Zombie movies are interesting phenomena. While they make for some truly scary stories, most of them end the same way – without the outbreak ending, and with the core cast of characters either dying or venturing into some unknown future. It’s rare for a zombie movie to give its audiences a happy ending, but they’re out there.
Some zombies movies break the age-old tradition and put a cap on the events of the movie. The characters survive (maybe), and the outbreak ends. These are exceedingly rare, but they’re out there.
10 28 Days Later (2002)
Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later is often touted as one of the scariest movies of the 2000s. If Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland had it their way, the movie would end on a fiercely somber note: Jim would die of his gunshot wound, and both Selena and Hannah would walk into an unknown future.
Instead, Jim survives his wound, and the three escape to some idyllic farmhouse. While there, all of the infected starve to death, allowing the country to eventually return to normal. This outbreak ends not because the antagonists are undead zombies, but merely “infected humans” who still have the ability to starve to death.
9 Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is primarily a comedy, so it’s understandable that it would have a happy ending. Of course, the ending is far more gruesome than one might expect. Nearly every major character dies, and only Shaun and Liz are left standing by the end.
That said, the ending itself is quite happy. Shaun and Liz get back together and move into Shaun’s old house, Shaun keeps his zombie buddy Ed in the shed where they play video games together, and the zombie outbreak is completely contained by the military.
8 I Am Legend (2007)
The ending to Richard Matheson’s novel is quite a bleak affair, as the monsters continue to roam the Earth and Neville dies realizing that he has become a scary urban legend to the monsters. In this altered, post-apocalyptic world inhabited by infected monsters, a sole, violent human is the real monster.
The movie completely misses the point of the novel. While he blows himself up and dies, Neville gives Anna the cure, and she in turn provides the cure to the military – the insinuation being that Neville is a legend for eradicating the outbreak and saving humanity.
7 The Crazies (2010)
Not all endings containing the eradication of the outbreak are happy. Take, for example, 2010’s The Crazies. This is a surprisingly decent zombie movie about an outbreak in a small town in Iowa. At the end of the film, the protagonists realize that the military has been executing all survivors that were evacuated from the town.
The town of Ogden Marsh is then completely obliterated by a nuclear bomb, and the government launches a containment protocol on nearby Cedar Rapids. A credits sequence implies that the infection may have spread, but this isn’t confirmed.
6 Overlord (2018)
Overlord takes place in one contained location – a secret underground facility in a Nazi-occupied village. As such, a complete eradication of the outbreak is made much easier. Explosives are set and Boyce detonates them, destroying the facility and all the mutated, zombie-like test subjects found within.
He covers up the existence of the underground lab, essentially keeping it a secret from his commanding officers and the world at large. He’s reassigned and the war continues with the world being none the wiser of what was underneath the village.
5 Doom (2005)
The 2005 Doom adaptation is more of a monster movie than a zombie one, but it still contains its fair share of the latter creatures. It also contains a surprisingly happy ending that sees the end of the outbreak.
The events of the movie take place on distant Mars, far away from us unsuspecting citizens on Earth. During the climactic battle, Reaper throws both Sarge and a grenade back through the portal to Mars, successfully destroying the facility in the process.
4 The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead is a charming, if incredibly flawed, zombie movie that was essentially retconned with its far more successful sequel. The events of the movie, like many a classic horror movie, take place in an isolated cabin in the woods.
In the climax of the film, Ash burns the Naturom Demonto (the book that brings people back from the dead), and this causes all the zombies to freeze and decompose. The outbreak is contained, but Ash is subsequently attacked by an unseen entity moving through the woods, leaving his fate ambiguous.
3 Slither (2006)
James Gunn’s Slither is a nasty movie indeed. Serving as a delirious throwback to gross, cheap, and sleazy exploitation horror movies, Slither sees an alien parasite infecting the inhabitants of a small town in South Carolina.
All turn into zombie-like creatures who are controlled in a hive mind situation. Grant, played wonderfully by Michael Rooker, serves as the head of the hive. He is eventually blown up by his wife Starla, and his death causes a cascading effect that wipes out the rest of the zombies.
2 Warm Bodies (2013)
Warm Bodies is a different kind of zombie movie – one concerned with love and gooey feelings instead of hate and gooey gore. The story is told through the point of view of R, a zombie who falls in love with a human named Julie.
At the end of the movie, R and the rest of the undead zombies turn back into humans and assimilate into society. The literal and symbolic wall surrounding the human enclave is demolished, and the war between humans and zombies comes to a happy end.
1 Night Of The Living Dead (1968) (Kind Of…)
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a landmark film, and while it’s technically part of his ever-evolving Dead series, it also works as a standalone movie. In that case, it’s entirely possible that the zombie outbreak ends. Literally every character dies at the end, with Ben being shot by a posse who are eradicating the zombies.
Night establishes that the zombie outbreak is contained to the east coast of the United States, so it’s entirely possible that local posses like this and the military will end the outbreak after the events of the movie.
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