One of our favorite topics of discussion at ZRS headquarters is the worst way to die in a zombie pandemic. After much debate, here’s the consensus view:

Imagine being tied up to a light pole by your former friends and family. Your post-apocalyptic hometown is crawling with zombies, and the only way to clear the horde is the offer up a decoy. You are that decoy.

The rest of the survivors in your group wait in upper floors of nearby buildings, armed to the teeth, but under strict orders not to fire until they see the whites of your intestines. You didn’t volunteer for this morbid assignment, but the alliances that formed behind your back have now voted you out.

Zombies approach your post from all sides. You can’t do anything but watch as they get closer and closer.

Finally on top of you, they hungrily claw at your exposed body as they’re picked off one by one. Your friends save the last bullet for you, only after you’ve finally given into an agonizingly slow death.

You die betrayed, tortured and eaten alive.

What’s worse than that?

We’ve already touched on the very real danger that other people represent in an Zombie outbreak (see: Human Threat Mitigation, and: Don’t Be A People Person),


  1. What’s worse than that? Going thru all of that, but not dying from it. If your “friends” managed, somehow, to kill all the zombies around you, before the zombies killed you, then your “friends” let you live long enough to see if you’d turn. If you don’t turn and get put down, your life becomes way worse than that (or any other) death could ever be… (now you’re crippled, so you can’t make it alone, and you know that those people whom you have fought and bled beside thought of you as nothing more than bait when you were able-bodied…so how much worse is your life about to be?)

    But, in terms of “worst death ever”…yeah, i agree, that’s probably about as bad as it could get…

  2. I know whats worse then that.
    Getting sawed in half with a chain saw. slowly.

  3. USS Columbia (SSN 771))

    Worst way to die? C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y A-L-O-N-E.


  5. What’s worse than that? What I do to the unfortunate soul(s) who tries to make me the sacrifice will be worse.

    Much worse.

  6. Wow some of you people have seriously sick imaginations. I’m looking at you, Tom02-27-2012. Great stuff.

    Seeing religious zealots survive and run the place would break my soul. I can hear it now. “Gather around folks. Seven billion (99.9999% or something close) people have died during this zombie outbreak but [insert their god] has graced us with his mercy.” The REAL zombies speaks together, “AMEN” and turn to you to convert or die for being a ‘sinner’.

    Another would be the life of an attractive female. That’s probably one of the worst. You’ll be raped repeatedly and if the human population is low, you’ll be impregnated over and over to bear the children of scumbags. Better hope you don’t have a significant other. He’ll try to to save you, but he’ll be forced to watch you violated while getting beaten half to death and then fed to zombies. Better hope you don’t birth girls or you’ll have to watch them get raped by their ‘fathers’. One of those fuckers is probably infected but thinks he’s too tough so you get the zombie virus through intercourse and give birth to zombaby that chews through your uterus and bites the village doctor. Seeing as you’re now bloated, infected and useless, you’ll be sacrificed by the remaining survivors while your pre-teen daughter(s) inherit your responsibilities.

    Holy crap, I think I just beat you all. I am not happy.

  7. While that would be terrible it wouldn’t be the worst. Imagine your emotions you would sit there no hope, just waiting for the only possible ending, death.
    I believe it would be worse to be volunteered (free will or the will of others) that has to leave the safety and go gather something; be it food, ammunition and etc, etc. Now for whatever reason you got a few or an armada of zombies running after you for a bite of that meat on your ass so what do you do? you run back to your friends and the safety because lets face it when faced with a pack or flesh eating freaks your instincts aren’t break out the Kung-Fu like Jackie Chan or the gun skills of bad ass cop.
    Only to find they have locked the door, leaving you alone to be eaten alive.
    Your emotions would be so much more severe than if you were tied up alone because you would have this desperate hope you could get there fast enough, you realise the door is locked as you feel the betrayal of being left like an animal to be slaughtered, you become desperate with nowhere to go and you would finally lose all hope as the zombie finally reached you and began to fight over you’re fleshy carcass.

  8. Some of the above comments above demonstrate part of the problem and hint at circumstances that will give rise to just such a situation. The statement that ‘criminals’ subjected to this torture and execution wouldn’t be a bad thing opens a can of worms: What crimes warrant that punishment? Whose judgement do you rely on?

    In lawless states people devolve into an ‘honour’ system. With no police or judges to call on they take things into their own hands and, time and time again on all levels, what we see is this: “Wrong me and I will use you to send a clear message to everyone else what a bad idea that was.”
    Using fear as motivation to stay in line works. It works in prison and in the school yard just as it works for the Mafia and for governments around the world.

    What counts as a ‘crime’ becomes anything that shows disrespect to the boss or undermines his authority.

    Human nature makes us far better at thinking up gruesome horrors than pleasures, as shown by the huge amount of art and literature depicting Hell and the small number of rather vague depictions of Heaven. Whoever calls the shots in a group, unless he or she or they have a moral code they value highly, could soon be chaining people to posts to be devoured for the stupidest reasons and probably justifying it as for the greater good.

  9. At dawn, stumbling out of a zombie infested city after a horrific, 24-hour nail-biting adrenaline-fueled ordeal, only to trip and scratch yourself on a piece of scrap metal that’s covered in infected blood.

  10. I think the worst part of that death would be the stupidity. One could just as easily attract zombies to one point with a boombox, as it is with a human. So in the end you would be less a decoy, and more of a ritual sacrifice for the entertainment of the others. It reminds me of that one move “The Mist” were most of the people when religious crazy and threw the one solder to the monsters, so if the people feeding the zombies with you, your just unlucky enough to be with crazy people.

  11. Personally, I think that at least one of the worst ways to die would be to be trapped and infected, with no one around to save you, not even zombies to eat you, and slowly wasting away. Trapped in a room, or a closet, and you’ve killed the one zombie in the area, but you’ve already been bitten, and you know you’re going to be turned, but you don’t even have a bullet to kill yourself in order to keep from turning. Then, at the last moment, just before you die/turn, you see a loved one breaking through into the area where you’re trapped, and you feel yourself begin to turn…and they don’t realize it.

  12. having your body slowly fed to the zombies as punishment…

    stick perpetrator’s legs out say a doggie door, or dangle the person within reach of the zombies from a rope. let the zombies have their fun, haul the still living chewed on person back in, amputate and cauterize as necessary… rinse, dry, repeat….

    the fun would probably end around the midsection, but you could always work on the arms to delay the inevitable.

    • That’s a pretty good one, actually.

    • Apart from being a total psychopath, doing this would put you at huge risk. Pulling the person back in after the zombies have got a hold of them is not going to be safe or easy. Dressing the infected wounds would put you at risk. The person being partially eaten would get infected, turn into a zombie and bite you. And you would deserve it.

      • I don’t mean ‘you’ personally of course. I mean a person doing that would deserve to get infected themselves.

      • They could always put metal around the torso and just dangle them from a tree or wall they’d bleed out of course and probably be unconscious before they died but you wouldn’t be at risk.

  13. If you ever read Max Brooks book “The Zombie Survival Guide” you’ll know where this comes from.

    I think that the only way to make it worse would be that it wasn’t just you tied up. Imagine watching them attack your loved ones next to you first and the shooters don’t bother killing them when they turn but want to wait till all the unrestrained zombies are dead so they can kill you with an axe, saving bullets.

  14. Yeah, definetly one of the worst ways to die I could possibly imagine. Especially if your huband or wife were still alive and one of the ones who voted you out!

    • If all these people voted you out to die like this than that person was probably a real asshole and deserved it especially if members of your family did it.

  15. They could be put a Justin Beiber song on playing next to you to attract more Zombies. Then you would die alone, betrayed, and eaten alive… while being forced to listen to Justin Beiber. Thats how it could be worse.

  16. such a waste of precious ammo if there was any time to prepare.

    Personally i’d hate to drown as i’m gnawed on and sinking into a submerged horde. Not as much physical pain as the described method, but perhaps worse psychologically.

    There’s also being stuck in a high unclimbable spot and die by dehydration. You could always jump, but would you really? The choice would taunt you for days, and then the suffering would begin. Over a week of hell.

  17. Will Rogers said that he’d rather be the sucker who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the scammer who sold it.

    I’d rather be the one tied to the post than the person who betrayed a former friend…especially if the plan didn’t work and the whole group wound up getting eaten.

  18. read a story that had a person going under the knife as the infection was turning people in the hospital. the patient/ victim was going under anesthesia for an apendix removal as the suite was invaded, their last thoughts and memories were of being eaten alive… thats pretty chilling to me…

  19. I think the only thing worse than this would be agreeing to be the bait without knowing the part of the plan that is “let them start to eat you”

    So you are doing your part to help everyone; being the hero of the day to lure out all the lame brains. You stand there proud, watching them come closer and closer. Waiting for the first shot; trying to expect it so you don’t flinch when it comes. You know, you gotta look all bad ass so when the story is retold by all, you come off as never scared.

    But then the shots don’t come.

  20. That would be a pretty horrible way to die.

  21. Survivors will always move towards a group. It is always easier to survive this way, let alone the psychological benefits the group will provide. With every group there will be a need for a leader. In the beginning this individual will most likely be the person that can provide the safest environment for the group. By this I not only mean defense but sustenance, shelter, and above all leadership. The strongest willed people will gravitate to this position, they won’t be the strongest or the smartest, all they will most likely have is the ability to make decisions and the fortitude to see them through. In a hostile environment it will be better to make a bad decision then no decision at all. You can argue that point with what ifs, but it has been proven time and time again. Now these leaders will not be chosen they will be thrust into these positions by the rest of the group. It will be a dictatorship, and with this comes my main point. No one’s moral compass is the same, and once someone has the power it is much harder to take it away. Bad people will follow bad people, and middle to good people will follow their leaders. Out of these leaders who do think will be the most violent? Who do you think would attack their fellow survivors first? Who do you think will come and try to take instead of prepare for themselves? The centuries have shown that the most dangerous weapon on earth is a thinking human being. The leading cause of death for human beings is other human beings. When to shelter of the LAW is gone you must be prepared to defend yourselves and others.

    • To go further with your statements, I would say the most violent and the most likely to attack others are those who think they are doing “moral” work. Say some religious group that survives the zombie outbreak decides they’ll remake this world in their god’s image (whichever god they happen to believe, I’m not singling out one group or another here). All “nonbelievers” will either be given a chance to repent or be killed. These would be the radicals ofcourse.

      My case in point is the movie/book “The Mist” by Stephen King.

      • I think that would take a little bit before those groups started, Oh they will come. The violent criminals will be first and the quickest to attack. Just look at the L.A. Riots and Katrina. It wasn’t even the end of the world and people were already taking what they wanted because no one was there to stop them

      • I think it would be safe to rule out said criminals as a threat. 1) it are these dumb people that think of material wealth first before their own personal safety, which means that it would probably be these people who would be the most careless, and would probably be victims of the Zombie outbreak relatively soon.
        I just think these people wouldn’t have the foresight to plan well, so ultimately, I would not be worried about the ‘lawless’ or the ‘morally-crippled’ as much… well, maybe the morally-crippled..

        Certainly, though, I wouldn’t worry about those who are fueled by personal gain. They are just too short-sighted, and as such, they won’t have the same perspectives as those that are out there just to survive..

  22. I think there’s a very real danger of being forced to deal with highly dangerous humans after the Apocalypse. After all, it’s not every person who can make it alone, much less carry their family to safety with them. It’s far easier to fall in with a group of like-minded people or a single, strong-willed leader and follow them to safety. Once you have an insular group, it will become harder and harder to voice opposition to group consensus or dictates from the group leader, as the alternative will often mean expulsion or worse. Consider just a few examples from fiction where a closed group quickly slides into behavior that would have been totally inconceivable and morally reprehensible before the formation of the group (Woodbury in ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Lord of the Flies’ comes to mind). We do, of course, have many non-fictional examples as well (mostly religious insular groups) which show a similar pattern of moral evolution.

    So in the example presented by the OP, the bait human might be a captive from a raid or simply a hapless stranger who wandered into an existing group that had no need of her other than her ability to draw in zeds. I think it’s safe to say that in every example of zombie fiction (the only research source we have as of now) it’s human beings who cause the biggest loss of life to the initial survivors, through direct malice or indirect carelessness. I definitely feel that zombies will be the secondary threat during the Zombie Apocalypse. Zombies only want to eat you. Humans want a whole helluva lot more.

  23. Seems silly to leave someone tied out there to me, maybe if they were infected and wanted to do something before they turned zombie. Seems like a better thing to do would leave the person inside a phone booth or a car where they would have some sort of protection from the zombies. If you had electricity, you could probably show a movie on a blank wall across from your sniper roost and have them line up to be shot without risking anyone.

  24. Well that could be an ok plan, if the bait was not in any danger and had an escape route, to clear out a small area like with in a fenced in position. Put someone on an elevated platform with a zip-line escape. It would be stupid dangerous but could be very effective. the bait would have to be a strong willed person to pull of being the bait. But to be forced into this, that would suck. and better than just being strapped to a pole they could make a human piñata. have you dangling just close enough for the zombies to reach up and scratch you belly. you die of starvation and dehydration, or a blood clot from you limbs being tied so tight, but have to listen to the zombies trying to eat you till you die. I think that is worse than just being eaten.

    • No, no. What I was getting at is you simply tie someone up and allow them to be killed for the benefit of the rest of the group. The argument is that this is the sort of thing that will happen on a regular basis when the Zombies come. All morals out the window, and people become willing to do whatever they can – no matter how wrong – to increase their chance of survival.

      • I would call those people cowards who could no longer deal with the threat at hand. There really isn’t any reason to put a noninfected person out as bait. Well, a noninfected, noncriminal person.

        I can fully see this as a punishment for some criminal misdeed such as killing another human.

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