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100 Best Things in Pop Culture: No. 80 The Zombie Apocalypse

Dawn of the Dead Universal Pictures

The idea of legions of undead flesh-eaters overtaking our civilization has never been more fun, or more real.

You needn't look far to find signs of a triumphant zombie renaissance in pop culture—AMC's rapturous horror-drama The Walking Dead, soccer moms killing time in the supermarket line with Plants vs. Zombies, the very existence of an honest-to-goodness book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

But when you add real-life tales of the so-called "bath salt cannibal" (nice try, Florida cops, but we know a frickin' zombie when we see one) and growing online paranoia about the likelihood of an actual zombie-geddon, you quickly realize this is more than a glorified Halloween fetish.

For the record, we love it...and we truly and legitimately fear it.

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For a while there it seemed like zombies were the eternal also-rans of horror culture behind vampires, werewolves and big-name alien menaces. Would the allure of the Twilight series be the same if, instead of being a vampire, Robert Pattinson moaned like a hippo and tried to eat Kristen Stewart's brains?

Doubtful.

But suddenly zombies started popping up everywhere—not only in movies and TV but also in news reports, Internet memes and everyday conversation. People started talking about how they'd prepare for an actual zombie onslaught. Taking part in zombie pub crawls began to feel less campy and more like a warm-up for a not-so-unlikely future.

To be clear, we're not rooting for a zombie takeover, per se. Again, we're totally freaked out by it. 

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At the end of the day, though, we just find it more attractive than apocalyptic alternatives like global warming, killer viruses and chemical warfare.

While we all wait to see whether our neighbors actually come staggering up the street Dawn of the Dead style, in search of fresh flesh, there's plenty more fictitious zombie action on the way in 2012.

Season 3 of The Walking Dead kicks off in October, and video game fans can look forward to Resident Evil 6 as well as ZombiU, which will bring undead thrills to Nintendo's new Wii U console near the holidays.

When we're not practicing our decapitation skills or working on the zombie-proof panic rooms in our basements, we'll be there to savor every gory, unholy, reanimated moment.

GET THE LIST: The 100 Best Things in Pop Culture

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