[[quoteright:330:[[WesternAnimation/CorpseBride http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/PaleCorpseBride_2934.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:330:Can ''you'' guess which of these two characters is dead? Check the film section for the answer!]]-]

In fiction, if you run into someone who looks like a corpse, it's not that they're sick, it's that they're ''[[NotAZombie dead.]]''

Characters who become one of TheUndead will develop pale or sometimes blue or green tinged skin. In severe cases with visible (and deathly still) [[TaintedVeins purple veins]] underneath the skin. Even people of color[[labelnote:*]] (Or fake tan. Can you imagine facing an undead eternity with skin the color of a bleached out orange?)[[/labelnote]] who were dark skinned in life will have it turn [[HadesShaded ash grey, or dark like soot]].

A living character who is just pale is usually a perfectly mundane case of an EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette, who [[NeverHeardThatOneBefore has heard all the jokes]] about waking up on the wrong side of the coffin. There may be some UnfortunateImplications here though, since in fiction there's a [[AstonishinglyAppropriateAppearance strong correlation]] between being pale and [[TranshumanTreachery going over]] to TheDarkSide. In addition living characters who come into contact with the dead, undead, or infernal may have a [[PaletteSwap change of color]] and become HadesShaded. This is the case with necromancers, infernalists, those under ghostly DemonicPossession, [[VirusVictimSymptoms someone bitten]] by zombies or a vampire, or TheRenfield who has fed on [[ThePowerOfBlood vampire blood.]] It doesn't stop there either, centuries of sunless existence may turn the character into an EvilAlbino.

This trope is so common it's usually a [[IncrediblyLamePun dead]] giveaway that [[VirusVictimSymptoms something is wrong with Alice / Bob]] when they suddenly show up this shade of pale. Smart characters (let alone the GenreSavvy) will have their NotAZombie sense ping them as being "[[NotHimself somehow]] [[GlamourFailure off"]]. Which of course makes the [[DefiedTrope defiance]] of this trope a #1 priority on every smart undead's list of {{Masquerade}} reinforcing tricks. Settings where this trope is subverted have much more dangerous undead for being indistinguishable from the living. Another curious exception is that sometimes people who were brown-skinned or darker in life may look exactly as vivid after death as they did when they were alive for unexplained reasons. Probably something to do with the SpecialEffects budget and wanting to avoid a [[SpecialEffectsFailure gaffe]].

TruthInTelevision, 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.

See also StringyHairedGhostGirl.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Sid from ''Manga/SoulEater'' is a zombie ''gym teacher.'' He once had normal colored skin, but after dying he became blue... Literally.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Dead Girl in ''[[XForce X-Statix]]'', who's sort of greenish.
* Any [[BlackestNight Black Lantern]] who didn't just have a skull for a face had grey skin.
* Malibu Comics' [[ComicBook/TheUltraverse Ultraverse]] character Ghoul was green (and pretty messy besides).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/DarkCity'' - The Strangers are [[spoiler: alien energy forms who inhabit human corpses as a means of performing routine physical actions]].
* ''WesternAnimation/CorpseBride'' provides the page image here. In this case, however, it's subverted as the living are [[DeliberatelyMonochrome colorless]] while the dead [[DarkIsNotEvil have much brighter colors]].
* The alien monster mutants in ''Film/{{Pandorum}}'' are all Undeathly Pale. It's later revealed to be because they [[spoiler: 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 ''TheTimeMachine'' have a similar reason for their pallor.
* ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' plays this trope straight with caucasian vampires, but Laurent presents an odd contrast. He's not at all pale in the first movie, but was washed out and greyish though, at least in the second film.
* Drac and the female vampires in ''Film/BramStokersDracula''. While he doesn't display it in his younger form, his older form has has very pale skin. His brides have it though the dark lighting of their scenes make it hard to tell. Lucy on the other hand goes completely deathly white after turning.
* Vampires in the original ''Film/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' movie had this among other mutated features to show they weren't human anymore.
* ''Film/CountYorga'' when he goes full vamp mode to really show off his monstrous form. Likewise the vampires under his control.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' books, Maria the vampire looked "porcelain" despite being Mexican. 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.
** The ''[[AllThereInTheManual Twilight Illustrated Guide]]'' states that ''all'' vampires turn pale on being turned. If you were black in life, you turn olive. And since [[UnfortunateImplications vampires are always beautiful]]...
** Maria's case may bee FridgeBrilliance since not all latins are brown-skinned.
* Variation in the ''Literature/OldKingdom'' series. The actual Dead aren't noted to be pale (since most of them that actually have phyiscal bodies are too badly decayed to tell) but {{Necromancer}}s (as well as Abhorsens, who practice necromancy to destroy, rather than create or control, the undead) are described as noticeably paler than those who don't practice that art. So it's pallor from associating with death and the undead, rather than from ''being'' dead yourself.
* In ''{{Warbreaker}}'', when a [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Lifeless]] is created, all color is bleached from their body as a side-effect of the magic (which uses color as a sort of trigger). The resulting creatures look exactly like they did in life, except that they are pale grey all over.
* When [[CheerfulChild Kairn]] becomes [[UndeadChild a zombie]] shortly after dying in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: City of the Dead'', Zak thinks he looks sallow-skinned and unhealthy like he's been sick, not like the rotting zombies in his dreams.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action Television]]
* All the zombies in ''Series/InTheFlesh'' look white and their pupils in their eyes look like crosses. They wear make-up and contacts to appear like the living.
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E20WhatIsAndWhatShouldNeverBe "What Is And What Should Never Be"]], this is a SubvertedTrope. Sam finds Dean and the woman in white hanging limply with pale faces and unblinking red-rimmed eyes, but they both survive.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* The [[TabletopGame/{{Exalted}} Abyssal Exalted]] get this in spades - As they get more powerful, Abyssals are required to either become pale (if they were light-skinned in life) and [[EvilIsSexy beautiful]], or decayed and monstrous. As a high Appearance Abyssal's colors change towards the natural extreme they are closest to, Abyssals who were dark-skinned in life invert this trope, with skin colors resembling obsidian.
* In both ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' and ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'', vampires typically grow paler and less lifelike as they grow older -- not because of age, but because an older vampire is more likely to have fallen a few notches down the [[KarmaMeter Humanity]] scale and gotten closer to their Beast. The one exception may be the Assamites from ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'', who invert the trope by growing ''darker'' as they age, to the point where the elders of the line look like they're made of polished jet.
** The Cappadocians, a clan-turned-bloodline in Masquerade take this a [[UpToEleven step further]]. They always appear corpse-like, unable to use Flush of Life to mask their pale faces regardless of age or humanity score. When they get older, they grow even more like wasted cadavers.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: VideoGames]]
* In ''WorldOfWarcraft'' the Forsaken have skin in various shades of grey, green and blue. Death Knights also tend to be paler then a living character with the same setting of skin shade. They also have access to a several different skin tones not available to living players, mostly in greens and greys. Though some of them are a bit odd - blood elves apparently decay into charcoal.
* ''BrutalLegend'' has the Drowning Doom, whom all their units have this look to them. Most noticeable is Drowned Ophelia, the doppelganger counterpart of Ironheade's Ophelia, who, naturally, turns from a healthy looking, yet slightly pale PerkyGoth, to an openly corpse blue after her transformation into the Queen of Black Tears.
* In ''GaiaOnline'', the main zombie skintones tend to be gray-white or greenish, though alternate zombie skintones have been known to include dark blue, purplish, and bright scarlet. There are four vampire skintones as well; a crappy 100 Gold potion in Skin Tyte with an exclusively pale-white base, and three found only in The Treehouse and the marketplace, which range from "basically, we just improved the old skintone" to "Now you, too, can be AmbiguouslyBrown". Zhivago in the plot manga and Kamilla in ''[=zOMG!=]'' are also AmbiguouslyBrown vampires, and were rather famous for formerly being the only ones.
* ''VideoGame/TheSims 2'' does this. Zombies are gray, vampires are blue. However, as with most things in ''The Sims'', custom content exists to change these.
** Also, in some ''VideoGame/MySims'' sequels, beginning with ''[=MySims=] Kingdom'', Carl the Zombie is blue, with rotted away hair. In ''[=MySims=] Agents'', his arm even falls off.
* In ''The Sims 3'' Supernatural expansion, all the premade ghost characters have blue skin, hair and eyes, although they show up in game as different colors depending on what they died of.
* In the ''KingdomHearts'' series, Sora will have white skin whenever he is in [[{{TheNightmareBeforeChristmas}} Halloween Town]] as a result of becoming a vampire. Of course, he's not really undead. He retains the skin color in Christmas Town, where he wears a black Santa Claus jumper and hat over his clothes and eyepatch, respectively.
* In ''Videogame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow2'', Dracula's skin became bone white after centuries of vampirism.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: WebComics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ZombieRanch'' people turned into zombies become noticeably green. Other mammals just seem to go green on the inside.
* ''{{The Kingfisher}}'': Pale vampires abound.
* Being based off of {{Exalted}}, KeychainOfCreation features various extremely pale Abyssals, the best-known of which is, of course, Secret.
* ''SchoolBites'': All of the usual vampires have chalk white skin, save Cleobatra whose [[TokenMinority African American]] but still sports a bit of paleness.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: WesternAnimation]]
* Played with in ''DannyPhantom''. Danny's skin when he's a ghost is actually much healthier-looking (or at least more tan) than it is when he's human.
** It might just be the contrast difference between his light and dark hair that made his skin look darker.
** Or that the ghost color scheme is inverted. Although, that might produce more of a pale blue color.
* Lydia Deetz in ''WesternAnimation/{{Beetlejuice}}'' is rather pale-skinned.
[[/folder]]

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'''Answer:''' You actually checked? Wow, okay. [[spoiler:It's [[WesternAnimation/CorpseBride Emily]], the girl on the right with the boney arms.]]