Created By: Earnest on December 28, 2011 Last Edited By: Earnest on January 30, 2012

Complaining About TheOld Body

An undead character hates their fragile and decaying body.

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Trope
Formerly Curse This Decaying Form.

These are characters who aren't very lucky when it comes to the Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration, having landed in the unfortunate situation where they are unable to truly heal any damage their body sustains, which is often compounded by (un)naturally rotting. Limbs that fall off have to be stitched back on (though they may not function afterwards), their skin slowly dries and cracks, muscles stiffen due to rigor mortis, and broken bones have to be nailed straight. If they happen to get into a fight or suffer an accident, any injury sustained is permanent.

A mortician may be able to do some sprucing up, but the underlying fact remains that they will eventually wear out and truly die. Or worse, wear out and not.

These characters love to gripe about this, though they may have an out. Usually there's an artifact, spell, or other way to repair the damage, switch (dead) bodies or bring them back to life. This may or may not be ethical. If the story is at least a little towards the comic side of the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror, male undead usually suffer an embarrassing... "malfunction" that doesn't allow them to perform.

May be the result of a resurrecting resulting in an Inhuman Human. Compare Age Without Youth, where an immortal isn't immune to aging. Contrast Showing Off the New Body.

Film
  • Rasputin, the undead sorcerer in the cartoon Anastasia suffers from this throughout the film.
  • The main problem for Helen and Madeline in Death Becomes Her.
  • The teens in Night Of The Living Dorks quickly find out that they aren't Cursed with Awesome when various bits of their bodies start falling off. Especially embarrassing when they want to "perform".

Literature
  • In Elantris, Elantrians are afflicted with a curse that essentially turns them into sentient zombies. Their skin decays, their muscles atrophy, and their wounds never heal. The pain from all the injuries they accumulate tends to drive them insane over time.
  • Reg Shoe of Discworld is always complaining about his body parts' tendency to fall off, although his overall disposition is too idealistic to let this get him down for long. It doesn't hurt him, but it does make it difficult to play the guitar when he keeps having to stop and hunt for his fingers.
  • Dead Boy from the Nightside novels can't die or feel pain, but his undead body doesn't heal and feels only a minimal degree of other sensations. He circumvents these limits as best he can, using duct tape, staples or mortuary putty to fix his injuries, and buying his drugs from an obeah witch doctor.
  • Erico in Diario de un Zombi is very aware that his body is slowly breaking down as he goes on his journey.

Live Action TV
  • The Master in the Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin", and its sequel "The Keeper of Traken", where gaining a new body for himself is his major motivation.

Videogames
  • Baron Ashbury in World of Warcraft subverts this, casually conversing about all of the conviniences of undeath, lampshading all of the Forsaken's racial abilities. Most other Forsaken play this straight, however.
    "Being forsaken has its benefits. Let me see... I am able to practically live underwater. I can stay submerged 233% longer than any fleshy mortal. Yes, count it, 233%. Oh, and now I am able to shrug off mind-controlling effects - BECAUSE I LACK A BRAIN! And perhaps the best part, I now have a hungering for the flesh of other humanoids. Cannibalizing their rotten corpses grants me power. Yes, DE-LI-CIOUS..."

Western Animation
  • Mumm-Ra in Thunder Cats probably falls into this trope. His chant to change form begins: "Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form..."
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • December 29, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    I think its included in Inhuman Human
  • December 29, 2011
    Xandriel
    • In Elantris, Elantrians are afflicted with a curse that essentially turns them into sentient zombies. Their skin decays, their muscles atrophy, and their wounds never heal. The pain from all the injuries they accumulate tends to drive them insane over time.
  • December 29, 2011
    SharleeD
    • Reg Shoe of Discworld is always complaining about his body parts' tendency to fall off, although his overall disposition is too idealistic to let this get him down for long. It doesn't hurt him, but it does make it difficult to play the guitar when he keeps having to stop and hunt for his fingers.
  • December 29, 2011
    SharleeD
    • Dead Boy from the Nightside novels can't die or feel pain, but his undead body doesn't heal and feels only a minimal degree of other sensations. He circumvents these limits as best he can, using duct tape, staples or mortuary putty to fix his injuries, and buying his drugs from an obeah witch doctor.
  • December 29, 2011
    Earnest
    ^^^^Eh... I think it's splitable. I can see the connection "resurectee is in a body they hate", but that can also be due to other causes, like Al from Full Metal Alchemist who is stuck in a suit of armor.
  • December 30, 2011
    ThornKing
    Baron Ashbury in World of Warcraft subverts this, casually conversing about all of the conviniences of undeath, lampshading all of the Forsaken's racial abilities. Most other Forsaken play this straight, however.

    "Being forsaken has its benefits. Let me see... I am able to practically live underwater. I can stay submerged 233% longer than any fleshy mortal. Yes, count it, 233%. Oh, and now I am able to shrug off mind-controlling effects - BECAUSE I LACK A BRAIN! And perhaps the best part, I now have a hungering for the flesh of other humanoids. Cannibalizing their rotten corpses grants me power. Yes, DE-LI-CIOUS..."
  • December 30, 2011
    Spaceape
    Rasputin, the undead sorcerer in the cartoon Anastasia suffers from this throughout the film.
  • December 30, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
  • December 30, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    An American Werewolf In London: David's friend Jack becomes a zombie after a Werewolf attacks them, turning David into one in the process. Jack spends the rest of the film popping in unexpectedly, each time in worse shape than before.
  • December 30, 2011
    JonnyB
    Mumm-Ra in Thunder Cats probably falls into this trope. His chant to change form begins: "Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form..."
  • December 30, 2011
    SharleeD
    ^^ Jack was a ghost, not a zombie. He merely looked like a rotting corpse.
  • December 31, 2011
    foxley
    The Master in the Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin", and its sequel "The Keeper of Traken", where gaining a new body for himself is his major motivation.
  • January 10, 2012
    Japper8
    Wouldn't this also apply to someone who wants to become immortal cursing his aging and dying body?
  • January 10, 2012
    Earnest
    Huh, I hadn't considered that. I'd rather this be focused on the downsides of an undead decaying body rather than normal aging, but I can see where the title can get confusing. Ooh, and Fast Eddie's banned dialog-y names, so this probably needs a better name.
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