 screamer
Sony Interactive Entertainment

As seen in Days Gone, Ravenous

Last but not least are screamers, a uniquely frustrating type of zombie to come across. As frustrating as it might be, they don’t just scream for the sake of it. Their screams specifically attract more zombies, so if you’re head-to-head with one, it’s worth taking out as quickly as possible. In Days Gone, an underrated zombie game, the screech of a screaming zombie will not only catch the attention of other zombies (or freakers as they’re referred to in-game), but they’ll also disorient you to the point of knocking you off your bike.

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