Follow TV Tropes


Artificial Zombie

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

An Artificial Zombie is what happens when you try to reanimate someone with science (and usually also For Science!), causing them to Come Back Wrong. 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 an almost zero percent chance of spreading zombification and creating a Zombie Apocalypse.

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

Subtrope of Our Zombies Are Different. Compare Frankenstein's Monster. See also SkeleBot 9000.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the manga version of Black Butler, the Phoenix Society attempts to cure all ailments, including death. The result isn't pretty.
  • Brandon Heat of Gungrave is revived by science. He has his own personality and free will but must be maintained or he will literally fall apart.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the various chimeras are basically this type of zombie as the pain incapacitates them yet separating them kills both. This is especially true when animals and humans are combined. The "Doll Soldiers" are also this, the result of ripping out people's souls and placing them in one-eyed artificial bodies. They also definitely fit the flesh-eating type.
    • In the 2003 anime, the homunculi are this, as they are beings revived through alchemy with parts of their original body as the base. With the exception of Gluttony, none of them consume human flesh, and they of course cannot turn someone else into a homunculus through any means.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, Touhou Fuhai uses an unexplained method to revive his great-great-granddaughter Ling-Ling, who died in an accident. This being a relatively idealistic series, she completely retains her free will and sanity (though she's not without quirks). She can survive dismemberment as long as her pieces remain intact, which she not only uses for a combat advantage, but also as a party trick.
  • Zombie Romanticism has these.
  • 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" became his Catchphrase.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately, cyborg zombiedom sometimes is contagious. Mobile Fighter G Gundam has DG Cells, a nanobot zombie plague spawning from the robotic 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.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has the Mariage, Magitek constructs created from human corpses.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig has a few brain-dead cyborgs remotely operated or by AI after death, even acting like they were still alive.

    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 let's 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.
  • While Simon Dark himself was brought to life using Mad Science and Dark Magic his murderous predecessor was created before his creator gave in and tried combining his science with magic.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

  • The House by the Cemetery is a good example of when Mad Scientist is mixed with Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Similarly, the creatures of Zombie Holocaust (1980) 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Deadly Friend: the eponymous undead girlfriend psycho robot buddy.
  • The second combat sequence in Sucker Punch featured WWI German soldiers revived with "clockwork and steam". That's right, steampunk zombies.
  • 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.
  • 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. The trope is lampshaded and given a huge Take That, as "Stitching people together with knives for hands [is] something only the Nazis could think of".
  • 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.

  • Zombies vs. Unicorns story Children of the Revolution has zombies most like this, though with a bit of P thrown in as they can infect others.
  • In Blaylock's Homunculus, the eponymous creature can re-animate the dead, including animal carcasses or body parts, by will alone. So can Narbando, though his creations must be fed regular meals of blood pudding to stay animate. Blaylock's zombies are sluggish and mute, but not animalistic, being capable of menial labor in factories or (if undecayed) of begging and handing out flyers in the street.
  • As noted above, zombies in The Dresden Files are reanimated by Black Magic, but more strongly fit the construct type than the voodoo type. The zombies are explicitly compared to the Terminator, being fast, tough, and super strong. Zombies also require the necromancer who has raised them to keep up a drumbeat to control them, as the magic involved in controlling them involves making the zombie think the orders being given to them are coming from inside of them, and the drumbeat is a stand-in for their heartbeat; as long as the zombie thinks its heart is beating, and the orders are tied to the heartbeat, the zombie thinks it wants to do what the necromancer wants it to do. And since it bears mentioning at least one more time: Polka Powered Zombie Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Herbert West–Reanimator serial 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 that is smart enough to make more walking corpses. It then orders the new zombies to tear Dr. West limb from limb (and they took his head when they ran off). The most terrifying fact was that all of them were fast zombies — they retained the full physical strength they had in life, the quickness of a fit living human, lacked any sort of fear and never gave up unless killed (again) for good.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Mad Doctor Qyburn is involved in so far un described 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 Creature in Frankenstein was pieced together from dead tissue by some (poorly-defined) means and given life.
  • 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.
    Whatever had happened had definitely changed him. His skin looked sallow and unhealthy. He walked slowly, like he was trudging through mud, and every now and then his body shook with a violent twitch. But he didn't look like the zombies Zak had seen in his dreams. He looked like he'd been ill, but he did not look like the walking dead.
    • The Mad Scientist creating the reanimation formula injected himself before he was killed, so he came back with his faculties intact, though he tended to spasm. He injected Zak with the formula and a poison, believing that the spasming was thanks to the death trauma and perhaps slipping into death during a coma instead of being more vigorously killed would eliminate that effect. When Zak came out of his coma he denied the possibility that he was a zombie now, and he wasn't super-strong or immune to pain, but then again he hadn't died yet, and now and then he twitched, very slightly.
  • 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 Lifeless of Warbreaker are corpses (human or anything else) animated by Breath magic, and magically bound to obey the orders of anyone who knows their command phrase.
  • 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. And it doesn't just work on humans: the titular Charles Dexter Ward is a zombified Living Ship.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A man attempts this in the Fringe episode "Marionette". Using a serum 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 though he's reanimated her body, her mind is still gone.
  • Doctor Who: In the Series 8's Grand Finale ("Dark Water" and "Death in Heaven"), Missy aka The Master revealed her true self and her plans by using the dead (the recent ones as well using a whole cemetery) by converting the corpses into Cybermen and so she can Take Over the World.
  • Babylon 5: In "Spider in the Web", a murder and several assaults are committed by a 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.
  • 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 
  • Flesh golems, cadaver golems, and especially blasphemes in Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Warhammer Vampire Counts have the Corpse Cart, which is literally a bunch of corpses assembled onto a ramshackle cart with a wraith-like driver. It attacks with its many reanimated corpses reaching out and can also infect others with the zombie plague. The Tomb Kings also have two Skeleton Variants: a Bone Giant made up of bone and other materials, and the Giant Scorpion, which contains the still conscious, but mummified corpse of a Lich Priest.
  • In the plane of Innistrad in Magic: The Gathering, special zombies called "Skaabs" are the result of biological experiments to discover the nature of death, and are animated through technology rather than good ol' necromancy.
    • The Egyptian-inspired plane of Amonkhet brings two types of artificial zombies (albeit more in the sense of being modified corpses, since anything on Amonkhet comes back to life as a zombie). There's the more typical mummies, carefully embalmed (by other mummies programmed to do such, no less) and turned into docile servants that keep the city running. And there's the eternalized, the corpses of those that win the trials, encased within a mystical substance known as lazotep that preserves their skills in life, making them the ideal army.
  • Cyberzombies are what happens in Shadowrun when you pack so much tech into someone that their soul is eaten away entirely but you keep them alive with Magitek.
  • 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 were corpses who had Demons and ghosts added to them, and finally the Radio Zombie who are corpses brought back to life (and repeatedly killed by) nuclear radiation.

    Video Games 
  • Most RPGs that involve dungeon-crawling will have some sort of zombies as a monster, usually found in the creepy Dark Temple/haunted house/graveyard setting. They may induce status effects, but are treated like any other monster in this case.
  • Abominations from Warcraft and World of Warcraft differ from the rest of the plague in that they are pieced together from different corpses, much like Frankenstein's Monster himself.
  • The zombies from the House of the Dead series of video games 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.
    • 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.
    • The primary exceptions being the two main characters of House of the Dead EX, but that game isn't really connected to the main series.
  • The Sims
    • The Sims had zombies included in the first expansion pack. When a sim died and you pleaded with The Grim Reaper, you had a 25% chance of keeping that sim, only as a zombie with no personality points, and a green tint to their skin and clothing.
    • The Sims 2: University, as a result of a cheap resurrection. The good news is, teen zombies get an Undead Scholarship for university.
    • The fifth expansion pack, "Unleashed," included an NPC who could "revivify" zombie sims, for a fee of course. Their personalities never returned, however.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a variety of zombie monsters (including a headless (sub)version), along with necromancers and vampires who share their quarters with corpses, both animated and not. Spells can also be purchased that allow the player to summon a zombie, and the Mages Guild focuses on the extermination of necromancy, culminating in the acquisition of a staff that reanimates the bodies of the recently deceased.
    • The Shivering Isles expansion pack introduces new enemies, which includes "flesh atronachs" of varying degrees, and skinned hounds. A "summon flesh atronach" spell can be obtained, and a skinned hound is the reward for one of the random quests. Furthermore, the player can spend quite a lot of time fighting the living impaired (including corpses that only reanimate when approached), and can even assist a charming woman in the parts selection (and subsequent rebuilding ritual) of a very large opponent.
    • The zombies also carry disease which the player can catch if they fight the zombie. But none of the disease will turn the user into a zombie, they're just normal diseases, since, you know, a rotting corpse isn't exactly the most hygienic thing in the world to be around.
    • Flesh atronach were introduced in Daggerfall (and were probably closer to undead in that game, since from Morrowind onward atronach meant a variety of Daedra rather than a golem-like construct). Zombies are in every game in the series, though their appearance varies, and they aren't called that in Morrowind (as they aren't called that in the province of Morrowind).
  • 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, they can be found wandering around the facility, armed with lasers or plasma weapons.
  • City of Heroes also has the Vahzilok, a group of doctors that kidnap people off the streets and turn them into mindless, stitched up zombies.
  • Mass Effect has its 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. The second game 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 medigel."
  • In Lake Yantar and Red Forest in Stalker you will often come upon Stalkers who had their brains fried by the Brain Scorchers and aimlessly stumble through the wilderness mumbling incomprehensible things to themselves and attacking anyone who gets to close.
    • Another example would be Snorks, who have degenerated into a primitive and feral state from unknown causes and are very similar to fast zombies, except that they crawl instead of running upright.
  • Sion, a champion in League of Legends, was a berzerker from the nation of Noxus who was captured and beheaded by their enemy Dramacia. His corpse was stole and reanimated as an undead golem, enhancing his already fearsome strength with various magical abilities.
    • Not to mention Urgot, whose 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.
  • In the Serious Sam series, dead Sirian soldiers are beheaded, resurrected and made into lightweight soldiers with rudimentary intelligence.
  • Vincent Valentine of Final Fantasy VII was killed and revived by science. Effectively a zombie with the power of shapeshifting, he nevertheless retains his personality and will of his own, giving him shades of a revenant.
  • Zombies in the first Blood game are implied to be artificial; Axe Zombies are the successful creations, while Choking Hands are all they can do with the most mutilated corpses.
  • Most zombies in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura are magically reanimated. However, as befits the SCIENCE! tone of the technology in the game, there is also a technological device that reanimates zombies.
  • 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
  • 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 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.
  • Initiates from Abomination: The Nemesis Project are 'decomposing amalgams of men and women-or, more accurately, the remains of them-fitted with cybernetic parts'.
  • 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 & processors of a disassembled robot, and a generous dose of structure gel to bind it all together.
  • The Marked of Kane is a Nod subfaction 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.
  • Automatons from Total Annihilation: Kingdoms are stated to be this; and that 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 Too Human, a cyberpunk take on Norse Mythology, 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 they can be rebuilt into Einherjar, including the player character Balder.
  • A common character type in Metal Gear.
    • The Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid is an artificially revived version of Frank Jaeger, Snake's Worthy Opponent from the previous game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. He's repeatedly compared to a 'ghost'.
    • Vamp 'dies' when shot in the head by Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty but remains as a living corpse with a noticeably paler skin tone. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it's stated his immortality is due to Naomi's nanomachine technology. Naomi also used the same technology on herself, and instantly dies after deactivating her nanomachines.
    • Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4 got mutilated and returned as a creepy corpse version of himself in a robot suit.
    • Nanomachine zombies are also briefly encountered in Metal Gear Solid 4, and parasite zombies are more common in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
    • A weird variation is the Basilisk from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - a quadrupedal walking tank containing an AI modelled after The Boss. Its battle animation contains a lurching bipedal walk clearly modelled after a zombie.
  • City of Heroes had the Vahzilok, a group of mad scientists and their undead servants animated by machines and chemicals. Mastermind players can also choose this option with Necromancy powers of a science or tech origin.

  • In Girl Genius reanimation is a pretty common occurrence given the gaslamp fantasy setting ruled by Mad Scientists.
  • All of the zombies in the Narbonic Verse, most notably Unity.

    Web Original 


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: