|“||Ben Parish is dead. I don't miss him. Ben was wuss. A thumbsucker. Not Zombie. Zombie is everything Ben wasn't.||”|
–Ben Parish on his new name
Benjamin Thomas Parish (also known as Ben and Zombie) is one of the main characters in The 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey. He is also one of the remaining human survivors of the 'waves' sent down by The Others to wipe out humanity. He had lost his whole family but still wears his little sister's locket as the final trace of them.
Ben had quickly become the squad leader of Squad 53 because of his leadership when he entered military training at Camp Haven. He is Cassie Sullivan's childhood crush and a loyal friend of her little brother Sam. Throughout his time after the Arrival, Ben has tried to maintain a healthy sense of humor as a way to fight against the Others to show that they haven't stripped him completely of his humanity. Ben was among the first to learn the truth behind The 5th Wave and who The Others really were. He and his squad have gone rogue and have been joined by Cassie Sullivan and Evan Walker in their fight.
Ben manages to survive the 5th Wave and lives alongside Ringer (now going by the name Marika) as he helps her raise her daughter Cassie. He also has become the guardian of Sam and his friend Megan. He and Evan have also become friends.
Ben serves as a narrator in The 5th Wave and The Last Star
He is portrayed by Nick Robinson in the film adaptation.
Ben Parish is said to be very good looking, and quite buff, as he was the wide receiver on his football team. He his known for his killer smile, said to light up whatever room he was in.
Early LifeBen's life preceding the First Wave was a relatively normal one as he attended the same high school as Cassie Sullivan. Ben was the high school's football star and captain. Ben also happened to be quite the smart student as well so he didn't fit the typical 'dumb jock' persona though he often made jokes about it that stayed with him to long after the arrival of the Others. He had an unnamed mother and father, and a baby sister named Sissy born around the same time as Sam Sullivan. He was close with his sister, parading her around on his shoulders at the close of his football games.
Cassie had a secret crush on him, however, their relationship was a one-sided love interest as he barely knew her. Yet, he was always nice to her whenever they interacted. One of Cassie's earliest memories of Ben was the time that her brother Sam was born. They were riding the school bus together when she heard Ben talking about his new baby sister being born and Cassie eagerly threw in that her baby brother had just been born. Ben thought that it was a cool coincidence and that reaction stayed with Cassie for a great many years as a shared 'moment' between the two of them.
After the Third Wave, Ben's house was attacked, by Twiggs, who are known for breaking into houses, doing drugs, raping, murdering, etc. His family is killed in this attack and the only token he has of this is his baby sister's silver locket. Later, Ben winds up at a refugee camp where he makes a friend, Chris. Soon, he falls ill with the Third Wave (the pestilence; "Red Tsunami") and Chris looks after him. Just as Ben is certain that he was going to die, his camp falls under attack.
In a raid, Ben is captured by soldiers and taken to Wright-Patterson, code named Camp Haven, although he does not know it then. He is told that the base was made into a refugee area for humans to fight against the Others and they had gone to the camp to rescue humans from their grasp. After he is nursed back to health by being pumped with anti-biotics, he is later plugged into Wonderland after which a tracker is implanted in his neck. He later is taken to the interrogation room where he finds Chris bound. He is told that his friend is really one of the Others and his body has been taken over by them. He learns that the Others have started the Fourth Wave and were starting to walk among humans by taking over their bodies to infiltrate. He is given a button that will execute him as they tell him that the only way to kill the alien in him is to kill the host but Ben finds he can't do it. It was here that he met with leader of the base Vosch, who returned his sister's locket to him personally. Vosch also shares some words about what they have lost and of emptying themselves of everything, including hope, and having nothing but hate for the Others. After this Ben then executes Chris with the push of a button.
He is then moved to Squad 53 (where he is given the name Zombie) under Reznik and is put to training. When Ben first joins Squad 53, his squad leader is Flintstone. Sam Sullivan joins the Squad as Nugget, and is bullied by Reznik but Ben stands up for him. Reznik then promotes him to squad leader. During his time at Camp Haven he developed a strong degree of respect for Vosch as well as admiration for the man.
He had begun to forge a strong friendship with Sam/Nugget. Ben felt that it was a shame that Nugget's life was cut so short and that he had nothing really to look forward to or had much in his past to look back on happily. He watched over and protected him as best he could and Nugget would talk to him about his sister Cassie. He insisted that she would be coming for him but Ben was sure that she was dead though he never voiced that to him. When the squad was put on duty in the Process and Disposal Center in preparing and organizing bodies he often stayed with Nugget to help him and keep him from seeing something too horrific. When it was lights out, it became common practice for Nugget to climb into bed with Ben and for them to pray together before they went to sleep. Tank often threatened to go to Reznik about them doing that as it was against regulation but he never did. Ben thought that Tank didn't do so because he secretly looked forward to their prayer at night.One day when they were all talking and their talk came to the Others, Tank had suddenly lost it and yelled that they were already as good as dead because the Others had to know that they were there and knew what they were trying to do. Tank was clearly going Dorothy which became worse when he pulled a gun out on all of them. Ben tried to quell Tank's insanity which finally ended when Flintstone came up from behind and disarmed him. The next time that Ben saw Tank was in the P&D Center among the rest of the corpses. Soon enough, the squad received a new member in place of Tank from Squad 19 called Ringer. She told Zombie that she was not happy to be in this squad and felt that she should be its squad leader.
He and Ringer had a hard time getting along as Ringer insisted that Ben should step down and pass leadership over to her. He made her a deal that if he helped them all better their marksmanship and had their squad move up on the boards then when it came time for graduation he would step down and pass it to her. Over time, Squad 53 quickly climbed the boards and soon became one of the highest scored squads of the base. The time soon came for Squad 53 to go on a combat mission and Ben gave Nugget his sister's locket with a promise that he would come back.
The Squad's mission was to exterminate some 'Teds' that Vosch's intelligence had found were gathering in a town and were stockpiling guns and other high value weapons to begin a siege. They were flown in close by chopper and the Squad headed for the kill zone on foot. They find the infested and Ringer goes and takes out two of them quickly but they get pinned down by a sniper who they guessed had night vision goggles. They were taking cover at a diesel truck so Ben told the squad to run in cover before he opened the gas tank and threw a grenade into the truck before running himself. The truck explodes which impacts even further than Ben expected but did blind the sniper to give them an opening. Unfortunately, he saw that he got Oompa hurt by a piece of metal that flew into his lower back. He also saw that the sniper had managed to shoot Teacup when they ran. They went into a parking garage and Flintstone rounded on him saying that they shouldn't have stayed in their position as long as they did. Ben soon is forced to watch as Oompa slowly dies from blood loss but he manages to tell Ben that his name is Kenny.Ringer convinced Ben that they weren't hunting Teds but were hunting other survivors when she removed her tracker. She glowed green right afterwards which meant that it was fake. The trackers that they had been implanted with were really kill switches that made them invisible to their detector scopes so they come off as human. They went to incapacitate the sniper who was revealed to be Reznik. He had a device that monitored the trackers in the rest of the Squad. After that, Ben believed Ringer's theories. Ben then addresses the rest of the squad, to convince them of the truth behind Vosch, Reznik and Camp Haven along with Ringer. The Others weren't the Teds, but Vosch and his soldiers. They were mostly in disbelief until Flintstone took Reznik's kill switch and fried his own brain right in front of them. It was then decided that they should take out their trackers and leave. However, Ben refuses to go with them as he wants to return for Nugget. Ringer argues that it is too risky, but Ben told her that he made a promise to him and they agreed to wait a bit for them.
Ben returned to the Camp and spun a story of being betrayed by Ringer and his squad, helped by the gun wound he had Ringer give him to sell the story. He wanted to be shot so that he would be treated and drugged with painkillers so that he wouldn't be immediately hooked up to Wonderland and not give away to Vosch and the Others that they were on to them. Vosch, however, was having trouble buying Ben's story especially when he asked Ben why he wasn't surprised that Reznik had been there. He tried to explain to Vosch that he guessed Reznik was there to see if they didn't go Dorothy during their first combat mission and that's why he had the kill switch but Vosch wasn't fully believing him. He ordered that Ben be hooked up to Wonderland to find out the truth just to be safe.Ben is then taken to a medical bed. There he lures an orderly named Kistner to a bathroom station, knocks him out and steals his scrubs. Ben, still injured from his bullet wound and disguised as a doctor, moves about the base that begins to be put under alert. He tries to look for Nugget in the chaos of alarms and later explosions that start to take place and soon finds him in the company of a soldier. Before he and the soldier could shoot at one another Nugget reveals the soldier as his sister Cassie and to her his identity as his friend Zombie. Cassie then tells him that she knows who he really is and that they used to go to high school together but Ben can't quite remember her. He thinks that she is a new recruit for the base but tells him that she was here to help free her brother from this place. He asks if she knows how to get out of there and she claims to know of a way out but doesn't know the way there. Ben then tells her that he happens to know the way to the way. Sam then suggests that they all try and escape together. He and Cassie agree but not before they go to remove Nugget's tracker. Ben uses a scalpel to take it out but before they could begin to leave they are halted by Vosch.
Ben, Cassie and Sammy are taken to the interrogation room where Vosch explains that the Others have been watching mankind since ancient times. Cassie offers to be hooked up to Wonderland to try and save her brother from being killed in the execution chair but Ben argues that they will be killed anyway. Vosch then laughs as he amusingly calls Ben out as weak and that Cassie shouldn't listen to him. When Vosch does try to kill Sam by activated the chair, the system is revealed to be down due to Evan's interference. Vosch leaves them to see to it and the three of them manage to overcome their silencers before Evan stumbles onto them. Ben is shocked to learn that Evan is 'one of them'. The base is set to self-destruct and the three of them begin to escape though they are not sure if Evan will get out in time.
They crawl up through the collapsed staircase, with Ben trying to ignore the pain from his bullet wound. He disregards Cassie's concern and assures her that he is fine, which Cassie believes he is doing because of Vosch calling him weak. Eventually, they are able to get to the surface. Before they could fully escape the base, the ground starts to crumble underneath them from the bombs going off beneath them. They run amidst the cracking ground just as Ringer arrives with the rest of the squad in one of the camp's humvees. Sammy gets in and Ben narrowly helps Cassie, who fell down and he pulled her to safety into the humvee as the base completely collapses.
When they are a safe distance away, the squad stops to rest. Ben gets his bullet wound treated by Dumbo who applies some fresh dressing on it. He thanks Ringer for coming back to save them though he says that they shouldn't have taken the risk. Ringer rebukes him and says that Ben went for Nugget because he believed that they couldn't start thinking that one person wasn't worth saving because then the Others would truly win. He accepted her answer before went over to sit with Cassie and Sam. He thanks Cassie for helping him back at the base while she thanks him for saving her and getting her to the humvee. He then gives Cassie a small kiss to the cheek as he embraces both her and Sam as they watch the sunrise together.
Squad 53 has gone to regroup at a hotel that is roughly four miles from where Camp Haven had stood which they had gone on to call the Walker Hotel. Cassie had explained that Evan had told her to meet there after Camp Haven was destroyed though Ben is skeptical that Evan will return. Even more so that Evan is truly on their side. However, Ben has also seen fit to point out that they can't stay there for long as it isn't a good enough shelter from the cold and there aren't enough supplies to hold them out for the coming winter. Ringer volunteered to check out the nearby cave systems for shelter, as well as for survivors, to help them fight against the 5th Wave.
Ben noticed that Teacup had vanished and guessed that she had gone after Ringer so he sent Poundcake to try and bring her back. Noticed by a good many of the others Ben is also not doing too well as he is still suffering from the bullet wound that he had Ringer give him. Cassie guesses that it might be infected but Ben shrugs it off and insists that he is okay enough. Tensions increase when the sound of choppers begin to get heard close by. Soon enough, the hotel gets invaded and Ben gets attacked and knocked away by an intruder. Cassie shoots him and reveals that it is Evan Walker, badly wounded but alive. Dumbo checks him out and guesses that he would be bedridden for about a month.
Ben is livid when Cassie insists that they keep Evan with them. He accuses the silencer of possibly attacking Ringer and Teacup as he guessed he might have run into them which Cassie denies that Evan did, even though he had attacked them. She easily counters that Poundcake could be a silencer as he has returned without Teacup and never speaks which Ben argues is ridiculous. The hotel soon gets another visitor, a girl named Megan. Sam recognizes her from the buses from when he first arrived at Camp Haven. She is passed out and Ben tries to revive her but Evan comes to and warns them not to. He reveals that Megan has an explosive chip implanted in her throat.
Ben argues that killing her might be the safest way to defuse the bomb but Cassie argues to try and take it out while Megan is alive. Ben goes to kill her but can't bring himself to do so and concedes to letting Evan try to remove it. He takes Sam and the others to the diner across the street for safety while Cassie and Evan stay behind to remove the bomb. He and Cassie share some words and even a kiss before they leave. Cassie returns to them with the news that they removed the bomb and Megan is still okay.
Evan reveals that Vosch has sent the silent bomber as a test to see if there was a silencer among them which Sam points out there is, Evan. He says that it was done because only a silencer would know how to keep the bomb from exploding. They plan to rig the bomb to blow to help throw off Vosch and buy them time to escape and move to get back to Ringer. However, the hotel is attacked by Grace, a silencer that Evan knows personally. Ben and Poundcake had gone to the diner to find a soda dispenser to use to rig the bomb when they felt that everything had been too quiet. They both quickly returned to help their friends confront Grace.
The Squad drives her off but a chopper soon descends on the roof of the hotel and Poundcake gets hurt in the fight. Grace had shot him and Ben watches as his friend starts to bleed out in silence. Evan gives them directions to Grace's safe house where there are supplies and shelter for them to use. He tells them all to go and that he would stay and rig the bomb himself. Ben carries Poundcake out of the hotel but Dumbo regretfully tells him that he is as good as gone. Ben was already suffering from his own wound and he wouldn't be able to carry Poundcake and himself away in time before the bomb blew so he was forced to leave him at the ground in front of the hotel.
Ben and his squad watch as the hotel blows up in a brilliant flash of green light with Evan, Grace and the chopper of silencers still inside. Ben spent some time off by himself when the squad regrouped to quietly mourn the loss of Poundcake. The silence was broken when Evan Walker emerged from the brush towards them, broken but alive.
After Camp Haven falls, Ben begins to befriend and even rely on Cassie. He finds that he can open up about his personal feelings to her and they can talk, even argue, about almost anything. She appears to be the only person that he had confided the true story of what had happened with his sister Sissy to. He has also started to grow physically affectionate towards her and has even been the one to initiate their first kisses. It seems as if he feels for her as more than a friend.
When Ben was getting ready to leave for his mission to get Ringer and Teacup, Cassie tried to reason with him against doing this on that he was projected his need to 'go back'. She told him that he was using his sister for when he went back for her brother and again here to which he cringed at. He returned this reasoning when Cassie wanted to go and try and save Evan when he was taken by Vosch's soldiers. He told her that she couldn't risk everything, including her brother, all for a guy. But he didn't listen to her and neither did she. The last time they ever speak, Cassie makes Ben promise to take care of her brother and he said he would protect him with his life. She then kisses him on the cheek and told him that he should do it with his death.
A year after Cassie dies, Ben sometimes dwells on what Cassie really died for when there are moments of human brutality like when people are still holding guns up at one another. Ben keeps to his promise to Cassie and watches over her brother and tries to get him to be less aggressive though it is a slow progress. When Sam couldn't sleep as he misses his sister, Ben takes him to see the stars and fondly tells him the story of Cassiopeia.
Sam has become somewhat of a little brother to Ben. It helps that he is the same age as his little sister. He tries to shield him from the horrors of their new world as best he can to try and preserve what innocence Sam has left. Ben is also not afraid of showing any genuine affection for him and helps him with any kind of problem that he may have. Though, Ben has also made sure that Sam stays strong and keeps out of unnecessary trouble when he starts to step out of line.
When the fighting begins to escalate further, Ben sees how much Sam is eager to join in the fight and while he tries to make Sam stay back and out of the gist of it, he eventually relents and lets Sam have his back. He realizes that if he says no, then Sam will just sneak off to join him anyway and would rather have him in his sights then just pop up when he doesn't expect him. He unofficially appoints Sam to be Megan's bodyguard and lets him have his own gun. Ben still protects him but comes to realize that Sam doesn't need as much protection as he and his sister Cassie seem to think he does.
When the 5th Wave is stopped and The Others' spaceship is destroyed, Ben has taken to become Sam's guardian as he had promised his sister. He tries to teach Sam things that normal kids should know and get him to enjoy his childhood but still struggles a bit against the soldier mentality that Sam still lingers to. Especially when it comes to mercy when they find a former Camp Haven soldier and Sam believes that they should just shoot him. When Sam goes to him on how much he misses his sister and Ben tells him the story of a princess named Cassiopeia and her role of importance with guarding the 'realm'. When Sam asks what that is, Ben points to his heart to tell him that the human heart is the most valuable thing they have.
Ben was shocked when he first met Evan and learned that he was an Other. He doesn't really know what to make of him or of what he has told Cassie of the Others in general. The next time they meet, the two immediately get into a brawl and Ben believes that Evan was the enemy all along. The entire time that Evan is with them Ben is firmly against believing what he says or listening to his advice.
He also doesn't seem to like how much faith that Cassie has in him. Cassie is the central source of his animosity towards him. It could come from the fact that he had also had so much faith in a person that turned out to be an Other, Vosch, who had then betrayed him in every possible way. He could believe that Evan might be doing to her what Vosch did to him.
However, when Ringer returns to them with the truth behind the Silencers, as well as the fact that she now is one, he becomes confused with him. He still thinks that Evan can't be fully trusted but after Cassie sacrifices herself he finds himself letting go of his mistrust and hate of him. He helps to restore Evan's memories and they go off and work together to build a new life on a Colorado farm. A year of this has made the both of them friends. When Evan wants to go to the military bases in North and South America that are still functioning because most would have Others' technology, Ben tells him that taking revenge like this won't bring Cassie back. Evan tells him that it is what he has to do in order to keep the remaining Silencers from killing more innocent people. Ben threatens to kill him in order to stop the bloodshed but Evan smiles at him and tells Ben that he is no killer.
There is no one that Ben respects more and would trust at his side than Ringer. He finds her to be one of the most reliable and trustworthy people that he knows. As well as the stiffest and toughest. At first Ben didn't have Ringer's respect as her squad leader but soon she began to look to him for leadership after their first mission. It is his private mission to somehow get Ringer to laugh, even for a split second.
He also shows that he cares for her safety when he wishes her luck and tells her to be careful when she goes to conduct a solo scouting mission away from the Squad. When Ben and the others have based themselves in a new safe house, he doesn't feel comfortable knowing that Ringer has no clue what has happened and has probably returned to where they used to be and found it gone. He prepares to move out to find her, against both Cassie and Evan's attempts to dissuade him, and heads for where Ringer had been going.
When he does manage to find her, he sees that she isn't alone but is mistrustful of her new companion when she seems to know things about Ringer that he never did, like her real name Marika, which she didn't even tell him. When it was revealed that her new 'friend' was a silencer, he asked her why and revealed that she had become one too, to his shock. Despite that, she still insists that she's on their side and that they continue to fight together just the same as before. Before they head into a fight against some 5th Wavers she confides in him that she is now pregnant and she tells him all about the father, Razor. When Ringer leaves to head to the base and help Cassie save Evan and kill Vosch, Ben tries to coax another smile from Ringer by giving her a small kiss but she refuses to smile because 'it wouldn't be real'.
After the 5th Wave is beaten and The Others' spaceship is destroyed, Ben and Ringer (Marika now), end up together and raise her daughter Cassie. They've also taken to taking care of Sam and Megan alongside Evan before he leaves them.
His betrayal by Vosch had left Ben with a serious mistrust and personal loathing on anything relating to the Others which most likely is the root of his contempt for Evan Walker.
- Ben is one of the two narrators in The 5th Wave. The other being Cassie. He also serves as a narrator in The Last Star.
- In the novel The 5th Wave, when Ben and Cassie meet again at Camp Haven, he says that she looks familiar but can't quite remember her. In the movie, he remembers her perfectly.
- Ben, Ringer and Sam are the only members of Squad 53 that survive the 5th Wave.