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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) is the least powerful type of human which has been turned into a zombie during the invasion from hell. The monster appears as a man in a bloodied tan utility uniform and body armor, carrying an assault rifle. Their hair has an unusual greenish tinge, perhaps stained with green slime or even caused by a palette error when converting the image to Doom's image format.

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.

Combat characteristics

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 drops 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 clip remains.

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).

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.

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.


  • 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".


ID # 3004 (decimal), BBC (hex)
Hit points 20
Speed 8 map units per frame
(70.0 map units per second)
Width 40
Height 56
Reaction time 8
Pain chance 200 (78.13%)
Pain time 6 tics
Mass 100
Bits 4194310
Bits list

1: Obstacle

2: Shootable

22: Affects Kill %

Sprites & sounds
Sprite name POSS
Alert sound DSPOSIT1,
Action sound DSPOSACT
Pain sound DSPOPAIN
Death sound DSPODTH1,
DSPODTH3 (normal)
DSSLOP (gibs)
Ranged attack
Type Hitscan
Damage 3-15 (1-7 on ITYTD and HNTR skill levels)
Sprite name PUFF (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)
12.29 2.16 9 19
Player (100%
health, security armor)
17.86 2.79 13 26
Player (200%
health, combat armor)
44.18 6.03 37 59
Barrel 2.93 0.83 2 6
Trooper 2.93 0.83 2 6
Sergeant 3.91 1.04 2 7
Wolfenstein SS 6.37 1.39 4 11
Imp 7.43 1.53 5 13
Chaingunner 8.80 1.74 5 15
Lost Soul 12.29 2.16 9 19
Commander Keen 12.29 2.16 9 19
Demon 17.86 2.79 13 26
Spectre 17.86 2.79 13 26
Boss Brain3 29.78 4.39 25 42
Revenant 35.44 5.22 30 50
Cacodemon 47.41 6.88 40 64
Pain Elemental 47.41 6.88 40 64
Hell Knight 58.95 8.61 50 82
Arachnotron 58.95 8.61 50 82
Mancubus 70.57 10.22 60 96
Arch-Vile 82.52 12.01 70 114
Baron of Hell 117.61 17.02 100 159
Spider Mastermind 351.57 51.06 303 473
Cyberdemon 468.91 68.19 405 631

  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.

Appearance statistics

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

Ultimate Doom E1M1: Hangar E1M1: Hangar E1M1: Hangar
Doom II MAP01: Entryway MAP01: Entryway MAP01: Entryway
TNT: Evilution MAP01: System Control MAP01: System Control MAP01: System Control
Plutonia MAP01: Congo MAP07: Caughtyard MAP07: Caughtyard

The IWADs contain the following numbers of zombiemen:

Ultimate Doom 203 338 384
Doom II 221 268 290
TNT: Evilution 337 370 443
Plutonia 117 81 86

Other games

Doom 3

See Z-Sec.

Doom 64

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.

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.

See Also