The Undead in Warhammer 40,000

Welcome back to our month of spooky content here at Master of Magics. For those that don’t know, this October we are starting Halloween early here on the site, with a whole bunch of articles covering a variety of creepy topics for our favourite games. If like us you love Halloween, make sure you subscribe to Master of Magics to not miss any of our content in the coming weeks. But for now, let’s get to today look into the deep dark corners of the 41st Millennium.

For anyone even vaguely familiar with the hobby, it will come as no surprise that the Warhammer 40,000 universe is a terrifying place to live. Not only is the galaxy in a state of constant war, but even if you don’t die on the battlefield you are still likely to end up meeting a gruesome demise. You could have your world eaten by the ravenous swarms of the Tyranids, or have your entire subsector plunged into the heart of the warp because a rogue psyker got a headache.

Yet, even in death your suffering my not be at an end. For in a world of infinite terror, the dead do not rest easy.

Even though the concept of the undead is more heavily associated with Games Workshops fantasy IP’s, there are a few notable examples of such being in the 41st Millennium. What is more, some of these have been (or still are) playable units we can see do battle on the tabletop. So today, we are going to look at some of the more noted examples of undeath in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Please note that for the purposes of this article, we are only going to look at examples that have (or did have) official, playable rules in the mainline 40k game. We will also not be including Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Servitors, since despite the popular belief, they never actually died before assuming their new role. With the ground rules set, let us begin.

Vorth Mordrak’s Ghost Knight

Starting things of with one of my favourite examples (I mean, I did paint an entire army based on their lore) we have the Ghostly Brethren of Grand Master Vorth Mordrak. The sole survivor of an orbital attack by Huron Blackheart and his Red Corsairs, this Grey Knight hero would find himself haunted by the spectral forms of his dead brothers. Seeking vengeance against the Tyrant of Badab for their untimely end, these ghostly warriors would accompany and protect Vorth as he battled the enemies of mankind.

Despite only getting rules in 5th Edition, the lore of this particular character has inspired many a Grey Knight players paint scheme (including my own) and it not hard to see why. Not only does the lore give off a really Return of the King vibe, with a host of undead spirits fighting on the side of good, but it also show that the defenders of humanity can’t even be stopped by death itself. Speaking of undead Space Marines…

The Legion of the Damned

Now this I admit is a contentious choice, depending on your interpretation of their lore. But for me, The Legion of the Damned have always been intertwined with the concept of undeath. Additionally, it’s my list so if I say they belong, they belong. Striding forth from its hidden netherworld in the Immaterium to bring retribution to the Imperium’s foes, this mysterious band of Space Marines appears unbidden when all hope seems lost. Appearing as gruesome spectres of death, they bring destruction to their enemies with unholy hellfire, before disappearing as suddenly as they arrived.

Believed to be the remnants of the lost loyalist Fire Hawks chapter, many seem to think that these ghostly warriors are the souls of long dead Marines, eager to seek vengeance on the enemies of mankind once more (at least that the explanation I like to believe). Sadly relegated to Legends in 8th edition, these warriors are still a fan favourite among many keen hobbyists, and can still be seen on table tops in home games to this day. Maybe these restless souls will once again see play with new rules in the near future?  We can only hope.


Death for any sentient creature is a terrifying concept in the 41st Millennium, but it is even more scary for the Aeldari. Cursed to have their souls consumed by Slaanesh upon their death, these ancient creatures seek to avoid such a fate by binding their souls within the Infinity Circuit when they die. Within the wraithbone skeleton of the craftworld itself, the souls of the dead are kept safe from “She Who Thirsts”, providing both a well of psychic power for the Craftworlds as well as a massive ancestral mind to advise and guide the living. However, this doesn’t mean the dead of the Aeldari are unable to aid their living kin in battle.

By transferring their soul to a Spirit Stone, they can be given new life as one of the many Wraithbone constructs of the Aeldari, and  thus take to the field of battle once more. With new bodies of Wraithbone, these long dead warriors are more than capable of dealing with most threats the Craftworld my encounter. However, they must be careful, for while their new bodies are strong, they are not invincible. And should their spirit stone be broken; their soul could be consumed by Slaanesh once more.


No list of the undead would be complete without everyone’s favourite horror trope, Zombies. During Warhammer 40,000 long history, there has been many interpretations of the resurrected corpse. But if I had to pick one, I would have to go with Nurgles own Poxwalkers. Victims of so-called Walking Pox (one of a numerous diseases created by Nurgle) will find their bodies shutting down and rotting until eventually they die. However, once the victim has died, they will reanimate as a shambling zombie like creature and seek out the flesh of the living to spread the infection.

What is most disturbing about this particular virus is that the victims remain cruelly conscious and aware of all that occurs with them, souls trapped in a rotting shell as they begin to hunt their former loved ones to expanded to infection. A truly hideous death that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. At least they have a smile on their face, so I guess that’s a mark in the plus column.


You all saw this coming. I mean, how could it not be. They are an army of space skeletons for crying out loud. Their bodies destroyed and replaced with metal, the Necrons are for many hobbyists the closest we have to a true Undead faction in Warhammer 40,000. Slumbering in long forgotten tomb worlds, they now seek to rid the universe of all other sentient life.

Carrying with them that undead Egyptian vibe in spades, and with a new model line in 9th edition, these gruesome xenos are pure nightmare fuel. Not only are they creepy and visually disturbing, but they are relentless in their pursuit of the living. No matter how much you damage them, they can always rise up to hunt you down with their eldritch weapons of war. Of all the restless dead in the 40k universe, these are the ones I wish would stay in their graves.

And that will about do it for today’s delve into the creepy side of Warhammer 40,000. We hope you have enjoyed this Halloween inspired article today. What spooky subject would you like us to talk about next? Let us know in the comments below or find me on twitter @MTGTengu and maybe we will talk about it next time.

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