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Zombie Gait

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Walk this way, stalk this way... ♫

"How many times have I told you? Dead things don't move fast. You're a corpse, for Christ's sake! If you run that fast your ankles are going to snap off."
Jason Creed, Diary of the Dead

Zombies usually shuffle around with both arms out in front of them, groaning "Braaaaaains" or something similar.note  Aside from the groaning, this is not unique to zombies. Mummies usually do this as well, and even Frankenstein's Monster has been seen to lurch in this variety of the Unflinching Walk, but only when he was blinded in 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.

Although often portrayed this way in fiction (in fact, it was a fictitious sleepwalker who made this trope), sleepwalkers do not walk like this. They walk with their eyes open. If they did not, they would wake up with a nasty headache, or in the hall after they smack their heads on the nearest sharp corner. There have been accounts of sleepwalkers having held conversations, and sleepwalkers who do chores, get dressed, eat, have sex (an actual diagnosed condition, called "sexsomnia", often mistaken for rape) and people have even been known to drive their cars for miles while sleepwalking. More ominously, some occasions of accidental death and even murder have been proven to have been committed while sleepwalking.

However, Night terrors (aka pavor nocturnus) add some features of traditional zombies to the mix, as a sufferer may suddenly bolt upright, wander clumsily and aimlessly while sobbing, murmuring or screaming incomprehensible words, and on occasion will violently lash out at anyone trying to stop them.

It has been speculated that holding out one's arms pointing forward while doing the Zombie Gait derives from the mysticism connected with hypnotism in the past and the fact that to get a person's arm to rise as if without their moving it themselves is one of the easiest suggestions to perform.

This is probably somewhat counter-productive, as moving slowly and announcing your presence is a brilliant way to scare off potential prey. (Although, if a Zombie virus needs a bite or scratch to infect, the best way to transmit that virus is to attract a mob of zombies from all directions. This does not apply to non-virus zombies or omnirevenant zombies however.)

Then again, may be justified as the undead's damaged muscles might make basic locomotion a chore. George A. Romero in a 2008 interview indicates his reasoning for why zombies are slow and cannot run. On top of that, since zombies can shrug off most things that would incapacitate a normal person and there's so damn many of them that even slow ones can be quite a threat to our plucky heroes (unless, of course, they have Bottomless Magazines).

Nevertheless, these zombies can often jump at protagonists from Behind the Black in a Deadly Lunge. See also and compare Marionette Motion, where a human body (shaped object) moves as if it were a puppet on a string. Similar in character but different in style is the hopping locomotion associated with Chinese Vampires.

The Technically-Living Zombie frequently averts this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Blassreiter, the zombies, called demoniacs, follow this trope straight until they start being aggressive. They then break this trope by running on all fours, run along walls, and to more extremes, merge with vehicles like cars, motorcycles, and later on, Typhoon jets, to go really, really fast.
  • In Dragon Ball, Yamcha is scheduled to fight a mummy in a Tournament Arc. He assumes that he's got the match in the bag as long as he doesn't let the mummy hit or grab him. He's wrong, the mummy speed blitzes and utterly curb-stomps him, then mocks him for assuming he was slow.
  • The mannequin soldiers, the Xerxessian souls Father revives and later, Father himself approaching a defenceless Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • The zombies in Highschool of the Dead walk in this fashion. Possibly because they are blind.
  • The undead created by the Magical Girls in Magical Girl Apocalypse avert this violently. After resurrection, they have enhanced speed and a great deal of Super-Strength.
  • Parodied in One Piece. Yes, they moan and groan like in the movie, but take this example:
    Usopp: We're alright. They just came up from the ground They can't dash after us. Zombies just move slow and groan. Even walking should be hard for them.
    (The zombie horde sprints towards them)
    Zombies: HOLD IT!
    Usopp: THEY'RE FAST!
    • And then they become out of breath... and call for a time out! More powerful zombies on Thriller Bark avert this trope, though.
  • The game-canon Resident Evil: Degeneration plays the trope out exactly like the older games. Except Leon specifically says "You can only kill them by shooting them in the brain" despite that rule was only enforced in the original game. All other games they die no matter where you shoot them.
  • Zombie Land Saga: The "unawakened" zombie girls tend to walk like this, lurching about awkwardly.

    Comic Books 
  • Zombies in Blackest Night are not only fully mobile, they have superpowers!
  • Similarly, Marvel Zombies.
  • Played straight in The Walking Dead, where the zombies are fairly typical Romero-style walking corpses in various states of decay.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin starts imitating a zombie, lurching around with outstretched arms and gaping mouth and messily disemboweling a PBJ sandwich. Hobbes sees Calvin and gets into the gait too. They then look at each other and burst out laughing.
  • Parodied in Robotman and Monty when they trigger a mummy's curse and cause it to awaken. They panic at first but realize that the mummy is very slow. It's so slow that Monty decides to look for dropped change before leaving the tomb. In the next strip they dismiss the warnings of their guide by telling him that the mummy is too slow to catch them before they get on their flight home. Unfortunately for them, the mummy is smart enough to use the airport's moving walkway and they are slowed down by their heavy luggage.
    Monty: Why didn't I get the luggage with the little wheels!?

    Film — Animation 
  • The Missing Link does it in Monsters vs. Aliens, but only because he had just been in the pool and his eyes were burning with chlorine. Dr. Cockroach walks like this for a few seconds after his transformation in the General's video clip.
  • In Turning Red, Priya does this as a dance during Tyler's birthday party.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Trope Maker is Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, although he can run when he needs to, and he is completely silent.
  • Most zombie movies. It would be easier to list exceptions:
    • 28 Days Later although they're actually "infected" and not the undead, but close enough...
      • Zombieland seems to run off a similar virus, albeit one that is a mutation of Mad Cow Disease rather than an experimental serum.
    • In [REC], the infected are extremely fast thanks to a virus that is part biological, part Demonic Possession.
    • And the sprinting zombies from the 2004 Zack Snyder remake of Dawn of the Dead.
    • Speaking of Snyder, Army of the Dead plays the trope straight for the Shamblers, the countless inferior zombies populating Las Vegas after the outbreak. The Alphas (those who create them) are smart, fast and agile however.
    • What we now call "zombie movies" started with Night of the Living Dead (1968). Before then, zombies mostly shuffled harmlessly around on Haitian sugar-plantations.
      • The 1990 remake actually lampshaded this when Barbara suggests that she and everybody else should just make a run for it because of how slow the zombies were. She was proven right; as the zombies start overriding the farmhouse, Barbara escapes by just walking past the zombies without even needing to fire her gun, becoming the Sole Survivor. note 
    • Played straight in the Resident Evil Film Series until the third, in which Umbrella creates fast zombies.
    • In Warm Bodies, the zombies generally move slowly (though they can lunge, from time to time...) but as they age into the skeleton-and-beef-jerky Bonies, strangely enough become faster. R hilariously lampshades this in one of his Deadpan Snarker monologues:
    "God, we walk slow." *sigh* "This might take a while..."
    • Sometimes played straight, sometimes not in Zombie Blood Bath. Some zombies can only stumble and shuffle around. Others can lightly jog, tackle people, and hop across small streams of water. The zombies acted like average citizens of Kansas City, Minnesota.
    • Played for Laughs in Cockneys vs. Zombies when an eighty-three-year-old man with a walker is pursued by a zombie that can keep up with him because both of them are extremely slow.
    • The zombies in Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! walk this way. There is even less justification in this case than most, as the drug turns living humans into zombies near instantaneously, so there shouldn't be any damage to their muscles to cause them to shamble.
    • The Return of the Living Dead zigzagged this; the zombies were perfectly capable of running, but some of the more heavily decayed ones (like the Tarman for example) moved slowly.
    • The Rezort makes clear that only fresh zombies are capable of running and, as they dessicate from exposure to the heat, develop the regular slow gait. As the zombies that walk around the Rezort are the "slow" types (until they break loose and begin infecting people), they most definitely have been around for a while. And then it's revealed that the Rezort's method of manufacuring zombies to keep the cash flowing in includes placing the zombies in gigantic microwave ovens that dehydrate them in a hurry so they will become slow and easier to handle.
  • Most early mummy movies, particularly the series that begins with The Mummy's Hand, which codified a lot of mummy movie tropes. The movie actually called The Mummy, which pre-dates The Mummy's Hand, is not an example, nor are any of its modern spinoffs (The Mummy (1999) and sequels), some of which lampshade the trope such as in The Mummy (1999) where Imhotep's enthralled townspeople shamble along in this manner and Johnathan mimics them to avoid being attacked.
  • Blackenstein: Eddie moves like after he is transformed into a monster: shambling from foot to foot without bending his knees and holding his arms straight out in front of him.
  • Also been used as a Flanderization—Frankenstein's monster (who is made of corpse parts, but usually not thought of as undead) walks this way in the end of the The Ghost of Frankenstein and in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man because a botched operation has left him blind. Thereafter, it became a defining mark of the character, even though later movies returned his sight.
  • Friday the 13th
    • Near the end of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan Jason develops a Zombie Gait after getting toxic waste hurled into his face - he stumbles around bumping into walls in a pretty comical fashion.
    • Beginning with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Jason is in fact a zombie, and yet displays very few of the classic traits of the walking dead. He doesn't shamble, he's lethally intelligent, and while he rarely moves at more than a brisk walk, he is clearly capable of superior speed. The only true "zombie" traits he follows are the rotting flesh and extreme resistance to/ignorance of physical damage.
  • Invisible Invaders: The dead are possessed by aliens and walk this way.
  • Played for fun in Shaun of the Dead, where the protagonists mimic zombie gait to fool other zombies. As well as joked in the beginning that before the Zombies arrived, everyone in town were already Zombie-like while trudging through their daily routines, that it takes quite a while before Shaun notices anything is wrong. The inefficiency of the undead also gets played for humor a lot, such as when Shaun and Ed are throwing records at the zombies and have enough time to get into arguments about music quality or relationship troubles before the zombies can shamble a few meters across the yard and reach them.
  • The Terminator: As the body of the Terminator begins to take on horrendous amounts of punishment, its gait becomes increasingly stiff and stilted, more befitting of the rods-pulleys-and-levers that it really is than the human that it tries to masquerade as. When it's reduced to an endoskeleton in the climax, it also walks with a limp due to sustaining damage to its leg in a truck crash.


  • Averted in the tag/LARP-combo game Humans vs. Zombies, where the "zombies" are just as agile as the humans they hunt. Nevertheless, zombies who've been hunting nonstop will often exhibit this trope fairly straightly as exhaustion and leg straining catches up with them.

  • Done both ways in Day by Day Armageddon. Normal zombies are the typical, Romeroesque shuffling ghouls. Then the joggers show up: zombies that were radiated by nuclear fallout. Joggers can move faster, are smarter, can use weapons, and worst of all: they case radiation poisoning in anyone they make contact with. Good job, US Government.
  • Used with plant zombies in The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. The eponymous creepy, flesh-eating plants not only walk with a slow, shuffling movement, but have a sort of stick-and-drum arrangement capable of producing a rattling noise... which, you guessed it, calls hordes of other Triffids.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, the undead (whether the ordinary dead or the more dangerous lazar) tend to move in a clumsy, jerky manner owing to general decay (particularly older ones). The lazar, however, are fully capable of using necromancy to repair their bodies and can thus move extremely quickly when they want to and aren't slowed down by injury — don't be fooled by their usual shuffling gait.
  • Diario de un Zombi has this as both a good and bad thing. Good for the humans, but bad for Erico, a thinking zombie whose trying to ferry said humans out of Barcelona.
  • Explicitly defied in The Dresden Files. Zombies created by a skilled necromancer are stronger and faster than a living person, albeit still mindless. The best way to counter the undead is with better undead like meeting a horde of human zombies with a zombie T. Rex.
  • Justified with the Technically-Living Zombie cast of Elantris. The Elantrians don't need to eat or breathe, but they don't heal and their wounds cause them constant pain, so the sane ones all move very slowly and carefully to prevent everyday dangers that normal people can shake off, like tripping, scraping, and splinters.
  • Also in the Newsflesh universe, in prequel novella The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell, the protagonist sees silhouettes through a frosted window and realizes they're zombies by the way they move. Her internal monologue mentions learning to recognize this as one of the "stranger" tests she had to learn to pass to become a teacher.
    • In another book, Shaun mentally comments that doing this in front of security cameras is a really great way to get a lot of attention from security staff, but a very bad idea overall.
  • When Windle Poons becomes a zombie (an intelligent one) in Reaper Man, he just feels like walking with his arms out in front of him and his hands hanging limp, though he doesn't know why. It is explained why he walks with a slow, shuffling gait, though: all the things his body used to do automatically when walking, like keeping his balance and controlling his leg muscles, he now has to control consciously.
    • Reg Shoe from the City Watch sub-series, whose debut appearance was also in Reaper Man, is implied to be a little stiff but otherwise capable of a fair turn of speed when needed; we eventually learn in Night Watch that he's had some thirty to forty years to get a handle on the same problem Windle was grappling with. note  Mr Slant is never described a moving quickly but that's a matter of choice rather than capability. As one of Ankh-Morpok's three most senior lawyers (the other two are vampires), other people wait for his convenience.
  • In Asi Hart's Under a Freezing Moon the Zombies don't bother walking, they drive.
  • In the Boojumverse story "The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward", the reanimated move at a slow shuffle but are capable of lunging with surprising speed at anything that gets too close to their reach.
  • Lampshaded in Max Brooks' novel World War Z - the groan of a zombie attracts other zombies to living humans - who, once they hear the groaning and sense the presence of living humans, also begin to groan, thus attracting more. This can have the effect of attracting hundreds, thousands or even millions of zombies to one position, depending how the chain-reaction of groaning travels and how many zombies are in the vicinity and able to pick up on it. Despite their traditional slow-moving walk, this also has the result of effectively destroying the morale of any defenders and causing complete panic; you might deal with the zombies right in front of you, but there could be the zombified converts of a city's population right behind them.
    • The same applies in Mira Grant's Feed. The "zombies" moan deliberately in order to draw more zombies to the "meal".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done with Vampires in the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lampshaded in the director's commentary on the DVD.
  • CSI: NY: A man who'd been injected with tetrodotoxin and buried alive on Halloween night in "Boo" claws his way out of his hemp coffin and shallow grave. Still dazed from the drug, he shuffles his way to the street and happens to fall in with a crowd all dressed and acting like zombies. Since he's dirty, disheveled, and moving slowly with glazed eyes due to his ordeal, he fits right in... until he drops dead for real and no one in the crowd can identify him, that is.
  • In Deadliest Warrior [Vampire vs Zombie] the Zombie's slow speed [2ft per second to 3mph] was a serious disadvantage to the Vampire's superhuman speed [about 100ft per second]. Because of this, the Zombies had to outnumber the Vampires 63-1 to make a fair fight. The fight scene showed that in lesser numbers, the Vampire would not be overwhelmed by the Zombies and would kill them one at a time with great ease and speed.
  • Zombies in the horror/comedy series Death Valley move fast shortly after they've become infected, but they develop a slow gait the more their bodies decay. There are corpulent zombies in the series who shuffle at a snail's pace.
  • Doctor Who:
  • In Land of the Lost (1974), the Sleestak do this, though they're lizard-people rather than zombies. They were only really a menace in numbers and/or the close quarters of the tunnels under the Lost City; otherwise, the Marshalls could have simply outwalked them.
  • A suspect in Law & Order: Criminal Intent started to walk like a zombie just before he died. In fact, witnesses described it as walking like a zombie. Also, the detectives were investigating a woman who practices voodoo.
  • Enforced by the MythBusters in the "zombies" episode, where the zombies in question (dozens of human volunteers in makeup) were limited in speed to a slow shuffle for purposes of testing the myths.
  • Non-zombie example: in Quatermass and the Pit, when Sladden the drill operator falls under the Martian influence he walks with a weird lurching gait, the idea being that he's trying to replicate the Martians' tripedal locomotion with only two legs.
  • While not exactly zombies, the Borg of Star Trek fame play by many of the rules of zombies, including continuing to walk slowly no matter how many of them get shot, never using weapons other than their Virus nature, and ignoring the good guys until they take at least one drone out.
    • Averted in the Elite Force games, in which the Borg attack without provocation, move much more quickly, and shoot (at least in some missions), and their Assimilation Tubes of Doom don't follow the Virus trope.
    • The Borg were originally conceived as being more insectoid than anything else. When budgetary restraints dictated that they be played by humans in costume, a different way to make them scary and "inhuman" was needed, so the writers settled on zombie behavior.
    • At least one fan says that Borg are more like vampires than anything else, given that they produce "bite marks" on the necks of their victims (from the Assimilation Tubes of Doom) and all die if the "head vampire" (Borg Queen) is killed. Ironically, both of these characteristics were introduced in First Contact, in which Lily (in a Critical Lampshade Failure) refers to them as "those bionic zombies". Also ironically, this was when the Borg's appearance was changed from looking pale but young and healthy (like a vampire) to looking discolored and gross (like a rotting zombie).
  • This gets parodied, along with other zombie tropes in a sketch of Studio C
  • The Walking Dead (2010), being a show about zombies plays with this. While an average zombie can only shuffle or, at most, break out at a disjointed jog, and therefore be outrun, the main problem is they do not get tired. In late season 2, Andrea is overcome with exhaustion and jumped by a single walker, after being forced to fight and flee for hours on end.

    Music Videos 
  • The zombies in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" move slowly at first... but once the dance starts, they're as mobile as humans.
  • The zombies of Jonathan Coulton's "Re: Your Brains" are well-spoken and intelligent, but are still quite insistent about eating your brains. (There is at least one zombie groaning and mumbling in traditional fashion during the chorus, but even he manages to keep somewhat in tune.)
  • Fridge Brilliance on LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" video, which presents the band's song infecting people a la a zombie apocalypse. Every day, they are shufflin'!

  • The Premium Limited Edition tables of James Cameron's Avatar includes additional Na'vi action figures decorating the playfield. This trope can occur if the Na'vi action figures are carelessly positioned.
  • Naturally, the zombies in The Pinball of the Dead have this walk when they wander the playfield.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is the default Movement option for zombies in All Flesh Must Be Eaten - the classic slow zombie shuffle. However, there are two other options: "Life-Like", where the zombie moves at a human pace, and "The Quick Dead", where they're actually faster than living people. All three are tied to the zombie's Dexterity score, as well, with faster speeds giving higher Dexterity.
  • Walkin' Dead in Deadlands RPG are smarter than they look (being demons from hell animating corpses). So they pose as slow, stupid zombies... And then they eat your brain out.
    • Voodoo Zombies, though, play this trope straight.
  • The last time rules for zombies appeared in Warhammer 40,000, the zombies would always move as if they were going through difficult ground to represent this gait.
    • Most zombies are made with Nurglite magic, the obese god of disease and decay, and like him they're very slow.
    • The robot zombie Necrons tend to move very slowly, but since they shrug off just about anything thrown at them on the way, it doesn't really matter.
    • Undead in Warhammer Fantasy walk at regular speeds, most of the time 5 like other humans and humanoids. Exception is that the undead can't march or charge, which doubles a unit's moving speed, invoking this trope.
  • In older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, zombies (but not most other undead) tended to be specifically slower than living beings, which was reflected in such zombie-specific rules as always losing initiative or only getting partial actions each turn. Even in Fourth Edition, which mostly does away with these special-case rules, humanoid zombies tend to have a lower base ground speed than the living — though for example the gravehound from the Monster Manual, a zombie dog, still runs just as fast as a living dog or wolf.
  • In Feng Shui, most supernatural creatures (except for ghosts) explicitly appear to shamble, lurch or hop along slowly, but can actually move at their full speed. It's referred to as "deceptive speed."
  • Zig-Zagged Trope in Zombicide. Walkers, Fatties and the Abomination are slow. Runner zombies, on the other hand... Well, they run.
  • In Red Markets Casualties are like this, since their movement is normally caused by the Blight jerking their decaying carcass around. But newly infected victims, or Vectors, are still technically alive and have Uninhibited Muscle Power.


    Video Games 
  • A-Tech Cybernetic: The early enemies in the game walk very zombie-like walks.
  • Zombies, shambling with arms outstretched, appear in some of the Army Men games.
  • Blood zig-zags the trope. Axe Zombies in the first game jog at a decent pace and don't stop unless knocked down or shocked. Their Bloated Butcher brethren walk far more slowly. Soul Drudges in Blood II: The Chosen will sometimes simply do The Slow Walk towards their target, but other times will limp towards prey as fast as they can go – that is to say, not very fast.
  • While they're not actually zombies, in The Cat Lady, the cannibalistic wife of the pest control guy has a zombie walk, as does anyone who is on drugs.
  • All the zombies in Dead County walk in this fashion, though with their arms raised above their heads.
  • Dead Island has the Walkers, the most common zombie type. They move slowly and are fairly weak, but are dangerous in numbers.
  • Course the zombies in Dead Rising feature this. But Frank can also do this to keep zombies from bothering him. It slows him down and doesn't work on human enemies. In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, he includes a completely deadpan "Brains, gimme brains."
  • All three Diablo games feature varying classes of zombies that fit the trope perfectly. In Diablo II, some of them will poison the player with each hit and/or release a cloud of poison gas upon death, though this poison will not turn the player or his/her minions into zombies.
  • Doom³ features a wide array of zombies. A few are faster than the rest (speed shambling) and usually either wield chainsaws or have been set on fire, but otherwise exhibit similar behavior. Zombie Commandos move quickly (no shambling), don't moan or grunt, and often wield guns and hide behind cover; however, they're closer to actual demons than zombies, given that they burn away after dying.
  • Mostly played straight with the fairly slow zombies in front of you in the Earn to Die browser-based games, but averted with ones that come charging up from behind (starting in the 2012 entries), which can run at 50mph and so can catch up to your car unless you're using the booster.
  • While the Fatal Frame series have no zombies, this trope applies to some of the dolls that attack you.
    • Watashi from IV, who stumbles like this towards the player when hostile.
    • The dolls that attack you in V limp around slowly as they move towards you. Fortunately, they have low health.
  • Used in Fort Zombie extensively. Most zombies have an awkward shuffle that you can outdo with a jog — besides these, there's football player zombies that can manage a brief tackling charge, and "fast" zombies in tracksuits that can manage roughly a jog. They also can't get over obstacles nearly as well as your character. It's highly recommended you use this to your advantage, especially in the early game before you have many weapons or other survivors.
  • Defied by Genshin Impact's Qiqi. Her character story notes that zombies normally have difficulty moving around, so she makes a point of doing calisthenics to keep her body fit and mobile. One of her idle animations even has her doing stretches.
  • Ginger Beyond The Crystal: The undead frogs in Crater Peaks and its levels all walk, and run after Ginger, with their arms outstretched. The purple Frankenstein's Monsters also walk with their arms outstretched.
  • Grey: An Alien Dream: The zombies Grey encounters in the Zombie Apocalypse Dream move slowly with their arms outstretched and slouching forward.
  • Both played straight and averted in Guild Wars 2 with the Risen. Brutes and bigger variants of the Risen generally plays this straight, being lumbering undeads or at least just slow on the feet. Averted with normal Risen. Not only can they walk and run normally, but they can actually outrun living people. Combine this with the Risen's love of inflicting you with conditions that slows you down or stops you dead in your track, and it's guaranteed that you won't get to escape a group of them in one piece.
  • Headcrab zombies in Half-Life generally follow this trope, though Half-Life 2 adds two more headcrab varieties, one of which results in zombies that are noticeably more rotted than normal (basically just a skeleton with the bare minimum of muscle still attached) but also much faster and more agile.
  • Zigzagged in the Halo franchise; Flood Combat Forms will normally shuffle slowly around, but when they become aware of hostiles they can break out into a slow run or even a surprising sprint. Played straight with Carrier Forms, if only because their legs are so stubby that they can't move at anything quicker than a tottering shuffle.
  • Heaven Dust: The zombies in the game walk towards the Player Character with their arms outstretched.
  • Zombies in Heroes of Might and Magic tend to be pretty slow and move in this manner. This makes them a less than useful unit, since the distance a Hero can travel on the map depends on the slowest unit in their army. Leaving them behind in garrisons, not recruiting them at all to save gold, or even converting them into the lower level but far more versatile Skeletons are all preferable to actually fielding zombies in your army. They are especially bad in the third game, since they don't have any particularly outstanding stats for their level to make up for their abysmal speed.
  • Mentioned but ultimately averted in the Visual Novel I Walk Among Zombies. Zombies are fast and relentless, much to the surprise of the protagonist who expected them to be this. Their speed is also generally unaffected by injury, barring their limbs being crippled beyond repair.
  • In Left 4 Dead, zombies can run at considerable speed, which varies from just slower than players to slightly faster than them. Unnerving with the regular hordes sprinting at you too fast to outrun, and pants-wettingly terrifying when a muscle-bound Tank gallops your way at the same speed you can run when healthy, knocking over several vehicles en route and possibly sending them to hit you for an instant incapacitation. Again, though, these are Infected, not undead. If you observe an Infected that hasn't spotted you yet, however, they do shuffle around like traditional zombies up until the moment they make a dash for your face. If you watch them shuffle around long enough before they spot you, some will just lie down and die, right there.
  • The ReDeads of The Legend of Zelda franchise (most notably The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and their reincarnations, Gibdos, in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) walk slow as molasses, usually accompanied by a low groan, and then they let out a paralyzing shriek before they latch onto Link, slowly draining his health until you can shake them off.
  • Marsupilami: Hoobadventure: The Coati Enemies walk like this, which makes sense, as they're being mind-controlled by the game's Big Bad.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Metal Slug: When transformed into zombies, player characters move distressingly slowly, but have a screen-sweeping Zombie Puke Attack.
  • Minecraft's zombies, including zombified villagers, walk like this. Their slow movement combined with their melee attacks made them strictly entry-level Mooks until an update added a swarming behavior, along with the possibility to spawn new zombies when attacked on Hard difficulty.
  • In addition to actual zombies walking this way in Neverwinter Nights, you can use the toolset to give any npc the "zombie walk" trait, presumably so you can create zombified versions of other monsters.
  • Outbreak: The zombies in Outbreak: The New Nightmare have the typical outstretched-arms walk. Same for the zombies in Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles.
  • Played generally straight in Plants vs. Zombies, with a few exceptions. Many zombies would rather rely on trickery than speed, such as pole-vaulting over your defenses or riding on dolphins. Others prefer brute force, like the giant zombie who smashes defenses flat with his road sign/powerline pole/other zombie or the Zomboni, who as his name implies, runs over your plants with a magic zamboni that leaves a trail of solid ice behind him that cannot be planted upon and summons a zombie bobsled team.
  • The Resident Evil series plays this trope completely straight... up until Resident Evil 4. Los Ganados can run, use weaponry, and speak in complete sentences, and are much more interested in killing Leon than eating his flesh. Justified in that Los Ganados are not actual zombies, but parasite-infected villagers controlled by the leader of an evil cult.
    • Also, the first Crimson Head the players encounter in REmake, which also scatters the powered-up zombies about Crimson Heads are made if the zombie was disabled but not killed. Only completely destroying the head note  or lighting a zombie's body on fire note  will prevent a Crimson Head from forming.
    • A few of the zombies in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis can move at a brisk pace.
    • In a few versions of the first game, including the remake, one of the STARS members who is slain in the mansion will become a zombie who is quite capable of sprinting, making the Zombie Gait more of a matter of freshness. The Remake capitalizes on this with a bonus mode which gives said zombie free roam of the mansion and a grenade belt.
  • Some of the zombies in Sailor Zombie walk like this (while others will charge at you).
  • Ordinary Sims allow commands to walk, run or skip to a certain location. In The Sims 2: University, Sims that have been brought Back from the Dead as zombies can only "shamble."
    • Same with The Sims 3 "Supernatural" expansion though it becomes Nightmare Retardant as said zombies tend to pull out umbrellas when it rains, or leave your property by taxi. Even moreso if you have the Plants vs. Zombies DLC note  and have Peashooters attacking them as they try to eat your plants.
  • Would you believe this makes zombies harder to kill in Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army? They never stop moving and their heads bob as they shuffle around, making it hard to get a bead on them with your rifle even if they're coming right at you.
  • Spark the Battle Dog: The zombies in the game walk with their arms outstretched.
  • The zombified Stalkers in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl are slow, but still remember how to use their assault rifles and are annoyingly accurate with them.
  • In They Are Billions, the recently Infected are as fast as humans. The rabies-like disease they contract and the hard life of an Infected eventually cripples their body, leaving them with the classic zombie shuffle.
  • In Urban Dead, zombie characters walk only half as fast as human characters until they buy the Lurching Gait skill. Feeding Groan is a purchasable skill that can only be used while in the same room as human characters, and is heard farther away when more humans are present. The most common use of it is to alert other zombies as to the whereabouts of juicy brains.
  • Valheim: Subverted with draugr: when unaware of enemies they move around slowly but upright, but when in combat they zip around with no issues. Draugr elites have a disturbing tendency to pop into the screen just when you thought you'd outrun them.
  • Warcraft III: Zigzagged: actual zombies move anywhere from slowly to average speed, but they're not standard units, being found only in the campaign. Regular units are as fast as the living for balance reasons, ghouls can get a speed boost (as they're also their race's lumber gatherers), the hulking Abominations (reconstituted corpses with too many arms and exposed guts) are as fast as cavalry, and the Death Knight hero has an aura that greatly increases movespeed.
  • In the zombie invasion event leading up to the release of World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion, players infected by the virus become zombies... who move very, very slowly. However, they do have an ability, "Lurch!" that removes snares and other movement-speed reducing effects, and allows you to run for a short period of time. Additionally, they have "Zombie Groan!" which draws near-by NPC zombies to you, as long as they are not in combat.
  • Zombie Madness: The zombies in the game all walk about with their arms outstretched.
  • Zombie Vikings subverts this trope - not one of the playable zombie characters shambles across the levels.

    Web Animation 
  • HTF +: The corrupted HTF characters in the HTF+Amnesia arc.

  • Lampshaded in Bug: "Quick! Everyone saunter away!"
  • Unity from Skin Horse (a frankensteinesque super-soldier) will occasionally lurch with her arms out moaning "Snaaaaaacks", but mostly she is perfectly mobile. She has also worked as a fundraiser for the "Lurch For Life" campaign...
  • In The Zombie Hunters, the typical groan-and-shamble zombie is just one of seven possible classes.Crawlers, Spitters, Basilisks and Howlers all shuffle about. Mercies move like particularly graceful humans. Berserkers and Hunters however, are faster and more agile than humans, with the Berseker in particular outclassing human sprinters.
  • The revenants of Girl Genius are easy to spot due to their awkward gait and obvious mindlessness, or at least the ones that went wrong are, they are meant to act perfectly normal until they receive an order, which came as a nasty shock when they were found out.
  • Subverted in Goblins, when Minmax's party encounters a zombie horde. Minmax expects the zombie to be this, and accuses them of being "cheater zombies" when they charge towards him at running speed.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Susan's plan for dealing with zombies is to build a circular trench with spikes in it and let them shuffle right into it which assumes they couldn't jump across.
  • A variation appears in The Last Days of FOXHOUND. Psycho Mantis collects a bunch of corpses and attempts to use his psychic powers to make them mimic zombie behavior. However, as the resident scientist points out, even slight amounts of movement, let alone speech, is incredibly complicated, and Mantis' efforts build up the energy he's pumping into the corpses with a dangerous Sickly Green Glow. When he goes far enough to try to make them say "braaaains", the buildup violently blows up the corpse, showering all present in gore.

    Web Original 
  • The zombies in I Am Not Infected exhibited the traditional gait until later, which stopped them from being threatening. Lately they've learned to run.
  • Mocked in Unskippable during the Left 4 Dead 2 cutscenes
    I like that, just as in old zombie moves, the only way to make slow zombies viable is to pit them against the stupidest, most lethargic humans ever.

    Western Animation 
  • Mocked in Gravity Falls when Dipper and Wendy are watching zombie movie;
    Wendy: They're slow! Just power walk away from them!
  • In an episode of Mr. Meaty, a horde of zombies advance on the eponymous fast food restaurant, substituting "meat" for "brains". The same scene also parodies this.
    Hippie Zombie: Tofuuuu... I mean, meeeat...
  • The Terrorcon zombies in Transformers: Prime are generally shambling, non-transforming husks. This gets lampshaded in "Shadowzone"; when the human kids have to deal with one, speed is one of their few advantages. When one of its arms gets blown off, however...
    Miko: How can a zombie arm move faster than the actual zombie?

    Real Life 
  • People have been known to organize "Zombie Walks" for charity and/or fun, where people dress up as zombies and shamble through the streets.
  • Brain-dead patients or very fresh corpses will occasionally display what's called the "Lazarus sign" if the spinal cord's reflex centers are electrically stimulated. They don't stand up and walk, but the arms extend in the manner of this trope, and may then draw up to the chest in a folded position. It's reminiscent of what you'd see if a horror-movie Mummy returned to its sarcophagus after a stroll.
  • In real life, bipedalism is no simple matter. It involves a lot of center of mass-shifting around, which must be kept balanced or else the walker would fall. Even some of the more advanced robots are still far from having the smooth motion of a human, and this is a highly controlled movement system. Thus, if zombies were real, they would most likely not have enough motor control to walk in the first place.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Zombies Are Slow


Big Cutout Soldiers

The Big Cutout Soldiers walk like zombies with their arms held out.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ZombieGait

Media sources: