Harry Cooper

Real Name

Harry Cooper

First Appearance

Night of the Living Dead (Oct. 1, 1968)

Original Publisher

The Walter Reade Organization

Created by

George A. Romero & John A. Russo


Harry was the father to Karen Cooper and husband to Helen, though their relationship was evidently very strained even before the rise of the undead. They came to Pensilvania some point before Barbara and her brother when zombies came and managed to overturn their car, the ensuing chaos resulting in his daughter being bitten on the arm and her mother, Helen, just managing to grab her and save her from being devoured. While trying to escape the ghoulish hoard, they took shelter in a farmhouse and joined Tom and Judy, a local couple. They stayed within the basement for safety, and when a scream was heard, Harry refused to let them go up to investigate, only coming up at the sound of someone talking, startling Barbara in the process and bringing Ben to her aid, immediate tension ensues with Ben and Harry, both wanting to be in control of the situation: Harry believing the cellar should be refuge and Ben believing it was a deathtrap, preferring the minor possibility of escape outside over ensured doom should the cellar be breached. Harry is later tasked with tossing Molotov Cocktails in distraction while Tom and Ben work to refuel the truck with gas, the attempt going horribly awry when Judy joins them outside at the last minute and the truck is destroyed, with the young couple still inside. Harry bars the door while Ben is still outside, eventually assisting Ben with rebarricading the door once he makes his way through. A brief fight breaking out immediately afterwards, ending with Harry losing. As the night wears on and the power goes out, Harry goes to his wife Helen, demanding he help her retrieve the gun Ben is in possession of, stating that Judy and Tom had already died because of his plans. The attempt, however, is caught when Ben returns. The zombies, meanwhile, have surounded the farmhouse once more, having feasted on what remained of Judy and Tom, gathering rocks and the charred remains of an armchair set on fire early on to frighten them off and began beating their way through the barricaded windows and doors. As Ben demands Harry's help to hold up the barricade, he drops the gun, Harry immediately taking it and aiming it at him, ordering Helen to the cellar, becoming frustrated by her lack of response he becomes distracted long enough for Ben to toss a board from the barricaded window at him, knocking the gun from his hands. A brief fight ensues ending in Ben shooting Harry and Harry stumbling down to the cellar dying soon after. He is then partially devoured by his now zombified daughter before she dispatches his wife, as Ben takes refuge in the cellar he ironically labeled a deathtrap, Harry and Helen both resurrect briefly, both being put down once more by Ben.


  • He was originally supposed to be killed by Helen who would then run away outside and be zombified. She was to kill him with a butcher knife as he killed Karen while she was still human (possibly attempting a mercy kill).
  • Night of the Living Dead entered the public domain because the original theatrical distributor, the Walter Reade Organization, neglected to place a copyright indication on the prints. In 1968, United States copyright law required a proper notice for a work to maintain a copyright. Image Ten displayed such a notice on the title frames of the film beneath the original title, Night of the Flesh Eaters. The distributor removed the statement when it changed the title.

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