Created By: Earnest on July 28, 2010 Last Edited By: Earnest on July 29, 2010

Undeathly Pallor

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Can you guess which of these two characters is dead? Check the bottom of the page for the answer!

A character who is one of The Undead will have pale, corpselike skin. Even people who were dark skinned in life will have skin that looks drained of blood and oddly bluish under the tan. A living character with Undeathly Pallor can be a necromancer, infernalist, or somehow in the thrall of the undead. Say, by being under ghostly Demonic Possession or The Renfield who is fed vampire blood.

This trope is so common it's usually a (pun intended) dead giveaway that something is wrong with Steve / Mary when they suddenly show up this shade of pale. Smart characters (let alone the Genre Savvy) will have their Not a Zombie sense ping them as being "somehow off". Which of course makes the aversion of this trope a #1 priority on every smart undead's list of Masquerade reinforcing tricks. Undead who subvert this trope tend to be more dangerous for being indistinguishable from the living.

Of course, they might just be a really Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette (or blond/redhead etc.) who gets incessantly bugged about this. Not to be confused with Evil Albino (though both can overlap for undead bonus points).

Edited spelling. Then later edited minor trivia.
Answer: It's Emily, the girl on the right!
Community Feedback Replies: 6
  • July 27, 2010
    This is Truth In Television as once you die the blood moves due to gravity to the lower parts of your body (if you are lying on your back, then it pools there). It's called Post-mortem lividity. So if your skin looks drained of blood, it's because it is.
  • July 27, 2010
    Clarification: the word "pallor" has two Ls in it.
  • July 27, 2010
    Strictly speaking, Emily isn't undead, she's all the way dead. It's just that in her universe, the dead sing and dance.

    I'll be sitting over here.
  • July 28, 2010
    A living character with a deathly pallor probably fits under Hades Shaded.
  • July 28, 2010
    Some interesting examples.

    • The alien monster mutants in Pandorum are all Undaethly Pale. It's later revealed to be because they evolved and mutated over centuries to become apex predators for the ship they inhabit by feeding on the other passengers of the ship.
    • The Morlocks in The Time Machine have a similar reason for their pallor.
    • And just because this will keep the thread bumped: Twilight plays this trope straight with caucasians, but subverts it with african american vampires, who look just as healthy skinned as alive.
  • July 29, 2010
    Laurent from Twilight was washed out and greyish though, at least in the second film. I think Maria, the Hispanic vampire, still had a fairly healthy glow though. The book is pretty inconsistent about what happens to People of Color when they become vampires. Maria was really pale and Laurent was olive-skinned (but it was never stated what race he was). There are some other vampires who are non-Caucasian, but their skin color isn't really mentioned. The male half vampire from South America was definitely dark skinned, though.