A Character Sheet for the World War Z novel characters.
- As Himself: The audiobook, which features a full cast reading each role, specifically identifies the interviewer as Max Brooks, and Brooks reads the interviewer's part.
- Author Avatar: For Max Brooks.
- Mr. Exposition: Understandable, as the interviewer.
- Not So Above It All: When interviewing Closure LTD., it's revealed he also there to use their service.
- Cool Old Guy: His age hasn't slowed him down. He was already a grandfather when he encountered one of the earliest cases of The Plague, got a message to his daughter to get out of the country ASAP before being arrested by the Chinese government, escaped from prison, and is now chairman of the security council of Greater Chongqing. And he still makes house calls to all his patients.
- Combat Medic: His former job.
- The Medic: His current job.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: When he made a house call to a remote village deep in the Chinese wilderness, he was deeply irritated at the time at how despite China's many advances forward, many people still lived primitively and believed in superstitious fears, especially out in the rural areas where living conditions could sometimes approach pre-Cultural Revolution levels in the worst cases.
- Retired Badass: He was an army doctor in his youth, and he mentions performing major surgery near the front lines of a "minor" border clash with the Soviet Union in the 1960s.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Once he figures out what he's actually smuggling out of China, he doesn't stay in business much longer.
- Human Traffickers: He specialises in smuggling homeless people out of China and into Central Asia.
- Nice Guy: Despite being a smuggler, he's still nice to people and tries to do the right thing.
- Only in It for the Money: And totally honest about it.
- The Triads and the Tongs: Implied to be connected with the Triads.
- For Your Own Good: His 'debriefing and evaluation' by the Canadian Government, back when it seemed like he may have just imagined the attack. He compares it to torture.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: As if what he saw in combat wasn't enough, he had to deal with the government's 'debriefing' once he got home.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Fernando Oliveira credits his killing of zombie Herr Mueller to this. He bought a large and showy Desert Eagle purely for intimidation and never practiced with it; he was aiming for the chest but was unprepared for the recoil. Luckily for him and everybody else present, his shot went wild and by pure chance hit Mueller in the head.
- Dr. Jerk: He's not in it for the patients, he's in it for the money.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Slaps one of his nurses who is crying about his zombie patient. Later gets slapped by his receptionist after shooting said zombie patient.
- Hookers and Blow: "I did what any good doctor should do when his patient is suffering, I hit the town."
- Hypocrite He goes on about how arrogant Dr. Silva was, blithely ignoring his own towering arrogance.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: He goes on and on about how his work in organ transplants was important and the "self-righteous" West, but it's pretty transparent that his only interest is himself, and the work he was so proud of was illegal organ trade.
- Only in It for the Money: He purposefully picks rich clients.
Gen. Travis D'Ambrosia
- Cool Old Guy
- General Ripper: Averted and discussed.Attack. When I heard that order, I thought "oh, fuck".
- Only Sane Man: A rarity, at least at first: a military man with a brain.
- The Atoner: Not necessarily for anything he did, but the awful decisions the military made leading to Yonkers and the Great Panic weigh on him hard.
- Corrupt Politician: Though he claims to just have done his job as part of the presidential administration.
- Hate Sink: Just like Breckinridge Scott below, he's mainly here to be hated.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Has gone from Presidential Advisor to literal dung shoveler, having been reduced to gathering horse crap in Amarillo for fuel generation.
- Never My Fault: Even after everything that's happened, he refuses to even consider himself or his former administration responsible for ignoring the zombie threat until it was too late and contributing to the Great Panic, instead blaming the concept of politics itself and that all he did was do his job as was required for re-election. He goes as far as to claim that since you cant "fix" social problems like poverty or homelessness, it's preferable to keep the public ignorant to ensure stability instead.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He is a very-thinly fictionalised version of Karl Rove.
Mary Jo Miller
- Mama Bear: She tells the interviewer about the first zombie attack she experienced, during which one of the zombies grabbed her daughter. Mary Jo admits that she really doesn't remember exactly what happened, but says that according to both of her children, she ripped the zombie's head off with her bare hands.
- Took a Level in Badass: Went from a typical California Phalanx-taking soccer mom to an engineer, city-planner, and mayor of her own town.
- Unstoppable Rage: Took a zombie's head off with only her bare hands in a moment of Mama Bear-fuelled aggression when said zombie grabs her daughter.
- Forced to Watch: He could only watch from the sky during the Great Panic, watching people try desperately to get away, unaware they were only prolonging the inevitable, as they were merely headed to another infested zone.
- Break the Cutie: She saw parents kill their children, was almost killed by her own mother, and then saw her mother's death. Then she wound up living on her own. At four years old. She's now a Feral who may well never progress beyond the mental age at which she was broken.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: There are several parts of her story which Sharon clearly doesn't grasp the significance of, due to her young age at the time they happened; the most glaring of which is her own mother's attempt to take Sharon's life.
- Fan Disservice: Sharon is initially described as very beautiful, with special emphasis given to her red hair and green eyes, such that in prewar times she might've been a dancer or model. This is offset by the fact that she has the mind of a very young child and a penchant for vocal mimicry that includes a distressingly-accurate zombie moan.
- Innocently Insensitive: Asked a woman in the church, Mrs. Randolf, where her daughter Ashley was, missing the (to us) obvious cues that Mrs. Randolf's daughter was dead, with a strong possibility that the poor girl reanimated and had to be put down.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Sharon describes her church being overrun by zombies, her fellow children being murdered by their parents, and her own mother almost successfully strangling her to death before being shot dead, with Sharon's rescuer Mrs. Randolf pushing her out a window and telling her to run before being swarmed and devoured in turn, and all of it with the gleeful enthusiam of a little girl describing her favorite saturday morning cartoon.
- Only One Name: We never learn what her last name is; Sharon herself doesn't remember, and anyone who could have told us is long-since dead.
- Shrinking Violet: Described as initially shy, and unwilling to make eye contact nor shake the interviewer's hand
- Voice Changeling: She mimics several voices and sounds during her recollection, with special mention to her uncannily accurate recreation of a zombie moan. Her rendition is apparently so accurate that they've had to sound-proof her room at the rehabilitation center where she now lives.
- Wild Child: Sharon was a Feral; one of the children who were left to fend for themselves and became wild as a result. Now an adult, she's described as one of the luckier cases since she has retained a functioning mind and the capacity for language.
- Baby Factory: At the time of her interview, she's pregnant for the eighth time. She doesn't even know the fathers of her children, but considers continuing to produce them her duty to her country.
- Break the Cutie: After she's forced to participate in a decimation, she gives up moral agency in favor of Just Following Orders. She also has her children taken away shortly after birth so she can get pregnant again as quickly as possible.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: She considers her role as Baby Factory her duty, and does not question orders any more. (She does snark a lot about the government, past and present; because they badly need her uterus, they won't do anything to her.)
T. Sean Collins
- Ax-Crazy: He's on the verge of Serial Killer, and he knows it. He does retain enough conscience to take out his homicidal urges on zombies, not on the living, and plans to suicide after the zombies are gone specifically so he doesn't start killing living humans.
- Blood Knight: Enjoys killing zombies a little too much, but is perceptive enough to realize that.
- Crazy-Prepared: An unintentional example; T. Sean's first hint that he had a problem was that he'd start sizing up people around him for the best way to kill them, even when he had no grievance with them.
- Mad Hatter: For a blood-crazed psychopath, he is remarkably introspective and level-headed.
- Not So Different: He muses towards the end of his first segment that maybe the reason the celebrities and other rich folk couldn't keep a low profile was biological inability, a "switch they just couldn't turn off". His second segment starts with him saying he's "addicted to murder" and concludes with him lamenting that if he's still addicted after there are no more zombies to kill, he may just have to kill himself.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When the compound of the man he's working for is overrun, he refuses to shoot civilians who are simply trying to find a safe place and instead leaves.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the Long Island celebrity compound, when the alternative is to kill refugees who break in to find safety.
- Armor Is Useless: One of his many complaints about Yonkers was the MOPP 4 protective gear the rank and file soldiers were wearing, several layers of rubber, charcoal, and heavy body armor, on one of the hottest days of the year, while letting the many reporters and superiors wear normal clothing. Averted with the later battle dress uniforms, which actually were effective at preventing infection.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: He doesn't quite reach chain smoking in his first interview, but only just. Talking about Yonkers clearly stresses him out. He's not nearly as desperate later.
- Dad the Veteran: A veteran of the Zombie War, and now a husband and father.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of his commentary on the mistakes and stupidity he saw, especially in his earlier segments.
- Motor Mouth: Once you get him going, he really gets going.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Years after the war has ended, he is still haunted by what he witnessed during the war, from his fellow soldiers being eaten alive to the government incompetence that caused so many senseless deaths. According to his unit's psychologist, who he sees regularly, his reactions are still fairly healthy.
- What Were You Thinking?: His first interview section is spent chastising the poor planning of Yonkers, from the poor tactical decisions to the "Land Warrior" system that only served to incite further panic.
- Younger Than They Look: He's described as being old before his time, and that looking at him, you wouldn't be able to tell he's at the beginning of his life chronologically.
- Amoral Afrikaner: Tried very hard to be heartless by design, and Plan Orange (later changed into the Redeker Plan) was notably both originally designed as an emergency plan in case of uprising during Apartheid-time Africa and takes belief in The Needs of the Many to the most logical extreme (those that the Plan considers "strategically useless" are placed on an Invoked Safe Zone Hope Spot (by comparison with the safe zones for the "strategically useful")).
- Brooks discussed his idea for the character in interviews: white Afrikaners themselves were afflicted by apartheid, because they were indoctrinated from birth by their own parents and all authority figures into believing that apartheid was good. Brooks was fascinated by interviews with Afrikaners after the fall of apartheid who broke down saying "I didn't know what I was doing was wrong". Admitting that they were on the wrong side and everything they stood for was evil would have been so mind-breaking that many of them just shut off all emotions rather than Go Mad from the Revelation.
- Beneath the Mask: Xolelwa Azania believed that Redeker instead of being heartless, felt too much and that distancing himself from emotion was the only way he could protect himself in a cruel world. Considering the fact that Xolelwa Azania is really the split personality of Paul Redeker this insight has a helluva lot of weight to it.
- Crazy-Prepared: Redeker prepared a plan that while many view as heartless and amoral, was so comprehensive it was said that it left out no detail from survival to rebuilding society afterwards.
- Heroic BSoD: Implied to be what happened when Nelson Mandela showed Redeker what may have been the first true human warmth and compassion he ever felt in his life.
- It's the Only Way to Be Sure: He's firmly convinced that his plan is the only way for society to survive.
- Knight Templar: A particularly cold-blooded example, given how the Redeker Plan operates.
- Meaningful Name: Xolelwa Azania? Azania is the ancient Greek name for southern Africa, and many black nationalists believe that the country should be renamed thus. Google Translate gives myriad answers for "Xolelwa"; In Zulu/Xhosa/etc it can mean "Discarded", "Clemency", "Downloaded", "Forgiven"... All of them hit the nail on the head pretty hard considering that he's actually what's left of Redeker when Nelson Mandela embraced him and told everyone present his plan would save the country, both black and white.
- Sanity Slippage: By the time of the events in the book, Paul is in a mental institution in South Africa.
- Split-Personality Takeover: Xolelwa Azania, the man talking about Redeker, is Redeker himself.
- Straw Vulcan: Redeker spent most of his life suppressing his natural intense emotional capacity as a useless distraction that interfered with doing what was needed. Or so Xolelwa Azania, who's in a position to know Redeker very well believes.
- Even Evil Has Standards: An example being that Paul disagreed with the commonly held belief that he was a racist on the grounds that "to hate one race, you must first love another", and he believed that both hate and love were useless things that got in the way of progress.
- The Stoic: Was said to be a man not only devoid of emotion but actively saw them as a nuisance at best and the root of all the world's problems at worst.
- Not So Stoic: It seems that when Nelson Mandela showed Paul what might have been the first real act of emotion and empathy towards him, Paul was shaken so deeply that it destroyed the very foundations of everything he believed in.
David Allen Forbes
- All Germans Are Nazis: Averted. A west Berliner by birth, he was taught 'to always bear his grandfather's shame'.
- The Atoner: He not only carries his culturally-ingrained guilt over Germany's past, but the guilt of having been forced to abandon civilians to fend for themselves.
- A Father to His Men
- Just Following Orders: Defied. Although he complied with the order to withdraw and abandon the civilians his unit was protecting after his commanding officer threatened to enact decimations the way the Russian military did, he fully acknowledges and accepts responsibility for choosing to do so. He planned to personally assassinate his commanding officer in retribution, and is bitterly disgusted that the general committed suicide before he could do so rather than accept responsibility for giving the order.
Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk
- Break the Cutie: She was just a child when she and her parents went through the living hell of zombie attacks and winter in a refugee camp.
- I'm a Humanitarian: In the Canadian refugee camp as a child, she got very sick, both from starvation and illness, during the pitiless winter. Her parents got into a fight over what to feed her- eventually her father went out and came back with a bowl full of stew- which is strongly implied to have been made from human flesh.
- Must Make Amends: Both for contributing to the destruction of Canada's ecosystem, and for resorting to cannibalism to survive.
- Stoic Woobie
- What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out the U.S. government not for abandoning everyone, but for not doing enough to inform of them of where to go and how to survive. Also calls out most of the people who fled North for being so short-sighted and unprepared, which led to the devastation of the Canadian wilderness.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Her father thought he and his family would be better off surviving in the Canadian wilderness. To be fair he might have been right had several million Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans not had the same idea...
Arthur Sinclair Jr
- Cool Old Guy: Highly competent and rather elderly.
- No Inside Voice: "I started my career trading on the floor of the NYSE, so I can yell as hard and long as any professional drill sergeant."
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He can be persuaded to change his mind if the other party can present good reasons he should.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He admits to being an oddball, and tells a tree that it's doing a good job.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The description of his background in the novel makes it quite clear that he is intended to be the Democratic politician Howard Dean.
- No Inside Voice: Fitting, given who's based on.
- Angry Black Man: Moreso in the audiobook, he didn't take kindly to Condescending Compassion regarding his disability.
- Comically Missing the Point: During the epilogue, Joe and his buddies are watching a pornographic movie in a garage for a friend's bachelor party. The "scene" they're hooting and hollering over involves two people having sex on the hood of a car. All Joe can think of is what it took to make that car and how long it will be until the world is rebuilt and can make one like it again.
- Handicapped Badass: He's a paraplegic in a wheelchair, but that didn't stop him from joining the neighborhood watch and protecting his neighborhood from zombies, killing more than a few. Being in a wheelchair isn't too much of an obstacle when fighting zombies, apparently, as their clumsiness and slowness makes up for his lack of mobility.
- Super Wheelchair: Downplayed. He just uses a regular manual wheelchair. However that didn't stop it from saving his life at one point. A crawler managed to sneak up on his patrol and got tangled up in his wheels trying to bite him. He mentions that if he was walking, it would have been able to sink it's teeth right through his shoe.
- Cool Old Guy
- Good Counterpart: Of Breckinridge "Breck" Scott. Both characters sold the lie of "hope". But while Breck sold a sham vaccine to make a quick buck, Elliot's films were meant to inspire people to keep surviving, and to stop people from dying of despair. Notably, both characters are honest about "selling lies".
- Motivational Lie: He freely admits that several of his movies don't necessarily bear a lot of relation to reality, but considers that justified by the results he gets - helping others to keep going and not cross the Despair Event Horizon by simply never waking up.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: A clear Expy of Steven Spielberg
- Rule of Cool: Explains the importance of Awesome, but Impractical as a psychological need for the American movie-goer.
- Action Girl: Military pilot doing airdrops in zombie-infested regions.
- Hearing Voices: While the evidence strongly implies that Christina was hearing a voice in her head, it was definitely not a malicious one and may have been created by her mind as a way to cope and stay sane.
- Helpful Hallucination / Imaginary Friend: What "Mets Fan" probably is.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Mets Fan was too symbolic and knew things that she didn't to be completely explained away by her just hearing voices. (For example, directing Christina to a rescue that Christina herself could not possibly have known was arriving, or where, or when.)
- Mommy Issues: More implied than directly stated - when Christina is on the brink of crossing the Despair Event Horizon and is seriously considering shooting herself before the zombies can get her, Mets Fan galvanizes her into action by demanding, "Who are you, your mother?"
- Sanity Slippage: After she survives and gets back to her people, it is revealed that her radio had been broken and no one used the call sign "Mets Fan". This leads people to think she was hearing the voice in her head.
- Sanity Strengthening: Despite the fact that the voice may have been conjured from Christina's mind due to stress, the voice is positive and encouraging. At times when she feels hopeless, the voice reminds her to only think about what she needs to do next and actively pushes her to keep going and survive. It essentially keeps her from breaking under the pressure from the severe and dangerous circumstances surrounding her escape from zombie infested territories.
- Talking to Themself: See Hearing Voices and Imaginary Friend above.
- Ascended Fanboy: As the outbreak progressed, he stayed in his room and on the internet poring over discussions of the war right up until the power went out and he realized he had no actual skills, experience, or support to make use of his information. Only through luck did he manage to escape and meet his Sensei, who would teach him true badassery.
- Hikikomori: At first.
- Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Despite his obsessive collecting of fact and statistics relating to the zombie war, he didn't actually process what the data meant. It wasn't until he was cut off from the internet and dealing with the threat first hand that he realized how much he didn't know about anything beyond his computer, and vow to change for the better.
- Took a Level in Badass: Went from a scrawny hikikomori otaku teenager to hardened warrior. Fittingly, he's voiced in the audiobook by Masi Oka, aka Hiro Nakamura.
Seryosha Garcia Alvarez
Adm. Xu Zhicai
- But What About the Astronauts?: They monitor from space and provide all the help to the people of Earth.
- Catchphrase: "Not bad for the son of an Andamooka opal miner."
- Heroic Sacrifice: He chooses to stay in space for years to keep communication satellites going so that humanity can get information spread around they need in order to survive. He does this knowing he has inadequate supplies and is getting a lot of radiation in the process.
- Heroic Willpower: One can easily believe that he forced himself to live long enough to tell his part of the story.
- Rags to Riches: But not in the monetary way. His catchphrase above shows that he came from a working class background, only to become an Astronaut. One which becomes an international Hero for keeping the world's vital satelites working at the cost of his health.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Is interviewed while in hospice care. The amount of cosmic radiation and time spent in space gave him a rather aggresive form of cancer. It's mentioned that he's the luckiest as the other two astronauts with him died a while ago. He dies only a week after giving the interview.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: A positive example, Darnell admits toward the end that he used to hate dogs with a passion until he had to listen to a nearby pet stores puppies die slowly after the owner ran off. He then became a dedicated handler to a Heroic Dog, and now runs a farm for retired military dogs and dotes on his now elderly partner.
- Heroic Dog: A retired K9 handler, he describes the role dogs had during the war.
- Old Dog: his former partner, a dachshund mix, Maisie, makes an appearance during the interview, now retired and elderly. Darnell dotes on her.
- Rage Breaking Point: When his dog was trapped by Zombies his CO refused to let him go save her. He snapped so hard that his CO had to be carried away on a stretcher and it took a handful of active combat soliders to hold him down to keep him from killing the CO.
Father Sergei Ryzhkov
- Badass Preacher: Spends a lot of time at the front, comforting the dying.
- Religious Bruiser: He's a preacher with a gun, and willing to use it in what he sees as a righteous cause.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He certainly means well, in keeping infected soldiers from the "sin" of suicide. Pity what it lead to...
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Non-lethal version; while he wasn't killed, he was exiled to a remote village deep in Siberia once the Russian government established itself and no longer needed him as a figurehead. The other Russian POV character, Maria Zhuganova, calls him the only person in Russia who actually believes in Russia's religious epiphany.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Discussed and defied. The French were tired of their legacy of loss and humiliation, and so embarked on an unimaginably difficult and dangerous clearing of the Paris Catacombs, pushing ahead at a time when other nations were taking it slow.
- Heartbroken Badass: He's experienced so many terrible things that he makes no effort to protect himself from zombies, just other people.
- The Hermit: Lives in an isolated cabin in Canada. "I don't care if the dead find me, but I care very little for the living."
- Retired Badass: A war hero, he retired and retreated to the Canadian wilderness.
Breckinridge 'Breck' Scott
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: And unapologetically so. He freely admits that he made a lot of money peddling a 'vaccine' that he knew was useless.
- Evil Counterpart: To filmmaker Roy Elliot. Both characters sold the lie of "hope", but while Elliot sold it to save people from dying of despair and to give them a reason to keep surviving, Breck did it simply to make a quick buck. Notably, both characters are entirely honest about "selling lies".
- Exact Words: This is essentially how he lied. The Virus was called "African Rabies", so he made a vaccine for rabies. He just let people think it was a cure for the zombie virus due to what it was being called.
- False Reassurance: Phalanx works perfectly as a rabies vaccine, just as advertised. He knew damn well the virus wasn't actually rabies despite it being known as "African Rabies" at the time.
- Gilded Cage: He's holed up in an Antarctica-based, zombie-proof compound that he'll never be able to leave because he'll (at best) be arrested if he does.
- Hate Sink: He is pretty much there just to be hated.
- Jerkass: Scams countless people out of millions of dollars, laughs his head off when most of his buyers ended up infected, brags about scamming people out of their money, and taunts people about the fact that in his safety dome, he is protected against zombies, and because he's in a leased Russian research base in the Antarctic, the police can never arrest him.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He notes that what happened is partly the government's fault, since they could have checked to see if any of his vaccines had actually been tested, and that while he did knowingly sell untested vaccines, many doctors have given untested Flu shots. He also notes that even if his vaccines didn't work, the belief that there was treatment, kept people from panicking, and that after the truth got out, it wasn't long before panic and fear caused things to spiral out of control.
- Karma Houdini: Not for long anymore, since at least two countries are working together to get their hands on him. And it's mentioned that the Russian's aren't going to renew his lease.
- Laughing Mad: Considering he lives all alone in Antarctica, this is perhaps not surprising.
- Never My Fault: He blames the Great Panic entirely on the reporter who broke the story to the public that his zombie vaccine was worthless. Assumes zero responsibility over the fact that his zombie vaccine was worthless.
- Only in It for the Money: He knew Phalanx was a lie, and didn't care. Getting the money was what he cared about.
- Smug Snake: Gloats at the victims of his scamming.
- The Sociopath: Absolutely zero remorse for the harm done to those who made the mistake of believing that Phalanx actually worked.