I'm toying with the idea of having a character bitten by more than one bite-infecting monster and wondered about just what would happen.

What are the generally-accepted time windows from bite to transformation for the above monsters?

I'm thinking, from shortest to longest

  1. Zombie: Hours, 1 full day at most.
  2. Vampire: 24 hours (presuming "enough" blood is withdrawn or exchanged in one feeding)
  3. Werewolf: 28 days (full lunar cycle)

What special abilities / weaknesses seem plausible to someone so afflicted?

  • 1
    What kind of zombie are we talking about? Ye Traditional (magic) Zombie or a plague zombie?
    – dkuntz2
    May 21, 2011 at 3:13
  • 4
    @Sukotto: You may be interested in the Writers Stack Exchange site. @SFF community: I'm not convinced that this question is off-topic here, I've asked the Writers community what they think about it.
    – user56
    May 21, 2011 at 12:03
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    The sentiment on Writers is that this is more of a question for readers, so I've reopened the question here. Of course, there's no objective answer, this is all about author fiat. But I understand the question as managing reader expectations, and that's mainly a product of existing tropes, which are a fine subject for a question.
    – user56
    May 22, 2011 at 15:26
  • 4
    Not to be all party-pooper (even worse, a party-pooper two years late to the party), but this doesn't seem like an answerable question. Exceedingly discussion-y. Jul 8, 2013 at 16:08
  • 2
    @PaulD.Waite: StackExchange sites have a history of leaving open (though frequently protecting) 'legacy' or 'historical' questions which, though they may not be a good fit for the current format, previously were good questions. This would seem to fall smack in that category for me (plus I'm still pulling the sweet, sweet rep for a 2 year old answer :-D )
    – Jeff
    Jul 8, 2013 at 21:19

7 Answers 7



In the world we're discussing, all three are infectious and all three begin the transformation with a single bite.

The Vampire is a 'traditional' vampire - undead, no soul, no reflection, feeds on blood. Vulnerable to sunlight, wooden stakes in the heart, and poorly written romances. Bitten humans die after being drained of blood, rise on the next sunset as a new vampire.

The Werewolf is a 'traditional' werewolf - living, possesses a soul, transforms into a wolf (either fully, or into some sort of wolf-man state) uncontrollably during the three nights of the full moon each month, lacks control of actions while transformed. Vulnerable to silver (and Nair?). Bitten (but not killed) humans live as normal, until the next set of full moons, at which point they transform.

The zombie is a 'Romero' style or one of it's derivatives - undead, hungry, no discernible intellect, no healing ability, driven to consume living flesh (human preferred). Vulnerable to physical damage and especially brain destruction. Bitten humans die within a short time (typically less than 24 hours) and rise shortly thereafter as new zombies.


Order matters.

There are 6 possible orders (V = vampire, Z = Zombie, W = werewolf): VWZ VZW WZV WVZ ZWV ZVW

Four of these should be fairly straightforward, and I'll handle these first.

ZVW, ZWV: The zombie bites a human. Then (presumably before s/he turns) the human is bitten by a werewolf and vampire (order unimportant in this case). Even assuming the zombie bite happens at night on the night of the full moon, I expect the human will expire and reanimate as a 'normal' zombie - all three transformations take time, and the zombie is simply the fastest. It kills and raises within 24 hours (typically), longer only if they receive significant medical aid. Unless they manage to last 48 hours (unlikely, if they receive additional wounds from more bites) the zombie virus kills them, then they get up to kill.

VWZ, VZW: Again, the speed of the transformation is important here. The only way all three bites are likely to occur on the same individual is if they all happen within a 48-hour period. Zombies wouldn't be attracted to the dead flesh of a vampire, and the bite of a werewolf has fairly consistently been shown to be either fatal or simply damaging to a vampire. It's never been seen to trigger some additional transformation (except in a Ghostbusters cartoon episode, and some poorly done movies). If the human lives long enough to become a vampire, they die and rise the next night as a vampire. If the human receives a zombie bite just before (or right after) expiring, they will still likely rise a vampire. If, however, the human is bitten by the zombie early enough before death, the quicker zombie virus will claim his life and raise him as a zombie.

WZV: Zombies would be drawn to the living flesh of a werewolf. After a zombie bite, it's likely the werewolf would die and rise as a zombie. If he died while still in wolf or hybrid form, he would become an undead version of that form. Compared to the zombie bite, the vampire bite does not act quickly enough to challenge this transformation.

WVZ: Here's where the fun begins. It's never been seen for a werewolf (in wolf form) to be infected by a vampire bite - traditionally vampire bites simply kill werewolves. Thus, it's only likely that a wolf would be vampire-bitten (with any effect other than death) while in human form. If it did not simply kill him, I expect he would rise as a normal vampire - vampire's bodies have been consistently shown to be unchanging, often restored to their state at death at the beginning of each night. Therefore, it's doubtful that the wolf transformation would occur. Assuming the zombie bite happened with enough time remaining before the vampire reanimation, the quicker zombie virus would raise the human as a zombie. If not, they would become a vampire.

Essentially, the genres don't mix well. A zombified wolfman would still have his sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight, but would move like a zombie. It's likely his other senses would fade as he decomposed. The other 'mixes' (zombie vampire, wolfpire) are highly unlikely to occur.

White Wolf, which writes games that allow you to play as werewolves, vampires, etc addresses this issue directly: Vampires can't become any of the other 'races', werewolves can't be turned into vampires (and the vampire who drinks their blood regrets it), etc.

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    Actually, White Wolf does allow werewolves to be turned into vampires in WoD - whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Abomination
    – Nate
    Nov 1, 2011 at 12:39
  • @Nate: That must have been introduced in a later supplement, I was going by the core book. Also, that seems to be specific to Vampire: the Masquerade, not 'the Requiem'. Thus, it's not true in the current version.
    – Jeff
    Nov 1, 2011 at 13:20
  • @Jeff - Ah, I only played V:tM, not V:tR - I did some googling and apparently in the V:tR core book it states that any character from another 'template' (werewolf, mage, etc.) just dies and cannot be 'embraced' to become a vampire.
    – Nate
    Nov 1, 2011 at 14:14
  • @Nate: the previous edition core books all agree, too, even V:tM. The abomination must be from a supplement that came later.
    – Jeff
    Nov 1, 2011 at 14:37
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    @axrwkr: Yes, and some vampires sparkle. Just because something exists doesn't mean it needs to be mentioned in polite conversation ;) Besides, I was very specific in mentioning I was talking about traditional Romero-style zombies. The fast ones are much more varied, so it's hard to generalize about them.
    – Jeff
    Feb 2, 2013 at 1:10

It would help to know what subgenre(s) you're targeting: medieval fantasy? urban fantasy? comic fantasy? horror?

If you run the gamut of works that have infectious vampires/werewolves/zombies, you'll find pretty much any range of propagation times. You can find some lists of works by searching “vampire”, “werewolf” and “zombie” on TV Tropes. In particular, you'll find a studies in classifying vampires, werewolves and zombies.

A few trends:

  • Bram Stoker's Dracula is the oldest popularly remembered vampire. I don't remember the details, but Dracula doesn't make another vampire merely through biting, the process is rather long and involves a lot of psychology. Unsurprisingly, later incarnations of the trope have simplified things, but you can pretty much make your own rules.
  • Many werewolf stories do involve lunar cycles. It's not that it takes a month to make a werewolf, it's that werewolves are only revealed around a full moon. If the moon is full, you might start growing hair straight away. Or you might not: in many mythoi, being bitten by a werewolf merely makes you wounded or carrion.
  • Zombie infections are primarily a movie trope stemming from Night of the Living Dead. Written zombies are generally created by magic rituals (or more rarely death failing to turn up), and they don't go biting strange people.

What happens when one gets bitten by vampire?

1) If the Vampire injects the venom, then you become one.

2) You die

To become a vampire is a a bit of a delicate process. It take repeated bitings and a gentle, protracted death to enable the contagion to effect the change. As Count Dracula performed on Lucy Westenra (Dracula) or Lestat performed on Louis (Interview with a Vampire). Inductions as depicted in Innocent Blood are ridiculous in the extreme.

Any person bitten by a vampire can recover. A single bite is nothing, hardly noticeable in fact. Lucy Westenra was saved three times by the intervention of Dr. Van Helsing - it was only by constant interference by the count that she died and was inducted. In fact if you are bitten repeatedly and don't die within the first few weeks then you become immune to the induction. Such is the condition of many thralls and minions of vampires.

Most induction are malformed. Count Orlock (Nosferatu) being only a medial example, gross deformities are more common than otherwise. Most people on becoming vampires destroy themselves as they are incapable of reconciling themselves with what they have become.


Folk beliefs section of Wikipedia entry about Werewolfs gives more details about the common beliefs for how one becomes a werewolf, what vulnerabilities do those have, etc.

  • I am out of ideas for the zombie case so I will let someone else have a stab at that...
    – Darius
    May 21, 2011 at 2:00
  • It's worth noting that in some mythologies (NOT including Twilight) it is possible for a single vampire bite to kill - it all depends on how much blood they take. Similarly, it's often possible for vampire's victims to rise after death even if they died from a single bite (a la Buffy).
    – Jeff
    May 26, 2011 at 13:44

Okay, let me try and give you a run down of what I've seen in the matter.


Typically, the bite must occur at or very near a full moon, when the moon is in the sky, for it to have any affect. It almost always starts the next cycle. This form of transmission is quite new actually, there have been various methods over the years to become a werewolf that didn't involve biting, for more see the wikipedia article.

Typically, when they are a wolf, they are smarter than a typical wolf, stronger, but more vulnerable to instincts. The most common difference in wolf form is that they have no tail, but that can vary from legend to legend. Harry Potter describes several differences in werewolves from regular wolves, for instance. In human form, it's common for them to have a somewhat increased sense of smell, strength, and aggressiveness.


According to a research paper, the most common amount of time prior to becoming a zombie is approximately 24 hours. It should be noted, this is a recent phenomena, traditionally zombies weren't created by biting, but more of magical or superstitious behavior.

Zombies most notable trait is their inability to die again, at least very easily. They are usually quite stupid, slow, and somewhat stronger than normal.


Vampires are typically considered the smartest of the undead. It might have something to do with the long amount of time that they live. They typically have very long lives, enhanced healing powers, and of course a thirst for blood. In addition, they are typically quicker and stronger than humans. Sometimes they have the ability to turn into bats.

It seems that the tradition of vampire bites leading to more vampires is a new one. There are two mechanisms that I'm aware of, both of them take several days to effect the transform. The first one involves an exchange of blood somehow, almost indicating that the person must want to be a vampire. The second involves a vampire not completely killing a person. There are also many non-biting methods, see the wikipedia article.


It is possible for a human/vampire hybrid to exist: called dhampir, by Balkan myth and legend. Another hybrid exists in 'I Am Legend', (the book and the movie). Whereas the book calls them animalistic vampires, the movie shows them as a vampire/zombie hybrid. The Underworld series shows a Werewolf/Vampire hybrid, only possible though in one who has the original bloodline, however. In older myth and legend it was stated, that if one was vile enough during their time as a werewolf they were reborn as vampires whence they died. A chimera of all three is possible, but its appearance depends on the order and level of infection.


Does a game like nethack count?

In nethack, the rules are simple, and there can't be a conflict about what you become.

If a werewolf or werejackal or wererat bites you, the bite is either ineffective (deals only damage) or infects you immediately so "feel feverish" and become a werewolf or werejackal or wererat respectively. As long as you have the weredisease, you can not be infected by a werecreature again, eg. being a werewolf protects you from a wererat bite infecting you. You also periodically change your shape between your animal form and your humanoid form. There is a cure from weredisease, and most people do seek one in the game. Once you're cured, you can be infected by any werecreature again.

If a vampire, mummy, ghoul, wraith, or green slime kills you, you are dead, and future players may meet you in a so-called bones level as a non-player vampire, mummy, ghoul, wraith, or green slime respectively [1][2], bearing your name. (If a vampire kills you, this applies only if you were human.) There is no way for these creatures to turn you to a mummy, ghoul, wraith or green slime while you are still alive or while you are a player (though their attacks can affect you in other ways). If you die and none of these monsters were your killer (including if a zombie kills you), you may appear in a bones level as a corpse and a ghost, both of them non-player and named from you, except for a few special types of deaths. Your ghost or other form of remains in the bones level doesn't get any of your character details you had while you were alive, except your name, so in particular it won't have weredisease.


The assumption that all three are bite-infecting monsters is a little stretched, I think - it depends on the lore you're looking at. As @Darius mentions, vampires often take multiple bites, and werewolves (lycanthropes in general) are often only contagious during certain parts of the month, etc. This also often depends on the power level of the lycanthrope - in some lore, the more powerful specimens (loup-garou, etc) can transform outside of the lunar cycle. Zombies are typically the most infectious of all three, with the fastest turnaround for de-humanizing (assuming human, as @Darius mentioned, and assuming infectious zombies, as @DKuntz2 mentioned).

Given that info, it comes down to how you want your vampire and lycanthropy to apply - does a single vampire bite turn a human that's already been bitten by/already is a zombie? Could/would a vampire bite a zombie to turn it? Would lycanthropy (a more "natural" infection merely in that the victim is not undead) affect the undead at all?

For simplicity's sake I'd say chances are good that the dude/lady ends up a zombie. For practicality's sake, that dude is probably just dead before anything takes - he got bit by three supernatural creatures!

  • 1
    Lycanthropes are only infectious during certain times of the month... So... lycanthropy is like herpes!
    – Asmor
    May 21, 2011 at 15:27

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