Incongruously Dressed Zombie
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
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. Distinguished from Our Zombies Are Different
in that the Incongruously Dressed Zombie
unique; functionally, it's usually (though not necessarily) your standard-issue Night of the Living Mooks
If an undead creature's clothes look odd because they date from a past era, that's Outdated Outfit
. If the outfit was goofy back then
, these tropes overlap.
Anime & Manga
- In Highschool 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.
- 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.
- The first sequel has the visual gag of a zombie dressed in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" outfit.
- 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 pair of zombified topless strippers very briefly seen in Resident Evil Apocalypse. They manage to distract a guy long enough to make him crash the car he was in.
- 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";
- In Porn of the Dead, one of the zombies was a waitress, while another was a mental patient still stuck struggling with a straitjacket.
- The page pic is from Land of the Dead. Another zombie cheerleader appears in Zombie Apocalypse.
- Non-zombie example: Some of the recently-dead from the afterlife waiting room in Beetlejuice are dressed in amusingly-odd outfits (a headhunter, a Vegas showgirl).
- Some ghosts in The Frighteners wear outfits that rated as weird even in their decade of origin.
- A number of the Zombies in Warm Bodies. The amnesic and zombified main character uses his hoodie to determine he was unemployed in life, for one. M is careful about maintaining his suit, and another member of the hunting party appears to be wearing a Sikh turban. Worst is the character named in the credits simply as TSA Zombie, who carefully waves his metal detector over every zombie inhabitant of the abandoned airport, when not busy eating brains.
- Zombie Strippers, though there the emphasis is more on what the zombies aren't wearing.
- In the short story "I Am A Zombie Filled With Love", the nameless protagonist becomes attracted to the female zombie because she's wearing a food-service name tag, so he can actually call her by name (Emily).
- Among the many weird characters glimpsed on the streets or subways of the Nightside was a zombie surfer in a torn wetsuit, who carried a coffin lid as his surfboard.
- 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.
- The mob of extras made up as zombies as a foundation challenge on season 4 of Face Off were mostly dressed in everyday street clothes, but a couple of the men wore surgical scrubs, one of the women had on a ragged wedding dress, and a chef's hat is visible in one of the group shots.
- 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!)
- 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 has your usual hordes of zombie masses, but there are also "Uncommon Commons", a step below the Special Infected. They all look different from usual, but also have unique properties about them. Depending on how you encounter them, they can be either hilarious, creepy, or utterly depressing.
- Hazmat zombies found in "Dead Center" run around in their still fully-sealed yellow and green hazmat suits. You can hear the air leaking out of them like a balloon if you kill them with a melee attack.
- The Clown zombie is found in "Dark Carnival", running around with large clown shoes and a big red nose.
- Mudmen are, well, covered in mud.
- Riot Gear zombies, found in "The Parish", gain some measure of protection from this trope.
- Worker zombies in the "Dead Rain" campaign wear bright yellow reflective vests, making them easy to see in the torrential downpour. They also wear hardhats, making them immune to headshots and ear protectors that mean they neither hear nor chase thrown pipebombs.
- Fallen Survivors from "The Passing" still wear their survival gear, so can drop a med kit, pills, adrenaline shots, pipe bombs, or molotovs.
- Zombie Jimmy Gibbs Jr. used to be a famous stock car racer, and still wears his racer's uniform and helmet.
- Other examples include hospital patients and staff, Midnight Rider fans, wedding guests, and airport personnel.
- Plants vs. Zombies has several examples. Common zombies all wear the remnants of a shirt, suit coat and tie, but the "special" zombies all are dressed in a way that identifies their particular attack method. The "dancing" zombie used to look like a Thriller-era Michael Jackson, up until he died and his family requested that they change his appearance. He's now a "disco" zombie with bell-bottom pants and big hair. The crazy Jack-In-The-Box zombie wears a straightjacket and carries an exploding Jack-in-the-box with him. The Zomboni is a guy driving around a Zamboni, and the ice he lays down is used by Bobsled Zombies, who carry their bobsled with them and wear identical team uniforms, zombies who attack over water wear snorkels, digging zombies have carbide lamp helmets and so on....
- 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.