Most movies and TV shows offer their own little tweaks to monster lore. Some werewolves only turn on the full moon; others can change at will. Some vampires can walk in the daylight; others will burn. But one thing stays pretty consistent: zombies are mindless, staggering goons. Sure, some zombies can run, or at least walk fast, but for the most part, they shuffle and eat. Shuffle and eat. That's it. But every once in a while, a zombie separates itself from the pack. Somehow, they overcome their decomposition and do something reminiscent of their human life.
In honor of the new season of The Walking Dead (which premieres Sunday, October 16th on AMC) - one of the smartest zombie properties ever - we have compiled a list of five film and TV zombies that have really stood out from the pack.
The Walking Dead Pilot Episode - Morgan's Wife
Traditional zombie wisdom says that zombies have no memories. How can they when their brain is just a putrid, rotting sack of sludge? Nothing about The Walking Dead is traditional, so their zombies should be no exception. In the premiere episode of season one, Rick Grimes hooks up with Morgan and his son, purely because they are the only humans Rick has been able to find. When a zombie horde moves in, the trio hide out in Morgan's house. One of those in the horde is Morgan's zombified wife, and she sees drawn to the house...
Notable Achievement: Upon arriving at her former home, Morgan's wife actually turns the doorknob, likely acting out of some deep-seated instinct left over from her human days.
Day of the Dead - Bub
In the third installment of George Romero's legendary Dead series, researchers are using zombies as lab rats (because really, in a zombie apocalypse, you need a hobby). One of the military captains doesn't take to kindly to this kind of research, so he offs the lead scientist, angering Bub, who sees the scientist as a friend.
Notable Achievement: He picks up a gun and starts shooting. His aim sucks, but he's dead, so he gets points just for pulling the trigger.
Land of the Dead - Big Daddy
One of the best-known "intelligent" zombies is referred to as Big Daddy. Once a gas station attendant, Big Daddy is the king of the zombies when he looks away from the fireworks and understands that he doesn't have to be beholden to them. While zombies don't have the coordination to swim, Big Daddy understands that zombies aren't tethered to things like "oxygen," so he leads his swarm across the rich people's moat by walking on the floor.
Notable Achievement: Remembering from his human life that gasoline and fire make for a winning combination.
Fido - Fido
This underrated zom-com from 2006 is set in a 1950s-style slice of Americana. The humans won in the Zombie Wars, and as such, zombies are outfitted with shock collars and utilized as slaves. One family, however, sees their zombie as more like a member of the family. The little boy names him Fido, and they have a very "boy and his dog"-style relationship. There is even a Lassie moment when the boy gets kidnapped by bullies and Fido runs off to get mom.
Notable Achievement: The patriarch of the family is killed, and Fido steps in as the new head of household. He doesn't even need his shock collar anymore.
The Return of the Living Dead - All of ‘em
No one zombie stands out in The Return of the Living Dead. Well, Tarman does, but he is not terribly unique aside from his extra-gross visage. There is no leader; no one has an "identity." But the Return zombies are notable for being the first to talk.
Notable Achievement: They were the first to bring moans of "Braaaaaaaaains" into popular culture.