Hypothetical situation: It’s halloween and you hear a knock at your door.  You aren’t expecting any guests this evening, so that leaves only two possibilities – it’s either a child trick-or-treating for some free candy, or it’s a menacing zombie looking to taste-test your entrails.
What do you do?

(photo credit to Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

Zombie, not a child. (credit: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid)

This is exactly the nightmare scenario that millions around the world are faced with year after year on the last day of October.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Child Or Undead Paradox’ (COUP for short), this moment of high-stakes decision making has resulted in innumerable tragedies since door to door candy hunting first became closely associated with holiday tradition. Whether it be falling victim to the undead with nothing to defend yourself but a bowl of wrapped candies or accidentally shooting at the neighbor kids, COUP can be a very serious matter indeed.

Here at the Urban Frontiersman, we feel that public awareness and education is always the best way to deal with situations like COUP. First and foremost, it’s important to address the differences between children and zombies, as this can sometimes be confusing for the average homeowner:


  • Generally shorter than the average adult.
  • Vocal tones are of a high frequency, often punctuated by bubbling laughter.
  • Costumes usually involve a superhero theme.
  • When trick-or-treating will always carry a large bag or pillowcase.
  • Cute in appearance, depending on age.


  • Of varying heights, usually between five and seven feet.
  • Vocal tones are low and accentuated by moaning, depending on post-mortem quality of larynx and trachea.
  • Wardrobe can vary, though frequently sited in 50s era attire.
  • Not interested in candy, bobbing for apples, or egging your house.
  • Putrid appearance, depending on decomposition level.
(photo credit to jackjoann123)

Child, not a zombie. (credit: jackjoann123)

Because of the limited amount of time available in this situation to make the right choice, October 31st is the only day of the year that we don’t encourage you to keep a loaded shotgun on hand to deal with zombies.  Instead, we would encourage you to keep some kind of zombie-appropriate close combat weapon nearby such as a baseball bat, table leg, or golf club.  This way, any cases of children-mistaken-as-zombies will only result in a rush to the emergency room for the little tykes, as opposed to a rush to the morgue.

As public awareness of the dangers of a COUP situation slowly grows, we get closer and closer to a future where Halloween and trick-or-treating doesn’t have to involve shooting at kids or being attacked on our doorsteps by the shuffling hordes.  If you’d like to help spread the word, please feel free to distribute this posting by any means to anyone who might be at a high risk of a COUP situation.

Together we can make things better this holiday season.