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Playing With / Not Using the "Z" Word

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Basic Trope: Characters are faced with a creature, but refuse to call said creature by its given name.

  • Straight: Bob sees a group of walking dead people who eat flesh and brains. Nobody says that they're zombies.
  • Exaggerated: Bob sees a black-and-white striped horse, but thinks of something other than "Zebra" to call it.
  • Downplayed: The characters gently get around referring to the zombies as anything specifically, or never even mention them, too concerned with their own survival.
  • Justified:
    • Bob doesn't think these are technically zombies, not having enough of the proper traits.
    • Alternatively, Bob already came up with a name for them, such as "ghouls" or "vampires".
    • This Is Reality in-universe. To Bob, they can't possibly be zombies, because zombies only exist in fiction.
    • Bob knows they are not, in fact, zombies, but meant to seem like it. Alice doesn't catch on but Bob worries pointing that the walking horde are just creepy animated figures set up to appear like a zombie attack openly may result in more trouble, so he's trying to hint to Alice that fact by not directly calling them "zombies".
    • Zombie fiction doesn't exist in the story's world, so the characters wouldn't know what to call them.
    • For some reason verbalizing the word "zombie" attracts their attention and puts the characters in danger; alternative names are used in order to avoid provoking them.
    • Advertisement:
    • The work takes place in a time or place where voodoo hasn't become widely known, so the term "zombie" is meaningless to the characters.
    • Bob is a Bohkor, and wants to avoid confusion between the brain-eating, walking corpse zombies, and the sorcerously-enslaved zombies he uses.
    • Bob refuses to call them zombies, because despite being dangerous, their mind is still at least partially intact, and confusion with the type of zombies that mindlessly eat brains can lead to Unfortunate Implications and Fantastic Racism.
  • Inverted: Bob insists that the creatures be called "zombies", even though they're actually mutated alien werewolves.
  • Subverted: Bob explains how the creatures literally aren't zombies, but a similar mythical creature, but admits that it's easier to call them "zombies.".
  • Double Subverted: Alice then says that she'd rather call them by their given mythological name.
  • Parodied:
    • The name used instead of "Zombie" is incredibly long so as to encompass all of its qualities, eg "Shambling-Rotting-Walking-Corpses-That-Feed-On-Flesh-And-Turn-You-Into-Shambling-Rotting-Walking-Corpses-That-Feed-On-Flesh."
    • Everyone has their own name for the zombies and are constantly arguing over which name is correct.
    • "Zombie" is considered a derogatory term. The proper phrase is something along the lines of "reanimated corpse".
  • Zig Zagged: As it turns out, the word they used instead of Zombie just happens to be the literal translation of the word "Zombie" in an obscure language that none of the characters know anyway.
  • Averted: They're called Zombies from the get-go.
  • Enforced: They can get away with using a look-alike of a licensed monster, but they can't use the proper name, so the characters just never say what they are.
  • Lampshaded: "Why can't we just call them Zombies instead of Them?
  • Invoked: "Don't call them Zombies."
  • Exploited: Bob, secretly not very fond of humanity, convinces everyone to not say "Zombies" in order to confuse other survivors into carelessness or suicidal actions.
  • Defied: A character tries to correct Bob calling the creature a Zombie. Bob slaps him and says "They're Zombies."
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: "So those new monsters that just showed up on The Adventures of Bob, when do you think Bob will start calling them zombies?"
  • Deconstructed:
    • The refusal to say 'zombie' stems from the characters' disbelief that such a situation could occur. It progresses into outright psychotic denial that zombies even exist, and they walk out into the undead hordes as if heading out for a stroll, having convinced themselves that there's no such thing as zombies.
    • The gang insist that a zombie is just a "sick person" and try to medically treat them, only to be eaten.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Admitting the full level of danger they're in would demoralize the characters who aren't as strong-willed, so Bob avoids calling them zombies in order to allow them to rally together and get to safety; there's time enough to freak out and be scared once they get to the safe house.

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