In the TV series The Walking Dead, I've for the first time seen the idea of hiding in hordes of Zombies using some of their traits. In The Walking Dead, there are currently two ways to do this:

  1. Wear clothes full of Walker blood / innards to have the apparently very distinct smell of Zombies. We see this the first time in the series in S01E02 Gut.
  2. The Whisperers found their own way by wearing masks of Walkers to hide they haven't turned yet.

Rick and Carl in clothes drenched with Walker Blood. Example for point 1 to avoid Walker recognizing not turned humans

The only other time I am aware of this happening is in the film Zombieland from 2009. Bill Murray (playing himself) uses make up to hide he's still alive and uses this to leave his house, e.g. to play golf.

Bill Murray with Zombie make up

Technically, Zombieland was released earlier than The Walking Dead. I haven't read the TWD comics but assume the blood drenched clothes is used there also?! As the comics were released in 2003, TWD still has the first appearance of using disguise to hide among zombies.

What is the first appearance of non-Zombies using any kind of disguise in order to hide that they're still alive from the undead?

  • 47
    Well Shaun of the Dead is 2004, several years earlier than that.
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 11:15
  • 12
    They're brainwashed, not undead, but The Mummy (1999) features a person pretending to be part of a mindless, shambling horde.
    – Nolimon
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 13:14
  • 12
    Depending on the definition of zombie, you could go back to 1978 and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, towards the end of that version there is a scene where 2 characters act like the pod people, so as not to be discovered. The pod people are similar to the original zombie concept from voodoo mythology....
    – Alith
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 14:16
  • 6
    If you take the concept to a higher level, it's "playing dead" in order to avoid some sort of predator/monster, which is a trope used all over the place.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 23:03
  • 1
    Yeah, pretending to be a zombie is nothing innovative or new. Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 19:14

5 Answers 5


Invasion of the Body Snatchers

You could look at films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1957, 1978) where the lead characters act emotionless and dazed to blend in with the replacements/aliens. It's not quite the same, yet it's a similar trope?

  • 3
    I've just read the synopsis on Wikipedia and I'd say it's close enough to be relevant, yes.
    – Shade
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:15

Beating both of your televised examples and possibly the TWD comics would be Shaun of the Dead (2004).

The disguise used is as simple as a slack jawed expression, a shambling walk, and a selection of moans.

There may be earlier examples to be found but given the lead time on movies I believe this would have had to have been written before the comics were released at the very least.

  • 6
    According to Kirkman's wikipedia page he started TWD "shortly after the launch of Invincible", which was in November 2002. It launched in October 2003. SotD started filming in May 2003 (after the writing for TWD had started) - but it was based on a script that took 8 weeks to write, and which had been pitched at Cannes in May 2002. Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 12:00
  • 17
    Does Thriller count?
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 12:43
  • 7
    I recall the idea of pretending to be a zombie to appear a lot later into the comic, I think many years later. I was actually surprised to see that it happend in the second episode of the show.
    – VienLa
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 14:18
  • 3
    @DannyMcG Michael was a zombie all along.
    – Schwern
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:17
  • 3
    @DannyMcG The song by Michael Jackson? Can't remember that he pretends to be a Zombie.
    – Shade
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:22

Not the same kind of zombie, but how about The Mummy (1999)?

  • 2
    Not the same kind of Zombie but IMHO close enough to be considered, yes.
    – Shade
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:21
  • 3
    You might want to give a bit more detail about the video (the fact that one of the main characters is seen blending into a crowd by chanting like them and taking the same walking pace), in case the video were to disappear
    – Clockwork
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 7:41
  • This is what came to my mind immediately, great find.
    – Daishozen
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 15:18

I haven't seen this, but La Invasión de los muertos released as The Invasion of the Dead (1973) supposedly has a scene where

The soldiers come back as zombies and Blue Demon has to fight them and the monsters (Polo Ortín fools them by pretending to be a zombie himself).

Movie Poster

  • 4
    Now that's an alluring poster. Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 13:00

Book Six of Ovid's Metamorphoses (year ~8 CE) features Procne rescuing her sister Philomela by disguising herself as a Maenad -- arguably not a zombie, but certainly a follower of the god Bacchus who has been riled into a supernatural, animalistic frenzy and not particularly capable of rational thought. The text describes her need for appropriate dress (vines, animal skins) and behavior (hurtling movements, screaming) to blend in and perform the rescue amid the throng:

It was the time when the young Thracian women used to celebrate the triennial festival of Bacchus. (Night knew their holy rites: by night, Mount Rhodope rang with the high-pitched clashing of bronze). By night the queen left her palace, prepared herself for the rites of the god, and took up the weapons of that frenzied religion. Tendrils of vine wreathed her head; a deerskin was draped over her left side; a light javelin rested on her shoulder. Hurtling through the woods with a crowd of her companions, terrifying, driven by maddening grief, Procne embodies you, Bacchus. She comes at last to the building in the wilderness, and howls out loud, giving the ecstatic cry of Euhoe, breaks the door down, seizes her sister, disguises her with the tokens of a wild Bacchante, hides her face with ivy leaves, and dragging her along with her, frightened out of her wits, leads her inside the palace walls.

It is worth noting that she isn't rescuing her sister from the Maenads, but using the throng as cover against her captor, a normal human man.

While Maenads aren't undead, they do tear people apart limb from limb at multiple points in Metamorphoses.

  • 1
    I'm sure Shaggy and Scooby Doo have done it
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 17:20

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