Created By: SharleeD on October 29, 2012 Last Edited By: SharleeD on January 7, 2013
Troped

Incongruously-Dressed Zombie

No Zombie Apocalypse is complete without one that's dressed oddly

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Trope

Most zombie encounters in fiction get their shock value from gore, ambush, or the pathos of seeing a named character arise from death to attack the surviving cast. But not every horror scene takes itself that seriously; sometimes, when pacing or tone demands a tension-breaker, filmmakers will toss in the visual gag of a zombie that's dressed in an ironic or amusing outfit: a Halloween costume, an unusual profession, nothing at all, etc.

While undead in goofy outfits seldom stay on screen for long, they provide a bit of a breather for the audience, while giving the production's costumers and make-up crew a chance to exercise some creativity. Their presence can also remind viewers that zombies, however mindless or indistinguishable in undeath, used to be unique, living individuals: that they're creatures to be pitied as well as dreaded.

Not necessarily exclusive to zombies: vampires, ghosts, biped werewolves, and other human-derived monsters may also be examples of this trope, provided their outfit is unexpected and/or goofy enough to surprise and amuse the audience.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In High School Of The Dead, a sniper looks at a zombie that she's about to shoot to clear an airport runway. The zombie is dressed in a nice swanky white suit. Her sniping spotter points out that he used to be an actor, and still maintains his egotistical mannerisms even in undeath. Then she blows his head off.

Film
  • The Ur-Example is the nude female model, adorned only with a morgue ID tag, who was included in Night of the Living Dead.
    • In the 1990 remake, Ben and Barbra acquire a handgun from a zombie cop. Barbra later uses it to shoot a female zombie that clutches a baby doll under one arm.
    • In Dawn of the Dead, the Hare Krishna Monk zombie in his bright orange robes.
  • In Waxwork II: Lost in Time, the alternate-reality that featured zombies had several dressed in over-the-top disco outfits.
  • A zombie clown attacks a children's birthday party in a video clip from Diary of the Dead.
  • In Return of the Living Dead, a zombie priest is seen gnawing on a dead paramedic, then calling Dispatch to ask that more be sent. Trash becomes an example when she re-animates in the nude, having been killed after stripping in the cemetery.
  • Several examples (a stripper, a bunch of little girls in ballerina outfits, one that's on fire) chase people around in the opening credits of Zombieland.
  • The first zombie seen up close in Dead Heat is dressed as a biker.
  • There is a zombified topless stripper very briefly seen in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
  • The short film Zombie in a Penguin Suit puts this in the forefront.
  • The only-technically-not-zombies from Legion had a few funnily dressed "zombies", such as an ice-cream truck driver.

Live-Action Television
  • The series The Walking Dead had one "walker" dressed in a Santa Claus suit.
    • Odd clothing on zombies actually has plot implications when the survivors take over the prison, as some of the walkers there are wearing prison riot-gear and therefore have helmets to protect their brains.

Tabletop Games
  • Vampire: The Requiem has Larvae: a transitional stage between human and vampire that are functionally zombie-vampires, usually still dressed in the rags of whatever they were wearing when abducted and turned. Their sourcebook suggests that Game Masters employ this trope as a way to ramp up the creepiness. (Yes, that guy in a mailman uniform or the woman in the torn, fuzzy pink bathrobe is about to eat you!)

Video Games
  • In Armor Games' Web Game The Last Stand, a few of the zombies attacking your character wear clown costumes.
  • In the video game Darksiders, you have the very smartly dressed Wicked K, a zombie with a British dialect in a tuxedo.
  • One of the zombies in Dead Rising 2 wears a wedding dress, as a result of being almost forced into marriage before being turned.
  • One of the zombies in Medievil 2 sports a beard and wears a suit, which Dan must steal from it to use as a disguise.
  • Left 4 Dead 2: Uncommon commons.
    • Clown
    • Riot gear
    • Roadworker
  • Plants vs. Zombies has several examples, including the Disco Zombie.

Web Original
  • In webisode clips spun off The Walking Dead, two child zombies wear paper birthday-party hats. Another (adult) zombie wore the day-glow yellow vest of a parking-meter reader.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • October 29, 2012
    Chernoskill
  • October 30, 2012
    Arivne
    Video Games
    • In Armor Games' Web Game The Last Stand, a few of the zombies attacking your character wear clown costumes.
  • October 30, 2012
    MasterheartsXIII
    • In Video Game/Darksiders you have the very smartly dressed Zombie K, a zombie with a British dialect in a Tuxedo
  • October 30, 2012
    KTera
    ^His name is actually Wicked K.
  • October 30, 2012
    henke37
    • L 4 D 2: Uncommon commons.
      • Clown
      • Riot gear
      • Roadworker
      • Etc
  • October 30, 2012
    Astaroth
    • One of the zombies in Dead Rising 2 wears a wedding dress, as a result of being almost forced into marriage before being turned.

    • One of the zombies in Medievil 2 sports a beard an wears a suit, which Dan must steal from his to use as a disguise.
  • October 31, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In Zombieland, we see a zombified female stripper attacking the patron of a strip club.
  • October 31, 2012
    SKJAM
  • November 1, 2012
    Chernoskill
    "Several examples chase people around in the opening credits of Zombieland.

    Also in Zombieland, we see a zombified female stripper attacking the patron of a strip club. "

    Actually, I think the stripper (who is also from the intro) is the only example that fits, the others are just normal zombies (ok, one is on fire).
  • November 5, 2012
    SharleeD
    Any more?
  • January 2, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • There is a zombified topless stripper very briefly seen in Resident Evil Apocalypse.
    • In High School Of The Dead, a sniper looks at a zombie that she's about to shoot to clear an airport runway. The zombie is dressed in a nice swanky white suit. Her sniping spotter points out that he used to be an actor, and still maintains his egotistical mannerisms even in undeath. Then she blows his head off.
  • January 5, 2013
    Duncan
    The short film Zombie in a Penguin Suit puts this in the forefront.
  • January 5, 2013
    Earnest
    Possible pic.
  • January 5, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ heh, I like that, just because her fists are still clenched enough to hold onto the pompoms. Though she doesn't look very zombie-ish. I can see that she is, but I could also see her as a 50-year-old 4 pack a day chain smoker.
  • January 6, 2013
    chicagomel
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer picked a vampire out in the first episode because his clothes were way out of date.
  • January 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ This isn't about picking out creatures because they obviously look out of place. It's about Zombies who just happened to become zombies while they were wearing an outfit that makes them extremely noticeable.

    You know, beyond your typical street clothes.
  • January 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    Moreover, it's when the incongruity stands out to the viewers, not just to the heroes. If the vampire in question had been dressed in a medieval monk's robe -- or a modern monk's robe anywhere that's not a monastery, for that matter -- it would count.

    ^^^^^ I love the pic. I'm not familiar with placing pics into wikis, however: if anyone else knows how, please put it into the description! :-)
  • January 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ Well if you feel this trope can apply to any type of mythological creature that straight up looks out of place, then feel free to adjust your trope as you see fit.

    As for the picture, copy and past http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ZombieCheerleader_7920.png at the top of your topic post.
  • January 6, 2013
    Folamh3
    Made some minor edits to the formatting. Definitely a trope, you get a hat.
  • January 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^ Good point, I'll add a specification that the weird outfit should be surprising and/or amusing to the audience. And thanks for the pic-addition help!

    Any last examples before launch? Or related-trope link suggestions?
  • January 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    When you do launch the trope, you will want to change the picture to quoteright:341:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ZombieCheerleader_7920.png inside double brackets. This tells the site to move the picture to the right side of the page, as has been custom for quite a while now so that the description is on the left side. The "341" in this case is the number of pixels that makes up the width of the picture. A maximum of 350 pixels is how large any picture can be width-wise. Length-wise, it is unlimited, as demonstrated here.
  • January 6, 2013
    Earnest
    ^ Don't forget the pothole to the source, the movie Land Of The Dead, the full formatting should look like this. [[quoteright:341:[[Film/LandOfTheDead http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ZombieCheerleader_7920.png]]]]

    Optional funny quote would go be marked up as [[caption-width-right:341:Some caption]]
  • January 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    Thanks, guys! Funny caption suggestions are welcome too BTW.
  • January 6, 2013
    reversePsychologist
    As for Left 4 Dead 2, don't forget Jimmy Gibs Junior!
  • January 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ You know, I've never once encountered him in the game. Don't know what he looks like, so you might want to elaborate on that Zero Context Example.

    If you're going to allow this to cover monsters outside of zombies, might I suggest Incongruously Dressed Monster instead?
  • January 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Given that nobody's yet suggested a workable example of another monster using this trope, I don't think a name change is justified. It's logical that this would mostly be a zombie trope, because zombies can't usually make wisecracks or otherwise provide comic relief except by dressing funny.
  • January 6, 2013
    Earnest
    ^, ^^ Well, this trope would really only apply to the small subset of monsters that were formerly humans and either don't bother to change clothes or their ability to keep up with fashion freezes, which may be better addressed with Outdated Outfit in general.

    • Off the top of my head, the only-technically-not-zombies from Legion had a few funnily dressed "zombies", such as an ice-cream truck driver.
    • Speaking of quasi-zombies, Vampire The Requiem has Larvae, which are a sort of midway between human and vampire that are functionally zombie-vampires. They lack a human mind, so the Enemy Within takes full control, making them mindless, ravening, blood thirsty and usually still dressed in the rags they were wearing when abducted and turned. Their sourcebook even outright suggests that Game Master's point out that one may be wearing a mailman uniform as a way to ramp up the creepiness (yes, that woman in the torn fuzzy pink bath robe is about to eat you).
  • January 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^^ But we've already had the suggestion and an example of a vampire being thrown into the trope, so obviously it isn't just exclusive to zombies.
  • January 7, 2013
    SharleeD
    Okay, those last two examples gave this trope the "quasi-zombie" examples I'd been hoping for. (The previous vampire example probably does fit better under Outdated Outfit instead, not least because it's an in-universe clue rather than a sight gag for the audience.) And the hats are in, so I'm launching! :-)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=e2acx1qe67u6srnknepjjv97&trope=IncongruouslyDressedZombie