One thing that always intrigued me in zombie stories (books, TV, movies, games, etc.) is the fact that nobody seems to have ever heard of the term "zombie apocalypse" before it happened in their world.

It always seemed unreal to me that in a modern day Earth (like The Walking Dead, for example) none of the characters have ever watched a movie or even heard of this "genre", because when the apocalypse happens they never know what they are facing.

Is there any story where the characters actually watched a zombie movie/TV show, read a zombie book or played a zombie game before the apocalypse happened in their world? And why is it so rare?

One example is enough. I'm not requesting a list. It's just that this is something that always intriged me because I've never seen a story where people knew about zombies before the outbreak.

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    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 19:41
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    There are quite a few out there. It is probably rare because it is often more interesting for characters to have no idea what is going on. Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 19:44
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    Any other question I'd vote to close, but my guts tell me there wont't be list, if list at all, for this one. Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 19:44
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    @Valorum - Not true, according to the top-rated answer to a question about this on meta asking for a single example of something is acceptable. Voting to re-open.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 16:52
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    Exhibit A: This question (still open, and which Valorum even answered). 10 answers, all listing different superheroes, plus one deleted. The top answer lists a bunch of them. And I am sure there are ten times as many as listed there.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 17:07

5 Answers 5


In Mira Grant's Feed trilogy, geek people survive better at start because they have knowledge of what to do.

According to this blog (I know this is not a very good source, but I could'nt find info about this elsewhere, except for my own memories of this book.

Feed, though, is unique because it acknowledges that people (in the world of the book) had heard of zombies before they began to appear. The pop culture sphere, horror movies and all, exists intact in the 25-years-distant setting of Feed. Doing this firmly grounds the book in our reality, albeit in the future - which, for a zombie book, makes the situation feel so much more real.

[...] Within the first chapter, the book’s narrator acknowledges that George Romero, the godfather - or, if you prefer, sire - of the zombie flick, is basically the unintentional savior of the human race: by creating zombie films, he prepared humankind for their eventual arrival4. The narrator’s name is Georgia for that very reason. Her brother is named Shaun, doubtless a reference to Simon Pegg’s character in Shaun of the Dead, and they have a tech-savvy friend named Buffy, who’s even a step ahead of them in pop culture terms because neither of them have heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - it’s a cultural relic of the time before the zombie uprising. But they’ve heard of zombies before. Their cultural knowledge is our cultural knowledge.

  • I'm inclined to accept this as the answer, because the book you mentioned addresses an issue I always wanted to see in a story about zombies: if people who know a lot of zombie stories have any advantage when surviving a Zombie Apocalypse. Just waiting to see if someone can answer the reason why this is so rare. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 18:12

"Shaun of the Dead" comes to mind. There is a scene where someone calls them zombies and someone else says "don't be ridiculous". Also, I'm pretty sure they call them zombies throughout the whole movie.

Another awesome zombie movie, "Dead snow" is another example. One of the guys calls 911 and tells the operator that he is being attacked by zombies. The operator assumes it's a prank call and hangs up.

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    Side note. I believe not using the Z word in Shaun was a dig at the zombies in 28 days later not being called zombies. Can't find reference any more though. Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 12:14

I have been waiting for this to get re-opened, it was closed before I could finish typing my answer.

I don't know if there are others or why it might be rare, but in my favorite zombie book the characters do indeed know about zombies.

Book is "Under a graveyard sky" by John Ringo

In the beginning of the book, before the main character knows the emergency is a zombie apocalypse, he uses this language to describe the emergency code sent by his brother:

"And he and Tom had agreed that it was the best choice for a code indicating a real, this is no s**t, general emergency. Not "I've got cancer" but "grab the bug-out bag and activate your Zombie plan."

Later on once he checks the code and is conversing with his daughter:

"I finally got to pull up the code sheet," Steve said. "Biological, viral, latent, wide-release, previously undetected, currently no vaccine, hostile activities parameter."

"I got all of that except latent and hostile ... Wait! Zombies?"

Second daughter's reaction:

"You're serious?"

"Zombies," Sophia said.

"No way!" Faith said. "We're not having a ZA! Where are the wrecked cars? The screaming people? Nobody's rising from the grave! False alarm!"

As the virus is discussed by the CDC they also show a normal understanding of zombies that one would expect, it gives for some interesting dialogue. As I went through this again I even found a reference to Zombieland in it.

Hope that helps.


This happens in World War Z, where many people are unwilling to believe initial reports because it sounds too much like a goofy zombie movie. Moreover, there's a discussion near the beginning (I'll add an exact citation after I go to the library) of what term to use for the infected, and how--specifically because of its associations from sci-fi--zombie is the only word that properly conveys the horror they faced.


Majaii did indeed was faster with the "Black Tide Rising" series, which is also my favourite.

Dresden Files' "Dead Beat" is about both zombies and apocalypse. Does this count? To be honest, though, the magically raised from the dead are nothing like "common knowledge":

"If those guys were zombies, how come they didn't want brains?" Butters said. He held both arms stiff out in front of him, rolled his eyes back in his head, and moaned, "Braaaaaaaaaaaains."

I snorted. He gave me a weak smile.

"Seriously," Butters said. "These guys were more like the Terminator."

"What's the use of a foot soldier who can't do anything but hobble along and moan about brains?"

"Good point," Butters said. He scrunched up his nose in thought. "Don't I remember something about sewing a zombie's lips shut with thread to kill them? Does that work?"

"No clue," I said. "But you saw those things. If you want to get close enough to find out, be my guest, but I'll be observing it through a freaking telescope."

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