Created By: Earnest on October 7, 2012 Last Edited By: Earnest on September 16, 2013

Uniformly Dressed Zombies

Zombie Hordes always wear grayed out, uniformly drab and torn clothing.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Alternate title: Zombie Casual Dress.
Formerly Zombie Pageant.

Zombies in rags, or the newest clothing fad? You decide.

When the heroes run into a zombie horde it will almost surely be a generically dressed mass of zombies with no discernible individual or collective features. Specifically, they're probably dressed in filthy, torn clothes that have gone grey and brown and lost all former color and vibrancy. Blood stains not withstanding.

This trope comes in a couple of flavors:
  • In its extreme form, every zombie will be dressed in such ragged clothes that it'd take a forensic team to even guess at who they were or what they did in life. This is probably done either for budget or practicality reasons (easier to costume the actors this way) but also reinforces the "faceless horde" aspect of the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In a less extreme form, the zombies may be wearing semi-identifiable clothes: torn jeans and shirt, a suit jacket, a ripped dress, etc. but never to the point of having individually identifiable former people/professions. So no zombies in (ironically) police or army uniforms, clown suits, or wedding dresses.

In both cases the clothes are homogenized or made uniform by a combination of sun-bleaching, blood stains, mud stains, filth and a weird kind of graying/browning.

This trope can be very, very subtle. So much so that it's a Trope In Aggregate unique to the Zombie Apocalypse Genre rather than an individual design choice (though it can be consciosly chosen or averted). It's also a great source of Conservation of Detail; the director probably doesn't want the audience getting distracted by so many Incongruously Dressed Zombies bearing down on the heroes it's practically a blizzard of unique snowflakes.

Averting this trope doesn't require the above blizzard of incongruously dressed zombies (that's more of an inversion) but a midpoint where individuals can be distinguished and even be picked apart from the horde without seeming out of place. Much like a crowd of regular people.

Because this is an Omnipresent Trope, examples will either be aversions or subversions.

Examples:

Film
  • Land of the Dead opens with a shot of the zombies in a small town, all dressed in their Sunday finest, mimicing their routines. A marching band played (badly) and a wife and groom walked about.

Live-Action TV
  • The Walking Dead is usually pretty good about this, having city zombies be very diverse, while rural zombies might be all soldiers and some civilians.

Video Games
  • Armor Games' Web Games The Last Stand and The Last Stand 2 have zombies wearing costumes trhat identify their former occupation, including soldiers, police officers and yes, clowns.
  • Though State of Decay has a fairly limited set of zombie models, it enforces this trope two ways. Zombie diner waitresses tend to spawn in cities and near diners, and armored SWAT zombies appear once you start a police themed mission. As do armored Army zombies once an army enclave collapses.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • October 7, 2012
    Arivne
    Video Games
    • Armor Games' Web Games The Last Stand and The Last Stand 2 have zombies wearing costumes that identify their former occupation, including soldiers, police officers and yes, clowns.
  • October 7, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    1. The name could easily be confused for other meanings of "pageant".

    2. Is there a point to this trope? Zombies wear the clothes that they wore before they got infected. That doesn't really say much.
  • October 7, 2012
    Earnest
    ^ 1. Any name suggestions or word replacements?

    2. It's a trope because in its absence you have the generically dresed mass of zombies with no discernnibles fearures. Y'know the ones: they're all dressed in torn and dirty thrift store clothes.
  • October 7, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Okay... I think that could work. Then again, the other kind of clothes should be a trope as well.
  • September 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    This seems to be simply Incongruously Dressed Zombie done en masse. Not sure if there would be enough examples to carry two tropes about that.
  • September 6, 2013
    DAN004
    2. It's a trope because in its absence you have the generically dresed mass of zombies with no discernnibles fearures. Y'know the ones: they're all dressed in torn and dirty thrift store clothes.

    ^ THAT is more tropable.
  • September 6, 2013
    earnest
    Really? So basically flip the trope to "generally dressed mass of zombies with no discernible features", which as an Omnipresent Trope means the example list would only lists aversions or subversions.

  • September 6, 2013
    DAN004
  • September 7, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Not too crazy about the picture because the brown look makes them look the same anyway.
  • September 7, 2013
    m8e
    Is this really omnipresent and in aggregate?
  • September 7, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ In terms of zombie movies, it's more common than not.
  • September 7, 2013
    m8e
    But that doesn't really mean it's omnipresent.
  • September 7, 2013
    DAN004
    Played with in Plants Vs Zombies: all the "normal" zombies wear the same torn-up 3 piece clothing and a tie. However, the "special" zombies often wear something that suits up their gimmick, i.e Football Zombie wears a football getup, Dolphin Rider Zombie wears a bodysuit, etc. And of course, all of the same zombies wear the same clothing with no variation in them.
  • September 7, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Then Universal Tropes could cover it.
  • September 9, 2013
    Earnest
    ^ Is the new picture better?
  • September 9, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ A little. I would personally prefer something more colorful and with not quite as many zombies, so that the rags are more visible.
  • September 10, 2013
    Earnest
    Aaaand try #3.
  • September 10, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    This isn't even close to Omnipresent Trope. There's a whole bunch of examples of zombie clowns, zombies wearing hard hats and zombies in riot gear in fiction.
  • September 10, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Invoked in a fourth season episode of Face Off, in which a foundation challenge required pairs of contestants to convert twenty extras into zombies in a very short time. While some of the extras started out in distinctive outfits suitable for an Incongruously Dressed Zombie, and each contestant applied special effort to one "showcase" walking corpse, the frantic scramble to zombify the last half-dozen or so horde members before the clock ran out meant that each team also produced some generic torn-shirt-and-multicolored-stains undead.
  • September 10, 2013
    m8e
    ^^Right.

    I see at least three common ways to play zombie clothes. "low saturation rags", Normal distribution(inlcudes a few guys with hardhats etc), Incongruously Dressed Zombie. But there might be even more. For example localized outbreaks/plots could leave/show only zombie scientists, zombie soldiers etc.

    And Voodoo Zombies usualy don't follow any of these.
  • September 10, 2013
    earnest
    ^, ^^^ Let me put it this way: the IDZ stands out precisely because her cohorts don't. This trope is universal in the sense that a majority of zombie stories have a majority of the zombies therein be uniformly dressed. It's not an aversion if one or two are IDZ, or even as M8e points out, there's a few hard hats or soldiers there.

    As long as most of the zombies aren't visually interesting, this trope applies.

    I think adding a third point to the scale would be a good idea though. After the even distribution on the middle have the extreme be a high quotient of not IDZ's but "personalized" zombies that are easy to track.

    Anything past that and you're looking at playing with a trope.
  • September 10, 2013
    DAN004
    This isn't an Omnipresent Trope... but it's certainly a Trope In Aggregate. :P
  • September 12, 2013
    Earnest
    ^ I've been arguing it is, but most people are just saying it's not. Can I at least get an argument, reason, or evidence for why it's supposedly not omnipresent? And it may help sort out this difference of opinion if the justification for it not being one comes with an interpretation of this trope. Because I have the feeling that people are knee-jerk reacting to the extreme form of this trope (uniform rags) rather than the mid-range.
  • September 16, 2013
    m8e
    Omnipresent until proven otherwise? The laconic is "Zombie Hordes always wear grayed out, uniformly drab and torn clothing."

    Feels like the argument for it being omnipresent is "Zombie hordes wearing grayed out rags is omnipresent in works where zombies hordes wear grayed out rags."

    Some zombie works doesn't even have hordes, some have 'newly created' hordes, where the clothes only have minor damages(where they got bitten etc), and is just as colorful as normal clothes, some have a very localiced outbreak where all the zombies are scientist, nazis, soldiers, pirates or whatever, and so on...
  • September 16, 2013
    Earnest
    It's clear we need some evidence here.

    If you want, I'll go through the list of works in the Zombie Apocalypse trope and tally up the ones with A. Grayed out uniform rags, B. Torn/dirty semi-identifiable clothes and C. Use of one or two IDZ's and D. Full on aversions. If A + B + C is greater than 75%, it's Omnipresent.
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