December 2, 2023

Zombie Virus in Minifigure Populations

Pop culture has long sensationalized the zombie phenomenon through television, movies, and even video games. Prime examples include the LEGO® Minecraft theme, which includes 14 zombies to date, as well as LEGO® Star Wars with its undead Geonosian Warriors. However, zombies are not merely the fictional creations of the entertainment industry. While our goal is not to arouse fear, it is important to note that zombieism is present in the Minifigure population at large today. In fact, historical data reveals outbreaks as far back as the golden age of piracy in the early 1700s. Additionally, the data shows an increasing trend in zombie virus infections since 2010. In this paper, we examine case studies of zombies throughout Minifigure history, and attempt contact tracing where possible.

NOTE: to protect the privacy of any living family members of the zombies discussed in this article, we do not name any of the deceased. Instead, we refer to them in general terms such as “businessman” or “cheerleader”.

Zombie (noun)


The undead corporal revenant of a Minifigure created through the reanimation of a corpse.

Firstly, let us examine the concept of zombie. The earliest use of the term “zombie” in the English language dates to 1819. However, scholars believe the root of the word arises from Central African dialects in which it can refer to a ghost, a corpse with a trapped soul, or a body without a soul. The modern vision of a zombie arises from Haitian Vodou culture in which a body reanimates through the magic of a witch or shaman. While we do not discount this possibility, zombieism among Minifigures appears to result primarily from viral infection, particularly during social gatherings where people congregate in environments with limited means of escape.

The earliest record of Minifigure zombies dates to around 1717 and the golden age of piracy. We cannot ascertain the cause of this early outbreak based on historical documentation. Accounts from the time suggest sorcery as the cause, however modern science often explains past accounts of magic. But with no concrete evidence either way, this instance may or may not have resulted from the practice of Vodou. What we know is that documents unearthed in 2011 confirm the existence of at least three zombies. Of the three, one appears in four separate accounts, while another appears in three. We found only one reference to the final zombie.

Zombie Virus Victim: Pirate Gunner
Zombie Virus victim: pirate Yeoman
Zombie Virus victim: pirate quartermaster

The year of 1717 for this early outbreak remains approximate. From the records, we determined that all three zombies were present on the ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. This vessel was captured and captained by the infamous pirate Blackbeard in 1717. However, the ship reportedly ran aground in 1718 off the coast of North Carolina and was abandoned. While the close quarters of a maritime vessel provide ideal conditions for virus transmission, some historical records purport that crew members practiced Vodou onboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Following that event, zombieism disappears from Minifigure history for almost 300 years.

Battle Pack. ©2011 The LEGO® Group.

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle Pack

  • SET #: 853219
  • THEME: Pirates of the Caribbean
  • COST: $15.99 CAD
  • RELEASED: September 2, 2011
  • RETIRED: April 23, 2012
    • Gunner Zombie
    • Yeoman Zombie
The Captain’s Cabin. ©2011 The LEGO® Group.

The Captain’s Cabin

  • SET #: 4191
  • THEME: Pirates of the Caribbean
  • COST: $14.99 CAD
  • RELEASED: May 31, 2011
  • RETIRED: November 20, 2012
    • Gunner Zombie
    • Yeoman Zombie
Whitecap Bay. ©2011 The LEGO® Group.

Whitecap Bay

  • SET #: 4194
  • THEME: Pirates of the Caribbean
  • COST: $99.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 745
  • RELEASED: May 31, 2011
  • RETIRED: November 20, 2012
    • Gunner Zombie
Queen Anne’s Revenge. ©2011 The LEGO® Group.

Queen Anne’s Revenge

  • SET #: 4195
  • THEME: Pirates of the Caribbean
  • COST: $149.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 1097
  • RELEASED: May 31, 2011
  • RETIRED: October 4, 2012
    • Gunner Zombie
    • Yeoman Zombie
    • Quartermaster Zombie

Whether the modern zombie virus traces its origins to 1717 or not remains unknown. Not a single account of Minifigure zombies came up in our research between 1717 and modern day. Additionally, the historical zombie differs significantly in appearance from the modern zombie in that it generally exhibits more life-like skin tones. We offer three hypotheses for this. Firstly, we cannot discount the practise of Vodou. Secondly, the virus may have evolved over time, thus presenting different symptoms. Thirdly, the possibility exists that two strains of the zombie virus evolved convergently at different points in history. The lack of outbreaks over a period of nearly 300 years suggests the latter in our opinion. Whatever the case, more research is needed to determine the cause of these outbreaks.

The modern zombie first appears in Minifigure society in 2010. The reanimated corpse of a businessman was photographed among a group of Minifigures that year. As far as we can tell, this businessman was patient zero of the zombie plague. Whether he contracted the virus somewhere or it spontaneously mutated in him remains uncertain. He presents in images wearing a tattered grey suit and carrying a shovel and turkey leg. The group contained many colorful individuals, however two stand out as vectors of the virus. A young male skateboarder and a female cheerleader were likely infected during this gathering. However, we will return to them later.

Minifigures Series 1 includes three characters of interest: the zombie (rear right), the cheerleader (next to the zombie), and the skateboarder (front right). Note the proximity of the cheerleader and skateboarder to the zombie in this image. Picture ©2010 The LEGO® Group.
Zombie virus patient zero: the first businessman

The second known outbreak of the zombie virus in modern times occurred in 2012. Five confirmed cases exist, and evidence suggests they are all related to one superspreader (SSEV) event, a wedding. Oddly enough, the event appears to have taken place in a cemetery. Sadly, both the bride and groom succumbed to the virus, along with some of the hired help. While the wedding couple were documented only once at the same event, their driver was seen on three subsequent occasions.

Zombie virus victime: the bride
Zombie virus victim: the groom
Zombie virus victim: the chef
Zombie virus victim: the first driver

The fourth zombie associated with the SSEV was a chef. While there is no concrete evidence linking him with the wedding, it seems likely he was the caterer given the timing of events and zombie appearances. Photos place the chef in a ruined old house. Interestingly, rumors circulate that the house is haunted. Some researchers believe that zombies exhibit vestiges of behaviour from when they were alive. If this is true, the reputation of the house likely keeps people away, allowing the zombie a degree of privacy he might have enjoyed in life.

Zombie Sightings associated with the Cemetery Wedding SSEV

The Vampyre Hearse. ©2012 The LEGO® Group.

The Vampyre Hearse

  • SET #: 9464
  • THEME: Monster Fighters
  • COST: $44.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 314
  • RELEASED: May 21, 2012
  • RETIRED: March 4, 2015
    • Zombie Driver
The Zombies. ©2012 The LEGO® Group.

The Zombies

  • SET #: 9465
  • THEME: Monster Fighters
  • COST: $49.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 447
  • RELEASED: June 1, 2012
  • RETIRED: December 31, 2012
    • Zombie Driver
    • Zombie Groom
    • Zombie Bride
Haunted House. ©2012 The LEGO® Group.

Haunted House

  • SET #: 10228
  • THEME: Monster Fighters
  • COST: $199.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 2064
  • RELEASED: September 2, 2012
  • RETIRED: January 2, 2015
    • Zombie Chef
The Zombie Chauffeur Coffin Car. ©2012 The LEGO® Group.

Zombie Chauffeur Coffin Car

  • SET #: 30200
  • THEME: Monster Fighters
  • COST: $5.99 CAD
  • RELEASED: August 2012
  • RETIRED: ???
    • Zombie Driver
Zombie Car. ©2012 The LEGO® Group.

The Zombie Car

  • SET #: 40076
  • THEME: Monster Fighters
  • COST: Gift-with-Purchase ($5.99 CAD value)
  • RELEASED: September 2012
  • RETIRED: September 2012
    • Zombie Driver

Our research found a fifth documented zombie case in 2012 involving a businessman in a reddish-brown suit. This particular zombie may explain the outbreak of 2012. While this evidence is purely circumstantial, you may note similarities in the suit with patient zero. We ascertain that the individuals are not one and the same since zombies are not in the habit of changing their clothes and each suit is a different color. However, the cut and style of the suits worn by each is identical. This implies a similar timeline for infection since the suits retailed around the same time.

Additionally, businessman zombie #2 was documented lurking around a cemetery. Given this evidence, we suggest that zombie businessman #2 was likely infected around 2010 when patient zero first appeared. Businessman #2 evaded documentation for two years before reappearing and causing the second modern outbreak at the cemetery wedding SSEV.

Sighting of the Second Zombie Businessman

Halloween Accessory Pack. Photo by True North Bricks.

Halloween Accessory Pack

    • SET #: 850487
    • THEME: Seasonal
    • COST: $17.99 CAD
    • BRICK COUNT: 68
    • RELEASED: August 28, 2012
    • RETIRED: November 23, 2013
      • Zombie Businessman 2 (a.k.a. Zombie, reddish-brown)

While undocumented zombie cases may have occurred in the interim, the third wave of the virus really began in 2015. Again, a celebration appears causal. This time, it was a costume party. What alarmed many with this SSEV was the delayed onset of the zombie virus. Examining images of the costume party reveals the presence of the cheerleader from the first documented zombie sighting in 2010. Her symptoms did not exhibit immediately given that she has changed clothes and hairstyle since the original photo. Some argue that perhaps she is not the same cheerleader. This theory deserves attention; however, her proximity to the zombie in the 2010 photograph increases the likelihood this is the same cheerleader. Additionally, another member of the 2010 exposure event was also seen in 2015.

The young skateboarder from 2010 reappears in 2015, albeit dead. Similar to businessman #2, the skateboarder was likely infected in the first wave and remained largely undetected in the ensuing years. His unchanged clothing and dated Justin-Bieber-circa-2010 mop hairdo provide the underlying evidence. No one in their right mind would keep that haircut otherwise. Whether our Bieber-wannabe, his cheerleader friend, or both were responsible for the costume party infection is not clear. What we do know is the infection tracks back to patient zero in 2010. Additionally, it resulted in the infection of two other partygoers, one dressed as a pirate, and a third businessman. Furthermore, we begin to see a correlational link between businessmen and zombieism.

Zombie Sightings associated with the Third Wave of Zombie Virus

The zombie virus in Minifigures Series 14
Collectible Minifigures Series 14. ©2015 The LEGO® Group.
I Love That Minifigure. ©2015 DK Publishing.

I Love That Minifigure (Book)

  • PUBLISHER: Dorling Kindersley
  • COST: $21.99 CAD
  • RELEASED: October 6, 2015
  • ZOMBIES INCLUDED: Zombie Skateboarder
  • NOTE: At the time of publication, this book is no longer in print. However, you can still find it through secondary retailers and online marketplaces.

Another theory around the third wave presents itself through our zombie pirate partygoer. Some suggest his infection arose during the events of 1717 onboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge or thereabouts. Proponents of this theory suggest the pirate went undetected for 300 years and just happened upon the costume party in 2015. Perhaps he was let in when others thought he was a Minifigure in disguise. We refute this theory based on earlier evidence. The zombies from the golden age of piracy have a distinct appearance from their modern-day counterparts. While a 300-year-old zombie might discolor, they would also rot a lot more. We doubt if much would be left of the corpse after 300 years. The simplest solution is usually the correct one. In all likelihood, this pirate was simply a costumed partygoer infected with the modern variant of the virus.

Zombie Virus Victim: the pirate captain
Zombie virus victim: zee
Zombie virus victim: the LEGO Store Employee
Zombie virus victim: the second driver

Two additional zombies made headlines in 2015. However, the first instance later proved to be a hoax. While the costume was quite convincing, close examination by Mystery Incorporated revealed that the character actually wore a mask. Furthermore, the coloration of the zombie’s skin does not match any prior known specimens. The second case involved a LEGO® Store employee in Houston, Texas. Following that, only one reported zombie case occurred in 2016. This specimen was seen near the famed Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters. This slowing in cases seems to indicate the end of the third wave.

Additional Zombie Sightings from the Third Wave

Mystery Machine. ©2015 The LEGO® Group.

The Mystery Machine

    • SET #: 75902
    • THEME: Scooby-Doo
    • COST: $39.99 CAD
    • BRICK COUNT: 301
    • RELEASED: August 24, 2015
    • RETIRED: October 31, 2016
      • Zombie Zeke
Image sourced from Bricklink.

LEGO® Brand Retail Manager’s Conference Exclusive Zombie Minifigure

This was an exclusive Minifigure with two different head options. It was only given out to LEGO® Store managers who attended the 2015 Manager’s Conference in Houston, Texas. It is unclear how many of these exist, but they are probably more rare than even the San Diego Comic Con exclusives. I have seen them on eBay for upwards of $3000. Given their rarity, I do not own one. This image was sourced from Bricklink.

Firehouse Headquarters. ©2016 The LEGO® Group.

Firehouse Headquarters

  • SET #: 75827
  • THEME: Ghostbusters
  • COST: $399.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 4634
  • RELEASED: January 2, 2016
  • RETIRED: March 13, 2019
    • Zombie Driver

In 2017, Minifigures documented a curious case of zoonotic transmission of the zombie virus. Two undead sharks were observed near the wreck of a pirate ship, the Silent Mary. Interestingly, no terrestrial cases of transmission from Minifigures to other vertebrate species exist. Therefore, the proximity of the beasts to a sunken ship provides a noteworthy connection to the zombies from the golden age of piracy. It seems unlikely these deep-sea dwellers contracted the zombie virus from Minifigures involved in the modern land-based outbreaks.

Of course, we cannot rule out a modern zoonotic transmission without further evidence. However, given that we have only explored approximately 5% of the ocean, the undetected survival of these zombie sharks since the age of pirates remains plausible. At least, it is more plausible than the aforementioned pirate hypothesis leading to the third wave of zombie virus. We propose these undead fish consumed sailors from the wreck, thus contracting the virus. Of course, this also implies zombieism in the golden age of piracy was more widespread than simply the event on Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Zombie Animal Sightings

Silent Mary. ©2017 The LEGO® Group.

Silent Mary

    • SET #: 71042
    • THEME: Pirates of the Caribbean
    • COST: $249.99 CAD
    • BRICK COUNT: 2294
    • RELEASED: April 2, 2017
    • RETIRED: December 12, 2018
      • 2 x Zombie Shark

Two new cases of the zombie virus sprung up in 2021. Interestingly, these infections may represent an evolution of the virus. Both cases exhibit much more brightly colored skin tones than we saw in the first three waves of the virus. In this case, we documented a light-bluish zombie seemingly infected while cosplaying Captain America. Additionally, the second zombie appears vivid green. At this time, it is unclear how these individuals got infected and whether or not we are seeing the early stages of a fourth wave featuring a new variant.

In 2022, another light-blueish zombie appeared. Interestingly, this Minifigure was also engaged in Marvel Comics cosplay. The origin of this Dr. Strange zombie remains unclear. However, the second case of cosplay is curious. Two hypotheses come to mind. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, growing evidence exists that zombies exhibit vestiges of behavior from life. Perhaps the Captain America zombie from 2021 wandered to another comic convention. Alternatively, Dr. Strange and Captain America were infected at the same convention, and Strange went unnoticed for a year. Either way, the cases are clearly linked as both zombies exhibit the same skin discoloration symptoms not seen in other zombies. This also lends credence to the evolution of a new zombie virus variant.

The most recent zombie sightings

Marvel Collectible Minifigures Series 1 included the Captain America Zombie. Vidiyo Bandmates Series 2 included the Zombie Breakdancer. ©2021 The LEGO® Group.

Sanctum Sanctorum. ©2022 The LEGO® Group.

Sanctum Sanctorum

    • SET #: 76218
    • THEME: Marvel Superheroes
    • COST: $309.99 CAD
    • BRICK COUNT: 2708
    • RELEASED: August 31, 2022
    • RETIRED: Still available at publication.
      • Dead Strange

Through a review of historical documents, we can trace the modern zombie phenomenon back to 2010. However, accounts exist of zombies as far back at the 1700s. We propose that zombieism evolved convergently, twice in the history of the planet but lack evidence to present this as fact. Our research also suggests a correlational link between businessmen and zombies, presenting an opportunity for future research.

Also of interest, the zombie virus disproportionately infects male Minifigures. Of all the known cases of zombieism, only two relate to female Minifigures. Presently, the Bride and the Cheerleader are the only known cases of female infection. Therefore, while women can contract the zombie virus, men show higher susceptibility. Genetic, hormonal, and anatomical differences between biological sexes are known to contribute to differences in terms of disease. With that said, behaviour also impacts risk of infection. More research is needed to determine why the zombie virus seems to disproportionately infect male Minifigures.

We admit that concrete evidence on the cause of the Minifigure zombie virus is lacking. Our research is preliminary and aims to draw attention to the concerning rise in zombieism among Minifigures. We reiterate that this paper should not be used in fear mongering. Bricklink documents 15,646 unique and different Minifigures. Of those, we have 20 confirmed cases of the zombie virus, representing an infection rate of 0.1%. Comparatively, scientists estimate the infection rate of the common cold to be 0.8%. Nonetheless, we recommend caution, further research, and monitoring of the situation.

Apart from claims concerning Vodou, the Minifigure zombie virus appears to transmit through open wounds exposed to bodily fluid, such as a bite transmitting saliva. Avoid physical contact with infected Minifigures at all costs.

The virus is not airborne. Breathing the same air does not appear to cause infection (especially since zombies are technically dead and don’t breathe). Nonetheless, there is little concrete evidence concerning the virus at this time. We recommend well ventilated social gatherings as a precaution. Wear a mask for added protection.

Avoid crowded situations in which a zombie can easily gain entry, such as events taking place in cemeteries and costume parties.

Report suspicious Minifigures to the proper authorities.

If you suspect you have been infected, self-isolate in a locked building or room. Place a sign on the exterior of the locked door to alert others to your condition.

Above all, remain calm and build on.

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2 thoughts on “Zombie Virus in Minifigure Populations

  1. This was just as spooky as it was enjoyable! A magnificent and horrifying historical archive of the LEGO zombie phenomenon. Unfortunately, I suspect this is only the beginning of a slew of cases I expect we’ll see in the coming years. Minifigs beware!

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