It’s a tale as old as George Romero — a zombie plague explodes, and while initially the wrath comes slow and is seemingly overblown, the scourge of the living dead rampantly overtakes all of civilization.
In reality, a military base or quarantine zone would be extremely safe. Slow, rotting corpses wouldn’t stand a chance against the sheer firepower of the U.S. military. However, that doesn’t make for compelling cinema.
As such, movies and TV shows have crafted stereotypical ways for troops to fail in their attempts to halt the hordes of dead. After all, such failures set the stage for the post-apocalyptic anarchy that surely follows.
Here are some of our favorite troops vs. zombie catastrophes.
1. The troops are overrun
Despite the military’s epic arsenal — including everything from pistols to nuclear bombs — there is nothing that can keep a platoon from being overcome by a horde of flesh-eating former civilians.
2. The single infected
It happens all the time. Someone among the rank-and-file becomes infected. And rather than admit they will soon start craving brains, the boot instead opts to keep quiet until it’s too late.
Sometimes it’s a lowly E-1 riddled with fear. Other times it’s an officer who would seemingly rather kill off an entire unit than relinquish power.
3. The militia man
The armed doomsday prepper with an arsenal accumulated specifically for the apocalypse is an enemy the U.S. military seems unable to repel in just about every zombie production.
Even though the military is overwhelmingly capable, troops always seem to fall to a group of conspiracy-enthused civilians with firearms who, inevitably, are conveniently skilled sharpshooters.
4. Breached gates
Similar to being overrun, a classic military-zombie failure is due to vulnerabilities in a base infrastructure — a convenient hole in the fence, a wall the undead can scale by piling body upon body, on and on.
Once the dead are inside, it’s game over for the unsuspecting soldiers.
5. The mad scientist
In searching for a cure, the military often sets up a highly protected lab that invariably falls when scientists who believe they’ve found the solution instead invent a bigger problem.
Whether through zombie mutations or another disease entirely, base personnel are wiped out from the inside. Either way, the military does not make out well, and humanity is, naturally, doomed.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.