Creature type[edit | edit source]
In Magic: The Gathering, zombies are unique as a creature type in that sometimes it functions as a race (Mournful Zombie) and sometimes it functions as a class (Vodalian Zombie). The default race for zombies is therefore human, which was never mentioned in the type line, until the embalm mechanic created Human Zombie tokens. In the case of other races, the original race is always mentioned in the type line.
Storyline[edit | edit source]
Zombies are normally simply animated and have little to no connection with the soul of the deceased, though some especially powerful necromancers know how to bind the dead to their bodies to create smart zombies.
Alara[edit | edit source]
Esperian zombies[edit | edit source]
In the Shard of Alara called Esper, there exist beings who enter undeath by replacing most or all of their natural flesh with etherium, becoming undead abominations known as aether-liches. An aether-lich houses their soul in an etherium phylactery known as an Immortal Coil. 
Grixian zombies[edit | edit source]
Amonkhet[edit | edit source]
Amonkhet is saturated in dark energies that cause every living creature to rise again as an undead after their death, referred to as the Curse of Wandering. The Curse of Wandering only affects flesh and ends when the undead has become skeletal. The resulting zombies are focused in black and white, though some Eternals can be found in blue and red.
Abominations[edit | edit source]
Zombies outside the central city Naktamun and its protective shield become vicious abominations. Since the people of Amonkhet believe that the soul will exist as long as the body does, the state of rot these creatures are in is seen as a slow fading out of existence.
Mummies[edit | edit source]
White Zombies (embalmed and mummified creatures) are referred to as Anointed. They comprise of all the dead within Naktamun that have not passed the five trials. They are used for manual labor, raising children and similar tasks, leaving the living to concentrate fully on achieving a more blessed afterlife. Their fate is seen as acceptable to the horror of becoming an abomination, even though their eventual afterlife will not be as glorious as the one of the Worthy.
The creation of mummies is an automated process, with embalming facilities underground processing the bodies of the slain by removing the internal organs and sealing them in wraps. While every corpse is reanimated in Amonkhet, mummies are made White aligned due to the preservation of their corpses as well as the use of cartouches. A vizier, the last one being Temmet, controlled the mummies.
Eternals[edit | edit source]
Mostly blue, black or red Zombies (eternalized creatures) are referred to as Eternals, the conclusion of those who pass the trials and are slain by Hazoret. Bolas' lethal undead fighting force that has transcended their mortal capabilities. They are embalmed in layers of lazotep, a valuable blue mineral, that preserves their lifeforce as well as deeds in life. The Eternals are elite soldiers with all the skill and prowess of living soldiers, but none of the disadvantages that arise in living beings, such as emotions, hesitation, or disloyalty. Bolas has personally crafted all of Amonkhet to create just such an army The five virtues of anointed in the trials are twisted into Tactical Thought, Adaptability, Resilience, Ruthlessness and Fanaticism, virtues more to Bolas liking. Before the Hour of Devastation, they were stored in Bolas’s great necropolis.
Dominaria[edit | edit source]
Liches[edit | edit source]
Liches are beings who have stored their life force in an object called a phylactery so that their mortal body will endure upwards of millenia in undeath.
Otarian zombies[edit | edit source]
Zombies were disturbingly common on Otaria thanks to the Cabal. These included zombified Beasts, Birds, Cats, Centaurs, Dragons, Dwarves, Giants, Goblins and Wurms. As the Mirari exerted its powerful influence over the races of Otaria, the zombies began growing additional deformed appendages (and in some cases, extra heads).
Revenants[edit | edit source]
Innistrad[edit | edit source]
Innistrad is a plane partially infested with Zombies. Zombies come in two variants. On one hand, there are the common shambling corpses associated with the color black, called ghouls. Reanimated by necromancers and ghoulcallers they go about making more zombies, killing the living and devouring their flesh. Even gameplaywise these Zombies are slow but overwhelming if the opponent cannot contain them, typically being powerful creatures for their cost and difficult to permanently kill (either through the undying mechanic or occasionally the ability to be recast such as on Gravecrawler) but with some kind disadvantage (coming into play tapped, unable to block etc).
The second variety are in the vein of Frankenstein's Monster, the failed experiments of insane mages who attempted to toy with life itself, associated with the color blue. These are called skaabs, and their creators are called skaberen.   A common mechanic for them is the requirement to have creature cards in the graveyard removed, such as corpses as the base for these medical abominations. These creatures are typically very powerful but can be difficult to get into play because they need dead bodies first. This can be provided by self-milling that the mad scientists enable, such as on Deranged Assistant.
Mirrodin[edit | edit source]
In the plane of Mirrodin, zombies are known as the nim, and inhabit the Mephidross swamps.  The Nim are people that have become zombified by the necrogen puffed out of the smokestacks of the Mephidross Swamp. In turn the Nim vent Necrogen gas themselves, as well.
Ravnica[edit | edit source]
Golgari Swarm[edit | edit source]
The Golgari uses ritualistic magic to make zombies, which can deliberately be made to be mindless deadwalkers for labor purposes, or letting them keep their full faculties and abilities, like their Guildmasters Svogthir and Jarad, who were zombies themselves. Their zombies are usually imbued with plants, insects or fungi. The Erstwhile once were an important soldier faction in Ravnica. They were laid to rest in coffins in Umerilek, Mausoleum of the Erstwhile. They returned as Zombie Attendants of Vraska.
Cult of Rakdos[edit | edit source]
They are usually made as mindless deadwalkers and servants. Unlike the Golgari's these ones have their bodies altered with spikes, metal teeth and other torturing implants to make them more deadly.
Phyrexia[edit | edit source]
While, Phyrexian Scuta has the creature type "zombie" while actually being a Phyrexian, zombies of Phyrexian origin do exist. Cards like Metathran Zombie and Vodalian Zombie represent creatures that were killed by a Phyrexian tingler. The tingler is a nasty device that resembles a spiny centipede-like insect. One end of the tingler is fashioned with small hooks used both for movement, and for carrying out its main function, which is to zombify enemy troops in the midst of battle, turning them against their allies.
The tingler zombifies by crawling into its victim's mouth and using its hooks to literally rip out their spinal cord, effectively killing them. It will then crawl down their mouth and into the cavity once occupied by the spine and replace the spinal cord, controlling their body. This process is short and leaves the corpse mostly intact, as opposed to the long process by which Phyrexian soldiers usually are created.
Tarkir[edit | edit source]
The Gurmug Swamps of Tarkir are riddled with the sibsig, the wandering zombie hordes of the Sultai — an amalgam of fallen soldiers from the other clans of Tarkir. The bodies of the sibsig zombies are kept well preserved through powerful necromancy, while the rest of the undead army is left to rot.
Theros[edit | edit source]
In Theros, the Noston, or Returned, are undead that escaped the plane's Underworld, governed by the god Erebos.  To escape the Underworld, one must lose one's own identity, and as such the Returned not only have no faces beyond a few holes, but also have lost their memories, both of their past lives and the capacity of holding long term memories in themselves. As such, while they are sapient and feel emotions, their existences are nothing but shadow-play, being unable to connect with other living beings and form an actual identity, forever in a state of negative emotions and empty routines.
The Returned wear golden masks: clay masks are used in Theros to frame the faces of the dead, so the elimination of these masks is a symbolic act for the return to the world of the living. Gold is the most common material in the infernal realm, so the Noston use it to craft new masks, that serve as flimsy, hollow identities. They value gold very little beyond their masks, but use currency based on the broken fragments of the clay masks, which have immense symbolic value. When not wandering alone and rejecting civilisation, the Returned go to cities called necropolises, two of which being of particular importance: the neutral Asphodel, where the Noston simply embrace their fate, and the aggressive Odunos, where the undead give in to violent emotions and perform raids on the living.
Zendikar[edit | edit source]
Whenever a Zendikar vampire fully drains the blood of a living creature without destroying the husk, that creature does not become a vampire. Instead, it becomes a null, a faceless zombie that is stronger and much faster than typical zombies. If nulls are left without orders, they will hunt and kill living things that they can find.
Notable zombies[edit | edit source]
- Balthor the Defiled
- Dakkon Blackblade
- Dralnu, Lich Lord
- Frankenstein's Monster
- Grimgrin, Geralf's General 
- Haakon, Stromgald Scourge
- Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
- Golgari Guildmaster Jarad
- Sedris, the Traitor King
- Golgari Parun Svogthir
- Glissa Sunseeker
- Tymaret, the Murder King
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Zombie Apocalypse is a sorcery that returns all Zombie creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped, then destroys all Humans.
- Due to regulations in China, alternate art often needs to be produced for cards depicting the undead. An example is the Seventh Edition Scathe Zombies.
Zombie tokens[edit | edit source]
|Zombie||Black||Creature — Zombie||2/2||
|Black||Enchantment Creature — Zombie||2/2|
|Black||Creature — Zombie||X/X|
|Blue||Creature — Zombie||X/X|
|Black||Creature — Zombie||2/2||Haste|
|Zombie Giant||Black||Creature — Zombie Giant||5/5|
| Zombie Goblin
named Festering Goblin
|Black||Creature — Zombie Goblin||1/1||When Festering Goblin dies, target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.|
|Zombie Horror||Black||Creature — Zombie Horror||X/X|
|Zombie Knight||Black||Creature — Zombie Knight||2/2||Menace|
|Zombie Wizard||Blue/Black||Creature — Zombie Wizard||1/1|
| Zombie Angel
named Angel of Sanctions
|White||Creature — Zombie Angel||3/4|| Flying
Whenever Angel of Sanctions enters the battlefield, you may exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Angel of Sanctions leaves the battlefield.
| Zombie Human Cleric
named Anointer Priest
|White||Creature — Zombie Human Cleric||1/3||Whenever a creature token enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.|
| Zombie Bird Warrior
named Aven Initiate
|White||Creature — Zombie Bird Warrior||3/2||Flying|
| Zombie Bird Warrior
named Aven Wind Guide
|White||Creature — Zombie Bird Warrior||2/3|| Flying, vigilance
Creature tokens you control have flying and vigilance.
| Zombie Sphinx
named Glyph Keeper
|White||Creature — Zombie Sphinx||5/3|| Flying
Whenever Glyph Keeper becomes the target of a spell or ability for the first time each turn, counter that spell or ability.
| Zombie Manticore
named Heart-Piercer Manticore
|White||Creature — Zombie Manticore||4/3||When Heart-Piercer Manticore enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice another creature. When you do, Heart-Piercer Manticore deals damage equal to that creature's power to target creature or player.|
| Zombie Snake Hydra
named Honored Hydra
|White||Creature — Zombie Snake Hydra||6/6||Trample|
| Zombie Illusion Warrior
named Labyrinth Guardian
|White||Creature — Zombie Illusion Warrior||2/3||Whenever Labyrinth Guardian becomes the target of a spell, sacrifice it.|
| Zombie Bird Soldier
named Oketra's Attendant
|White||Creature — Zombie Bird Soldier||3/3||Flying|
| Zombie Cat
named Sacred Cat
|White||Creature — Zombie Cat||1/1||Lifelink|
| Zombie Naga Warrior
named Tah-Crop Skirmisher
|White||Creature — Zombie Naga Warrior||2/1|
| Zombie Human Cleric
named Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
|White||Legendary Creature — Zombie Human Cleric||2/2||At the beginning of combat on your turn, target creature token you control gets +1/+1 until end of turn and can't be blocked this turn.|
| Zombie Human Warrior
named Trueheart Duelist
|White||Creature — Zombie Human Warrior||2/2||Trueheart Duelist can block an additional creature each combat.|
| Zombie Human Warrior
named Unwavering Initiate
|White||Creature — Zombie Human Warrior||3/2||Vigilance|
| Zombie Shapeshifter Cleric
named Vizier of Many Faces
|White||Creature — Zombie Shapeshifter Cleric||0/0||You may have Vizier of Many Faces enter the battlefield as any creature on the battlefield, except it has no mana cost, it's white and it's a Zombie in addition to its other types.|
| Zombie Cat
named Adorned Pouncer
|Black||Creature — Zombie Cat||4/4||Double strike|
| Zombie Human Cleric
named Steadfast Sentinel
|Black||Creature — Zombie Human Cleric||4/4||Vigilance|
| Zombie Human Warrior
named Proven Combatant
|Black||Creature — Zombie Human Warrior||4/4|
| Zombie Human Wizard
|Black||Creature — Zombie Human Wizard||4/4|| Menace
When Dreamstealer deals combat damage to a player, that player discards that many cards.
| Zombie Human Wizard
named Sunscourge Champion
|Black||Creature — Zombie Human Wizard||4/4||When Sunscourge Champion enters the battlefield, you gain life equal to its power.|
| Zombie Jackal Warrior
named Earthshaker Khenra
|Black||Creature — Zombie Jackal Warrior||4/4|| Haste
When Earthshaker Khenra enters the battlefield, target creature with power less than or equal to Earthshaker Khenra's power can't block this turn.
| Zombie Jackal Wizard
named Resilient Khenra
|Black||Creature — Zombie Jackal Wizard||4/4||When Resilient Khenra enters the battlefield, you may have target creature get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is Resilient Khenra's power.|
| Zombie Naga Warrior
named Sinuous Striker
|Black||Creature — Zombie Naga Warrior||4/4||: Sinuous Striker gets +1/-1 until end of turn.|
| Zombie Naga Wizard
named Champion of Wits
|Black||Creature — Zombie Naga Wizard||4/4||When Champion of Wits enters the battlefield, you may draw cards equal to its power. If you do, discard two cards.|
Zombie manlands[edit | edit source]
Grand Creature Type Update[edit | edit source]
- Fallen (The Fallen)
- Ghoul (for example (Ashen Ghoul)
- Horseman (Headless Horseman)
- Monster (Frankenstein's Monster)
- Mummy (Cyclopean Mummy)
- Murk-Dweller (Murk Dwellers)
- Necrosavant (Necrosavant; also a Giant)
- Tombspawn (Tombstone Stairwell)
- Walking-Dead (Walking Dead)
- Wight (Dread Wight)
References[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater. (March 15, 2015.) "Characteristic and iconic creatures for each color?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (April 11, 2015.) "How about some trivia on Magic zombies in general?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 12, 2015.) "Why zombie human doesn't exist?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Magic Arcana. (May 18, 2004.) “Would You Like That Zombified?”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 03, 2003.) “I cc: Dead People”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (December 8, 2008.) “The Flavor of Zones”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Dave Humpherys. (April 4, 2017.) “Developing Amonkhet”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (April 3, 2017.) “Amonkhet Down to Business, Part 1”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Youtube - Art of Amonkhet
- Ken Troop. (July 12, 2017.) “Hour of Eternity”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Plane Shift: Amonkhet
- Magic Arcana. (March 05, 2003.) “Style Guide - Zombies”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 05, 2011.) “C'mon Innistrad, Part 1”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Monty Ashley. (October 10, 2011.) “So Many Zombies”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Creative Team. (October 19, 2011.) “A Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Nephalia and the Undead”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Creative Team. (July 9, 2015.) “The Worlds of Magic Origins”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ant Tessitore. (August 10, 2015.) “A Skaab by any Other Flavor (Text)”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (December 08, 2010.) “The Nonhuman Cultures of Mirrodin”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (October 29, 2003.) “Sketches: Flayed Nim”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jeremy Cranford. (February 03, 2004.) “Creating Mirrodin: Swamps and Zombies”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (March 23, 2004.) “Adam Rex's Nim mural”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (July 13, 2004.) “Crispy Nim”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (May 19, 2004.) “Sketches: Nim Grotesque”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Alison Luhrs. (May 31, 2017.) “Pride of the Kraul”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Trick Jarrett. (December 05, 2013.) “The Returned”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Creative Team. (October 21, 2009.) “A planeswalker's Guide to Zendikar: Guul Draz and Vampires”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland. (January 16, 2012.) “Preview Article: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Monty Ashley. (November 28, 2011.) “Who Is Grimgrin?”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (May 13, 2002.) “Chinese zombies”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (November 14, 2005.) “Alternate Chinese Art in Ravnica, Part 1”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
[edit | edit source]
- Monty Ashley. (December 07, 2011.) “Zombie Identification Exercise”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.