"The plague was never meant to simply kill my people. It was meant to turn them...into the undead! Defend yourselves!"Animating dead bodies and summoning skeletons is a pretty useful power. So how can it be improved? Why, by getting rid of the pesky "dead bodies" limitation! Using necromancy on victims who are still alive is a good way to show just how powerful this guy is. Some versions of vampirism fall into this category as well: vampires are traditionally considered undead, and some settings have the victim transformed while still alive. Liches may result from the caster doing this to himself. Compare Animate Dead. Not to be confused with Technically Living Zombie, which is where a zombie-esque creature results from (for instance) infecting a living person with a disease (a zombie that was made by transforming a living human into a humanoid which is, for all intents and purposes, a zombie), while this is a spell or other form of Applied Phlebotinum which kills the target and turns them into an actual zombie in one go. Also not to be confused with Spawn Broodling, which creates a minion from the body's mass, not use the body itself to attack.
— Arthas Menethil, Warcraft III
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Anime and Manga
- Sankarea touches on this trope. Although Chihiro's experiments with zombification started when he wanted to reanimate his pet cat after it was hit by a car, Rea steals some of the zombie potion and then drinks it herself. It doesn't seem to have any effect, but when she later dies accidentally, she pretty quickly comes back as a zombie.
- Dungeon: The Early Years has the wizards Horus and Alcibiade trapped in a prison. Horus' plan is to cast a Necromancy by Anticipation spell, starve to death, be buried outside the prison, and then rise from the grave (and devouring an entire herd of cows to get back to true life). It works.
- In The Goon, the Zombie Priest accidentally created his nemesis Buzzard (who's technically a sort of "anti-zombie" who feeds on the dead, but otherwise counts); by using the zombie creating magic on him when he was alive.
- In Blackest Night, Nekron does this, but only on those who came Back from the Dead (e.g. Superman). Green Lantern and The Flash avoid this by being Just One Second Out of Sync.
- The German film Night Of The Living Dorks has the protagonists hit with an improperly cast resurrection spell, which upon their death later that night in a car accident resurrects them as zombies. Thankfully, they were still pretty normal and managed to get truly revived before going full zombie.
- Psychomania has members of a biker gang perform a ritual that immediately resurrects them as members of the undead after they perform suicidal stunts.
Live Action TV
- Kamen Rider Double pulls a science-based version in The Movie: The main antagonists, including Big Bad Kamen Rider Eternal, are "Necro-Overs" — Super Soldiers made from reanimated corpses. Eternal's master plan is to construct a massive machine that, when activated, will unleash a wave of energy that will turn everyone in Fuuto into "undead monsters" like himself. Naturally, Double saves the day and prevents the machine from being used.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The undead Son of Kyuss is an animated corpse that has fat green worms crawling in and out of its skull orifices. Once per round a worm will jump onto an opponent in melee combat with the Son and try to infect the victim. If it succeeds, the target will immediately become a Son of Kyuss.
- The 3.5E supplement Sandstorm has an Artifact of Doom called the Dead Throne that not only brought the desert warlord Ten-Ap back from the dead but also gave him the ability to convert the living into mummies.
- One of the nastiest powers of the zombie lord, a monster unique to Ravenloft, is its ability to cause the instant death and re-animation of living opponents.
- In the Forgotten Realms, the curst (Lost Empires of Faerûn) is created by casting bestow curse on a dying subject, followed by create undead or create greater undead.
- Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume 1. The undead known as a spectral wizard is created by casting the Create Spectral Wizard spell on a human or elf wizard. The wizard is immediately changed into a spectral wizard.
- 1st edition Advanced D&D Monster Manual
- Spectres, wights and wraiths are undead that drain Character Levels from their victims by touch. If a victim drops to level zero, they die and immediately become a half-strength undead of the same type as the one that killed them.
- The shadow is an undead that drains points of a victim's Strength by touching them. If the target's Strength drops to zero, they become a shadow.
- Adventure WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure. The slow shadow inflicts cold damage by touch. Any creatures killed by one is changed into a slow shadow.
- The spell Energy Drain drains the Life Energy (Character Levels) of victims. Any human or humanoid drained to zero levels or less becomes an undead.
- When the spell was first written out in Module G1-3 Against The Giants (1981), it turned its victims into standard zombies.
- Ju-ju zombies were officially added to the game in the Monster Manual II (1983) supplement. They were defined as the zombies that were created by the Energy Drain spell. When the Unearthed Arcana (1985) supplement came out, it changed Energy Drain's description so it created ju-ju zombies.
- Module D1 ''Descent into the Depths of the Earth". The treasure of the lich Asberdies includes a crown, sceptre and orb which bear a curse. Anyone who takes possession of them will sicken, die, and immediately turn into a wight (an undead monster that drains Life Energy).
- Advanced D&D 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. In the "Artifacts and Relics Powers/Effects Tables", one of the Major Malevolent Effects was the user aging 3-30 years each time they used a primary power. If they did this often enough they would change into a "deathless withered zombie".
- Magic: The Gathering
Jadar: And then I realized we all have skeletons on the inside. Why wait until the bodies are dead to control them?
- Skeletonize burns away a creature's flesh and (assuming three damage will kill it) leaves behind an undead skeleton under your command.
- Skeletal Grimace does this by implication, though it doesn't officially change the creature's type.
- Chaosium's supplement All the Worlds' Monsters. If a creature is touched by a Coachman of Death, it must make a saving throw vs. magic or be turned into a zombie.
- Warcraft III:
- As alluded to in the page quote, the undead plague sent ahead of the demonic invasion turns humans into zombies after putting them into a magical sleep.
- During the invasion of Quel'Thalas Arthas transforms Sylvanas Windrunner into a banshee while she's still alive. This was retconned in the World of Warcraft novel Arthas: The Rise of the Lich King, however.
- There's also Arthas himself. By the time he returns to Lordaeron from Northrend he's officially considered undead, but there has been no point in the canon showing him actually dying to become as such. He simply picks up Frostmourne, and its influence strips away his humanity.
- In gameplay the Dark Ranger's Black Arrow transforms those hit by it into giant skeletons on death.
- In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, the Necropolis faction typically has access to an undead transformer that can convert living troops into undead.
- In Might and Magic VIII, the mentioned Skeleton Transformer is a plot element — the local necromantic faction and the local chapter of the Church of the Sun are locked in a surprisingly grey struggle. You need to tip the balance to one side for them to join your alliance, and the way to do so for the Church of the Sun is to infiltrate the necromancers' holdfast and sabotage their skeleton transformer, severely cutting down on the necromancers' ability to produce reinforcements for the war (while individual necromancers can raise the dead, it lacks the industrial efficiency of the transformer and means they can't spend their time doing other war-helpful activities).
- Final Fantasy:
- The Zombie status makes sufferers vulnerable to Revive Kills Zombie without affecting their allegiance.
- Final Fantasy XIII and its direct sequel: the mindless monsters Cie'th are considered undead, even though to become one, a human must not so much die as fail a Focus given to them by a fal'Cie. When a fal'Cie feels threatened, however, it can give humans an Unwinnable "null" Focus, which turns them into Cie'th on the spot, rapidly spawning a veritable zombie army around the fal'Cie.
- In Eternal Darkness anyone killed by the miniboss of Edward's level instantly becomes a hostile zombie (although apart from the very first victim, you can drive it off and save Edward's servants if you're quick enough). This is also what happens to Anthony, in the form of a Slow Transformation progressing at various points through his level.
- In Clive Barker's Undying, you can use the Revive spell on some living enemies, which makes them Driven to Suicide.
- The Sims 3 expansion pack Supernatural introduced zombies to the game, where on a full moon, random Sims from the neighbourhood will turn into zombies for the night (dancing to a boom box, eating your plants, and attacking other sims), and then transform back into humans the next morning. You can also use the aptly named "Zombification Elixir" created by the alchemy station to turn a Sim into a zombie for two game days, or the "Potent Zombification Elixir" to turn them into a zombie permanently.
- The Web Game Takeover has you fighting the undead Evil Empire, whose special power instantly converts some of your squads into the undead equivalents under the empire's control. It's easily the best power, which explains why you can't play them.
- The Episode 2 boss of Wolfenstein 3D is Dr. Schabbs, a Deadly Doctor who flings syringes full of a "corpsokinetic animation serum". If B.J. Blazkowicz loses all of his health to a syringe, his HUD portrait turns an ashen color as he becomes an undead mutant like those fought throughout the level.
- The Worm Thralls from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - people who were turned into zombies without being dead first thanks to the use of a powerful necromantic ritual. To give you an idea of how powerful, this sort of thing is only known to the guy who pretty much invented becoming a lich and is more or less the god of necromancy.
- The demons of the Doom series have had a bit of fun with this trope.
- In the classic games, the "zombiemen" are occasionally called "former humans", and are described in the manual as "flesh-eating mutants".
- In Doom 3, intangible skull-demon-thingies can turn living humans into zombies instantly on "contact", though player characters seem to be immune.
- The Field Scientists from Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City have a special ability that has them shooting a dart full of the T-Virus that can turn human characters into red zombies.
- Contact with certain enemies or environmental hazards in the Wario Land series can temporarily transform Wario into Zombie Wario.
- Inverted in Singularity: Using handheld time-travel, you can turn enemy soldiers into adult-sized five-month fetuses. Played straight for all its horror, and no, you can't make zombies by using the TMD in reverse; that just dusts them. To death. With explosions. Multiple explosions.
- In Diablo III's Reaper of Souls expansion, The Reapers attack the city of Westmarch with an army of Revenants; undead created by ripping the souls out of still-living humans.
- The Cordyceps fungus is known for infecting live insects like ants, manipulating the movements of its host before the fungus ultimately consumes the host's organs and spread its spores, ideally from a high location which it would direct the host to pre-death.