Modern zombies

Modern zombies or Hollywood zombies, as portrayed in books, films, games, and haunted attractions, are quite different from both voodoo zombies and those of folklore. Modern zombies are typically depicted in popular culture as mindless, unfeeling monsters with a hunger for human flesh.

Modern zombies come in mobs and waves, seeking either flesh to eat or people to kill or infect. They are generally incapable of communication and show no signs of personality or rationality.

Their collective and almost absurd presence (since they are dead) is closely tied to the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse the collapse of civilization caused by a vast plague of undead. The ideas are now so strongly linked that zombies are rarely depicted within any other context.

The idea of the zombie has been adapted and digested by the entertainment industry to give birth to hundreds of movies, books and comics on the subject.

This list covers the only the basics of zombie categories, so there is a whole world of variations and permutations to be seen out there.

These include infection type, locomotion, intellect levels, and origin. While the variations are almost endless, the more common ones we see are :

Viral/Infection Zombies

These zombies usually originate from some kind of virus or ailment. A bite or scratch from a zombie can lead to death. Upon death the corpse reawakens as a zombie with a craving to feed on and kill other beings. There are usually immediate memory loss and personality change. Bodies remain functional as long as there is a connection to the brain and no significant brain damage, even when appendages are missing or not operable. Not all ‘zombies’ in this category are technically undead. 

Parasite Zombies

Usually created by some sort of parasite, the human in question looses total control over his own body, which is hijacked by the host.

A parasite may it be alien or native can quickly spread within the population, controlling the decision centres and government officials. Such creatures can be found in Planet of Vampires or Ghosts of Mars. 

Radioactive Zombies

Radiation has numerous effects on biological tissue such as causing brain damage, deformations, or even mutations of DNA. This could result in zombification depending on what effect the radiation has on the organism.

Fast moving zombies or Runners

In some movies, zombies are portrayed as fast moving super-predators who seem to take on animal-like movements and hunting techniques. They sometimes run on all fours or sprint long distances until they have caught their prey. Sometimes they seem to go on the prowl in a zombie pack looking for people to devour. They can smell and hear you and there is no escape once one is on your trail. 

Fast Infected quickly gain ground on survivors and bring them down, attacking them in a frenzied manner. Some theorists propose runners are newly-made zombies that have not begun the process of decaying yet, and therefore still have most human capabilities. The only way to stop them from running is to disable their legs through severing large muscle groups, major bones, or eliminating them by shooting in the head like traditional zombies.

Fast Zombies can be found in the works of World War Z (i.e., the film adaptation, not the original novel), Dawn of the Dead (2004), 28 Days Later, World War Z (2013), REC 2, the video game series Left 4 Dead, Day Z, Zombieland, Z Nation, and many others.


Also known as Halvers, Chopped, and Ankle Biters, Crawlers are a well known and very annoying type of Zombie. Crawlers are completely disabled in their lower bodies and cannot walk or run like other types of undead. Crawlers must support their upper torso with their arms and must crawl along on the ground slowly to move to their desired destination. They can be disabled through muscle severing or leg severing; crawlers can also have their legs crushed by a heavy object or car.

Crawlers are usually depicted as low-profile but also incredibly important to keep an eye on. One of the most iconic portrayals of a crawler is in the premiere of The Walking Dead. Due to their low profile, they are harder to spot, as well as their low speed makes them a highly dangerous zombie if not paid attention to. The second one neglects to pay attention, they can be taken down by a crawler. This zombie can latch onto the survivor’s leg and bite down, infecting as well as maybe disabling their leg.

Writers in recent years have gotten creative with the idea of the zombie, which resulted in giving them more horrifying yet entertaining power-ups.

The variations are almost endless but we may notice the screaming zombies (allowing them to attract their co-corpses), puking zombies whose vomit can hurt and or infect; bursting zombies who at one touch, could burst and infect; space zombies who come from space or originate from extraterrestrial toxins; weaponized, armored or tank zombies (who have super strength and are impervious to regular attacks) are bio-engineered by hostile forces; symbiant-induced zombies are similar to pathogen-induced zombies, but they are created by parasitic life forms and don’t kill their host right away. Vegetarian zombies eat only plant life.