Can I resurrect a corpse that has been animated?

One of my teammates has died in battle. As a noble necromancer, I do not want to carry his corpse to the temple on my shoulders, instead I plan to animate his corpse, so he can walk on its own.

Then, in temple, I can destroy the created zombie and pay for his resurrection. Would he get resurrected properly?

Yes, you can resurrect him.

The resurrection spell says (emphasis mine):

You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead. If the soul is free and willing the target returns to life with all its Hit Points.

Under normal circumstance I would argue that a destroyed/killed undead would no longer count as undead but Jeremy Crawford has posted a call on the similar revivify spell:

If you cast revivify on a zombie, the creature returns as a zombie. The spell doesn't change creature type.
- Jeremy Crawford

This call would let me extrapolate that it would not be possible. Except that this specific case is actually covered by the MM:

Once turned into a zombie, a creature can't be restored to life except by powerful magic, such as a resurrection spell. - MM pg. 315

This would mean the specific case of a resurrection spell (or if you want to be absolutely sure a true resurrection spell) it is able to turn a destroyed zombie back into the person it was before originally killed.

Though you might want to destroy the zombie outside of the temple and carry him the last part as I am guessing that most temples are not happy with zombies walking in.

Beyond RAW

This case relies on a lot of specific rules and exceptions if tis would come up at my home game I would allow resurrection of mindless destroyed undead like skeletons and zombies. I would not allow revivify even if the spell was cast before a minute has past since the original death.

• What do you make of the JC quote in daze413's answer? – NathanS Nov 19 '18 at 11:33
• +1 for that 'wtf!' moment when a priest sees a zombie walking in – SeriousBri Nov 19 '18 at 12:02
• Also, true resurrection specifically mentions that it works on undead, if you're willing to pay the extra 24,000 gold, you don't even need to kill the zombie. As a side bonus, true resurrection also removes all curses, diseases and poisons, even if they're magical in nature (it also doesn't impose resurrection sickness that regular resurrection does). – Matt Rick Nov 19 '18 at 16:12
• So if your party member dies, and you need to travel a long distance to the temple, you can animate them so they can walk... – Toon Krijthe Nov 20 '18 at 7:04
• I think the compelling reason why revivify won't work is that it requires being cast within one minute of death, and create undead has a casting time of 1 minute. So... bad luck. – Damon Nov 27 '18 at 16:01

No, you can't Resurrect your friend

Strictly by RAW, Animate Dead creates an undead creature, the thing is no longer "your friend's corpse", it is now a zombie with the zombie game statistics:

Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature.

With the above, your teammate has become a zombie, and when destroyed, becomes a dead zombie and not a dead PC.

One of the prerequisites for Resurrection is that the corpse cannot be undead:

Resurrection

You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead.

This is further supported by Jeremy Crawford's tweet:

If you cast revivify on a zombie, the creature returns as a zombie. The spell doesn't change creature type.
- Jeremy Crawford

You also cannot use Raise Dead on him as Raise Dead also states:

The spell can't return an undead creature to life.

However, True Resurrection does not appear to have the same limitations as the previously mentioned spells, so you probably can get someone to cast True Resurrection, if you're able to pay.

• I believe OP's real issue is whether or not a killed undead still counts as undead, or if he's just dead and can therefore be revived. You seem to assume the former - but can you support this view with citations etc.? – PixelMaster Nov 19 '18 at 9:34
• @PixelMaster I think the Jeremy Crawford tweet is the citation you need - he can't be talking about casting revivify on an animated zombie, as he says "the creature returns as a zombie." Instead he seems to be suggesting that after destroying the zombie, the remains are now the remains of a zombie, not the remains of the dead PC, so resurrection would get you the zombie back. – liamvharris Nov 19 '18 at 11:20
• This is one of the worst 'RAW will screw you over' answers that I have ever seen. Not that it is wrong, but that any GM ruling this way would have me looking for another group. – SeriousBri Nov 19 '18 at 12:00
• Here is the fun part, and where I think it gets muddy, a corpse is an object and objects don't have creature types. – Slagmoth Nov 19 '18 at 14:56
• You know, this reading does make it really obvious why necromancy is evil. – Yakk Nov 19 '18 at 20:33

Yes, the character can be resurrected.

Source, MM pg. 315 under Zombies, sub-section Dark Servants:

Once turned into a zombie, a creature can't be restored to life except by powerful magic, such as a resurrection spell.

This is not specific to the spell Resurrection but rather resurrection magic in general. So killing the zombie and bringing the character back to life should be manageable within the rules of most spells so long as they qualify within the bounds of their own restrictions.

However, be careful on timing since the limits on resurrection magic start when the character dies. Animate Dead is not the same as Gentle Repose and does not extend the duration for which you are able to resurrect a dead character/npc. So for instance, Revivify only works if used within a minute of death. Raise Dead within the last 10 days.

• It's not referring specifically to the resurrection spell; if it were, the name would be in italics. It is referring more generally to resurrection magic in general, without calling out a specific spell. – V2Blast Nov 19 '18 at 12:14
• 5e always italicizes actual references to spell names; it's not italicized here, so it's not referring to a specific spell. – V2Blast Nov 19 '18 at 12:30
• I think V2Blast is right on this, also because of the snippet in your last comment; it says "such as a resurrection spell", not "such as the resurrection spell". That said, the quote in your answer does also say "powerful magic", so your overall point still stands, just not on the fact that they said the word "resurrection" to mean literally "the spell". – NathanS Nov 19 '18 at 12:43
• I mean, the other indicator that it's not referring to the specific spell of that name is calling it "a" resurrection spell rather than "the"... But that's more ambiguous. Anyway, I'll leave it at that. At the very least, the answer should probably note that at best it might refer to the specific spell (which assumes that there is an error in the formatting), not that it does refer specifically to that spell. – V2Blast Nov 19 '18 at 13:48
• @V2Blast - I've reviewed other instances in the Monster Manual and have confirmed that when they refer to spells by name, they are italicized. Adjusted answer accordingly. – Lino Frank Ciaralli Nov 19 '18 at 18:08

The Curse of Strahd adventure suggests this will work

I'm a bit late to answer this question, but I have recently spotted this in Curse of Strahd (pg. 47):

The shape is Doru, a vampire spawn [...] If the characters restrain Doru and either promise him blood or threaten to destroy him, or if they kill him and then raise him from the dead, he recounts the events that led to his downfall [...]

So, if a vampire spawn, which is an undead creature, can be killed and then raised from the dead, this implies that resurrection spells (and fairly weak ones at that, since this is from near the beginning of the adventure, so no way is this referring to spells like resurrection or true resurrection) can restore a creature to life even if they have been undead since then.

A less complicated, less risky way to solve the problem: TFD

As a noble necromancer, I do not want to carry his corpse to the temple on my shoulders

Animate dead is a third level spell. By expending zero spell slots, the noble necromancer can cast Tenser's Floating Disk as a ritual, and carry the slain ally to the temple on the disk.
Essential details from the spell description

• 1st level, conjuration (ritual)
• Casting Time: 1 action { +10 minutes for ritual}
• Duration: 1 hour
• A circular, horizontal plane of force, 3 feet in diameter and 1 inch thick
• can hold up to 500 pounds.
• If you move more than 20 feet away from it, the disk follows you so that it remains within 20 feet of you.

The necromancer may need to stop each hour to cast the ritual again, and then keep walking, but a noble necromancer won't overly strain himself. A leisurely pace: that's the noble way. ;)

The necromancer keeps that third level slot in hand, in case anyone tries to interrupt the journey.

Rituals
Certain spells have a special tag: ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. The ritual version of a spell takes 10 minutes longer to cast than normal. It also doesn’t expend a spell slot, which means the ritual version of a spell can’t be cast at a higher level. (Basic Rules, p. 82)