Follow TV Tropes


Series / Z Nation

Go To
Have mercy! Oh, have mercy...

Z Nation is a series about the Zombie Apocalypse which premiered on Syfy on September 12th, 2014 and finished after 5 seasons in 2018. It opens with the American soldier Lt. Hammond setting out to escort a prisoner named Murphy to California from the East Coast of the United States. Murphy was injected with an experimental vaccine to the zombie virus and is now the only source left of said vaccine.

Hammond and Murphy meet up with a group of survivors and enlist their aid in getting to California, where (supposedly) there still exists a laboratory able to replicate the vaccine using Murphy's blood. Meanwhile, a lone man using the handle "Citizen Z" offers what help he can to them and other survivors, beaming his radio broadcasts from an isolated arctic facility. Oh, and did we mention that this was made by The Asylum, of all companies?


This series can basically be described as a somewhat Lighter and Softer take on The Walking Dead in terms of post-apocalyptic television shows with zombies where the stakes for the surviving humans keep getting higher and a slightly Darker and Edgier take on Zombieland in terms of overall tone.

Dynamite Comics published a Prequel Z Nation Comic Book series in 2017.

A spin-off titled Black Summer began streaming on Netflix in 2019.


This show has the following tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The first part of "Welcome to the Fu-Bar" definitely counts, as the crew (and Citizen Z) are still reeling from Garnett's death. The entire episode is considerably Darker and Edgier than the episodes preceding. Well, other than the zombie gun show.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The Zunami. Citizen Z states that there is literally no getting around this thing, because it goes on for miles. His only advice is to just run. In "Zunami", the sheer volume of the swarm is such that their mere approach makes the earth shake.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The series begins as some of the last active US military bases are being overrun. While Northern Lights isn't overrun, they still die off pretty quickly while trying to evacuate.
    • Also happens in "Resurrection Z".
  • All Just a Dream: "Die, Zombie, Die... Again" uses this a grating nine times, with some "Groundhog Day" Loop thrown in.
  • And I Must Scream: The lab tech in Merch's lab, who, after being given an early version of the vaccine, which rendered him unkillable by anything other than a headshot, was found several years later melted to a table. The first reaction of the group is that he's just a normal zombie. Once they discover that he is still alive and begging for death, they're justifiably horrified.
  • Anyone Can Die: Don't take anyone's survival for granted in this show.
    • During the pilot "Puppies and Kittens", Hammond, the supposed lead, gets killed.
    • This is followed by Garnett, the main protagonist after Hammond bites the dust, in "Resurrection Z" a mere five episodes later.
    • Mack gets zombified in "White Light" and is promptly put down.
    • Cassandra is put down by 10K after being resurrected by Murphy and coming back feral and brain damaged
  • Autocannibalism: Murphy's need to feed is mitigated by his regeneration powers which allow him to eat parts of himself for sustenance.
  • Badass Family: A family that the group runs into in "Full Metal Zombie". The group stumbles upon what looks like them being mugged by the same group that stole their truck. Turns out they were the ones robbing them. We see the whole family, including son and daughter who don't look older than ten, blowing them away. Doesn't save the four of them from becoming zombie food a little ways down the road.
  • Bald of Evil: The Man is totally hairless. He doesn't even have eyebrows.
  • Batter Up!: Addy wields a spiked metal bat.
  • Bears Are Bad News: And not just a normal bear, a zombie bear.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Both used and subverted. Addy and Roberta still look surprisingly good for the third year of a zombie apocalypse, but by the end of the first season Cassandra looks quite banged up and sickly.
  • Beware the Living: Look down at "Knight of Cerebus" to find out why. .
  • Blessed with Suck: As an inversion to Murphy, we meet the first person given the working Z-Virus cure. It even has the added bonus of giving one zombie-like immunity to anything but headshots. Great, right? 'Wrong. We meet the man missing the lower half of his body, with the remainder melted to a lab table, with most of his flesh seared off. From what we can tell, he's been that way for years''. After pointing to a computer holding the footage of his injection, he begs the protagonists to kill him.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: As of 'Batch 47' Murphy seems to value zombie lives as much, if not more, than humans. His daughter Lucy goes on to share this affinity for zombies.
  • Bodybag Trick: Warren in the episode "Zunami".
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted. The ending of season 1 seems written to give this impression if the show wasn't renewed for a second season. Thankfully, it was.
    • Brazenly used as the conclusion of "Down The Mississippi'', right down to the dialogue. Though it involves two recurring supporting characters, Sketchy and Skeezy, instead of any of the main cast.
  • Bottle Episode: 'Die Zombie Die...Again' has limited locations, only two of the regular cast members, a guest star, and a few bit parts.
  • Came Back Wrong: Cassandra is resurrected by Murphy but is feral and mentally challenged.
  • Cannibal Clan: Cassandra use to be a a part of one, and being used as a bait for their next victim.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Becomes a real issue in Season 3, as Murphy takes on the role of the villain, but is still the only possible hope for mankind.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: In "Welcome to the Fu-Bar", Roberta holds a conversation with a zombified bartender she's pinned to the counter with a knife.
  • Catchphrase: Anyone provided they have the time to spare before killing a zombie: "I give you mercy."
    • Anyone ever: "Damn apocalypse" The best part is that it's just said offhand and casually.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The series varies so wildly between comedy and drama that at times it's very difficult to tell when the creators are serious.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 3 ends with both a literal and metaphorical example of this, with the entire main cast, including The Man and Lucy, being knocked off the side of Mount Casey, shot, and/or menaced by a flying military death-ship.
  • Dancin' in the Ruins:
    • "Welcome to the Fu-Bar" has a shooting contest using zombies chained to an ice cream truck, the prize being a .50 cal rifle.
    • In "Murphy's Law", the crew winds up on a golf course and Murphy, having learned while in prison, decides to try out the range. Since zombies won't attack him, he's free to have some fun taking shots at the zombies shambling along down range.
  • Deadline News: "We Interrupt This Program" flashes back to a local news crew, as the apocalypse unfolds around them and on-air.
  • Death of a Child: There is a zombie baby in the pilot.
  • Dead Star Walking: Harold Perrineau doesn't last beyond the pilot.
  • Decoy Protagonist:
    • Hammond in "Puppies and Kittens".
    • Followed by Garnett in "Resurrection Z".
  • The Dog Bites Back: In "The Murphy", it's revealed that one of the kids sent off by Helen's commune realized why they really sent him off. He came back, set the place on fire, and released the zombie bear, killing all but Addy and the one Murphy slept with.
    • Cassandra is able to get revenge on the cannibal leader Tobias who had abused her, by tazing him and leaving him to be eaten by zombies.
  • Doom Magnet: Whatever settlement the team goes to, chances are by the end of the episode it will be overrun with zombies.
  • The Dragon:
    • Scorpion to La Reina.
    • Cassandra becomes this to Murphy after he turns her into a hybrid like himself.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In "The Murphy", the Sisters of Mercy are all killed off save for the one Murphy impregnated and Addy. The kid they tried to get rid of realized he'd been played and burnt the place to the ground.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Roberta does this after Garnett's death.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first episode Addy seems to be filming the results of her zombie kills, a trait that disappears, presumably once her ability to get more batteries becomes a greater challenge. Also, Murphy seems to be less of a Deadpan Snarker than in later episodes, but that might relate to the death of Hammond, who intimidated him into remaining passive.
  • Everyone Has Standards: With the exception of 10K, who's too young to appreciate what it means, everyone in the group is appalled by some Jerkass giving Mount Rushmore a zombie-themed makeover. Especially notable with Murphy, who is incredibly jaded and yet makes his distaste clear.
  • Evil Is Petty: On two separate occasions the Zeros have forced the creators of possible zombie cures to test them on themselves. Keep in mind these were not random quacks, but people with legitimate medical credentials. In other words: they're in the middle of a plague, forcing doctors to use themselves as guinea pigs.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The creator of the zombie plague, Doctor Kurian. Played with in the case of Dr. Merch and her lab, who, while rather amoral, were genuinely trying to cure the plague.
  • Exact Words: When asked where he got a large bottle of water from, Murphy replies he found it with a dead family. He doesn't mention that he got them killed in the first place.
  • Fantastic Drug: Z Weed, which is mundane weed grown using zombies as compost.
  • Fantastic Racism: Started in Season 5. This particular trope rarely appears in a zombie story, but some human characters are bigoted against Talkers (sentient zombies that even have free will and retain their full personalities, mannerisms, and intelligence from when they were alive.)
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • Tobias is polite and never raises his voice but is clearly a nutjob.
    • Jacob is an even worse example.
    • From the season 1 finale, we have Dr. Kurian, who created the plague in the first place. His first words on screen?
  • Final Battle: The Season 2 finale features the group's final showdown with the Zeroes.
  • Final Solution: The original purpose of Black Rainbow. Designed to wipe out anything left if the Cold War ever went hot. ZONA decides to use it to basically reset the world.
  • First-Episode Twist: Citizen Z's name is Simon. It's slipped in so early that no one even knows it's important enough to remember yet. So, on second viewings, having him say it outright is kind of a shocker.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: In the siege in the flashback movie No Mercy, The Man sends zombies that have been 'mercy-proofed' after the team. Their solution? Keep wasting ammunition!
  • Friendly Zombie: The Talkers, who have been turned into zombies but have retained their intelligence. As long as they are plied with "bizkits", they retain their personality, so those who were sociable before being turned will remain sociable afterwards. Of course, if they run out of bizkits, that's a different story.
  • From Bad to Worse: As if the Zombie Apocalypse wasn't enough of a chore to survive, "Welcome to the Fu-Bar" introduces the Zunami. One enormous, miles wide super horde of Z's. Then season 2 has several nukes go off, messing up the country.
    • Season 4 steps it up. The Founder estimates humanity's numbers have dwindled to 10,000 at best, and the entire race is on the brink.
  • Gas-Cylinder Rocket: Happens when Doc sets a wheelchair-bound zombie on fire at the insane asylum in "Doc Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". A leak from the gas canisters attached to the chair send out a blazing streak of fire, which propels the chair some distance down the hallway before the canisters explode.
  • Genre Blind: The community in "Resurrection Z" believed they were "zombie proof", and as such forced everyone to check their weapons at the gate. They did this while knowing full well that there was a zombie worshiping suicide cult right on their border. No guesses as to how that turned out.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Invoked by Murphy in "The Murphy". Kinda falls flat when they're zombie strippers and one bites out the other's tongue]
  • Going Critical: In "Going Nuclear", a nuclear power plant threatens to destabilize and contaminate everything within 300 miles. It's never a concern that it will explode, just that it's going to spew deadly fallout everywhere.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Citizen Z nearly loses his marbles, until he gets some company in the form of a dog. In "Zunami", he seems to be losing it again, but the oxygen deprivation didn't help matters.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Invoked in Adios, Muchachos.
    Addy: Let me guess. Murphy's zombie army plan went horribly wrong.
    Warren: Yeah.
    Doc: Coulda been worse. Coulda gone right.
  • Half-Arc Season: Most episodes at least help to develop the characters and established back-story, but in terms of the main Myth Arc of the show in season one the episodes that matter are: Puppies and Kittens, Resurrection Z, Welcome to the Fu-Bar, Zunami, Murphy's Law, and Doctor of the Dead. Furthermore, the Myth Arc is only the A-plot in the first and last episode, and (arguably) Muphy's Law.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: It's doubtful at this point that even Murphy is entirely sure who's side he's on.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: The new year system is "Before Zombie" (B.Z.) and "After Zombie" (A.Z.).
  • Idiot Ball: The Pilot. The main cast felt it was necessary to give a zombified baby 'mercy,' instead of leaving it locked up in the building it was in. It got Hammond killed. Even worse, they had no reason to hunt it in a garage, where it had places to hide. All they had to do stand outside, leave the door open, make noise and it would have charged out into the open. Where it could have been easily dispatched with little risk.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In "Going Nuclear", Doc complains that he's a doctor, not a nuclear physicist.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Doc is not actually a doctor. Most of his knowledge is just first-aid he's picked up, but in 'Home Sweet Zombie' he drills into a man's skull based something he saw on ER. To be fair, it was something of a Godzilla Threshold, with little they could do to make the patient WORSE.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The people from Cassandra's backstory.
  • Implacable Man: The Z in episode 9, which is hit by a spiked club, has concrete dropped on it, and is shot at least four times but just won't stop coming. Being part of a repressed memory, it exists as an obstacle to be overcome.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: Used a lot, such as the goofy parade-costumes from the opening scene of "Zombaby!", or the busload of zombies who'd died on the way to an Abraham Lincoln look-alike contest.
  • In-Series Nickname: Doc, 10K, and "The Murphy".
  • The Internet Is for Porn:
    • When the group is trying to contact Citizen Z through a satellite link, Doc muses if they can't reach him, perhaps they can at least pick up some porn.
    • In "Murphy's Law", an irate Murphy tells Citizen Z to track down the scientist who gave him the vaccine in the first place, while suggesting he's wasting time looking up porn.
  • It Can Think: The unstoppable Z in episode 9, which is able to dodge attacks and is smart enough not to jump onto steel spikes. This is because it's part of a dream.
    • Also, as mentioned in Papa Wolf, a notable male zombie apparently has enough intelligence left to still guard the door, defending his wife and child.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Dr. Merch's lab has a failsafe system rigged to launch a tactical nuclear weapon at the site if anyone tries to leave without going through decontamination.
  • The Juggernaut: Season 4 introduces Super Z's. Zombie's so unnaturally resilient, they can shirk off losing half their heads.
  • Karmic Transformation: One bigot against Talkers becomes a Talker himself.
  • Kick the Dog: Murphy has one of these moments in "Zunami", stealing the supplies of a mother and child and then letting the zombified husband into their home.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Helen in "Sisters of Mercy" rescues abused women then punishes the men by either feeding them to her zombie bear or chaining them together and turning one so he'll bite the others.
    • Murphy kills a would-be kidnapper by using his new People Puppets ability to force the guy to commit suicide. Though his friends are put off by it, they make no effort to stop him.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The zombies are played for laughs. The human villains are usually not.
    • Jacob in "Resurrection Z" not only manages to slaughter an entire town but causes the death of Garnett.
    • Helen in "Sisters of Mercy" manages to talk Addy into joining her and causes Mack to run off as a consequence.
    • In the season finale, Doctor Kurian created the zombie plague over years of experimentation on people infected with deadly diseases, methodically extracting brain matter to perfect the virus.
    • The Zeros are The Remnant of The Cartel who have decided to take over what's left, provide "Z-Weed" (weed grown with zombies as fertilizer, that is somehow more powerful than normal) as part of their version of Bread and Circuses (although it's more like "plata o plomo"/"silver or lead") and that kill various people who were researching zombie cures (by forcing them to take said cures) for no other visible reason than For the Evulz (and then go after Murphy because he's the only known (or only left) option for an actually-functional cure by season's end).
    • The Man is a Determinator who lets absolutely nothing stand in his way when he's on a mission.
  • Lady Land: Helen's commune in "Sisters of Mercy" only admits women, girls, and boys under 13. Once the latter reach 13, they're sent out to meet their fathers in Salt Lake City, which is a death sentence for a number of reasons, the least of them being that the city is overrun by zombies.
  • The Leader: Garnett started off as the leader, but with his death in "Resurection Z" Warren has taken over the role.
  • LEGO Genetics: Possibly the zombie plague itself, since its creator Dr. Kurian is shown taking samples from victims of a number of diseases, like blood from Ebola patients, viral weaponry victims, and an apparent Voodoo Zombie in Haiti.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: In "Welcome to the Fu-Bar", Mack and Addy break off from the group on a moped in search of a replacement vehicle. 10K manages to get their truck working again so the others try to follow, but they end up taking the wrong fork in the road. They finally reunite in "Sisters of Mercy".
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: In "Welcome to Murphytown", The Man escapes being held captive by Murphy's followers by cutting off the hand shackled to Murphy's throne. He even takes the time to make sure his hand is flipping Murphy off when he comes back.
  • Light Is Not Good: The preacher Jacob who pops up in "Resurrection Z" wears a white habit and is an insane nutjob who sees the zombies as resurrected and turns those who don't join his flock.
  • The Load: Initially Murphy. Later he becomes useful at times because the zombies won't attack him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:Citizen Z speculates during "Welcome to the Fu-Bar" on what caused the zombie outbreak. Checking off everything from a super virus, comet that spread mutation or simply human kind thinking it into reality. Turns out it was engineered.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • 10K wants to kill 10,000 zombies, hence the name. He keeps a running tally.
    • Also "Murphy", lampshaded with the episode title "Murphy's Law".
    • Averted with Dr. Curian (spelled with a K), who may have the most inaccurate name in the zombie apocalypse.
  • Mêlée à Trois: In "White Light" the conflict is between the main group, a faction of bounty-hunters, and Murphy who wants to escape both.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Played with with Dr. Kurtz, the lead researcher working on the vaccine before the apocalypse. On the one hand, his accomplishments include finding cures for HIV, Ebola 2, and SARS, justifying his heading up of the zombie vaccine research lab. On the other hand, we see him spending much of the time before the apocalypse taking blood and tissue samples from victims of horrifying diseases (killing them in the process) for some nefarious purpose, implied to be the creation of the disease in the first place. Averted in the end, as that wasn't Dr. Kurtz. It was Dr. Kurian, a man accused of selling weaponized diseases to Iran and North Korea and creating battlefield hypnotics, who fits this trope like a goddamn glove.
  • Mercy Kill: Killing a zombie is considered giving the person mercy.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: By season three, edible humans have become so rare that the Zs have begun to avert the No Zombie Cannibals trope. Murphy and 10K witness a rolling ball of zombies, all attempting to devour one another.
  • More Than Mind Control: Helen in "Sisters of Mercy" talks Addy into joining her commune by playing on her traumatic experiences.
  • Mouth Stitched Shut: The victims of Tobias' cult have their mouths sewn shut before they start to be cut apart. The reason they aren't killed is so the meat is still alive when it's removed, as opposed to becoming poison zombie flesh after death.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The preview for "Die, Zombie, Die... Again" does everything but show Mack get eaten by a Z after he's pinned under debris. It's a dream, and that happens several times.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The first zombie vaccine tests are shown being performed on Rhesus monkeys in early 2014. This freaks out Murphy since patient zero was supposedly infected a year later.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In the season finale, Murphy breaks quarantine while trying to escape from Dr. Kurian, causing the failsafe to activate, probably dooming both his friends and Citizen Z.
    • In the following season premiere, Citizen Z puts out a message telling anyone who will listen to catch Murphy for a reward. This results in a massive free-for-all that nearly gets the everyone killed and actually does get Mack killed.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The Sister of Mercy who finds Murphy inexplicably attractive and is turned on by the scars from his zombie bites.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • What's worse than zombies? Radioactive zombies.
    • And what's worse than bears? Zombie bears.
    • And in case radioactive zombies weren't bad enough, now there's anthrax zombies.
  • Nominal Hero: As of Season 3 it's safe to say that in any story not set After the End Murphy would be the villain. Warren manages to be A Lighter Shade of Black relative to Murphy with her strict With Us or Against Us policy for his followers.
  • No Name Given: The recurring antagonist of Season 3 known only as "The Man".
  • No-Sell: The Blaster zombies in "Zombie Road" are immune to Murphy's control, which is speculated to be the result of brain damage.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Seems to be the case as of the end of Season 2 — Citizen Z has abandoned the defunct Camp Northern Lights, the team has completed their mission to get Murphy to the CDC lab, only for him to seemingly snap and finally embrace his Dark Messiah persona, and finally what's left of America is invaded by foreign soldiers. Season 3 dials back the first and third problems, but not the second.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Doc isn't a doctor at all. He just watched a lot of ER.
  • Nuclear Option: The lab Dr. Merch went to is set to be nuked in the event of a containment breach. As it turns out, this also includes every other possible United States security breach, including Northern Lights. And they're all set to launch together.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The driving ideological conflict in season three between Murphy (Order) and Warren (Chaos).
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They can play dead, make little to no movement or sounds, move at fast speeds when newly turned, then slow down, and can even get high. Oh and they can apparently drive buses at least for a short distance.
    • They're also either outright psychic or some sort of hive-mind. Murphy is the only really human-like character that can take full advantage of this, but many of the weirder zombie variants like the plant-zombies, the radioactive zombies and even large groups of normal zombies sometimes exert mental influence at a distance or have the practice and ability to contest his control, and some of the effects of contaminate marijuana is hinted as putting living humans on the same communication band as the dead ones.
  • Outrun the Fireball: In the season 2 opening, the cast has to outrun a nuclear blast. They outrun the initial blast, but the shockwave is too quick. They avoid it by driving into a tunnel, and it still manages to bowl over their SUV.
  • Out with a Bang: When it looks like Roberta fails to stop the reset, Sgt. Lily mounts 10K right on the hangar floor. Doc and Murphy aren't surprised.
    Doc': Saw it coming.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In "Zunami", Murphy comes across a wife and child waiting for the husband. The husband is actually right outside the building, zombified, and yet rather than go brain hunting he just stays there, guarding the door.
    • Murphy to Lucy, his zombie baby.
  • People Puppets: Murphy discovers that zombies will mimic his movements. Then he discovers anyone he infects with vaccine will do the same.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: The Man abducts Lucy late in Season 3... and then spends several episodes having her annoy the hell out of him.
  • Planimal: "Batch 47" has plant zombies, which are zombies mixed with plant material. They are a lot tougher than normal zombies, being immune to headshots. It takes a pretty hefty beating to put one down.
  • Product Placement: The ending of "Adios Muchachos" is one long El Camino commercial.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: In "Murphy's Law", Murphy uses his newfound People Puppets ability on a group of kidnappers, which he uses to make the leader blow his own brains out.
  • Put on a Bus: Addy and Mack in "Sisters of Mercy". The former joined up, the latter was probably killed for going back for the former. In the following episode, Roberta says that while she'd like to believe they're fine, she doesn't expect they will ever see them again. Both appear alive and well in the season finale. Addy is apparently still at the compound, and Mack can be presumed to be close by. In the next season, the Sisters have all been unexpectedly killed and the two reunite with the group.
  • Raging Stiffie: Turns out Viagra still works on the undead, as the group observes with a mixture of revulsion and hilarity during "Murphy's Law".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: It seems that a side effect of the vaccine in Murphy's blood is giving him blood red irises.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Apparently, some Jerkass daredevil painted blood on the mouths of Mount Rushmore. The heroes speculate that it might have been the same jackass who tagged the Liberty Bell. 10K thinks it's awesome.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: There really is no place that is truly "safe", and eventually the zombies or the psychos and assholes that still remain turn the place into hell. To provide an example, "Resurrection Z" (that's the third episode of the series) has a fortified camp being destroyed by a zombie-worshipping cult.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Mack has no other characteristics other than that he is in love with Addy.
  • Serial Escalation: The show seems to be trying to figure out how many qualifiers it can place in front of zombies without losing drama. We've had Tornado Zombies, Tsunami Zombies, Amish Zombies, Baby Zombies, and Radioactive Zombies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Upon seeing a tornado spitting out zombies, Roberta remarks that "They ain't sharks."
    • The nuclear power plant worker who helps the gang is called Homer.
    • In the pilot Hammond mentions having received help from an ex-cop who leads a group of survivors that live in an abandoned prison.
    • And the new villain is named after the doctor in House of the Dead.
    • In "Phily Feast", Murphy is licking the last of the cream off the inside of a wrapper from Twinkies. This is a double shout-out:
      • Hostess went bankrupt and was out of business for a time. There was much celebration when it was acquired and brought back from the dead ... in a non-zombie way.
      • Twinkies, according to the theory of Tallahassee from Zombieland, are the only food that will never spoil after the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • "The Murphy" has a character try to survive a nuke inside a refrigerator, a la Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He lives, just like Indy. Unlike Indy, he gets the mother of all sunburns for trying it.
    • "Day One" has Doc's flashback addressing two bit characters - a patient named Bernie, followed immediately by a doctor named Dr. Sanders. This, more than likely, could be a shout-out to American progressive politician Bernie Sanders.
    • Some of the Mount Casey scenes of the season 3 finale were shot at the coastal gun emplacements at the long-decommissioned Fort Casey in Washington State, hence the name.
    • The truck with the "BITCH!" sign in "Welcome to the Fu-Bar" is a reference to the first zombie the player comes across in the remake of Resident Evil.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Murphy, after getting busy with a Sister of Mercy. Doc asks him where he even managed to find cigarettes.
  • Something Completely Different: "White Light". The episode is almost entirely action, with a free-for-all breaking out in multiple locations, between multiple groups.
  • So Last Season: A partial example. Murphy's ability to control zombies still comes in handy, but as of "Zombie Road" we've encountered two special forms of zombies that are totally or partially immune.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Zombieland. With the actual attempt at making a series out of the aforementioned film having become a One-Episode Wonder, it's as close to a Zombieland series as we're going to get.
  • Suddenly Significant City: When Murphy goes full Dark Messiah in Season 3, he sets up Spokane, Washington (of all places) as the center of his attempt to rebuild society.
  • Survival Mantra: As they're waiting out the Zunami inside body-storage slots in a morgue, Warren, Doc, and Cassandra all try to keep themselves occupied with various thoughts. 10K just sleeps through it.
  • Take Our Word for It: In "Murphy's Law", the characters observe with bile fascination some zombies hopped up on Viagra. Mercifully, the show never demonstrates raging zombie boners.
  • Taking You with Me: In the season 3 finale, Abby tackles The Man, taking them both over the side of the Mount Casey cliff face.
  • Those Two Guys: Sketchy and Skeezy, a pair of con artists that the protagonists run into once a season.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The twist of "Zunami". Early on, a space capsule from the ISS crashes near Northern Lights, with a friendly cosmonaut named Yuri being the Sole Survivor. While it starts off quite well, as Z is glad to finally have more company, Yuri starts acting suspiciously: disappearing randomly, eying the base's environmental systems, and knowing Z's real name (Simon) despite never once mentioning it. When Z starts to think that he might have something to do with an attempted hack infiltration earlier in the episode, Yuri tries to allay his concerns by insisting that he is a "friend". It turns out that he was in fact a "friend" of sorts: he was a figment of Z's imagination who was trying to get him to realize that the oxygen supply in the base was compromised.
  • Time Skip: Season 4 jumps two years into the future.
  • Touch of Death: The radioactive zombies in "Going Nuclear" are not only dangerous on account of being zombies, but have been soaking up radiation long that they will lethally irradiate anyone they can hold onto for more than a second.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers for season 2 pretty blatantly reveal that the main cast survives. Given it's the entire main cast under threat, however, Plot Armor basically mandated they would all live.
  • Undead Child:
    • The zombie baby in the pilot.
    • Murphy's zombie baby. This one is just really creepy, not violent like the first. Whether she counts as dead is debatable.
  • Villain Has a Point: This comes up fairly frequently due to the show's Grey-and-Grey Morality; many antagonist factions that initially seem like Knight Templar or even outright villainous are eventually shown to have, not just a solid set of motivations, but a workable plan to deal with or end the zombie apocalypse. Which the team usually discovers too late to do anything but finish destroying it.
    • Teased and then subverted with the red hand in season 3, who are given a lot of buildup with hints that their random violence might serve a greater good, and then a dedicated episode exploring their philosophy and desire to 'bring order to the world'. They even team up with operation Bitemark and end up serving one of the team directly... at which point it's revealed that they actually were the directionless violent psychotics they initially appeared to be, and it was Murphy who actually had a point all along. This is driven home by the heroes' assault on Murphy's compound being shot in almost identical style to previous battle scenes where the team had defended a peaceful settlement from marauders.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: We see Citizen Z, but the group usually only hears him over audio feeds. He manages to get a video feed to them in "Sisters of Mercy".
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Because the Zombie Apocalypse happens then some jackass defaces Mount Rushmore. Murphy drops the trope name in his complaining.
  • Wrecked Weapon: In the Season 2 finale, the masked Zeroes member manages to break Addy's Z Whacker in half.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In "Zunami", as the others praise him for surviving the zombies and finding supplies, Murphy gets uncomfortable and suggests they move on. He doesn't want to admit that he got the supplies by robbing a family and then letting the zombified husband in to turn them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The setting, naturally.
  • Zombie Gait:
    • Linked to age and injury. Newly turned zombies, provided they weren't too badly injured when they died/were bitten, can move at speeds like the zombies in the Dawn of the Dead remake or 28 Days Later. The zombie baby is implausibly fast when it turns, as are the zombies hopped up on Ritalin in "Murphy's Law". Older zombies or ones with worse injuries shamble around like classic Romero zombies.
    • The Blasters in "Zombie Road" move much faster than normal zombies, on account of being mutated from heavy radiation exposure when they were killed.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: