Celluloid zombies: A research study of nurses in zombie-focused feature films

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To explore how nurses, who are the principal character of zombie-focused feature films are portrayed.


A mixed methods study with a quantitative exploration of 44,000 feature film synopsis and additional online material for films made between 1900 and 2018 was used. Zombie-focused films (485) were reviewed for their genre, county, year of production, and plot-lines. Ten zombie films featuring nurses in key roles were analysed via an interpretive, qualitative thematic analysis. The study was undertaken between May 2018 - November 2018.


A quantitative review of film synopses and relevant movie specific web sites or key literature for the word, ‘zombie’ and/or ‘zombie nurse’ and an interpretive, qualitative thematic analysis of nurse specific zombie films.


Most of the 485 zombie-focused films located were produced or co-produced in the USA. Only 115 zombie-focused feature films were identified with health professionals, of these, 27 films featured nurses, 10 with nurses in the main role. Nurses were portrayed as romantic, sexualized, caring, self-sacrificial and strong or evil, however, the over-arching representation of nurses in zombie films was tied to the depravity from which zombie sub-culture is based.


Few zombie films feature nurses in the main role. However, the negative, violent and deprived nature of this genre offers a poor reflection on nursing.


How nurses are portrayed in films is important because it influences how the public, patients, and nurses themselves view their profession and role. Understanding the way nurses are portrayed may help professional bodies to better prepare recruitment material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1763
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number8
Early online date22 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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