[[quoteright:330:[[WesternAnimation/CorpseBride http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/undeathly_pallor.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:330:Can ''you'' guess which of these two characters is dead? Check the film section for the answer!]]-]

In fiction, if you run into someone who looks like a corpse, it's not that they're sick, it's that they're ''[[NotAZombie dead.]]''

Characters who become one of TheUndead will develop pale or sometimes blue or green tinged skin. In severe cases with visible (and deathly still) [[TaintedVeins purple veins]] underneath the skin. Even people of color[[labelnote:*]] (Or fake tan. Can you imagine facing an undead eternity with skin the color of a bleached out orange?)[[/labelnote]] who were dark skinned in life will have it turn [[HadesShaded ash grey, or dark like soot]].

A living character who is just pale is usually a perfectly mundane case of an EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette, who [[NeverHeardThatOneBefore has heard all the jokes]] about waking up on the wrong side of the coffin. There may be some UnfortunateImplications here though, since in fiction there's a [[AstonishinglyAppropriateAppearance strong correlation]] between being pale and [[TranshumanTreachery going over]] to TheDarkSide. In addition living characters who come into contact with the dead, undead, or infernal may have a [[PaletteSwap change of color]] and become HadesShaded. This is the case with necromancers, infernalists, those under ghostly DemonicPossession, [[VirusVictimSymptoms someone bitten]] by zombies or a vampire, or TheRenfield who has fed on [[ThePowerOfBlood vampire blood.]] It doesn't stop there either, centuries of sunless existence may turn the character into an EvilAlbino.

This trope is so common it's usually a [[IncrediblyLamePun dead]] giveaway that [[VirusVictimSymptoms something is wrong with Alice / Bob]] when they suddenly show up this shade of pale. Smart characters (let alone the GenreSavvy) will have their NotAZombie sense ping them as being "[[NotHimself somehow]] [[GlamourFailure off"]]. Which of course makes the [[DefiedTrope defiance]] of this trope a #1 priority on every smart undead's list of {{Masquerade}} reinforcing tricks. Settings where this trope is subverted have much more dangerous undead for being indistinguishable from the living. Another curious exception is that sometimes people who were brown-skinned or darker in life may look exactly as vivid after death as they did when they were alive for unexplained reasons. Probably something to do with the SpecialEffects budget and wanting to avoid a [[SpecialEffectsFailure gaffe]].

TruthInTelevision, as once you die, the blood moves due to gravity to the lower parts of your body (if you are lying on your back, then it pools there). It's called Post-mortem lividity. So if your skin looks drained of blood, it's because it is.

See also StringyHairedGhostGirl and UndeadBarefooter.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Sid from ''Manga/SoulEater'' is a zombie ''gym teacher.'' He once had normal colored skin, but after dying he became blue... Literally.
* Owl / [[spoiler: Seidou Takizawa]] from ''Manga/TokyoGhoul[=:Re=]'' is not undead, but makes use of this trope as part of his overall Zombie motif. In colored artwork, he's almost as pale as his [[WhiteHairBlackHeart white hair]], with sunken eyes and discolored lips and nails. At one point, he talks about himself as someone that has already died and has a taste for brains.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Dead Girl in ''[[ComicBook/XForce X-Statix]]'', who's sort of greenish.
* Any [[ComicBook/BlackestNight Black Lantern]] who didn't just have a skull for a face had grey skin.
* Malibu Comics' [[ComicBook/TheUltraverse Ultraverse]] character Ghoul was green (and pretty messy besides).
* Subverted in ''ComicBook/DeathVigil''; it's a side-effect of the Reaper's scythe to make its wielder have MysticalWhiteHair and pale skin--the appearance isn't unique to the Reaper herself.
* ComicBook/LadyDeath is an undead sorceress and milk-pale. In the Avatar Comics, there is a term for people that are sentenced to the Labyrinth called "albinos", whom had willingly performed deals with the dark specters that rule it and become undead beings of extreme power, but hated by others.

* ''Film/DarkCity'' - The Strangers are [[spoiler: alien energy forms who inhabit human corpses as a means of performing routine physical actions]].
* ''WesternAnimation/CorpseBride'' provides the page image here, though it's played with by having the living be [[DeliberatelyMonochrome colorless]] while the dead [[DarkIsNotEvil have much brighter colors]].
* The alien monster mutants in ''Film/{{Pandorum}}'' are all Undeathly Pale. It's later revealed to be because they [[spoiler: evolved and mutated over centuries to become apex predators for the ship they inhabit by feeding on the other passengers of the ship.]]
* The Morlocks in ''Literature/TheTimeMachine'' have a similar reason for their pallor.
* ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' plays this trope straight with caucasian vampires, but Laurent presents an odd contrast. He's not at all pale in the first movie, but was washed out and greyish though, at least in the second film.
* Drac and the female vampires in ''Film/BramStokersDracula''. While he doesn't display it in his younger form, his older form has has very pale skin. His brides have it though the dark lighting of their scenes make it hard to tell. Lucy on the other hand goes completely deathly white after turning.
* Vampires in the original ''Film/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' movie had this among other mutated features to show they weren't human anymore.
* ''Film/CountYorga'' when he goes full vamp mode to really show off his monstrous form. Likewise the vampires under his control.
* In the film commentary for ''Film/TheFellowshipOfTheRing'', Creator/PeterJackson discusses how Boromir's skin was paled ''just'' a little bit at the moment he succumbs to his wounds and dies. The change is so subtle that most viewers might not consciously pick it up, yet still provides his death scene a little extra punch.

* In the ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' books, Maria the vampire looked "porcelain" despite being Mexican. The book is pretty inconsistent about what happens to People of Color when they become vampires. Maria was really pale and Laurent was olive-skinned (but it was never stated what race he was). There are some other vampires who are non-Caucasian, but their skin color isn't really mentioned. The male half vampire from South America was definitely dark skinned, though.
** The ''[[AllThereInTheManual Twilight Illustrated Guide]]'' states that ''all'' vampires turn pale on being turned. If you were black in life, you turn olive. And since [[UnfortunateImplications vampires are always beautiful]]...
** Maria's case may bee FridgeBrilliance since not all latins are brown-skinned.
* Variation in the ''Literature/OldKingdom'' series. The actual Dead aren't noted to be pale (since most of them that actually have physical bodies are too badly decayed to tell) but {{Necromancer}}s (as well as Abhorsens, who practice necromancy to destroy, rather than create or control, the undead) are described as noticeably paler than those who don't practice that art. So it's pallor from associating with death and the undead, rather than from ''being'' dead yourself.
* In ''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}'', when a [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Lifeless]] is created, all color is bleached from their body as a side-effect of the magic (which uses color as a sort of trigger). The resulting creatures look exactly like they did in life, except that they are pale grey all over.
* When [[CheerfulChild Kairn]] becomes [[UndeadChild a zombie]] shortly after dying in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: City of the Dead'', Zak thinks he looks sallow-skinned and unhealthy like he's been sick, not like the rotting zombies in his dreams.
* This is why zombie rights activist Reg Shoe in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels sports a "Glad to be Grey" badge.
* In ''Literature/{{Quazi}}'', the titular intelligent zombies and the feral Risen (who haven't yet regained intelligence) eventually develop bluish-gray skin that sharply distinguishes them from the living. They're not really dead, though, and actually have a pretty good HealingFactor, although it works fairly slowly.

[[folder: Live Action Television]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Gregor Clegane's skin seems to be a pale purple, likely a result of congealed blood and/or partial decomposing.
* All the zombies in ''Series/InTheFlesh'' look white and their pupils in their eyes look like crosses. They wear make-up and contacts to appear like the living.
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E20WhatIsAndWhatShouldNeverBe "What Is And What Should Never Be"]], this is a SubvertedTrope. Sam finds Dean and the woman in white hanging limply with pale faces and unblinking red-rimmed eyes, but they both survive.
* The vampires of ''Series/ForeverKnight'', except for the handsome VampireDetective protagonist. In the pilot episode, his tan is handwaved by Nick Knight saying he was exposing himself to the sun for limited amounts of time, as part of his ongoing attempt to cure his vampirism. Later episodes have him using a sunbed.
* The zombies of ''Series/IZombie'' become noticeably pale with bleached out hair. At least one zombie deliberately dyes his hair to conceal this.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* The [[TabletopGame/{{Exalted}} Abyssal Exalted]] get this in spades - As they get more powerful, Abyssals are required to either become pale (if they were light-skinned in life) and [[EvilIsSexy beautiful]], or decayed and monstrous. As a high Appearance Abyssal's colors change towards the natural extreme they are closest to, Abyssals who were dark-skinned in life invert this trope, with skin colors resembling obsidian.
* In both ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' and ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'', vampires typically grow paler and less lifelike as they grow older -- not because of age, but because an older vampire is more likely to have fallen a few notches down the [[KarmaMeter Humanity]] scale and gotten closer to their Beast. The one exception may be the Assamites from ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'', who invert the trope by growing ''darker'' as they age, to the point where the elders of the line look like they're made of polished jet.
** The Cappadocians, a clan-turned-bloodline in Masquerade take this a [[UpToEleven step further]]. They always appear corpse-like, unable to use Flush of Life to mask their pale faces regardless of age or humanity score. When they get older, they grow even more like wasted cadavers. [[spoiler:The Harbingers of Skulls (Cappadocian survivors), due to their time spent in the Underworld, are outright dessicated corpses.]]

* The vampires of TanzDerVampire are all sickeningly pale and usually sport EvilEyebrows.

[[folder: VideoGames]]
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' the Forsaken have skin in various shades of grey, green and blue. Death Knights also tend to be paler then a living character with the same setting of skin shade. They also have access to a several different skin tones not available to living players, mostly in greens and greys. Though some of them are a bit odd - blood elves apparently decay into charcoal.
* ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'' has the Drowning Doom, whom all their units have this look to them. Most noticeable is Drowned Ophelia, the doppelganger counterpart of Ironheade's Ophelia, who, naturally, turns from a healthy looking, yet slightly pale PerkyGoth, to an openly corpse blue after her transformation into the Queen of Black Tears.
* In ''Website/GaiaOnline'', the main zombie skintones tend to be gray-white or greenish, though alternate zombie skintones have been known to include dark blue, purplish, and bright scarlet. There are four vampire skintones as well; a crappy 100 Gold potion in Skin Tyte with an exclusively pale-white base, and three found only in The Treehouse and the marketplace, which range from "basically, we just improved the old skintone" to "Now you, too, can be AmbiguouslyBrown". Zhivago in the plot manga and Kamilla in ''[=zOMG!=]'' are also AmbiguouslyBrown vampires, and were rather famous for formerly being the only ones.
* ''VideoGame/TheSims2'' does this. Zombies are gray, vampires are blue. However, as with most things in ''The Sims'', custom content exists to change these.
** Also, in some ''VideoGame/MySims'' sequels, beginning with ''[=MySims=] Kingdom'', Carl the Zombie is blue, with rotted away hair. In ''[=MySims=] Agents'', his arm even falls off.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims3'' Supernatural expansion, all the premade ghost characters have blue skin, hair and eyes, although they show up in game as different colors depending on what they died of.
* In the ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series, Sora will have white skin whenever he is in [[WesternAnimation/{{TheNightmareBeforeChristmas}} Halloween Town]] as a result of becoming a vampire. He's not really undead. He retains the skin color in Christmas Town, where he wears a black Santa Claus jumper and hat over his clothes and eyepatch, respectively.
* In ''Videogame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow2'', Dracula's skin became bone white after centuries of vampirism.
* Queen Frieda of ''VideoGame/OneWayHeroics'' has slightly paler skin than the non-undead party members. It might be a case of this trope, but it might also just be a case of the lighting on her character portrait.
* ''VideoGame/{{Zombidle}}'': [[VillainProtagonist Bob the Necromancer]], as well as the Zombie Horde, [[DeadWeight Giant Zombie and The Big Plague]] all have deep green skin.
* ''VideoGame/MetalSlug 3's'' zombies in the second mission have grayish-blue skin, and if the player or the various injured civilians around the area get zombified from a ZombiePukeAttack their skin changes to match.

[[folder: WebComics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ZombieRanch'' people turned into zombies become noticeably green. Other mammals just seem to go green on the inside.
* ''Webcomic/TheKingfisher'': Pale vampires abound.
* Being based off of ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', ''Webcomic/KeychainOfCreation'' features various extremely pale Abyssals, the best-known of which is, of course, Secret.
* ''Webcomic/SchoolBites'': All of the usual vampires have chalk white skin, save Cleobatra who's [[TokenMinority African American]] but still sports a bit of paleness.
* Camille in ''Webcomic/BloodyUrban''has very light blue skin, despite the fact that she is of African descent. Recent comics show it changes back to its original pre-death color when she drinks blood.
* The zombie twins Hex and Mye in ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' have very pale skin as do most of the vampires.

[[folder: WesternAnimation]]
* Strangely inverted by WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom, whose skin when he's a ghost is actually ''more'' tan than it is when he's human. Possibly this was done to have a stronger color contrast against his [[LockedIntoStrangeness white hair]]. In contrast, the skin of Vlad's ghost form has a more typical pale blue shade.
* Lydia Deetz in ''WesternAnimation/{{Beetlejuice}}'' is rather pale-skinned.
* Weirdly played with in ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'': [[spoiler:Lion]] turns out to have come BackFromTheDead [[TouchedByVorlons with his body altered]] to a state that [[OurZombiesAreDifferent in some ways resembles the undead]]. The same eventually happens to [[spoiler:Lars]]. Both have their skin and hair turn a shade of [[spoiler:''pink'']] much paler than they were naturally.

'''Answer:''' You actually checked? Wow, okay. [[spoiler:It's [[WesternAnimation/CorpseBride Emily]], the girl on the right with the boney arms.]]