D&D 5E Can I use animate dead to reanimate a zombie that has been killed?

There's nothing that says it stops being a humanoid corpse. So it depends if your DM thinks an object can count as more than one thing at a time.

I personally rule on a case by case basis, but generally find letting a necromancer repeatedly raise the same corpse to be good for roleplay. The player gets attached, names them, and feels sad when things happen to their favorite skeletons.

For example, I had one player that animated the body of his dead brother. It was a fairly straightforward revenge story, but he went out of his way to care for the skeleton, and would make special effort to sneak it into places or put himself in danger to recover the remains whenever it fell in combat.

Animate Dead​

PHB pg 212
3rd-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust)
Duration: Instantaneous
This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a pile of bones or a corpse of a Medium or Small humanoid within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse (the DM has the creature's game statistics).
On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you've given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.
At Higher Levels.
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead creatures for each slot level above 3rd. Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones.
 

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niklinna

satisfied?
For example, I had one player that animated the body of his dead brother. It was a fairly straightforward revenge story, but he went out of his way to care for the skeleton, and would make special effort to sneak it into places or put himself in danger to recover the remains whenever it fell in combat.
Reminds me a bit of Wanda Firebaugh's origin story. Man, I miss Erfworld....
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Yes it would work fine. Animate dead does not say the corpse needs to be intact. In fact it says a pile of bones is sufficient. It doesn't even say it needs all the bones of a single corpse..
So would you allow a headless torso to be raised as a zombie? A single severed hand can become a crawling claw (undead construct) but would it be sufficient for Animate Dead?
 

ECMO3

Hero
So would you allow a headless torso to be raised as a zombie? A single severed hand can become a crawling claw (undead construct) but would it be sufficient for Animate Dead?
Well I think a severed hand or head would stitch itself back on when you cast the spell, just like it would have when you cast it on the corpse originally.
 

So would you allow a headless torso to be raised as a zombie? A single severed hand can become a crawling claw (undead construct) but would it be sufficient for Animate Dead?
Absolutely, the headless zombie. Sounds pretty cool and menacing to me. A single hand would animate as a crawling claw.

And why not allow a one legged corpse to animate? Sure, maybe it's movement is greatly hampered, or it has to be prone. Again, sounds cool, and terrifying to me.

Just because the MM only has a couple of zombies as an example, we shouldn't limit our imaginations just to those variants of creatures that have been stat'd for us. Why not a skeleton with mismatched arms, one from a human, one from an elf, a head from an ogre, legs from a horse... If the stat's matter, then mix them up. But don't let your descriptions be hindred!
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Well I think a severed hand or head would stitch itself back on when you cast the spell, just like it would have when you cast it on the corpse originally.
Really? The Animate Undead spell says nothing about healing or heads and body parts stitching themselves back together and while I’d be ok with a weirdly articulated pile of animated bone, actually allowing corpses to repair themselves I think is beyond the spell RAW.

And if any pile of body parts can make a zombie, whats the point of Flesh golems etc?
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
Really? The Animate Undead spell says nothing about healing or heads and body parts stitching themselves back together and while I’d be ok with a weirdly artuculated pile of animated bone, actually allowing corpses to repair themselves I think is beyond the spell RAW.

And if any pile of body parts can make a zombie, whats the point of Flesh golems etc?

I think the intent is that it be a basically intact corpse, but the wording is absent of that criteria, so I don't know if anyone can claim RAW either way.

RAW is simply "humanoid corpse" becomes "Zombie" (the stat-block) and "pile of bones" becomes "Skeleton" (also the monster stat-block).

Technically, by RAW, any humanoid corpse will do, no matter how mangled. Obviously it's up to the DM to decide if that means it repairs the corpse (or if they like, to make a modified stat-block to reflect the corpses injuries) OR to decide that it doesn't work on an "incomplete" corpse. But all of that is not really RAW, it's just standard DM fiat.

RAW is just - is it a humanoid corpse? If yes, then it's a Zombie.

If we're gonna get all rules-lawyer-y, then the OP's question becomes: 1) Does a Zombie go back to being a "humanoid" corpse after it dies, like it was before it became a zombie, or does it remain an "undead" corpse? OR 2) Either way, when you "kill" a zombie, do you effectively 'destroy' its corpse?

There is no right answer to either of those. It's up to the DM again.
 




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