Before the outbreak, Ryan was the CEO of Genetic Systems, Inc. He spearheaded a project to turn one-third of the world's human population into animals. His goal was two-pronged: half of the targets into edible animals so that the remaining population could be free of hunger; and the other half would be turned into endangered animals in order to prolong the survival of endangered species.
The first species into which the selected people would be turned, was the great grey wolf. During testing, a transformed test subject tricked Andy Melchars, a scientist at Genetic Systems, into releasing it. The test subject then infected Andy, causing Andy to go on and infect Larry the Dog. By doing this, he set off a chain reaction that resulted in the outbreak.
After the outbreak, the facility was contaminated, and Ryan was forced to flee. He met up with John, and the two stayed in an abandoned house. One month after the outbreak, John went outside for firewood, but he was unaware that two wolves were watching him. They lunged, biting him in the lower leg. Ryan managed to shoot them and amputate John's leg. However, he had trouble stopping the bleeding.
Ian heard John's screaming and rushed to help. He fashioned a tourniquet out of some rags and a broom handle, thus saving John's life. Ian and Ryan discussed each others' lives afterwards, and Ian decided to join Ryan and John.
The next day, the three of them set out to find more stable shelter. and found Wilson Tower. John was particularly eager to check it out. However, when they arrived, a guard asked about John's missing leg, and shot John because he had been bitten. Ian understood the guard's reasoning, and entered Wilson Tower. Ryan, on the other hand, was angered by the guard's actions, and left.
Later, Ryan is seen trading his money for weapons and armor.
Shortly before Alex was going to torture Ian, Ryan blew a hole in the tower's wall. He shot several survivors, and he shot Alex in the side. An armed guard retaliated and shot Ryan, destroying his right eye. This caused Ryan to stumble away, and several wolves poured in through the opening.
Even later, after Ian met Sarah and Earl, Ryan kicked down the door to Sarah's lab. He ordered Ian to choose which scientist should be killed. When Ian refused, Ryan knocked him out.
When Ian regained consciousness, Ryan had hung Earl in the corner, and had knocked out Sarah. Ryan then revealed that he had stowed away in Brian's SUV earlier, and had subsequently tracked Ian. He then revealed his own history with Genetic Systems. Not knowing of Ian's previous infection, he also told him that there was no actual cure for the virus, and that those "cured" can still pass the disease on to others.
Armed with this knowledge, Ian bit into Ryan's neck, infecting him. When Ian and Sarah are leaving, Ryan is seen transformed, unconscious, and restrained to a chair. His status after that is unknown.
- All victims of the outbreak (indirectly caused)
- Ryan is the only character to lose an eye
- He is also the only Genetic Systems worker to have an unknown status