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"What the hell are these things, and why are they wearing science team uniforms!?"
Black Mesa Security Guard[src]

The Standard Zombie is the most common Zombie form seen in the Half-Life series. They are the result of a standard Headcrab latching onto a human's head, gradually taking control of the brain and eventually the entire nervous system.


Zombie Scientist

The original Zombie scientist from Half-Life. (Orginal model)

Once a Headcrab successfully attaches to a human, it will assume control of most, if not all, of its motor functions. Through some unknown biological process, the host's hands turn into long, skeletal claws, while their chest cavity opens to reveal a massive maw, with the victim's ribs as "teeth." Zombies have been observed using this modification to feed by ripping chunks of flesh from corpses.

Removal of the Headcrab reveals that the host's head is bent abnormally up and back, forcing the jaw in and down. As a result, the victim is left with an unnerving "screaming" appearance. Their eyes are closed, their skin is pale, stretched, and macerated from prolonged contact with the headcrab's innards, and any hair is left flattened and matted with blood,

In most cases, a Headcrab remains attached to its host until the Zombie is destroyed, although, in Half-Life 2, it will occasionally detach from the host if rendered immobile. Headcrab Zombies may also survive losing the lower half of the body, continuing to crawl along using their arms. In this state, the Zombie is more dangerous at close-range than they were while intact, as their claw-swipe is much faster.


Zombie hallway Half Life

Ditto; first Zombie ever encountered at Black Mesa.

We Are Pulling Out

Security guard Zombies.

  • Standard Zombies do not pose much of a threat when they appear at a distance since they have no long-range attack. However, in Black Mesa and Half-Life 2, Zombies can throw objects and hurt the player at a distance. They can be easily dispatched from a distance with any firearms. However, they can pose a major threat at close-range, especially if the player is surrounded by other enemies. If this happens, it is usually best to fall back, as their attacks can cause the player to flinch, making it more difficult to aim. On the other hand, due to their slow attack wind-up, it is possible to engage a Zombie with a Crowbar without taking damage by hitting them, then immediately backing up out of melee range. If timed correctly, this can be repeated until the Zombie dies (usually around 5 hits).
  • If a Standard Zombie is in a group with other types, it is best to attack the others first before focusing on this Zombie (unless it is much closer than the others). It is also possible to throw a Grenade at a cluster of these Zombies, as one grenade can instantly kill them. Note that sometimes in Half-Life 2, Zombies can survive the grenade blast with their upper half intact; otherwise, they will catch fire.

Grunt being zombified.

Welcome to Black Mesa

Zombie grunt before he kills a scientist.

  • When dealing with this type of enemy, it is best to use lighter weaponry, such as a Pistol or an SMG. A Pistol will kill this enemy in 20-21 hits (4-5 headshots). The SMG will take a little longer, around 25 hits (6-7 headshots). Due to its short-range & high damage output, a Shotgun may be the best choice in close-quarter engagements. As with other weapons, it's best to aim for the head for a possible one-hit kill.
    • Zombies can sometimes be seen attacking other enemies, such as Combine soldiers and Antlions. If this happens, it is best to wait until there is a single victor, who will be left much weaker after the earlier fight.
    • In Half-Life 2, Zombies are given the ability to punch objects at the player from a distance. If they do this, the player can either dodge them or use the Gravity Gun to return the favor.
      • If there are any explosive barrels or gas canisters around, the Gravity Gun is a frugal choice. Saw blades can also be effective.



Zombies fighting in the map "boxing."

  • In Half-Life, Zombies are seen "feeding" from dead scientists and soldiers by taking flesh from corpses and stuffing it into their chest maw.
  • In the non-HD variant of Half-Life and its expansions, a Zombie's Headcrab appears to be fastened extremely tightly to the victim's face, revealing an eerie outline of a human skull.
  • In the 1998 version of the Half-Life Prima Guide, Headcrab Zombies are referred to as "Mawmen," likely due to their chest cavities.
    • In the Orange Box Prima Guide, in the zombie's dossier, it's explained that 'Mawmen' is a regional name given by natives of New Mexico.
  • In the WC mappack, a map named "boxing" can be found. It consists of a small dark room with a boxing ring in the middle, lit by a single lamp. There, two Zombies start fighting each other once a bell rings. When the first one is killed, the bell rings again and the remaining Zombie ceases movement.
  • Playing parts of a Half-Life 2 Zombie's screams backward will produce yells of pain.
    • When set on fire, the victims will say, "Help me! God help me!" or "Help, God help! Help me!"
  • The screams of the Half-Life 2 Zombies are heard muffled in-game. Viewing the sound file in an editor shows that the muffling effect is caused by slowing down the file. The effect is also enhanced by the ambiance of the game.
  • According to Dario Casali during his Half-Life 25yr Developer Commentary series, one version of the zombie screams were recorded by Marc Laidlaw and Bill Van Buren. The recording was done late one evening and Casali overheard, briefly believing that somebody in the office was being brutally murdered.
  • In the book, The Zombie Recognition Guide, the Headcrab Zombies appear under the name of Crabheads and are mentioned to have arrived on Earth via a meteor.


Half-Life and its expansions[]



Half-Life 2 and its episodes[]



Half-Life: Alyx[]



List of appearances[]


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