Ben is the main protagonist of Night of the Living Dead. He was one of the people who were trapped by a horde of zombies in a Pennsylvanian farm house during the early stages of the undead apocalypse.
When the undead outbreak occurred, Ben, who was passing through the area, saw a diner besieged by zombies, and fled in his truck to a farm house.
There, he meets Barbara, and locks himself and her inside from an attacking zombie. When Ben sees two zombies destroying his truck, he goes out and successfully bludgeons both of them to death. He goes back into the house just in time to save Barbara from another zombie. As hordes of zombies besiege the house, Ben, and a shock-stricken Barbara begin boarding up the doors and windows.
Ben and Barbara exchange stories. When Ben stops Barbara from going outside to get her now-dead brother, Barbara hits him across the face, prompting Ben to retaliate and accidentally knock her out. Ben turns on the radio to hear reports of nationwide violence. While Ben is searching the house for ammunition and supplies, he hears Barbara scream and rushes downstairs to find several new arrivals who were hiding downstairs.
One of these people, Harry Cooper, insists that they should hide in the cellar, but Ben and Tom disagree. As Ben and the others listen to news reports and radio broadcasts, they discover that their attackers are the unburied dead brought back to life by a mysterious phenomenon. When Ben discovers that one of the refugee locations is the nearby town of Willard, he plans an escape.
Ben, Tom and Judy go out to refuel Ben's truck and escape to Willard, but Tom accidentally sets the truck on fire, destroying it and killing both Judy and himself. As the zombie hordes close in, Ben tries to flee back into the house to find Harry has locked him out. He breaks in and, after locking the hordes out, viciously attacks and beats Harry for leaving him to die.
Listening to a TV news report, Ben an the others discover that posses are patrolling the countryside, killing the zombies roaming the area to restore order. The power then goes out and the zombies begin breaking in. While Ben tries to keep the zombies out, Harry turns Ben's rifle on him, causing Ben to wrestle it away from him and shoot him.
As the undead finally break into the house, killing Barbara, Ben retreats into the cellar from the zombie hordes, to find the corpses of Harry and Helen. As the two reanimate, Ben shoots them and waits for help to arrive.
The next morning, Ben hears a posse arrive, and goes upstairs. However, he is mistaken for a zombie and is shot and killed. His body is cremated along with several dead zombies.
Duane Jones described Ben as a "comparatively calm and resourceful." Ben tried to remain calm and rational, and took instant dislike to Harry. However, Ben would still resort to violence on rare occasions, such as when he is aggravated, or when he is left to die.