In every horror genre there are rules that need to be followed: in slashers, you better not be having sex; the best way to avoid vampires is by not extending invitations to anyone; and skeptics and believers must be present at all exorcisms. Zombie movies are no exception. But while there are multiple variations of the undead, from walking speed to intelligence, there’s one rule that must always be followed without exception – you don’t go solo.

What typically occurs is that the protagonist experiences some form of horror on their own before the virus spreads and our hero ends up joining a ragtag group of survivors. From that point on, however, the question of who is more dangerous, the group of scared people or walking dead, arises. But what if the groupings weren’t random? What if the strongest and most skilled characters were brought together to form the All-Star Zombie Survival Squad? That’s exactly what I intended to find out.

Scouring the full history of the zombie sub-genre, from George A. Romero to Edgar Wright, I have created such a team and have identified each member by the expertise that makes them invaluable in the face of Armageddon. Read on below.

The Plucky Comic Relief
Shaun From Shaun of the Dead

The zombie apocalypse is a pretty miserable time to be alive. Every second your awake is in spent in fear of the undead, you never feel safe and the sound and smell of the walking dead outside is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine. That’s why having Shaun from Shaun of the Dead on board would be so essential. Not only does the man know how to prioritize the important things in his life and swing a mean cricket bat, but he can help keep spirits up in the lowest of moments. Some may make the argument that having someone like Shaun can be distracting, but the truth is that when the real zombie apocalypse comes, there will be down moments – moments where you are huddled together and praying that the hordes don’t discover your location. While being scared may keep you alert, it can eventually drive you mad and make you act irrational. Hearing a good joke and having a good laugh can help save your sanity.

The Healer
Ana From Dawn of the Dead 2004

Everyone knows that if you’re bitten by a zombie, you’re toast. That’s Undead 101. The only cure is a bullet in the brain or a smashed skull. But the truth of the matter is that zombies are hardly the only hazard in that situation. You still have car crashes, broken glass, and a fraction of the populace that has no idea how to handle the pistol that someone has just placed in their hand. Enter Ana from Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead. A professional nurse, she can help treat wounds that otherwise would be at risk of infection and, worse, could slow the group down. There’s always the matter of supplies (First Aid kits don’t always have everything you need), but she can probably save a limb or two by instructing the group on how to properly use a tourniquet. Adding to her healing skills is her ability to think under pressure and let go of the people she cares about – two must haves in the world of the undead.

The Big Gun
Tallahassee From Zombieland

There’s a reason why zombie armies amass so quickly – they’re pretty damn hard to kill. Most of them aren’t stumbling around with a Hector Hammond-sized dome and you have to be a really good with a firearm to get a headshot with every bullet. Fortunately, Tallahassee from Zombieland has those skills. Just as he gathered from motherly advice, the Florida hillbilly is a natural born zombie killing machine. Be it armed with a H&K MP7A1, a Winchester 1892 Mare's Leg or a Mossberg 500 Mariner, he’s a master of the equation Zombie + Gun = Dead Zombie. While the others are planning the next move, healing the wounded, or easing the tension, it’s Tallahassee who is standing guard and being vigilant, ready to take out the swarm coming over the hill. Pair that up with intangibles such as his ability to enjoy the little things in life and his driving skills and you have an extremely valuable asset.

The Engineer
Riley Denbo From Land of the Dead

In a world overrun by zombies, it doesn’t take long for supplies to begin running short. While the most immediate concerns are food, water and medical aid, one cannot discount the necessity for weaponry and transportation. Luckily, this is the specialty of Riley Denbo. In George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, Riley is credited with the creation of Dead Reckoning – an armored and weaponized vehicle that is considered by most to be the pinnacle of anti-zombie technology. Packed with more than its fair share of fire power, Dead Reckoning also does a handy job of distracting the hordes with fireworks, proving that Denbo also has an astute knowledge of zombie psychology and sociology. Even if he’s unable to construct something like Dead Reckoning, though, his skill set is far from useless. Understanding mechanics can easily get a car hotwired or an automatic door closed before the undead are able to attack. There’s also the fact that he’s well respected and charismatic, meaning that people will be willing to listen to his opinion and that he can calm the frantic.

The Strategist
Selena From 28 Days Later

While all of the people you are reading about here can help extended your life in the face of the walking dead, they are pretty much useless without a plan. Talented as they may be, standing around in the middle of the street is a good way to get your guts eaten and your brains devoured. That’s why you need someone like Selena. Although 28 Days Later is technically a viral outbreak movie, her abilities transfer over quite smoothly. While I don’t want to discount Mark’s usefulness in the film, it’s fairly obvious that the plan involving the exploding gas tanks at the start of the film was the brain child of Selena. She is also the one who spots the grocery store and recommends that they do some food shopping while ensuring that everyone only picks out foods that don’t need to be cooked. It’s also worth noting that she isn’t too enthusiastic about meeting up with the soldiers that have the supposed “answer to infection.” Had General Patton fought a zombie war he might have been in this spot, but Selena is a more than capable substitute.

The Leader
Ben From Night of the Living Dead

Zombie apocalypse or no, the world goes to hell in a hand basket without leadership. Thanks to free will and strong opinions, most would run around like chickens with their heads cut off without someone to look to for guidance. That same rule applies to this group. There needs to be a person in charge that can earn the respect of everyone. That man is Ben from Night of the Living Dead. The fact of the matter is that the man was able to take control and get people to listen to him despite the fact that he was a black man living in a socially divided country. The members of the group listed here would know better than to judge Ben by the color of his skin and see him for what he is – a rational thinker who is quick to assess a situation and act with a strong plan. With Ben in control and planning things for the short term and Selena planning long-term, odds for survival are pretty high.

The Badass
Ash From The Evil Dead Series

The majority of what you see above is the best and the brightest that zombie movies have to offer. They’re logical, creative and intelligent people – but not every situation calls for logic, creativity and intelligence. Sometimes you just need brute force and that’s where Ash from The Evil Dead series comes in. Though he’s certainly not dumb (the man does keep a chemistry textbook in his trunk), he would not be involved with the group because of his brains. This is a man with a Remington in his left hand and a chainsaw as his right. It’s Ash’s time to shine when the chips are down and the group needs to buy some time to think. Slam open the door, rev up the chainsaw, fire off an endless number of shells, say a quick one-liner, and land a big fat smooch on the nearest female. And yes, Deadites aren’t exactly the same as zombies, but they certainly serve the same purpose in this article.

The Veteran
Alice From The Resident Evil Series

There’s a reason why those with the most experience achieve the highest ranks in the military – as you live, you learn. Those that have seen it all know how to better achieve desired results. Enter Alice of the Resident Evil series, who has spent more movies fighting zombies than any other character. With heightened abilities and fighting skills thanks to the same T-Virus that caused the apocalypse, she is already genetically perfect to fight the army of the risen dead and her experience raises her to another level. For all of the talents held by every member on this list, the value of someone who has seen it all is incalculable – and let’s face it, the mutated undead that Alice has survived are a hell of a lot worse than the stumbling brainless hordes that fill the streets. Seven o’clock every night is set aside for training and story time. This is how you survive the zombie apocalypse.

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