Zombies come in a variety of forms, raised from the dead by a Greek spell, by the demonic power of Samhain, and even raised by Death himself. Another group of beings that behave in a zombie-like manner are humans infected by the demonically engineered Croatoan Virus, and those affected by the Leviathan food-additive.
When first raised, their memories and personalities may be intact, and they can behave like normal, rational beings for several days before becoming violent and cannibalistic. Methods of dispatch generally involve beheading, staking, or fire. Depending on the zombie, Sam and Dean appear to have varying success with each method. When Sam and Dean first encounter a zombie, a woman named Angela Mason, they seem overwhelmed by the amount of lore on the walking dead and how to kill them:
They shoot Angela in the chest and head with silver bullets, which seems to slow her down but has no lasting effect other than making her angry. Other lore Sam finds suggests "nailing the undead back into their gravebeds," so they lure her back to her grave, and Dean stakes Angela in her coffin, finally dispatching her.
The next time they encounter zombies is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Sam says that they can be killed with a headshot. Like ghouls, it seems that obliterating their heads can kill them. It is unusual as when Sam shot Angela in the head she recovered fairly quickly, though it may be due to the difference on how each zombie was raised.
During a failed attempt to resurrect their mother, Jamie and Jennie Plum brought her back as a zombie. Due to the nature of the resurrection spell they used, their mother came back completely magic-proof. However, she was still vulnerable to other zombie weaknesses and being shot in the head killed her.
While working with the Nephilim Jack Kline, Dean encounters a zombie named Vance that was raised by a necromancer named Harper Sayles. Dean tells Jack that Vance can't be killed with a head-shot and like Angela, must be staked into her coffin to be killed. However, Dean and Jack manage to restrain Vance with silver handcuffs so they can kill him later.
People infected with the Croatoan virus, called "croats" by Future Dean Winchester, could be classed as zombies as they lose their sense of reason and become unthinking murderous creatures. They are part of the demonic plan for the Apocalypse.
Widespread distribution of the virus is planned using a new vaccine being produced by Niveus Pharmaceuticals, one contaminated with the Croataon virus. The vaccine is being rushed to stem an outbreak of flu caused by Pestilence. This potential disaster is prevented when Bobby Singer, Sam and Castiel blow up the distribution warehouse, although only after battling some zombies. Those infected with the Croatoan virus can also be killed by conventional firearms.
Leviathan Food Additive
The next type of Zombie the brothers encountered, was created by accident as a side affect of the Leviathan plot to control and fatten up the population, 0.03% ended up increasing their metabolism. This allowed them to become super strong and agile but also made them cannibalistic and monstrous.
Through a series of horrible magical experiments on the native population, the Thules learned how to bring back the dead in 1942, however this version was more akin to resurrection, as rather than decaying, their reanimated members were still themselves, personality wise. However at the same time, it also caused them to cease aging, and the only way to kill them was shoot them in the head, and then burn the body.
Powers and Abilities
Being the walking dead, zombies are incredibly powerful in their strength and agility, and are highly regenerative.
- Super Strength - Are inhumanly strong, are able to easily overpower humans, despite this they're quite weak in comparison to most monsters.
- Super Senses - They have enhanced hearing and possibly sight. This includes having an enhanced sense of smell.
- Invulnerability - Although they can be harmed, they are very difficult to re-kill.
- Death to Vegetation - Zombies are a supernatural corruption of the The Natural Order, their presence can cause plants in their vicinity to wither and die.
- Super Strength - Like their real counterparts, they are stronger than humans.
- Super Strength - They are just as strong as their counterparts.
- Super Stamina - While they get incredibly hungry, they do not tire easily.
- Head shot - The horseman Death raises the townsfolk, back from their graves and turned into Zombies. Sam, Dean, and Bobby kill them by shooting them in the head but they were a different type of zombie.
- Decapitation - Zombies can be killed by decapitation as demonstrated in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid when a few were killed through decapitation by shotgun blast.
- Silver - Zombies can be killed by driving a silver stake to the heart or by staking them in their graves. The zombies requiring this kind of dispatching is different from the ones that can be killed through headshots, appearing to mainly be raised through necromancy. Silver bullets can wound a real zombie, but not kill it. On another occasion, silver handcuffs were able to restrain a zombie so he could be taken to his grave and staked to his coffin.
- Magic - Witch Rowena MacLeod stated that she dealt with several zombies through magic.
Both other types of zombie are vulnerable to bullets.
- Season 2
- Season 4
- Season 5
- Season 7
- Season 8
- Season 11
- Season 12
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Optimism (Vance)
- Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting (non-canon, mentioned only)
Zombie is a term used to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. Of voodoo origin, the word initially referred to a curse cast by sorcerers (or bokors) allowing them to take control of a person's mind, therefore affecting his or her actions. However, due to significant influence of Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo on witchcraft mythology, this meaning soon morphed into that of a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore.
In popular culture, zombies take a number of forms. There are those raised from the dead by a spell or ritual or reanimated by some supernatural event (such as the movies of George Romero), or people turned into mindless violent cannibals by a virus (such as in the movie 28 Days Later or the Resident Evil franchise). Some are mindless, shuffling monsters, others cunning and quick. Methods of dispatch generally involve beheading, staking or fire.
- There is plenty of lore out there about zombies, the most common one regards staking a zombie in its grave site.
- In Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, they don't exhibit regular symptoms at first, but eventually get rabid. In this case, shooting them in the head works.
- Interestingly in the first appearance, they act more like the walking dead (Revenants) in European folklore, taking revenge on those who crossed them, easily turning on others etc. However, in all their later appearances they act more like Zombies in common popular culture, decaying corpses who eat the living.