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A zombieman firing upon the player in E1M1: Hangar (Doom)

The zombieman (also known as former human in the game manuals, and sometimes referred to colloquially by the Doom community as a trooper) is the least powerful type of opponent in the game and is a local person which has been turned into a zombie during the invasion from hell. The monster appears as a man in a bloodied tan uniform and body armor, carrying a rifle. His hair has an unusual greenish tinge, perhaps stained with green slime or caused by a problem in converting a light hair color into the game palette.

The Doom instruction manual says: Just a few days ago, you were probably swapping war stories with one of these guys. Now it's time to swap some lead upside their head.


[edit] Combat characteristics

The zombieman will make one of three different sounds when alerted: it will either make an animalistic roar or utter two inarticulate chatter sounds. All three zombie types make the same sounds when they spot the player. The zombieman is armed with a rifle that fires bullets that are slightly less damaging than the player's bullets. When the zombie attacks, it aims its rifle at the player for 10 tics and fires a single pellet. The zombieman's weapon has a wide dispersal (standard deviation around 9°, to a maximum of ±22°), and will most likely miss at medium to long ranges. After firing, the monster moves again.

The zombieman is generally considered the least dangerous enemy in the game; no other monster (excepting the Commander Keen) has a lower movement rate, hit point total, or average damage per attack. When killed, the zombieman falls hard on its back with various bits of blood and flesh blown off its form, dropping an ammo clip containing 5 bullets (or 10 on I'm too young to die and Nightmare!); if he subsequently respawns or is resurrected, the zombie will drop another clip each time he is killed again. He can also be gibbed if attacked with powerful weaponry, such as a rocket launcher.

[edit] Tactical analysis

Unless in poor health, an armed player should never need to back down from a single zombieman, although large groups can slowly drain the player's health during the time it takes to kill them all (as in Evilution MAP09). The dispersal of the shots from its rifle means that it is barely a threat at medium to long ranges. In an emergency, or when conserving bullets during a Tyson run, the fist is effective in the short term if the player's footwork is good (two blows will usually knock one down, while a single berserk attack will certainly finish it, often gibbing it). As they are extremely weak and easily disposed of, using heavier weapons against them is considered a waste.

The zombieman's low rate of fire and damage capability make it a rather weak contributor to monster-monster battles. Attrition among a crowd of zombiemen is generally slow, and distraction of larger monsters minimal.

In most stock levels, many of the enemies in the first few rooms are zombies. Unless the player's primary goal is speed, the zombiemen's dropped clips can be a valuable early source of ammunition.

[edit] Inspiration and development

An early version of the zombieman appears in the IWAD file of Doom 0.4, although the sprite (POSSA) does not appear in the game. The sprite is almost identical to the Doomguy; it is slightly lighter in color, and has crudely drawn square red eyes (to show that it is possessed). The only frame is a full frontal view, with no rotations. In Doom 0.5, however, the sprite is virtually identical to the finished version.

[edit] Notes

  • The zombieman has the type name MT_POSSESSED in the Doom source code, and the sprite prefix POSS, while the analogous MT_TROOP and TROO are given to the Imp. The zombies were called "demon-possessed humans" (or simply "possessed humans") in the Doom Bible (section 7.2), being "possessed in their sleep".
  • With only 20 hit points, the zombieman can be gibbed with the berserk fist, rocket launcher, plasma rifle, BFG9000, exploding barrel, Demon bites, Cacodemon ranged and melee attacks, Hell Knight/Baron of Hell clawing and ranged attacks, Revenant rockets and Arch-Vile fire attacks. This is more than any other monster in the game.

[edit] Data

ID #3004 (decimal), BBC (hex)
Hit points20
Speed8 map units per frame
(70.0 map units per second)
Reaction time8
Pain chance200 (78.13%)
Pain time6 tics
Bits list

1: Obstacle

2: Shootable

22: Affects Kill %

Sprites & sounds
Sprite namePOSS
Alert soundDSPOSIT1,
Action soundDSPOSACT
Pain soundDSPOPAIN
Death soundDSPODTH1,
DSPODTH3 (normal)
DSSLOP (gibs)
Ranged attack
Sprite namePUFF (impact, miss)
BLUD (impact, hit)
Damage done by a zombieman's bullet
Shots needed to kill1,2 Mean Standard
Min Max
Player (100%
health, no armor)
Player (100%
health, security armor)
Player (200%
health, combat armor)
Wolfenstein SS6.371.39411
Lost Soul12.292.16919
Commander Keen12.292.16919
Boss Brain329.784.392542
Pain Elemental47.416.884064
Hell Knight58.958.615082
Baron of Hell117.6117.02100159
Spider Mastermind351.5751.06303473

  1. This table assumes that all calls to P_Random for damage, pain chance, blood splats, and bullet dispersal are consecutive. In real play, this is never the case: counterattacks and AI pathfinding must be handled, and of course the map may contain additional moving monsters and other randomized phenomena (such as flickering lights). Any resulting errors are probably toward the single-shot average, as they introduce noise into the correlation between the indices of "consecutive" calls.
  2. The target must be close enough to compensate for the monster's inaccurate aim.
  3. Assumes that direct hits are possible, which does not occur in any stock map.

[edit] Appearance statistics

In classic Doom, the zombieman is first encountered on these maps:

Ultimate DoomE1M1: HangarE1M1: HangarE1M1: Hangar
Doom IIMAP01: EntrywayMAP01: EntrywayMAP01: Entryway
TNT: EvilutionMAP01: System ControlMAP01: System ControlMAP01: System Control
PlutoniaMAP01: CongoMAP07: CaughtyardMAP07: Caughtyard

The IWADs contain the following numbers of zombiemen:

Ultimate Doom203338384
Doom II221268290
TNT: Evilution337370443

[edit] Other games

[edit] Doom 3

See Z-Sec.

[edit] PlayStation Doom

In PlayStation Doom, their gunshot damage is increased somewhat, up to a maximum damage of roughly 21. The manual also lists the name of this enemy type as "Former Soldier", as opposed to "Former Human" as in the PC versions' manuals (or "Zombieman" as in the enemy cast at the end of the game).

[edit] Doom 64

A group of zombiemen in Doom 64 MAP01: Staging Area.

In Doom 64, they use a visual appearance that is similar to the vanilla Doom looks, but instead their rifles look more like shotguns and their suits are colored blue-grey. They first appear in MAP01: Staging Area. Also, like in PlayStation Doom, their gunshots deal somewhat more damage than in previous versions (up to about 21 damage).

[edit] Doom RPG

In Doom RPG, the zombieman appears as the "zombie" monster class. There are three different forms, identified by color:

  • Zombie private (brown)
  • Zombie lieutenant (blue)
  • Zombie captain (normal colors)

They are weak against axe attacks.

[edit] Trivia

  • In Doom II for the Game Boy Advance, a red blood splatter, half-way covered in green, appears in the zombieman's death animation.

[edit] See also

Monsters from Doom and Doom II
arachnotron | arch-vile | baron of hell | cacodemon | Commander Keen | cyberdemon | demon | heavy weapon dude | hell knight | imp | lost soul | mancubus | pain elemental | revenant | shotgun guy | spectre | spiderdemon | zombieman | Wolfenstein SS | final boss
Monsters from Doom 64
arachnotron | baron of hell | cacodemon | cyberdemon | demon | hell knight | imp | lost soul | mancubus | marine | nightmare imp | pain elemental | shotgun guy | spectre | zombieman | mother demon
Monsters from the Sony PlayStation version of Doom
arachnotron | baron of hell | cacodemon | cyberdemon | demon | heavy weapon dude | hell knight | imp | lost soul | mancubus | nightmare spectre | pain elemental | revenant | shotgun guy | spectre | spiderdemon | zombieman