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Undead Counterpart

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"'The Call of the Haunted' brought them back from the grave, and they're zombies now!"note 

"That's a Dull Bones. Sort of a skeleton thing. It was a Koopa Troopa... once."
Goombella when tattling a Dull Bones, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

An enemy in a game that's an undead version of another enemy. Just like how many enemies have elemental variations, many enemies also have undead versions. Undead Counterparts may be based on mooks, mini-bosses, or even main bosses.

For this trope to be invoked, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The enemy must have both a living version and an undead version.
  2. They must be an enemy both times. A civilian or ally who turns into an enemy zombie doesn't count.
  3. Some or all of the enemy's living body must be used. An enemy who turns into a ghost, or an enemy who possesses another body after their previous host is destroyed, does not invoke this trope.

A somewhat disturbing implication of this is that every Undead Counterpart of the enemy could be a previously-living enemy that you killed. Maybe they're out for revenge?

A Sub-Trope of Underground Monkey. Undead Counterparts are often Dem Bones and may be Nocturnal Mooks. They can also have Nigh-Invulnerability or be an Invincible Minor Minion. The use of this trope can result in Fridge Horror. Compare Face–Monster Turn, where a good guy turns into a bad guy against their will.


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Video Game Examples

  • Gekido: Kintaro's Revenge have Dark Action Girl enemies who seems to be alive, attacking you on the surface. In a later stage set in a mausoleum, you encounter this enemy again, amidst hordes and hordes of zombies and ghouls, and from their Undeathly Pallor you realize their incarnations are actually undead.
  • Ninja: Shadow of Darkness has enemy ninjas as mooks, and undead skeletal ninjas in the graveyard and cavern levels. Their stats aren't too different from one another though, having roughly the same amount of health, using their fists, and throwing knives in battle, with the only difference being aesthetics-wise.
  • Pirate Hunter has regular pirate mooks and skeleton pirates as enemies.

  • God of War:
    • God of War 3: Kratos faces a unique undead variant of a cyclops sprouting out of Cronos' shoulder when fighting the latter.
    • God of War (PS4): Played With the Hel-Walkers; while they aren't the counterpart to any living type of enemy in specific, the second encounter with them happens after Kratos kills human bandits trying to eat him and Atreus. They return within seconds as undead, as a symptom of an unbalanced world.
  • The Legend of Spyro: In the first two games, the most common enemies that Spyro faces are the Apes. In Dawn of the Dragon, he instead faces groups of skeletal Apes, revealed to have been created when the Big Bad, displeased with their shallow, mercenary loyalty to him, cursed the Apes to become undead creatures with a hunger for the energy of others that can never be filled.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • Cursed Bokoblins are an undead variant of Bokoblin found only in the Ancient Cistern and the Sky Keep. In addition to dealing damage by latching onto you, they afflict you with the Curse ailment and can only be defeated by being dealt a Fatal Strike after being knocked down. You also have the chance to obtain an Evil Crystal after defeating them.
        Fi: This horrifying Bokoblin reanimates after death. Analysis indicates it fears pure, shiny items and will startle at the sight of a sacred shield. It is able to reanimate purely through its hatred of this world... and its attachment to outlandish underpants.
      • Dark Keese are a skeletal variant of the common Keese enemies. They're mainly encountered around the Eldin Volcano, and like other undead enemies can give Link the Curse ailment.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: There are skeletal Stal-variants of most of the game's humanoid enemies — Stalkoblins (skeletal Bokoblins), Stalmoblins (skeletal Moblins), Stalizalfos (skeletal Lizalfos), and Stalnox (skeletal Hinox). They're only encountered at night, as daylight destroys them, and are Glass Cannons compared to their living counterparts — any blow will cause them to collapse into a pile of bones, although they'll keep reforming until their skulls are destroyed.

    Action RPGs 
  • Borderlands:
    • There are zombie variants of the Crimson Lance soldiers in the Dead Haven level of the The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC.
    • The Claptrap's New Robot Revolution DLC features claptrap-ified versions of the bandits, which are zombies who also underwent a brainwashing process.
  • Diablo II has Bone Fetish, skeletal versions of normal Fetish that are found in various dungeons and temples in Act III. Like their living counterparts, they strike fast and deal tons of damage, with the added effect of exploding and dealing even more damage when killed.
  • Titan Quest: The Final Boss of the main game is Typhon, Bane of the Gods. In the Immortal Throne DLC, his skeleton is resurrected as Typhon, Undead Titan, and serves as a boss when the Player Character first arrives in Hades' palace.

    Fighting Games 
  • Mortal Kombat: Several characters in the more recent games die and come back as revenants in the storyline. In MK 11 you can end up fighting both thanks to time travel. Scorpion also inverts this trope, as he was originally introduced as an undead revenant and then appears in living form in the later games. This example lies on the edge of this trope though as you can choose to play as nearly all the characters transformed this way, so whether or not they are an enemy depends on who you are playing as.

  • Bladed Fury has human soldiers as enemies in the first few stages, before you enter the Land of the Dead where you face skeletons wearing the same armor type (if somewhat rusted and dented) as their flesh-and-blood counterparts.
  • Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance has cyclopses as recurring enemies in the Isle of Titans, and near the end of the game you fight skeleton cyclopses for good measure. There are also human gladiators and ghost-gladiators in different stages.
  • Shade: Wrath of Angels have skeleton enemies as equivalents to recurring, flesh-and-blood opponents. Egypt notably have dog-headed mooks and dog-headed skeletons.

    Idle Games 
  • Anti-Idle: The Game has some enemies which are undead versions of other existent enemies with slightly higher stats, like Zombie Stump to Dark Stump, Zombie Bird to Bird, or Cursed Sword to Evil Sword.

  • Donkey Kong 64 has Krossbones, skeletal versions of Kritters that show up in Fungi Forest at night and Creepy Castle (where it's Always Night).
  • Mega Man Zero: Pantheons, mass-produced Mooks modeled after X himself, have the Pantheon Zombies and Pantheon Corpse, reanimated by either Anubis Necromancess III/V (a boss in 1 and 3) or by the Scrap Elf enemy in Fenri Lunaedge's level.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Dry Bones are deceased, skeletal Koopa Troopas. Unlike their easily-defeated living counterparts, they can't usually be put down permanently — they'll collapse into a pile of bones if struck by an attack, but will soon reassemble themselves and continue on their way. They do have some weaknesses, however. The easiest to get is the Ice Flower, which freezes them solid and allows you to throw and smash them.
    • Fish Bones, Honebon and Jean de Fillet are skeletal versions of Cheep-Cheeps. They usually act more aggressively than their living counterparts.
    • Bony Beetles are skeletal versions of Buzzy Beetles. Unlike their living counterparts, they can temporarily protrude spikes from their shells to protect themselves from being jumped on.
    • New Super Mario Bros.: Dry Bowser is a skeletal version of the living villain, created when Bowser is sent plunging into a pit of lava, is burned down to the bone, and climbs back out for a rematch.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords: Skelotaurs are Minotaurs who are Skeletons, which is why they can charge like the former and drain Mana/create Red Skulls like the latter. They can also drain Green Mana with Bone Strike.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft II: Death Knights were orc Squishy Wizards, the Horde equivalent to the Alliance's mages. (While technically ghosts bound into the bodies of human knights, their original bodies long-since gone, they're still the equivalent at this point.) In III, orc Death Knights were remade as Liches, retaining only their signature Death and Decay spell, while the Archmage kept the (nerfed) Blizzard spell. This transformation also happened to Kel'thuzad, a human mage who explored the darker arts and was kicked out of The Magocracy for it.
    • Warcraft III:
      • The expansion has Skeletal Orcs, Skeletal Orc Grunts, and Skeletal Orc Champions, all of which are differently-statted variations on the Orc Grunt. They're neutral monsters, however, and there's no spell to turn dead grunts into their undead equivalent in standard games.
      • Paladins and Death Knights (here a melee unit, human nobles who pledged themselves to Nerzh'ul) are designed to be good/evil counterparts of each other (each has a healing spell that hurts the undead/living, an invulnerable shield/ a Devour the Dragon self-heal, a defensive/regeneration aura, and a Resurrection/Animate Dead spell), though only one paladin is seen falling into undeath (Arthas).

  • The Binding of Isaac: A lot of the bosses that Isaac fights have undead counterparts which are much tougher (with some examples including The Husk, which is a decaying fly-infested version of The Duke of Flies, and The Stain and The Pile, which are progressively decaying versions of the Polycephalus). This even extends to major bosses, with ??? being the asphyxiated undead counterpart of Isaac and Mother being the desiccated husk of Mom.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Dragon Age has mages and arcane horrors (mage corpses that have been possessed by pride demons).
    • Dragon Age: Origins: In the DLC The Golems of Amgarrak, the Harvester is a golem variant made up of a large pile of corpses that have been possessed by a Fade spirit. Ordinary golems are stone constructs created from dwarves. The Harvester returns in Dragon Age II.
    • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: The Queen of the Blackmarsh is a spectral dragon that can be summoned and killed by the player for valuable loot. No ordinary dragons can be encountered in the game, but can be encountered in the base game.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has dragons and skeletal dragons.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy has both regular and zombie versions of minotaurs ("bulls" in the original NES release), trolls, and dragons.
    • Final Fantasy VI contains a World of Ruin boss in the Cave on the Veldt known as the King Behemoth. Upon being slain, it instantly rises again as an undead opponent, forcing you into an extra fight that is now a back attack. However, Revive Kills Zombie, so the second half of the fight is a snap.
    • Final Fantasy X has Our Dragons Are Different Evrae when you first enter Bevelle, and then returns in the underwater section of the Via Purifico as Dracolich Evrae Altana (and is much easier this time since Revive Kills Zombie).
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has a Minotaur as the boss of the Level Forest. The Bone Dungeon is populated with Minotaur Zombies, the Degraded Boss form of the Minotaur.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Over the course of the game, Mario encounters the dragon siblings and bosses Hooktail and Gloomtail. Later, he finds their elder sibling, Bonetail, at the end of the Pit of 100 Trials; having been trapped there for ages, Bonetail starved to death and is now an animated skeleton. Although they're all bosses, they're incredibly similar; Bonetail's essentially a new skin (No Pun Intended) for Hooktail.
  • Vagrant Story has zombie knights that serve as undead counterparts to the Crimson Blades as well as zombie minotaurs, zombie ogres and dragon zombies that act as both Optional Bosses and counterparts to the minotaur, ogre and dragon bosses. Justified by the fact the city the game takes place in is described as a "wellspring" of dark magic, and any soul that dies within its borders is Barred from the Afterlife and fated to eventually be reborn as a walking corpse.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Metal Slug: The third and fourth games have both recurring rebel soldiers and zombie rebels in undead-themed levels, who assault the players with a pouncing tackle which functions like a Suicide Attack, killing themselves in the process. Oddly enough, the game shows innocent civilians and bystanders getting zombified onscreen, but not rebels – existing zombie enemies seem to ignore rebel soldiers while assaulting the players.
  • Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism: Zombie Fairies are undead variants of the regular Fairy enemies. They share the exact same attributes as them (can swarm the player in droves but go down easily), but unlike the regular variants, Zombie Fairies don't "die" and will come back to life shortly after being shot down. They're only ever deployed by the Stage 5 boss: Rin "Orin" Kaenbyou, making them a case of Unique Enemies as well.

  • Halo: The Flood (basically space zombies) develop distinct forms based on the lifeforms they infect, and after Halo 1 they infect enemies to get Sangheili combat forms (which tend to have energy shields and plasma swords) and Brute combat forms (the strongest combat variant). Some species lack Flood forms, due to either being too weak to be useful beyond providing bio-mass (Grunts and Jackals) or being too alien in biology to properly infect (Hunters and Engineers). Though flood-infected humans are in almost every Halo game, normal people don't show up as enemies in most games. Halo Wars is an exception and has both human enemies and flood-infected human enemies, fulfilling this trope.
  • TimeSplitters 2: There are zombified versions of the wintry soldiers, both of which are encountered in the first story mission. In Future Perfect, there are zombified versions of the scientists you meet in the mansion and underground laboratory story missions. All of these characters are playable in the multiplayer mode.

    Web Games 

Non-Video Game Examples

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Nearly any creature you encounter can show up in undead form, usually thanks to a powerful necromancer. Beholders and dragons are bad enough, but zombie beholders and zombie dragons are just plain awful, and that's not getting into death tyrants and dracoliches (who unlike their zombie brethren keep/gain intelligence and supernatural powers). Depending on the rules of the setting, undead creatures may be immune to fear spells or able to deal out huge amounts of necrotic damage when they attack.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition typically handles this on the mechanical side by means of "templates" — a recipe of changes a DM can make to a given statblock to convert any creature into, in this case, an undead version. For example, a basic zombie involves, among other things, changing the creature type to "undead" and its Character Alignment to Neutral Evil, changing all racial hit dice to d12 and removing class level hit dice, and adding damage reduction 5/slashing. Other undead templates (like "ghost", "lich" or "vampire") exist; the most dangerous are those keeping the class levels and powers of the original creature.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: There are various Zombie-type monster, Trap and Spell cards who are made out to be the undead versions of preexisting cards, so much so that they make up their own Archetype. Examples include "Armored Zombie" to "Zanki", "Dragon Zombie" to "Crawling Dragon", "Clown Zombie" to "Crass Clown", "Archfiend Zombie-Skull" to "Skull Archfiend of Lightning", "Hard-sellin' Zombie" to "Hard-sellin' Goblin" and so on.

  • G.I. Joe: In the early 1990s, Hasbro released a series called the Eco-Warriors, who had an environmentalist theme. One of the figures in this line was the Toxo-Zombie, a Cobra Toxo-Viper who's had too much exposure to toxic waste and mutated into an undead soldier.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: In Campaign 2 of the Dungeons & Dragons RPG show, Avantika, a pirate and devoted follower of the serpentine deity Uk'otoa, served as a minor antagonist in an earlier arc of the campaign. After she was executed by the Pirate King in Episode 43, she reappears in her undead form, complete with pale skin, glowing blue eyes, and signs of her broken neck, in Episode 112 and 113 in order to get the Cloven Crystal back from Fjord.