The Worst Decision Every All Of Us Are Dead Main Character Has Made

"All of Us Are Dead" operates on all cylinders as a deeply-moving examination of humanity. While the explosive — and sometimes nauseating — violence and gore are entertaining, the characters are what keep you invested in the story. The show, which was co-directed by Lee Jae-kyoo and Kim Nam-su, is based on a popular Webtoon comic and centers around a group of Hyosan High students. It's a raw and honest glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world that contains grounded, complex performances and examines the lengths that human beings will go to survive.

Along the way, the characters make poor decisions that add richer layers to the story, offering glimpses at how trauma affects one's ability to think clearly in an emergency. Many characters instinctually respond to crises with heightened emotions. Others are more equipped to navigate their inner turmoil. However, determining if those decisions are detrimental to the group is a tougher task. Even the show's main protagonists, On-jo, Nam-ra, and Su-hyeok, make some poor choices. They might be good-hearted individuals, but they're all deeply flawed in some way. That's what makes them human.


One of the driving plots of the first season begins when Cheong-san (Yoon Chan-young) witnesses Gwi-nam (Yoo In-soo) murdering the principal (Um Hyo-sup). In episode 4, Gwi-nam hides out inside the principal's office. When the principal demands that Gwi-nam risk his life to retrieve his car, he draws a knife on Gwi-nam, who quickly gets the upper hand and forces the older man to his knees. Cheong-san enters amidst the commotion and whips out his phone to record the incident, vowing to show the evidence to the police. As the group's moral center, Cheong-san acts based on emotion, not logic, and he soon learns that old ways of thinking are not suited for the new world order. 

Cheong-san's heart is in the right place, but this scene underscores his naivety in the outbreak's early days. In addition, this action inspires Gwi-nam to chase Cheong-san down a zombie-infested corridor and into the library. There, the two engage in a hand-to-hand scuffle that results in Gwi-nam being eaten alive and transforming into a "halfbie," or human-zombie hybrid. His hunger for revenge knows no bounds, and he spends the rest of the season hunting down Cheong-san. Countless characters meet an untimely end as a result, including Na-yeon and Min-jae — all this carnage could have been avoided if only Cheong-san had not been so determined to expose Gwi-nam's misdeeds.


Nam-ra (Cho Yi-hyun) is one of the greatest protagonists in the zombie canon. However, as badass as she is, she makes one big mistake: She never ensures that Gwi-nam is truly dead. Their first encounter, when she saves Su-hyeok (Park Solomon) and is bitten, gets a pass, as none of the characters knew about the virus' mutation. She tosses Gwi-nam out of a nearby window, and he crashes into the ground. It's only much later that the group discovers that there's a new breed of zombie: the human hybrids that Dae-su dubs halfbies.

Nam-ra has ample opportunities to put an end to Gwi-nam once and for all, particularly on the rooftop in episode 9, but she fails every time. This could be due to Gwi-nam's nearly unparalleled strength, as well as Nam-ra's inability to control her own powers. She has a good heart and she always does the right thing; in the finale, she even abandons the group for fear of tripping up and biting someone. 

Given the context, though, it's still quite frustrating that Nam-ra can't muster up enough strength to stop Gwi-nam — and, unfortunately, she ends up giving him more chances to wreak havoc and cause harm. Nam-ra's weakness eventually exacts a heavy price, including the death of Cheong-san.


On-jo's worst decision is remaining inactive in the face of catastrophe. When her childhood best friend, I-sak (Kim Joo-ah), is bitten, On-jo struggles to accept the situation, and it nearly costs the lives of the entire group. In a pivotal moment, On-jo clings to her friend's hand, even as a transformed I-sak tries to bite her. Cheong-san is by her side the entire time, and ends up using a stool to loosen I-sak's grip and save her.

On-jo puts the group in grave danger, but this character flaw makes her a complex, multi-layered human being. You also have to keep in mind that she's a teenage girl and running high on emotions, rather than level-headed logic. That's okay. It gives the story numerous moments of dread and tension, making you wonder if On-jo will make it out of the season alive. That said, her arc sees her move away from such naivety as her will and determination strengthen. To see characters exhibit such authentic and grounded qualities and grow in this fashion is the mark of truly great storytelling.


At this point, what can possibly be said about Gwi-nam (Yoo In-soo)? As the resident villain of "All of Us Are Dead," he is one of three named halfbies and is fueled by revenge and fear. He seeks vengeance on Cheong-san, first for recording him murdering the principal, and then for throwing him to the zombies, and his anxiety over being discovered (or, perhaps, some other deep-seated trauma) propels the story forward.

Deciding to embark on a search for vengeance is Cheong-san's worst decision by a wide margin. Without it, there would be no human antagonist acting against the group. Because of his all-consuming rage, he commits various acts of violence, including biting Nam-ra to killing Na-yeon (Lee Yoo-mi) and Min-jae (Jin Ho-eun). Later, he continues his savage reign of terror when he tears the flesh from Cheong-san's arm. It's one of the show's most horrific deaths for very good reason.


"All of Us Are Dead" banks hard into unexpected storytelling and frankly realistic responses from its characters. There's a moment in episode 11 in which Gwi-nam finally tracks down Cheong-san and the group to an abandoned building, littered with construction equipment, and a hand-to-hand scuffle leads to him sinking his teeth into Cheong-san. Noticeably, no other characters intervene 一 and who could really blame them, there's so little room on the scaffolding.

An inability to act, Su-yeok has as much a hand in Cheong-san's fate as Gwi-nam does. It's egregious but wholly human. Responses to traumatic events typically fall into one of three categories: fight, flight, or freeze. Despite displaying his loyalty to Cheong-san all season long, he freezes, and all it takes is a few seconds. But trauma defenses are not a one-size-fits-all. Like On-jo, Su-yeok is a teenager with deadly flaws. His kindness and love for Cheong-san isn't enough to save him; it rarely is in these situations.


File Na-yeon under "the most frustrating character ever." Her bias toward poor people makes for one of the most infuriating, albeit interesting and complex, episodes of "All of Us Are Dead." In episode 3, she unleashes her prejudices on another student, Gyeong-su (Ham Sung-min). First, she claims that Gyeong-su has been bitten by a zombie, forcing Ms. Park (Lee Sang-hee) to quarantine him in the next room. He hasn't been infected, of course, and when Na-yeon comes to apologize, she purposely wipes zombie blood into his wound.

Much later, we get a deeper look at Na-yeon as a character, and see how much she's driven by a fear of the unknown. In episode 8, she is locked inside a storage closet in one of the classrooms and decides to take some food and water to the other students on the rooftop. It's a matter of "too little, too late." Her shocking decision to carelessly kill another student is irredeemable. Karma has a way of coming back around, though; in epic fashion, Gwi-nam has the honor of putting her down.


A loving father, Byeong-chan (Kim Byung-chul) only wants what's best for his son, Jin-su (Lee Min-goo), and will stop at nothing to keep bullies from making his life a living hell. When the school does nothing, Byeong-chan, a biology teacher, cooks up the Jonas Virus as a way to make Jin-su stronger and more capable of fighting back. Instead, Jin-su transforms into a zombie and sets the show's entire narrative in motion.

Later, another student, Hyeon-ju (Jung Yi-seo), is accidentally bitten by a mouse that Byeong-chan that keeps locked in his classroom. The implication is that Byeong-chan has continued doing experiments despite knowing what happens next. His curiosity to learn how the virus operates in living bodies leads to utter destruction. Obviously, without Byeong-chan's desperation, we wouldn't have a gripping, must-see TV show, but that doesn't make his decisions any less misguided.


Police detective Jae-ik (Lee Kyu-hyung) is among the most morally-centered characters on "All of Us Are Dead." His good nature gets him into a bit of trouble, however, as he always assumes the best of others. While making their way through Hyosan in a bus, Jae-ik and auxiliary police officer Ho-chul (Park Jae-chul) crash into the newly-transformed Eun-ji, and her body flies through the air.

Jae-ik comforts her to make sure she's okay; she's seemingly unscathed. There's no way that Jae-ik could possibly know that halfbies exist, yet the fact that he doesn't sense that something's amiss is alarming. Because of Jae-ik's inattentive assumptions and the ineffectual government response that follows, a sequence of events fall like dominos to set up a freak incident in episode 9, as well as the strict quarantine for the Hyosan community that will potentially be a key element of follow-up seasons.


So-ju (Jeon Bae-soo) is the real MVP of "All of Us Are Dead." The moment that the zombie outbreak begins, he embarks on a quest to save his daughter, On-jo, at the high school. Once he arrives at the military base, he scales one of the outer walls and darts to the shoreline, diving headfirst into the water amidst a flurry of bullets. His escape is impressive, only matched by his season-long sojourn through the countryside and the zombie-infested Hyosan streets.

But So-ju is blinded by his own love. As vigilant and cunning as he is, he lets his guard down for a brief moment. That's all that it takes to be bitten. Literally moments before his emotional reunion with On-jo, a zombie rips a chunk out of his hand. It's an unintentional decision, but it changes the course of On-jo's life. The silver lining? This gives So-ju an opportunity to sacrifice himself so that On-jo and the rest of the group can make a getaway into the mountains.


"All of Us Are Dead" initially positions Eun-ji as a victim. In the first episode, we find her being harassed and assaulted by Myung-hwan (Oh Hee-joon) and his cronies, including Gwi-nam (Yoo In-soo). Myung-hwan forces Chul-soo (Ahn Ji-ho) to record the event and plans to upload the video online. Later, Eun-ji visits the high school rooftop and prepares to leap to her death — but the zombie apocalypse has other plans.

Still concerned about the video, Eun-ji decides to go into a classroom to recover as many cell phones as she can. Chul-soo opts not to accompany her. Eun-ji is bitten during the endeavor and transforms into a halfbie, then begins utilizing a new-found strength to reclaim her power. Eventually, she is reunited with Chul-soo at the military base and bites his neck in an act of revenge. It's a very poor, over-dramatic decision that exposes her secret to the military. Through the halfbie trio, including Gwi-nam and Nam-ra, we learn how difficult it really is for the human-zombie hybrids to control their bloodlust and their emotional states.


Chul-soo's two most egregious offenses are both born of fear. After Eun-ji flees the rooftop and heads into the school, he locks the main door and isolates himself from the other students. When On-jo, Nam-ra, Su-hyeok, and the rest of the group converge in the stairwell and pound on the door, a swarm of zombies clipping at their heels, Chul-soo freezes in place.

From his perspective, the people outside could be zombies trying to get to him. And so, his fear causes inaction, as well as one of the tensest moments on the show. As zombies corner the group, Gwi-nam has enough time to track the students down and attempt to exact his revenge on Cheong-san. Meanwhile, overhead, a helicopter descends on the school. When asked if there are any other students needing saving, Chul-soo says no and is rushed on board. Chul-soo looks back to the rooftop and sees the group waving and screaming 一 but he says nothing. 

Chul-soo's decisions significantly contribute to the groups' mental and emotional decay. Knowing the full context, you could argue that he totally deserves being bitten by Eun-ji.