Posted in ✍️ Writing Tips & Resources

Elderly Characters: Just There as Zombie-Food

Hi!  Today I wanted to share with you a topic that, in my opinion, doesn’t get talked about much in the writing community.  That is the topic of writing elderly characters whose only purpose is to die for the young ones.


I noticed this disturbing trend when I was in my zombie apocalypse genre phase.  I read nothing but zombie books for months at a time 😂 I started to see that older characters seemed to be there with the sole purpose of (you guessed it) dying for the young ones.

zombie-2013270_1920.pngOne particular book made me think “Geez, what if I was 60 and trying to survive an apocalypse?  Would society volunteer me as zombie-food just because I’m 60??  What if I wanted to live???”

Can you imagine reaching an age when people see you as disposable?  Expendable?

Can you imagine opening a book and seeing, yet again, that characters just like you are props and only props to serve others?

Okay, so let’s put it this way.  An 80-year old doesn’t want to sacrifice himself for little Timmy 8-year old.  Selfish?  What if it’s a 30-year old that doesn’t want to sacrifice himself for little Timmy?  What about 18?

Is the value of these people going up or down in your mind?  That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it, when we expect the elderly to just die?

When a character sacrifices themselves in a story, that shows his moral character.  When we expect them to because of their age, that shows ours.

Books like The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared show that an older person can have an interesting life.  There are intricate stories that can be written of  older characters, more than just zombie-food.  A Man Called Ove is another good example.

collage of books.jpg

Though our health may decline as we age, our quality (and certainly our zest) for life does not need to decline with it.

So why not portray older characters as people in books?

It’s something to think about.

Write on,


🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜

6 thoughts on “Elderly Characters: Just There as Zombie-Food

  1. I’ve noticed this trend, too. I’m not a fan of adding in side character whose sole purpose is to die to provide emotion fodder for the main character. I mean, if I’m going to slaughter off a character, I’m going to keep them in it long enough so that their absence if felt by the reader AND the main character. Not because I’m heartless, but because those are the deaths that stick better with me as a reader. I feel more.

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  2. Excellent point. I’ve read a couple of really good books with older protagonists going on adventures. A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. As someone past 60 myself, I don’t always want to read just about young people and love story where an older person is living life to the full. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was another one. Some of us aren’t ready to be put out to pasture just because we reach a certain number!

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  3. This is such a great topic to bring up. While I was reading it I was remembering an anime that I watched earlier this year “Inuyashiki” and is about 58-year-old man that suddenly receives superpowers. He has to save the earth from a young man that also received superpowers but has been using the powers to kill and destroy. I found the story inspirational because the old is kicking the butt of the young but it is not for the young due to its gore.

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  4. Quite an interesting post. Thank you for it.

    Maybe one reason for what you have observed is that we live in a culture that values youth over age. I think that’s been going on for a long time now, and I believe it has something to do with the film industry.

    Film can show the virtues of youth — which are either mostly external (such as the beauty of youth) or are easily shown in film — such as passion, ardor, etc This makes it easy for film to promote the value of youth.

    Film has a tougher time showing the virtues of age. They are mainly internal. For instance, understanding (as distinct from wisdom). How can film show that someone’s understanding of another person is much greater than average? Not easily, I think. And certainly not with the same emotional impact as, say, physical beauty.

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    1. That’s a good point of view, Paul. Thank you for sharing! Though many people, I suppose, become less active with age, there are many older people who still have passion, a love of traveling, and who seek adventure.

      But I do feel that there might be a visual element to it, as you mentioned with movies. You see it mostly with actresses. Maybe in the future this will change. One can hope.

      Have a great week!


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