Episode 629: No Offense

Photo of author



Zombie Cliche Lookout: The Most Dangerous Game

If there’s one trope that zombie stories love returning to, it’s that people are far more dangerous than zombies. Sure, zombies are horrifying in a number of different ways, but they lack intellect and the ability to cooperate in any meaningful way. Zombies also lack the capability to recognize right and wrong. They have no consciousness, and thus the things they do can’t really be seen as evil. Zombies are much more of a force of nature than a “monster” in the moral sense. Yes, they kill people, but they do so out of animistic instinct rather than maliciousness.

The living, on the other hand, are very capable of evil. Beyond capable, even. We’re quite good at it, when we set our minds to it. While zombies are the draw in their own horror stories, they can never hold a candle to the evil that living humans can bring to the narrative.

About this Episode:

I’m trying very hard to maintain three comics a week. For the past two weeks, I’ve carved out a chunk of my weekend to write, shoot, edit, and post them. It’s worked so far, but there have been compromises. I simply don’t have as much time as I have before, and I’m spending most of it on the production of the comic itself. As a result, you are likely to find a lot more typos and grammatical errors in the write-ups. I apologize for this, and I hope you’ll have be patient with me as I figure out a good way to continue with the site.

Discussion Question: Evil People in Zombie Stories

As discussed above, there’s no hoarier a trope in zombie stories than living people being the real monsters. Naturally, this manifests in all sorts of ways, but it’s an element in the vast majority of zombie tales. The question is, has it been overdone? Don’t get me wrong here. It’s a trope because it’s likely true; there would indeed be awful, morally repellant people in the zombie apocalypse. Many of them, even. Despite that, I can’t help but feeling that zombie stories lean a little too heavily on the cliche. Maybe that’s just me though. What do you guys think?

17 thoughts on “Episode 629: No Offense”

  1. Typo alerts:

    “Zombie also lack the capability” Zombie–>Zombies

    Only one typo today! 😀

    • Not bad! Fixed.

  2. Your mouseover text asks the question of the difference between black and brown eyebrows. Well, it’s a rather big difference when they suddenly change color. Hair color is a genetic trait, and for Sam’s eyebrows to suddenly want to be a different color just doesn’t make any kind of sense to me at all. If hair color could change that magically, lead would have been transmuted into gold long ago, and production of large-scale gold laden products would have been done ages ago. Maybe Dave doesn’t see it as an issue. I see it as a rather important issue, especially when you’re trying to maintain some kind of continuity with characters, maintaining consistent character identity is very important.

    I know that hair color can go grey or white with age, but brown doesn’t seem to be a very likely hair color change and I’ve never heard of people browning with age! 😀

    • I was just making a joke.

      However, as to browning with age, my hair did just that. When I was a child I had very blond hair. Almost white when I was very young. As I got older, it slowly got darker and darker until it became brown (or it would be, if I didn’t shave my head).

      Of course, that’s not at all what happened with Sam. The eyebrow color was simply a compromise I made to give him a different expression. I don’t like it either, but it’s one of the trade-offs with the medium.

  3. As for this episode itself, she’s a very smart woman to lock herself in, who knows what Sam will be like in the morning? She probably expects to have to knock his zombiefied self in the head, and that’s perfectly rational thinking on her part. Keep ’em separated until you can be quite sure of whether they’re in immediate danger of turning into a zombie. I just hope Sam will be appreciative of his new sleeping quarters for the night! 😀

    • Right you are. On top of the possibility of him turning into a zombie, there’s also the possibility that he means her harm otherwise. Granted, a locked door wouldn’t stop him, but it would certainly slow him down and give her the opportunity to escape or prepare to fight.

  4. I haven’t watched a lot of zombie related stuff or read any really good books on them. I have, however, seen different angles on zombies, and people being the real monster reminds me of that Futurama series of episodes at the end of which some guy is shown to be collecting DNA samples of various creatures to make the most evil creature in the universe, only to be told by the end result after adding the final sample, that “It turns out it’s Man.” 😀

    Hilarious, but somehow that may be truer than any trope ever was or will be! 😀

    • Ah yes, that’s from The Scary Door, a spoof of The Twilight Zone. That one always gets a huge laugh out of me.

  5. I believe that in zombie books or movies, zombies are great, but it is difficult to make the heroes only fight the zombies, due to the repetitiveness of the fights. If there are too many zombies and not enough people the story seems like it is lacking in substance.
    But it has become a very common trait of books/movies and I find myself not able to fully enjoy the entire story because I am always on the lookout for the introduction of a villain, or a character who will turn to the dark side.
    Dawn of the Dead is unique in the aspect that there were no direct villains, just the motorcycle gang which remains nameless.

    • Excellent point, SB. There is an element of “craft”, for lack of a better term, in using living humans as bad guys to offset the zombie horde. It makes a lot of sense to do so for a variety of reasons. That said, I think it’s a bit overdone, to the point where the threat the zombies pose is often completely overlooked, or, even worse, marginalized.

      • I agree that its hard to have humans fight only zombies in a zombie story.

        But you don’t need “Evil” humans to have another antagonist; in the original “Night of the Walking Dead” Cooper is the prime example. He was a jerk, and view by many to be a villain, but Romero himself said that he was right. Had the group gone into the basement, barracked themselves in, they would had all lived. That’s why Romero kills the Ben character at the end of the story.

        What the plot was about, was in essence a clash of ideas of how to survive a terrible situation. There was little backstabbing, just large personalities clashing with one another. Cooper, though a jerk and a control freak ultimately just wanted to protect his family.

        I too feel that the “Humans evil” cliche has been done too much; in EVERY post apocalyptic story I’ve seen/read, the moment society falls everyone turns evil except the protagonists, minus one of the protagonists’ friends (so that they can be betrayed later on). It’s just too predictable.

  6. I does seem to be fairly common in Dead Movies but then again those types are cast for pretty much every movie. To be completely honest I love those characters. They give me something else to think about during a usually mundane storyline.
    I actually think that you will always find that person no matter where you find yourself.

  7. While I understand the necessity of protecting oneself, Sam is literally holding an ax. It sort of defeats the purpose of locking a door.

    • Not entirely. Chopping through the door is going to be slow, and noisy.

      • Than he’s doing it wrong.

  8. I only have little faith in the human race so I tend to think that zombie tale should be close of what could be any apocalypse. People will get selfish, mistrustful, greedy, as they quite already are. Problem is that those kind of bad persons will probably be the ones making some living by beating weaker people, using violence and killing. Use of strenght, power, will be inevitable as we all would have tried to save our lifes crushing zombies in the first moments of the apocalypse. Attacking humans next is only a logical continuation…

  9. I think that it’s not that much of a cliché of having bad people in zombie fiction. I believe there needs to be an equal balance between good people and bad people, with the villains looking like normal people. And as someone else mentioned above, it might get boring to have just the zombies as an immediate threat.