Are there any zombies out there? Shaun:
Don't say that! Ed:
What? Shaun: That
. The Z word
. Don't say it. Ed:
Why not? Shaun:
Because it's ridiculous! Ed:
All right... Are there any out there, though?
A story has creatures that are obviously based on some sort of mythological monster, but goes out of its way
not to call them that.
The title comes from Shaun of the Dead
, which gave this a Lampshade Hanging
, as seen in the page quote: Shaun doesn't like it because it makes him nervous, but the real reason they're not supposed to say it is because they're in a zombie movie
A subtrope of the Sci Fi Ghetto
. Can be used to highlight how their monsters are different
. Suppose your monsters are rotting shambling undead that want to drink your blood. Call them zombies and every casual reader's going to assume they're after "braaaaaiiinnss," while calling them vampires brings up images of old black-&-white horror movies
, Anne Rice
. When it's used to force a sense of "realism"
(we don't call them "zombies" because zombies aren't real
), it smacks painfully of Genre Blindness
. If you
were confronted by what appears to be a member of the walking dead, how much effort would you spend coming up with an alternative name?
One of the more Genre Savvy
reasons is that the walking dead
technically aren't zombies
. The proper "zombie" is a person whose higher thought processes have been removed, leaving them under the sway of a master. This original zombie is usually the result of occult vodou magic. Some books, such as The Serpent and the Rainbow
, argue that vodou practitioners can create zombies through a combination of drugs and cultural beliefs. "P-zombies", or "philosophical zombies
", which are even more convoluted — persons who don't have any subjective "experience".
Compare to Differently Powered Individual
(for superheroes), Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames
(for superheroic individuals
) A Mech by Any Other Name
(for Humongous Mecha
), Magic by Any Other Name
and Speak of the Devil
. See also Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp"
, Fantastic Slur
, The Scottish Trope
, and T-Word Euphemism
. When used for non-fantastic things and attributes, it may be an attempt to show and not tell
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Anime and Manga
- In Naruto these are referred to as "Edo Tensei Reanimations."
- Highschool of the Dead doesn't even bother making up some name for the zombies, everyone just calls them "Them". One character called them zombies, only to be corrected by another character who made it sound as though zombies are entirely different creatures from the ones the cast faces; (they're not). It's later mentioned by one of the main characters that the word "Them" was a piece of brilliance: It becomes easier to put "Them" down if you don't think of them as anything and thus affirm their existence as former humans.
- In the English dub, Takagi mentions it once while in the mansion, but it's the only time it's spoken. Not sure if it was a mistake on the voice actress' part, or if they accidentally had that word in the script dialogue she was reading.
- Chiropterans from Blood+ are a way to lampshade that they are sorta different from... Vampires. To be fair, the only things they have in common are the blood-sucking habit and the bat-like characteristics. Chiroptera is the scientific word for bats.
- And in Blood-C they're called... Elder-Bairns.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX dub, Jaden and the others keep annoyingly referring to the zombies as "Duel Ghouls".
- Samurai Champloo:
- In the episode "Lullaby of the Lost", there's a character named Okuru. To Western viewers, he seems to embody a lot of tropes that apply to American Indians. This is because he's supposed to be one of the Ainu, the native peoples of Japan. However, Japanese broadcast code is extremely strict on how the Ainu may be portrayed. Therefore, Okuru is never explicitly identified as Ainu.
- A later episode features zombies as villains; despite the show being a serious Anachronism Stew (and proudly so), none of the protagonists refer to them as such or as anything, really. Again, the series is set well before the modern concept of a zombie was established, but this is the same show with beat-boxing samurai (and, later on, a baseball episode pitting the main characters—who live in the Edo period—against Americans).
- The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has to deal with corpses on a regular basis. Most of them are even animate at some point, due to the main character's ability to let the spirits of the dead briefly animate their own bodies. They are, however, never referred to as 'zombies'. 'Clients' is used instead.
- In Chapter 47 of Franken Fran, most characters don't have any problem with the word "zombie" or the indigenous population's term for man-eating monsters in the forest that reproduce by infecting humans, but Fran suggests calling them "human-flesh-eating-syndrome-inflicted-individuals" and wants to look for a cure. It turns out Fran is right: The "zombies" are created by a brain parasite, a deathlike low-metabolism state is part of its maturation cycle, the infected could probably make a full recovery if the parasite were removed, and victims are still conscious but unable to control their actions.
- Black Butler introduces Came Back Wrong zombies in the Campania arc, which have a very traditional appearance (stitches, falling-apart bodies, gaping mouths, shambling gait) but are referred to as Bizarre Dolls. This is most likely because the series is set in Victorian England, long before the word "zombie" entered common usage.
- The Mariage introduced in StrikerS Sound Stage X of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise are flesh-eating undead armies that are raised by a Necromancer. However, they are never called zombies or ghouls, and are instead referred to as Corpse Weapons.
- The Comics Code once prevented the portrayal of zombies in comics. Marvel Comics decided to get around this by literally just making zombie comics but replacing the letter "o" with "uve", calling them "zuvembies" instead (a term popularized by "Pigeons from Hell", a Robert E. Howard story).
- Preacher has a vampire, Cassidy, who is never called a vampire (though they do in a way invoke this trope by him saying he's "the 'v' word"). This is partially due to the fact that, for quite a while, Cassidy didn't know he was a vampire (he was born before Dracula hit the big screen, and he never got to talk with the vampire who turned him). In fact, he didn't realize it until a friend of his lent him a copy of the original Dracula. However, outside of the regular series, in an all-Cassidy special where he meets another vampire, they play with the vampire image (especially the Anne Rice version) all over the place, also referencing (and pointing out the lack of) many different vampire tropes, but the closest they come to actually using the word is when Cassidy calls Ecarius a "wanker" and Ecarius asks if this is an eastern pronunciation of "Whampyre"...
- Downplayed in The Walking Dead. The survivors call the zombies by a variety of names, includes "lurkers" and "roamers" (depending on the zombies' behavior) or simply "biters." They use the word "zombies" as well, but less frequently, because it's hard to take seriously.
- In Zombies That Ate the World by Guy Davis and Jerry Frissen they are called "living impaired".
- In Dead Eyes Open, the undead are called Returners. They also can be called Deadies.
- In Defoe, zombies are referred to as 'reeks', though Defoe himself has the title 'zombie-hunter general'.
- In Empowered, reanimated supers really hate the "z-word." Understandable, as aside from briefly post-reanimation, most are as smart as ever.
- Grant Morrison's New X-Men run did this with superheroes. Though "mutant" is used frequently, the word "superhero" is only mentioned once, when Cyclops remarks "I was never sure why Professor Xavier had us dress like superheroes," when reviewing the team's new black leather uniforms. As part of Morrison's run, the other superheroes in the Marvel Universe are never mentioned or acknowledged, and the X-Men fervently insist that they're not (nor have they ever been) superheroes themselves...despite the costumes, codenames, secret identities, use of mutations to fight crime...
- Robert Venditti's first Demon Knights storyline involves a horde of bloodsucking undead lead by the Big Bad from I, Vampire, but because it's set in 11th century Western Europe, none of the characters know the word "vampire".
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) #16, Rainbow Dash is really against anypony using "the zed word", in a probable direct reference to the trope namer.
- Respawn of the Dead is what would happen if you added zombies to Team Fortress 2. Of course, The Medic, being a man of science, insists that his teammates refrain from calling victims of The Virus zombies. (They do anyway.)
- In With Strings Attached, the word “Beatles” rarely appears in the narrative; the author refers to them as “the four.” Almost the only time the name appears is when one of the four makes a sardonic or angry reference to it, or when one of the Fans mentions it.
- Justified in that the book is set in 1980, and the four haven't been The Beatles for ten years, and the author isn't trying to reunite them in that way.
- Futari Wa Pretty Cure Dragon never refers to qipaos in-story, even in the narration, using that term; the qipao is always referred to as a "Chinese dress" or something similar.
- Necessary in the Doctor Who fanfic Death and Liberty features reptilian Earth-natives who predate humanity who are familiar to any Doctor Who fan, but since it doesn't feature any characters who'd have heard the names "Silurian" or "Sea Devil". They end up being referred to as "Serpent Men", after Clark Ashton Smith.
- In The Magic School Bus fanfic, Under Cover Of Darkness, only once is the word "zombie" used, and it's in a joking manner pre-apocalypse. Post-apocalypse, everyone calls them "maulers."
Films — Animated
- The movie The Incredibles, directed by Brad Bird. The word "superhero" is hardly used, but instead they're called "supers". Possibly because Marvel and DC claim a joint trademark (not copyright) on the former.
Films — Live-Action
- No one in Cloverfield mentions the words "Godzilla", "King Kong", or even "Monster", which would be the logical words anyone would utter upon seeing the creature. Not immediately, though.
- Shaun of the Dead not only names the trope, but invokes it; later in the film, when David says Barbara's "turning into one of those zombies", Ed angrily shouts "We're not using the Z-word!"
- Done again in The World's End (which parodies Invasion of the Body Snatchers), where the group has a loopy drunken discussion about what to call the robots taking over the town. They ultimately settle on "Blanks", because they can't think of a better alternative to "robot", which they refuse to use. A couple of alternatives discussed were "blue bloods", and "Foebots", rejected for being semantically wrong. Notably, the cause of the discussion in the first place is that the robots insist on not being called "robots", because etymologically it means "slave", and "[they] are ''not'' slaves".
- Night of the Living Dead never calls them zombies. It does call them "ghouls" in a newscast. According to The Other Wiki, George Romero never thought of them as zombies, despite the movie becoming the Trope Maker for the modern Zombie Apocalypse. It was made at a time when 'zombie' still referred to someone under the spell of a voodoo priest. Although there may have been some passing references to reanimated corpses as zombies in earlier films, it wasn't a general term for them yet. The remake specifically avoids using the word as well, simply referring to the zombies as "those things" or "those people" since it is set in world where Romero films were never made.
- The second movie, Dawn of the Dead, uses the word "zombie" only once. A policeman who mentions his grandfather was a Trinidadian voodoo priest offhandedly calls them as such, but only in one scene.
- Dawn of the Dead was titled Zombi in some countries. Along with Lucio Fulci's Zombie/Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters, this probably cemented the idea of calling the undead "zombies". The term was also largely averted in other 1970s living dead movies such as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue/Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.
- In Land of the Dead, where Dennis Hopper in particular uses it on a couple of occasions. Presumably, at this point in the series, everyone is sufficiently jaded about their situation to finally slap on a label.
- But in Survival of the Dead, they call them "deadheads" or "assholes".
- Justified in-character example: In Return of the Living Dead, a character who phones 911 doesn't admit that the attackers are animated corpses, realizing his pleas for help will be dismissed as a prank if he does. He claims that they're people who've gone Ax-Crazy ("It's a disease, it's like rabies, only it's faster, it's a lot faster...") instead.
- Death Becomes Her. No one in the film mentions zombies, but director Robert Zemeckis openly admits in interviews it's a zombie film, albeit glamorous literally Hollywood zombies.
- Averted in the book I Am Legend by baldly calling a vampire a vampire throughout the narrative, as it was written over a decade before Night. It's not hard to see why, at least in the old black-and-white movie; they're undead, they shamble, they lack proper diction, and they have the intelligence of a rotting cabbage. They have all the weaknesses of vampires, and all the weaknesses of zombies.
Film adaptations of the novel never use the word, preferring vague euphemisms. This may be because they're more often treated as zombies due to the more modern concept of a Zombie Apocalypse instead of a Vampire Apocalypse, and the fact that the movie version are less like vampires. The one with Will Smith goes so far as to totally omit the existence of any monsters in the movie from most of its trailers. Additionally, the writers felt "vampire" was too corny, but somehow felt fine about the nickname "darkseekers".
- The Resident Evil movies never use the word zombie, instead opting for "infected". This doesn't make much sense because, although the games have a wide variety of non-zombie enemies, the movies only have zombies of various stages (except for Tyrants and Crows).
- 28 Days Later calls them the Infected. This has resulted in rather nerdy arguments on the Internet on whether they are actually zombies or not. However, Word of God claims that an infected person is a intended to be a Technically Living Zombie.
- The exact same is also true of the zombies (or not) in the movies The Crazies and REC.
- As explain in the introduction, the word zombie originally refers to a person in Voodoo folklore under the control (whether magically or by a strange chemical substance) of other, mainly a witch doctor. So, in the original sense of the word, a zombie is not a living dead, but a mindless living person. Interesting enough then, the infected in 28 Days Later are effectively no living dead, but they are closer to the original meaning of the world zombie (i.e. a living human being altered by an external agent) than the modern concept of zombie as a walking corpse.
- The movie Ultraviolet directed by Kurt Wimmer, which is unrelated to the series but also features vampires, zig-zags the trope. Government agents refer to them as "hemophages". Civilian newspapers use the word "vampire" because it made for better headlines. Violet herself will use either one depending on the context.
- They always call the Aliens "serpents" and the Predators "hunters" in the Alien vs. Predator movie. In-universe, the Aliens are officially known to humans as Xenomorphs, although the nickname "Bugs" is more common (a minor character in Alien3 calls them "dragons"). Likewise, when the Predators are used as viewpoint characters in the Expanded Universe books, they refer to themselves as "yautja", though not many humans do.
- The Predators also refer to the Xenomorph as "kainde amedha" — "hard meat" — and humans as "pyode amedha" — "soft meat". The Predator Broken Tusk refers to humans as "oomans". Well, if that's the best they can do...
- For the record: the term "Xenomorph" — basically meaning "strange shape". They have also been referred to, in the role playing game materials, by a Latin species name, Linguafoeda acheronsis - literally "vile tongue of Acheron". The "Alien Quadrilogy" DVD menus, on the other hand, refer to them as Internecivus raptus - literally "murderous thief".
- Planet Terror had "sickos", brain-eating bubbly-skinned not-quite-zombies.
- The Underworld films call their vampires vampires, but their werewolves are called lycans, which, while it makes sense as a shortening of 'lycanthrope', does make them sound like lichens, that thin layer of green moss and fungus that grows on rocks. That being said, most of the movies are from the perspective of a vampire and someone who was part of neither society. In the third film/prequel we learn that a lycan is a specific kind of werewolf. Though in the first film when Selene is telling Michael about the history, she refers to the lycans as werewolves briefly just to clear up confusion.
- The Hamiltons never uses the word vampire; through most of the movie, it isn't even clear that that's what the story is about.
- In From Dusk Till Dawn, an argument begins over whether the creatures they were fighting are technically vampires. Played with at the end of the movie:
Carlos: What were they, psychos?
Seth: Did they look like "psychos"? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires! "Psychos" do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!
- The monstrous, rapid transformation is more typical of zombie films than of vampire stories. Quentin Tarantino himself has said that a zombie movie was what he had in mind.
- Subverted in 30 Days of Night, where one character asks "if they aren't vampires, then what the hell are they?" after being told it's ridiculous to assume that the monsters are exactly that.
- The vampires of Near Dark are never referred to as vampires, despite the blood-drinking, extra strength, lack of aging and general vampire-ness.
- In Steven Spielberg's version of The War of the Worlds the characters go out of their way to avoid describing the clearly alien invaders as "aliens".
- Sky Line does the same thing, with the characters never using the word "aliens" to describe the invaders.
- The protagonists of Kick-Ass talk about superheroes all the time, but the Mafia-esque villains refuse to at first. The mob bosses don't believe an underling when he claims he didn't betray them, he was framed by some guy dressed like Batman. Since at this point there are no known superheroes in the world, we can't really blame the boss for his incredulity.
- It then becomes something of a running gag for the mob to refer to Big Daddy as Batman. To try to make it seem less ridiculous, the guy telling the story attempts to save face by saying he's not the actual Batman but someone who looks like him.
- The word "vampire" is never uttered in Rise: Blood Hunter to describe the cult of undead blood drinkers. That's why most people who saw the trailer thought it was about some sort of Pushing Daisies-esque zombie or something.
- In the 1998 American Godzilla remake, the word "monster" is never used. Usually, it's "that thing" or "the creature" or "target" or, at one point, "a dinosaur". In fact, the name Godzilla is only used about twice.
- The granddaddy of the 'Don't use the "R" word' subtrope: Back in 1977, the world knew mechanical/electronic automata as pretty much just one thing: Robots. To look different, we suppose, Star Wars referred to theirs as something (at the time) different, an abbreviation of 'android' — droid. Of course, nowadays the word is so common that non-Star Wars-based shows and movies have used it, even, and it's entirely possible that there are people out there who would recognize the word 'droid' more quickly. Moreover, 'droid' is more immediately recognizable as a term for sci-fi movie robots—few people would think to refer to an automated arm that screws bolts onto cars, a thick frisbee that sucks your carpet clean, or a plastic velociraptor with stupid legs as 'droids'. This also contains irony. Abbreviated from 'androids,' the word 'droid' should thus refer only to things that match the definition of 'android.' 'Android,' of course, means 'artificial person' (and more precisely, male artificial people) — only of the two most famous Star Wars droids, 50% aren't humanoid at all.
- According to source material, the word "droid" properly refers only to robots with full artificial intelligence, while less intelligent robots (like the aforementioned one's that folks in real would never think of referring to as "droids") are classified "robots", not "droids", although many characters refer to them colloquially as "droids" anyway. Robots aren't as common as droids, on account of being arguably inferior, which might also help explain the rarity of the term.
- However, the word 'droid' is a (and has been for decades) a registered trademark of Lucasfilm. One only needs to watch a commercial for a Motorola Droid phone to see the 'used with permission' fine print. If the term 'droid' has ever been used in a non-Lucasfilm movie, then the studio likely paid for the privilege.
- Actually, the Motorola Droid was designed by George Lucas, himself. Hence, why there is a Droid R2-D2.
- At one point in A New Hope, Luke explicitly refers to C-3PO and R2-D2 as robots.
- The Hunger never uses V-word, despite the fact that it centers around a nigh-immortal woman who drinks blood.
- The Sixth Sense avoids using the words "medium" and "psychic" although clearly the young Cole could be described as either. However, the ghosts of the film are called ghosts several times.
- John Landis' Innocent Blood never uses the word vampire, but isn't merely an example of Genre Blindness as dialog and clips from classic horror movies hint that many of the characters are thinking it.
- In REC the 'zombies' are never acknowledged as such, even though it's acknowledged the fact that it's a virus. There's even the suggestion that the virus is from Hell.
- The Evil Dead series refers to its undead monsters as "deadites", a term first used by the medieval knights that Ash finds locked in combat against them in Army of Darkness. Justified in that 13th century Europeans would hardly know the word "zombie", but also an effort to emphasize that their monsters are different. The deadites, the result of Demonic Possession, can levitate, perform acrobatic feats such as cartwheels and spinning jump kicks, and possess a fiendish intelligence that gives them the heads-up on mortal enemies... not to mention great singing voices. The word "deadite" may refer to anything possessed by the spirits of the Necronomicon rather than a single creature, as it's been equally used to describe everything from possessed and reanimated humans to evil skeletons, winged gargoyles and mirror doppelgangers.
- Aliens: Bishop prefers to be called an "artificial person."
- Played straight in that the apparently technically-correct term is "synthetic," then subverted with numerous uses of both "robot" and "android."
- Legend of the Werewolf, a 1975 horror movie starring Peter Cushing about, you guessed it, a werewolf (not Cushing). Although Cushing and other characters talk about the probable cause of several murders, they never utter the word "werewolf" or "wolfman": "It could have been... (the other guy waits to hear the anticipated hypothesis) No, that's a preposterous idea". In addition, the wolfman's romantic interests works as a prostitute (which is an important part of the plot) and that word is not uttered either: "She told me she's a servant." "(Laughs) Yes, she does indeed serve".
- In Leprechaun 4: In Space the Leprechaun is never referred to as such; the main characters just assume he's some kind of alien.
- Not a mythological monster example, but it is worth noting that The Godfather (part 1) does not once use the word "Mafia," and in the novel it's based on, only people outside the syndicate refer to it as such, while Vito uses the phrase Cosa Nostra (i.e., "this thing of ours") during his speech to the bosses of the Five Families. This ties in with the fact that real-world mobsters never use the term, as far as anyone can tell who is likely to say anything about it.
- The first member to even publicly acknowledge its existence was Joe Valachi, in October 1963.
- Word of God has it that one of the conditions for the real life Mob allowing the film to go ahead was that the word "Mafia" should never appear in the screenplay. However, there was only one instance of it in the first place, so it was hardly a dramatic edit.
- American mobsters didn't really use "Mafia" or "La Cosa Nostra" to refer to themselves until they adapted those terms from law enforcement and film and television. In Italy Mafia refers to geographically specific (Sicilian) crime groups but in North America some regional differences were ignored among Italian immigrants. Also, during and after Prohibition the vast organized crime network united by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky was half Jewish, and thus preferred the ethnically neutral term "Syndicate".
- Covered and named straight out in The Spoony One's review of the movie Quarantine, which apparently just thinks all of its zombies are "sick" and "need help".
- Nobody in Requiem for a Dream ever says the word "heroin". Viewers are expected to realize on their own what it is three of the four main characters are addicted to.
- The word "Transformer" is only used twice in the Transformers series, once in each film and the first film is referring to the piece of electrical equipment. Granted, the terms "Autobot," "Decepticon", and "Cybertronian" are thrown around constantly, though this might have something to do with the trademark.
- This is probably because in most Transformers continuities, the title isn't a term Cybertronians use to describe themselves.
- In Unbreakable, the word "superhero" or variants are never used. The closest it comes is having the protagonists' son say "You think my dad's a..." only to be interrupted. However, it rather fits with the Deconstructionist aspect of the movie.
- In the 1994 film Wolf the characters never use the word "werewolf," even though that is obviously what Jack Nicholson's character is turning into.
- Could be to avert expectations of a traditional Hollywood-style wolfman. Since the film tends to avoid standard horror tropes and was created with an older audience in mind than most horror films are made for, it's crucial to leave out anything which suggests that their werewolves are not different.
- Averted in Zombieland. Keeping track of how many times the characters say "Zombie" is part of the drinking game.
- Nosferatu used - well, "nosferatu" to avoid saying "vampire." This was probably to disguise the fact that it was a wholesale Captain Ersatz rip-off of Dracula.
- It had copyright infringement problems as it was, considering that it was a more faithful adaptation of the book than any of the "official" filmed versions.
- Justified in the zombie film Undead or Alive, as it takes place in the 1800's Wild West... well before the Z-word would come into regular use.
- In Brain Dead, the one time the word "zombie" is used, the corpse of Lionel's mother immediately kills the hooligan who says it. Maybe she took offense.
- The protagonists in Primer never refer to their time machine as a time machine, nor do they use the words time travel to describe their time travel.
- Averted in Children Of The Living Dead with the characters spouting the word zombies easily. It contributes to the film's overall badness.
- Averted in Star Trek: First Contact. Lily Sloane refers to the Borg as "cybernetic zombies" at one point.
- Averted in Pacific Rim. The giant monsters in the film are unashamedly referred to as Kaiju from word go.
- All mechs in Elysium are called droids, not robots.
- We Are the Night focuses on a group of immortal blood-drinking women with fangs and supernatural powers who have no reflection and burn in the sunlight, but the word "vampire" is never spoken by anyone in the film.
- Averted in Otto; Or Up with Dead People, where Otto refers to himself as zombie and the film that Medea directs is explicit stated as a "Political zombie movie."
- Mundane example: David Fincher refused to use the term "serial killer" in his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, seeing it as horribly clichéd. The closest he gets is the line "So we're looking for a serial murderer."
- The Stone Tape. The leader of the research team investigating the haunted house tells everyone not to use words like ghost or spook because the impulse is not to take them seriously.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the word 'God' is never used. Screwtape and Wormwood both only refer to him as "The Enemy".
- Likewise, Satan is only ever referred to as "our father".
- Harry Potter's "Inferi". They're closely based on the zombies of Haitian folklore (bodies animated by magic, to do the magician's bidding). The name comes from Roman gods of the underworld, the Inferi Dei. Ironically, zombies are mentioned by name in the first book; Quirrell supposedly got rid of one and received his turban as a reward.
- Subverted in World War Z: they had all sorts of codewords starting with Z ("Zack" was common in the U.S., a callback to "Charlie" from The Vietnam War), and when they actually did use the word "zombie" it was self-conscious, because until the Zombie Apocalypse, zombies had just been scary things from horror movies. Incidentally, the British called them "Zeds" (the European convention for the letter "Z"), the Japanese named them after a type of ant, and in China zombies are called "The Eternal Walking Nightmare."
- Kit Whitfield's Bareback (Benighted in the US) is about a world where nearly everyone is a werewolf; they are referred to only as "lycanthropes" or "lycos." She discussed this in an interview, saying that B-Movies have rendered the word "werewolf" utterly unusable.
- The vampiric narrator of Steven Brust's Agyar never once uses the word "vampire," nor does he ever explicitly describe himself feeding on blood, though he does so many times. Agyar tells the story simply to put his thoughts on paper, and therefore does not explain anything that would be second nature to himself.
- Used for humor in Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man. Windle Poons comes back as an undead, but almost any mention of the word "zombie" in describing his condition dissolves into a debate as to whether or not he actually is one. Because to really be a zombie, you need to eat a certain root and this specific kind of fish...
- Not to mention the fact that Zombies prefer to be called the Vitally Impaired. Or the "Differently Alive." Though quite a few zombies don't mind being called zombies. Even Reg Shoe, the biggest undead rights activist in Ankh-Morpork, has never objected specifically to the word "zombie."
- Green Rider and its sequels by Kristen Britain have the Eletians or Elt. They look, act, and speak like traditional Tolkienesque elves, but the author never calls them that (though considering her alternate name was "Elt", she might as well just have owned up to it).
- In Cell, Stephen King has his protagonists calling the victims of the mystery brainwipe "phone-crazies", later "phoners". This is kind of mentioned in the main character's internal monologues; he finds himself thinking of them as zombies on one occasion, then decides that they aren't zombies because they are still alive.
- Stephen Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series has this in the Tiste races and the Jaghut. The K'Chain Chemalle are the world's lizardmen.
- Half lampshaded, half played straight in Daniel Waters' Generation Dead, where the term "zombie" is only used in the same way as words like "nigger" and "dyke" are in the real world: that is, it is occasionally used as a joke or jocular term of affection amongst those actually belonging to the subculture (undead kids obviously, in this case), but considered offensive for anybody else to use. In fact, one of the book's more amusing running gag concepts involves society's attempts to come up with a politically correct alternative, with them at first settling on "Living Impaired" and eventually leaning more towards "Differently Biotic". Of course, not that this really stops any of the people who are unsettled by them from calling them the Z word... Dead teenagers become non-deadly zombies and emo goes out of style. However, the insanely PC folks of the 'verse insist on calling the zombies "living-impaired" and don't get that zombies don't really care; they just want to live normal "lives," so to speak.
- In Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, Silas is obviously a vampire, but the word is never used.
- The vampires in Peeps by Scott Westerfield are pointedly not referred to as vampires, instead they're called "Peeps" which is short for Parasite-Positive. They're explicitly acknowledged to be the source of vampire legends, but the modern and scientifically literate vampires just feel self-conscious using it, probably because it sounds pretentious.
- Explicitly parodied in the fourth book of The Dresden Files. Harry is attacked by a fairy plant monster that he insists on calling a "Chlorofiend", a term he just made up because he'd feel silly saying he was attacked by a plant monster. He does call Zombies as such though.
- Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series centers around a secret society of Japanese assassins. The author never once drops the word ninja. Similarly, the feudal warriors are never referred to as samurai.
- Saturn's Children by Charles Stross justifies this in regard to its robots—the actual term robot is considered a Fantastic Slur.
- In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, while no effort is made by the author/narrator to not refer to the zombies as such, the characters occasionally call them "unmentionables" or "the afflicted". Apparently "zombies" isn't proper, though they sometimes use the word anyway— although the novel is set before the word "zombie" was known in English. The euphemism results in a bit of narm for readers to whom "unmentionables" means "underwear" or simply "trousers".
- In Barbara Hambly's novel The Ladies of Mandrigyn, the Big Bad (or, more accurately, The Dragon and the Eldritch Abomination that's powering him) has a nasty habit of turning people into ghouls, or type-F zombies, or some sort of blind, slavering, mindlessly vicious freaks. However, the canon term for the process's victims is "nuuwa", and that's all that they're ever called.
- In John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead, a large number of recently dead people suddenly and for unclear reasons comes back to life, sort of. After some debate, the authorities decide that the official term for these people should be "the Reliving". Not everyone obey this politically correct rule and many people keeps referring to the undead as Zombies.
- In the Torchwood novel Bay of the Dead, Gwen and Ianto initially refuse to refer to the attackers as zombies. Jack, however, is practically gleeful about it:
Jack: You know what I'm thinking, don't you?
Ianto: No, Jack. It's ridiculous. You know it's ridiculous.
Jack: On our way here we field a call from Gwen, who says that she and Rhys have been attacked by a walking corpse. And now here we are surrounded by evidence of an attack in which the perpetrators used their bare hands as murder weapons and then cannibalised their victims. What does that suggest to you, Ianto?
Ianto: It's crazy, Jack. It's horror-movie hokum. You know it is.
Jack: And you know what we're up against here, don't you?
Ianto: No, I don't. Don't say it, Jack. Don't use the-
Ianto: -zed word.
- The Wheel of Time Draghkar, despite having many classic vampire traits and in every appearance in the story so far have been in situations that nobody would bat an eyelash at having vampires in and only differing from classic vampires in classic stories in that they serve a darker power, are never referred to as vampires. Of course, given the nature of the world, it is reasonable to assume that Draghkar are supposed to be where we got our vampire myths from.
- From Brandon Sanderson's works come a couple of examples- the Elantrians from Elantris and the Lifeless from Warbreaker are both pretty clearly zombies (albeit very different variations), but are never called such- indeed, the word "undead" itself is almost never used. Also, the Koloss from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy aren't exactly orcs, but have a number of similarities and play a similar role in the story.
- Word of God has stated that the people in Elantris are not zombies. In fact, he wrote a long blog post explaining why he does not consider them to be zombies. He then concluded by saying "Having said that, I have always wanted to write a zombie story." He also refers to the Elantrians as "essentially zombies" in an Annotation so make of that what you will.
- In Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the zombies are called "The Unconsecrated" by the people of the village fenced in by the titular forest. They mostly shamble around in a Romero-esque fashion, but occasionally some smarter, faster ones appear. Her second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, which takes place in another village, uses the term "Mudo", a morphing of the word "mute". The last book, The Dark and Hollow Places, in a third locale, switches back to "Unconsecrated" for most people, although the main character occasionally uses the term "plague rat" (more of a "street name" than a formal name).
- The hushu in Avatar (the sixth Indigo novel, that is).
- Affinity Bridge contains revenants: Victorian zombies.
- So Long And Thanks For All The Fish contains a lampshade on this when discussing a real-life Rain God - "We can't call him supernatural, because people think they know what that means, and we can't really call him paranormal either for the same reason. So let's call him 'paranatural' or 'supernormal'..."
- Invoked and justified in Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. It's evidently easier to accept that they're dead if they're called "Exes" as in "Ex-living" or "Ex-people".
- In the Ravenloft novel I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin, Strahd doesn't actually know the word "zombie" until Azalin tells him what it means. Ironic, as both of these dark wizards are undead themselves, and Strahd had been casting Animate Dead spells for decades beforehand: his native language simply hadn't had a name for the results.
- In Lies, Brittney comes back from the dead with no pulse and no need to breathe or eat. She wasn't after anyone's brains, but other than that she basically was a zombie. The Town Council establishes that the other kids aren't allowed to call her a zombie, but the term is used anyway. When Brianna uses the term to her face, Brittney replies that she's not a zombie, she's an angel. As it turns out, she's a reanimated corpse possessed by the gaiaphage. In other words, a zombie.
- Inverted in the Myth Adventures series, in which the word "human" is virtually never used. Sentient species are referred to by terms that reflect their dimensions of origin, and "people" is a catch-all for every known-to-be-sentient race. This has the effect of making the human characters sound just as fantastical as the nonhumans, as befits a Verse where a human in a nonhuman dimension is just as much a "demon" as vice versa.
- Well, not quite as "fantastical," as the "correct" term for denizens of the (human) protagonist's home dimension is "Klahds" (pronounced "clods" and that's definitely intentional on the author's part). Other races include Deveels, Perverts (who vehemently prefer "Pervects"), Trolls (and their female counterparts Trollops), Jahks (pronounced "jocks"), and more - the idea being that pretty much any sentient being you might encounter is probably just a native of a dimension where everyone looks like they do, and whatever name you know them by is probably just a species name (or a corruption of one) based on the name of their home dimension.
- In John Green's unpublished novel Zombicorns Mia hates the word zombies being used for the "Z'd up" saying that they're not zombies any more than the Spanish flu was Spanish.
- The Old Kingdom series is heavily concerned with the undead, but never uses the familiar word "zombie". Analogues to common forms of undead would be Dead Hands (zombies), Shadow Hands (ghosts or wraiths), Mordicants (think a golem possessed by an undead spirit) and Greater Dead (liches).
- Colson Whitehead's Zone One mostly refers to zombies as "skels" or "the dead".
- The Parasite War has aliens that turn their victims into what are essentially zombies-they infect a human, then wander around blindly, looking for other humans to eat while they consume the body they're in. As their natural Blob Monster selves, they're "Colloids", and the infected humans are just "infected" or some such.
- The Vampire Diaries books, though having the V word in the title don't use at all in the first, or most of the 2nd, it doesn't start occurring even semi regularly till book 3.
- Legacy of the Dragokin: Being a life form that died and then cam back to life as something else, Kthonia's technically a zombie but no one uses that word. Then again, lots of people insist on calling what is obviously magic, 'science', despite the narration saying otherwise.
- In Under a Graveyard Sky, given that zombies were previously regarded as purely fictional, the experts are initially reluctant to call the Technically Living Zombie victims of H7D3 "zombies", but eventually give in to the inevitable as everyone's thoughts gravitate that way anyhow.
- The survivors of Undead on Arrival refer to the ravenous undead as "geeks."
- Explicitly averted in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, in which the narrator points out that people who don't want the shambling, flesh-eating undead to be called "zombies" need to provide a better term, or at least one that makes a snappy, shoutable acronym.
- In Charles Stross' The Laundry Series, the zombies used by the Laundry for jobs such as night guardians are called "Residual Human Resources"; there's also a bit of lampshade hanging about not calling them "zombies".
- Shattered Continent doesn't have Zombies. It has Cultists. They're undead, like the taste of flesh, and even merit a lecture on how you need to remove the head or destroy the brain to deal with them, but the zed word is not used.
- Ultraviolet never used the word vampire. Instead, the government called them "Code 5" (that is, V). Also 'leeches' as a slang term.
- Doctor Who:
- The story "The Curse of Fenric" has undead which drank blood and are repelled by strong faith, but are never called vampires.
- Another story, "Smith and Jones" has similarly vampiric creatures not named as such. Admittedly, they differ from vampires in some significant ways.
- This was possibly because an earlier story, "State of Decay", did have vampires called by name, and the ones in the later stories were clearly different.
- In the Big Finish audio production "Loups-Garoux", in which the Fifth Doctor meets a group of Werewolves, they're usually called "Loups-Garoux" (a somewhat unfortunate "Blind Idiot" Translation of the French word for "werewolves"), but one character calls them "Lobos", sometimes they're referred to as "wolves", and "Werewolf" is used sparingly.
- The television story "Tooth and Claw" has the Doctor explain that the monster is a "lupine wavelength haemovariform", but it's called a werewolf throughout.
- Similarly, the Carrionites in "The Shakespeare Code" are frequently called witches.
- The Gelth from "The Unquiet Dead" aren't called ghosts in that story, which is fair enough since they aren't actually ghosts, just gas creatures. They can also possess human bodies for a little zombie action.
- Then you have the "Vampires of Venice" which inverts this trope by constantly saying how similar the Monster of the Week is to vampires, only for them to turn out to be not vampires but alien fish creatures. Which the Doctor makes reference to in later episodes as "Sexy Fish Vampires".
- The 2007 Flash Gordon series avoids referring to any of the Mongo peoples as the human-animal mashups or mythological constructs that they're based on, and by which they are known in most other adaptations. Thus, Hawkmen are "Dactyls", Lionmen are "Tuuren", Amazons are "Omadrians", and so forth. Being that it's an installment of Flash Gordon, it doesn't work. At all.
- The Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer insists on calling the various monsters they hunt "Hostile Sub-Terrestrials" or HSTs in a laughable effort to sound scientific about it, sounding suspiciously like "Aggressive Non-Terrestrials" from the dragonless Doctor Who story "Dragonfire". The Scoobies are not impressed. But then the Initiative are military. If they don't have a multiple-word phrase they can abbreviate, they wither and die.
- This was also played for laughs in an early ep, with someone asking if vampires prefer to be called "Undead Americans" instead.
- Kyle XY features a main character and another character who are clones, but follow almost no cloning cliches; possibly because of this, nobody ever uses the word "clone" in the show. Until the last episode comes and they are apparently not only not clones, but show no qualms about killing actual clones, even though the description of their origins (and their identical appearances to their parents in younger days) meant "clone".
- In an episode of Hercules The Legendary Journeys, Herc visits his old friend Vlad, who lives in Transylvania, and learns that he's changed a bit since the old days... Apart from a couple of slips, however, the script resolutely uses the term "strigoi" to describe the bloodsucking monsters ("strigoi" being yet another East European term for a vampire, but is similar to the Classic Greek term "striga").
- "Striga" is more likely to be interchangeable with "witch" than "vampire"...not, of course, that old folktales are super-careful about such distinctions.
- Fortunately, they're using the folklore version of Vlad and not drawing from the historical version. A 'couple of slips' for Vlad Dracul would be pretty bad for anyone within a hundred miles that so much as looked at him funny. And certainly not be Family Friendly Violence in the least.
- Also of note are the Bacchai who show up in both Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess. Though in this case, it's more twisting the Baccai from mythology into vampires than it is avoiding a term.
- Cylons in Battlestar Galactica are called any number of names, from "Toaster" to "Skin Job", but never robots, except in "Pegasus", in which some of Pegasus's crew members call a Cylon just that. In the miniseries, Baltar says disparagingly to Number Six "You're a Cylon. A robot."
- Most Heisei Kamen Rider shows try as much as possible to not have the characters call themselves Kamen Riders, the only notable exceptions are Movies, specials, and five series Kamen Rider Ryuki, Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Decade, Kamen Rider Double and Kamen Rider Fourze.
- Though Kamen Rider Kabuto skirts it by having them be called 'Riders', just not 'Kamen Rider'. Even the plan to make them was called the 'Masked Rider Project'.
- Kamen Rider Gaim skirts around this. The Kamen Riders are called "Armored Riders", as they participate in a series of dance battles where all of the contestants (armored or not) are referred to as "Beat Riders". However, Gaim had the term "Kamen Rider" explained to him when he guest-starred in the Grand Finale of Kamen Rider Wizard.
- Often, the word "Kamen Rider" starts popping up in Crossovers.
- Dead Set never uses the word zombie to describe its undead - writer Charlie Brooker wanted to distinguish it from more light-hearted zombie comedies like Shaun of the Dead where characters use the Z-word frequently. One character does however quote "They're coming to get you Barbara!" from Night of the Living Dead, so at least they aren't completely genre blind.
- Plus Patrick directly quotes the famous "choke on 'em" line, in a tributary recreation of the scene from Day of the Dead.
- Midway through series 2 of Torchwood, Owen is killed off and then revived through Applied Phlebotinum. The show makes it quite clear that he's still technically dead: he has no metabolism, can't eat or drink, can't heal injuries, etc. And yet, despite all the references to him being a walking dead man, no one once uses the word "zombie".]]
- Probably because calling him a zombie would be rather demeaning and would imply he's less than human. He retains his intelligence and reasoning, he's just dead.
- Heroes is to be commended for being well into its third season with no sign of planning to use the word "mutant". Or for that matter, "superhero" or "supervillain". The Fan Nickname for people with powers in Heroes is "evolved humans", because those are nothing like "mutants" (of course, granted, "metahuman" is already taken...). And no one in Heroes has "powers", going by Heroes Wiki; they have "abilities". And no one has "super strength", they have "enhanced strength", because "super strength"... well that would be just silly.
- Of course, Ascended Fanboy Hiro does refer to himself as a "superhero", and the characters have swapped "abilities" with "special powers" and "powers" occasionally.
- Especially Sylar. He doesn't have abilities, he has powers. And considering how he can slice the top of your head off like it's a hard-boiled egg, it's best not to argue.
- Sheena, Queen of the Jungle contains an episode in which the title character faces off against some mindless people who walk like the dead. When her love-interest/straight man refers to them as "zombies", Sheena and her African matron are alternately shocked and amused; apparently "zombie" is some sort of sexual term in the tribe's language.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles made a point of never ever saying the T-word out loud, despite it being the very title of the show. Then, at the climax of (possibly) the last episode, Sarah screamed it into her adversary's face. Good times. Although this was an issue over royalties; as in they didn't want to pay any more than necessary so the T-word use was extremely limited.
- In The West Wing, they don't like to use the word "recession" in the building, because the press might ask if they had been talking about a recession. Instead, they talk about bagels.
President Bartlet: So where are we headed?
Larry: Signs indicate we could be sliding toward... bagel.
(Off Bartlet's look)
Josh: Sir, Larry doesn't need a vacation, that's the word we've agreed to use in-house to avoid using the 'r' word.
Bartlet: What I need is your recommendation for keeping us out... I really don't have to call it that do I?... For keeping us out of a... thing.
- In That Mitchell and Webb Look no one in the quiz show broadcast uses the word zombie to describe Them. This may be because they've forgotten what it means.
- In The Walking Dead, the main characters refer to zombies as "walkers" or "geeks." Word of God on the accompanying talk show Talking Dead states that this is because The Walking Dead exists in a universe where "zombies" never became a pop-cultural phenomenon due to the lack of Romero's Night of the Living Dead, so people would not generally know the term (unless they had a trivial knowledge of voodoo). Because there's no easily recognizable equivalent in their universe, each group of survivors tends to call them different things. We've got "walkers," "geeks," "roamers," "lame-brains," "biters," "rotters," It seems every new group has a new name for the things.
- The Event places bizarre importance on using the term "Eebies" (Extra Terrestrial Biological Entities) and not "Aliens". Because "Aliens" makes the series hard to take seriously, whereas Eebies naturally lends a sense of seriousness and significance to the proceedings.
- Lampshaded in S3E3 of Being Human. '...or they were hiding a zombie.' 'Oh christ, are we really gonna call her that?'
- The USA/Canada version also makes this distinction in season 3 when Sally and two of her ghostly friends are brought back to life. Sally also hates the idea that she is starting to decompose and refuses to call it that, as well.
- Henry from Sanctuary doesn't like it when he's referred to as a werewolf.
Henry: Yeah, we don't use the 'W' word around here.
Will: Oh, right, right. It's, uh, HAP.
Henry: It's a hyper-accelerated protean, thank you very much.
- In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Regeneration", the Borg obviously can't be called the Borg, since it's 200 years before the official first contact in Star Trek: The Next Generation. But the writers seem to go out of their way to avoid even calling them cyborgs. Instead they're referred to as "cybernetic hybrids".
- Similarly, the episode "Acquisition" featured the Enterprise being overrun by Ferengi. But the name of their species is never used.
- The "Wizards vs. Angels" arc of Wizards of Waverly Place features "Angels of Darkness" (demons), led by Gorog, an expy of Satan.
- A more realistic version was Disney's late 60s The Swamp Fox series. It took place in South Carolina around the time of The American Revolution. Most people who know any American History at all know that most (though not all) African-Americans, particularly in southern states, were slaves at the time. And the character-slash-real person of Oscar definitely was. However, Disney never uses the "s" word, always calling them "servants" or "boy" in one or two cases. Most likely Disneyfication due to the target audience being kids.
- In In The Fleshwhile "zombie" is said the government prefers Partially Deceased Syndrome while the HVF uses the derogatory "Rotters".
- In Agents Of SHIELD, people with superhuman abilities are generally referred to as "Gifted", while words such as "superhero" or "supervillain" rarely come into play. This is a bit of an Enforced Trope, as the creators have mentioned that legal red tape bars them from using terms like "Mutants" (since Marvel doesn't own film rights to the X-Men) to describe characters with powers.
- In Helix a CDC rapid response team of pathologists refers to infectees of The Virus NARVIK-B, who are super-strong, paranoid, aggressive and compelled to assault victims and vomit Bad Black Barf into their mouths, as "Vectors," repurposing an epidemiologically correct term for use in their research and containment efforts, instead of the word "Zombie".
- While Charmed does actually refer to Leo and his kind as guardian angels on occasion, the preferred term is "Whitelighter," and their bosses are "the Elders." How often they use the A-word may vary Depending on the Writer.
- The Source is the most powerful demon who rules the Underworld - don't call him "the Devil." To be fair it is a position rather than a single being, but then plenty of other works have used "the Devil" that way too.
- The Creature Feature song "Aim For the Head" is based on the film Night of the Living Dead, and as such uses the term "ghoul" instead of zombie.
- The zombies in Chiodos' "Those Who Slay Together Stay Together" are only ever referred to as "the infected".
- Candorville justifies this in a humorous fashion regarding its "fangs": "Copyright issues. Lawyers would get involved."
- The tabletop game Unhallowed Metropolis, set in a nightmarish future London (while, in a twist, keeping the Victorian setting from before the outbreak of the plague alive) where the dead do not always rest quietly, uses various terms for them, and Zombies is only one of them. The standard term is "animates", mortus animatus is the scientific name, and the term ambulatory dead is also sometimes used.
- The World of Darkness games are a somewhat odd case: each of them uses the particular creature's common name as the title of the game ("Vampire", "Werewolf" etc.) but those names are largely avoided in the actual text and even more in the parlance of the creatures themselves. Vampires are "Kindred" or sometimes (in Vampire: The Masquerade) "Cainites." Werewolves are "Garou" in Werewolf: The Apocalypse (or "Uratha" in Werewolf: The Forsaken), and so forth.
- They acknowledge the stereotypical terms, but use them about as frequently as we refer to ourselves as "hominids" and for similar reasons.
- In the case of vampires, this is explained as them wanting to sound more refined than they actually are, a sort of denial. One sourcebook describes using the word vampire in a meeting of the more "civilized" Kindred as being akin to shouting "motherfucker" in church.
- The trope is incompletely sustained, but justified where it is. Vampires know they're vampires, werewolves know they're werewolves, everyone else in on the Masquerade knows they're vampires and werewolves. But they call themselves by something more flattering and the others more insulting. Vampires, for instance, tend to call werewolves and mages "lupines" and "warlocks," whereas those groups might call vampires "bloodsuckers" or "leeches". The same thing extends to humans; few people refer to themselves and others as 'humans', and the vampire label them the more condescending 'kine'.
- Promethean: The Created establishes that the name used for the Walking Wasteland supernaturals that are the game's subject is mostly just for-the-players's-convenience shorthand, and that most of the titular species wouldn't even recognize the term. There are simply too few of them for the Created to have an accepted species name.
- Due to a religious flap about the presence of demons and devils in the game, Dungeons & Dragons was forced to refer to the inhabitants of the Abyss and the Inferno as "Baatezu" and "Tanar'ri" for many long years. And then they tried to return and ended up with a mix of both. As one of narrators in "Hellbound:The Blood War" put it:
Most berks think that the Blood War's nothing more than the battle between dem— no, wait. That ain't the right word. For one thing, it's a sure road to woe. Calling the fiends by the d-words is no better than insulting any other group of folks because of the way they look or act. Not only does it infuriate them, it marks the speaker as a crass boor, someone to be shunned (or killed). Might as well call a bariaur a randy goat, or a slaad a slimy toad. It's a mark of ignorance, plain and simple, and it'll paint a body to be as Clueless as they come.
When speaking of the evil creatures that fight the Blood War, just call them "baatezu" and "tanar'ri", or "the fiends." Or call them nothing at all
; that way, a body's not as likely to draw their attention.
- Though, in 3rd Edition and beyond, they're back to being demons (tanar'ri) and devils (baatezu). Though both terms are used in places and almost interchangeably, as the majority of demons belong to the Tanar'ri race, and most devils belong to the Baatezu race.
- Technically, it's not the same: "demons" and "devils" are collective nouns the Clueless (Prime mortals) use for "Chaotic Evil fiends" and "Lawful Evil fiends", while "Tanar'ri" and "Baatezu" are names of races, dominant on their respective planes. There are other chaotic and lawful fiends: a Quasit and Bebilith are Chaotic Evil fiends from Abyss, but not Tanar'ri. On the other hand, a Chaotic Neutral or True Neutral (20%) Alu-fiend who was born on Prime and never left it — definitely a Lesser Tanar'ri, but calling her "demon" would stretch the term a lot.
- Magic: The Gathering encountered a similar problem as D&D did several years into its rise to power; for many years, cards which depicted a horrible monster from the Underworld were "Beasts" or "Horrors" without fail, and never too closely resembled the demon stereotype. At about the same time, images such as "Unholy Strength"'s flaming pentagram disappeared, and this was later Handwaved as a choice to "avoid using real-world iconography in our fantasy universe". A few of the creature-type changes have since been Retconned. Lampshaded in Unglued, where Infernal Spawn of Evil has the type Demon crossed out with Beast scribbled in. (Wizards of the Coast have since realized that the game is popular enough to ignore such silliness, and demons now appear in almost every set. They even released a duel deck set for "Divine Vs. Demonic.")
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, any card in the "Demon" archetype becomes an "Archfiend" for its US release.
- The roleplaying game Victoriana is set in a 19th century alternate earth populated by dwarfs, orcs, dragons, magicians, vampires... and a race of long lived, magical, fae, nature loving, graceful pointy eared people called... "Eldren", and nothing but "Eldren". (the third edition of the game also adds a race of small, jolly, stealthy, hairy footed, quick-witted people called... "Hulder")
- Robots in Girl Genius are called "Clanks," never "robots." The real world owes the word 'robot' solely to Czech author Karel Capek's play R.U.R. (from Slovak 'robota' = 'labor'), and Girl Genius is set before it was written. (Also, Capek's 'robots' are apparently biological creations rather than mechanical. Constructs, anybody?) Although the characters are all supposed to be speaking in German anyway, so Phil Foglio could "translate" it however he wanted.
- And, naturally, Lucrezia's army of mind-controlled corpses are called revenants.
- They're not dead. Ironically, this means that "zombie" is technically the more accurate term.
- In spite of the ever-present supernatural elements of the setting, Gunnerkrigg Court goes over 400 pages before the first use of the word "magic". The commentary below the comic lampshades this.
- Sluggy Freelance does this a couple of times with the "ghouls" who were revealed to be aliens who adopted human forms, and the "infected" (namely, infected with intelligence increasing insects that turn people into unusually feral geeks). Of course, it also includes straight-up, spelled-with-a-Z zombies on occasion, too, so the different names are probably to avoid confusion more than anything else. In one case, the Z-words are called "deadels" by the one who raised them. As one character argues, "Hey, when your world is ruled by an evil demon who wants to call its undead minions 'deadels', you call 'em 'deadels!'"
- The orphaned Lacunae has photosensitive bloodsuckers that are called "haemophages" or just "phages", but never "vampires."
- Linburger always has a different word for their Demi Human races. So thus the elves are called Cyll, the Cat Girls are called Mirrakae, and the orcs are called Trokks. Granted, Cat Girl would be a pretty silly name for a race.
- Lampshaded in Dead Metaphor, a 'zombie comedy' webcomic. People call the undead 'zombies', but it's considered a politically-incorrect term, on par with calling someone a retard.
- Subverted in El Goonish Shive:
You know what? Screw it. It was a vampire. [...] Not really, but it was a monster that used to be human, hypnotized young women, and sucked blood out of their necks. It doesn't matter what I say. You two are going to hear "vampire"
- Very, very much averted in Zombie Ranch. Not only does the in-universe show have the same title as the comic, the characters are constantly referring to the zombies as zombies. Justified by it being over twenty years since the dead first started to walk. There's no denying their everyday existence, so why make up new words?
- In the universe of The Descendants, there's a sort of culture war going on over using the term 'superhero'. As comic books exist in that world and there are presumably legal issues involved in using it, the media calls the real super humans emerging 'prelates' even though many of them call themselves 'superheroes' and their enemies 'super villains'. It gets better when you note the extent the series goes to to call their mutants anything but.
- The online furry comic/graphic novel Rework the Dead and its sequel, Rework the Dead II, by David Hopkins, has zombies referred to as "Reworks"—- which makes sense as the dead are reanimated immensely stronger, faster, incredibly violent and with claws and razor-sharp fangs (Warning: this "funny animal" comic is anything but cute and cuddly).
- To certain sects in the alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die USENET newsgroup and it's sister website The Jihad To Destroy Barney On The Web, use of It Of The Ol' One Tooth's name is blasphemous and is believed to give him power. Thus many derogatory names were invented to label that Purple Pedophile in place of the monster's name.
- How to Write Badly Well parodies it.
- We're Alive prefers to use terms like "biters" or simply "them."
- Averted by The League of S.T.E.A.M.; their zombie manservant is named "Zed".
- Many vlogs centered around The Slender Man Mythos very rarely have characters refer to the being as Slender Man, instead it's usually "it" or "that thing" or "the tall man". In Marble Hornets the creature isn't even named Slender Man, but "The Operator". His name is still never mentioned in the actual series.
- The Editing Room's script for The Dark Knight Rises (or as Website.Cracked put it: "If The Dark Knight Rises Was 10 Times Shorter and More Honest" to lampshade how the movie never mentions the villain from the film's predecessor.
- A example from this website: The page for Church of Happyology never explicitly states the name of the religion that is being lampooned by other creators. As you might guess from the name, it's Scientology.
- Justified and used for World Building in Orion's Arm, where robots are referred to as "vecs" (named for an in-universe roboticist named Hans Moravec). This is because in the OA universe, the term robot has come to be considered a Fantastic Slur since it's definition implies that the machines in question are non-sentient, when they clearly are. Because of this, people who use the term robot within stories are treated as bigots.
- In the direct-to-home-video animated adaptation of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the characters seem to go out of their way to never, ever say the name "Superman". He's referred to as Clark a few times, but the word "Superman" isn't uttered a single time in the entirety of the movie. This despite the main focus of the second half being a fight between Superman and the title character.
- In the Justice League cartoons, the characters with particularly stupid names in the comics (like Amazo, Martian Manhunter, Metamorpho, Ocean Master, and most of the Super Friends) were almost always called by other names. Amazo was actually named by Lex once, in the episode where he fires the JLU's space-cannon. He's talking to himself about his new robot body he's been building and specifically mentions the creation of the robot Amazo as his inspiration. Solomon Grundy ought to be mentioned, and he is explicitly referred to as a zombie, which leads to the exchange:
Vixen: Aren't all zombies, by definition, dead?
- In the episode where Lex Luthor convinces the Amazo robot to leave Earth alone, Amazo is referred to by name repeatedly.
- Power Girl wasn't exactly in Justice League Unlimited (though she actually was in the tie-in comic series). The villainess Galatea was somewhat based on her (similar appearance, and the fact that her breasts are larger than those of her counterpart Supergirl is directly mentioned), except Galatea was an evil clone created from Kara's DNA.
- Justice League also had "Task Force X", which wasn't referred to by its comics name "the Suicide Squad" because, hey, it's a kid's cartoon.
- Task Force X is actually the official name in the comics as well; it's just that the "Suicide Squad" nickname is far better-known and more commonly used.
- Young Justice does this as well with the Canon Foreigner Super Friends. Instead, they are given Meaningful Names that serve as nods to their former superhero Codenames. Apache Chief/Long Shadow becomes Tye Longshadow, El Dorado becomes Eduardo "Ed" Dorado, Jr., and Samurai becomes Asami "Sam" Koizumi.
- The Secret Society of Supervillains are also simply referred to as "The Light". The only time their comic moniker is used is as a Mythology Gag when Batman postulates that the enemies they're facing may be "a secret society of supervillains".
- Aladdin: The Series had a character that controlled what were obviously some form of Undead, but the words undead and zombie were never mentioned. Instead, they were always called Mamluks, which rather than being some kind of mythological creature, simply means "slave" in Arabic. While they were enslaved zombies.
- Historically, the mamluks were the soldiers of slave origin used by Muslim rulers to fight their wars. They became a powerful warrior caste, and some did reach the level of sultan (including one named Ala'a ad-Din (Aladdin)). Therefore, it would be correct to call them mamluks, which has nothing to do with their status of being undead. Strangely enough, one of the original sources of Arabian Nights was written down in the second half of the 13th century in the Mamluk kingdoms of Syria and Egypt. However, the undead of Persia/Arabia were typically referred to as "ghuls", or "ghouls".
- Iago does refer to them as zombies in the episode "Black Sands": "Big blue zombie at twelve o’clock!"
- The Secret of Kells never uses the word "bible"—it's really a Gospel Book—despite being about making one. The Book of Iona/Kells is just referred to as "the book" or a sacred text.
- Regular Show never calls any of the characters (most of whom are Funny Animals) by their species, it just treats them as human. Taken to humorous levels when Rigby is referred to as a 'man' by human characters.
- In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XX" there is a 'muncher' outbreak started by eating infected hamburgers. Notably, the segment is mostly an extended parody of 28 Days Later, listed above.
- The Brazilian-Portuguese dub of that episode averted the trope and used the term 'zumbi' (zombie).
- Played for Laughs in a Rugrats episode where Angelica convinces Chuckie he's going to turn into a rhinoceros. Tommy refuses to say the word and keeps saying "one of those things" instead.
- Nicely averted in Gravity Falls, where zombies are zombies. Much more surprisingly, Bill Cipher is a demon. No euphemisms here, he's explicitly called a demon.
- People fighting to end slavery usually refer to it as "Human Trafficking", because most people don't take the concept of modern-day slavery seriously.
- Part of the reason for that is that the word slavery tends to imply that it's legally sanctioned. Human trafficking emphasizes the fact that it's done by criminals, like drug trafficking. This is the cornerstone to the issue, though there are other points.
- At the start of the American civil war, slaves that fled over to the union side were refered to in official reports and newspapers as "contraband".
- Also, there are slaves who are not trafficked, and some forms of human trafficking which are thoroughly evil are not exactly slavery. One of the leading researchers in the field, Siddarth Kara, relates the story of meeting trafficked and sexually exploited women who - though technically freed - still worked the sex trade they had been trafficked into. Likewise, debt-bonded villagers in South Asia are slaves to the owners of their debts, but they are usually not trafficked into the area. Their young children, especially girls, may be trafficked out of the area. Whatever you imagine comes next, the reality is worse. Trafficking and slavery are highly related but not identical.
- Writers of anything but media for DC and Marvel cannot use the term "Superhero" or derivative terms... on paper at least. In practice, the trademark is both relatively unenforceable and possibly illegal, but it does force people to use other terms for it in published media. See Differently Powered Individual for some examples; though that trope and this are not directly synonymous, they overlap.
- Averted by the Real Life hobbit, which was only discovered after LOTR was written.