Created By: Chabal2 on November 7, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on June 6, 2013
Troped

Zombify the Living

Necromancy on the not-yet dead.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
(Formerly Preemptive Necromancy, Needs a Better Title)

Animating dead bodies and summoning skeletons is a pretty useful power. So how can it be improved? Why, by getting rid of the pesky "dead bodies" limitation! Using necromancy on victims who are still alive is a good way to show just how powerful this guy is.

Some versions of vampirism fall into this category as well: vampires are traditionally considered undead, and some settings have the victim transformed while still alive. Liches may result from the caster doing this to himself.

Compare Animate Dead. Not to be confused with Technically Living Zombie, which is where a zombie-esque creature results from (for instance) infecting a living person with a disease (a zombie that was made by transforming a living human into a humanoid which is, for all intents and purposes, a zombie), while this is a spell or other form of Applied Phlebotinum which kills the target and turns them into an actual zombie in one go. Also not to be confused with Spawn Broodling, which creates a minion from the body's mass, not use the body itself to attack.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Sankarea focuses on this trope, as Rea helps Chihiro finish his zombie potion and then drinks it herself. Soon after, once she gets cornered by her father, she slides off a cliff and then truly dies for the first time.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • Dungeon: The Early Years has the wizards Horus and Alcibiade trapped in a prison. Horus' plan is to cast a Necromancy by Anticipation spell, starve to death, be buried outside the prison, and then rise from the grave (and devouring an entire herd of cows to get back to true life). It works.
  • In The Goon, the Zombie Priest accidentally created his nemesis Buzzard (who's technically a sort of "anti-zombie" who feeds on the dead, but otherwise counts); by using the zombie creating magic on him when he was alive.
  • In Blackest Night, Nekron does this, but only on those who came Back from the Dead (e.g. Superman). Green Lantern and The Flash avoid this by being Just One Second Out of Sync.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • The German film Night Of The Living Dorks has the protagonists hit with an improperly cast resurrection spell, which upon their death later that night in a car accident resurrects them as zombies. Thankfully, they were still pretty normal and managed to get truly revived before going full zombie.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The undead Son of Kyuss is an animated corpse that has fat green worms crawling in and out of its skull orifices. Once per round a worm will jump onto an opponent in melee combat with the Son and try to infect the victim. If it succeeds, the target will immediately become a Son of Kyuss.
    • One of the nastiest powers of the zombie lord, a monster unique to Ravenloft, is its ability to cause the instant death and re-animation of living opponents.
  • Magic: The Gathering card Skeletonize burns away a creature's flesh and (assuming three damage will kill it) leaves behind an undead skeleton under your command.
  • Chaosium's supplement All the World's Monsters. If a creature is touched by a Coachman of Death, it must make a saving throw vs. magic or be turned into a zombie.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Warcraft:
    • In Warcraft III, Arthas transforms Sylvanas Windrunner into a banshee while she's still alive. This was retconned in the World of Warcraft novel Arthas: The Rise of the Lich King, however.
    • There's also Arthas himself. By the time he returns to Lordaeron from Northrend he's officially considered undead, but there has been no point in the canon showing him actually dying to become as such. He simply picks up Frostmourne, and its influence strips away his humanity.
    • In gameplay the Dark Ranger's Black Arrow transforms those hit by it into giant skeletons on death.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, the Necropolis faction typically has access to an undead transformer that can convert living troops into undead.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Zombie status makes sufferers vulnerable to Revive Kills Zombie without affecting their allegiance.
    • Final Fantasy XIII and its direct sequels: the mindless monsters Cie'th are considered undead, even though to become one, a human must not so much die as fail a Focus given to them by a Fal'cie. When a Fal'cie feels threatened, however, it can give humans an un-completable "null" Focus, which turns them into Cie'th on the spot, rapidly spawning a veritable zombie army around the Fal'cie.
  • In Eternal Darkness anyone killed by the miniboss of Edward's level instantly becomes a hostile zombie (although apart from the very first victim, you can drive it off and save Edward's servants if you're quick enough).
  • In Clive Barker's Undying, you can use the Revive spell on some living enemies, which makes them Driven to Suicide.
  • The Sims 3 expansion pack Supernatural introduced zombies to the game, where on a full moon, your still living townies will turn into zombies for the night (dancing to a boom box, eating your plants, and attacking other sims), and then transform back into humans the next morning.
  • The Web Game Takeover has you fighting the undead Evil Empire, whose special power instantly converts some of your squads into the undead equivalents under the empire's control. It's easily the best power, which explains why you can't play them.
  • The Episode 2 boss of Wolfenstein 3D is Dr. Schabbs, a Deadly Doctor who flings syringes full of a "corpsokinetic animation serum". If B.J. Blazkowicz loses all of his health to a syringe, his HUD portrait turns an ashen color as he becomes an undead mutant like those fought throughout the level.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • Richard of Looking for Group demonstrates this ability by forcing his enemies' skeletons to obey him... while they're still inside. More generally, Richard himself seems to have been a case of this, and can apparently change back if he goes too long without senseless slaughter.
[[/folder]]

Indexes: Magic and Powers, Undead Index

Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • November 7, 2012
    StarSword
    Video Games
    • In Warcraft III, Arthas transforms Sylvanas Windrunner into a banshee while she's still alive.
  • November 7, 2012
    Astaroth
    In the Heroes Of Might And Magic series, the Necropolis faction typically has access to an undead transformer that can convert living troops into undead.
  • November 7, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In The Goon, this is how the Zombie Priest accidentally created his nemesis, Buzzard (who's technically a sort of "anti-zombie" who feeds on the dead, but otherwise counts); by using the zombie creating magic on him when he was alive.
  • November 7, 2012
    MrRuano
    Sankarea focuses on this trope, as Rea helps Chihiro finish his zombie potion and then drinks it herself. Soon after, once she gets cornered by her father, she slides off a cliff and then truly dies for the first time.
  • November 8, 2012
    Koveras
    Borderline example in in Final Fantasy XIII and its direct sequels: the mindless monsters Cie'th are considered undead, even though to become one, a human must not so much die as fail a Focus given to them by a Fal'cie. When a Fal'cie feels threatened, however, it can give humans an un-completable "null" Focus, which turns them into Cie'th on the spot, rapidly spawning a veritable zombie army around the Fal'cie.
  • November 8, 2012
    SharleeD
    • One of the nastiest powers of the zombie lord, a D&D monster unique to Ravenloft, is its ability to cause the instant death and re-animation of living opponents.
  • November 8, 2012
    TBeholder
    Needs a meaningful description. You know, the one that actually says what you meant.
  • November 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    Seems clear enough to me (use of necromantic powers, normally useable only on dead bodies, on a body that is still alive), but I'll take any suggestions.
  • November 9, 2012
    Lophotrochozoa
    The trope needs a better name. Necromancy can mean many different things.
  • November 9, 2012
    Bisected8
    What about Zombify The Living? Also, The Virus is related (if the victims become undead).

    • In Eternal Darkness anyone killed by the miniboss of Edward's level instantly becomes a hostile zombie (although apart from the very first victim, you can drive it off and save Edward's servents if you're quick enough).
  • November 10, 2012
    Earnest
    ^ seconding Zombify The Living.

    • Night Of The Living Dorks has the protagonists hit with an improperly cast resurrection spell, which upon their deat later that night in a car accident rresurrects them as zombies. Thankfully, they were still pretty normal and managed to get truly revived before going full zombie.
  • November 12, 2012
    m8e
  • November 12, 2012
    Prime32
    Most vampires and liches count as examples of this.
  • November 12, 2012
    GKaiser
    RE: Warcraft III: I thought he just ripped her soul out and made that into a banshee, since I faintly remember helping her to find her corpse later on.
  • November 12, 2012
    StarSword
    He did, but she was still alive when he did it, so it counts.
  • November 13, 2012
    GKaiser
    She was killed in the process and brought back through necromancy. As per Arthas Rise Of The Lich King:

    "She was tortured, mutilated, and finally killed for Arthas' pleasure. He desecrated her spirit, corrupting her body and soul, and brought her back as a whirlwind of torment and hatred. Thus Sylvanas Windrunner became the first of the high elven banshees. (...) Her body was flung onto a meatwagon, lost among the thousands more the Scourge had claimed, and would later be locked in an iron coffin as a further act of vengeance upon the Ranger General."
  • November 13, 2012
    dvorak
    needs to be catagorized.
  • November 13, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^ That would be a Retcon. In the original game, she was alive when he did it, and it was somewhat of a spur-of-the-moment thing since it was in the middle of the battle for Quel'thalas. Went something like, "You'll never take me alive!" "Boom, you're an undead now." (Paraphrased, obviously.)

    Christ, I hate what WOW has done to the RTS characters. Motive Decay and Character Derailment left and right, seriously.
  • November 23, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons. The undead Son of Kyuss is an animated corpse that has fat green worms crawling in and out of its skull orifices. Once per round a worm will jump onto an opponent in melee combat with the Son and try to infect the victim. If it succeeds, the target will immediately become a Son of Kyuss.
  • November 23, 2012
    Andygal
    the "zombie" status effect in Final Fantasy is this, although the only real affect is that the character is now subject to Revive Kills Zombie, their allegiance doesn't change.
  • November 24, 2012
    morenohijazo
    In Clive Barkers Undying, you can use the Revive spell on some living enemies, which makes them Driven To Suicide.
  • February 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Mind if I take this over?
  • February 18, 2013
    Chabal2
    Go ahead.
  • February 19, 2013
    Koveras
    Yeah, someone's gotta do it.
  • February 19, 2013
    Gwendy
    The Sims 3 expansion pack Supernatural introduced zombies to the game, where on a full moon, your still living townies will turn into zombies for the night (dancing to a boom box, eating your plants, and attacking other sims), and then transform back into humans the next morning.
  • February 19, 2013
    StarSword
    Near as I can tell this is launchable, but could use some description help.
  • February 19, 2013
    lexicon
    This sounds like the exact same thing as Technically Living Zombie. "the creator (obviously) wants to have zombies, but would rather not explicitly invoke the supernatural by having them be actual reanimated corpses."
  • February 19, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Not the same thing. This is Animate Dead, but used on the living instead.
  • February 19, 2013
    lexicon
    I'm still not sure I see a difference (but it's good that Technically Living Zombie is now mentioned in the description). The TLZ comes from science and this comes from magic?
  • February 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    No. Where necromancy (or Mad Science) requires corpses to make undead minions, this one gets the same results with live bodies. Really, I think the most illustrative example is Looking For Group: Richard animates a bunch of skeletons while they're still in the guards' living bodies, where most necromancers would have killed the the guards and then raised the skeletons.
  • February 19, 2013
    lexicon
    So it is living and it is a zombie but it's not a Technically Living Zombie?
  • February 19, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Isn't this Spawn Broodling?
  • February 19, 2013
    Bisected8
    I thought a TLZ was a zombie that was made by transforming a living human into a humanoid which is, for all intents and purposes, a zombie while this is a spell which kills the target and turns them into an actual zombie in one go?
  • February 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    ^^^ They're not living, the minions formed are dead (skeletons or animated etc.).

    ^^ There may be some overlap, but Spawn Broodling creates a minion from the body's mass, not use the body itself to attack.
  • February 19, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^That's it, exactly.
  • February 19, 2013
    NESBoy
  • February 19, 2013
    lexicon
    If this is exactly, "a spell which kills the target and turns them into an actual zombie in one go," I was right when I said that it is magic. I see the difference now but I think it would help to have a clear distinction in the description. I think a different name would be even better but I don't know what. Living To Undead? Undead sounds more not alive than zombify.
  • February 21, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Comic Books
    • One formulation of Joker Serum works this way: administered to a normal victim, it transforms him into a raving maniacal psychopath, complete with unflinching Slasher Smile.
  • February 21, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Sure that isn't a Psycho Serum?
  • March 5, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    At least one of the examples in Spawn Broodling actually fits this trope better:

    Tabletop Games
    • Magic The Gathering card Skeletonize burns away a creature's flesh and (assuming three damage will kill it) leaves behind an undead skeleton under your command.
  • March 6, 2013
    morenohijazo
    ^ These tropes must be suffering the Missing Supertrope Syndrome.
  • May 19, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Video Games
    • The Episode 2 boss of Wolfenstein 3 D is Dr. Schabbs, a Deadly Doctor who flings syringes full of a "corpsokinetic animation serum". If B.J. Blazkowicz loses all of his health to a syringe, his HUD portrait turns an ashen color as he becomes an undead mutant like those fought throughout the level.
  • June 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Chaosium's supplement All the World's Monsters. If a creature is touched by a Coachman of Death, it must make a saving throw vs. magic or be turned into a zombie.
  • June 5, 2013
    Jokubas
    There's also Arthas himself. By the time he returns to Lordaeron, he's officially considered undead, but there has been no point in the canon showing him actually dying to become as such. He simply picks up Frostmourne, and its influence strips away his humanity.
  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Wow, this is still floating around? I suppose I'll launch it after I finish with Boarding Pod.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=97lcw77tashtm48qw8gmw2sw&trope=ZombifyTheLiving