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Warrior Undead

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To the undeath.

A Warrior Undead is an undead being (usually a humanoid skeleton, but vampires, ghosts, and zombies also qualify) that uses armour, weaponry, and tactics. This requires some degree of intelligence, or at least muscle memory, as the warrior must be able to remember the skills they possessed in life and still be able to use those skills in their undead form. A brainless zombie who just whacks with whatever they were holding when they died does not count as a warrior undead, but a zombie that still carries the weapon they used while alive and can keep pace with or defeat a trained opponent does.

Fighting styles and philosophies of warrior undead vary. You could see a medieval European knight on an undead horse; an undead samurai that uses dao and a bow, or an undead sharpshooter who retains their now literal dead eye. Some amp up their arsenals with magic, becoming stronger than they were before they died. They are usually evil or Mooks, though some are neutral or on the side of good. On rare occasions, they may even be a mentor or teacher to another (usually alive) character, acting as a posthumous Old Master or a more physical Spirit Advisor. Most revenants are this to some degree.

When at sea or in a port, they're usually a Ghost Pirate, and if a few more things are mixed in they count as a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot. Compare The Paladin and the Monster Knight. For undead mages, see Our Liches Are Different. Not to be confused with Blood Knight. See Cavalry of the Dead when a character has the ability to summon and control undead warriors en masse. Can be the result of It Can Think when applied to The Undead. Often overlaps with Undying Warrior.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: The Skull Knight is an undead warrior who was consumed by the Berserker Armor and now lives on as a spirit that occupies a magic suit of armor. He's actually a good guy, slaughtering Apostles by the dozen and seeking to destroy the Godhand. He also has an ongoing duel with Blood Knight Zodd Nosferatu.
  • One Piece:
    • Brook (or Brooke) is a skeletal pirate with a cane sword and a massive afro. He later gains the ability to use ice by channeling his Ghostly Chill. He's also a Skeletal Musician.
    • The same arc that introduced Brook also features the zombie troopers, who work under Gecko Moriah. Most notable among them is the zombie samurai Ryuuma, who in life was known for his legendary story about slaying a dragon.
  • Shaman King: Some of the spirits qualify. Notable examples are Amidamaru, the ghost of a samurai who died during the Muromachi period 600 years ago; Bason, an ancient Chinese warrior ghost; and Lee Pyron, a reanimated martial artist and actor who was murdered by the Tao family to serve as Jun's guardian.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Undead are a staple of Black Magic, and those that aren't undead mages or giant monstrosities are usually shown armed and armored, serving as part of large undead armies.
    • Skeletons are a fairly common undead creature type and are some of the ones most commonly seen taking up arms. In fact, the majority of humanoid skeletons are shown wielding weapons of some sort, from ornate swords and helmets to chain flails and rusty and decayed blades and shields. There is also a skeleton archer, implied by its flavor text to be aided in being a Cold Sniper by its undeath.
    • Zombies, despite being the most common type of undead, are usually not shown with armor or weapons to reflect their typical status as weak and expendable cannon fodder, but exceptions exist. The most prominent ones are the skaabs of Innistrad, Frankenstein's Monster-type things that often have weaponry and heavy armor grafted onto them during their creation, and the eternals, an army of elite super-zombies created by Nicol Bolas from the bodies of the greatest fighters and champions of an entire world, all of which are plated in blue mineral and armed with weapons they can use extremely well.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Headless Knight is the spirit of a knight who was falsely accused and executed. Its appearance is that of a headless suit of armor.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Iron Man: Issue #150 of the original volume has Iron Man teaming up with King Arthur's knights to battle an army of corpses raised from their graves by the dark magic of Morgan Le Fay and led by Doctor Doom. Most of these zombies have armor or chain mail, and most carry a weapon, having been buried that way. One of Arthur's knights remarks about these zombie warriors: "Tis dark magic indeed that moves these carrion. Limbless or lifeless, they fight on!"
    • Thor: Vikings: Harald Jaekelsson is a thousand-year-old, undead Viking warlord who leads a crew of similarly undead Vikings. While possessing incredible strength thanks to the botched rune spell that turned him into a zombie, he's still just as skilled with his weapons as he was when he was alive. Not only do Jaekelson and his army overpower the police and the military, but Jaekelson himself defeats Thor in their first battle with ease.
  • Savage Dragon: Dragon and Hell Boy get swallowed by a giant sea monster and must face the undead pirates who have been reduced to skeletons inside its belly.
  • Vampirella: The New Monthly: The first issue has Vampirella and a priest saving two humans from a squad of American Civil War era vampires. Their leader claims they have never lost thanks to their superior numbers and tactics. Vampirella and the priest break this record by killing them all with blessed rain.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Issues #298 has the discovery of an ancient Amazon's skeleton who wears a tiara similar to Wonder Woman (and for some reason still has hair). In issue #302, we learn that this Amazon is Artemis (not to be confused with Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall). Artemis was once Hippolyta's friend and a chosen champion of Athena. However, she became corrupted and was slain by Athena herself. Using a mystical sword, Circe revives Artemis's skeletal remains to fight Diana and the other Amazons. She proves to be a formidable enemy before Diana knocks the sword out of her hands, causing her to crumble to dust.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Valuable Art, a being explicitly called an "undead knight", with "a dented and scraped suit of full plate", is mentioned, and is part of a gathering of sapient undead.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Army of Darkness: Some of the Deadites take the form of skeleton knights.
  • Jason and the Argonauts: The stop motion skeletons are possibly the most famous example due to their at-the-time breakthrough animation.
  • Land of the Dead: Over the course of the film, Big Daddy and his fellow zombies evolve from standard, shambling, brainless undead into a dangerous army. Big Daddy acquires a gun early on and teaches himself how to use it, eventually adding a jackhammer to his arsenal and showing others how to use tools from their old lives. By the end, they're attacking humans with various blades and are able to use more advanced tactics while taking advantage of their superior numbers.
  • The Thrilling Sword: There exists an armor-clad, living skeleton of a warrior slain in ancient times and cursed by the villain, Lord Hsieh, to roam an ancient crypt forever until he is relieved of his armor. The heroic Prince Jun seeks out this warrior in order to obtain his armor and sword to defeat the villainous Lord. The undead warrior gladly gives up his weapons, happy to be at peace.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Hela resurrects the Berserkers that were slain in battle centuries ago as skeletal soldiers. They retain the armor, weapons, and fighting skills they had in their previous lives, and are a formidable force under Hela's command. It takes the combined efforts of the Revengers, the Sakaaran Rebellion, Skurge, and the eventual arrival of Surtur for the Berserkers to be defeated.
  • Tombs of the Blind Dead: Templar Knights rise from the dead as mummies/zombies.

  • The Dark Profit Saga: In Son of a Liche knight-commander Tyren Ur'Thos is killed in the titular Liche's attack on his town and raised as a skeleton still clad in his armor, he quickly becomes a high-ranking commander in the Liche's army and takes over after his defeat.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In The Titan's Curse, Percy and his friends are attacked by a group of skeletal warriors in New Mexico. Bianca is the only one able to defeat them which serves as a clue that she is a child of Hades.
    • The Heroes of Olympus: Frank wields a spear that allows him to summon a violent skeleton dressed in army clothing named Gray to aid him in battle.
  • The Legend of Sun Knight has plenty.
    • A Death Knight is a powerful undead created from a deep grudge and an unattainable desire; while considered worthy of an entire squad's attention on their own, they can also evolve into Death Lords, which are considered to be national emergencies. Sun's old friend Roland became a Death Knight after being tortured to death, and later a Death Lord as part of Sun's gambit. After gaining the power of the Demon King, Roland evolves into the final form, a Death Monarch.
    • A Death Knight is not to be mistaken with what Sun calls a 'dead knight', which is simply a knight who was raised from the dead as a common zombie.
    • In later books, Sun encounters a literal army of undead, which he finds shockingly disciplined and well-equipped. Among the Elite Mooks are skeleton warriors, werewolves, and witches, all led by a general.
  • Lord of the Rings:
    • Ringwraiths are the spirits of nine human kings who were enslaved by Sauron and are led by the Witch-King of Angmar. They are first introduced riding black horses, and later on flying reptilian fell-beasts.
    • The Dead of Dunharrow from the third installment are undead warriors who have been forbidden to pass into the afterlife for not having kept an oath to Isildur. They redeem themselves by helping his heir Aragorn in the battle for Minas Tirith.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: The T'lan Imass are an entire people who became undead to execute their Forever War against the Jaghut more efficiently. They're desiccated husks, but wield huge flint swords one-handed, travel at tremendous speeds by transforming into dust, and can fight through almost any injury.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: The titular character is a skeleton detective trained in martial arts, magic, and firearms.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Ser Robert Strong, a mysterious and powerful knight of giant proportions, is heavily hinted to be the undead form of the late Ser Gregor Clegane, controlled by the mad scientist Qyburn.

    Live-Action TV 


    Mythology & Religion 
  • Japanese Mythology: The Gashadokuro (link to Wikipedia's entry on the subject) is a spirit with the appearance of a large skeleton, fifteen times larger than the average human. They are believed to be created from the ghosts of those who fell in battle and were not buried.
  • Slavic Mythology: The Fext seen here in this (link to Wikipedia's sparse entry on the subject) is an undead immortal raised to lead armies during the Thirty Years' War. Could be considered the warrior equivalent to Lich's they appear completely human but survive such grievous injuries that no mortal possibly could.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Death knights are sentient undead warriors who retain the weapon and armor proficiencies they had in life. They have tremendous strength and ride nightmares (supernatural horses). Later editions made it a playable class.
    • Skeleton warriors are the skeletal remains of high-level fighters who retain their superb fighting ability. They wear rotting armor and use swords (usually two-handed swords). Each skeleton warrior's soul is trapped in a golden circlet. The warrior can be controlled by anyone who puts its circlet upon their own head and concentrates.
    • Dread warriors are a downplayed example, undead that are created immediately after a soldier's death so they retain some degree of intelligence and fighting ability. Unlike zombies, dread warriors can wear armor and wield weapons effectively, rather than shambling around and flailing with their limbs. That said, they're still pretty stupid, and are incapable of operating a missile weapon more complicated than a javelin, as well as prone to botching orders from their master that are too long and complex.
    • Module OA5 Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw. The PCs can be attacked by the skeletons of four ronin (rogue samurai) dressed in Kozakuran armor and wielding Asian weapons (such as a wakizashi).
  • Pathfinder:
    • Unlike normal skeletons, Skeletal champions retain their intelligence and can take class levels. They're often reanimated from warriors to lead lesser undead in battle.
    • Graveknights are formed when a Blood Knight becomes powerful or driven enough for their spirit to bond with their armor. Their rage at the defeat from their first death drives them to ever more extreme feats, and they can return From a Single Cell until their armor is completely destroyed or purified.
    • Fexts are people Cursed from birth to seek out battle and ultimately transform into powerful undead. They distinguish themselves as soldiers in life and gain even greater strength in undeath.
    • The Fallen are the ghosts of crusaders who fell in battle and didn't receive Due to the Dead. They wield spiritual copies of their original weapons and armour in an indiscriminate parody of their original crusade until someone finally performs their last rites.
    • The Infernal Syndrome adventure path: Spartoi are the spirits of exceptional warriors, called back into skeletal bodies by powerful magic. They retain all their original expertise and become even stronger in groups.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • In addition to large hordes of mindless zombies and skeletons and clouds of keening spirits, the Vampire Counts use a number of more skilled undead troops:
      • Wights are the skeletal remains of ancient warriors, raised from their burial mounds by vampires and necromancers in order to exploit the skill in arms that still clings to them, and typically possess greater intelligence and independence than regular undead. The husks of common warriors are grouped into units of grave guard, resembling skeletons clad in rusted armor and wielding ancient weapons; horsemen, buried together with their mounts, are instead raised as black knights to serve as terrifying, armored cavalry. The remains of chieftains and heroes, still clad in their ancient finery and wielding the weapons they did in life, become the much more powerful wight kings, which retain enough intelligence and combat prowess to serve as independent heroes instead of rank-and-file troops.
      • Blood knights are elite vampire cavalry — meaning that, unlike other undead, they are fully free-willed and serve in larger armies of their own volition. Blood knights spend centuries training themselves to achieve excellence in arms, which combined with the extreme resilience granted by their undead state makes them some of the greatest cavalry in the world.
    • The backbone of the armies of the Tomb Kings are the reanimated remnants of the ancient Nehekharan legions, armed with their ancient weapons and retaining enough of their hard-drilled skills to be competent, if not especially fearsome, warriors.
      • This is downplayed with the basic foot troops: these skeletal swordsmen, halberdiers, archers, and cavalry retain enough of their hard-drilled training to still use their weapons with basic skill, but only enough to keep pace with regular living soldiers.
      • The tomb guard were once the personal guards of their monarchs, which required them to be the most skilled and elite warriors in their armies and further granted them the honor of better preservation after death. As undead soldiers, tomb guard are stronger and tougher than common skeletons, armed with high-quality swords and tower shields, clad in heavy armor and provided with greater martial skill than rank-and-file troops.
    • The Vampire Coast armies of Luthor Harkon (not an official army, but an army list for sixth edition was added in White Dwarf) consists of the re-animated corpses of former sailors and marines. Either as a result of the corpses' freshness or just as a quirk of Harkon's reanimation method, Vampire Coast zombies maintain some 'spark' of their former life and have better combat stats than those of the Vampire Counts, having a bonus to Weapon Skill and the option of Dual Wielding. They also have a Ballistic Skill stat and can therefore use ranged weapons like handguns (albeit very poorly).

    Video Games 
  • AFK Arena: Grezhul was the most loyal and powerful guard of Thoran, the king of the once-prosperous Bantus Empire. After being revived as a Graveborn, fully clad in armor and Dual Wielding twin longswords ironically designed to be especially powerful against other undead, he continues to serve his king as faithfully and unquestioningly as he always has, even after Thoran Came Back Wrong and devoted himself to terrorizing Bantus's now-entirely-undead populace. Thoran himself also applies, wielding a One-Handed Zweihänder, and many of the other Graveborn fight as well under their command with varying levels of willingness.
  • The Battle For Wesnoth: There are Death Knights (or squires) as enemy leaders in the campaign mode. They do work as an undead equivalent of the Generals in their side.
  • Black & White 2: One Sidequest in Land 4 rewards you with an elite platoon of ghostly Norse warriors, freshly raised from the grave. In practice, their undead state is only cosmetic.
  • Bladed Fury has a Mini-Boss being an undead, armored skeleton knight, who rides a skeletal horse for good measure.
  • Breath of Death VII: The protagonist is a skeletal knight named Dem. He is an undead parody of the silent Knight Errant protagonists from classic RPGs.
  • Castlevania: The series loves this, with many mooks being some variety of "undead with weapon." Alucard himself technically counts as well.
  • Clive Barker's Undying: The Warrior Monk skeletons retain their martial arts skills and expertise with staves, and quite possibly still have a bone to pick with the protagonist for killing them in the past, later in the game.
  • Darkest Dungeon 2: The entire Lost Battalion faction consists of undead knights with saplings growing in their bodies. They even have drummers to keep coordinated. Arbalests (crossbow archers) and Footmen form the mooks, the chaplains and drummers are their attack and support spellcasters, and the officers act as minibosses. The general who led them in life, now fused with a self-mobile, hostile tree, acts as the boss of the Tangle area.
  • Darksiders: Some of the Undead have armor and weapons that they can wield with varying degrees of skill. Perhaps the deadliest example is the Skeleton Champion who fights with a club.
  • Dark Souls: You encounter quite a few undead or Hollow knights and warriors as Elite Mooks. For example Dark Souls has the Balder and Berenike Knights, while Dark Souls III has the Lothric Knights. In fact, you can apply as well, as all protagonists suffer from some form of the Undead curse.
  • Dragon Quest IX:
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Armed skeletons are a common low-tier undead enemy throughout the series. While their exact level of intelligence is unclear, they are capable of using moderately complex weapons and tactics, such as bows/arrows and swords/shields, so they clearly aren't mindless.
    • Morrowind has several unique undead enemies who are deadly in combat and implied to still possess their full intelligence. The Skeleton War Wizard lives up to its name, possessing the legendary Vampire Ring, capable of slinging spells, and able to use it's Staff of War effectively in melee. Beldoh the Undying is another unique skeleton who wields a silver axe and possesses one of only two Blood Feat Shields in the game, being a very capable opponent.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy: In the fourth game, Dark Lance is described as a "zombie soldier" in the medal awarded on defeating them on Epic Difficulty.
  • Fable: Nostro was a legendary Hero in life, but lingered as a ghost because he died by poison rather than by the sword. The protagonist can face him and his undead True Companions in battle to give them a belated Honorable Warrior's Death like they always wanted.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The Skeleton and Zombie type enemies are undead warriors brought back to life by magecraft, and serve as common enemies scattered throughout story chapters and events. True to this trope, both enemy types wield various weapons, from swords to bows and lances, and even the occasional tomahawk or axe.
  • Golden Axe: Skeletons with swords and shields are common enemies in the series.
  • Heretic: The Undead Warriors are armored skeletal creatures that hurl throwing axes at the player.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: Some of the zombie mooks are swordsmen who wield two katanas. They cam sometimes move surprisingly quickly, too.
  • Killer Instinct:
    • Spinal is a skeleton pirate who uses a sword and shield. In the original games, he was a 200o-year-old warrior who was revived by UltraTech's experiments. In the 2013 game, Spinal is the living remains of an ancient pirate who was awakened by the Mask of the Ancients. He dons pirating gear and amps up his arsenal with dark magic.
    • There's also Hisako, an onryo who was the teenage daughter of a samurai during the Sengoku period. She killed a group of bandits all by herself but died in the battle, and her village erected a shrine to honor her. When her shrine is disturbed by Ultratech in the modern day, she comes back with her father's naginata, ghostly powers, and a massive temper.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Medievil: Sir Daniel Fortesque is a Fake Ultimate Hero in life who fell as the first casualty in the final battle against Zarok. When Zarok returns hundreds of years later, he casts a massive necromancy spell that accidentally resurrects Sir Dan. Unlike most other examples on this page, he was not a warrior in life, earning his title as a knight by being a very entertaining minstrel. He has to learn how to fight as he goes on his journey and try to live up to his legend as the Hero of Gallowmere. By the end, he's become a legitimate (if somewhat goofy) knight and ascends to the Hall of Heroes.
  • Minecraft: Multiple types of undead mobs are capable of spawning with, and using, weapons and armor.
    • Skeletons are armed by default. Regular skeletons have bows and arrows, and are programmed to try to keep their distance from the player, instead of rushing them like other hostile mobs do, to take advantage of their ranged attack and avoid their main weakness — namely their utter lack of melee damage. Strays are a variant that fires enchanted arrows that cut players' maximum speed, while wither skeletons are instead armed with stone swords.
    • Drowned are a type of marine zombie that often, but not always, spawns armed with a trident. This gives them both a melee and ranged attack since suitably enchanted tridents will come back to their wielder after being thrown.
    • In addition to default weapon types, all varieties of zombie and skeleton are capable of spawning with one or more pieces of armor (increasing their defense and, if it's a helmet, keeping them from burning in sunlight) and/or a weapon (although only in the zombies' case, as the skeletons only have their bows), giving them a stronger melee attack. This makes them tougher enemies than normal, but also more rewarding, as there's a chance of their gear dropping as obtainable items when they're slain.
      • Zombies and skeletons usually just spawn with a weapon or a single piece of armor, but more complete sets aren't uncommon, and zombies will occasionally — if rarely — spawn with full suits of armor and a weapon to boot.
      • Further, separately from the completeness of the gear, any given weapon or piece of armor spawned can also have any of the enchantments available for it: a skeleton or zombie in full armor and wielding an enchanted weapon can go from one of the weakest monsters in the game to one of the toughest encounters possible in the regular overworld and can be quite capable of dispatching a new or unprepared player.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Before he was killed and returned as a spectre, Hanzo Hasashi aka Scorpion was the greatest warrior and assassin of the Shirai Ryu clan. In addition to his control over Hellfire, he retains the martial arts skills that he had in life.
    • Mortal Kombat: Deception: Dark Raiden resurrects the corpse of the slain Liu Kang to act as his chief enforcer. While the corpse is very much a mindless zombie enslaved to Dark Raiden's will, it still retains Liu Kang's martial arts knowledge.
  • Rogue Legacy: The Lich class uses swords and armor just like the rest of the classes, though they are MP based like the Archmage and Spellsword classes.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross: Various types of undead knights appear as enemies in the game. They are typically found at destroyed/abandoned fortresses and towns. More powerful, magical variants appear as enemies in the Training Grotto and Tower of Trials.
  • Skeleton Warriors: The majority of your enemies are skeletons, including an armoured knight skeleton with a sword. Knight skeletons in red armor show up in the first level, after unarmed fist-fighting skeletons. Several levels after that will have also knight skeletons in green or blue armour which can take more hits and are faster than their red brethren.
  • Warcraft:
    • In Warcraft II, death knights were the Horde's Squishy Wizard unit, orc warlocks riding skeletal horses and using unholy powers, they and their skeletal minions could be one-shotted by paladin exorcisms). In between II and III, they were remade as skeletal liches after their master Ner'zhul was trapped in a glacier by demons as the Lich King, now using frost magic.
    • In Warcraft III, the death knight is a Hero Unit, a dead human noble reborn in the Lich King's service as a Magic Knight with necromantic powers. Designed as "the evil counterpart to the human paladin", they can bring back the dead as invulnerable zombies, sacrifice a unit to regain life, heal undead and harm the living with the undead version of the paladin's Holy Hand Grenade, and a speed boost/regeneration aura. The human and undead campaigns follow the fall of Arthas Menethil from paladin to death knight, then his fusing with Ner'zhul, truly becoming the Lich King.
    • In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion of World of Warcraft, Death Knights are now a playable class, whose first missions involve breaking free of the Lich King's will.
  • Wargroove: The Necromancer Valder commands a nation of powerful undead warrior soldiers, most of whom he created himself, and all of them a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. This includes skeleton swordsmen, pikemen, archers and the Ragna, a Frankenstien-like monster created from the corpses of history's greatest combatants.


    Western Animation 
  • Mummies Alive!: The titular Mummies are four ancient Egyptians who served as the bodyguards and instructors to the young prince Rapses XII and are resurrected to protect his modern-day incarnation. Each Mummy is a master of Egypt-Tsu, has a suit of mystical armor modeled after a specific animal and wields a personal weapon.
  • Skeleton Warriors: The main antagonistic force of the series is, naturally, skeleton warriors. Skeleton Warriors retain their intelligence and most of their personality, albeit gaining an undying loyalty to Baron Dark in the process, and are shown operating both melee weaponry and futuristic vehicles and rifles.