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Zombie Infectee

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I... I wasn't bitten... Really, I wasn't! You have to believe me...

Rich: There was something else. What was it? Oh yeah. Slurrrrred speeech.
[everyone else screams]
Jeff: You were bitten!
Rich: I thought that maybe I was shpeciallll.
Britta: Special? You're not special, I'm special! [pulls up her sleeve revealing a bite on her arm] I was bitten ten minutes ago and I'mmmm finnnnnne.

A Zombie Apocalypse is no fun for anyone; even the zombies are incapable of feeling fun. It's especially hard for the Zombie Infectee; carelessly bitten by a zombie or infected with an early stage of The Virus, they're in for a slow and painful transformation into a monster that will kill or convert their friends and loved ones. The only way out is death, either by suicide or mercy kill, and any miracle cure or even Heroic Willpower is right out the window if you aren't a main character.

So what's a Zombie Infectee to do? Nothing. No, seriously. Any group trying to survive in this apocalyptic situation will always have at least one idiot Jerkass who gets bitten or scratched and refuses to face the truth (traumatic as it is) and tell anyone, knowing full well that their silence will cost lives. They don't seek help because they know there is nothing for their condition but a bullet to the head. They tend not to take steps to make sure they at least don't endanger others once they die. A Heroic Sacrifice is the last thing on their mind, and trying the Vampire Refugee route is suicidal in most cases.

The Zombie Infectee is almost certainly (and, in their defense, rightfully) afraid their friends will kill them in cases where the protagonists have figured out that a bite or scratch will pass on The Virus. Fear of discovery means they live their now shortened lives terrified and in denial, and as a result they end up behaving irrationally because of it. Alternatively, they will desperately cling to the hope that they will be the one person immune to The Virus, despite it so far having a 100% fatality and 100% conversion rate — in the most headstrong cases, they may try to Resist the Beast.

At this point, the onus, unfortunately, is on the heroes to notice the erratic behavior (for a Zombie Apocalypse, anyway) and take the appropriate and necessary steps. Other people — friends, relatives, lovers — may also sink into denial and try to hinder the heroes from dispatching the walking liability before they become the walking dead. When they do turn, the Zombie Infectee will almost always infect or kill at least one unsuspecting victim (often the Zombie Advocate, for additional tragic irony), unleash the horde of zombies, destroy all the ammunition, or find some other way to cause a really bad day for the remaining survivors.

Note: A few zombie works (movies, literature, etc.) have taken a third option, so to speak. If the point of infection is near the end of a limb (which it often is), that limb can then be removed. The person may die due to shock and blood loss anyway, but at least he's not getting back up again to snack on your brains. Hopefully.

Obviously, much of this page talks about works in which a Zombie Infectee is kept a secret even from the audience, and thus learning the identity of one prior to experiencing the work would ruin a somewhat major twist. Beware of spoilers from here on.

They may or may not be the first infectee of an upcoming zombie apocalypse; for situations like these see Patient Zero. See also And Then John Was a Zombie and Vampire Refugee. Compare and contrast Secret Stab Wound and Mortal Wound Reveal. Most examples are also Secretly Dying.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • School-Live!:
    • In the manga, the leader of Miki's survivor group was bitten, told no one, and turned overnight. Miki and Kei, the only survivors, only see the aftermath where the floor they were on was set on fire.
    • In the anime, this scene is Adapted Out, and the two girls are implied to be the only survivors. However, while exploring the mall for supplies and other survivors, Kurumi accidentally opens up a barricaded door, only to find out there were zombies inside. She later discusses this with Yuri, suggesting that since the barricade from the outside was still holding, someone inside was a Zombie Infectee, and ended up zombifying everyone inside the theater. Some Fridge Horror also occurs when they also mention children were in there...
    • Later, Kurumi is infected, which is when we learn that there is a serum that stalls the effects of zombifying. However, after taking it, her body remains cold and the zombies don't react to her unless she speaks or directly confronts them.
    • Miki is bit by the zombie of her best friend Kei.
  • Hiromi in I Am a Hero is bitten by a zombified infant. No one, Hiromi included is sure that it broke the skin, though. While she seems willing to be killed if worst comes to worst, she and the others all assume that won't happen after cleaning the site doesn't make it sting. When she wakes up wrong the next morning, they keep her alive anyway, which seems to have been the right decision.

    Comic Books 
  • Happens unknowingly in Garth Ennis'... strange book Crossed. One member of the party is shot (the eponymous Crossed are intelligent, just psychotic), and seems to just be in shock. However, there's quite a Oh, Crap! moment when a scouting party witnesses a group of Crossed soaking bullets in their semen. Cue rampage. Note that the heat from a gunshot flash sterilizes the bullet. It the reason most doctors leave the bullet in unless it's putting pressure or stuck in something vital. Though, as a later arc penned by Ennis reveals, the Crossed virus isn't exactly a traditional virus...
  • Mostly averted in The Walking Dead. Most survivors are sufficiently paranoid and genre savvy to be on guard, and most infectees either decide to be left behind or take the "third option" described above. On the negative side, it has also been shown that the recently dead can and probably will rise as zombies even if they were not directly infected by another zombie. An interesting variation on the trope has occurred several times, when certain survivors remained in deep denial and refused to distance themselves from their fully infected loved ones.
  • The Graphic Novel Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection puts a spin on this trope. The novel is presented as the journal of a doctor who survives the early waves of mass infection. Over time he comes to suspect that a food additive put into the products of an enormous Mega-Corp that supplies much of the world's processed food is the cause of the infection, and once the body absorbs a certain amount of said additive, the person begins going through stages of infection that lead into becoming a zombie. While it's never confirmed whether he's right or not, on at least one occasion a fellow survivor suddenly turns for no apparent reason. If he is right, everyone still alive is already infected, and every meal they scavenge puts them one step closer to turning...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) puts its own spin on this trope. The second major Story Arc involves Eggman unleashing the Metal Virus, a techno-organic plague spread by contact which turns all the infected into mindless robots that Sonic dubs "zombots". This trope comes into play when Sonic himself is infected; his speed lets him burn off the infection into remission, but can't fully cure him. As a result, he spends the arc slowly being turned as the virus starts to overcome his speed, and unable to touch anyone for fear of infecting them too. The trope later turns tragic in issue 22, when a single infectee gets into Restoration HQ by concealing his slow-burning infection out of fear, resulting in its destruction.
  • The Chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda presents several examples, in one of the most notable, three politicians, one of his bodyguards and an evangelical reverend are kept prisoner in a cell, the bodyguard is seriously ill and with a fever, and while the reverend prays for him, politicians discuss as they believe that he is infected and that he will possibly turn into a zombie shortly. It is actually the reverend who is infected and it is he who turns into a zombie surprising everyone.
  • Subverted in Atomic Robo. The very nanosecond that Jenkins gets bitten by a vampire, he immediately tells the rest of the team and commands them to kill him before he turns. Alan complies.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Zombie Apocalypse House fic The Rampant Disease features an infectee House refusing to let his love interest kiss him because they know that The Virus is spread through bodily fluids.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic "Mistakes", Mustang becomes an infectee after getting bitten on the wrist and refuses to admit what bit him. Despite admitting the truth eventually, Mustang averts the trope by being cured when his totally infected arm gets torn off by the Gate.
  • Happens to several characters during the DC Nation version of Blackest Night, most notably to Troia and Oliver Queen.
  • Doubly inverted with the character of Leon in Resident Project. Leon admits to Claire and Sherry that he's been bitten, and volunteers to go into danger several times on the basis that he's on a ticking clock anyway. And then it turns out that due to a unique combination of heritage and history, he is the one person in a trillion who actually is immune to the zombie virus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • #Alive (2020): The guy who barges into Joon-woo's apartment turns out to be infected. He turns while still in the apartment, so Joon-woo has to literally throw him out.
  • Army of the Dead: The ending reveals that Vanderhoe got bitten and is now showing the early symptoms of infection, and he's on his way to Mexico City...
  • Call of the Undead: After the serial rapist/murderer is killed, one of the gang notices a wound on his leg, which he hides from the others. Naturally, he turns not long after.
  • Rampant:
    • The soldier who starts the outbreak was bitten by a zombie on board a ship, then went home without realising he was about to become a zombie too.
    • Kim Ja-joon gets infected. He attempts to delay his transformation by cutting off his hand.
  • The Resident Evil Film Series have examples of good and bad Infectees. Notably, a recurring minor character from the second movie, Ethnic Scrappy L.J, is bitten in the third. What's infuriating about this example is that the movie is set well after the zombie plague has swept through the world, so he couldn't exactly plead ignorance; L.J. had likely seen the same thing happen dozens of times. And yet he keeps his infection a secret, even as he begins to sicken. Once he turns (which inconveniently happens during the big zombie attack), he almost kills someone while both are locked in a car, and then infects one of the likable main characters, who does the right thing and takes as many zombies with him as possible in a massive explosion.
  • Shaun of the Dead:
    • Played with in the character of Shaun's mother. She waits until just before she dies to reveal she's been bitten, but not necessarily to save her life; rather, she wanted to keep the burden off Shaun for as long as possible, explaining: "I didn't want to be a bother."
    • His stepfather, when bitten, insists it's not worth making a fuss over — he ran it under the tap.
    • Whereas Shaun's friend Ed, after being bitten, does a Heroic Sacrifice by staying to hold the zombies off while the others escape.
    • Subverted with Shaun and Ed's flatmate Pete, on the other hand, doesn't even realize the implications of his bite since it happens before the outbreak goes out of control and just thinks it was a "crackhead" and turns off-screen. Shaun and Ed don't even realize it themselves until they watch the news and put two and two together.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn:
    • The "Sex Machine" (played by SFX guru Tom Savini) hid his rapid vampirization for fear of being killed. Fortunately he was killed without much problem. Unfortunately he let all the other vampires in.
    • On the flip side, badass ex-preacher Jacob is open and frank about the fact that he's been bitten and doesn't have long, and was pretty emphatic in getting his kids to do him in when the same was happening to him.
  • Living Dead Series:
    • In the original Dawn of the Dead (1978), Roger is bitten and knows full well what is coming. He asks Peter to let him succumb, and then wait and see what happens as he is going to "try not to come back". It fails, and he is killed upon rising.
    • Dawn of the Dead (2004):
      • Pregnant Luda gets bitten. Once her husband Andre discovers the bites turn the victim into a zombie, he sets his wife up in the maternity store, separate from the other survivors. Andre sinks so deeply in denial that he refuses to accept the truth, even when it's obvious The Virus has her; instead he becomes her twisted caretaker. Ironically, Luda doesn't kill anyone, because Andre restrained her when she went into labor (during which she died and reanimated). When Norma discovers zombie Luda, she shoots the undead new mother. Norma and Andre then exchange more gunfire, killing each other. Ana then arrives and shoots Luda's newborn zombie infant.
      • Additionally, Frank, once informed that the bites are going to turn him into a zombie, elects to be separated from the others, knowing he will be killed when he reanimates.
      • Subverted when Michael gets bitten and stays behind, knowing he can't accompany the rest of the survivors beyond this point. It's not quite a Heroic Sacrifice, but he at least displays consideration for the other survivors' safety. It is instead Ana, the woman Michael loves, who goes into denial, insisting she can help him because she's a nurse, even though she knows full well the consequences and wasn't able to do anything for any of the other infectees in their recent acquaintance.
    • In Land of the Dead not a single infected person hides their status; if they are bitten they commit suicide or die fighting. However, the prize goes to Chollo, who is just about to abandon the city when he unexpectedly gets bitten. He's been on a zombie-killing team for years, so he knows what's coming. His right hand man asks if he wants to be shot or shoot himself. Chollo chooses neither, but instead goes back to Fiddler's Green, intending to take his flesh-eating revenge on his Corrupt Corporate Executive Bad Boss Kaufman. The other zombies have overrun the city by this point, so it's not like Cholo can make things much worse by joining the mob.
    • Mostly avoided in Diary of the Dead. Everybody who gets infected has the wisdom to blow their brains out before they can rise. There were only two straight examples in the entire movie where characters rose after death.
      • The very beginning. Gordo gets bitten, and dies. His girlfriend is of course in shock, and claims he might not rise. The group doesn't believe her, but this is the beginning, so they aren't sure, and they leave her to grieve. He does eventually rise, but she reluctantly shoots him in the head instantly, before he cause any trouble.
      • Jerkass Ridley, who was in the horror movie at the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse they're blog-documenting, is seen early on partying with his girl. He invites the film crew to come join him because they're perfectly safe where he is. By the time Jason and company get to him, he's all alone and acting erratic, even for him. Only when Deborah convinces him to tell her where everybody else is does it become obvious that he's infected.
      • A third example comes from one of the video asides. A team of armed soldiers raid a house where a live family is storing their infected relatives. Over the family's protests, the soldiers open the room where they've been storing the zombies and shoot them, but the father's interference causes the sergeant to be bitten. Incensed, he deliberately shoots the living family members in the hearts so that they will "wake up dead."
  • 30 Days of Night:
    • Averted when a widower not so slowly turning into a vampire asks to be killed not only to avoid becoming a murderer, but because he can't stand the thought of being immortal and never dying to see his family in heaven.
    • Further averted by sheriff Eben Ouleman willingly infecting himself, and then using Heroic Willpower to fight and kill the vampire leader. Sadly he sacrificed himself by waiting for the sun rather than risk losing his self control and becoming a monster.
  • Several people in the Return of the Living Dead series keep their wits about them once infected. They even find ways to stave off the desire to eat flesh well into the transformation phase, so as to not be a danger to friends and loved ones. This, unfortunately, makes them rather attractive to the government.
  • Averted in Planet Terror. Cherry is attacked by zombies who bite her leg off. After getting medical attention, she proves to be immune to the neurotoxic agent causing the zombies, as are most of the other leads. Others, not so lucky, are infected not through bites or scratches, but through the infected smearing bodily fluids on them. Ew.
  • While not a zombie plague, in Blade II one of the vampire strike team, Lighthammer, gets bit by one of the "super-vampires" and covers it up (surprisingly well considering he's one of the most underdressed members of the team), until he predictably turns and starts gobbling up the rest of his team.
  • Although not technically zombies, the 'Rage' victims in the 28 Days Later movies deliberately avert this trope; the virus infects and converts its victims within 30 seconds to a minute, thus preventing them from concealing their condition from those around them. It also ups the tension, as the non-infected have to deal with the victim immediately in order to save their own lives.
  • 28 Weeks Later as the military, upon learning that people can be asymptomatic carriers who are still contagious, decide to prevent this themselves once the outbreak occurs by deciding to just kill all the civilians whether they're infected or not. Considering one asymptomatic infectee gets away, and the ending shows infected now on mainland Europe, it was good idea all along.
  • In another vampiric variation, Montoya in John Carpenter's Vampires also hides his own vampire bite. His subterfuge does not really matter, as he gets bitten again later in a less discreet place. Contrary to this trope, he stays true to the end and helps his friend Jack Crowe. At the end of the film, Crowe gives him a head start, telling him that he'll have no choice but to hunt him down. Montoya understands and leaves. The trope is lampshaded by Crow earlier, when he discovers that Father Guiteau is withholding information from them.
    "Listen to me, you fuck! My father kept a secret once. He had been bitten by a vampire. He kept it a secret from me and my mother. By the fifth day, he was turning. That night he attacked my mother. And then he came after me. I killed my own father, Padre. I got no trouble killing you."
  • Quarantine (2008) involves a news crew and a group of firefighters locked into an apartment complex with a bunch of other people and a zombie infection. They store the infectees in the same room that most of the living people are congregated. Guess what happens?
  • Subverted in Zombieland. Little Rock appears all too willing to take the bullet to avoid being a danger to other survivors, but it was just a con to let her and Wichita steal the guys' car and guns.
  • Zombieland: Double Tap subverts this with Madison, but plays this straight with Albuquerque and Flagstaff. The former apparently gets bitten by a zombie and later shot by Columbus, but it turns out that she was having a Self-Induced Allergic Reaction to almonds in her trail mix and Columbus didn't actually go through with shooting her. The latter get bitten by T-800 zombies, and deny the zombie bites until they turn into T-800s themselves and are defeated by Tallahassee (who hates Albuquerque) and Nevada.
  • As the title might suggest, this is the entire point of the movie Carriers. While you don't turn into a zombie, the plague's extreme contagiousness makes you just as much of a threat. After being infected, Bobby plays this trope painfully straight, until being abandoned with a little water and directions by her boyfriend. When he in turn is infected, he initially forces his companions to carry him, and then makes his brother shoot him when they try to escape, rather than leaving him to die a slow death.
  • This was why they needed to Shoot the Dog in Old Yeller: the title character became a Rabies Infectee.
  • Subverted very humorously in Dead Snow: One of the characters gets bitten on the arm. He knows what he has to do, so he slices off his arm with a chainsaw to stop the infection from spreading to the rest of the body. After a really painful looking scene and a sigh of relief, another Nazi zombie pops his head up from the snow and bites him on the crotch. He kills that zombie and looks back to the chainsaw in horror.
  • Amusingly averted in Flight Of The Living Dead, when one of the protagonists gets munched on by a little old lady zombie. It looks like the story will go this way, as the character is a criminal out only for himself, but the aversion comes in when it turns out the biting zombie doesn't have her dentures in and didn't penetrate his skin.
  • A similar aversion in Juan of the Dead with Lazaro: he reveals fairly quickly that he's been bitten, and then he and Juan spend the night sadly waiting for him to turn.. only to belatedly realize that, thanks to the ill-fitting wetsuit Lazaro always wears, the bite didn't actually break the skin. The film includes a couple of straight examples as well.
  • Dog Soldiers has three werewolf infectees each with different reactions.
  • After a zombie spits blood in his face, the protagonist of World War Z runs to the edge of the rooftop, prepared to throw himself off if he's infected so he won't attack his family. He's not. Later on a special forces captain realises he's been bitten and says so on his radio. A sniper offers to shoot him, but the captain replies that it's been taken care of, and can be seen putting his pistol to his head just before walking offscreen.
  • The short film Cargo (can be watched here) plays this to devastatingly tearjerking effect.
  • The Last Days on Mars: One man not only acts like this, he tries to persuade the hero to leave behind a woman who's also a possible infectee in a Cold Equation situation. When she finds out for sure she's infected, she leaves the vehicle and kills herself to stop the hero trying to save her. The other guy gets all the way to the Drop Ship, and the hero has to battle the infectee to stop him getting to the spaceship orbiting overhead, which would risk spreading the infection to Earth.
  • While not a zombie, the beginning of the movie Doomsday has a guy in a hoodie try and sneak past a military checkpoint. The problem is that he's infected with the highly contagious disease that's ravaging Scotland, and he's very quickly found out and shot to death by the military. Later in the movie it's discovered that the disease has arrived in England, first shown when a homeless community is broken up and the police break into a room to find dozens of infected people dying.
  • Cube Zero: The Cube controllers use a strain of necrotizing faciitis to kill one of the prisoners. The woman in question infects someone else by scratching a guy's arm before dying herself. He quickly becomes a liability to the other two remaining group members and is forced to test every room from that point on, but the former soldier throws him into a trapped room before he can infect anyone else.
  • Maggie gets bitten during a Zombie Apocalypse and her parents try to protect her from everyone who wants to kill her... and then she starts thinking her parents smell delicious.
  • In the 1990 B-movie The Rift, R. Lee Ermey plays the captain of a navy submersible that encounters mutant killer sea life that can infect other organisms, turning them to green mush. When he comes in close contact with a half-dissolved corpse, he hides the fact that he's been exposed from the other two survivors ... but only because they're in a countdown-to-self-destruct situation, and telling them about it would cost them precious seconds to get to the escape pod. He drops back to let them board first, then seals the hatch while still outside and shows them his already-green wrist through the porthole.
  • Cargo (2013) is based on this premise. A family are in the Australian Outback when the wife is infected by the zombie-like plague. She urges her husband to take their baby daughter to safety, but he refuses and so gets bitten after she succumbs, then has 48 hours to find another family who can look after his daughter before he also turns into a zombie.
  • Subverted in Leviathan (1989) with Cobb, who is clearly infected by The Virus and everyone knows it, but he keeps fighting the monster with the others until his transformation finally kicks in fully.
  • In Train to Busan, the whole disaster is triggered by an infected woman jumping onto the train at the last second while running from The Horde and hiding from everyone. To her credit, she's at least Genre Savvy enough to desperately try to tourniquet the area while apologizing profusely but her efforts are ultimately in vain.
  • Trench 11: Kelly is attacked by one of the infected and covered in slobber. He grows weaker as time goes on before turning and attacking his friends.
  • The Jurassic Dead: Duque gets a scratch on his arm from being attacked by the undead T-Rex. He hides it from the others, and eventually turns.

  • World War Z makes these a larger threat than the living dead. A zombie is not particularly dangerous to anyone with a gun, but the infrastructure behind an army - zombie-hunting or otherwise - does not cope well with things like mass panic and refugee columns that contain an unknown number of infectees unaware of or unable to cope with the facts. (A bonus: imagine the rumor mill about immunities and cures.) Dogs can smell The Virus, and it freaks them out. In a controlled refugee situation, anybody a dog reacts badly to is taken aside as infected... often to the loud and increasingly histrionic protests of the infectee in question. Uncontrolled versions feature a lot of improvisation, but one option is to separate the zombies and the uninfected with a mass nerve gas attack.
    • When the militaries of the world finally started clearing towns, the most dangerous zombies were those that had been "kept" by their families. These Zeds were usually inside of closets or wardrobes in otherwise safe towns and could create a very nasty surprise for a soldier with slow reflexes.
    • Further, in an aversion, people could become infectees completely by accident or unfortunate happenstance; and would do the right thing. One soldier knew he had to be put down because someone shot a zombie. The bullet went through the zombie, then into the soldier, bringing the infection with it. in Russia this becomes the responsibility of army chaplains, one thing leads to another and the country ends up a theocratic empire.
    • Averted when one interviewee tells of a buddy who was bitten and turned into an instant emotional wreck, knowing full well he would have to be put down, making no attempt to avoid the reality but is simply unable to take it standing up. It turns out the biter was a Quisling, someone who lost their marbles on the face of the Zombie Apocalypse and acts like, but is not, a zombie. The victim breaks down crying in relief. Ironically, he nearly dies from a Staph infection from the bite.
    • There were rumours of cures, and immunity - mostly fueled by the Quislings, and the fact that it was possible to survive being bitten by one of those, but not by a real zombie. Early in the book, one of the interviewees - a guy who dealt in smuggling people across the borders, mostly by car - mentioned that he suspected a lot of outbreaks in other areas were caused by infected getting out of China through the smuggling routes he and people like him used and then going to ground in the ghettos in other countries. He mentions that he regrets letting them get through, on his watch, and that he believes that most of the infectees (and their families) were trying to get out and find a cure - not because they actually believed there was one, or because there was any rumour that one existed, but because they were desperate and clinging to any straw of hope they could find, that they wouldn't have to take that final option.
    • Of course the cure rumors weren't helped by the fact that the zombie virus did have a drop in number infected the first winter of the crisis, a corrupt businessman linked it to his placebo antivirus (it was just vitamin pills) which created a false sense of calm. In reality the drop was due to the colder weather making zombies in places like northern Europe freeze solid for a couple of months and by limited operations from military commandos to slow down the rate of infection. Unfortunately government budget restraints stopped the U.S. (and presumably most other nations) from starting a dedicated offensive until it was too late.
  • Near the end of Stephen King's short story Home Delivery, itself an homage to the films of George Romero, a member of a group of zombie hunters who help protect a small island community realizes he's having a fatal heart attack, and demands that his fellow hunters shoot him in every single one of his vital organs simultaneously (after he completes the Lord's Prayer) so that he doesn't rise immediately after he dies.
  • In George Romero's short story Anubis, plunging a knife into the brain of a dead person is part of the funerary rites— note that Romero revenants are not infected with a zombie "virus", it's just that the bite of a zombie is fatal, and everyone who dies rises.
  • The rabies variant shows up in The Call of the Wild. At one point, the group is attacked by a pack of rabid dogs, but apparently make it out alive. Some time later, one of the sled dogs goes mad and has to be put down.
    • Although when you consider the fact that all of the sled dogs get pretty roughed up in the attack (including Buck himself) but only Dolly goes mad, it seems likely that only one or two of the aggressive pack were rabid.
  • Day By Day Armageddon: A man leaves Hotel 23 to go hunting, gets bitten, hides it, and comes back. Guess what happens that night.
  • This is the entire point of the "Zombie Noir" Undead on Arrival. The protagonist gets bitten in chapter 1 and spends the entire book trying to hide his condition from those around him until he can track down the person responsible for the bite.
  • Variant situation in the Newsflesh universe. Everyone is carrying a load of Kellis-Amberlee (the virus that causes zombies in their world), thus qualifying as a Zombie Infectee, but it typically remains dormant. Until the host dies, then they will reanimate if over 40 pounds in weight. Yes, this is all mammals, not just humans. In some cases, the virus goes active in a living being, a process called "amplification", which turns the host from living being to chompy zombie, bypassing physical death. Blood tests to detect amplification are routine, even if the subject is not showing symptoms at the time. Amplification cannot be hidden for long, no matter how hard the imminent zombie tries. As a result, dying characters will generally choose Dying as Yourself instead.
  • Scary Stories For Young Foxes frames rabies in the same manner as zombification (an understandable comparison, given the gradual transformation into a mindless beast that attacks everything that moves). Ms. Vix of the first book's opening tale barely has enough time to warn Mia before she lashes out and kills or infects the rest of her students. And for the second half of The City, poor Oleo is bitten and dreads the seeming inevitability that he'll turn, just like Dusty and several dogs had prior. Fortunately, he's saved by a vaccine by in the end.
  • The dreaded greyscale disease from A Song of Ice and Fire slowly turns its victims into technically living zombies covered in hard stone-like growths and mad from a rage virus-like effect. The exiled knight Jon Connington catches it. What does he do? He doesn't tell anyone and hopes that the campaign of his lifelong goal will be already over when the disease will start to overtake him.
  • A Piece in the Game of Gods: The zombies can't do this:
    Fortunately, these zombies weren’t like the traditional ones and didn’t seem capable of infecting their victims.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted in Derren Brown's Apocalypse special, a Candid Camera Prank where only one man thinks that he's in a Zombie Apocalypse and everyone else is an actor. As part of Derren's plan, Steven (the "star" of the show) has a leadership figure in the face of Iain, who keeps trying to find his wife. In order to force Steven to be more proactive and take a leadership role himself, Derren removes Iain from the equation by sending in his "wife" to the compound, who immediately tells Iain to stay back, showing her red bracelet, which identifies her as infected. Iain tells Steven that he's now in charge and leaves the compound to be with his wife.
  • Parodied in the Community episode "Epidemiology" when a zombie plague hits the campus. Rich (a doctor) hides being infected among the main characters and doesn't reveal it until he starts turning, as he thought he "was special". A jealous Britta then reveals that she was bit too and immediately starts turning as well.
  • Curfew has feral creatures called "mooks" instead of zombies, but the principle is the same as humans become mooks after being infected with a virus. In episode three, Jenny Donahue defends her son against a group of mooks, but gets injured in the process. She asks to be left behind to avoid attacking him after she turns. She's then picked up by another team in the race who then realize that she hasn't actually been infected. The infection is transmitted by bites only and she was only scratched.
  • Dark Hole: Park Soon-il reluctantly lets Mr. Bae take shelter in the police station. Then Mr. Bae turns into a zombie and tries to attack Soon-il and Hyun-ho.
  • Averted, Inverted and Played straight in Dead Set:
    • Averted by Alex who, when infected, calmly hands Riq their weapon and has him kill them.
    • Inverted by Marky who injures himself when diving into the van, causing a police officer thinks he's infected and threatens to kill him.
    • Played straight by Angel.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Mission to the Unknown": In a Transflormation variant, Lowery gets jabbed with a venomous Varga thorn, dooming him to turn homicidal and then change into a Varga plant. He conceals his infection from his companion Cory, but luckily his involuntary murmuring of "kill" as he begins to lose it warns Cory of the threat.
    • "The Waters of Mars": Maggie is already infected by the Flood when she's found unconscious in the passage to the bio-dome, but the base has quarantine procedures and so she doesn't physically transform like the other victims until after she's already in quarantine. Roman, on the other hand, immediately tells the others to leave him behind when he gets a drop of water on him.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jorah is infected with greyscale when he and Tyrion are attacked by the Stone Men. In true zombie-movie fashion, he keeps it hidden. Unlike most examples of this trope, Sam is able to properly treat it by skinning off the infected skin.
  • Played With in Helix, which revolves around a CDC team sent to contain an outbreak of the The Virus in a Research, Inc..
    • In "274" Zigzagged when CDC team member Julia goes into denial after her infection by Patient Zero and Plague Zombie Peter. When team leader Alan finds her in the shower, she claims she passed out from fatigue, and tries to psych herself up, insisting "You. Don't. Get. Sick." A test initially and inexplicably clears her of infection, while she begins to project, accusing coworker Sarah of being infected. But when Julia witnesses a Vector attack a security tech and coughs, she Subverts it, showing her mucus covered hand and insisting she be quarantined. Later she realizes her swab still reads clear, so the rapid response test used to diagnose her and dozens of others doesn't even work.
    • Also in "274", the trope is Exaggerated when an escaped Dr. Bryce is discovered attacking a lab door with an ax while demanding a cure, and upon confrontation, still insists he isn't infected.
      Dr. Bryce: I'm not even infected! [swings ax, coughs Bad Black Barf] Or at least I wasn't until you threw me in with the rest of 'em!
    • Then inverted in "274", when Julia's psychological projection causes her to accuse coworker Sarah. Though she exhibits a prominent hand tremor, that symptom is from another medical condition Sarah is keeping secret.
  • Subverted in In the Flesh, where the only Zombies to exist were individuals who died in the year before the Rising. However, due to multiple zombie tropes being ingrained into people's heads through pop-culture, there is a widespread belief that anyone who died during the Rising will come back as a Zombie (they don't) and you can become a Zombie after being bitten (you can't).
  • In Lovecraft Country, racist and violent cop Sheriff Hunt turns into a Shoggoth after being bitten by one. Lampshaded by George.
    George: What happens if you're bitten by a vampire?
  • In Season 4 of Misfits, Curtis gets the power to bring people back from the dead as a zombie, ranging from killing machines, to regular people who just have the need to eat flesh. He uses this to bring someone back to life, and they end up biting him. He successfully hides it until Rudy sees him eating a rat. Rudy tries in vain to kill him but can't make himself do it. Curtis eventually shoots himself.
  • Supernatural: In "The End", Dean travels to a Bad Future where the Croatoan virus has infected humanity, and his future self has become cold and ruthless. At one point, Future Dean does a sudden Boom, Headshot! on a member of his team he claims has been infected. As Dean couldn't see anything wrong with the man, he naturally starts to wonder if the strain is getting to his future self.
  • The Walking Dead (2010):
    • A short-lived version in Jim in the first season. He is bitten during a nighttime zombie attack and tries to hide it, but the other survivors notice him acting suspiciously in the morning and physically force him to reveal the bite wound.
    • Later in Season 5, Bob gets bitten and doesn't tell anyone, choosing to leave without saying anything so that he can die alone without endangering them. This bite is hidden from both Bob's friends and the audience until he gets captured by cannibals, who amputate and eat his leg without bothering to check him for bites. This makes his reveal a Moment Of Awesome ("I'm tainted meat!") as well as a Tear Jerker.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic identifies this trope as tacky behavior in "Tacky".
    Weird Al: If I'm bit by a zombie, prob'ly not telling you!

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Genestealers are vanguard infiltrators of the Tyranids who covertly arrive on planets to create "cults" of the native population. They do so via infecting them with their "kiss": an injection of Genestealer biomass that drives them to reproduce and create monstrous hybrids devoted to spreading the cult and destabilizing the planet's government and defenses. Quite often, if a cult is discovered and destroyed, some of the soldiers sent to wipe them out are actually infected by the Genestealers during the battle and are allowed to "escape" to further spread their infestation. Quite often the only indication of this infection is confusion and memory loss on the part of whoever was taken by the Genestealers, which is often attributed to stress or fatigue from intense fighting. It's unclear how much of this is genuine memory loss and how much is due to the infected person hiding what happened.

    Video Games 
  • ANNIE: Last Hope have you finding Mr. Ronald, the manager of a shopping mall who's used as an impromptu shelter, who reveals to you that he's been infected by the zombie virus and asks you to Mercy Kill him. He's willing to Face Death with Dignity as well, sitting calmly on his office chair as you put a bullet in him, and for your efforts you'll be rewarded with Ronald's shotgun.
  • Averted in Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, where the zombie virus can only turn someone into a zombie only when they are dead already, and by itself cannot kill or transform the infectee while they are alive.
  • Instinct have one of the base's last survivors, a Russian scientist who was infected by the zombie virus despite escaping being bitten. Turns out the zombie virus can spread by air, and breathing in the virus is a Slow Transformation instead; he'll offer you an antidote before putting his gun through the mouth, but if the game's And Then John Was a Zombie ending is any indication, it doesn't work.
  • The player character acts like a werewolf version of this in the Worgen starting zone in World of Warcraft. After getting bitten by a feral Worgen, you get a debuff called 'Worgen Bite', which is described (at first) as 'probably nothing'note . Your character doesn't mention anything about this wound to anyone until you transform and go nuts. Unlike most examples of this trope, you get better - an NPC gives you an experimental treatment that restores your human mind inside a worgen body. Later, thanks to intervention from Night Elf druids (and an artifact previously thought lost), you gain better control over your Worgen powers, which provides your racial abilities.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale):
    • Subverted in Season 1 when Kenny Jr., aka Duck is bitten, as no one hides it. It's less of an issue of denying the bite, but rather the parents coming to grips with the fact that they're going to have to kill their son.
    • The player can hide the identity of the next bite victim from the group or not because the infectee is the protagonist, Lee. In what is one of the biggest heartwarming moments in the game, if Lee reveals the bite, it can convince Christa and Omid to come with him to rescue Clementine.
    • Becomes a major plot point in the first episode of Season 2. Clementine receives a rather nasty bite injury from a dog, but other survivors mistake it for a zombie bite and believe she's one of these.
    • The Final Season discusses this a bit, with Clementine and AJ both wondering what it's like for someone who's been turned into a walker. Clementine herself gets bitten on the leg towards the end of the story, but AJ chops off her leg with an axe, saving her before the infection got to her.
  • Various characters in the Dead Rising series, particularly after the second game reveals the existence of the costly anti-zombification medicine Zombrex. Interestingly, few if any infectees try to hide it. Most notably, Katy, daughter of Dead Rising 2 protagonist Chuck Greene; Katey's a sweet girl who's quite unhappy that her Healthcare Motivation causes Daddy so much trouble.
    • In the original, Frank West himself is infected in Overtime Mode. He survives by developing a delaying medication, and appears in updated version of 2 with a supply of Zombrex on hand. By the time of 4, he is cured thanks to the events of 3 resulting in a full zombie cure being created, but he ends up getting infected with a super-virus that turns him into a superpowered zombie in the Frank Rising DLC.
    • Dead Rising 3: Nick gets bitten and goes through the city morgue trying to find emergency Zombrex supplies, then asks to be killed by his mob companion when it turns out that all the Zombrex was looted (which is hilarious, as they fiddle over the revolver and use up all the shots), only to discover that the bite isn't lethal. Unfortunately, Nick's friend Carlos was infected as a child and you can see him scratching himself all over in cutscenes, indicating that the infection is taking root. Then the military experiments on him and suddenly BEES.
  • Sam in The Last of Us. Provides a Downer Ending for the "Summer" portion of the game, since he has to be shot just when everyone thinks they've gotten away safely. Tess too, earlier in the game, but she owns up to it after a couple of hours and decides to go down fighting a You Shall Not Pass! moment rather than turn.
    • The various examples of the Apocalyptic Log you find throughout the game have several variations of this. The DLC has a story about soldier who got bitten and immediately revealed the wound to his comrades, said his goodbyes, and killed himself. The same group had another soldier who got bitten on the arm, had his arm amputated by his squadmates which saved him from Cordyceps Infection, but erratic behaviour caused by a perfectly normal fever he got from the hasty field operation made him shoot his comrades when he thought they were going to kill him because they believed he was still Infected (we never find out whether he was right or not) run away and tear open his bandage in the process, and then bleed to death anyway because he couldn't retie it one-handed.
  • The Resident Evil series, naturally being viral zombie outbreaks, touches on this trope occasionally with regards to the playable characters. In Outbreak and Operation: Raccoon City, your characters can become infected with the T-virus, and if it's not cured in time, they'll turn and attack their former teammates (or, if playing alone, cause a game over). In other games, the infection will occur as part of the plot, with playables inevitably being cured while partners and other NPCs will typically succumb.
    • In Resident Evil 3 (Remake), the opening scene depicts Jill finding symptoms of a rapidly-moving infection, taking a gun and with a detached look, firing before she can't, and waking up. The game proper involves at least one case of a Jerkass among Umbrella's troubleshooters who's established to be free about putting down anyone there's any cause to wonder about. Since he turns out to have an underlying motive of betraying everyone and running the important bits to his employers for a bloody paycheck, it makes all the more sense that he'd just ice anyone who might be a problem.
    • In Resident Evil Village it is revealed that Ethan Winters essentially became one of these after being infected by the Mold early on in the last game. Subverted in that, unlike most zombies, he functions like a mostly normal person with the only difference being able to survive massive amounts of damage. In fact, he is unaware of his status as one until the end of the game.
  • Subverted for the most part in Dying Light, where those infected with the Harran virus are able to receive medical treatment that delays the onset of more serious symptoms (like going insane and biting people). Played straight with Rahim and later Jade, because of unusual circumstances.
  • In Until Dawn, Emily can be bitten by a Wendigo. When her friends find out, they think that she'll turn because of it, and you'll have to decide whether or not to shoot her. It turns out they're Wrong Genre Savvy because wendigos aren't zombies, and the bite is just a regular injury, as they find out a few minutes later when they read the Stranger's diary. If Emily is still alive, she'll let Ashley have it for calling for her head on the basis of what turned out to be a bad assumption.
  • A random event in Rebuild describes one of the Zombie Apocalypse survivors in your fort having, apparently, been bitten weeks prior and hiding the fact from everyone. Eventually, the infection is discovered and they are killed (or cured if you have researched the zombie serum). This is less likely if you have a hospital (and medicine in the third game).
  • Your friend Bill, in the second Don't Escape. He will inevitably turn at the end of the night, but can help provide manual labour if given painkillers. You can give him a peaceful death through alcohol and a bullet, or you can elect to butcher him with an ax while he's fully conscious.
  • In The Shadows That Run Alongside Our Car, Shelby has been bitten by her father.
  • The State of Decay DLC Lifeline lampshades and subverts this. The scientist your Army unit was sent in to rescue kills himself because he'd been bitten, but later in the story the soldiers notice that other people who are bitten don't turn so long as they get basic medical treatment for the bite. The vanilla game explains this is because people aren't being infected via bites but rather by the tainted water supply.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], a zombie apocalypse is going on in Manhattan and civilian NPCs can be encountered, especially in late stages of the game, clearly suffering from the infection being barely able to stand, lumbering, coughing up or straight up puking their guts out. To make matters worse, this infection is a lot more contagious than your average zombie disease, since its airborne and can be spread without being bitten. Luckily for the main protagonist, he is immune due to being infected with a strain that grants him superpowers instead of turning him into a drooling infected although the reality is he's immune because he is The Virus, having taken on the form and memories of the original person.
  • Fable: One Escort Mission has the Hero escort two traders through the Balverine-infested Darkwood, where they're accosted by a third trader who admits that he was clawed by a Balverine and who obviously has The Virus. It's a large penalty to the Karma Meter to turn him away, so a good Hero is stuck bringing him along and putting him down when he inevitably transforms.
  • This is discussed in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin when the outbreak of The Creeper is in full swing. "Admiral" Greyfield, the moronic madman that he is, openly declares that anyone even suspected of carrying the highly contagious infection will be immediately put to death. Dr. Caulder later mocks him for this decision, pointing out that it scared his men into hiding their conditions which allowed it to spread unchecked like wildfire through his ranks. Captain Brenner's team wisely quarantined potential infectees and attempted to treat them, which encouraged those to come forward and voluntarily isolate themselves so as to not spread the disease.
  • In the non-canon spinoff to the Yakuza series Yakuza: Dead Souls, Majima gets bitten by a zombie and tries his best to hide his symptoms from the rest of the team. Turns out he's fine; the zombie that bit him was an old geezer with dentures that didn't even break his skin, and the rest of his symptoms turn out to be allergies.

  • In Weregeek, the page image is from a plot twist when Sarah reveals herself to be this. Thankfully, it's just a zombie apocalypse game they're playing.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent has an interesting variation in that a Brainwashed and Crazy character deliberately infects themselves with a diseaese that has a small chance of turning people into a Plague Zombie and spread it among their community. The disease spreader ends up being among those that turn into a zombie.
  • There's a few characters whom have been bitten by the Z-words in Dead Winter in an interesting case of this trope however (alongside the fact that Zombie fiction doesn't seem to exist in this universe) is that the two Zombie Infectees are more on the heroic side. Trenton Bradley got bit thanks to a prone zombie while saving Alice and ultimately pulls a an awesome Heroic Sacrifice against an undead horde, while Jill Barton got infected because she heroically tried to install a sliding glass door while under siege from raiders and an undead horde. She was forced to amputate her arm, which unforunately doesn't stop her from being infected. When she finally turns however, her fellow employees Amy and Melody put her down before she could infect anybody else.
    • Corporal Stacy would've been this if it weren't for her military Boots of Toughness. Which was able to stop a bite of a zombie that just survived getting blown up with a grenade. Although this doesn't stop Chantelle from kicking her out because of fear that she could still have been infected.

  •'s page on Rise of the Beasts Airazor has a caption that likens her downplaying her slow corruption by Scourge to "that one guy" in a band of post-apocalyptic survivors "who hides that they got bitten by a zombie."

    Web Video 
  • Dorkly Originals: In one video of Plants vs. Zombies, after Walnut is gnawed by a zombie, Sunflower request for Peashooter to put him down as Walnut will become a zombie after getting beaten. Though Walnut claims he won't become a zombie, his body turns green and talks about eating their owner's brain. Immediately Peashooter guns him down... then another zombie jumps in and bites Sunflower, leading to an awkward moment.
  • In PeanutButterGamer's MineZ Hardcore series, Dean becomes this on and off a grand total of three times over the series. This trope is a major plot point for the second half of the season, where PBG and McJones are bitten and left behind inside the cave, and their episodes become about the struggle to survive under such circumstances. They both end up dead by the end of the season.
  • Sorry (2023): In "We Survived A Zombie Apocalypse", Wilbur play this role. Early on, he has a scar that he claims is just a unrelated injury and gets more feverish as the group goes on. As one point, it seems like he already turned and joins in a large mob of zombies, but it was just a trick so he could get past them. Charlie later catches on to his condition and snaps Will's neck before he can turn. It's in vain, as Wilbur returns zombified at the tail end of the video and attacks the last survivors, Tommy and Ranboo.
  • The Those Aren't Muskets sketch, Zombie Majority has two people who are discovered to be infected by zombies. One of them was also bitten by a vampire and possibly a werewolf. By the end of it, they're all infected.
  • Parodied in the TomSka sketch, "Bite Me.".

    Western Animation 


Wall-nut gets bitten

Wall-nut is bitten by a zombie and Sunflower asks Peashooter to shoot him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / ZombieInfectee

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