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A practitioner of a kind of Whatevermancy, Necromancers are the masters of the art of death. Necromancy, the magic of interrogating the dead, has been practiced since at least Ancient Greece, where it was known as Necyomantia, and probably earlier.
In typical media they're the epitome of the Evil Sorcerer, showing none of the respect Due to the Dead, using the dark arts to create an army of skeletons and zombies (or any kind of Undead being) to ravage the countryside or enslave souls of the damned for their own evil and twisted purposes. Any villain that practices necromancy is guaranteed to fall hard onto the far side of the evil scale, and any hero who dares to dabble in it can kiss his position on the good side goodbye.
However, necromancy didn't always have the evil connotations that it has in media today. The word 'necromancy' comes from the words 'nekros' (dead) and 'manteia' (prophecy), meaning that necromancers are more likely to summon spirits for divination than armies of rotting zombies. It was widely practiced across the world until the Renaissance, when it was equated with demonology and got its bad reputation.
This means that sometimes necromancers are seen in a more sympathetic light, using their powers to commune with the dead, heal others, or use their power over souls for good ends.
But since that's not nearly as interesting as zombies, the idea of a necromancer unleashing waves of zombies still persists. Of course, that doesn't stop them from unleashing the hordes on the bad guys instead!
Commonly overlaps with Necromantic; either someone attempts necromancy in order to bring back their loved one, or this was the start of theirdescent into evil. Sometimes a character will approach a necromancer for their help in bringing back their beloved.
It's not unheard of for a necromancer to be one of The Undead themselves, often a lich.
Even if they aren't liches or other forms of undead themselves, they are likely to have unlocked other ways of prolonging their own livesto unnatural lengths. Furthermore, they may become partiallyundead.
Only metaphorically related to Thread Necromancer, where one resurrects dead forum threads.
Do not confuse with necro-romancer. See also Tested On Humans.
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Anime & Manga
D.Gray-Man has the infamous Cross Marian, who uses Grave of Maria◊—the body of a deceased woman with the power of an Exorcist. She only listens to Cross. Using magic, he can summon her coffin at will and release her. It is often theorized, by many in fanon, that she was possibly a lover of Cross' when she was alive, but nothing has been stated as of yet.
Charles zi Britannia in Code GeassNightmare of Nunnally's Geass, "The Dead Rise," allows him to raise the dead to fight for him, creating soldiers that are virtually unkillable unless he dies, at which point, they die too. He raised some of the best soldiers from the dead in order to claim the throne, including the current Knights of the Round.
There are three in Naruto - Orochimaru, the Second Hokage, and as of chapter 489, Kabuto. All use the Impure World Resurrection technique.
Faust VIII from Shaman King. He's the descendent of the original Dr. Faustus who made a Deal with the Devil and Faust learned about being a shaman and necromancy from his books. He did it to resurrect his wife from the dead so he's got the Necromantic thing going on as well. Finally, his basic fighting technique is to summon tons and tons of skeletons. Not to mention he's about the most evil character we see until The Big Bad shows up. Faust makes a Heel-Face Turn after that though.
Doll from ½ Prince is a spell caster class called necromancer; she doesn't really summon zombies, she summons flaming spell monsters which generally act as meat shields for her team. However, if she's really motivated, she can summon a freaking undead dragon; however, since it generally scares her, she's only done this twice so far.
The protagonist of Ghost Talkers Daydream works part-time as a necromancer. It mostly involves fighting ghosts, so there is no "evil sorcerer" part there. Yet for some reason, she considers her main job as a dominatrix way more respectable.
One of Kenshiro's creepier one-shot foes from Fist of the North Star was an evil priest-looking guy by the name of Zaria who could hypnotize people into "zombies" via Nanto Ansho Ken and ultimately revives a group of his mooks that Kenshiro had just given the Your Head A Splode treatment to. Naturally, Kenshiro considers this level of disrespect for the dead unforgivable.
The main character Chihiro from Sanka Rea is a zombie aficionado and a wannabe necromancer. Things get complicated when he actually succeeds in necromancy, bringing his cat, as well as the eponymous girl, Back from the Dead.
The somewhat recent manga Necromancer features one as the main character.
In Bleach, this is the main offensive power that Sternritter Giselle Gewelle has. By injecting her blood into other Quincys, she can take control of them when they're dead, turning them into literal, mindless zombies. This is what she did to her teammate Bambietta, even when she was alive and begging her not to do it while lying on the ground helpless.
Keyes, "The Black Monk" of Tartarus in Fairy Tail is this. He's polite, speaks in fancy, almost poetic phrases, and is responsible for controlling traitor Councilman Crawford's corpse to activate the 2000 Face bombs crucial to the Guild's plans remotely. On a more personal level for the heroes though, he's the one responsible for bringing back Silver Fullbuster, Grey's dad, as an end result of experiments involving just how well he can revive someone. Silver hates him.
During Brightest Day, Aquaman could animate and control the corpses of sea creatures as a side effect of his death and resurrection. As the main page for the comic states, "Summoning a zombie kraken may be the most awesome thing he's ever done."
The Goon's archenemy, the Nameless Man, uses massive zombie hordes to do his bidding. He also appears to have knowledge of communicating with spirits.
Master Darque has the ability to manipulate,morph and bind souls into grotesque soul eaters. His magic was mainly necrotic but he became a disciple of the Universal Center of Learning and Knowledge called Lyceum. When he learned everything he could from his masters he graduated by killing everyone in Lyceum.
Nakisha from Fly Or Fall is the Fairy of Spirits and as such has this power, but is one of the good guys.
In The Dark Witch and the Necromancer Harry became one in order to combat Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but summoned animated skeletons rather than creating zombies of any variety. His Crowning Moment of Awesome was undoubtedly summoning a dinosaur skeleton during an attack on the Hogwarts Express.
In both Excalibur and Dragonslayer, the wizards (Merlin & Ulrich respectively) are called necromancers at some point. As neither film involves undead hordes and feature more traditional wizards, it is clear the older meaning is being invoked.
William Dobbs from Dead & Buried is an excellent example of this, what with him making a town entirely populated by zombies of his own creation, who he views as his children and his works of art, as well as a very unhealthy interest in the dead.
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor: As a result of an epic quest arc being succesfully completed, high level mage characters are allowed to evolve their class to become Necromancers. This VRMMORPG would not otherwise allow users to become this class if the quest had failed.
The Bible comes down pretty hard on divination in general, including necromancy, and exhorts the Israelites not to put their faith in sorcerors. However, it's because those practices are associated with alien gods (not that kind) and Human Sacrifice... not because they don't work. At one point (in 1 Samuel 28), a necromancer conjures the spirit of Samuel, a dead prophet, to ask some questions. While Samuel does show up, he's not real happy about it and basically just tells Saul that God is done with him.
And, of course, we have Jesus Christ, who is able to resurrect(both himself and others) the dead without suffering the typical effects of raising the dead, but it's made explicitly clear that God Himself is the source of these acts.
In Le Morte D Arthur, Malory mentions that Morgan learnt "nigromancy"... in a nunnery...
While most of her magic doesn't seem that related to the dead, she is the one who ends up taking Arthur to Avalon... which has interesting implications.
A remarkable benign example appears in Gullivers Travels. The Necromancer shows Gulliver the spirits of lots of dead people, so he can interview them and learn about the past (and eat food made by a great dead chef).
Necromancers in A Madness Of Angels tend to try their hand at immortality by swallowing papers with the traits they wish they had in a golem-esque way. They die for real as soon as the paper is taken out, but in the meantime, they live exactly to the constraints of the paper (meaning if you forget to, say, write down that you still want to see colors or actually feel things, your undead life won't be very pleasant).
In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Sauron was called "the Necromancer" (though in this case it probably meant controlling the spirits of the dead, not their corpses). Given Tolkien's influence on the fantasy genre, this could be the Trope Maker.
Sauron appears to have more control over the corpses of the dead than their spirits, if the Barrow-Wights are anything to go by; according to the supplementary materials they are evil spirits (not the souls of the original deceased) sent by the Witch-King of Angmar, Sauron's Dragon, to possess the bodies of dead kings to torment their former subjects.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Making Money has the Department of Postmortem Communications, which is absolutely not Necromancy because Necromancy is a bad form of magic and is done by evil wizards, and since the wizards in Postmortem Communications aren't evil wizards, it's not Necromancy! Just ignore their raising of the dead. And all the skull decorations (they're fake, except for the talking one). And the fading "NECR" on their door.
Note that they use the classical definition of contacting spirits to ask about the future, which is apparently evil. Contacting them to ask about the present or past, on the other hand, is okay.
This is continued in Unseen Academicals where the head of the Dept. of Postmortem Communications, Dr Hix, is allowed to get away with, and is perhaps even encouraged to commit, minor acts of evil as part of his job, so long as they are within University Statutes.
Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy features several necromancers as villains—and the Abhorsen, who has similar powers but uses them to fight necromancers and other undead threats.
In the Skulduggery Pleasant series, Necromancy is one of the main branches of adept magic, and is one of the few magical disciplines that is organised into a religious order. The Necromancy Order plays the major role as the Big Bad throughout books 4-6, culminating in the arrival of the messianic 'Death Bringer', a sorcerer so powerful that they could halt the flow of life and death and do away with the concept of death. these necromancers are also capable of shadow magic and manipulation, and this is their main combat weapon. despite this, most necromancers are not bad or evil, but they simply believe that the arrival of the Death Bringer will save the world. Valkyrie Cain, the protagonist, uses necromancy along with elemental magic, though she doesn't subscribe to their beliefs.
Averted in the novels based on Diablo (see Video Games).
Legacy of Blood has Kara Nightshadow as a heroine, and is genuinely one of the good guys. She often has to explain to other characters how her use of death magic doesn't conflict with her apparent alignment.
The Kingdom of Shadow and Moon of the Spider feature Zayl and his "companion" Humbart. Humbart is a spirit bound to a skull. Nothing else, just a skull. He can see, hear, and talk, but that is about it. Zayl makes it a point to keep Humbart hidden when he's around anyone else, lest they think he's evil.
The Sin War trilogy even briefly explains the origins of the Necromancers. There are 3 worlds in the Diablo multiverse, they are basically Heaven, Hell, and Sanctuary (Earth). Heaven is at war with Hell, and both sides think they could win by "recruiting" the mortals of Sanctuary. Necromancers want Sanctuary to stay neutral/not involved. They would like to kick ALL Angels and Demons out of Sanctuary, but, lacking the ability to do so, they wind up fighting against whichever side is winning. Usually Demons/evil has a stronger influence, so the Necromancers are on the side of the Angels/good.
Well, Angels aren't really good in this setting. Most of them despise humanity and want to wipe them out, and they probably would if they ever defeated the demons, so keeping the fight between Heaven and Hell going is in humanity's best interests.
In the universe of The Dresden Files, necromancy on human remains is absolutely forbidden by the laws of the White Council. Of course, there are many illegal necromancers, and they've been shown to create zombies, control ghosts, and consume the spirits of the dead to increase their power. Harry himself ends up exploiting a loophole in the laws on necromancy — the law only says human remains, after all — to create a zombie T. rex. (Usually not done because of the way Necromancy works. Two things feed into the potential power of a reanimated body; age and psychological complexity. Sue may have been pretty dumb, but she was possibly the oldest corpse in the city.)
The magic can also be used to forcibly prevent someone from dying long enough for their body to be repaired. One necromancer uses this to try to sell Harry a Dark Is Not Evil take on the whole business.
Which is left a bit ambiguous, the necromancer in question having joined the dark side for altruistic reasons. And not vague, Social Darwinist-esque motivations either. She saved a man's life for no benefit, a fact which Harry notes with dismay.
The more traditional sort of necromancer also shows up, called an "ectomancer", who can summon and speak with ghosts, but can't outright command them. The ghosts like this sort a lot better.
Also, Ghost Story gave fans an answer to a question left over from the TV series: "Just how powerful IS the ghost of a necromancer?" The answer? The ghost of a knowledgeable, experienced and skilled necromancer (as opposed to the ghost of someone newly dead) is downright terrifying. It turns out that Harry wasn't kidding when, in a previous book, he described necromancers as equal in power to faerie queens, demon lords and archangels.
To be blunt, one famous necromancer, when the entire White Council and all their allies finally kill him, manages to come back. And not just once, but seven freaking times.
Anita Blake is a licensed necromancer who often uses her powers to interrogate the dead (when she isn't busy sexing them up for one contrived reason or another).
Subverted in Harry Potter. It's possible to reanimate a person's corpse into an Inferi, but Necromancy is considered virtually useless because the body has no soul (in keeping with Dumbledore's statement in the first book that "No spell can raise the dead") and thus no will or intelligence. They do, unfortunately, work rather well if you have a large number of them guarding an artifact, as Harry finds out...
Given that wizards seem to have more success enchanting inanimate objects with certain amounts of animation and intelligence if they want assistants, this is about the first setting where necromancy is Awesome but Impractical.
The use of the Inferi as guards despite their impracticality is actually symbolic of their creator's own fear of death. He's terrified of dying and he believes everyone else is too, so he figures walking corpses would be the ultimate deterrent.
Necromancy is an aspect of Sartan magic in The Death Gate Cycle, but is forbidden because for every person brought back to life, another somewhere dies untimely. The Sartan of Abarrach, however, were desperate enough to disregard this, and became a whole culture of necromancers.
In a world with sorcerers, witches, werewolves, half-demons, vampires, and all other sorts of supernatural creatures running around, necromancers really got the short end of the stick: They can talk to ghosts (who usually harass them), which makes them look schizophrenic since a necromancer can't tell a ghost from a living person; and they can raise the dead (but only one at a time, involving a complicated ritual, as well as practice and skill, and a willingness to shove a soul back into its rotting corpse). Fun times!
Chloe's problem with zombies is actually reversed because of her insane amounts of power. Rather than needing a ritual and other things, she accidentally raises the dead in her sleep. Seeing as how she's a genuinely good person (and the protagonist, to boot), she was horrified to find out that she could do something like that, and sleeping anywhere where there might be corpses of any species is a big no-no for her.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and the sequel are about a necromancer who sold his soul to Satan to get the skill. In-universe it's not really viewed positively, and the character jokes about his favorite wanted posters of himself. It's hinted in the first book, confirmed in the second, that he's the second type mentioned above: a necromancer because he wishes he could bring someone back.
The Zombie Master in Piers Anthony's Xanth series may qualify as a necromancer as his power is raising the dead, ie: creating Zombies. This does not make him popular but he is in fact a regular sweetheart and gets the girl (okay after a few hundred years spent undead but still..)
HP Lovecraft's The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward features a group of immortal necromancers, most notably the titular protagonist's ancestor, Joseph Curwen. They can resurrect the dead temporarily by converting their bones or ashes into mystical "saltes" through alchemy, and speaking an incantation, and torture them for esoteric knowledge lost from the world of the living. It's implied that their ultimate goal is to resurrect undead legions to take over the world under their command.
But folk who have tasted of death are only partly alive. In the dark corners of their souls and minds, death still lurks unconquered. By night the people of Dagon moved and loved, hated and feasted, and remembered the fall of Dagon and their own slaughter only as a dim dream; they moved in an enchanted mist of illusion, feeling the strangeness of their existence but not inquiring the reasons therefor. With the coming of day, they sank into deep sleep, to be roused again only by the coming of night, which is akin to death.
In Amanda Downum's The Drowning City and The Bone Palace, the protagonist, Isyllt Iskaldur, is a necromancer. She is not portrayed as evil, although she is sometimes treated as such by others. Her abilities do not appear to include summoning zombie armies, but do include dealing with ghosts, whether communicating, capturing or banishing, as well as raising the dead temporarily, experiencing the final memories of the dead, aging and corroding non-living things rapidly, invoking cold, and related things.
Necromancy is an aspect of Black Magic in Mithgar, and mostly follows the more traditional sort, as a necromancer's primary abilities are used in summoning and compelling dead spirits, usually to force information out of them. One necromancer, Baron Stoke (also one of the series' viler villains), did learn to create a zombie army, but died before he could use it or pass the knowledge on.
Towards the end of The Malloreon by David Eddings, we learn that among the many forms of magic practiced by the Dals was necromancy. Much like the older meaning of the word, the necromancer we see summons back the spirit of the recently dead to answer questions.
Subverted in Septimus Heap: DomDaniel is referred to as a necromancer, but none of his abilities match the epithet.
Necromancy is naturally an important part of The Witch Watch, given that the start involves the protagonist being raised from the dead by mistake.
Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead has Doctor Evazam doing this WITH SCIENCE! He develops a serum which makes the dead reanimate perfectly, and tweaks it to create legions of strong, obedient zombie soldiers. Fresher dead, better preserved, retain some of their faculties; the freshest, like the twelve-year-old boy he killed for this purpose, can remember and speak. They obey only him, and since he injects himself before a bounty hunter kills him, he reanimates the freshest of them all, without losing any of his mind as far as he can tell.
The same book has a quick recounting of the legend of Sycorax, a witch who lived on Necropolis years ago who claimed she could raise the dead. The Necropolitans then killed her son and challenged her to raise him... instead, she cursed them before dying herself, saying that if they did not pay their Due to the Dead, they would regret it. Present-day Necropolitans believe Sycorax could raise the dead, and that if she was called on, she might help.
Divine Blood has a branch of psychic ability referred to as "Death Seers". Death Seers are naturally able to see and speak to ghosts, see how and in what way people have encountered or interacted with death and also see ways to slow down or advance the rate at which someone dies. Of the two shown, one is a demi-Goddess trained by humans and the other is a Demoness with a well known name. The demi-Goddess is absolutely shocked to learn that the Demon hasn't learned practically anything about how to use her death seer powers and is afraid of ghosts to boot.
Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer features the main protagonist as a necromancer, and the big bad is an evil necromancer. They can manipulate the soul, bring people back for a while, and the most powerful can create vampire/zombie servants.
In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Ziantha thinks their taking over the dead bodies, forced by the artifact, is like this. Zuha agrees, promptly accusing her of witchcraft.
The Obsidian And Blood Trilogy stars Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead in Tenochitlian, the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance. He has certain powers related to the Underworld, and can sense when someone has crossed over. He uses these powers to solve mysteries.
Cannon Fodder has a necromancer named Doris. She seems to be an all right person, but on the other hand, we don't see her practice her necromantic powers.
The second book of The Elenium reveals that Tynian and to a lesser degree, Sephrenia are necromancers in the classical sense, though Tynian is better at it due to being stronger, considering that wresting the dead from the beyond is a strenuous activity. A major portion of their quest required summoning the spirits of those who fought in the war five hundred years ago to ask them where the Bhelliom is. This also backfires on them when Tynian accidently raises something that they didn't intend.
Ned, the main character of Pushing Daisies. The soul gets revived along with the person in his instance, so no zombies. In fact, one of the first things he says in the series is an objection to those he revives being called undead, when they're merely "alive again".
There are, however, plenty of gruesome cases where it's probably a blessing that he sticks to his guideline of keeping them alive for only one minute (otherwise something else dies); at any rate, even the better cases aren't quite normal afterward, as while they can be killed again (and thus permanently), they nonetheless stop aging.
Angel refers to necromancers on occasion, and features Los Angeles necromancer Magnus Hainsley as a minor villain in the last season. As expected from a series that constantly subverts fantasy and horror tropes, Magnus turns out to be a short, bald fast-talker who seems more like a car salesman than a sorcerer. He does prove to be a powerful enemy, though, given that he has "power over the dead" and the heroes confronting him are a vampire and a ghost (or close enough to a ghost for his purposes).
Dungeons & Dragons has Necromancy as one of its schools of magic. Its practitioners were called necromancers.
Interestingly enough, earlier D&D editions had healing spells in the necromancy school. But since necromancy was categorized as magic over life forces, it made perfect sense.
The 3.5 supplement Heroes of Horror include the class Dread Necromancer which, among other things, turns into a lich upon reaching level 20.
The irony being, of course, that D&D's clerics always made better necromancers than the necromancers themselves. The power to repel/destroy/command undead? Cleric class ability. Animate Dead spell? Clerics got it way earlier than wizards. Speak with Dead spell, the main way to interrogate a corpse? Cleric only. You get the picture.
However, in Pathfinder, the oft-called 3.75:th edition, Necromancy Specialists gain the Command/Turn Undead ability as well.
As do the Dread Necromancer (see above)
Animate Dead itself is also a potential Game Breaker if used by a PC, especially if the character has specialization feats to back it up. After the party defeats an encounter, the caster uses one spell and gets some or all of the monsters as his permanent lackeys to throw at the next encounter, but with added health, immunities, and damage resistance now.
In Exalted, Necromancy is to Sorcery as the Underworld is to Creation; a deadened reflective parody, requiring a different set of initiation Charms to access and being a form of Mutually Exclusive Magic—see that page for more details. Whereas Sorcery is derived from Creation's living Essence, Necromancy is derived from the necrotic, decayed Essence of the Underworld—and ultimately, the Void.
GURPS has the Necromantic College of magic. In fact, the highest-level Healing spell, Resurrection, requires its casters to know some necromancy, including Summon Spirit.
The Gurps Fantasy World of Yrth has the Kingdom of Abydos, where the art of Necromancy is considered holy. Everyone who is anyone of any importance is either a necromancer or undead. And labor, being zombie-based, is cheap but smelly.
In Magic: The Gathering some creatures (normally black, and with standard job-based creature types such as Cleric, Wizard or Shaman) are called necromancers; it's a magical specialization. Most necromancers have abilities related to getting something useful from the death of creatures, which clearly distinguishes them from the Demon-summoning nutcases (the other main group of human and almost human users of black magic) and from Zombie lords that are themselves an undead Zombie and make other zombies more powerful or useful.
Warhammer has mortal necromancers, vampires, and the Egyptian themed liche-priests. There's also Nagash, the first and greatest necromancer (originally high priest of the Nehekharan Mortuary Cult that became the liche-priests), an Omnicidal Maniac who attempted to raise all the dead of the world as his servants. It used to be that necromancy automatically drove one insane; this seems to have been relaxed, though the vast majority of necromancers are still villainous.
The setting makes a difference between those that use the Lore of Death (more classical necromancy, communicating with the dead and one of the eight Winds of Magic) and those that use necromancy (animating the dead, a form of dark magic). The liche-priests are a third kind, they summon the spirits of fallen warriors into their own skeletal remains to continue serving their kings as in life (though both Liche-priests and the Necromancers in the Vampire Counts army can also use the Lore of Death, alongside their own Lore of Nehekhara or Lore of the Vampires). The Old World Necromancy used by Necromancers and Vampires is actually a bastardisation (some might say a refinement) of the traditional necromantic practices of the Liche Priests, pioneered by the Great Necromancer Nagash for his own nefarious ends. As such the underlying magical principles are the pretty much the same, but manifested in culturally distinct ways.
Vampire: The Requiem brings them back as the Sangiovanni bloodline. Out with the Mafia ties, in with the necrophilia. It also adds two other necromantic bloodlines; the Burakumin, a Japanese Nosferatu strain with Eastern-themed necromantic powers called Getsumei, and the Apollinaire, who have a Hollywood Voodoo motif.
Geist The Sin Eaters has the Necromancer Archetype; however, it's less about raising the dead and more about understanding the mysteries of death and the Underworld. Though, as the titular Sin-Eaters have death-themed powers (making them all necromancers in a way), there are of course rituals to raise zombies.
Talisman: The Necromancer player character has the ability to enslave defeated enemy spirits (which include ghosts, mummies, demons, and most other types of undead) instead of killing them. Enslaved enemy spirits add their craft to the Necromancer's in psychic combat, and while each spirit can only be used once before being discarded there is no limit to how many the player can amass during the game.
In Ironclaw necromancy is banned because the spirits summoned to perform such spells have a chance of doing things like reanimating random corpses or possessing people. Archvillainess Lady Amalsand Jakoba, widow of High King Don Rinaldi (whom she may have killed) is a necromancer, and her son Vaslov is rumored to be studying it as well as White Magic. It's worth noting that although inherently dangerous, it's not inherently evil — but evil people are obviously more likely to use it despite the danger its use poses to others.
In Battle for Wesnoth, necromancers are quite common, and are the reason for The Undead being a faction in themselves and a major, recurring threat to Wesnoth. The allure of immense power and potential immortality (via transformation into a Lich) draws in practitioners of the dark arts, and although the extreme strain of their training causes most of these 'Dark Adepts' to become extremely frail and weak physically, it does give them impressive magical firepower. The Adepts' higher-level promotions, the Dark Sorcerer, Necromancer, and Lich, often lead the Undead armies in battle, making them perhaps the most powerful individuals in the Wesnoth-verse note (the characters, not the actual units). However, they are hated by everyone. Everyone. Necromancers, both alive and undead, have been involved in so many wars and battles throughout the various campaigns, since before the creation of the titular kingdom to hundreds of years after it's fall, that they have become somewhat of a cliche in Wesnoth.
Shin Megami Tensei games have the demon lord Nebiros, who's especially adept at this. His Bonus Boss battle in Devil Survivor 2 reflects this very well: he appears with a gaggle of demons, and will resurrect them with his Necromancy skill if they are defeated. If he is defeated himself, though, he will merely Body Surf to one of his flunkies' bodies, and physically warp him into the next Nebiros. Even worse, during the later Bonus Boss battle against Alice, he comes back with the same skill.
He also converts the entire populace of Roppongi into undead named Bodyconians and binds their souls so they won't leave Alice in Shin Megami Tensei I. Who, incidentally, is implied to have been the disastrous result of him and Belial granting an innocent girl a fragment of their magic, killing her and creating a Humanoid Abomination in her image.
A core profession in the MMO Guild Wars, which can animate fleshy minions from corpses, vampirize heath, and fling curses (and they often have to sacrifice a percentage of their health bar to do so). There's also the Ritualist class introduced in Factions, which are Necromancers of a sort dealing in binding the spirits of the dead rather than animating corpses. The game is heavily geared to dual-class, and unsurprisingly, these two work great in combination, whichever is primary.
Also worth noting is that neither are evil. They're both dark, certainly, but both PC and NPC Ritualists and Necromancers are most often unambiguously on the side of good. They serve Grenth, the god of death and cold, but Grenth isn't an evil god (though he can be a bit cruel when Wintersday comes around). In fact, he basically punched out the old god of death, who was evil, and took over.
Necromancy figures heavily into Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, including a World of Warcraft playable race composed entirely of undead. The, well, Necromancer is the Undead faction's main caster unit in III.
And while the game has yet to bring in an actual Necromancer class, it does have the Death Knight, who gets death-themed powers and a ghoul pet.
In the game's expanded universe, necromancy is usually portrayed as a naturally evil, corrupt, and tainted form of magic that withers the user and the land itself. The Lich King and the undead scourge practice a form of necromancy that is akin to rape, while the Forsaken, the playable undead race, practice necromancy with much more respect to the undead they raise.
An endgame boss class in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. For the record, he ( Prince Lyon) didn't start out the game as evil, but began a slow descent into madness. Him being possessed by a demon didn't help at all either.
Similarly, the Summoner class (available only to Knoll and Shaman!Ewan) gets the Summon skill that lets them raise "phantom" minions to fight for them.
Necromancers are a enemy-only class in Tear Ring Saga, as high-ranking members of the Church of Gerxel. However, they do not actually raise the dead in any form, opting to use offensive Black Magic instead.
Diablo II has its Necromancer player character. He can raise skeletons, summon golems, revive the dead, dish out poison and element-less magic damage, debuff enemies with curses, and a favorite of many players: make enemy corpses explode. (Ironically, necromancers are described as the only non-divine magic-users whose abilities aren't inherently corruptive—they're devoted not to death, but to the cycle of life and death, and they oppose Hell because the demons have been trying to break the cycle.)
Shaft takes this to bizarre levels in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood - he summons bosses from Castlevania I in the main fight against him (not necessarily dead ones though), but in the next level you fight his ghost, who summons the skeleton of the first boss and an enemy in the second stage.
In the SNES port of Rondo of Blood, Shaft is replaced by an unrelated evil wizard named Ghost, who can summon skeletons, mudmen and flying gravestnes to his aid.
The Elder Scrolls has a sect of necromancers called the Order of the Black Worm who use evil Black Soul Gems to capture the soul of sapient beings. Good necromancers do exist, but their presence is overshadowed by the evil ones since the Cyrodiil Mage's Guild banned necromancy out of fear of the Order.
By the time of Skyrim, the Mages' Guild is long gone, and its equivalent in that game, the College of Winterhold, is just fine with teaching necromancy. Necromancy is also better represented mechanically - where previously the player could at best hope to get a Summon Zombie spell, Skyrim allows you to zombify specific dead things, up to and including giants. Granted, the two College members who practice it are a guy who wants to keep things on the down low and someone who was kicked out of Morthal because of a Noodle Incident. Another went mad and sacrificed dozens of his acolytes in order to corrupt Azura's Star and make himself immortal.
Since the Dawnguard DLC is centered around vampires, necromancy is a pretty central component of the story. Aside fromt he fact that your main companion during the DLC, Serana, is a vampire necromancer, a significant part of the questline involves traveling to the Soul Cairn, a realm of Oblivion that is closely connected to necromancy, the undead, and the use of soul gems and trafficking of souls.
A whole army of Necromancers are the primary antagonists in Nox.
The magic taught by Opalneria Rain in Grim Grimoire. In this setting, the summoned undead are actually the most effective for fighting against demons due to them being composed of pure spirit (i.e., with no flesh that can be corrupted.)
Marona from Phantom Brave is the most adorable little girl around, who can summon the spirits of the dead in the forms of Phantoms. Despite what Ivoire tells you, she's not evil. Interestingly, there is a mercenary later in the game who summons skeletons and zombies; it's not the same thing.
Nevertheless, in later Disgaea games, her mere presence can power up members of the party who are of The Undead.
in the fourth Disgaea game there is a DLC necromancer class who instantly revives any enemy she kills as a zombie
Subverted in Tales of the Abyss. While he is known throughout the world as The Necromancer, Jade never re-animated corpses. He did invent a technology, called fomicry, that could create perfect copies of people, including the recently deceased. The replicas of his human test subjects retained no memories of their originals so Jade eventually gave up on fomicry as a means of raising the dead. It doesn't help his image that he used to collect the remains of dead soldiers to further his work.
In a way he's a Deconstruction of the Necromancer trope, examining exactly what a human being would have to be in order to raise the dead. Jade is basically a sociopath, and, at least at the start of the game, has a complete disregard for the sanctity of life. In his own words, he doesn't understand what it means for people to die - probably why he tried to resurrect his dead Professor. If death meant nothing to him, as it would to any Necromancer, he wouldn't realize the consequences of something as drastic as fomicry. The consequences of Jade's disregard for the natural order of things include basically the rest of the plot - fomicry both creates the main character, who is a replica, and gives the Big Bad the means to complete his evil plan of destroying and resurrecting the entire planet.
Everquest plays the "Necromancer = Evil Sorcerer" bit painfully straight. In the original, being a Necromancer automatically flagged your character as evil (getting them a Kill On Sight reaction from non-evil-aligned city guards), even if they were part of an otherwise Neutral or Good race. In Everquest 2, you literally cannot be a Necromancer unless you are evil. Only evil characters can start as one, and if a Necromancer performs the City Betrayal questline, they spontaneously stop being a Necromancer. (Conversely, if a Good Conjurer performs the questline, they spontaneously become a Necromancer)
The first Legacy of Kain game, Blood Omen, features Mortanius the Necromancer as one of the main antagonists and most powerful member of the Circle of Nine. In something of an aversion, his powers are connected to the Pillars of Nosgoth, specifically the Pillar of Death, making them completely natural and no more evil than throwing a fireball. In fact, he's one of the most sympathetic characters in the series, setting the series in motion by bringing the main character back to life as a vampire as part of an elaborate Evil Plan.
Dynos in Arc Rise Fantasia, although before his name is revealed he's called the "Deathchanter".
Roswell of Yggdra Union, although he's not evil. Nessiah is one of these as well.
Orin of Touhou isn't actually a neko-romancer, but she does have a lot of trappings of one, ordering spirits around and fighting with a troupe of "zombie" fairies (Touhou fairies are immortal, and these ones are just dressing up). The series' real necromancer is Seiga, who raised a Jiang Shi subordinate, though Seiga doesn't do much with the dead otherwise.
The MMO Rift also has Necromancers as one of the mage souls (classes). The backstory is that the soul comes from a heroic necromancer named Corthana. She had been kidnapped by the evil cult necromancers. She learned the magic of necromancy from them but was clever and took out all the parts that Regulos had snuck in to brainwash them into being his evil minions. When her paladin brother busts in to save her, she turns on the cultists, slaughters them with their own magic, and even tore out her own blood to heal her brother when he was injured. But as they fled, Regulos' high priest caught up with them and slew her brother, and in her rage she became an avatar of a lich and avenged him right then and there. By the time the game takes place in, her heroic deeds have redeemed the art of necromancy and the necromancer players are even praised for continuing her legacy (especially as Ascended necromancers seem to actually possess her knowledge and memories.)
Necromancers, if not evil, are unfortunately easily corrupted and quick to succumb to megalomanium, this is why the art is still frowned upon, even though it's not an outright horrible thing for someone to do.
Specific necromancers include Zorbak, Kabroz, Vayle, Noxus and Obsidia.
Zorbak's robot in WarpForce, Zorboz, can reanimate machines and turn them undead.
The February 2012 update of Dwarf Fortress features them. They'll siege your fortress now and then if you're close enough to one of their towers. You most likely won't know it's them attacking, though; usually the only way to tell a Necromancer siege apart from a run-of-the-mill zombie siege is that the zombies resurrect as soon as they go down- somewhere close by is a necromancer in hiding, raising whatever gets cut down.
You can also become a necromancer in Adventure Mode- and it's the most wonderful kind of tremendously overpowered. The only prerequisite you need is the ability to read (chosen at character generation), and the survivability to track down a tome with a description containing the phrase "secrets of life and death". Read the book, instant necromancy. You no longer need to rest, eat, or drink, and you can, ten times per turn, at no cost, revive any corpse or dismembered body part that you can see, which will immediately get up and start attacking your enemies. they'll ether die again, in which case you can just revive them again, or manage to kill something or hack something off, which you can then revive, until you have a functioning zombie army to follow you around everywhere, wrecking everything.
The first Golden Sun didn't have many references to necromancy, but The Lost Age has the Dark Mage class series, unlocked with an artifact in a small Bonus Dungeon under Kibombo (where it's normally kept for the local witch-doctors to use), which can summon zombies and inflict curses upon enemies, among other things. All of those spells are Venus-aligned for some odd reason, though inaccessible in default classes.
Dark Dawn doesn't have class-enabling artifacts like the Tomegathericon, and by extension no Dark Mage classes... but Himi's exclusive Curse Mage class series does much of the same, which is pretty weird since she's normally a cute little Shrine Maiden.
The freeware RPG Master of the Wind has several characters involved with necromancy and treats it as a complex, divisive issue in the world of Solest (the game's setting).
Heroes of Might and Magic III features the necromancy-themed faction as the protagonist for the fourth set of campaign maps, and the antagonist of the final campaign. Pop-up boxes featuring story snippets tell how the necromancers raze whole villages and then raise the bodies of adults as zombies or skeletons (a theme central to one campaign in the first expansion, and connected with most campaigns in the second). That said, necromancers are hardly the worst people that can be found, and at least some of them seem to keep some measure of ethical compass.
As a town, necromancers were introduced by Heroes II. They were aligned with Archibald, the... not so good... candidate for the throne of Enroth.
Supposedly necromancy in Duel Savior Destiny isn't evil and is in fact related to holy magic like healing, but in the end the only necromancer we see is Lobelia. Then again, it's possible that the perception of necromancy as evil exists in universe as well since at the very least Lobelia felt like she was being vilified for using when she was a hero.
In Arcanum there is the Necromantic Black and White, neither of which are inherently good or evil. Necromantic Black fits this trope to a T while Necromantic White resembles the older, now mostly-forgotten aspect of necromancy, giving the user Healing Hands and, when mastered, enabling them to bring the fallen Back from the Dead.
In Darksiders II, Necromancer is the name of the magic-focused skill tree, with the first skill being the ability to summon up a pack of ghouls to attack and distract enemies.
It isn't mentioned by name, but in The Sims 2 (with the Apartment Life expansion pack), it's possible for level ten "Atrociously Evil" witches and warlocks to use magic to bring back a dead Sim as a zombie. Unlike using the Resurect-O-Nomotron career reward, where paying enough money to the Grim Reaper will have him restore the deceased Sim exactly as he or she was before dying, reviving a dead Sim by magic can only bring them back as a zombie.
In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sith Inquisitor has the rare ability to draw forth restless Force-Ghosts. This eventually culminates in them learning an ancient technique known as "Force-Walk", that allows them to bind said spirits into themselves, greatly augmenting their power.
In DOTA 2, one jungle creep (the Dark Troll Summoner) is able to bring back any corpse as two tiny skeletons. Doom is able to steal this ability, which is very useful for farming jungle creeps.
In the Borderlands 2DLC"Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep", these are somewhat common enemies, and in the quest "My Dead Brother", Simon, a necromancer himself, gives the Vault Hunter the temporary ability to raise the dead. Also, one of Gaige's class mods is called "Necromancer".
Lollipop Chainsaw has its main antagonist, Swan. A psychotic teenage necromancer who was responsible for the zombie outbreak.
Necromancers appear as enemies in both Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. You have to kill them or they'll keep reviving their undead soldiers. Two bosses are also Necromancers: the Pinwheel (a weird six-armed, three-faced thing in a robe that is fairly good with magic) who is shown conducting magic experiments on corpses, and Gravelord Nito, who is, more or less, Lordran's equivalent of The Grim Reaper. Nito may also qualify as a Lich, though he is explicitly fully dead, not "undead".
In Dragon Age, necromancy is usually treated as the darkest aspect of Blood Magic, which is already feared and reviled; even PC blood mages (such as Merrill) shy away from raising the dead. The second game features a necromancer serial killer who turns out to be assembling the likeness of his dead wife out of his victims. The third game, however, makes Necromancer a specialization by itself. Necromancy that does not involve blood magic is more controversial, as spirits and demons alike can be summoned into a corpse for good or ill. The nation of Nevarra even has its own government-sanctioned order of necromancers.
Black Mage Evilwizardington of 8-Bit Theater is skilled at necromancy. He reconstructed and redecorated the Temple of Fiends by willing it to change, as it was made from corpses.
On his airship trip Dominic meets a "good" necromancer actually Rilian in disguise who claims that his job is more traditional speaking with the dead than animating corpses; in fact, the way he describes his job he appears to be a sort of Magitek mortician as much as anything else. Dominic, who has some fairly understandable issues with the profession given how much crap two out of three people on that list put him through, takes a certain amount of convincing.
Interestingly enough, despite his name the Super Villain called The Necromancer is not a Necromancer in the way this trope means. Despite having the power to animate the dead and command them, his power is the result of a mutation and not magic.
Mages in The Saints can use the Necromancy Path of Magic. Subverted in that it's more like Entropy and Chaos Magic, allowing a mage to disrupt the natural order of aging.
Sonia plays this straight in the prologue when she summons a small ghost to help with a robbery.
Dr. Byron Orpheus of The Venture Bros. is a professional necromancer. Though a Large Ham, he is (arguably) one of the nicest people in the series. He is quite polite when speaking with dead souls, and is horrified when he thinks that his attempted resurrection of Hank and Dean has instead resulted in bringing them back as zombies.
Although he does trap the souls of two "foul mouthed rednecks" in some dolls after they wouldn't stop calling him gay. One would think that he'd be used to it, judging by the way he looks and dresses.
Said rednecks were hassling him in the hopes of starting a fight. And he did try to warn them.
Aladdin: The Series has Mozenrath, definitely the "raise an army of zombies against the hero" type of Necromancer, though he has non-necromantic powers as well and isn't seen raising the zombies on-screen (or calling them zombies). It's possible he inherited some of the zombies, but he can create them as well, as shown by the zombie version of his mentor in his first episode. And at least part of him could be considered Undead.
Starscream tries at one point. Unsurprisingly, it meets with what can charitably be called limited success, in that it does produce a giant robot zombie, but fails to give Starscream any measure of control over it. Oops.
Skullmaster fits the bill rather well, his main power source being a legion of souls in his gem (souls given willingly) and he has a zombie army made of the bodies of those who gave up their souls.
There's an actual necromancer early in the series whom he fools into reawakening a dragon. He pulls a Heel-Face Turn after he realizes he's been tricked.
Samurai Jack has a oneshot demonic minion of Aku's called Demongo, who wears a vest of dozens of skulls on his chest; each skull is from a great warrior that Demongo slew, and serves as a repository for that warrior's soul (or "essence"); by touching the skull, Demongo can call that essence back into the world of flesh to fight for him. If the warrior gets killed, no worries; he just summons them back again. Add to that his ability to teleport away from danger, and he nearly beats Jack before Jack manages to break his control over his stolen souls.