What Happens To A Person’s Tattoos Once Zombified?

The Painted Zombie

When battling the brain-eating living dead hordes that come with the apocalypse, sooner or later you are going to be fighting someone who used to be cool.¬†Body temperature is not what I’m referring to here. This kind of cool means quality, well-designed flesh ink… in other words, tattoos.

Zombie Tattoos

Tats are Nice, Brains are Better

Unfortunately, a high coolness quotient is no guarantee that the living dead give a free pass for hipsters as they search for someone with less taste in colored body art. Zombies are intent on one thing and one thing only: they want to eat.

So, Do Zombies Keep Their Tattoos?

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, a zombie keeps the tattoos it had when it was a living human. The long answer requires a more detailed look into what makes a zombie.

The Less-Short Answer

The medium answer must look at zombie behavior. Zombies attack living humans to feed. During this attack they will rip apart the skin and sometimes eat it. As tattoos are embedded in the epidermal layers, if a zombie rips the skin off, the tattoo is going to come off too.

If the zombie leaves tattooed skin intact and the object of the attack gets away only to become a zombie later, then, yes, the new zombie will have tattoos. Zombie skin is a pallid, sallow color. Disfiguring marks and scars remain, as does the occasional tramp stamp.

But there’s a catch.

Zombie skin dehydrates and breaks down rapidly, so tattoos will deteriorate faster than they would on a living human.

The Least Short Answer

Becoming a zombie has nothing to do with skin, except as part of a meal. Zombies are created in several ways:

  • Voodoo priest or priestess conducts a ritual – nothing in the voodoo rituals affects the skin of the zombie-to-be, so tats remains.
  • Exposures to contaminated body fluids – This does not have to be through eating. The zombie body fluids can have bacteria or chemical agents which turn a person into one of the living dead.
  • Classic mysterious substance from outer space – it could be chemical, biological or something science doesn’t fully understand…but it always seems to make zombies. This is why it’s important we keep a close eye on Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin… forever.

Every way that a person is turned into a zombie works on the nervous system. We know this because stopping a zombie means the central nervous system has to be excised entirely. This indicates the body’s brain and nerves are affected in the zombie creation process. Still, skin is left untouched.

Ask a Zombie Expert

If you need help identifying whether a zombie has temporary tattoos (or henna) instead of traditional ink, don’t hesitate to ask an expert–engaging zombies can be dangerous without a dirt bike, shotgun, and health spray. Finally, always be mindful of your surroundings when working on puzzles in mysterious mansions, especially if there’s a secret zombie factory in the basement.

With decades of experience exterminating undead creatures, Peter Wendt currently lives in Texas where the dry earth gets packed just a little too hard for zombies to unearth themselves. Although he’s interested in tattoos, a few of his friends have ended up with some everlasting jobstoppers that they wanted removed because jobs are good…and no one wants to be remembered as that zombie with the crumby portrait tattoo. If you have an embarrassing tattoo you don’t want the other zombies to see, Peter recommends the MEDermis laser tattoo removal clinic in the Woodlands, TX.