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Undeath Is Cheap

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In many works involving vampires or zombiesnote , The Virus that they infect victims with changes them into a form that is permanent. However, there are some stories which someone is capable of finding a cure for these otherwise irreversible conditions, even if victims have lost important body parts required to survive.

These types of viruses usually exist within more family-friendly works in order to avoid any unnecessary violence and/or deaths for young viewers to see or works that do not desire to kill off any of the canon or significant characters who are afflicted. On the other hand, darker works will use the potential for a cure just to make things more cruel when the undead are simply killed permanently—especially if the ones who injured them assumed it was incurable.

This can also happen as a result of No Ontological Inertia when the vampire who changed the human into a vampire is destroyed.

Possible Sub-Trope of Death Is Cheap, Our Vampires Are Different and Our Zombies Are Different. One way where Undeath Always Ends.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, humans are converted into demons in a similar mode than vampires and zombies in other works: any kind of non-lethal wound received by a demon (and even giving blood to the victim as seen with the Big Bad) converts the human in a blood-thisrty demon in minutes. The main story centers about Nezuko Kamado being the sole survivor of the killing of her entire family, eventually converting into a demon. But thanks to the love of her brother, she retains some humanity and eventually helps and saves him. Since then, her brother Tanjiro travels for a cure to Nezuko no matter what, even becoming a Demon Slayer to get answers as well avenge his family. During the series, it's revealed a cure is developed and there are hints that Nezuko can be saved.
  • Played for Horror in the Franken Fran chapter "Living Dead": By the point Fran discovers the Flesh Eating Zombies are actually alive (not to mention conscious) and can be cured, the uninfected have already started gleefully murdering them in droves.
  • In Resident Evil: Vendetta, Rebecca Chambers works out how to create a vaccine for the virus. In the finale, they're able to release it as an aerosol, reversing the transformation for the majority of people who weren't too far gone after being mutated into zombies.

     Comic Books 

     Fan Works 

     Film - Animated 
  • The Batman vs. Dracula: Dracula is unleashed upon Gotham City, with all his victims, including the Joker, being turned into vampires. Batman is eventually able to create a cure with Joker as his test subject, being able to cure everyone except Dracula himself.

     Film - Live Action 
  • Daybreakers: Years after a vampire plague created a global Necrocracy, a random stunt driver accidentally turned himself human by getting launched into water while burning in the sunlight. Edward uses the method on himself, learns that the blood of a cured vampire can cure other vampires in turn, and sets off to spread it.
  • Fright Night (1985). The vampire Jerry Dandrige changes Amy into a vampire by biting her. When Jerry is destroyed, Amy becomes human again.
  • Fright Night (2011) has Peter Vincent produce a special stake that when used to kill a vampire, also cures all those he's turned. Charlie ends up using it on Jerry at the end and cures his transformed neighbors, classmates, girlfriend Amy, and Peter himself.
  • The Lost Boys: Those who have drank vampire blood start to become vampires and can even use vampiric powers such as Flight. However, the change is not permanent until they have killed their first human. If the master vampire whose blood they drank is killed before this, then they revert back to being fully human.
  • Warm Bodies: The zombie "R" becomes more lucid and lifelike as his relationship with Julie develops, becoming fully human at the climax through True Love's Kiss. The epilogue shows that The Power of Love (or Friendship) is doing the same for the other zombies. The Bonies however, are too far gone in their transformation for this to happen to them and are wiped out by the joined forces of the humans and zombies in the epilogue.

  • In The Night, the Rain, the Town by Viktor Nochkin, there is a magical dagger that can turn a vampire back into a human if stuck into their body. The process lasts a while and is very painful, but the transformation is permanent, which allows the main heroine Clarissa, who deeply regrets getting turned and has never really adjusted to vampirism, to become human again. There is also a less powerful copy of the dagger: it also can make a vampire alive, but only for several days.
  • Whateley Universe: Dr. Macabre's vampire transformations were cured at the end of Silent Nacht.

     Live Action TV 
  • Done temporarily in Big Time Rush's episode "Big Time Halloween", which takes place in a world full of monsters, where Kendall is a werewolf, James a vampire, Carlos a Frankenstein-monster, and Logan a zombie. When Griffin demands the whole band turns "normal" for their Halloween concert, Gustavo and Kelly- who are now a mad scientist and his assistant- need to turn them into ordinary humans. By the end, their machine actually works for a short time, meaning that for a few hours, Logan and James were both "cured" of their undead state.
  • In the Legends of Tomorrow, Episode of the Dead "Abominations", the Legends travel to American Civil War in 1863 and find it ravaged by a zombie virus that a Time Pirate had accidentally released there. Mick ends up being infected by said zombie virus and is kept contained on the Waverider until Ray and Stein can engineer an antidote. While the first attempt fails, they do manage to make it work be aerosolizing it. The antidote is then used to dispatch the rest of the confederate zombies without any lasting consequences other than a lot of rotting body parts left over from the carnage.
  • Supernatural: When one of the main characters is forcibly vampirized in Season 6, it's conveniently revealed that his family knows a way to cure a vampire who's never consumed human blood, so he spends the episode as an Empowered Badass Normal and is restored to humanity without consequence.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Space Vampire". A Our Vampires Are Different vampire called a Vorvon changes Colonel Wilma Dearing into a Vorvon-like version of itself. When the original Vorvon is destroyed by the light of a star, Wilma changes back into a human being.

In PHD: Phantasy Degree, main character Sang wants to infiltrate an All-Ghouls School to find a magic ring, but since she's human, knows she'll be found out instantly once she goes in. She comes across a trio of monsters, one of whom is a vampire who she allows to bite her, turning her into a vampire and enter the school. Halfway into the infiltration however, she's just... cured somehow with it never really being revealed how. Even she's confused how that happened (though it's implied the rings she does have on her lifted the vampirisim when she briefly activated it to save herself from a fall. Vampirism is kind of an aliment after all).

     Tabletop Games 
  • Champions supplement The Circle and M.E.T.E. When a vampire is destroyed, some of the people it changed into vampires become human again.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In some editions of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, being turned into an undead prevents being raised by most spells which would otherwise restore life. The sole exception is True Resurrection, the most powerful tier of spell, which can bring back anyone, with their remains in any condition (except those who died of old age) — the spell not only returns their flesh to life, but restores their soul, defeating undeath at its source. This restriction only applies while the target is still undead. If the vampire/ghoul/wraith/whatever they've become is killed, the person can then be brought back using lower level magic like Raise Dead or Resurrection.
    • In 1st Edition AD&D, a mummy (a type of undead) could be returned to its original human form by a Raise Dead spell. In 2nd Edition, the requirement was raised: in order to be brought back to life, a mummy had to have a Resurrection or Wish (both higher level spells) cast on it.

     Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest allows players to cure their vampyrism or lycanthropy (or any combination of the two) by completing the "The Cure" quest. The titular "cure" is a green sludge that is naturally produced in a hidden cave, which the player character can drink after finding it. It also has the side effect of turning Moglins into feral beasts if they happen to touch it, which is exactly what happens to the player's Moglin guide after he falls in (he gets better once you beat him down).
  • Black & White: The Big Bad Curses an entire town to exist as living skeletons for defying him. Fortunately for them, it's quite easy for the player character to undo and restore them to life.
  • The Call of Duty: Zombies map "Call of the Dead", the V-R11 is a gun that turns zombies into humans.
  • The Cluefinders: At the end of 4th Grade Adventures, Alistair Loveless III is transformed into a mummy and sent to the underworld by Set, but somehow is in the airplane the protagonists are on in the end. In Mystery Mansion Arcade, he reappears, having been restored to his original form with no explanation.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, vampirism is a transmittable disease originating as an archdemon's "blessing". In the first three days of catching the disease, vampirism is incredibly easy to cure, after which the diseased becomes a vampire for real and it becomes a lot harder to get rid of. Even then, vampirism is curable, but the cures tend to be obscure and hard to come across, although they do completely reverse all of its effects.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Zombie status effect causes the target to suffer Revive Kills Zombie (healing spells now damage them, but they become immune to instant-death spells). Reversing this simply requires some easy-to-find Holy Water.
    • Final Fantasy X: There is a ritual called the Sending used to ensure the spirits of the dead move on to the Farplane. Those who die without the ritual either turn into the fiends that infest Spira or are sort of Technically Living Zombies known as Unsent who are indistinguishable from normal people such as Seymour, Maechen and Auron (they are just as affected by the aforementioned Zombie spell, for instance).
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Frimelda Lottice was turned into a zombie by poison, but still acts like a regular person. With proper medical assistance from an herbalist and Heroic Sacrifice from a friend of hers, she can be restored (and joins your clan).
  • Metal Slug: One of the Status Effects in the series turns the player character into a mummy if hit by a purple mist/liquid, or a zombie when hit by the zombie's liquids. This results in a lower movement speed and if the player has a weapon, defaults them to the starter pistol/revolver. Fortunately, picking up a vial of serum (common on levels with the Mummy status effect) or a special medkit for zombification instantly reverts the character.
  • Zigzagged in Minecraft, where you can cure zombie villagers but not regular zombies.
  • The Sims as a series zigzags this:
    • The Sims 2 has it that zombies cannot be cured, even by killing them and resurrecting them again. Vampires can be cured if they consume a potion purchased from the Gypsy Matchmaker.
    • The Sims 3 has it that zombies can be cured through multiple means. Vampires can only be cured with a purchase from the science lab.
    • The Sims 4 has it that vampires can be cured by a drink that can be mixed at the bar. A maxed out Vampire Lore skill level is required.

  • As with Dungeons & Dragons, The Order of the Stick takes the Have You Tried Rebooting? approach to undead on a couple of notable occasions. Both Flesh Golem Roy and Vampire Durkon need to be destroyed so that a cleric can resurrect their living counterpart as good as new.
  • In Druids the Death Knight Amo actively seeks a cure for her "condition", despite it seeming impossible as in this version of Azeroth death is not cheap. Eventually, red dragon blood is shown to work, but she nearly dies for real in the process.

     Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "Nightmare in Retroville", Jimmy turns Carl and Sheen into a vampire and werewolf respectively for Halloween costumes which had the side effect of giving them the usual instincts associated with both monsters. When Jimmy is forced to retreat from them for the time being, the two boys end up bumping into and biting Cindy and Libby, likewise turning the two into a vampire (Cindy) and werewolf (Libby). Jimmy eventually manages to reverse the changes by the end of the episode of course.
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the episode "From Bad To Worse", the Candy Kingdom suffers another Zombie Apocalypse thanks to Cinnamon Bun eating preserved zombie flesh. Luckily, Princess Bubblegum created a formula which cures the afflicted, which her rat concocts for her. However, the serum does not grant immunity to the virus, as Jake was turned back by the other zombies the second he was cured.
    • In the Stakes miniseries, Marceline decides she'd prefer to go back to aging (slowly) as she did before she became a vampire, and Princess Bubblegum is able to do so by remove the vampire essence from her body. The problem is, releasing said essence ends up bringing the vampires she took it from Back from the Dead. After the others are defeated, the Vampire King agrees to have the same procedure done, even though it returns him to being a non-sapient animal. Then their essence all spills out again into a World-Wrecking Wave, forcing Marceline to absorb it back into herself.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • In L.O.C.K.D.O.W.N, Numbuh 1 ends up spanked by Count Spankulot without his gloved hand which turns him into a spank happy vampire. He turns Numbuh 2, 3, and 4 but Numbuh 5 manages to stop them and bring them back to their senses enough to go visit Spankulot in prison and find out the transformation is easily curable if they spank him back.
    • In the movie, Operation Z.E.R.O, Grandfather can use his power to turn kids into Citi-Zombies, which are, well, grown up and very ugly version of the victim as zombies (though the power likewise works on grown ups, just without the age up). The whole of the KND organization save Numbuh 1 are infected through the movie, though Nigel manages to temporarily revert his team to semi-normal in the climax through the "birthday suits" (devices meant to stop aging effects, in this case they were crafted on the quick by Numbuh 2 so they didn't work at full capacity). When Grandfather is defeated and has his memory wiped through the decommission machine, this lifts the Citi-Zombie effect and reverts all his victims back to normal.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Scary-Oke", Dipper unleashes a zombie apocalypse on the Mystery Shack. Soos tells the twins that he knows exactly what to do in situations like this, then he gets turned into a zombie. After the rest of the zombies (who were raised from the dead) have their heads exploded by music while Soos was watching TV, the virus is revealed to be curable, requiring a lot of formaldehyde and cinnamon.
  • The Five-Episode Pilot of Inhumanoids had Sandra Shore turned into an undead monster by D'Compose and the Earth Corps successfully turning her back to normal.
  • The Secret Show: In "Zombie Attack", Doctor Doctor unleashes a Zombie Apocalypse upon the world, with the zombies coming about either by touching them or saying the words "yes" or "no". As a failsafe, Doctor Doctor also encodes a cheat code into the zombifying controller so she won't lose. The zombification is cured by changing the cheat code to "uhhh uhh" (the zombie noises).
  • In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror IV"'s "Bart Simpson's Dracula", after Bart is bitten by Burns and turned into a vampire, Lisa claims the only way to get him back to normal is to destroy the head vampire i.e Mr. Burns. Though if this works or not isn't shown as the end of the story reveals the whole family but Lisa were vampires and Marge was the real head one.
  • In the South Park episode "Pinkeye", Kenny is turned into a zombie after being crushed to death by a space station and doused in Worcestershire sauce as embalming fluid, going on to turn the other residents, including Chef, Pip, Clyde and Wendy, into zombies. After Kyle kills Kenny again, the zombified victims become alive again and the dismembered corpses return to being lifeless. That they didn't find this out until after killing many zombies is played for Black Comedy.
  • One episode of Stroker and Hoop featured people turned into Voodoo Zombie factory workers. After the witch doctor who turned them is arrested, it turned out he was Carrying the Antidote. Of course, by that point, the protagonists had killed almost all of them anyway.
  • An episode of Space Goofs has a vampire turned back into a human by garlic.


Video Example(s):


The Secret Show

Just as Anita is reprogramming the cheat code to "uhh uhh" (the zombie noises), she's yanked out of the escape pod by a zombified Victor and Doctor Doctor and turned into a zombie. Fortunately, it doesn't take long for the reprogrammed cheat code to take effect and the zombification is cured.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / UndeathIsCheap

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