Things Zombies Are Called on The Walking Dead Instead of Zombies, Ranked

Illustration for article titled Things Zombies Are Called on The Walking Dead Instead of Zombies, Ranked

Last night, Fear the Walking Dead gave the TWD universe yet another term for the mindless, deceased, flesh-eating monsters that have brought civilization to its knees: The Wasted. It’s pretty good, but is it the best term used to describe zombies in these shows? Not quite.


1) Rotters

If you were forced to boil zombies down to a single, defining characteristic, chances are it would be the fact that they’re dead. Thus “Rotters” is a simple and elegant term for them, but one that is still distinctly evocative of the fact that you’re dealing with a corpse.

2) Biters

Also simple and elegant, just not as rich as “Rotters.” Given that both pets and children with temper issues can and have often been similarly described robs this description of some of its power.

3) Creepers

Compared to rotting and biting, creeping seems almost benign in comparison... almost. But creeping is still intrinsically sinister, and what it fails in adequately describing zombies’ truest proclivities it makes up for in letting people know they should watch out for them.


4) The Wasted

As mentioned above, his is the newest addition to zombie nomenclature, given to us by last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead. While there’s a chance you may confuse people that you’re talking about people being drunk or high out of their minds (which is actually what the character that coined it first that zombies were) at least it’s poetic.


5) Skin Eaters

Sure, zombies rarely stop at the skin when eating a person, so this term isn’t terribly accurate. Still, it does warn people that these things will eat at least a portion of your flesh if given a chance.


6) Lurkers

Lurking is the lamer, less sinister version of creeping. Still, better “lurkers” than “skulkers” or “loiterers,” I suppose.


7) Geeks

Daryl calls zombies this once in season two, presumably harkening back to the term’s original meaning of a circus freak who ate live animals. Unfortunately, the modern world has long since left that definition behind, instead using it for pop culture-obsessed nerds. Now that civilization has collapsed, Daryl is trying to bring it back, but I don’t believe he’s going to win this battle.


8) Dead Ones

I suppose it stands to reason that someone without a sliver of imagination survived the zombie apocalypse. But can’t you at least call them “the dead”? Why “the dead ones”? Literally no one is going to be confused is you just refer to them as “the dead.”


9) Walkers

The preferred term for zombies, courtesy of one Rick Grimes. I understand that it’s tied to the title of the TV show, but walking is hardly the most interesting aspect of these undead creatures that want to eat human flesh, Rick. Also, walkers are what you call those rolly-seat-things that toddlers use to get used to walking, which is really hard to forget once you remember it.


11) Roamers

Guys. Zombies aren’t hoboes riding the rails, searching for a warm meal and a place to bed down for the night. You should at least try to make them sound a little scary.


12) Lamebrains

Actually, if The Walking Dead’s zombies specifically ate brains, like the titular creatures of Return of the Living Dead, I think this term would have a certain ironic zest. But they don’t so it isn’t.


13) Cold Bodies

Apparently this is what the inhabitants of Terminus called zombies—basically, their “cold lunches” as opposed to the “hot lunches” of the living. It may have worked for their cannibalistic town, but it’s still a dumb, dumb name for zombies.


14) Floaters

If you’re living in the zombie apocalypse and have lost loved ones to the undead plague, then I can see hating zombies with every fiber of your being. But still, that doesn’t mean you should be okay calling zombies names that are also used to describe certain types of poop. It’s far more embarrassing to you than to them.


[H/t Mental Floss]

Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.



I have an easier time suspending my disbelief when it comes to the existence of zombies than I do suspending my disbelief that all of these zombie movies and shows seem to take place in a version of Earth where no one has ever heard of a zombie.

It would be like if an alien invasion movie took place in a version of Earth where no one has even ever considered the possibility of extraterrestrial life before.