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Plague Zombie

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Plague-bearing zombies are becoming increasingly common in modern zombie-horror. Created by The Virus or The Assimilator, these are the zombies that are guaranteed to turn others into zombies due to their highly communicable virus or nanobots or whatever. Almost always merged with Flesh-Eating Zombie, as for some reason, once a human has been partially eaten and zombified, the zombies lose interest and stop consuming them. Produces Zombie Infectees, which are often Technically Living Zombies.


Parasite Zombie is a subtrope.


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  • A Toshiba commercial (part of the short-lived "Ramifications of Yes") has a zombie plague started by a carton of milk that was spoiled as a result of power outage caused by a power-station worker dropping a non-impact-proof laptop and then plugging it into an electric panel in a Toshiba exec's Indulgent Fantasy Segue about what could happen if they didn't include the frickin' Impact Smart Hard Drive in their laptops.

    • Taken Up to Eleven with a series of shorts titled Toshiba Zombies.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Apocalypse no Toride's zombies combined with Flesh-Eating Zombie. The zombies also appear to be controlled by some kind of "hive leader," but it has yet to be explained.
  • In Arachnid, the Army Ant queen-themed main villainess uses her bodily fluids to turn people into zombified servants who wander around mindlessly raping people to spread the effect. Her death seemed to cause the infected to become aimless, but they somehow still managed to take over Japan over the course of the ending.
  • High School Of The Dead, combined with Flesh-Eating Zombie.
  • Zombies in Monster Musume are this, with the twist that the virus resides in their teeth, so removing the teeth to use it to infect others separately from the zombie owner works. Also, the zombie virus itself is weak enough that it only works when the bitten target either has severely compromised immune system or are dying/already dead. Healthy people's immune system would take care of the virus otherwise. Finally, they're generally Friendly Zombies due to the virus only confer physiological changes and not mental ones, thus those who become zombies just act like who they are before they're turned, provided that the brain is kept from rotting. Even if their brain rots, it just turns the zombies into relaxed and easygoing idiots, not ravenous monsters.
  • It's revealed in School-Live! that the Flesh Eating Zombies are due to a bacterium. This bacterium is airborne and affects some but not others (thus why people can turn into zombies despite not being bitten).

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: The zombies get a cross-shaped cluster of boils on their faces, but otherwise, look like normal people. They are sociopathic, sadomasochistic, and violent in the extreme.
  • Ultimate Vision: People exposed to the Gah Lak Tus virus become demonic creatures that do his will.

    Fan Works 
  • Unmentionables in Verdigris are caused by the Verdigris Plague.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Rage virus in 28 Days Later is one of the more famous examples.
  • Army of the Dead: The zombie plague that decimates Las Vegas started from an Alpha zombie that escaped containment in Area 51.
  • Black Sheep (2007): The Virus which makes the sheep man-eating killers started with a mutated fetus as patient zero. From the little monster-critter, through bites the mutagen spread through bites among the sheep, and also crossed to humans (creating were-sheep). The most notable symptom in the sheep is ravenous hunger for human flesh.
  • In Hell of the Living Dead, a spill at a biological research facility releases a zombification virus which was engineered by the First World nations so that Third World people would get infected and eat each other.
  • In I Drink Your Blood, rabid hippies terrorize the countryside.
  • The "necroambulist virus" in Maggie — it's never specified what the source is, but it is portrayed as a communicable virus. The process is more gradual than most depictions though: it's stated it takes six to eight weeks for the infected to become cannibalistic.
  • In David Cronenberg's Rabid, possibly the first "fast zombie" movie, the disease is initially spread sexually.
  • [REC] and its U.S. remake Quarantine appear to feature this, but they may actually be Parasite Zombies due to implicit Demonic Possession.
  • Trench 11: The infection, manifesting as worm colonies growing throughout the infected's bodies, spreads through bodily fluids, blood and saliva.
  • In Train to Busan, a biological agent (manufactured by a company aptly named "Biotech") is responsible for the Zombie Apocalypse.

  • The Zombies vs. Unicorns stories "Inoculata", "Bouganvillea," and "Prom Night" all deal with the aftermath of a zombie plague (all are also flesh-eating).
  • The book The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like this, with a little of flesh-eating in there. The zombies (called Unconsecrated) eat people, and once you are infected, you only have a few hours or maybe even minutes before you turn into an Unconsecrated. They can only be truly killed if you cut their head off.
  • The web-novel Domina's "screamers" are... complicated. They seem to be mindless, and any of their body fluids will turn others into screamers, but only while the screamer is alive. On that note, they are not undead, and are quite fast and athletic. They also scream constantly (hence the name). Oh, and they also have superpowers.
  • The zombies of the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant are the result of an airborne virus cure for the common cold meeting a phage meant to cure cancer, which actually did work, as no one on Earth has either any more. Unfortunately, now everyone also has the virus in them. They have a form of collective intelligence, the more there are in a group, the smarter the individuals become. A group of twenty or more is smart enough to exploit terrain and set traps and ambushes while one by itself is easy to deal with, especially the older it is. Oddly enough they're not flesh eating because they're compelled to spread the active virus and killing you won't do that.
  • A very different version in Nancy Kress's novel Dogs; the plague only affects dogs, although it turns them aggressive, and they'll attack anyone or anything.
  • The stone men in A Song of Ice and Fire are those afflicted with greyscale in their adulthood (and as an illness, they're not really dead). It's a very slow process that ultimately kills the victim; toward the end, they're described as slow, clumsy, and completely mad. And unlike the other types that appear in the series, this one is highly contagious.
  • In The Maze Runner, those who contract the Flare eventually turn into insane, animalistic virus carriers called Cranks that don’t have many distinguishing traits from regular old zombies.
  • Max Brooks uses these zombies in The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and The Extinction Parade. According to the "rules" given by The Zombie Survival Guide, a fictional virus called Solanum turns people into zombies, with an incubation period of roughly 24 hours, give or take, between initial infection and reanimation.
  • The creatures in Tim Lebbon's Berserk (has nothing to do with a certain manga) are zombies created by a bioweapon cooked up by the British government. The infected become Perpetual Motion Monsters, and can only be killed by headshot (and that's only if you use a Silver Bullet). That said, they're very smart, and telepathic to boot.
  • In Along The Winding Road, the zombie plague seems to be transferred by blood contact, which is a risk when a zombie with bleeding gums bites you. There's also the "immunity jerky", though it wasn't precisely found by rigorous scientific testing.
  • Death Troopers introduced zombies to the Star Wars Legends continuity. These zombies are created by a Sith virus, which, to make things worse, is airborne.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Derren Brown's Apocalypse special, The Everyman Steven is led to believe that the world (or, at least, England) is in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, caused by a microorganism that has arrived in a meteorite. He hears a fake news broadcast warning people to avoid coming into contact with anyone with a red bracelet, which signifies that they're infected.
  • The zombie episode of Community. The zombies are caused by the biohazard material that Dean Pelton bought from an army surplus store, thinking it was taco meat, and served at the Halloween party. The virus is passed on through biting, and treating the main symptom, a ridiculously high fever, by cranking up the air conditioning reverses the zombification long enough for the Army to show up and cure everyone. And not only is this a comedy, it's canon.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The "gas-mask zombies" from "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" initially transmitted their plague by touch, until the nanogenes responsible for their condition grew airborne. Since the zombies had identical injuries (due to the nanogenes' faulty understanding of human biology), Dr. Constantine describes their condition as "physical injuries as plague".
    • In "The Waters of Mars", the Flood is a waterborne sentient virus, and it makes its infected hosts leak infectious water like a sliced major vein. And the infected can fire pressurized hose-like blasts if they wish! A single drop of water is enough to infect and turn someone — just one drop...
  • Game of Thrones: Stone men are technically living zombies inflicted with greyscale who attack people and spread their disease.
  • Search: Corporal Oh's body and his attacker's blood are found to contain a virus initially mistaken for rabies.
  • In one of the worlds visited in Sliders, a fat-eating bacterium designed as a weight-loss product had the unintended side-effect of making users into mindless flesh-eating monsters. There was an "antidote" that in large quantities could keep the infected lucid, and the bacterium's creator was using. The Sliders help him create a cure using blood from one of The Immune survivors, just in time to help Quinn.
  • Supernatural has the Croatoan virus, a demonic virus that turned humans into 28 Days Later-type zombies, and was especially created by Pestilence to wipe out most of humanity as part of Lucifer's apocalypse.
  • Zig-zagged on The Walking Dead. Unlike in the comic book (which follows the Romero infection rulesnote ), the season 1 finale establishes that a virus caused the Zombie Apocalypse. However, it didn't behave like most zombie viruses — it is (presumably) airborne and/or waterborne, and has infected everybody on Earth, kicking in only after they die. This allows the show to still use the Romero trope of everybody coming back when they die, not just those who are bitten, while still using a zombie virus.

  • The end of Voltaire's Zombie Prostitute has the narrator catching something from the undead hooker he slept with, and becoming a zombie gigolo.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Gotha parallels from GURPS Infinite Worlds are 19 alternate Earths that have been destroyed by the exact same zombie virus. These Gotha zombies retain some of their intelligence and are as willing to eat each other as well as normal humans.
  • Warhammer 40,000, with elements of Voodoo Zombie; the zombies themselves aren't created by magic, but the virus itself is (they're the work of Nurgle, God of Decay).
  • The "Plaguespreader Zombie" monster card in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. Although its function isn't to spread a zombie virus, but rather "tune" with other monsters to summon powerful Synchro monsters, including zombies.
  • The common zombie from Dungeons & Dragons are just reanimated corpse by magic and doesn't transmit their zombification. However, Living Deads are the ones that resemble Romero zombies. Appearance wise, they are indistinguishable from common zombies. However, they transfer the dormant form of Living Death plague by every attack, which reanimates you should you die from any method into another Living Dead. The plague needs to be cured by Remove Disease spell; mere Resurrection will not suffice.
    • Ghouls carry a disease called "ghoul fever", which turns anyone it kills into a ghoul. Fortunately, the Fort DC is pretty low.
  • Pathfinder has an actual "Plague Zombie" that can be created with the Animate Dead spell, as long as the Contagion spell is cast as part of the animation process. They carry a disease known as "zombie rot", and can inflict it through either their attacks or by exploding when they die. Creatures who die while infected with zombie rot will rise as plague zombies themselves soon after.
  • Viral Deathspawn from D20 Apocalypse, which is not surprising since this sourcebook deals with life After the End.

    Video Games 
  • Most of the zombies in Resident Evil are caused by the Umbrella Corporation's T-virus and its various derivatives.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2: The "zombies" in this series aren't actually dead (it's more akin to a strand of rabies) and don't actually eat the uninfected; they just want to rip their bodies to shreds and stomp on the remains. Also, the method of infection changes wildly due to rapid mutation, but more a few times it demonstrates to also be airborne, which results in problems when the rescuers are not immune and thus get infected by the survivors (since the "immune" survivors are technically asymptomatic carriers).
  • Super Energy Apocolypse features plague-bearing eyeball monsters that are apparently called "Zombies."
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, victims of the Corprus Disease are this trope crossed with being Technically Living Zombies. Corprus is a divine disease created by Dagoth Ur using power channeled from the Heart of Lorkhan, the still-beating heart of the "dead" creator god. It is an incurable disease which causes massively accelerated cell growth, leading to increases in strength and endurance, as well as making sufferers The Ageless and granting them Ideal Illness Immunity. However, it also destroys their minds until they are little better than feral monsters. Unlike zombies in most other media, Corprus sufferers will feed on each other when no other food is available. The aforementioned cell growth gives them a form of Healing Factor, however, causing the eaten-off parts to grow back stronger. In some cases, they even defy physics, surviving by eating their own flesh. They can also tear off fist-sized cysts and throw them as grenades.
  • Elite Beat Agents features a mission where the titular agents must support a Duke Nukem ripoff in his quest to purge the world of purple, yellow-dotted, giggling zombies. Zombies that happen to spread their disease through kisses, and can be returned to normal by letting them ingest a very bad-tasting peanut. Yeah, that's Elite Beat Agents for you.
  • Ghouls in Dragon Age are people and animals who have been corrupted by the Blight and haven't died from it yet. They retain their sanity for a time, but eventually start resembling Romero zombies and attack anything in sight other than Darkspawn. Darkspawn often use them as craftsmen and food.
  • Survivor: The Living Dead uses these and you are very much not immune. When you get bitten, you get infected. After that happens, all you can do to avoid turning before the timer runs out is stand still as much as possible and not get bitten again.
  • Dwarf Fortress introduced husks, which are horrifying undead abominations covered in dust that transforms anything touched by it into another husk. Hands-down, these are the most horrifying monster in DF, even trumping The Legions of Hell for sheer terror.
  • [PROTOTYPE] and [PROTOTYPE 2] have two viruses (one an evolved form of the other). The virus first causes blood vomiting, then leads to boils and pustules that make the infected look like mutants, before often making their arms and fingers become claws. All forms are violent and lash out at everything, and seem to operate on a hive mind. Alex Mercer, Elizabeth Greene, and James Heller (along with the evolved) aside, everyone hit by the virus becomes this with the viral creatures (Hunters, Brawlers, etc.) created other ways. Technically, the first three are also infected entities, but share none of the zombie-like traits and are more like superhumans.
  • In TRON 2.0 and TRON: Evolution, virus-infected Programs behave like this. They become twisted, mindless things whose only purpose and directive is to infect and destroy as many healthy Programs as possible. And in both cases, the plaguemaster/Patient Zero was merely an Unwitting Pawn of much nastier conspirators using the threat of a cyberspace-wide Zombie Apocalypse to hide something much worse.
  • The zombies in Dead Island are a result of an abnormal version of the Kuru prion illness.
  • Subverted throughout the Dark Souls series, where numerous people in the backstory thought the Undead Curse was spread like a disease and tried to quarantine its victims, but were doomed to failure because that's not how the curse is spread. It seems more likely all people are born with the curse but are asymptotic until the First Flame starts to fade.
  • Zombies in Dying Light are victims of a mutated strand of rabies called the Harran Virus. At first the victims start off as a Technically Living Zombie (which are quick and hard to hit but easy to kill) before degenerating into traditional undead zombies (which are slow but can take a beating). There are a few notable mutations like bigger Goon zombies or the acid spitting Toad zombies, but the really troublesome ones are the Volatiles, incredibly dangerous fast zombies that come out at night and can only be repelled with UV radiation. This disease is later revealed to be a Synthetic Plague, with the GRE attempting to cover up its origins and the Harran Ministry of Defense willing to help them by destroying the infected districts.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune: Near the end of the game, Nathan runs into the Descendants, ferocious ghoul-like monsters that are the remains of Spanish conquistadores, and later soldiers and scientists from Nazi Germany, who fell victim to a contagion contained within the treasure of El Dorado.
  • Warframe features the Infested, victims of a horrific virus that twists the bodies of its hosts into terrifying monstrosities. The individual organisms seem to be little more than mindless beasts, but observations suggest that there is some kind of Hive Mind directing them. A few notable individuals have maintained their identities and personalities, but the virus has still managed to influence their thoughts. The Infestation's origins are murky, but it's implied that the Orokin created the plague as a bioweapon before deciding that it was too difficult to control; Alad V's experiments in the present have created a new strain capable of infecting machinery.
  • Metal Slug 3 has the zombies encountered in the second mission, caused by a virus spread around by the area's boss. Their Zombie Puke Attack could zombify injured civilians (turning them into zombie enemies) and even the player too, although an infected player still retains sentience, gains a devastating blood vomit attack, and can be restored to human if they touch a medkit. The zombie virus once again appears in Metal Slug 4, this time the virus being taken and used by the Amadeus Syndicate to infect an amusement park.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: The Brotherhood of the Ninth Circle is a vampire cult dedicated to spreading bloodborne pathogens for the apocalypse. Their human followers are visibly diseased and act no different than the mindless, shambling zombies encountered in other parts of the game. Unlike those zombies, the player character can drink blood from the plague victims, though they'll throw it right back up because of how unhealthy it is.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: While victims of the rakghoul plague traditionally retain their personality up until the moment of transformation, the Rakghoul Resurgence weekly event introduces a new "infected" variant that look and behave like classic zombies.
  • Although the Necromorphs of Dead Space as a whole are Parasite Zombies, their aptly named Infector strain exists solely to spread the viral infection to any dead body it can get its proboscis on... and in one memorable instance even to a still-living human, who dies and mutates instantly from the wounds inflicted in the process.

  • In The Ward, zombification occurs due to a supernatural disease.
  • Last Blood plays along with this trope. The world has experienced Zombie Apocalypse and the majority of zombies are near mindless, hungry creatures, while the first zombie was a vampire who starved for too long. The first zombie has retained all of his intelligence, and has complete control over the zombies that descended from him.
  • The Other Grey Meat has zombification via infection. Zombies become more intelligent based on the number of victims they have, as well as the victims of their victims (and so on). Patient Zero has turned back into a normal person because of this, and he's smart enough to have come up with a substance that sates a zombie's hunger without making them evolve further.
  • In Zombie Ranch the formerly human herds possess a bite that is infectious, incurable, and fatal. Their blood, on the other hand, is not only harmless but miraculously beneficial when processed correctly. It can even cure cancer.
  • In Genocide Man, one of the bioengineered plagues that devastated the world in the 21st century filled China with zombies. Jacob later reveals that they're a failed Super Soldier project, and while they have no memories of their past lives, they are fairly intelligent, with their own language and agriculture; they even breed true.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Trolls (former humans), beasts (former animals) and giants are all technically this, being victims of the Rash that didn't die and disease vectors for it. In practice, their bodies are so mutated that they qualify for various other monster tropes.
  • The "zombgeeks" in the Sluggy Freelance story "28 Geeks Later" are a weird parodic variant — genetically engineered earwigs meant to turn people into geeks to make them more technically intelligent at the expense of social skills get loose and turn their victims into animalistic super-geniuses with no self-control or regard for human life. It's infectious since the earwigs are carried along with their victims, looking for new ones.
  • Slobs from Awful Hospital are creatures infected with a weaponized, interdimensional cancer that causes radical mutations (to the point that some of them mutate throughout the battles with them). This illness is said to be as transmissible as a cold, with the color purple and trombone music as possible infection vectors, and infects the concept-core as well as the biology.

    Web Games 
  • Infectonator!: Zombies work by spreading a virus among people: Those who are infected become zombies and start spreading their plague around.

    Web Original 
  • Hamster's Paradise: The harmsters are plagued by a disease called Severe Infectious Harmster Transmissible Tumor (or SIHTT for short), a form of transmissible cancer spread by either biting or by eating the flesh of the infected (which is fairly common among harmsters). After the Second Harmster World War, a strain termed the Neuro-Ocular strain (NO-SIHTT) emerges, which infects the victim's brain to make them disoriented and aggressive and allow it to propagate even further. This eventually results in a Zombie Apocalypse that wipes out the weakened harmster civilizations, but which ironically also eradicates the disease when its own success strips the world bare of viable hosts.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Zombozo creates a virus that the Plumbers decide to call the "Zombie Clown Virus", because it turns its victims into zombie clowns. In addition to becoming undead, the infected also get clown makeup, clown clothes and shoes, and a permanent grin etched on their faces. This is Zombozo's method of creating fear to feed on that specifically targets Ben's coulrophobia.
  • Primal (2019): The Plague of Madness spreads from host to host via biting; something which the hosts the Plague has turned Ax-Crazy are particularly inclined toward even if they're herbivores. Note that while the plague drives distinctly herbivorous hosts to likely attempt to bite the flesh of their victims, the infected Argentinosaurus didn't eat its fellow sauropods when they were dead, and its massacre implies the infected will settle for brutally killing their victims through any means so long as they're dead.