# What can I do to the zombie virus to make it more effective?

Zombies are popular, they are the 'living' embodiment of death themselves, but it seems that other than simply increasing the number of zombies, they become an easily handled threat after a few years. What attributes and changes can I apply to a plague of the undead in order to make it more deadly. The only rule is that the virus cannot be unbeatable, so no adding things like radioactive walkers or making them explode

• Keep in mind that the thing which really defeats people in most zombie stories is not a lack of resources, but a lack of organization and failure by leaders to respond to the threat in a decisive manner. The army is crippled by soldiers deserting to try and go home to their families instead of fighting where they are needed. Or a politician pushes the army to try and pull off a suicidal attack because of stupid political reasons ("let's march into NY and take it back!") and the resulting defeat is so demoralizing that people lose their faith in the government, and the soldiers revolt. – AndreiROM Apr 21 '16 at 20:19
• Does it have to be a rabies-like virus? "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth" – colmde Apr 22 '16 at 10:22

## Punch them in their empathy

• The one thing I've noticed in any zombie show, movie, game, etc is that unless it was once a family member the survivors are easily able to kill the zombie without a second thought. This is because almost every depiction of a zombie is of a mindless, cannibalistic force of chaos and rage. Now since there is no to make a survivor only find people they love (unless you with point 2) there is only one way to make a survivor feel conflicted over killing a zombie, don't make the zombie mindless. Instead of having the zombie only growl or moan, make the zombie want to talk to you and plead for it's life, some people may not fall for it but a lot of people would feel sorry(at least at the beginning). This is made even deadlier the because you can't tell they're infected until they attack or start to show signs of decay.
• Make it so that chemical pheromones expel off of the infected that cause a survivor to hallucinate images of loved ones, I find this less realistic, but if you want to have a zombie that is mindless this will be the way to go.

## Other strategies

The problem with the above strategies is that cold hearted people and loners will not be effected. While those are, in my opinion, the most effective strategies, there are many other choices;

• Make it based on cordyceps, fungal and airborne, certain species of cordyceps even have spores that bore through exoskeleton (or in our case clothes, skin and gas masks).
• Have it be both airborne and waterborne, this would have it so that only rainwater if safe and gas masks become a requirement.
• Have them run. This one seems obvious but I don't know if you've added it or not, you didn't give us a base model to work off of.
• Make it so they heal. The classic zombies main weakness is that as they bones and skin decay they become easier to kill, even just having the bones remain just as strong would cause most melee weapons to become useless or stuck in the skull. In response to AndreiROM's notes I feel I need to point out that while they do decay, their body still heals the wounds, and since only a headshot kills them, you can't let them get away
• Make the reanimation time quicker. Think of the most deadly zombies in media; 28 weeks later, world war Z, etc. What do these have in common? The process of bite-death-reanimation takes less than a minute. While in things like walking dead or last of us the process can take days.
• Finally have the zombies able to communicate with each other. If the undead can plan and ambush, you can't even safely take down one zombie, because 50 could be waiting for you.
• Great points. Somewhat intelligent zombies are definitely frightening as hell. However here's a few corrections: #1. In 28 days later people simply become infected, they are not undead. #2. Zombies that don't decay are BS. If a zombie hammers on a wall because there's tasty humans hiding behind it it will take damage. That damage will eventually cause them to become immobile (their arms and legs will break, etc.). Humanity needs some kind of chance. – AndreiROM Apr 21 '16 at 20:15
• @AndreiROM. #1 While I agree that 28 days later zombies are not undead, they were used as an examples of infection speed not infection qualities #2 I mean that their bodies heal wounds, I get how it was mistaken, I'll edit it to make it clear. Thank you for the notes – TrEs-2b Apr 21 '16 at 20:22
• Zombies that heal themselves? I'll get started on my backyard bunker now. – AndreiROM Apr 21 '16 at 20:26
• I agree that they are "beatable". Just, you know .. good luck while I eat popcorn in my bunker. – AndreiROM Apr 21 '16 at 20:31
• @AndreiROM Yep, it's like playing chess with a computer at expert difficulty – TrEs-2b Apr 21 '16 at 20:32

Make it affect all animals.

The biggest weakness of zombie viruses is that the only affect humans. If all animals can be affected, you go from something that can be contained and eliminated to something that will wipe out almost all animals on Earth and drive humans into sealed bunkers.

Think you can deal with a sea of zombies? How about a sea of zombified rats that can crawl through holes and over walls? How about zombie mosquitoes? One bite, which you might not even notice, and you're a zombie. How about zombie ants? Once you're out of flamethrower fuel, there are few weapons that could be effective against a horde of creatures that small.

• That's simply unsurvivable. RIP Humanity. – AndreiROM Apr 21 '16 at 20:16
• With the right precautions it's survivable. Certainly it ups the threat level a lot though. – Tim B Apr 22 '16 at 9:46

# Have a long, asymptomatic, contagious incubation period.

Imagine you're in a small group of survivors venturing out from your secure bunker and you meet a living human. You can't just check them for wounds; they could easily have been scratched, infected, and already healed. Any potential ally is also easily a potential death sentence for the whole group.

The only way to safely add new members to the group is mutual observation over an extended period of isolation. Doable, but the psychological effects would be disastrous. Just when you get to know someone...

• Was going to answer this... +1 to you instead. :) – MichaelK Apr 22 '16 at 8:23
• I know there was a similar question out there at one point, where a person wanted to create a similar scenario where nearly everyone except a few "immune" people get infected despite precautions. This was my answer too. +1 to you sir. – ChronoD Apr 22 '16 at 22:55

## To make it more effective, make it less deadly.

To go for an unorthodox angle... one of the main weaknesses of the classic zombie plague is that it is 100% virulent and 100% deadly. Once a person is bitten, they are already dead; once a zombie wakes up, it is no longer human. This is good for certain kinds of stories, but is it unrealistic (even the most deadly plagues have a small subset of the population immune or resistant). And because an infected human is no longer alive, survivors can slaughter them without a second thought.

But what if the infection rate was lower, say, 95% chance of infection per bite? Moreover, what if there was a tiny possibility for the infection to regress naturally after the infectee goes through the 'mindless and aggressive' phase?

All of a sudden, you've put a new spin on things. A bite victim is no longer completely selfish for refusing to take their own life. Since zombies can potentially revert, many people will be a lot more reluctant to go around killing them. Fights will break out among the uninfected as people protect their zombified friends and family but are willing to kill others when it is "necessary".

To make things even more complicated, what if it had a small chance of transmission through the air? Perhaps the air-transmitted strain has a long incubation time, or can even be carried by certain people who remain unaffected themselves, making it nearly impossible to quarantine. At any moment, any person in a crowd can suddenly go crazy, biting everyone around them.

• if any of you have play Plauge Inc, you will understand it. – Haha TTpro Sep 9 '16 at 6:16

Zombies are terrifying, but if you think about it, they're not really smart. They see a target, they run for it, they attack it. Throw them in an empty room with no other people/animals, they'd have no idea what to do with themselves. They might try to escape, but they'd probably just try to bash their heads against the walls or door. What you might need is a virus, where it zombifies people, but doesn't instantly turn them into mindless savage beasts. So they can think their way around us normal humans who are trying to kill them...

• This sounds a bit like the 'cranks' from the Scorch Trials. The disease called 'The Flare' turns the infected more into a very insane, crazy people who can still talk and try to trick you. – Brubek Coltrane Apr 24 '16 at 18:56

A large number of "Patient Zero"s scattered across the planet.

If a single outbreak can be contained 90% reliably, then 10 outbreaks only have a $0.9^{10}≈0.35$ chance of every one of the being contained, leaving a 65% chance that at least one of the outbreaks will go the distance.

• That requires coordination, likely from actual humans, which makes it a bit less versatile for story lines. Also, that doesn't stop people from easily grouping and attempting to beat is using any of the normal tactics, which is what the question is concerned about. They aren't focusing on making the outbreak happen so much as making the zombies harder to deal with once they're infected. – ChronoD Apr 22 '16 at 22:57