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Flesh-Eating Zombie

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Courtesy of the Ancient Ones.

Dr. Langham: Has anyone given any thought to what these creatures eat?
Scientist: Ben, they eat people.
Dr. Langham: That's just my point. These viral mutants used to be humans, correct? And humans are omnivores. We require the four basic food groups to survive, yet the virus creatures are living on a completely carnivorous diet. How? What does the virus do that changes such a basic attribute?
Scientist: You might be overthinking this a bit.

Flesh-Eating Zombies are the type usually found in a Zombie Apocalypse. They consume the skin, brains, or various other organs of the living, and sometimes infect survivors, who become zombies themselves — which makes them a lot like a ghoul, really. Can also be merged with a Voodoo Zombie or Plague Zombie. They show a lot of the characteristics of the actual European folkloric vampire, before Gothic novelists made them sexier and cleverer.

This is one of the most common zombie tropes to be parodied; parody zombies always moan for brains, even though that specific form was never very common.

A subtrope of Hungry Menace. Overlaps with No Zombie Cannibals when the undead ignore each other as a potential food source.

Contrast Friendly Zombie; Attractive Zombies also tend to avert this trope, due to Beauty Equals Goodness. Compare Feral Vampires, this trope's vampire counterpart.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A gross summary of Titans in Attack on Titan, in regards to their intelligence and their appetite. The main difference between them and most zombies being that the smallest Titans are still twice the size of the average human.
  • Monster Musume has Zombina, who adores eating flesh... not HUMAN flesh, mind, but she loves barbecue being a dyed-in-the-wool Lad-ette.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Goon zombies are usually flesh-eating and may be created by either mad science or voodoo depending on the story. They also may or may not be sentient. Also may or may not be evil. In fact zombies are really inconsistent in the series.
  • The Walking Dead includes zombies that eat flesh.
  • Zombo: These are a plague on the worst of the Death Worlds, as they also spread rapidly. The answer to this threat is the titular Zombo, who is a result of combining zombie and human DNA to create an obedient super soldier. He's friendly enough when he's not eating you.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Codifed by the Living Dead Series, including Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), and Land of the Dead. Though almost never called "zombies" prior to Land (series creator George A. Romero originally referred to them as "ghouls"), the living dead in this series became the starting point for nearly all Hollywood zombies that followed. They walk and move slowly, have very rudimentary instincts, and are driven most by the instinct to feed. They can only be stopped by destroying their brains. Over the series, their attributes are gradually expanded upon. In Dawn of the Dead (1978) it's discovered that they are drawn to places they knew in life, such as malls. In Day of the Dead (1985) it's discovered that they can be trained to use tools can be coaxed to remember aspects of their past life. Land of the Dead takes it all much further, showing that the dead can communicate with each other, empathize with each other and cooperate to solve problems, suggesting that they are replacing humanity. Anyone who dies in the living dead world will become reanimated, which is the overriding reason the planet is overrun so quickly. Zombie bites are fatal, thus causing victims to reanimate after they die.
  • The Return of the Living Dead series riffs off the Romero series, but changes the zombies to make them much more dangerous. Decapitating the zombies will not stop them, and this change is Lampshaded by one character in the first movie, who cries, "You mean the movie lied?" Zombies maintain a roughly human-level intelligence, and can run and speak provided they still have the right parts, enabling them to taunt and bully their victims, as well as lure them to their doom by impersonating normal humans. They are driven to feed on human brains because it temporarily eases the pain of being dead. A gas called Trioxin is the source of the plague.
  • Army of the Dead: Both the Alphas and shamblers eat human flesh, and the former and the latter (when they are still freshly zombified) are extra dangerous since they can run. Not to mention the zombie tiger.
  • Black Sheep (2007): The sheep and were-sheep infected by The Virus are Technically Living Zombies which will eat people alive like an addict burying their nose in coke, and anyone who survives a bite from one of them will turn into a were-sheep.
  • Cemetery Man: Flesh-eating for the most part. Would also be plague-bearing, except the dead in the town are coming back regardless of how they die.
  • Day of the Dead (2008): The zombies will eat you alive — unless they were vegetarian when they were alive, in which case they're not so harmful if you don't piss them off.
  • In the movie Demons, the eponymous creatures are basically flesh-eating and plague-bearing zombies, with a bit of demon in them.
  • The zombies of Fido are clearly inspired from Romero's Living Dead series, with the reanimation of the dead (which continues to occur for anyone who dies of any cause) being attributed to space radiation like in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Naturally, they act this way, though the ZomCon corporation has developed control collars that somehow inhibit the desire, allowing controlled zombies to act as domestic servants. Unusually, the bites of these zombies do not seem fatal, as one character is revealed to be covered in several bite-like scars (presumably from his zombie girlfriend).
  • The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) features undead who are reanimated when vibrations from farm machinery revive their nervous systems.
  • Zombie Man from Monster Brawl is your typical Romero-esque zombie, who is described as "headcheese aficionado". He is part of US army's secret super soldier project, who has a nonstop desire for flesh, and he even tries to have a bite out of Frankenstein when they wrestle each other.
  • The zombies in Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City (a.k.a. City of the Walking Dead) (1980) are variations of the Flesh-Eating Zombie, except they drink blood instead of eating flesh. The specific origins of the plague are a result of radiation exposure.
  • Shaun of the Dead zombies are generally of the Romero type. The interesting thing is that, while animal-like and mindless, they retain some mannerisms and shards of personality they had in life — a zombified kid keeps playing with his ball, zombified menial workers can still do their job, and Shaun's zombified stepdad turns off the radio with the blaring modern music he hated in life. And zombie Ed still plays video games.
  • Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!: It's street-smart strippers versus flesh-eating zombies after a drug experiment gone horribly awry unleashes a plague of the gut-munchers on the unsuspecting citizens of a heavily populated city.

  • The Ur-Example is no doubt The Epic of Gilgamesh were the goddess Inanna treatens to release all the dead from hell to eat the living.
  • An early example is in Herbert West–Reanimator by H. P. Lovecraft. While the story predates the usage of the term zombie, several of the corpses that are reanimated (Doctor Halsey in the chapter "The Plague-Daemon" and the boxer in "Six Shots by Moonlight") do kill and eat other people.
  • In Portlandtown the mindless zombies that are created by the Hanged Man's presence are fairly standard modern type, eating flesh and turning those they bite into zombies.
  • Featured in Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
  • The books The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z by Max Brooks attribute the zombie outbreaks to the fictional virus "Solanum", described as being contagious through contact with bodily fluids in open wounds (i.e. bites, splatter, and deep scratches) and 100% fatal. The virus warps the brain into a new organ that does not require food, water, or even air to survive. Still, even though it's not necessary to sustain unlife, zombies attempt to attack and consume living flesh, largely as a means of spreading the virus. Zombies don't feel pain and can only be killed by destroying the brain — decapitation merely results in a head that can still bite and feed if one gets too close, burning them can take several minutes to fry the brain (during which time they can set their surroundings on fire), and freezing them solid only works until they thaw out again.
    • His short story (and later comic book) The Extinction Parade largely follows the same rules, with the added detail that the No Zombie Cannibals rule applies to all undead, including vampires. By the same logic, since vampires are technically dead already, they can't be zombified or killed by exposure to zombie fluids — they get very sick from it, but they fully recover.
    • There are a few slight but notable differences between Brooks-zombies, Romero-zombies, and Kirkman-zombies from The Walking Dead. People turn into Romero-zombies if they die for any reason, zombie bites just happen to always cause a fatal infection. Brooks-zombies are caused by a virus, and if you're not exposed to a zombie's bodily fluids you won't catch it. People know that Brooks-zombies are created by a virus, it is just untreatable. No one knows what causes Romero-zombies, with the frustration at the lack of an explanation being part of the plot: scientists suspect it's a virus everyone is technically already infected with, but that activates upon death (from any cause), but there is room for some characters to suspect religious explanations, that it is literally the wrath of God. One big difference in behavior is that Romero-zombies can remember basic tasks, and even (after much prodding) learn from their experiences. Brooks-zombies are explicitly robotic automatons, incapable of learning from even the most basic trial and error. In some ways this makes them more terrifying: if you hide somewhere a Romero-zombie can't reach you, after a long time they might eventually realize they can't get in and leave. Brooks-zombies will just keep robotically attempting to reach their goal for days on end. Kirkman-zombies follow Romero-zombie rules more closely (anyone who dies for any reason turns into a zombie), though the one distinction is that he has stated that his zombies can never learn even on a basic level, unlike Romero-zombies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: According to Giles, zombies don't behave this way unless their masters explicitly tell them to.
    • However, in the Buffy spin-off Angel, the episode "Habeas Corpses" has the ultimate emergency mode of the Wolfram & Hart office building be to revive dead employees as Flesh-Eating Zombies.
  • The Middleman has perhaps a unique example of the Flesh Eating variety, selecting a very unusual type of flesh to eat. Nowhere else will the zombies cry not "Braiiiiins", but instead "troooooout".
  • The Walking Dead (2010) includes zombies that eat flesh.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Zigzagged in Dungeons & Dragons. Zombies are usually created by a Necromancer rather than a plague, but later editions included rules for portraying zombies that were "self-perpetuating". Zombies also usually simply try to kill anything that is around them because they hate life, but again rules for supporting flesh-eaters exist. In particular, Ravenloft provides ample support for it, having featured Cannibal Zombies (which are, literally, zombies built by way of this depiction) in 2nd edition, and having the 3rd edition sourcebook "Van Richten's Guide to the Walking Dead", which spells out the exact combination of salient powers and traits needed to build a Flesh-Eating Zombie.
  • Animates in Unhallowed Metropolis fall under this. They have elements of the Plague Zombie, as their bite is usually fatal and death from a bite is guaranteed to result in reanimation... but any corpse has a chance to reanimate, with the odds varying according to the surrounding environment.
  • Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 fill the role The Undead would play in a conventional fantasy setting, and the Flayed Ones are their Flesh-Eating Zombie equivalents. Flayed Ones suffer from a Mind Virus curse that causes feral behavior and Body Horror physical mutations, as well as afflicting them with an incurable hunger for living flesh - despite the fact that Necrons are animate metal constructs and can't actually eat. The name comes from the fact that they drape themselves in the skin of their victims.

    Video Games 
  • All the undead in Bloody Zombies enjoys human flesh. The first boss battle is in fact kicked off when you come across half a dozen undead huddled together and feasting on a fresh corpse, before the boss suddenly pops up and squashes every zombie into a pulp.
  • Dead Rising has zombies as the hosts of a genetically modified species of parasitoid wasp. The wasp larva increases its host's appetite in order to gain nutrients for its own growth, hence the flesh-eating. The wasps were originally used in an attempt to mass-produce cattle, but one of the queens escaped and started the first zombie outbreak.
  • Eternal Evil have plenty of areas where you find ghouls (the game's zombie equivalents, who behaves like typical zombies despite their name) hungrily feasting on human corpses. As well as human skeletons picked clean of flesh, in a still-wet pool of blood, nearby where ghouls are roaming about.
  • Final Fantasy XI has the Qutrub, which are actually people who have fallen to the Lamia who willingly turn themselves into zombies, and they eat flesh to stay in one piece. They are noted for being extra-weak to all damage, yet also have far more HP than most other enemies.
  • The Monster and the Uberhaunt enemies from The Halloween Hack. Both have sprites with blood dripping from their hands and mouths, implying that they eat flesh.
  • Instinct sees you battling zombies in a science facility, and in a few specimen rooms you can see zombies feasting on human carcasses and ignoring you.
  • Kyurem from Pokémon is a frozen dragon from space whose appearance and mannerisms are based off of the classic flesh-eating zombie. It's even explicitly stated to have a taste for human flesh. Though, unlike other examples, its bite cannot turn you into a zombie.
  • Lampshaded in [PROTOTYPE 2] when one scientist questions why the zombies eat nothing but flesh when humans are actually omnivores. He's told he's overthinking it.
  • Survivor: The Living Dead has plague-bearing flesh-eaters. In large numbers, and from the 2D view normally associated with platformers. Here's a review so you can see for yourself.
  • In Tsukihime, flesh-eating zombies are crossed with vampires. Humans drained by a vampire ("Dead Apostle" in the series' parlance) will first turn into ghouls, animated corpses that instinctively seek to consume flesh. If they are not destroyed, they will gradually rebuild first their body and then their mind as they continue to eat. If this continues long enough (on the order of weeks or even months), they will eventually regain awareness, becoming a full-fledged Dead Apostle themselves. Very few ghouls actually make it that far, though: most of the time, they get destroyed long before their mind begins to come back. It's also known that people with very high magic potential can speed up the process, in extreme cases developing from ghoul to vampire literally overnight.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale) has these as the premise of the game.
  • Warcraft III's Ghouls (and later Abominations) are undead units who can eat corpses (of friendly or enemy units) to quickly regenerate health. The actual zombie unit has no real abilities and is only found in campain maps.

    Web Animation 
  • Zombie College: The zombies not only eat brains but also hearts, ears and other human flesh.

  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Zombies are people who did a magic ritual to gain immortality; as a side effect, their flesh starts decaying, and they need to eat human flesh in order to replace the tissue they've lost. They can actually be fairly intelligent, but only as long as their brains haven't decayed too much. If they want to keep from devolving into mindlessness, they have to eat, you guessed it, braaaaaiiiiiiins!
    • There's also the Deadels, the undead minions of the demon K'Z'K. Why "Deadels", you ask? If you're a world-ravaging demon, you can call your minions whatever the hell you want.
  • Unsounded: While plods are kept in line using plod masks they've all got an impulse to devour living flesh. Duane's body doesn't have his soul in control at night and reverts to a simple plod, killing and eating a gang member whose bloody bits Duane then has to remove from his desiccated torso. A bunch of plods get to tear apart and eat a number of people in Grenzlan.
  • Zombie Ranch features zombies that are pretty indiscriminate about the flesh they devour. Their appetites are a major reason conventional livestock went mostly extinct during the first years of the Plague.

    Web Videos 
  • I Am Not Infected has the classic Flesh-Eating/Plague-Bearing combo. That can drive cars (poorly).
  • Although not encountered often, The League of S.T.E.A.M.'s zombies seem to be of the flesh-eating variety. The League have perfected (well, almost...) a collar-like device for domesticating them.