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Characters / Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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Played by: Judith O'Dea (1968), Patricia Tallman (1990), Brianna Brown (2006)

  • All There in the Manual: Her family name is Blair according to the script, also making it an example of an Alliterative Name.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The original film opens up from her perspective—driving to the cemetery with Johnny, being attacked and separated, fleeing and finding the house. Then Ben shows up and she turns into The Load.
  • Distressed Damsel: In the original. While she does succeed in running away from most of the zombies, when things calm down she goes slightly catatonic.
  • Dumb Blonde: Barbra also spends most of her time in the first film being catatonic and hysterical. But it's averted in other versions.
  • Final Girl: In both Savini and 3D version.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: in the original, to save Helen.
  • The Load: Only in the original. Barbra does very little to help anyone in the house and is even treated like an object when Ben and Cooper are arguing about the basement.
  • Only Sane Woman: In Savini and 3D version.
  • Red Herring: In the original, Barbra is near-catatonic and then spacey. She feels warm, says so and takes her jacket off. She flinches at the fire when Mrs. Cooper lights her cigarette. Despite all this, she doesn't turn into a zombie before getting dragged out of the house.
  • Screaming Woman: In the original, screaming is about all Barbra really does aside from spacing out.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Manages to save Helen Cooper from the zombies, only to be killed by her own zombified brother and several others. Not to mention, Helen gets stabbed to death by her zombified daughter not five minutes after the fact when she flees to the basement, making it even more pointless.
  • Sole Survivor: In the Savini version. Subverted in the 3D version; she's the last person left alive, but zombies are approaching and she doesn't have a weapon or any place to escape to.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Ben in 3D version.


Played by: Duane Jones (1968), Tony Todd (1990), Joshua DesRoches (2006)

  • Anti-Hero: Despite saving Barbra at the beginning, Ben's other actions show him to be not as heroic as his first impression gave. Though he is the closest character to being a hero by far.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saving Barbra from zombies near the beginning of the film.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted in every film as he dies last in both original and Savini version. Ben is white in the 3D version.
  • Death Glare: Delivers an epic one to the treacherous Cooper, who was planning on leaving him for dead at the hands of the zombie horde.
  • Karmic Death: According to Romero, Ben's fate at the hands of the rednecks was this to an extent. He believed that boarding up the cellar would be a death sentence and refused to heed Cooper's suggestion (he even ends up killing the latter near the end for treachery). It's only after everyone else has died or been zombified that he ultimately flees downstairs and even then, it's more out of the last ditch effort in order to save himself. In the morning, when the hunters come by the house to kill the straggling ghouls, they kill him stone cold and burn his corpes along with the others. No one ever finds out who he was or what he went through to survive the night.
  • One-Man Army
  • Only Sane Man: He's noticeably more level-headed than the other survivors (especially in the 1968 original).
  • Protect This House: Was determined to do this with the farmhouse, only for everyone besides himself to be killed due to their nearsightedness or disobedience with his plans. The zombies soon bust in and he has to flee down to the basement (which he earlier called a deathtrap).
  • Tragic Mistake: Ben, our hero, believes that they must defend the house from the zombies. Harry Cooper, our unsympathetic antagonist, insists that they should flee to the basement and barricade the basement door. Ben wins the argument, but Cooper was right. Ben's plan to defend the house leads to disaster, and after everyone else is killed he does, in fact, flee to the basement, where he survives the zombies.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Barbara in 3D version.

     Harry Cooper

Played by: Karl Hardman (1968), Tom Towles (1990), Greg Travis (2006)

  • Adaptation Name Change: Renamed to Henry in the 3D version.
  • Adaptational Heroism: in the 3D version, instead of being a jerk, he becomes a helpful person and Ben's friend.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite being mainly an asshole victim, it's still possible to feel sorry for Cooper after Ben shoots him for trying to take the gun. His last scene before his death is him going to his daughter and collapsing in front of her.
  • Asshole Victim: In original and Savini version. Cooper is demanding and confrontational at best and a treacherous coward at worst.
  • Bald of Evil: More Jerkass than full-blown evil, but still.
  • Big Bad: The primary human antagonist, and responsible for everybody getting killed due to his obstructive tendencies.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: His interactions with his wife show shades of this in the '68 original, though it's not explored very thoroughly.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He actually cares for his wife and daughter.
  • Jerkass: As he first seems to viewers.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Not only was his argument for barricading in the basement instead of trying to defend every entrance to the house sound, the ending proves that it would have worked.
  • Nice Guy: In the 3D version.
  • Only Sane Man: While Ben is arguably the most level-headed, Cooper's insistence on the cellar being the only safe place was proven correct once the undead started to attack in earnest.
  • Papa Wolf: While Cooper is a jerk, he's motivated by trying to protect his injured daughter.
  • Properly Paranoid: His grumpy and abrasive personality aside, he is proved correct in that Ben's plan to board up the upper areas of the house and successfully protect the house was a folly.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: His cowardly attempt to steal Ben's gun and betray him, leave him to die at the hands of the zombies, backfires once and for all.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While Cooper was an unlikable asshole in the original, he was still willing to help the others out after some grumbling, even if his fear and anger got the better of him towards the end, and he came across more as a scared, angry man out of his wits with fear and confusion. In the remake, he is an utterly loathsome and useless slimeball.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In the 3D version Cooper is more of a friendly good-hearted farmer.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: In all versions.

     Helen Cooper

Played by: Marilyn Eastman (1968), McKee Anderson (1990), Johanna Black (2006)


Played by: Keith Wayne (1968), William Butler (1990), Max Williams (2006)

  • Asshole Victim: In the 3D version.
  • Big Guy: In the Savini version.
  • Death by Sex: In the 3D version
  • Out of Focus: In the 3D version, he doesn't have much screentime as previous versions.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Tom and Judy are pretty separated from the other characters and the story at large. They hardly interact with anyone else but each other, and the only thing very memorable about them is their fiery explosive death and the sloppy zombie clean-up crew.
    • In 3D version it becomes worse. They don't share a scene with any other cast members at all.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tom and Judy climb into a flaming truck and attempt to drive it away from the fuel pump. It ends about as well as you would expect.
  • Tragic Mistake: After the lock for the gasoline pump is shot off by Ben, Tom grabs the fuel nozzle and clumsily sprays it all over the place while attempting to refuel the truck. In the process, he sprays the gasoline all over Ben's nearby lit torch. The flames climb over the truck, blowing it up, killing Tom and Judy and dooming the escape attempt.

     Judy Rose

Played by: Judith Ridley (1968), Katie Finneran (1990), Cristin Michele (2006)

  • The Chick: In Savini version, Judy Rose takes over Barbra's original role as the Screaming Woman instead of being calm and reasonable simply because she's a woman. However she reacts realistically to what's going on and becomes a little more proactive (going outside to get the gas pump keys, insisting that she drive the truck).
  • Death by Sex: In the 3D version
  • Dumb Blonde: She turns into this in the 3D version. She also wasn't that smart on the original, she dies and takes Tom along with her because she got her jacket caught on the car door and didn't try to open it first.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In the 3D version.
  • Out of Focus: In 3D version she, like Tom, doesn't have as much screentime as in other versions.
  • Screaming Woman: In Savini version.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Tom and Judy are pretty separated from the other characters and the story at large. They hardly interact with anyone else but each other, and the only thing very memorable about them is their fiery explosive death and the sloppy zombie clean-up crew.
    • In 3D version it becomes worse. They don't share scenes with any other cast members.
  • Too Dumb to Live
  • Took a Level in Badass: Judy Rose was heading this way too in the Savini version. She spent most of the film as a Screaming Woman before eventually getting a hold of herself, calling out Ben and Cooper for their stupid arguing and offering to drive the truck to the gas pump (as opposed to the original where she just wandered outside and had to come along).


Played by: Kyra Schon (1968), Heather Mazur ("Sarah"—1990), Alynia Phillips (2006)


"They're coming to get you, Barbara!"

Played by: Russell Streiner (1968), Bill Moseley (1990), Ken Ward (2006)

  • All There in the Manual: His family name is Blair in the script, but never mentioned in the films themselves.
  • Asshole Victim
  • Big Brother Bully
  • Big Brother Instinct: He does stop kidding around and tries to fight off the zombie when it attacks Barbra.
  • Catchphrase: "They're coming to get you, Barbara..." One could argue that this isn't Johnny's catchphrase, but rather that of the whole series; besides being one of the more quoted lines of the original, it's also the very first line in Savini's remake, and is even featured in the trailer for Land of the Dead.
  • Dirty Coward: In 3D version, he left his sister in the cemetery and escapes.
  • The Gadfly: Makes fun of his sister for being afraid in the cemetery and appears to be a bit of a jokester. It's not until Barbra gets attacked that he stops joking around.
  • Iconic Item: Driving gloves.
  • Jerkass: Complains a lot about having to make a three-hour trip just to visit his own father's grave and makes fun of his sister's discomfort to amuse himself. That said, the above tropes show he does care about her safety, at least.
  • Nerd Glasses

     Sheriff Conan McClelland

Played by: George Kosana (1968), Russell Streiner (1990)


Played by: Adam Chambers (2006)

  • Canon Foreigner: He only appeared in 3D version.
  • Expy: Of Barbra from the original. He's helpless and lies on the couch for whole movie. Well he was bitten by zombies.
  • The Load
  • The Stoner

     Gerald Tovar, Jr 

Played by: Sid Haig (2006)


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