In popular culture, zombies are commonly depicted as reanimated corpses lacking mental awareness. Zombies often have slow, lumbering movements, but they are physically strong and highly resistant to pain and injury. In many stories, they attack humans to feed on their brains and are only killed by decapitation.
Inspired by the 1954 novel, “I Am Legend,” filmmaker George Romero popularized the aforementioned description of zombies in the late 1960s with the film “Night of the Living Dead.” In the Romero tradition, zombies are often afraid of fire and reproduce by biting humans, rapidly leading to zombie epidemics.
However, zombie depictions drastically evolve between generations, and as of 2015, many modern portrayals include faster, more agile zombies who are capable of thought. For example, in the graphic novel and TV show “iZombie,” the protagonist Liv leads a normal life as a medical examiner who eats brains from the morgue to absorb the thoughts and memories of the recently deceased. When Liv fails to consume brains regularly, she loses her humanity and enters a violent, uncontrolled zombie state. Although she has extremely pale skin and white hair, Liv is able to pass herself off as a human.
In contrast, the earliest portrayals depicted zombies as African slaves who were overworked until they died and were reanimated by voodoo. These stories originated in Haiti and inspired urban legends of humans who were magically enthralled by enchanters, known as Bokor.