Plague Zombie

Plague-bearing zombies are becoming increasingly common in modern zombie-horror. Created by a virus or occasionally machine or somesuch. These are the zombies that are guaranteed to turn others into zombies due to their highly communicable virus or nanobots or whatever. Almost always merged with Flesh-Eating Zombie. Often Technically Living Zombies.

Parasite Zombie is a subtrope.


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  • A Toshiba commercial has a zombie plague started by a carton of milk that was spoiled as a result of power outage caused by a power-station worker dropping a non-impact-proof laptop in a Toshiba exec's Indulgent Fantasy Segue about what could happen if they didn't make impact-proof laptops.

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed. The zombies get a cross-shaped cluster of boils on their faces, but otherwise, look like normal people. They are sociopathic, sadomasochistic, and violent in the extreme.

  • REC and its US Remake Quarantine appear to be this but may be Parasite Zombie due to implicit Demonic Possession.
  • In David Cronenberg's Rabid, possibly the first "fast zombie" movie, the disease is initially spread sexually.
  • In I Drink Your Blood, rabid hippies terrorize the countryside.
  • Hell of the Living Dead (aka Virus), in which a zombification virus escapes from a facility ...which was engineered by the First World nations so Third World people would get infected and eat each other.
  • The rage virus in 28 Days Later is one of the more famous examples.
  • Explicitly mocked at the end of Shaun of the Dead, where a news report is just about to tell us the cause of the zombie outbreak... only to flip to another channel before we're told what it was.

  • Zombies vs. Unicorns stories "Inoculata", "Bouganvillea," and "Prom Night" all deal with the aftermath of a zombie plague (all are also flesh-eating)
  • The book The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like this, with a little of flesh-eating in there. The zombies (called Unconsecrated) eat people, and once you are infected, you only have a few hours or maybe even minutes before you turn into an Unconsecrated. They can only be truly killed if you cut their head off.
  • The web-novel Domina's "screamers" are...complicated. They seem to be mindless, and any of their body fluids will turn others into screamers, but only while the screamer is alive. On that note, they are not undead, and are quite fast and athletic. They also scream constantly (hence the name). Oh, and they also have superpowers.
  • The zombies of the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant, the result of an airborne virus cure for the common cold meeting a phage meant to cure cancer, which worked btw, no one on Earth has either any more. Unfortunately now everyone also has the virus in them. They have a form of collective intelligence, the more there are in a group, the smarter the individuals become. A group of twenty or more is smart enough to exploit terrain and set traps and ambushes while one by itself is easy to deal with, especially the older it is. Oddly enough they're not flesh eating because they're compelled to spread the active virus and killing you won't do that.
  • A very different version in Nancy Kress's novel Dogs: the plague only affects dogs, although it turns them aggressive, and they'll attack anyone or anything.
  • The stone men in A Song of Ice and Fire are those afflicted with greyscale in their adulthood (and as an illness, they're not really dead). It's a very slow process that ultimately kills the victim; toward the end, they're described as slow, clumsy, and completely mad. And unlike the other types that appear in the series, this one is highly contagious.
  • The people with the Flare virus in The Scorch Trials.
  • Max Brooks uses these zombies in The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and The Extinction Parade. According to the "rules" given by The Zombie Survival Guide, a fictional virus called Solanum turns people into zombies, with an incubation period of roughly 24 hours, give or take, between initial infection and reanimation.

    Live Action TV 
  • The zombie episode of Community. The zombies are caused by the biohazard material that Dean Pelton bought from an army surplus store, thinking it was taco meat, and served at the Halloween party. The virus is passed on through biting, and treating the main symptom, a ridiculously high fever, by cranking up the air conditioning reverses the zombification long enough for the Army to show up and cure everyone. And not only is this a comedy, it's canon.
  • The "Gas-mask Zombies" from the Doctor Who two-parter "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" initially transmitted their plague by touch, until the nanogenes responsible for their condition grew airborne. Since the zombies had identical injuries(due to the nanogenes' faulty understanding of human biology) Doctor Constantine described their condition as "physical injuries as plague".
  • Supernatural has the Croatoan virus, a demonic virus that turned humans into 28 Days Later-type zombies, and was especially created by Pestilence to wipe out most of humanity as part of Lucifer's apocalypse.
  • In one of the worlds visited in Sliders a fat-eating bacterium designed as a weight-loss product had the unintended side-effect of making users into mindless flesh-eating monsters. There was an "antidote" that in large quantities could keep the infected lucid, and the bacterium's creator was using. The Sliders help him create a cure using blood from one of The Immune survivors, just in time to help Quinn.
  • Zig-zagged on The Walking Dead. Unlike in the comic book (which follows the Romero infection rulesnote ), the season 1 finale establishes that a virus caused the Zombie Apocalypse. However, it didn't behave like most zombie viruses — it is (presumably) airborne and/or waterborne, and has infected everybody on Earth, kicking in only after they die. This allows the show to still use the Romero trope of everybody coming back when they die, not just those who are bitten, while still using a zombie virus.

  • The end of Voltaire's Zombie Prostitute has the narrator catching something from the undead hooker he slept with, and becoming a zombie gigolo.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Gotha parallels from GURPS Infinite Worlds are 19 alternate Earths that have been destroyed by the exact same zombie virus. These Gotha zombies retain some of their intelligence and are as willing to eat each other as well as normal humans.
  • Warhammer 40,000, with elements of Voodoo Zombie; the zombies themselves aren't created by magic, but the virus itself is (they're the work of Nurgle, God of Decay).
  • The "Plaguespreader Zombie" monster card in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. Although its function isn't to spread a zombie virus, but rather "tune" with other monsters to summon powerful Synchro monsters, including zombies.

    Video Games 
  • Most of the zombies in Resident Evil are caused by the Umbrella Corporation's T-virus and its various derivatives.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. The "zombies" in this series aren't actually dead (it's more akin to a strand of rabies) and don't actually eat the uninfected; they just want to rip their bodies to shreds and stomp on the remains.
    • Getting shot anywhere on the body affects them pretty much as it would anything else living, though. If left on their own, they will just die from the virus, as seen from the zombies spending their free time holding their heads in pain and vomiting up their organs.
  • Super Energy Apocolypse features plague-bearing eyeball monsters that are apparently called "Zombies."
  • Corprus walkers in The Elder Scrolls are humans (or elves) who are infected with the corprus disease, in incurable virus that increases the victims strength but destroys their mind. For extra squick, corprus walkers do feed on each other (unlike zombies in other media) when they don't have any other food - their massively accelerated cell growth means they don't mind having bits chopped off as they only grow back stronger. In some cases they even defy physics, surviving by eating their own flesh.
  • Elite Beat Agents features a mission where the titular agents must support a Duke Nukem ripoff in his quest to purge the world of purple, yellow-dotted, giggling zombies. Zombies that happen to spread their disease through kisses, and can be returned to normal by letting them ingest a very bad-tasting peanut. Yeah, that's Elite Beat Agents for you.
  • Survivor: The Living Dead uses these and you are very much not immune. When you get bitten, you get infected. After that happens, all you can do to avoid turning before the timer runs out is stand still as much as possible and not get bitten again.
  • Dwarf Fortress recently introduced husks, which are horrifying undead abominations covered in dust that transforms anything touched by it into another husk. Hands-down, these are the most horrifying monster in DF, even trumping The Legions of Hell for sheer terror.
  • Prototype and Prototype 2 have two viruses (one an evolved form of the other). The virus first causes blood vomiting, then leads to boils and pustules that make the infected look like mutants, before often making their arms and fingers become claws. All forms are violent and lash out at everything, and seem to operate on a hive mind. Alex Mercer, Elizabeth Greene, and James Heller (along with the evolved) aside, everyone hit by the virus becomes this with the viral creatures (Hunters, Brawlers, etc) created other ways. Technically the first three are also infected entities, but share none of the zombie like traits and are more like super villains.
  • In Tron 2.0 and TRON: Evolution, virus-infected Programs behave like this. They become twisted, mindless things whose only purpose and directive is to infect and destroy as many healthy Programs as possible. And in both cases, the plaguemaster/Patient Zero was merely an Unwitting Pawn of much nastier conspirators using the threat of a cyberspace-wide Zombie Apocalypse to hide something much worse.
  • The zombies in Dead Island are a result of an abnormal version of the Kuru prion illness.
  • Subverted in Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, where numerous people in the backstory thought the Undead Curse was spread like a disease and tried to quarantine its victims, but were doomed to failure because that's not how the curse is spread. It seems more likely people are born with the curse but were asymptotic until the First Flame starts to fade.
  • Zombies in Dying Light are victims of a mutated strand of rabies called the Harran Virus. This disease is later revealed to be a Synthetic Plague, with the GRE attempting to cover up its origins and the Harran Ministry of Defense willing to help them by destroying the infected districts.

  • Last Blood plays along with this trope. The world has experienced Zombie Apocalypse and the majority of zombies are near mindless, hungry creatures, while the first zombie was a vampire who starved for too long. The first zombie has retained all of his intelligence, and has complete control over the zombies that descended from him.
  • The Other Grey Meat has zombification via infection. Zombies become more intelligent based on the number of victims they have, as well as the victims of their victims (and so on).
  • In Zombie Ranch the formerly human herds possess a bite that is infectious, incurable, and fatal. Their blood, on the other hand, is not only harmless but miraculously beneficial when processed correctly. It can even cure cancer.

    Web Games 
  • Infectonator: Zombies work by spreading a virus among people: Those who are infected become zombies and start spreading their plague around.