- "The only way to kill a zombie is to stop its brain activity. Cut off it's head, smash it's skull..."
Zombies were commonly mindless, undead creatures capable only of certain physical actions, such as walking and killing, though certain spells could create zombies that retained their memories, personalities, vocalization, and free will. Even though the term typically referred to reanimated humans, other animals, such as cats, were able to become zombies.
The only way to kill a zombie was to permanently sever the brain's communication with the body. This could be achieved through decapitation or completely destroying the head or brain.
Zombies were described as being created by voodoo priests out of corpses.
Whether zombies actually ate human flesh wasn't clearly determined. Angel claimed they did. According to Rupert Giles, zombies weren't known for eating flesh while Anya Jenkins claimed real zombies did not normally eat flesh and only did so if commanded by their masters. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce told Charles Gunn that the stereotype of a flesh-eating zombie was just a myth and that they merely mangled, mutilated, and occasionally wore human flesh.
Notable Zombie Incidents
- The demon Ovu Mobani raised all the dead in Sunnydale. These mindless zombies were attracted to the mask that held the demon's spirit, killing every living creature in their path, who in turn become zombies. Once one of them put on the mask, it became the demon incarnate and the other zombies cowered before it. They were destroyed once Buffy Summers killed Ovu Mobani.
- Jack O'Toole was reanimated through a spell that invoked a spirit called Uurthu the Restless. O'Toole then reanimated his friends Bob, Dickie, and Parker. They all retained their memories, personalities, and free will, and the ability to talk. They looked as they did before being reanimated, so O'Toole was only identifiable as a zombie by the bullet holes in his chest, whereas the others were more clearly dead. Parker and Bob were "killed" again by Xander while Dickie and O'Toole were devoured.
- When part of the ritual used to summon Gachnar the Fear Demon was performed in the Alpha Delta fraternity house one Halloween, it caused a skeleton prop at the entrance of the building to become real and animate, and made more traditional fleshy zombies appear in the basement. Along with the rest of the horrors that infested the fraternity, they were vanquished or returned to being mere decorations after Buffy squashed the tiny Gachnar when he fully manifested.
- Captain Atkinson revived the dead officers of Precinct 23 through a spell that involved the Idol of Granath, the "Zombie God". These zombies regained the ability to talk and an illusion of the appearance they had before they were killed, though they had no free will and their actions were controlled by Atkinson. Atkinson reanimated them in an attempt to control the crime rates in L.A., either unaware or uncaring that zombies used excessive force to deal with even minor crimes like jaywalking. They were returned to their normal dead state when Angel smashed the Idol.
- Dawn Summers resuscitates her mother, Joyce according to a formula given by Doc with a Ghora's egg and a photo of the deceased. Buffy discovers the rite of her sister and while she tries to find her zombified mother, Dawn tears the photo, ending the resurrection.
- Brian was poisoned by his girlfriend and somehow returned as a zombie. Just like Jack O'Toole and his cronies, Brian retained his memories, personality, free will, and speech. He was clearly dead-looking.
- In case of an attack, the security protocols of Wolfram & Hart involved a spell that caused every dead creature in the building to arise as a mindless zombie to kill every other living creature. When Angel and his crew took over Wolfram & Hart, the zombies were gone, having been apparently gotten rid of by the Senior Partners after the threat was over.
- Four zombie warriors were kept in the lowest level of the Wolfram & Hart building as part of the security system guarding the Failsafe.
- In 2004 the entire city of Los Angeles was sent to Hell by Wolfram & Hart. This had many side effects on the creatures there, one of which was that some of the dead started to rise as zombies. Angel found the zombies to be "tacky." He broke his spine jumping from a rooftop in an attempt to slay a zombie. A group of zombies were caught up in the fray after the Lord of Westwood was killed. Wesley was brought back from the afterlife by the Senior Partners as a ghost in order to watch over Angel. The Senior Partners stated that they could just as easily summon up a zombie of Lindsey McDonald or Eve, however Wesley stated that Angel would never listen either of those people, and would quite possibly decapitate them.
- Angel and Spike were attending the San Diego Sci-Fi Festival when two of the staff there called upon the god Janus to cast a chaotic spell that forced all the attendees of the convention to take on the traits of the costume they are wearing. One of the panels at the convention was offering a promotion to give away free t-shirts to those that dressed as zombies. Because of the spell, everyone dressed as a zombie became a zombie. Although regular zombies did not pass on their disease through bites, Angel was unsure what would happen if these pseudo-zombies bit anyone seeing as how magic was involved. The zombie convention attendees reverted to their regular, human selves once the bust of Janus was destroyed.
- Amy Madison raised an army of zombies to attack Buffy's castle. The Slayers fought off the zombies to the best of their ability, but were outnumbered. Willow Rosenberg was eventually able to use magic to turn the zombies back into regular corpses.
Behind the Scenes
- Zombies have appeared as enemies in four non-canonical video games: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chaos Bleeds, The Quest for Oz and Sacrifice.