This equation was created by Liam Van der Pol at the request of Ms. Mildred herself to “create an equation by which we may rate just how big a moron is the show runner of any particular film” (Perkins 2015). Enjoy! – CFR
Liam explains his equation
First let’s define our variables. The first is the most obvious:
- Terminal Stupidity, which we’ll call T. This is what we want to solve for so let’s think about what factors go into it.
- Common Sense (C) is the most important factor in survivability
- Then you have errors that you can make which hinder your survivability. I see two types of errors that that can result in death:
- Resource Management (R)
- Strategy/Tactics (S).
- Finally we need to consider the nature of the zombies we’re dealing with, as a slow stupid zombie is much easier to survive than a pack of door opening runners. These are the zombie variables:
- Intelligence (I)
- Mobility (M)
- Population Density (P)
- For the sake of initialization, let’s say these variables are each a scale of 1 to 10 (where a 1 in common sense is “I think we can reason with this zombie horde, I’m going to talk to their leader” and 10 is, “I noticed zombies are attracted to sounds so I learned archery to kill them quietly and I can reuse my arrows”.
So, my initial model would be something like:
Where a characters with higher T scores would be more believable as survivors then those with lower T scores. This would also reflect the improbability of even the most well prepared intelligent survivor against any zombie scenario with particularly high scores in any two zombie variables.
Applying this equation to a few notable characters:
Kenneth from Dawn of the Dead (2004) would be:
C=6 R=8 S=10 || I=3 M=9 P=8 and therefore his T would be 2.22 [Spoiler Warning: he doesn’t live.]
Ben from Night of the Living Dead (1968) would be:
C=8 R=7 S=9 || I=3 M=3 P=5 and therefore his T would be 11.2 [Spoiler Warning: he died of human stupidity not zombie ravage]
This model would need to be trained on a dataset of a decent number of characters, both survivors and dead, to find where your cutoff T value for believability as a hero lies. It’s also important to note that since these scales are subjective T is not an exact measurement.
- I didn’t intend for a low T joke, and though that is funny I want to point out there are female characters, like Jill Valentine (Resident Evil Franchise), who would have high T scores.
- I think your skills before the outbreak are actually fairly negligible not long after the outbreak destroys society. Sure a cop will be a better shot and a farmer may know a thing or two about water filtration, but pretty soon I believe anyone who manages to survive the initial chaos will develop the skills necessary to live. Provided they aren’t facing a particularly high scoring zombie threat, in which case skills are kind of a wash anyway.
- I believe Intelligence is an important factor. While we typically think of zombies as mewling mindless mob driven by an instinctual need to feed, there are several examples of zombies who break this mold and are therefore more dangerous.
- In Day of the Dead (1985) we meet Bub who shows signs of remembering his “living” life and learns to use tools including a gun. In Land of the Dead (2005) Big Daddy learns that the fireworks the humans shoot off are just a distraction technique, he learns that he can walk through the river granting himself access to the human stronghold, and is able to communicate these ideas to other zombies thereby organizing them. The most extreme example I can think of off the top of my head is in Return of the Living Dead (1985) in which a zombie still has the cognitive capacity for speech, sets up a trap, and then lures the police into it by hijacking a police cruiser and calling in for back up.
- With Density I was specifically referring to zombie density in the survivors locale but, pre- and post-outbreak population are really interchangeable, as higher density human populations pre-outbreak are high zombie density regions post-outbreak, as we don’t see a good deal of zombie migration.
CFR – In Addition: While search for a good graphic for this page I Googled “zombie math”. I found this excellent page Zombie Maths | Mathspiggy Archive for the ‘Zombie Maths’ Category. OMG. So fantastic!!!