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At university my peer group started to use the saying "it could be worse, there could be zombies" as a way to tell people to keep things in perspective. The statement always implied two things:

  1. There is no situation that cannot be made worse by adding zombies.
  2. If there are zombies the situation is as bad as it can get. Except by adding more zombies of course.

In this question I would like to examine the first implication: what, if any, are the situations that cannot be made worse by adding zombies?

Good answers will examine in detail what would happen if zombies were introduced to the situation and how this fails to make things worse. The best answers will show situations where zombies are actually advantageous to humanity's continued survival. The zombies in question are assumed to be slow plague zombies per the novel World War Z; unnaturally mobile dead people with a slow shambling gate and a bite that kills the living, turning them into fresh horrors. Answers should assume something that generally resembles the world we know, which means that humanity, as a species with some form of society, need to be able to survive any scenario you suggest - an atmosphere of pure acid is not relevant, nor a trip to the surface of the sun.

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closed as off-topic by Anketam, John, ohwilleke, Alexander von Wernherr, MichaelK Aug 8 '18 at 7:52

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – John, ohwilleke, Alexander von Wernherr
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

18 Answers 18

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As Raditz_35 states above if you have some sway over the zombies then there are many situations, by sway i mean adding them to a rival.

However if you mean a zombie apocalypse type situation, then only a couple come to mind:

You are under siege

it sounds counter intuitive but as the zombies as the least racist or biased an enemy can be, they would attack your enemy as much as they attack you, and if you're in a well stocked and defended position, with decent walls that have no weak points then a ZA, could be fairly easy to limit within your walls, but outside it would be a lot harder to keep under check, and all that would happen is you would change an intelligent army for a dumb one.

Explosive decompression in space

in space no one can hear the zombie moan. also it can't actually get to you, but one down on earth means no supplies to you up on the space station. so that's bad, but if you were about to be exploded out into vacuum, then zombies wandering around isn't really going to be that bad.

Basically anywhere that a zombie is not add an advantage, and you are in a really bad situation then adding zombies is progressively less detrimental

Declaring Bankruptcy, or in massive massive debt

You had money and now you don't, thats bad, then the ZA comes along and makes money fairly unimportant, same goes for credit card debt, if all the banks collapse and the power goes out then you don't need to pay up. dealing with the zombies is still an issue, but it depends if your a glass half full, or glass half empty sort of person

Taxes

this only works as long as the ZA is unending, but while the ZA is in full swing, not more tax return paperwork...

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    $\begingroup$ I'd argue that the zombies eating the army that's besieging you definitely makes things worse. Zombies can loiter a hell of a lot longer than a mortal army, historically many sieges ended when the attacking army ran out of supplies and went home. The zombies don't need supply-lines. they'll be in your moat for years and you'll undoubtedly starve to death unless you do something about them. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Aug 7 '18 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruadhan2300 it all depends on how you have prepared for that siege, and if the attacking army was actively attempting to breach the walls, if so then the zombie army gives more options to the defenders than to just defend, they have a chance to look out without getting their heads blown off, i agree it has its downsides but it doesn't always make matters worse $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 7 '18 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ True, it rather changes the problem, and as you say depends very much on the war you're prepared to fight. In a typical siege scenario, you defend against attempts to breach the fortress and generally attempt to outlast each other. Neither of those is a factor in a zombie siege of a castle. the castle is impregnable to zombies and the zombies will never ever give up. So the defenders have to go on the offence if they want to live. using long hooks to grab zombies, drag them up to where they can be dispatched and then repeat the process, one by one until the zombie hordes are thinned enough. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Aug 7 '18 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruadhan2300, and that my friend, is why when the ZA happens you'll be in charge of castle defenses along with hook and rope acquisition! $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 7 '18 at 15:21
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You're a necromancer

Your lifelong goal has been to create zombies. Congratulations! You did it! Now, I hope you remembered to make these the kinds of zombies which obey you.

Your job performance review is about to begin

The zombie apocalypse won't last forever, and in the meantime you can expect to receive significantly less criticism about your client retention or time management skills. Sorry boss, we'll have to discuss those long youtube breaks later. Zombies are at the door.

Your classmates won't stop making a crappy joke

Oh they'll stop when the zombies arrive.

You are part of the resistance in a totalitarian dystopia.

The resistance has always been suspicious that their neighbors were dangerous. Now all those suspicions are confirmed and their survival plans are effectively validated. Little did they know that they had been preparing for this exact situation all along. Plus, the government doesn't have the capacity to maintain control over the population when 70% of them are zombies, so the resistance has hereby succeeded in taking down the government.

You work for Google/Facebook

Everybody is mindlessly addicted to your products already. Now that they are actually zombies, instead of just metaphorically, things don't change all that much for you. In fact, controlling them with technology may prove to be even easier.

You're placing last in a race, but the zombies are at the finish line

All that fast food has finally paid off. You're the only person who noticed the zombies at the finish line in time to turn around. But now can you make it to safety before the zombies finish "congratulating" the victors?

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for totalitarian dystopia. I think it deserves it's own answers. Zombies can help the resistance A LOT. $\endgroup$ – Andrey Aug 7 '18 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ I would argue that 2, 3, 5 and 6 would all be situations where it would still make life (as a whole) worse be the addition of zombies, EG: Zombies would likely cause less people to use facebook and google so those platforms don't get as many visits and therefore marketing revenue and share prices would be reduced. maybe your not terrible at your job so a performance review might end in a raise... oh wait no raise there's Zombies., and while you've turned a run away in last place, you are suddenly overtaken again by the fast runners that dodged them and you aren't fast enough to evade $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 8 '18 at 8:28
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Other human predators that are deterred by zombies.

Imagine large, fierce human predators. They are not particularly nimble but they are strong - maybe like giant lions or the Alien queen from Aliens. They want to eat people, or lay their eggs in people, or something else that turns out badly for the people. These Fierce Ones are spectacularly hard to kill.

But between you and your ragtag bunch of refugees and the Fierce One who wants you is a giant milling mob of zombies. The Fierce one will have to wade through them. Yes, she can knock them down by the dozens, but it takes her 10-15 seconds to permanently incapacitate one, and there are hundreds that will mob her. The Fierce One will not become a zombie, but she is not immune to being bitten and the bites hurt.

A nice thick wall of zombies keeps you in but also keeps other stuff out. Other fierce human predators deterred by zombies include other humans - a scenario which is bread and butter for Walking Dead but less fun.

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  • $\begingroup$ This would make for an interesting story or game - there would have to be a balancing act between killing the zombies to keep yourself safe from the zombies, but letting enough live to keep yourself safe from the super-predators. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Aug 7 '18 at 20:55
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The earth have no oxygen. It cannot be made worse by adding zombies. It only could made it better as zombies (we assume) are not requiring air but still move. You make the situation better by adding possible solution.

You are manufacturer of guns and ammo going through hard times due to regulations. You add zombies and your problems go away. The hunting season is open. And what a glory, YOU ARE REQUIRED to make ammo that explode flesh.

The situation is at we see now. You introduce some zombies. The medical breakthrough thanks to ability to research this type of body stasis is unheard of. We know how to preserve food in the best way possible. We can create sources of energy that don't require fuel "Just one zombie per home give you enough electric to cook turkey for 5 hours at 9".

Medical wonders of saving life is so easy. You don't need to worry about people dying from various reasons (100 problems) all people can focus on just reversing from zombie state to regular one (1 solution).

For fun: reason why taking the zombies AWAY make things worse. The zombie appears, two days later we have cure for zombiesm. The problem is that you literally beheaded everyone in the 5 miles radius. There are more people dead because of you than because of turning into zombie.

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All you need is a scientific experiment with the goal to create zombies.

The situation is pretty bad at the start. You are the laughing stock of the scientific community, your only funding comes from some crazy cult perhaps and you still drive that car you had as a student.

Now you add zombies. Yes, you could add them in a way that would make it worse, but let's assume you add them into some sort of cage, so that you don't die and so on.

Congratulations, simply by adding zombies, you have solved most of your life's problems. Who is laughing now? You can now even send them to eat the people that didn't give you a decent research grant.

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A non-serious answer...


You are an all powerful wizard who is trying to protect a piece of your soul. You need a deterrent for the pesky people who are trying to collect and destroy all your soul pieces to kill you. You have no qualms about killing anyone, so you set loose a disease that will infect everyone who gets bitten. You collect batches of these zombies and store them in your hiding places to pounce on unwanted visitors, while the rest distract the world from your dastardly plots. You can fly so you have no issue of getting bitten.


More serious answers...
Options

  1. You live on an isolated island, so there's no danger of people visiting and spreading the disease to you. If anything, now foreigners won't be bothering you because they'll all be dead.

  2. You are a Doomsday Prepper and have been waiting your whole life for this to happen. You have the guns, the fortifications, the plans and food prepared and ready. You've been training for a good portion of your life for this - thank goodness you were right and didn't waste your time.

  3. You were on death row or being held captive by an enemy and tortured. Now zombies have overrun everything and you can finally escape. Better to face the unknown than certain death.

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    $\begingroup$ 3 only works is you can indeed escape, its not just people that keep death row prisoners in check, apart from that good answer. $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 8 '18 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ @BladeWraith true true. I didn't quite think that out fully, I guess initially guards would lock everything behind them as they tried to figure out what was going on. $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Aug 8 '18 at 12:28
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Scientists/dermatologists: "guys, we need to do clinical trials but we can't as the FDA won't allow it."

Zombies: "meeeeuuuuh"

Dermatologists: "perfect to test my new skin cream!"

Scientists: "pinch me I'm dreaming, I'll take 3 for this potentially lethal drug test!"

Edit: Mythbusters: "We've got a new Buster, the Pool is open how long this one will last!"

Anyone testing safety with dummies, ballistics gel or whatnot: "we'll take a few dozen a month, dont wrap em we'll use them immediately."

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how well zombies would work for actual medical trails, being mostly dead, but I LOVE that imagery. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 7 '18 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash you could also imagine the scientists requiring some ballistic test dummies for military purposes, any personal safety measure that currently uses dummies could use Zombies and Mythbusters would have a much better "buster". There's no end to people who would love zombies! :D $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 7 '18 at 19:28
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Every human is uploaded into a computer simulation by an AI as part of its ultimate goal.

If you then plop into existence a group of zombies, there would be no one for the zombies to bite and infect. Ergo they would not make the situation worse and there would be still "humans". The zombies are too stupid to upload themselves into the simulation and with no biological humans around they would just wander around until they decompose.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a valid answer not disagreeing with it, but Could you not argue that malware that can self replicate and causes a slow memory leak continually over time, be the digital equivalent of a zombie plague on a fully digital civilization, as each person's designated amount of RAM and CPU speed is depleted they could get purged from the system, (killed) and then that freed space would then be filled by another malware bot, sorry just thinking out loud $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 7 '18 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ That depends on the definition of a zombie apocalypse. But yes by your definition it would be a digital zombie apocalypse. $\endgroup$ – Fargutin Aug 8 '18 at 11:26
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And now, for the hit new post-apocalyptic game show: "Run Over That Zombie!" We have all those straggler zombies from around the nation that YOU, our lovely all-American audience, has reported to the Zombie Force to prevent them from murder! What better way to remember those who sacrificed themselves in the most gruesome war that united humanity and every nation of the world than to run over our monstrous enemies with a big monster truck?! ...nottomentionthedeathrowinmatesweturnedintozombiesaswell... 

And here is our host: Ted Nugent!

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Jaystings! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods, and how we do things here. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Gryphon - Reinstate Monica Aug 7 '18 at 16:53
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Any situation where zombies would interfere with the worse situation, would imply that adding zombies would improve the situation.

There are many examples but here are a few:

An evil cult of people is killing every person in the world one by one, and has finally eradicated their last opposition. Add zombies. The cult now has opposition again.

Alien planet Y's biome of flesh eating bacteria is about to collapse because there is not enough food. So it is converging on humanity for a nice meal. Add zombies, situation improved. They can eat the zombies instead of us.

Live in a dystopian rigorous society where your every action is controlled and life is unbearable. Add Zombies. Either the society collapses and you're free, or you die and you're free.

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Judean Zombies' Front vs Zombies' Front of Judea

You already have one group of zombies running around, the apocalypse has begun and all hell is breaking loose.

Suddenly, a whole other group of zombies comes along. They hate each other so much that they just fight amongst themselves (because what have the Romans ever done for us, right?), and the apocalypse more or less subsides as long as these two groups are locked in eternal struggle with one another.

You've said to your wife that this fish is good enough for Jehova

You're about to be killed in a gruesome manner: stoned to death by a crowd of women wearing fake beards. You keep saying Jehova, because how could it make things worse?

The zombie apocalypse is not a bad thing. It can kill the crowd, or at least make them not kill you, thus improving your chances of seeing another sunrise.

Or, if you died just before the apocalypse, might as well come back as undead rotting flesh. That's also something to look forward too!

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  • $\begingroup$ You have great taste in flims $\endgroup$ – Ben Poulter Aug 8 '18 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ What is up with the Jewish stuff? Is this a racist answer? I'm not sure since I don't get what the section titles (and some of the content) have to do with the rest of the answer. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 21 '18 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Aaron: You've never watched Monty Python's Life of Brian, have you? $\endgroup$ – Ink blot Aug 26 '18 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Aaron: To elaborate, those are two scenarios. Both are somehow references to two different things from Life of Brian. $\endgroup$ – Ink blot Aug 26 '18 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Inkblot Ah! Ok. I've seen some Monty Python stuff, but it has been so long I don't recall if I've seen that one. Understood. Thank you for clarifying. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 27 '18 at 16:08
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Zombie Powered Power Plant

Your post apocalyptic power plant is a bunch of human sized hamster-wheels run by zombies. You currently don't have any of them "powered" Add zombies and suddenly you've got power.

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Anti-aging technology has left humanity on the verge of starvation by overpopulation.

Sure, a zombie apocalypse isn't pleasant, but zombies use surprisingly few resources, provided you can keep them out of the cow herds. A good sized zombie apocalypse is just what is needed to keep the human population from eating itself to death.

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Zombies show up in a biathalon competition.

So what? They can't even remotely keep up, everyone involved is armed and an excellent shot, a zombie that's in the way will be easy to take down with a head shot.

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Vampires have found a way to resist sunlight

Vampires are stronger, faster, smarter, and just as tough as zombies. They can choose to make more vampires or just kill outright.

Give them SPF 5000, and they become a ZA on steroids. If anything, adding zombies to the situation would make things better, because the vamps would fight them, not wanting the competition.

Super Zombies

Sure, normal zombies are bad. But if you already have fast zombies, or burning zombies, or flying zombies, are normal zombies any worse?

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Try grey goo.

It eats pretty much everything (except for some Unobtanium you'll use for surviving) and it can't be killed by shooting/crushing it's head for it hasn't got any (plus it'll just eat your bullets/hammer).

If it's a colony of robots, you can add some hacker character who'll find a way to turn them down before it's too late.

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  • $\begingroup$ "humans need to be able to survive any scenario you suggest" $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 7 '18 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Great, now we got robot zombies to break anything the goo can't. $\endgroup$ – Andrey Aug 7 '18 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash You didn't say for how long. You can change the speed your grey goo spreads by, say, moving to hotter (higher chance of malfunction, but not enough to stop completely)/colder (slows down processes) climate. $\endgroup$ – Mr Scapegrace Aug 7 '18 at 21:56
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  1. I'm already a zombie - now I've got friends!
  2. I'm about to die anyway from sharknado/cancer/plague/asteroid strike/...
  3. I can't stand living next to a chicken farm but love the smell of rotting flesh?
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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, C Teegarden! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods, and how we do things here. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Gryphon - Reinstate Monica Aug 7 '18 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ This is a bit of a 1-line answer (more accurately, 3 1-line answers). Perhaps you could expand on each option to make this answer more in-depth. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon - Reinstate Monica Aug 7 '18 at 19:00
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A situation that can't be made worse by zombies?

An asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and the size and speed indicate that it will cause an impact several times as bad as Chicxulub, exterminating all land life on Earth and maybe all sea life too, and the asteroid is far too massive to divert in time.

or:

An asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and the size and speed indicate that it will cause an impact several times as bad as Chicxulub, exterminating all land life on Earth and maybe all sea life too. Fortunately space defenses are now advanced enough to divert the asteroid safely with five years warning. Unfortunately the asteroid will hit in 3.92 years.

A star is on a collision course with the Sun and will cause all the planets to leave their orbits before it hits the Sun and makes a giant explosion that will vaporize all the planets.

Of course in those hypothetical situations the zombies might kill you sooner, before the great catastrophe kills you.

How about this: Alien spaceships materialize above Earth and emit deadly radiation so all lifeforms on Earth die within three hours.

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  • $\begingroup$ "humans need to be able to survive any scenario you suggest", also I think you mean collision course. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 7 '18 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Arrgh! Spelling! $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Aug 8 '18 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ I feel your pain, never my best field either. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 8 '18 at 17:44

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