How dangerous would an intelligent zombie (with language functions) then a normal, thick zombie? Is it even possible?

Edit The intelligent zombies are still able to feel emotion. Might show sympathy for humans.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Renan, Hohmannfan, TrEs-2b, Frostfyre Sep 13 '16 at 19:15

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    $\begingroup$ Zombies... They don't think because their brain rotted away. Even if zombie had a good brain, it would rot - Just thinking out loud. (+1) $\endgroup$ – RudolfJelin Sep 13 '16 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ An intelligent zombie is exactly the same as a difficult-to-kill human. $\endgroup$ – Annonymus Sep 13 '16 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ The premise behind a TV show called 'IZombie' is zombies that eat brains retain their mental status, capable of behaving as they did prior to infection. If they do not get their feeding of brains, they go hungry and eventually change to the more classical mindless zombie image. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Sep 13 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ When I find a zombie of each variety and can scientifically determine the pros and cons of the two, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I would suggest creating advantages and disadvantages that meet the needs of your story. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 13 '16 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ "Is it even possible?" Are you assuming that normal zombies ARE possible? $\endgroup$ – James Sep 14 '16 at 18:44

Thick Zombies

A normal thick zombie can be blocked by a reasonably tall wall and will walk face first into the business end of a wood chipper.

There's a reason most zombie films skip to post-apocalypse because it's hard to explain why the soldiers didn't just sit in their tanks with the hatches closed and drive back and forth over the majority of the zombie horde. World war Z (book) tried but ultimately had to propose an unusual level of incompetence on the part of the army.

I think this screen from the walking dead is a decent example:

Lets open the hatch "BRAINS!", "Hey Bob, it sounds like trick or treaters outside, lets open the hatch!"

"Runner" thick zombies are slightly more threatening than Dawn of the Dead zombies but ultimately still not that much of a threat after the first few days.

Advantages include having no moral weight. You never have to feel bad about shooting them.

Intelligent zombies

Intelligent zombies are basically humans who happen to be cold, may not need to eat or may hunger for brains. They can think ahead, they can use guns, they can build guns. If you build a wall they can roll artillery up and blow holes in it.

Smart zombies are as dangerous as other humans. Maybe more if they're physically durable or can do things like walk across the ocean floor without air tanks. They can think, they can plan, they can search for your weak spots.

Disadvantages include having moral weight. You might feel bad about your protagonist shooting a zombie in the face because he has a zombie family who are going to miss him and he'll never get to live his dream of getting out of the big city and buying a little brains farm.

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    $\begingroup$ I am Legend novel is a perfect showcase of the last mind and most of your concerns. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Sep 13 '16 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ "unusual level of incompetence on the part of the army" - of course, at some point it's all just stories, but it would be really interesting to think through whether any real modern army could actually do something about a zombie wave of millions of humanoids which are immune to most kinds of damage, roaming against them (whether there is a theoretical way). I found the chapter very well done, where the U.S. tried to make their last stand with lots of tanks, aircraft (?) etc., and ultimately simply failed because they ran out of ammo. $\endgroup$ – AnoE Sep 13 '16 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ The book World War Z or the movie? $\endgroup$ – EMBLEM Sep 13 '16 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ A smart zombie would realize his food supply would dwindle if he killed everything in sight. He would much rather capture a few humans and farm them for their brains. This of course means the free humans wouldn't look too highly on him. Enslaving all the humans is a difficult task; it would be easier for him to just live in the shadows. Rather than creating a zombie, you've effectively created a vampire. $\endgroup$ – 16807 Sep 13 '16 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @16807 Vampire is just a really smart zombie who likes liquid food more than solid food. $\endgroup$ – dc95 Sep 13 '16 at 18:37

Intelligent zombies are far more dangerous, able to think ahead, plan, maximise return (brains/blood). You've seen "I am Legend", I assume...

Normal zombies know nothing more than getting from A (where they currently are) to B (the nearest fresh brain).

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    $\begingroup$ You mean the film "I am legend" and not "legend", right? Perhaps not, idk. Can you provide a link to "Legend" to stop my confusion? $\endgroup$ – ʰᵈˑ Sep 13 '16 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, It's "I Am Legend", the Will Smith film, not "Legend", the David Bowie film. Sometimes what I mean isn't the same as what I type... $\endgroup$ – Snow Sep 13 '16 at 16:35

If they are intelligent enough to have language faculties, then as the other answers say, they are simply undead humans. As dangerous as humans, and possibly more so if they aren't restricted by the weaknesses of human biological systems.

But the question becomes, at that point, what issues do your room-temperature humans have with higher-than-room-temperature humans? If zombies are intelligent enough to think freely, what unites them against normal humans? Why wouldn't their allegiances to their country, family (undead or still living), or religion trump anything else, especially if they were once a normal human? Sure, you might have a terrorist zombie here or there, but what reason do intelligent creatures (on the whole) have to want to see the world of normal humans fall?

  • $\begingroup$ Extreme hunger. They don't like doing what they do, but they have to if they want to survive. $\endgroup$ – Sky Sep 13 '16 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ But why can they only eat humans? Steak is tasty. And even then, why wouldn't they just eat the humans they don't like and keep their friends around? Do they literally eat brains? Sounds like you have something closer to a vampire - intelligent, undead, can only feed on humans. You're the writer, so why not? But either way, I'd come up with a way to cover this base. Most parents I know would starve to death before harming their children, even in the most extreme circumstances $\endgroup$ – automaton Sep 13 '16 at 18:38

Intelligent zombies are just humans immune/highly resistant/ignorant to any kind of damage.

The important point (story-wise) about zombies is their "thickness", which translates to them behaving in a very mechanical way. The interesting stuff that develops from their very very simple but utterly relentless movement/behaviour is the focal element of the zombie stories. They keep coming until you blow their heads off.

If you do have intelligent zombies, that is, decaying corpses who are in other aspects just like humans (talking, planning etc.), I would just not use the word "zombie". Or the other way around; if they would behave mostly like thick zombies (i.e. clumping together a lot, plowing against obviously unsurmountable walls etc.), they wouldn't be that intelligent.

For example, I would not use the word "zombie" for the antagonists in the film "I am Legend", and I do not remember if they use that word in the movie, actually. Those are simply "monsters", as far as I'm concerned.

Of course, Shaun of the Dead exists, so you can take some inspiration from there. :)


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