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Artificial Zombie

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Call them "Husks", if you want to, we all know they're actually cyber-zombies.note  At least they don't want to snack on your processor.

"I was cast into being in winter of 1795, a living corpse without a soul. Stitched, jolted, bludgeoned back to life by a madman."
Adam, I, Frankenstein

An Artificial Zombie is what happens when you reanimate the dead with science (and usually also For Science!), causing them to Come Back Wrong. You cram a corpse with hardware, electric power, and a pinch of Applied Phlebotinum, and the results are not pretty: something between am Unnecessarily Creepy Robot and The Undead, but worse than either.

Compare Unwilling Roboticisation, which happens to a character who is alive (and horrified). This is effectively the same thing done to one who is dead: they cannot put up any resistance, but neither can they suffer.

The good news is that if they go berserk and start consuming human flesh (and they probably will — zombies will be zombies, after all), they have almost no chance of spreading The Virus and creating a Zombie Apocalypse.

This trope is frequently heavily influenced by and may have origins in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Sub-Trope of Our Zombies Are Different. Compare Frankenstein's Monster and We Can Rebuild Him. See also SkeleBot 9000.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Black Butler, the Phoenix Society attempts to cure all ailments, including death. The result isn't pretty.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig has a few brain-dead cyborgs operated remotely or by A.I. after death, even acting like they were still alive.
  • Brandon Heat of the Gungrave anime is revived by science. He has his own personality and free will but must be maintained or else he will literally fall apart.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has the Mariage, Magitek constructs created from human corpses.
  • Unfortunately, cyborg zombiedom sometimes is contagious. Mobile Fighter G Gundam has DG Cells, a nanobot zombie plague spawning from the Mechanical Abomination that is the Devil Gundam. It would be bad enough if DG Cells merely affected people, but the disease's nanobot nature means it can make its way into the Mobile Trace System and infect Humongous Mecha as well, which means only one thing: giant zombie robots.
  • Zombies are the main antagonist's Mooks in the One Piece Thriller Bark arc. They're corpses modified by Dr. Hogback and then reanimated with people's shadows by Gekko Moria.
  • Sid Barett from Soul Eater, who was brought back to life by Stein's experiments. It's Played for Laughs, as the only difference between now and when he was alive is that his skin is blue, his eyes are all-white, and "That's the kind of man I was" has become his catchphrase.

    Comic Books 
  • Arrowsmith: The setting's equivalent of mustard gas is a Deadly Gas that kills its victims and then raises their corpses as zombies.
  • Finder: Inverted; the zombies are still alive, but they still go about scuffling along in packs. This is because they're office workers; they have a chip in their brain that lets them do all their work on the internet while their bodies are sent out shambling to get more exercise. One woman's husband shows up to get a look at her because he just got a post card announcing her promotion.
  • Simon Dark: While Simon himself was brought to life using Mad Science and Black Magic, his murderous predecessor was created before his creator gave in and tried combining his science with magic.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The Many began due to Alan Jonah and his Basement Club's experiments with Ghidorah's DNA, and it's at one point revealed that the Basement Club have specifically infected dead corpses with the Many, causing them to reanimate.
  • A major plot point in Left Beyond in that most of the Designated Villains are people who died by Divine decree but were reanimated by a metabolic extension controller. Not having a soul makes them Feel No Pain but damages their ability to come up with creative plans.
  • The Zootopia sci-fi AU Prosthenisis puts a Darker and Edgier take on the Night Howlers by making them dead cyborgs whose Artificial Limbs were hacked and remotely controlled — usually, they were killed by their own prosthetics as well.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Zombies in Dead Heat are created using a chemical/electrical device that restores animation for about 12 hours, after which the zombie's tissues undergo rapid liquification. If reanimated immediately after death, the zombie will retain its sentience and personality; wait a bit before zapping a corpse, and brain decomposition makes it a compliant Mook with no individuality... unless you're Joe Piscopo, whose persona re-asserts itself when spurred by bad in-jokes.
  • Deadly Friend: The eponymous undead girlfriend psycho robot buddy.
  • Dr. Howell's patients in Death Warmed Up are dead people brought back to life, and he is currently trying find a way to make their new life permanent, since they melt away if not continually treated.
  • In Frankenstein Island, Sheila Frankenstein has created a Henchmen Race of artificial zombies by experimenting on the shipwrecked sailors stranded on the island. It is repeatedly stated that they have no blood and are reanimated by psychic energy provided by the spirit of her dead great-grandfather. Supposedly they cannot be stopped by anything short of being cut in half with a machine gun.
  • The monsters in Frankenstein's Army are actually horrific cyborgs, cooked up by the direct descendant of Doctor Victor Frankenstein — his grandson, in fact — during World War II. In the words of one character: "Stitching people together with knives for hands [is] something only the Nazis could think of."
  • The House by the Cemetery is a good example of when Mad Scientist is mixed with Frankenstein's Monster.
  • The zombies in the Re-Animator series, loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft story, possibly the classic film appearance of this type, are created by a mad scientist's serum.
  • The second combat sequence in Sucker Punch features WWI German soldiers revived with "clockwork and steam". That's right, steampunk zombies.
  • The creatures of Zombie Holocaust are created when a Mad Scientist transplants the brains of the living into the bodies of the dead. The movie itself is a mashup of zombie movie and Cannibal Film (the title being a nod to Cannibal Holocaust).
  • The zombies in Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! are a cross between an artificial zombie and a Plague Zombie: created when an experimental cure for cancer is accidentally combined with an experimental cure for crack addiction. The resultant drug is stolen by the janitor, and then taken by a hooker he frequents who is looking for a high. The drug kills the body and then reanimates it, but the condition can be spread by biting.

  • In the Boojumverse story "The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward", Dr. Fiorenzo has used forbidden science to produce a serum that reanimates the dead as zombies. It doesn't just work on humans: the titular Charles Dexter Ward is a zombified Living Ship.
  • In The Brothers' War, Ashnod's transmogrants are living people that have been transformed into pickled, blue-skinned zombie soldiers through the power of twisted science.
  • The Creature in Frankenstein is almost certainly the most influential example, being a living being pieced together from dead tissue by some (poorly defined) means and given life. However, in the novel, the creature doesn't resemble a zombie anything other than visually, being fast, strong, intelligent and actually quite friendly.
  • The zombies of Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead are caused by a corpse being exposed to boneworms or a formula based on boneworm secretions, provided the worms are chased off before they can eat the body. They don't eat flesh or tear people apart unless ordered to, but they're also Nigh Invulnerable, hideously strong, don't seem to need light to see, and are not affected by physical force or being blasted. Some mindlessly obey orders, older corpses are clumsy and look gross, and Kairn, who was a Cheerful Child and was dosed soon after he was murdered, has turned dull-eyed and slow of wit, but retains some of his mind, can talk, and still considers Zak his friend, though he follows orders until directly appealed to. The Mad Scientist who created the reanimation formula injected himself before he was killed, so he came back with his faculties intact, though he tends to spasm. He injects Zak with the formula and a poison, believing that the spasming is due to the death trauma, and perhaps slipping into death during a coma instead of being more vigorously killed would eliminate that effect. When Zak comes out of his coma, he denies the possibility that he's become a zombie, and he isn't super-strong or immune to pain — then again, he hadn't died yet, and now and then he twitches, very slightly.
  • Goosebumps: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder has a variation whereby the villain Mr. Toggle severs the hands of his victims and cybernetically reanimates them to play perfect piano music. This is visible on the front cover. In the end, the ghosts of the victims retake control of their hands and drag their murderer to his doom.
  • Herbert West–Reanimator involves the titular scientist making several attempts to reanimate the dead. His first few tries all result in Flesh Eating Zombies (he blames brain damage), but eventually he makes one smart enough to make more walking corpses. The smart zombie then orders the new ones to tear Dr. West limb from limb (and they take his head when they run off). The most terrifying thing is that all of them are fast zombies — they retain the full physical strength they had in life, the quickness of a fit living human, lack any sort of fear and never give up unless killed (again) for good.
  • Scyldars in A.A. Attanasio's The Last Legends of Earth are mostly formed from vat-grown flesh and sculpted metal to form killing machines, but the inclusion of a human brain taken from a recently slain person and kept semi-alive pushes them into this trope.
  • The "twinkle-heads" in Revenger are a cross between this and Parasite Zombie. A twinkly is an alien Brain/Computer Interface which, with great difficulty and risk, some humans can briefly tap into if they have a skull from one of the aliens. Some people thought it would simpler and easier to plug the twinkly directly into their own brains. What actually happens is that the twinkly starts communicating with the hardware in their spacesuits, and quickly realises that the person is the least necessary part of the whole thing. Result: a skeletal figure lurching about via its suit's servomotors, searching for other space-travellers so it can cannibalise their suits for repairs.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Mad Doctor Qyburn is involved in so far undescribed experimentation on the dying Gregor Clegane and a bunch of other poor suckers he was given permission to make use of. The end result is one of these, an unstoppable creature that gets named Ser Robert Strong.
  • The Zombies vs. Unicorns story Children of the Revolution has zombies most like this, though with a bit of Plague Zombie thrown in as they can infect others.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: In "Spider in the Web", a murder and several assaults are committed by an agent of a black-ops organization called "Bureau 13", whose "Project Lazarus" developed a method for reviving, brainwashing, and cybernetically enhancing a recently-killed person.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Doctor Dances", the gas mask zombie child Jamie is revealed to be this. The Doctor speculates the nanogenes found his dead body wearing a gas mask and exhibiting the collapsed chest cavity, crushed skull, scar on the left hand, etc. that all the gas mask zombies develop on turning; but because the nanogenes had no idea what a healthy, living human being is supposed to look like, they brought Jamie back wrong and...
      The Doctor: [...] now they think they know what people should look like, and it's time to fix all the rest!
    • The Dalek puppets of the Eleventh Doctor era are a deliberate case of this. They're created by the Daleks essentially hollowing out humans' (or any other sentient humanoid species') bodies and filling them with Dalek technology. Either a perfect fresh body or a desiccated skeleton will come back.
    • In the Series 8's Grand Finale ("Dark Water" and "Death in Heaven"), Missy a.k.a. the Master reveals her true self and her plans by converting corpses (recent ones as well using a whole cemetery) into Cybermen to Take Over the World.
  • A man attempts this in the Fringe episode "Marionette". Using a serum that he invented which dramatically slows decomposition, he preserves a girl's corpse, transplants her donated organs back into her body, and restarts her system with a jolt of electricity. However, he gives up when it becomes clear that although he's reanimated her body, her mind is still gone.
  • Star Trek gives us the Borg, possibly the most famous example, if a subdued one. Subverted in that the Borg are not dead and can even be reclaimed from their state.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Every Experiment in Bleak World (except the Super-Soldier) is this. The Patchwork is a Frankenstein's Monster and Body of Bodies, the Android is created by adding technology to a corpse, Legions are corpses who had demons and ghosts added to them, and finally the Radio Zombie is a corpse brought back to life (and repeatedly killed) by nuclear radiation.
  • The plane of Innistrad in Magic: The Gathering features both the traditional "corpses dug up out of the ground" zombies and zombies called Skaabs, created by Stitchers via cobbling together various corpses in biological experiments to create life. This is represented in game by requiring the player to remove creatures in their discard pile (fittingly called the graveyard) from the game, representing the bodies needed to create them.
  • In Shadowrun, each tech augment takes away a little piece of someone's soul, so a Cyberzombie is what results when you pack so much tech into someone that their soul is eaten away entirely but their body is kept alive with Magitek.

    Video Games 
  • Initiates from Abomination: The Nemesis Project are 'decomposing amalgams of men and women — or, more accurately, the remains of them — fitted with cybernetic parts'.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery features steel zombies, which are implied to be a steampunk version of this trope. The alternate flavor text, however, states that they're regular zombies given plate mail and maces to act as Elite Mooks by a necromancer.
  • Most zombies in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura are magically reanimated. However, there is also a Steampunk technological device that reanimates zombies.
  • In Blood (1997), the manual's explanation for the Choking Hands and a later level in the game (a Frankenstein-style Mad Scientist Laboratory opening the fourth episode) imply that the zombies are artificial; Axe Zombies are the successful creations, while Choking Hands are all they can do with the most mutilated corpses.
  • City of Heroes has the Vahzilok, a group of mad scientists who kidnap people off the streets and turn them into mindless, stitched-up zombies animated by machines and chemicals. Mastermind players can also choose this option with Necromancy powers of a science or tech origin.
  • The Marked of Kane is a Nod sub-faction from the expansion pack for Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars comprised entirely of these, based on the C.A.B.A.L. supercomputer's cybernetic experiments in the previous game. Regular Nod has the ability to deploy a Support Power that turns corpses into Awakened.
  • The Possessed, the zombies du jour from Doom (2016), are of this variety, created by exposure to Lazarus Waves. As per the name, they're actually being possessed by demons from Hell.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Y-17 trauma override harnesses in Old World Blues. Due to a malfunction, the robotic suits used by the Big Mountain crew eventually took control over the wearers, leaving them trapped inside, until they died of starvation. 200 years after their death, their skeletons are still animated by the harnesses, and they can be found wandering around the facility, armed with lasers or plasma weapons.
    • The lobomites, also from Old World Blues, also count. They were ordinary humans abducted by the Think Tank who had their organic brains replaced by artificial ones. The artificial brain is supposed to receive thoughts from the original one; however, since an error in the automated process destroys the original brain instead of preserving it, they ended up turning into mindless beings that walk around the Big Mountain facility doing nothing besides copulating, reliving themselves of their physiological needs and trying to kill almost anything that isn't another lobotomite.
  • Vincent Valentine of Final Fantasy VII was killed and revived by science. Effectively a zombie with the power of shapeshifting, he nevertheless retains his own will and personality, giving him shades of a Revenant Zombie.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • While some of the Hostile Animatronics in the series are implied to be stuffed with corpses, they have normal endoskeletons with no trace of human remains inside. Springtrap, however, does have a rotten corpse inside him, owing to his origin as an animatronic that could be worn as a costume. Said feature was dangerous, and the suit was locked away. William Afton, meanwhile, used it to lure five children to their deaths, and years later got crushed when the suit's springlocks failed on him.
    • In the canon ending of Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, protagonist Michael Afton becomes one thanks to the work of Ennard. The next game elaborates on this — the Insanity Ending shows plans for the Scooper used to disembowl him, and reveals it also injects a substance called "remnant", which is implied to be capable of keeping dead spirits alive.
  • The zombies from the House of the Dead series are creations assembled/reanimated by sinister baddies, usually in massive numbers. Standard grunts are just reanimated corpses, while the bosses are creatures that have been genetically altered to get a brand-new lifeform. One of the few modern examples where the zombies don't spread their undead status to the living; the HOTD zombies just plain murder people, which fits with the usual main villain plan of trying to thin humanity's numbers. However, The House of the Dead: OVERKILL does feature plague-bearing zombies (or 'mutants', as G insists on calling them) that follow your standard "Bite-Infect-Multiply" pattern, which turns the entire region of Bayou City into a realm of living dead.
  • League of Legends: The champion Urgot's body was so severely damaged he couldn't be reanimated by conventional means (being however they reanimated Sion), so a mad scientist went and stole another mad scientist's cybernetics research and patched Urgot's corpse up so it wasn't too damaged for reanimation anymore.
  • The Sleepers of Avarrach from Infinity Wars, an unending horde of cyborg zombies created by a plague of nanomachines originally designed to extend life Gone Horribly Wrong. The Virus can also infect creatures other than humans as well, and is spreading through the portals all throughout the multiverse while the other factions try and beat it back.
  • Mass Effect has Husks, bodies of organics put on sinister skewer machines known as Dragons' Teeth, sometimes while they're still alive, and slowly transformed into electricity-spewing technological nightmares.
    • Mass Effect 2 introduces Abominations, husks that explode, and Scions and Praetorians, dangerous and incredibly dangerous (respectively) constructs forged from multiple husks.
    • As the Reaper invasion unfolds in Mass Effect 3, husks start coming in many flavors and greater numbers. Ever try imagining a krogan with a turian head and great big claws? Some Reaper sure did. Or a batarian with another batarian grafted to its side as an Arm Cannon, that's another fun one.
    • James actually lampshades their zombieness in the Leviathan DLC when he gets bitten by a disembodied husk head kept in a scientist's lab for experimentation. You are then given the option of bringing it to your cabin.
      James: Hey, EDI. Husk bites... they don't turn you into a husk or anything, right?
      EDI: I recommend you apply medi-gel.
  • Mega Man X6 sees series Big Bad Sigma brought back after his second seemingly permanent death of the series in the previous game, revived by Arc Villain Gate as a weapon of last resort but blowing his resurrector away shortly after being released. However, the revival is incomplete, and he's released as a shambling husk who can barely remember anything other than his hatred. The decline reverses in Mega Man X7.
  • A common character type in Metal Gear.
  • The Persistence's enemies may be the result of flesh tissue printers gone wrong, but they still are shambling, corpse-like monsters with all the friendliness of a Romero-movie zombie.
  • In the Serious Sam series, dead Sirian soldiers are beheaded, resurrected and made into lightweight soldiers with rudimentary intelligence.
  • The player character of SOMA is one of these, being the corpse of a human wearing a diver's suit with electronic eyes, a cybernetic processor, and a vocalizer jammed into where the skull once was, all of it held together and animated with a nanite compound called "structure gel", and with the recorded brainwaves of a century-dead human downloaded into the resultant conglomerate to give it sapience. At one point in the second half of the game, when your diving suit becomes incapable of withstanding the pressure of the lower depths you need to proceed to, you actually repeat the assembly process, using a decapitated corpse in a deep-sea enviro-suit, a "cortex chip" to copy your brain onto, the audio-visual receptors and processors of a disassembled robot, and a generous dose of structure gel to bind it all together.
  • In Too Human, the cyborg goddess Hel uses Nidhogg nanomachines to convert the dead into regenerating monsters. On the "heroic" side, the AESIR corporation has valkyries pick up fallen soldiers so that they can be rebuilt into Einherjar, including the player character Balder.
  • Automatons from Total Annihilation: Kingdoms are stated to be this; Creon take the length of a Tour of Duty very seriously. One Engineering unit has the ability to turn any corpse it encounters into an Automaton as well.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the protagonists encounter zombie-like creatures called guldos in the Land of Morytha. When the characters meet the Architect near the end of the game, he reveals that the creatures were once humans, and were the product of humanity's attempt to achieve immortality using technology that would eventually become the Core Crystals, specifically for replacing dying brain cells. It technically worked, insofar as the guldos are the only "surviving" humans of the old Earth post Klaus/the Architect's universe-creating-and-shattering experiment.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: Cluster Gems are created by Homeworld taking shards of broken Crystal Gems and forcibly fusing them. They manifest in horrific forms that look like multiple limbs rammed together. They are barely alive, driven by what little of their original selves remains; the most independent activity they show is moving towards the nearest whole Gem in the vicinity. It's theorized that this is out of a desperate attempt to restore themselves.