It is sometimes said that there is a long-standing debate between zombie enthusiasts about whether or not Frankenstein is a zombie. Not really. There’s no debate that we’re aware of, at least not between two sane people who can form a logical train of thought.

Mary Shelley’s monster is not a zombie.

Though Dr. Frankenstein uses scientific means to create his creature in Shelley’s novel, he’s not a reanimated corpse. In fact, he’s not a corpse at all, but a collection of body parts stolen from different corpses and brought together to form a single new entity. Frankenstein is also not a reanimated corpse in the sense of being undead. He has a heartbeat and is fully alive in the classical sense of being a living creature.

He is brought to life rather than reanimated. Frankenstein is furthermore not relentlessly aggressive. He’s quite a sensitive and thoughtful guy. He even tries to learn how to read and desires, above all, to be loved. He’s driven to anger and destructiveness through his mistreatment by humans, who discriminate against him largely because of his appearance.

Finally, the process by which he was made to exist does not involve an infection. He doesn’t eat and/or bite people to spread his condition. In fact, he doesn’t have a “condition” at all, except for the tragedy of his loneliness. When you’re attacked or killed by Frankenstein you don’t turn into Frankenstein!

Later Hollywood versions of Frankenstein make him less sympathetic and more predatory, but his essential problem remains: he just doesn’t fit in with others.

Not a zombie. Not even close.


  1. Frankenstein’s monster is basically just a child who wants to be accepted. If you tell him that the zombies are trying to kill his friends he will turn all his rage loose and tear the zombies limb from limb! Since the monster is virtually impossible to destroy the zombies’ attacks won’t affect the monster at all.

  2. This argument makes splits a lot of hairs makes some assumptions on zombies that don’t stand up. And to my mind answers the question i never had “Is Frankenstein’s monster a zombie?” with a pretty solid “Yes he was”
    1. the monster is a corpse, completely a corpse, made entirely from corpses. (Might as well say a dress isn’t a dress because it’s patch work.)
    2. Undead – was dead, now not. That ticks the undead box for me.
    3. Zombies don’t have heart beats? Evidence for this in zombie lore please? Pretty sure the modern zombie is give a very fast heart beat.
    4. Aggression levels, think it’s fair to say although he may come down on the moderate side in zombie politics he has anger issues.
    5. Does a zombie need to be infectious? The modern take yes. In the past it has been evil entering the now dead body. But if the monster kills you you don’t arise as a zombie it’s true. And that’s because in the book Dr Frankenstein is the monster, man and his arrogance are the source of the evil and it is this taint that creates this early take on a zombie. Are zombies in voodoo lore infectious? I think not.

    Actually a zombie, past even close resemblance.

  3. Ok, but “Frankenstein” is also not Frankenstein. Frankenstein refers to the doctor; it’s his surname. The creature itself is not named. From Wikipedia:

    The name “Frankenstein” is often incorrectly used to refer to the monster itself. In the novel, the monster is identified via words such as “creature,” “monster”, “fiend”, “wretch”, “vile insect”, “daemon”, and “it”; The monster refers to himself speaking to Dr. Frankenstein as “the Adam of your labors”, and elsewhere as someone who “would have” been “your Adam”, but is instead your “fallen angel.”

    Part of Frankenstein’s rejection of his creation is the fact that he does not give it a name, which gives it a lack of identity. Instead it is referred to by words such as “monster”, “demon”, “devil”, “fiend”, “wretch” and “it”. When Frankenstein converses with the monster in Chapter 10, he addresses it as “vile insect”, “abhorred monster”, “fiend”, “wretched devil” and “abhorred devil”.

    During a telling of Frankenstein, Shelley referred to the creature as “Adam”…The creature has often been mistakenly called “Frankenstein”. In 1908 one author said “It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term “Frankenstein” is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster…”

    • Yes, you are correct. That is why in the article we say, “Though Dr. Frankenstein uses scientific means to create his creature…”

      But you’d have to agree that the term “Frankenstein” is commonly used when referring to Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. And we thought that the title “The Creature Commonly Referred to as Frankenstein is Not a Zombie” wasn’t super catchy.

    • But the monster identified himself as son to the doctor… And in our society, sons take the name of their father. If he has a name, it is Frankenstein.

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