Ganados (Spanish: "Los Ganados", meaning 'the herd/mob' or 'the cattle') were originally humans who became hosts to the mind-controlling Plaga parasite.
Unlike zombies, Ganados appear outwardly human and possess much of their intelligence and sentience, being quite capable of speaking and carrying out normal day to day tasks (more complex tasks are beyond them, such as hygiene), but are nonetheless utterly devoted to their master (in the form of Osmund Saddler) who is able to control the lesser Ganados, most likely with the use of high pitched sound waves issuing from his Plaga-derived staff. Though the usage of sound waves is merely a theory, there is no debate that Saddler's body houses the 'Control' Plaga; this is evident in Leon's final battle with the cult leader. Because of Las Plagas, Ganados have little (if any) fear of death or injury as can be seen by their continued attacking of an armed agent with often little more than melee weapons despite the high chance of being killed in any encounter, though some will carry shields, wear masks, or wear armor to protect themselves from Leon's gunshots. Almost all Ganados carry melee weapons, such as knives and axes. If a Ganado is carrying an appropriate weapon, they will sometimes attempt to throw the weapon at their target. Ganado armed with firearms are very rarely encountered. However, some Ganados do carry dynamite, which they will light and throw at their target, using it much like a grenade.
Although marginally less durable than the zombies, injuries which would severely injure or cripple a normal human do little more than annoy a Ganado due to their super-humanly high pain tolerance. They are seen to be strong enough to throw an adult man over their head with ease, Ganados are also somewhat tactically aware and will attempt to surround the player, form layered attacking patterns with ranged attackers being defended by the melee attackers, and even attempt to flank or ambush the player by creeping around cover to attack from behind. All Ganados carry a Plaga organism within them. When a Ganado is injured or killed, a Plaga may manifest from the Ganado's neck, controlling the host body directly until it is itself killed.
There are three main types of Ganados found in the game, all members of Los Iluminados cult sworn to Osmund Saddler. These are in order of appearance: The Villagers, the monk-like Cultists and the Combatants of Saddler's private Militia.
The Villagers were once peaceful residents of the rural community until they were exposed to Las Plagas. Once infected, they became ruthless savages under Lord Saddler's direct control. The Villagers continue to carry out their farming duties, although their living conditions have deteriorated significantly. When Leon first arrives at the village, he is immediately attacked by one of the Villagers after approaching him and attempting to question him about Ashley Graham's whereabouts.
The Villagers' arsenal is comprised mostly of farming tools and household items; including pitchforks, hatchets, sickles, knives, torches, dynamite and chainsaws carried only by Chainsaw Man and the Chainsaw Sisters. As befitting by their presence early in the game, they are the easiest Ganados to face in combat, though in some levels they can attack in great numbers. Upon completion of the game, a series of sketches posing as the background for the credits serves as a flashback to the earlier days of the village. What was once a peaceful community distanced from the modern world, populated with farmers and their children, became corrupt as Osmund Saddler arrived, and the workers were infected with spores during the Plaga excavation, causing families to become savages and turn against one another. Ada is seen reading a book about this in the Separate Ways mission in the beginning of the second mission. According to the booklet included with the Biohazard 4: Incubate DVD, the children of the villagers died after they were injected with the Plaga parasites, explaining their absence in the game. Incidentally, the villagers' language is particularly foul-mouthed compared to the other Ganados, albeit still spoken in Spanish.
The Cultists are the most devoted members of the Los Iluminados cult and are based in Ramon Salazar's castle. They are dressed in clerical robes and habits bearing the cult's insignia. Black is worn by the regular cultists, with purple and red worn by the higher ranking members, who often wear goat-skull masks or cult amulets around their necks. The Cultists are better equipped than the villagers, carrying a variety of medieval armaments, such as scythes, flails, and crossbows. Cultists with RPG-7's and dynamite sometimes appear as well. Some Cultists also carry heavy wooden shields (which can be destroyed with enough firepower) or wear iron masks making the wearer immune to headshots (killing them by shooting them in the iron mask is possible, however this takes a lot of firepower) to protect themselves from gunfire.
Although better armed and equipped than the villagers, cultists tend to be somewhat more zombie-like in their behavior, often shuffling around aimlessly when not accompanied by the higher ranking cultists who tend to direct their actions, mumbling or chanting sinister mantras to themselves.
Likely having not left the castle for years, the Cultists' skin is much paler than that of the villagers, and all of them appear to be bald, although their baldness is likely a result of having deliberately shaved their head as a religious statement rather than as a symptom of their infection. Others are ritually tattooed or scarred. Overall, the Cultists are the most sinister and frightening of the Ganados.
These soldiers are "elite" Ganados, members of Saddler's militia, assigned to protect his island complex. As their appearance late in the game would suggest, they are generally better equipped and smarter than other Ganados and can also run and move faster than the others. They can be seen using many of the weapons of the zealots, with some unique weapons of their own such as electric stun rods. A few burly soldiers carry massive hammers and wear thick bullet-proof metal armour. With the exception of Gatling Man and some rocket launcher-equipped troopers, few soldiers carry long range weapons. The militia form Saddler's "Plan B," whereby if the Ashley Graham plan failed, they would be sent to the United States to ferment chaos and disorder from within, no doubt gaining converts as they went.
- Chainsaw Man: A villager who wears overalls and a potato sack mask who chases after intruders with his chainsaw. He is far more durable than a regular Ganado, and is capable of decapitating his victim with a single strike. There are also several incarnations of Chainsaw Man in the mines below the castle. Unlike most other Ganados, Chainsaw Man's body does not disintegrate after he is killed, a trait he shares with some of the zealots in Salazar's castle. A similar Chainsaw Ganado, "Large Chainsaw Man", also appears in "The Mercenaries" minigame as a sub-boss in the "Stage 4" stage. This variant brandishes a double-bladed flaming chainsaw, is significantly larger and faster, and causes instant decapitation or death upon contact, depending on release version. Interestingly enough, the standard version of The Chainsaw Man has a bottle cap themed after him named "Dr. Salvador". (Salvador meaning Savior in Spanish.)
- The Chainsaw Sisters: Two female Chainsaw wielding Ganados. Both wear bandages covering their faces, but are otherwise clothed in the same way as other female villagers. They appear as optional boss enemies on Leon's path in the main game as well as a mini-boss enemy in The Mercenaries minigame, and Separate Ways on later ports of the game. Their bodies do not disintegrate when killed.
- Gatling Man: A very tall and muscular Ganado who wields a Gatling gun. He uses his minigun to lay down heavy suppressing fire which will shred the player if caught in it or swings it as a melee weapon if the player gets too close. He is a member of the Combatants and wears a red beret and a patch over his right eye. Gatling Man also appears in the Mercenaries minigame, as a mini-boss in "Stage 3". Like Chainsaw Man, his body does not disintegrate after he is defeated. The Gatling Man has a bottlecap themed after him, the name of which is "J.J."