The original zombie before it was cool
The idea and word "zombie" originated in Voudon beliefs in the Caribbean, thought the etymological roots date back to West Africa. It referred to those enslaved by sorcerers who have not allowed them a peaceful death or have put them in trance to make them think they are dead.
Zombies based on this tradition are originally slaves to a sorcerer or Necromancer
. If living
, they have been Brainwashed
using More Than Mind Control
. If undead, they have been reanimated with blood
, evil, or unholy magic
. As such, they may be vulnerable to Revive Kills Zombie
, of all things, can often break the spell, freeing the living and allowing the dead to rest...or go after their master in a vengeful rage.
If these zombies break their control or their master is killed, they may become Flesh Eating Zombies
This type is commonly encountered in Tabletop Games
and Video Games
with roots in Dungeons & Dragons
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Anime and Manga
- Ghouls in the Hellsing universe tend most heavily towards Voodoo, although Flesh-Eating Zombie and Plague Zombie elements are present. They are created when a natural vampire completely drains the blood of a non-virgin human. The fact that freak-chipped vampires do not create vampires, even from children obviously too young to be anything but virgins, is one of the first clues that Hellsing is dealing with an enemy thought to be completely extinguished.
- The zombies of One Piece's Thriller Bark Story Arc are a combination of Voodoo and Artificial Zombie. They're reanimated by villain Gecko Moria's Living Shadow-based Kage-Kage Devil Fruit. Through it, Moria can steal shadows off a living person and put them into dead bodies rebuilt by Doktor Hogback. The resulting zombies have the personality traits, fighting skills, etc. as whoever the shadow came from.
- Marvel Zombies, combined with Flesh-Eating Zombie.
- Marvel Zuvembies, on the other hand, are straight voodoo. Used because The Comics Code at the time prohibited "walking dead" monsters lacking a literary pedigree. The "zuvembie" name originated in Robert E. Howard's story "Pigeons from Hell". (In Howard's story, the zuvembie was actually something unique— see below.)
- Solomon Grundy, from the The DCU and the DCAU, was a mobster who was killed and thrown in a cursed swamp. The curse caused him to reanimate decades later as a soulless, grey monster. Fortunately he doesn't reek due to being a Golden Age GL foe and thus made largely of plant matter.
- The hordes of undead raised by the Zombie Priest from The Goon are fairly standard, although a few are capable of speech and performing complex tasks. The Zombie Priest himself isn't actually a zombie, but rather a demon in disguise. There's also Willie Nagel, a friendly and intelligent zombie.
- Papa midnite from Hellblazer employs Zombies as a labor force, since he is a Voodoo magician they fit this trope.
- The Zombie Master in Piers Anthony's Xanth series creates voodoo zombies. Neither the zombies nor their creator are threatening. Xanth zombies are mostly benign, although when called on to fight they make fearsome opponents. They are not contagious, although they deteriorate, and many suffer from brain-damage as their grey matter decomposes. They result either from the occasional person with unfinished business or from a corpse reanimated by the Zombie Master. Or, in one rather depressing case, the Zombie Master himself after he suicides.
- Micah E. F. Martin's The Canticle gives us ghouls, which are distressingly fast, hungry, and hard to kill. Still not very smart, though.
- Jim Butcher's Dead Beat pretty much skewers the idea of the Hollywood horror movie zombie, with Harry Dresden himself asking why someone would go to the trouble of working intricate dark magics just to get something that shuffles like an arthritic grandmother and thinks of nothing but brains (not to mention that, say, a zombie dinosaur may well be a much better choice for the discerning wizard). The zombies of the Dresdenverse are pumped full of dark magic to the point that they're stronger and faster than the average human, as well as completely pliant to the will of the necromancer that raised them... provided they maintain the spell (by supplying a "heartbeat", usually via drumming), of course.
- In the Anita Blake series zombies have to be animated by someone with the power to do so. They are obedient to the person who raised them, and have a varied amount of memory and personality depending on time passed since death, power level of the animator, and quality of blood sacrifice that raised them. Eating flesh will prevent them from decaying as rapidly, but an ordinary competently raised zombie is unlikely to go on a rampage unless they are a murder victim or used to be an animator themselves. The eponymous character's day job (well, night job) is as a zombie reanimator.
- The haunts in P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath are a combination of multiple types. They voodoo in that they are created by the malignant, evil/chaotic influence of Perimal Darkling. Unburned corpses of humans or animals left in areas where Darkling influence is bleeding into the normal world—the Haunted Lands—become haunts. However, they are also Plague Zombies in that an untreated haunt bite can turn a bitten human into a haunt. While haunts bite people, they don't seem to do it out of hunger; it's an attack. Haunts are normally stupid, shambling creatures, although they do retain some memory of their former lives, sometimes calling out to the still-living. One character who is bitten and turns into a haunt, though, remains themselves through force of will, and proves capable of continuing to be a productive member of society despite their status.
- Walking dead were sent by the Fore to attack the heroes/gamers in the South Seas Treasure game in Dream Park (by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes). Not voodoo, but same idea.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, when the malevolent Others kill someone, it reanimates as a "wight," a freezing cold zombie with glowing blue eyes. They are resistant to normal weapons but highly susceptible to fire ( and obsidian, probably because it's igneous rock and therefore "created" by fire). Hacked-off limbs continue to move for many days afterwards, but will eventually crumble apart.
- Mike Carey's Felix Castor series has zombies as ghosts who return in (mostly) their own bodies: one of them, tech whiz kid, Conspiracy Theorist and Deadpan Snarker Nicky Heath, plays a crucial and recurring role, as does his voodoo physical therapist Imelda.
- The Inferi of Harry Potter are corpses animated by dark magic.
- The Lifeless of Warbreaker are pretty much treated like robots that happen to be made from reanimated corpses instead of metal. Once created they are perfectly obedient (though most have passwords built into them so that only certain people can command them) and will follow any instruction to the letter, though like real-world computers this often needs to be very specific to avoid Literal Genie moments. They absolutely will not rampage or eat brains unless someone is stupid enough to tell them to. In the nation of Hallandren they are a widely accepted part of society, though in other parts of the world they are regarded as abominations.
- Pet Sematary. Possibly a mishmash, as the tie-in with Wendigo legend includes cannibalism.
- The T'lan Imass of Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson are several tribes of undead Neanderthals who underwent a ritual many thousands of years ago to make themselves undead so that they'd be able to carry out the full extermination of the Jaghut, their former masters, making them closer to the "Voodoo" sort of zombie than the others. In the present day, they've mostly lost their way, with many tribes having been wiped out completely and others simply losing their will to exist, turning them to dust.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Scarlet Citadel", Pelias resurrects a jailer who was killed by Conan so that the two can be let out of their prison. The move creeps Conan the fuck out.
- In Iron Dawn, chryseids are leathery-skinned, sentient zombie minions animated by Simi-Ascalon's corrupted Egyptian magic.
- In Brown Girl in the Ring the gang lord Rudy controls several zombies using a process taught to him by a Ioa. one of which is his own daughter, Mi-Jeanne
- The Boy Who Couldn't Die: Has a mix of "voodoo magic" mixed with toxins used in real life hoodoo practices, who apparently did not have all the ingredients.
- In Cold Kiss, Wren, who has Psychic Powers, brings back her boyfriend Danny using Black Magic. Unfortunately he has a Damaged Soul.
- In the Relativity story "Mardi Gras", voodoo zombies are created by purely chemical methods. Once the effects wear off, the victims return to normal with no memories of what happened.
Live Action TV
- The zombie of the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode. It takes orders from its voodoo priestess mother, kills mainly by snapping the spine, moves rather fast, and is finally put down by having rock salt poured into its mouth when dormant followed by sewing the mouth shut.
- Smallville (infected with a Kryptonian virus).
- The X-Files/Millennium crossover episode had corpses brought back to life using necromancy. They would attack anyone in the vicinity who was not protected by a ring of blood or salt. They could be killed by a bullet to the head, but those injured by zombies didn't turn into zombies unless actually killed (whereupon the spirits used to animate the corpses would infect them).
- The Cape had a group of people turned into the rough equivalent of voodoo zombies through TTX poisoning - a rare (for the show) case of Shown Their Work.
- Supernatural had "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things", where a girl killed in a car crash is brought back as a zombie by a guy who had a crush on her using an ancient spell. She's actually pretty normal, apart from being completely psychotic.
- LOST seemed to have a variation of this. The Man in Black resurrected the recently-dead Sayid, who became his psychotic recruit. He also "claimed" Claire and most of Danielle's team, all of whom were strongly implied to have been killed (or at the very least, badly hurt) prior to turning evil. Sayid and Claire both fought out of this though, and remained alive.
- Well, until a bomb went off soon after, in Sayid's case.
- In Once Upon a Time Cora resurrects several people whom she killed by ripping out their hearts using their hearts which she magically preserved.
- Literal Voodoo zombies appear in American Horror Story: Coven, summoned by Marie Laveau. The first time to deal with racists who had killed the son of one of her employees in the 70s, the second time to attack the witches school. Less luiteral but still cases of resurection by magic are Kyle and Madison.
- The drugged into a deathlike trance and mind-controlled version appear in the MacGyver episode "Walking Dead". the bad guy attempts to do this to MacGyver, but he is able to shake off the effects.
- The Angel episode "The Thin Dead Line" had a Knight Templar police captain raise murdered cops as Voodoo Zombies to continue patrolling the streets, which caused problems due to their tendency to unprovoked Police Brutality.
- Doonesbury's beloved sociopath, Uncle Duke, spent some time as a zombie after his Baby Doc med school scam got on the bad side of a deposed Haitian tyrant. His zombification appeared to be drug-induced; he'd been found dead and appeared some time later going by the name "Legume" with no memory of who he was, his name or whether he'd had hair, and an inability to resist the zombie serum. He was, however, non-violent and able to converse and even engage with other people.
- Common low-level monsters, Dungeons & Dragons zombies (and skeletons) are nearly always mindless mooks animated by necromancy.
- Unless you've run into a juju zombie from early editions, which are smarter.
- Or one of the variant zombies from 4th Edition, which can have un-mooklike powers.
- Or your DM owns Van Richten's Guide To The Walking Dead, in which case all bets are off.
- The basic melee unit of the undead faction, Dragon Dice zombies are the core of any undead army with a focus on melee combat. Can be assembled into a shambling horde, some overlap with Flesh-Eating Zombie.
- In Exalted, Abyssals and Deathlords make frequent use of reanimated corpses, though they also often cross over into Artificial Zombie via Necrotech, which is basically Magitek crossed with this. Midnight Caste Abyssals (dark mirrors of Zenith Caste Solars) even get the ability to raise a corpse as a zombie with a mere touch.
- In Scion, children of the Loa (both heroic and villainous) can create or recruit zombie servants.
- So can, in fact, all Scions with access to a birthright that grants the Death domain.
- GURPS: Warriors has an American marine who was betrayed and killed by his squad-mates while stationed in Haiti. Proximity to a voodoo priest caused his body to reanimate. Currently looking for revenge, he has a number of tricks up his sleeve, including burying himself over night to heal.
- In Unhallowed Metropolis, what reports have come back of the state of Central Africa have invariably come from people driven insane from what they witnessed there, but they tend to include references to unholy empires where zombie and human alike answer to witch doctors who demand living sacrifices to placate their dark gods. If there's any truth to these stories, it seems very likely that the zombies there are voodoo, or something akin to it.
- This is a recurring power in the New World of Darkness, possessed by a variety of supernaturals.
- "Revived King Ha Des" from the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, a Zombie-type resurrected version of the Fiend-type Dark Ruler Ha Des.
- Warcraft and World of Warcraft. Which also have aspects of flesh-eating (as they can feed on humanoids) and plague-bearing (as they were created by a plague).
- The undead really fit into all these categories. The trolls have voodoo zombies, which seem to have free will. Abominations and Flesh Golems are constructs, ghouls eat flesh, and there's a plague going around... though it's not infectious in the traditional manner. WMG seems to point to a fungal agent that has to be eaten, or straight necromancy (voodoo go!) which can have some strange results.
- There are also creatures literally named Revenants who are undead creatures bonded to elemental spirits.
- LeChuck from Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is resurrected using voodoo magic involving his still-living beard from when he was a ghost.
- City of Heroes has the Banished Pantheon, a voodoo cult who's lowest ranking minions are zombies. They even have Adamastor, a zombie as tall as a skyscraper
- The zombies in Ghost Pirates Of Vooju Island are cheap laborers. They are basically harmless, but tend to turn against each other.
- Eternal Darkness has corpses reanimated by the magic of the Ancients. Note that the player can also command zombies with the right spell.
- In Dragon Age, zombies and other undead are most commonly created by demons from the Fade inhabiting corpses, either naturally (in areas where the Veil that separates the material world from the Fade is weak) or through the actions of mages or other powerful forces. Most such undead are best suited as foot soldiers, being fast and strong and tough, though rarely a possessed corpse will become something far more powerful such as a Revenant or Arcane Horror.
- Necromancers in Dwarf Fortress can raise any piece of a corpse that has a grasping limb to be their servant.
- Skyrim has the Forsworn Briarhearts. Which are essentially very strong individuals brought back from the dead to fight once more. The Hargravens accomplish this by replacing the heart with a 'Briar Heart'. There are also the Draugr, who are mostly normal zombies but have been brought back to semi-life by the Dragon Priests or Draugr Deathlords that more often than not own the tombs.
- Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare initially appears to follow the classic Romero rules: all dead bodies are reanimated at the time of the curse, the zombie plague can be spread through biting, and only headshots kill. An addition not found in Romero films is that holy water kills them as well. However, returning the cursed Aztec mask causes all zombies who haven't been headshot to return to normal life and intelligence.
- Diablo's various undead are often of this kind, with powerful undead such as the Skeleton King being a result of Diablo's direct influence. The Zombie Apocalypse that goes down in the first act of Diablo III, however, is a result of Tyrael renouncing his angelic title and Justice leaving the High Heavens, resulting in all those who died unjustly being brought back from their graves.
- The zombies in the Castlevania series are invariably decribed as fresh corpses reanimated by black magic.
- Final Fantasy XII took delight in bringing extensive backgrounds to all the classic enemies from the franchise and the undead were not an exception. All of them fall onto this category albeit by different means and to different ends: the vanilla zombies are unearthed corpses enslaved by magick to do menial tasks, both the zombie warriors and zombie knights are soldiers who fell in battle that are forced to continue to fight from beyond the grave through magickal glyphs branded into their bodies, the zombie magicians are spell casters who employed forbidden magicks to expand their natural lifespans through unnatural means, etc.
- Tales of Ubernorden features this type of zombies in The Killing Field that also demonstrate a few revenant traits.
- Found in an episode of Angry Beavers, in which the eponymous beavers were almost kidnapped by a voodoo witch to be made into some type of elixir. The zombies from the horrible Show Within a Show B-movies the beavers watch will invariably be flesh-eating.
- The Simpsons.
- Stroker and Hoop has an episode featuring a New Hampshire Teddy Bear-type corporation which uses Voodoo on the living to create zombies to work in their factories.
- The Terrorcons of Transformers Prime are this applied to Mechanical Lifeforms. Brought back to life as mindless berserkers by Dark Energon (which is said to be the blood of Unicron), they're vicious beasts that exist only to destroy.