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Video Game / Stubbs the Zombie

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Be safe! Have fun! Eat brains!

Edward 'Stubbs' Stubberfield was Born Unlucky: Barely ekeing out a living as a travelling salesman during The Great Depression, he met his end when he was shot in the stomach by a prospective customer and buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.

Some twenty years later, Stubbs' lonely grave is now the site of a retro-futuristic utopian city called Punchbowl, founded by millionare-industrialist Andrew Monday. The city is clean, high-tech, and safe... until Stubbs suddenly rises from the earth with a burning desire to eat human brains.

Stubbs the Zombie in: Rebel Without A Pulse is a 2005 Zombie Apocalypse third-person action game for Xbox, PC and Mac with a twist - rather than playing as a human survivor, you are the first zombie, and the entire game basically consists of you lurching around eating brains and expanding the extent of the zombie outbreak. Its developer, Wideload Games, was formed by a group of seven former Bungie employees, including one of its co-founders, responsible for Halo: Combat Evolved, and it uses the same Game Engine (the only game other than Halo itself to do so).

In 2021, the game was rereleased for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC via GOG and Steam with modern controller support and modern resolutions, as well as the option to toggle off the post-processing "old film" distortion effects for a crisper image.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Commands: Used during the dance-battle against the police chief.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Zombie Apocalypse genre, obviously.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Towards the end of the game, Monday's scientists seem to have reprogrammed the robots to attack zombies (they had previously had no reaction to the Zombie Apocalypse unless you actually attacked them). However, they seem to have trouble telling the difference between zombies and humans, and will occasionally attack humans as well.
  • Airborne Mook: Many of Andrew Monday's private security guards are equipped with jetpacks.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Andrew Monday to Stubbs.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When describing Stubbs:
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The "bad guy" here being Stubbs himself, a brain-hungry superzombie who ends up causing the complete annihilation of the world's most advanced city while he happily sails off with his zombified girlfriend. Not that the city was that good beforehand....
  • BFG: Some of Andrew Monday's private security guards use ray-bazookas, which requires being charged up to shoot.
  • Big Bad: Andrew Monday, the mayor, founder, and tyrant of Punchbowl. He rules Punchbowl with an iron fist, he cares more about the status quo then of human life, does NOT lift a finger to actually help the citizens of his city, and he willingly allows his city’s police officers to use excessive force aka police brutality as implied by the propaganda in the police station, the police chief’s order to shoot first and as no questions whatsoever, and the riot cops’ shields saying “Welcome To Punchbowl”, and he’s also the main villain that is opposing Stubbs, even though Stubbs is just as much a villain as Andrew.
  • Black Comedy: Everywhere. From the terrified cries of your human victims, to dismantling your own body for special attacks.
  • Blood Knight: A good deal of human enemies come across as this, based on the Enemy Chatter.
    • The scientists are a notable example:
    Scientist: "Oh, to hell with science! KILL!! KILL!! KILL!!"
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The huge, chainsaw-swinging rednecks. They can eviscerate your zombie minions easily and never panic, and you have to rip off one of their arms before you can eat their brains. The first one you encounter in Punchbowl Mall is even treated like a boss encounter.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Zigzagged. Magazines run out, requiring reload, but weapons never run out of replacement clips.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Ted, the guy who throws a tantrum when Stubbs steals his hot dog as he rises from the grave. Needless to say, he's the first human you get to kill. Also counts as Skewed Priorities because Ted cares more about his hot dog then a reanimated corpse suddenly rising from the ground.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Stubbs' ugly tie is what reveals to Maggie Monday that Stubbs is the long-dead father of her child.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Pumpbot returns just in time to catch Dr. Wye's final attack.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Otis Monday is clearly a parody of this mindset.
  • Cutscene Boss: Most of the major enemy characters are disposed of in some kind of boss fight, but Otis Monday is killed in a cutscene without ever being confronted directly in-game.
  • Degraded Boss: The first chainsaw-wielding giant redneck you fight is a full-on boss, with tons of health and Contractual Boss Immunity against hand possession and fart stuns. The ones you fight later on as regular enemies are somewhat weaker (they can be killed with 2 gut grenades) and can be stunned with farts.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: The Punchbowl Police put a donut being dunked in coffee on their own emblem.
  • Dirty Communists: Otis' perceived cause of the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Skegness, the head of the Mayor's personal bodyguards.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The game has several discs; the most notable ones are Otis Monday, the man who killed Stubbs, and Dr. Hermann Wye, the scientist who accidentally started the zombie apocalypse that reanimated Stubbs.
  • Doctor von Turncoat: Played with when it comes to Dr. Hermann Wye. In the Intro, it makes it very obvious he was a former Nazi with him even doing the infamous salutes in front of the Swastika, but claims he's "now working for the good guys". It turns out however Dr. Wye hasn't made much of a Heel–Face Turn so much so as switching sides to avoid punishment. Dr. Wye turns out to be responsible for Stubb's own resurrection, and the subsequent zombie outbreak that ravaged Punchbowl as a result, all due to chemical pollutants in a fertilizer he made for the Grass in punchbowl. Furthermore, as revealed in the developer commentary for the game and shown by his desires to use Stubbs to make "the perfect citizen for the perfect city", that his beliefs from his time under Hitler never really went anywhere, henceforth why Punchbowl lacks so much color.
  • Elite Mooks: Andrew Monday's bodyguards have almost twice as much health as other regular enemies, wield powered up rayguns and ray-bazookas, can perform a leaping attack from across the room, and occasionally show up with jetpacks. They're also dressed up as barbershop quartet singers and even act the part, apparently for the purpose of appearing 'inconspicuous'.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Even as a zombie, Maggie Monday still loves her son enough to persuade Stubbs to spare the aforementioned son.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Upon witnessing you eating someone's brains, Monday's scientists will sometimes remark "Even I wouldn't do that, and I have no ethics!".
    • Even though the uniformed cops are defending an authoritarian town and defending Andrew Monday's tyrannical status quo, they are still horrified by you possessing people using your hand. To the point that some cops would even say in a saddened tone "He can't control you now" after killing a possessed person, implying that those cops did so as a mercy-kill.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Downplayed.
    • The Big Bad Andrew Monday's is heavily implied to be incredibly greedy, only seems to care about his city in the sense that being the mayor means he's the richest man in the city, treats the city like it's his play-place, and cares more about property damage than the death-toll Stubbs is causing, leaving him as a Nominal Hero at best. Also, he's incredibly authoritarian judging from how much control he has of the city and how authoritarian the cops under his control are.
    • The Dragon Mr. Skegness only seems to care about getting it on with Maggie Monday, which lands him on the Nominal Hero category as well.
    • Evil Genius Dr. Wye does not care that he accidentally started the zombie outbreak, and sees everyone else except for himself and his fellow scientists as expendable in the name of science, leaving him as an Anti-Villain that’s worse than Andrew Monday.
    • Even though he's NOT part of the villainous Five-Man Band, Otis Monday is already a murderer, and his paranoia has presumably only worsened in the years since to the point where he's rallied a dangerous militia. This also qualifies him as an Anti-Villain in that he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thought Stubbs was a threat to Maggie when Stubbs was alive and thinks his militia is defending the town from the zombies (too bad he punished the then-living Stubbs for something as minor as pre-marital sexual relations and he's defending a town ruled by a tyrannical Nominal Hero known as Andrew Monday who, because of his (Andrew Monday's) authoritarian actions, leans more on the Nominal part).
    • Last but not least, The Brute Chief Masters seems to only care about protecting the citizens to keep Andrew Monday happy, and seems to be almost blindly loyal to Andrew, which qualifies him for Nominal Hero too.
    • And poor Maggie Monday is apparently mostly oblivious of the corruption of her father and her four allies, aside from Skegness' perviness, her father’s murderous ways, and her son's shady behaviour, all of which she somehow tolerates to an extent.
    • And Stubbs himself, is arguably a Vengeful Anti-Villain who wants revenge on the town for being shot to death in life.
  • Fartillery: Stubbs' first special attack, which lets him stun surrounding enemies and eat their brains while they're doubled over and vomiting.
  • Five-Man Band: Andrew Monday, Mr. Skegnis, Chief Masters, Dr. Wye, and Maggie Monday are a mostly villainous variation of this trope. The details are better explained with this list:
    • The Big Bad: Andrew Monday, in that he's a greedy man who treats the city like it's his play-place and cares more about property damage than the death toll, and he's also a tyrant in terms of how much he is in control of the city. That, and he's literally the leader of this villainous group.
    • The Dragon: Mr. Skegnis, in that he's Andrew Monday's right-hand man and the most loyal member in this Five-Man Band to Monday. Him being a bodyguard means that he often next to him in order to do his job protecting Andrew Monday and fitting his position as The Dragon he obeys most of Monday's orders.
    • The Evil Genius: Dr. Wye, in that he's the smartest member of this group since he's a scientist. Combined with Token Evil Teammate, as it should be noted that he's even evil than his allies, due to his Anti-Villain status unlike his Nominal Hero allies.
    • The Brute: Chief Masters, in that he loves to solve most of his problems with violence. More so than the other members of this band. In fact, he encourages the police officers directly in his command to "shoot first and ask no questions whatsoever", in other words he encourages his men in his direct command to use brute force first no matter what, further demonstrating why Chief Masters deserves to be labelled The Brute.
    • The Heart: Maggie Monday, as she is the nicest member of this band. She counts as the heart of this group because she associates with this Five-Man Band, is the only woman in this band, and supports their efforts, though she will still call out problematic things she notices such as Mr. Skegnis’ unwanted advances and her son caring more about property damage than people dying. However, this is combined with Token Good Teammate as she is the most kind-hearted character in this game until her zombification-induced Face–Heel Turn (and even then, she's still kind-hearted enough to persuade Stubbs into letting their son live), and she's oblivious to most of the corruption of the other members of this evil Five-Man Band.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Stubbs. In life, he was a down-on-his-luck traveling salesman who ended up being killed and buried in an unmarked grave. Now he's a brain-eating monster out to bring civilization to its knees.
    • Andrew Monday as well, considering the intro to the game comments he's America's "Favorite rags to riches story" and is the primary antagonist who rules over an authoritarian city that had messed up undertones and unfortunate implications even before Stubbs showed up.
    • Also, Otis Monday. He started off as just a farmer until he started forming a dangerous militia that is unknowingly defending an authoritarian-ruled city.
  • Godzilla Threshold/Nuclear Option: In the finale, when it becomes clear that Punchbowl is beyond saving, the U.S military drops an atomic bomb on the city to prevent the Zombie Apocalypse from spreading further.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: The gaping hole in the left leg of Stubb's pants reveals that he's wearing the classic "white shorts with red hearts" variety.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The majority of Stubb's special attacks involve ripping off parts of his own body. Luckily, he seems to be capable of regenerating the missing pieces instantly. He can also tear off an enemy's arm and use it as a club.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: When controlling an NPC with the Hand, your host will be walking around with a severed zombie forearm latched onto his cranium, rigid in the air like a flagpole. No one will bat an eyelash until you actually ready a weapon or do anything more complicated than walking.
    Cop: What's that awful smell?
  • High-Pressure Blood: A stream of blood spurts out when a brain gets eaten or when a cop's second favorite arm being ripped off.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Many enemies in the game demonstrate immunity or some form of resistance to Stubbs' abilities.
    • Riot cops are immune to possession and will toss Stubbs' hand off if he tries to possess them. Farting also does not affect them, as they are wearing gas masks. Furthermore, as they are wearing helmets, you cannot eat their brains.
    • Large chainsaw-wielding militiamen cannot be possessed at all, and you are unable to eat their brains.
    • Soldiers wearing helmets cannot be possessed, nor can you eat their brains, similar to the riot cop example above. However, you can still rip their arms off.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Stubbs is actually Andrew Monday's illegitimate father, conceived during the same spontaneous one-night-stand with Maggie that resulted in Stubbs being shot and killed by Otis.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Hermann Wye. He and his army of scientists developed the Raygun Gothic technology that makes Punchbowl function. He also created the Agro-Gro fertilizer, which brought Stubbs back to life in the first place.
  • Meaningful Name: Punchbowl, Pennsylvania. The city's the punchbowl; Stubbs is the proverbial turd.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Every scientist in the game, Dr. Wye in particular.
  • Mythology Gag: A zombie outbreak in Pennsylvania.
  • Never Trust a Title: His name is actually "Eddie Stubberfield", not "Stubbs".
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Your zombie minions.
  • Oh, Crap!: Many enemies will jump in fright upon seeing you round the corner, and will sometimes even panic during combat - running around in small circles and flailing their arms over their heads madly.
    • Otis Monday, when he figures out who Stubbs really is.
    • Stubbs himself, upon realizing the Punchbowl Dam is going to collapse on top of him.
  • Nuclear Option: When Punchbowl is deemed beyond saving by the United States military, a nuclear strike is ordered to obliterate the entire city and prevent the zombie plague from spreading to the rest of the world. Inverted in that it fails to completely take down the intended target -the zombies-, because Stubbs gets away just in time. Andrew does not.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Stubbs himself is a somewhat-intelligent superzombie, with a Healing Factor and an array of superhuman powers. The many zombie Mooks you create avert the big zombie rule by being able to keep fighting even after they've gotten their heads blown off. Indeed, a headless, legless torso with one arm will still crawl around trying to catch humans.
  • Patient Zero: Stubbs.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Otis Monday, fitting with his communist-conspiracy worldview.
    • The U.S. military gets into this too:
    Soldier: Taste my hot Yankee lead!
  • Regenerating Health: The most basic way of regaining life, complete with a thick, gurgling sound effect as your health-meter slowly fills back up. If you're busy fighting, however, munching on a brain will give you a quick boost.
  • Remixed Level: The second-to-last level ends with Punchbowl Plaza, where the second half of the first level had taken place. While initially, this area had been bright, sunny and not very dangerous, now the sky is dark, the streets are in ruins, and the air is filled with gunfire and screams.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Averted. Zombies will keep fighting after losing their heads (though they obviously lose the ability to eat brains), and Stubbs can even remove his own head to use as an explosive bowling-ball, regenerating it immediately afterward.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Quaker State Irregulars are ultra-conservative militiamen led by a paranoid conspiracy theorist who just happens to be Andrew Monday's grandfather.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Otis Monday murdered Stubbs and buried him a shallow grave. Now Stubbs is back to have his revenge on Otis, his grandson Andrew, and his whole damn town.
  • Running Gag: Stubbs' ugly necktie is repeatedly referred to whenever someone needs to describe his appearance. It's also how Maggie recognizes him as the father of her son.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Riot officers carry riot shields and wear helmets that protect against possession and brain-eating.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In an optional cutscene, Stubbs stands in front of a large American flag giving a rousing speech to his zombie minions in a manner reminiscent of any number of war movies, but especially the famous scene from Patton. Of course, the entire speech consists of him saying "braaainss...", albeit in a very inspiring way.
    • Also, the chief of police is named Chief Masters. An appropriate homage, considering the game is advertised as "made with the Halo engine".
    • Some police officers wear a gauntlet on their left forearm, which is a very obvious nod to Fallout's iconic Pip-Boy. The retro-futuristic 1950's vibe of the game only makes it all the more noticeable.
    • Befitting a humorous zombie game, right before the danceoff with Masters, Stubbs pulls a few moves from Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video, complete with crotch grab and skyward shout.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The music choice during a Zombie Apocalypse is ...interesting. It does fit the 1950s setting though.
    • The tunes include "Earth Angel", "My Boyfriend's Back", "Mr. Sandman", "If I Only Had a Brain" and others, covered by current alt bands. The trope is played entirely straight with such upbeat tunes playing while you eat peoples' brains and turn them into mindless zombie minions. Subverted in that, if you notice, all of the song titles and lyrics could have alternate, ominous meanings in the context of the game. Further subverted in the the whole point of the game is to be an Affectionate Parody of the zombie genre and the Soundtrack Dissonance helps make it all the more silly.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Punchbowl provides an apparently idyllic lifestyle for its inhabitants, built on rampant consumerism and an unchecked, trigger-happy political/scientific elite. The pollution from the citizens' decadence is pumped out for the rest of the world to deal with. The developers compare Punchbowl to the abbey from "The Masque of the Red Death", with Stubbs as the Red Death.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Briefly, when Stubbs is captured by the police department. The tutorial for the Hand involves rescuing him.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Stubbs' head and internal organs are somehow capable of detonating with the force of a grenade. In the story, we have the destruction of the P.P.D. Headquarters, Otis Monday's house and the Punchbowl Dam.
    • Robots will violently explode after taking enough damage.
    • In the Punchbowl Dam, one segment requires activating a console in a locked room to open the door to the next area. One solution is to fight your way to an upper balcony and press a button - whereupon all the consoles in the locked room will spontaneously explode, opening the door.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: It is revealed that Stubbs was reanimated because his grave was contaminated with Dr. Wye's experimental fertilizer, this also why he has green skin.
  • Toilet Humour: One of Stubbs' abilities is to stun enemies by farting, plus there is one level where the objective is to contaminate Punchbowl's water supply by peeing in it.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Wye was one, apparently, but he defected to the Allies after the end of World War II during Operation: Paperclip.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: You fight the Chief of Police in a DDR-lite minigame. And no, it isn't a case of 'using rhythm mechanics to control combat'; Stubbs and the Chief actually have a dancing competition, complete with lights, music and a crowd of zombies and policemen cheering them on.
    Chief Masters: "I said I would dance on your grave, and I meant it!"
  • The Undead: Stubbs and his mooks.
  • Universal Driver's License: Stubbs' hands are apparently too stiff to use firearms, but he can drive any vehicle he gets his hands on, including a futuristic hovercar and even a tank.
  • Unique Enemy: The prisoners, who only appear in the police station. They are the only enemy who is hostile to other enemies.
  • Unknown Rival: Otis Monday's killing of Stubbs affected him enough that, over two decades later, the moment he realizes the zombie he's fighting is the man he murdered he immediately goes from Suicidal Overconfidence to cowering in terror. Conversely, it's unclear if Stubbs even recognizes who Otis is.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Subverted. While Stubbs lacks the dexterity to use conventional weapons himself, he can use the Hand to possess enemies and use whatever weapons they happen to be holding at the time. However, you still can't pick up new weapons.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Played with. While the humans quickly sound the alarm once the Zombie Apocalypse starts, the robots aren't concerned at all, and apparently can't tell the difference between the living and the undead - only becoming hostile if directly attacked.
    • Specifically, Guidebot's reactions to Stubbs' appearance and abilities. When she notices the gaping hole in his stomach, she offhandedly offers a visit to Punchbowl Medical.
      • Upon unlocking and trying out the Gut Grenades:
      Guidebot: Wasn't that your pancreas? Oh well, suit yourself.
      • Upon unlocking the Sputum Head:
      Guidebot: You must feel like you're losing your head.
      • And upon trying out the Sputum Head:
      Guidebot: You know, you don't have to take everything so literally!
    • invoked Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that there's no way the robots could possibly have been programmed to recognize a Zombie Apocalypse in the first place. Even law-enforcement robots can only scold zombies by pointing out that what they're doing is probably against the law, in a rather uncertain tone of voice.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: You're a zombie. You eat brains. Before you chow down on someone's head, they will hilariously beg for their life. Not like that will stop you from eating their brains anyway.
    • Attach a Gut Grenade to a human, and they will run around in blind panic until you detonate it. Also helps in making it faster to get a high body-count, increasing the cruelty potential.
    • Use the Hand to possess someone, and force him to kill his friends. What makes this worse is that the player can simply choose to stop controlling the possessed host, killing that host permanently.... unless the player chooses to simply keep controlling the host until the host is killed by his friends.
  • Villain Protagonist: Stubbs, since he is a brain-eating zombie murdering any human standing in his way both to satisfy his hunger and because he wants revenge for Otis Monday murdering him when he (Stubbs) was human, taking it out on the entire city. Granted, Andrew Monday is heavily implied to be not much better, since Andrew is a tyrant ruling an authoritarian city.
  • The Virus: Interestingly, it's not always transmitted through a bite. You can simply beat humans to death with your bare hands, and as long as the killing blow comes from one of the undead they'll still turn into zombies. Inversely, this means that if a human shoots their ally with friendly fire and kills them, they won't turn even if they were being mobbed by zombies a second ago.
  • Wham Line: In the climax, when Andrew is preparing to fight Stubbs:
    Maggie Monday: "Don't do this, Andrew!"
    Andrew Monday: "Get out of the way, mother!"
    Maggie Monday: "I love that zombie!"
    Andrew Monday: "Excuse me!?"
  • Wolfpack Boss: Mr. Skegness, who confronts you just before your final confrontation with Andrew Monday, is no tougher than any other of Monday's bodyguards (meaning that he barely qualifies as a boss fight, he’s more like a glorified mini-boss), but has 3 other bodyguards backing him up.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Judy, the girlfriend of Ted, Stubbs' first victim. She is last seen hanging with another jock after completing the police station level.
    • Also, the sheep that Stubbs rides like a horse. We never know what happens to the sheep after Stubbs leaves it, as the last time we see the sheep it faints after Stubbs pats the it on the head. We never even see if it wakes up or not. leaving it unknown if it left Punchbowl before the nuke hit or if it perished because of the nuke.
  • Zeerust: In 1959, millionaire-industrialist Andrew Monday founds the city of Punchbowl, Pennsylvania; advertised as having "entered the 21st century fifty years ahead of schedule".
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Well duh, the title of this game should have made this obvious enough. And guess who gets to cause it all?
  • Zombie Puke Attack: Zombie Sputum and Gut Grenades, although the latter is an adhesive capsule of the former.


Video Example(s):


Stubbs the Zombie

Stubbs is reunited with the woman he loved when he was alive... and he eats her brain. Their son Andrew tries to kill him for revenge for everything Stubbs did, Stubbs beats him and Maggie (now a zombie) convinces him to spare Andrew. The entire town of Punchbowl is now in ruins overrun with zombies and the ever dwindling living humans. The US military nukes the city before Andrew can escape, while Stubbs and Maggie escape in time on a boat, meaning the Zombie Apocalypse has spread beyond Punchbowl. Happy ending?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EsotericHappyEnding

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