As The Walking Dead continues to smash record after record on TV, I thought that it was time to look at what other shows have featured zombies over the year. (And yes, I’m going to ignore the atrocity that was Zombieland on Amazon.com).
Many shows have featured our favorite walking undead over the years, but which ones deserve a place on the best television zombie episode list? I set out to heroically re-watch every TV show that featured zombies, and have managed to create a list of the 6 best TV zombie episodes for my loyal readers.
Even though at this point the quality of the X-Files episodes had started to decline, it’s hard to find fault with an episode that features Molder and Scully putting down zombies with head shots. This show was actually a cross-over episode, and concluded Fox’s other supernatural thriller show, Millenium (Don’t worry, I barely remember it either).
It begins with the typical scene where everyone is gathered around a grave, where it appears that someone, or something has dug its way out. It quickly escalates to a zombie attacking Scully at the morgue, and a plot to bring on armaggedon is revealed. It also features some great homage lines like “Shoot them in the head, it seems to stop them.”
Ok, while this doesn’t boast any “actual” zombies, it still is the most fun you that you will have with zombies outside of Shawn of the Dead. It has all the elements of zombies that you want in a TV show – the infected, zombie murders and a horde of zombies surrounding the main characters.
It all begins when Castle and Beckett come across a beaten, and shall we say “well chewed corpse”. It doesn’t take long before the zombie in question surfaces – apparently dead. But for anyone who has ever seen any television before, you probably know that the zombie doesn’t stay dead. Of course it turns out that they aren’t really zombies, but you have a lot of fun before the episode ends.
Citizen Kane of zombie episodes this is not, but this Halloween episode of Southpark is a blast. I’m going to come right out and admit that this is a ridiculous episode, featuring characters dual-wielded chain saws, and a zombie thriller dance scenes. But in early Southpark tradition, it’s incredibly funny and witty.
It all starts when Kenney dies (of course), and is accidentally embalmed with Worcheseter sauce. And if you’ve ever looked at a bottle of Worchester sauce, you know that there is a prominent warning that embalming with it can cause Zombieism. Before you know it, a zombie Kenney is rampaging through town, turning men, women and children into zombies. It alls comes down to the main characters facing off against a slavering zombie horde, as they race to cure the zombie plague.
Community is one of the most underrated shows on television, and if you aren’t familiar with this show, they spoof shows better than anyone else on TV. Building on some classic episodes before this, Community put together a nearly perfect Zombie episode for Halloween.
When an experimental bio-weapon is accidentally served as taco meat for the college’s Halloween party, it’s not long before the shuffling and groaning infected are craving human flesh. This episode absolutely nails every zombie cliché, and you get some great moments with group members hiding zombies bites, a cat repeatedly jumps out for scares (and I mean repeatedly) and a black man who might even make it to the end – all set to an Abba soundtrack
1. The Simpsons – Dial Z for Zombie (Treehouse of Horror III)
If you’ve only discovered the Simpsons in the last few years, you may not know there was a time when people actually looked forward to the Treehouse of Horror episodes. And one of the best episodes of the Simpsons period, featured Homer and his family facing off against the ravenous undead.
When attempting to resurrect his dead cat snowball, Bart accidentally awakens the living dead. As zombies descend on Springfield, it’s up to Homer to save the day – after the zombies figure out that he has no brain to eat of course. You also get one of my all time favorite Simpson lines:
Zombie Flanders: Hey Simpson! I’m feeling a mite puckish. Mind if I chew your ear?
(Homer shoots him in the face.)
Bart: Dad, you kill the zombie flanders!
Homer: He was a zombie?
If you ever find yourself in a zombie movie, you’re probably going to be in trouble. No, not from the horde of flesh eating corpses that are trying to break down your front door. The biggest problem is that you won’t have all the tools of survival that decades of zombie movies have assured us are absolutely vital to have during the ends of days.
But don’t worry! Here at The Zombie Bunker we’re dedicated to making sure that you have everything you need when Z-day finally arrives (and we all know it’s coming soon).
Flashlight – Odds are at some point you’re going to find yourself in a gloomy factory or a moldering house as you flee the undead. In these moments, when you’re peering down a dimly light hallway, wondering what that sound was you just heard was, you’re going to be glad that you brought along a flashlight with almost dead batteries. Any flashlight you choose should come with the optional feature “dies immediately in the vicinity of zombies”, and “flickers back to life, when the zombies are inches away” should also be included.
Extra Large Band-Aid – Let’s face it – at some point someone is going to get bitten and not tell anyone about it. So what better way to hide a zombie bite than an extra large Band-Aid? Plus, if anyone asks about it, just say you scratched yourself, and it’s definitely not a zombie bite. I mean, who would say it wasn’t a zombie bite, if it really was? Of course this will only work until every second word from your mouth turns into “brainssss”, but it will provide a dramatic moment when the group finds out you’ve been hiding a bite all along.
Shotgun – It may not be the best zombie fighting weapon, but nothing adds emphasis to the end of a sentence like pumping a shotgun. Who cares if it ejects a shell each time you do it? People know you mean business when you pump a shotgun.
Map – If you’re not careful, at some point you might find yourself in a peaceful meadow or idyllic farm. If you find yourself in this situation, you must immediately take on a pointless quest to find a missing group member or some arbitrary supplies that no one has needed up until this point. Usually you can quickly put yourself back into danger by traveling to the closet undead infested city or decaying industrial park, but sometimes you need something really dangerous like a “safe zone” or CDC headquarters. Thankfully a map can help you find your way towards certain doom and away from all of those boring, bucolic setting.
Bonus: Some maps will show the locations of malls that groups of survivors will inevitably choose for their last stand.
Walkie Talkies – When the group inevitably splits up to “cover more ground”, it’s important to stay in touch. By this point infrastructure will have completely collapsed, so the only way to communicate will be through walkie talkies. Plus, the walkie talkies will give you the ability to listen as each group member of the group gets eaten one by one.
Bonus: When you’re the last one left alive, you can plead desperately into the walkie talkie for someone to help you.
High heels – High heels are only required at the start of a zombie outbreak, and every woman is legally mandated to run from a zombie horde while wearing her highest, most ridiculous heels.
Bonus: These will also come in handy in the inevitable mall scene where all the female group members are trying on outfits.
Zombie Movie DVDs– Apparently no one in a zombie movie has ever watched zombie movie. It’s important to watch every zombie movie ever made, to make sure that you don’t stupidly do something that could aid in your survival. Without watching these movies, you might decide not to split up, or allow the bitten person to stay with the group – I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
Tissues – At some point, the person who has been secretly hiding a bite will be found out. And it will fall to the group to put them down. But not before their child makes an emotional plea to spare their daddy’s life. The tissue will come in handy to brush away a single, manly tear as you shoot the infected person (or uncontrollable sobbing if you’re a woman).
Hand Sanitizer – It goes without saying, that while the CDC can lock down a case of the sniffles within 24 hours, their entire staff will take the day off during a zombie outbreak. Since 9 times out of 10 the zombie plague is viral, you’ll want to have some hand sanitizer for those messy moments after you’ve killed 39 zombies with a butter knife. You’ll be amazed at how well it will clean off all of the diseased blood, flesh and chunks of bone – and you’ll never get infected!
Nose Plugs – While you may be under the impression that it would be easy to smell the two dozen rotting corpses hiding around the corner, it’s actually impossible to smell zombies in the movie. The reasons for this are simple – everyone wears nose plugs. Make sure that you have a pair before venturing into any building or area that was swarming with zombies just the other day….
Credit Card – Even if society hasn’t completely collapsed, zombie movie social commentary always requires you to look at your credit card and state, “I guess I won’t be needing this anymore, huh?” Bonus: All money and precious metals immediately become worthless – even in a pre-apocalyptic world.
Satellite Guided Ammunition – If you’re on the run firing wildly, or if you’re sniping zombies from a mile away, every shot needs to be a headshot. To make sure that you never hit any other body area on a zombie (except for dramatic effect) always makes sure to bring a supply of satellite guided ammunition.
Bonus: This ammunition will only work until the end of the movie and you will suddenly start missing after hitting 1,658 head shots in a row.
Military Issue Camouflage – When you eventually encounter the military, every single of one of them will have gone full blown evil. And that’s not just “being dicks” evil, it’s you’re making the Nazi look good evil. At this point, the best case scenario is that they feed you to the zombies while they take the women folk on a “date night”. But if you’re wearing military issue clothing, you might be able to fool them for a few minutes while spouting “delta, tango, zombie”. At which point they will then feed you to the zombies.
Grease – You’ll likely find yourself in conveniently person sized air vents at some point, while zombies mill around beneath you. To make traveling through these tight vents easier, make sure to bring some grease so you can slide right through.
Running Shoes – Most zombies barely move faster than a grossly obese, shih Tzu with a bum leg. So it would make sense that any zombies you encounter could be escaped by moving away at a brisk walk. Of course it doesn’t actually work that way, and you will inexplicably find yourself surrounded again and again, which leaves no option but running for most of the movie.
Camcorder – Fires are burning in the streets, the army is randomly shooting into crowds, and some zombies are pawing at your windows. But there will always be some holdout in the group who will deny that you’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. A video of a zombie head trying to bite people ankles is a great way to convince the lone holdout – and saving yourself the trouble of them opening the boarded up door “because they’ll show you that there are no zombies outside”.
Car Keys – Even though every car you come across in the zombie apocalypse will already have its key in it, it’s a good idea to have a pair of backup keys for your car just in case. Of course you will never use your own car, and you will automatically end up in either a Hummer, or a sponsored car – no matter how inappropriate the car is for off-roading, zombie crushing situations. Just pray that Smart cars aren’t sponsoring the movie that you find yourself in.
Thesaurus – No one, and I mean no one ever refers to zombies as zombies. This will give you a chance to look up other names to use for the walking dead. Some good names might be the differently alive, brain snackers and of course, the shuffling dead.
So it’s finally happened. Zombies have overrun your town and maybe even the country. Peering out through the blinds, you can even see a few of them munching on the cauliflower in your garden that they’ve obviously mistaken for brains.
What you do in a situation like this depends a lot on what level of preparation you’ve made for a zombie apocalypse. If you’re reading this while dressed in camouflage, surrounded by a mountain of freeze-dried food and assault weapons, you’re probably already well on your way to becoming the next tyrannical leader of post apocalyptic world.
But if you’re like me, and have nothing more than an old box of baking soda in the fridge, and the best weapon that you have in the house is a gardening tool that you bought from a late night infomercial, you need to take stock of your situation and follow this guide to survive.
Find Out What Kind of Zombies You Are Facing
First of all, you need to figure out what kind of zombies you’re facing. If you’re facing the slow, stupid, shambling zombies of the George A. Romero universe, then you have time to stop, grab a snack, maybe take a nap and have enough time to make a get a way before they get to you (assuming it’s early days, and they’re not swarming yet).
Of course if they’re the zombies on speed like those found in 28 Days Later, then you would be turned into some tasty human sushi before you even had the chance to get to your garden shed. So lay low for a bit and take some time to get to know the zombies. You’ll be glad that you did.
So now that you know what you’re facing, it’s time to arm yourself. Obviously some form of combined gatling gun/rocket launcher would be the best choice, but those damn anti-gun hippies have banned them in your area.
A regular gun is a good second choice, and at this point you just want anything that will take out the zombies at range, where they can’t turn you into a delicious snack. No matter what you see in movies, always try to get a rifle or shotgun. Both of those guns have far more stopping power than a pistol, and there’s nothing worse than emptying a clip at a zombie, and watching it keep lurching towards you.
If you don’t have a gun, the last thing that you want to do visit the local gun store. Not only will you find everyone else in town who has suddenly become pro-gun, but will also find angry, tattooed gun stores owners – the kind who aren’t too keen on people stealing their livelihood. Oh, and guess what? They also know how to use those guns, so it’s generally a good idea not to piss them off.
Bows and crossbows are generally poor choices for weapons, even if you think that you’re the next Daryl in the making. They’re hard to learn how to shoot accurately, and all it takes it one or two misses and the zombies will be right on top of you.
Unless you’re an avid sword collector, the best weapons that will be readily available are garden tools. These are generally heavy, sharp implements and most will be effective at keeping your now zombified mailman at bay as he tries to nibble on your ear. Some of the best choices are pick axes, shovels and axes.
Once you’re heavily armed – possibly with only a weed whacker, it’s time to collect some supplies. You may be drawn to all of the multi-fangled all-in-one survival kits or have some plan to become a twinkie trading baron in the post apocalyptic world, but the only thing that matters right now is water.
The greatest threat to you in a post civilization world is lack of water – oh, and zombies. Don’t forget about the zombies. But back to the water – you need water and lots of it. Not only that, but it has to be clean, so you should focus on water purification and water containers when you raid the local hiking/survival store. And don’t ignore the “clean” part in the water. You don’t want to die a death of a thousand brown squirts.
After you’ve loaded yourself down with iodine tablets and canteens, you need to focus on what else you need to survive.
Clothing (A range of clothing for the different seasons.)
Tools (A saw, hammer, wrench set, screwdriver, etc.)
A light source (Flashlight, lantern, candles)
These are just the basics, and you may need more or less depending on your area. If you’re in the great white north like me, you’ll also need to include an emergency maple syrup supply, Mountie hat cleaner and polar bear repellant. But two of those three are highly dependent on what area you find yourself in (everyone needs a maple syrup emergency supply).
Get Out of Town
You’ve got your weapons, half a dozen canteens around your neck, and enough camping equipment to conquer the Amazon. But by now the zombies are likely swarming, and the roads are clogged with people who thought they were the only ones who were going to flee town on the roads
As you survey the zombies snacking on people caught in gridlock, you may start to wonder just how you’re going to get out of town. Thankfully there are many alternatives better than a car for escaping town.
Ships – Ships aren’t only just for pirates and drunken canoeing anymore – they can also come in handy during a zombie outbreak. So far no one has discovered a swimming breed of zombie, so as long as Michael Phelps isn’t bitten, getting out into deep water is probably the safest option.
Not only will ships provide an escape from hordes of slavering zombies, but larger ships often come with food and medical supplies. And if the zombie outbreak is viral, they can be made airtight for days at a time.
Airplanes – If you’re one of the many doomed zombie appetizers…err… I mean people living far away from water, you can still escape by air. This isn’t going to be as easy finding a ship because you’re going to need to find both a local air field and a pilot, but it will get you away from the hot zones.
That’s not to say that you should always set out to find a plane, and an major airport is likely going to be more dangerous than the so-called refugee safe zone. You know the one that the grizzled member of your group tells you about or you hear about on the radio (guess what, it’s nothing but zombies there – every time.)
But it you can find a small rural airfield, a Cessna plane or something similar could be your ticket to safety. Or it could at least give you a few hours of peace, outside the reach of the zombie horde.
Alternative Vehicles – If you can’t get to a ship, or an airfield, your options become more limited. Most highways will be blocked, so you’re going to have to go overland. This is another situation where you may have laughed at your bearded, Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt wearing, redneck neighbor prior to the zombie apocalypse, but now you’re going to need him – or at least his stuff.
While you were stupidly contributed to your 401k (or RSPs up here in the frigid north), your neighbor was planning for the future by buying monster trucks and ATV’s. When the roads are blocked, it’s time to go off-road, and nothing drives over zombies better than a monster truck. Well, except a tank – but who has a tank handy?
Find a Fortress
You’ve done it. You made it out of the city, and your steely gaze shows that no mere zombie horde is going to slow you down. Well, that and the string of zombie ears around your neck (you know, you may really have problems…)
But even if you made it out alive and in one piece, you need to find a place where you can wait this plague out – or a place to rebuild society. Obviously the best place to do this is in a well equipped zombie bunker. What, you don’t have one of those built in a safe location yet?
If for some reason you’ve neglected building your zombie bunker, you need to improvise. You need to find a strong building that can withstand a herd of zombies trying to get in. Some obvious choices are old forts, prisons, old churches and some industrial buildings.
While you may see survivors holing up in houses and shopping malls in movies, these are not good fortresses against the ravening undead. Which should be fairly obvious, since most of these movies end with the zombies breaking in, and turning the protagonists into an all you can eat buffet.
You need to stick with a strong building, and it needs to be close to water. There’s no point hunkering down in a zombie proof building, only to have to go through 5 miles of zombies daily to get water.
Follow this guide, and with a little bit of luck, you’ll survive the zombie apocalypse. But until then, keep working on your bug out plan, and stockpile everything that you’ll need. And even if the zombies don’t show up in your life time, it can still be useful for a boring old fashioned non-zombie natural disaster.