Many undead characters look very similar to humans, and may only be distinguished from them by some subtle detail; one of the common choices is a lack of footwear
. This has to do with the fact that while items of clothing have a more social role (i. e. reflecting a person's inner side), shoes are largely worn for convenience; therefore someone who no longer feels cold or pain may be more comfortable barefoot. It may also give an effect of surprise or Uncanny Valley
: when you see that a seemingly human character is barefoot in very inappropriate circumstances (like cold weather), you may suspect that there's actually something strange about him/her.
Within this trope, the term "undead" is interpreted extensively: from common zombies and vampires to angel-like souls from Paradise (in the latter case, the absence of shoes may also symbolize enlightenment).
May overlap with Magical Barefooter
, when the character in question also has magical abilities.
Anime and Manga
- The titular protagonist of Vampire Princess Miyu is usually barefoot even in the snow, since she doesn't get cold.
- In Sankarea, Rea (the protagonist's zombie love interest) seems to enjoy going barefoot; justified, since she doesn't feel pain.
- Happiness! near all the vampires go barefoot.
- The vampire girl Abby from Let Me In is usually barefoot.
- In Harry Potter, post-resurrection Voldemort is depicted barefoot to signify that he's no longer human.
- In Count Yorga, all of Yorga's brides go barefoot after having been turned into vampires.
- Dracula's Brides in Bram Stoker's Dracula are likewise always shown barefoot to add to their seductive nature.
- The Brides of Dracula, two of the Baron Meinster's brides are barefoot. Justified as the women were interred with little clothing outside a gown when they resurrected as vampires.
- In the first Subspecies movie, Radu claims two of Michelle's friends, Mara and Lillian. Mara is initially buried in clothing before she resurrects but Lillian is dressed in a tattered gown as Radu slowly drains her with no shoes. When he captures Michelle with intent to turn her as well, he dresses all three girls in white gowns with no footwear.
- In Solaris (1972), Hari is not undead in the literal sense, but she's a replica of a deceased person. And she's perpetually barefoot, probably to signify that she's not an ordinary human.
- The illustrations to The Divine Comedy usually depict all the deceased characters (including Virgil) barefoot; Dante wearing shoes literally symbolizes that he's the only living person there.
- Lauren from If Only It Were True by Marc Levy becomes a ghost after getting in a car crash (she's actually not dead, but in a coma). She is described as barefoot in a public place, obviously having no need for shoes; since the protagonist was the only one who could see and sense her, she used this to play Footsie Under the Table on him.
- In Twilight, the vampires James and Victoria traveled barefoot, since it gave them no discomfort and allowed to run faster. Bella may also be getting into this habit: after her transformation into a vampire, she kicked off her shoes before going on her first hunt.
- In Once Upon A Zombie series, all the zombie princesses go barefoot.
- In Solaris, the visitors (both Rheya and an unidentified black woman) always appear barefoot, and their feet aren't calloused; this is one of the indications that they are not actually human. An uncommon example, since they are not literally undead, but are replicas of deceased people.
- Let the Right One In: Abby tends to go barefoot even in snow; that's one of the first signs that there's something weird about her.
- In Quest for Glory series, the mysterious woman Katrina is perpetually barefoot, which seems really strange given that the protagonist meets her in a dark forest and nearby a very creepy cave. This may be one of the first hints that she's actually a vampire.
- Downplayed in World of Warcraft: although the Forsaken Undead, just like any player character, can wear footwear, their shoes or boots are always open in the front so that they are bony toes are visible.
- In Violet Zombie, the zombie girl Penelope Mortinez goes barefoot at any opportunity; when she has to wear shoes, they are always open-toed sandals.