The mummy genre has its origins in the nineteenth century when Egypt was being colonized by Victorian Britain. The first living mummies in fiction were mostly female, and they were presented in a romantic and sexual light, often as love interests for the protagonist; this metaphorically represented the sexualized Orientalism and the colonial romanticization of the East. Notable examples of this trend include The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker, Smith and the Pharaohs by H. Rider Haggard, My New Year's Eve Among the Mummies by Grant Allen, The Unseen Man's Story by Julian Hawthorne, and Iras: A Mystery by H. D. Everett; the latter actually has the protagonist marry a mummy which takes on the form of a beautiful woman.
Starting from the 1930s, the "romantic mummy" was supplanted by the "monster mummy", pioneered by Boris Karloff in the 1932 movie The Mummy; mummies thus joined the pantheon of nineteenth century gothic monsters, alongside Dracula and Frankenstein.
However, the end of the twentieth century saw the revival of interest in the "romantic mummy" archetype, starting with the 1989 novel The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice, which involved a sexual relationship between a benevolent male mummy and a female archeologist. The trend intensified throughout the late 1990s, the 2000s, and the 2010s: modern works of fiction featuring romanticized living mummies include the 1997 horror fiction novella Don't Tell Mummy by Tom B. Stone,, the 2006 fantasy novel Freaks: Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause, and the 2011 video game The Next Big Thing by Pendulo Studios.
- One of the earliest examples of undead mummies is The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, an 1827 novel written by Jane C. Loudon. This early science-fiction work concerns an Egyptian mummy named Cheops, who is brought back in to life in the 22nd century.
- The Mummy's Foot (1840) by Théophile Gautier concerns a ghostly Egyptian princess who, hoping to recover her lost foot, takes the protagonist on a journey through time to her homeland.
- Some Words with a Mummy (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe is another early example of a story about a resurrected mummy, though played for satire instead of horror.
- Lost in a Pyramid; or, The Mummy's Curse (1869) by Louisa May Alcott is an early example of the "mummy's curse" genre.
- Lot No. 249 (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle has been called "...the first to depict a reanimated mummy as a sinister, dangerous creature." Doyle's 1890 short story The Ring of Thoth also features a mummy, though of a more benevolent nature.
- The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903) by Bram Stoker is an early tale of possession by a mummy.
- Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (1924) attributed to illusionist Harry Houdini but ghostwritten by H. P. Lovecraft, tells the first-person story of Houdini's encounter with a mummified cult in a hidden temple beneath the Great Sphinx of Giza.
- Several short stories by Seabury Quinn featured resurrected mummies, including The Grinning Mummy (1926), The Bleeding Mummy (1932), The Dead-Alive Mummy (1935), and The Man in Crescent Terrace (1946).
- Monkeys (1930, anthologized in More Spook Stories the following year) by E. F. Benson tells the tale of a doctor whose visions of monkeys dovetails into legends of mummies in ancient Egypt.
- Out of the Aeons (1935) by H. P. Lovecraft and Hazel Heald links a mysterious mummy (albeit one not of Egyptian origin) to his Cthulhu Mythos.
- Eyes of the Mummy (1938) by Robert Bloch reverses the typical "possession" narrative established in The Jewel of Seven Stars by having the protagonist's consciousness transferred into a mummy's body. It was included in the author's 1945 collection of stories The Opener of the Way.
- The Vengeance of Ali (1939) by August Derleth and Mark Schorer, eventually anthologized in Colonel Markesan and Less Pleasant People (1966), features a vengeance-minded mummy.
- EC Comics' series Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, and The Vault of Horror featured mummies in their stories. Tales from the Crypt #33 revealed that the Crypt-Keeper's parents are a 4,000-year-old female Egyptian mummy and a two-headed corpse.
- Marvel Comics has its own mummies including N'Kantu, the Living Mummy.
- The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned (1989) by Anne Rice tells the story of an immortal mummy revived by Edwardian era archaeologists. It was followed in 2017 by a sequel.
- The mummies are featured in The Kane Chronicles.
- The Goosebumps franchise featured mummies in its different stories.
- The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb featured an assortment of mummies.
- Return of the Mummy featured the Mummy of Prince Kho-ru who was the fictional cousin of King Tut.
- Diary of a Mad Mummy featured the Mummy of King Buthramaman.
- The Mummy Walks featured the Mummy of Emperor Pukrah of Jekeziah.
- The Tales to Give You Goosebumps story "Don't Wake Mummy" featured a mummy. The television adaption of this episode also featured the mummy's cat.
- Who's Your Mummy featured an assortment of mummies.
- The Mummy Chronicles is a continuation of the Stephen Sommers' Mummy films.
- Robot mummies were featured in a Doctor Who story Pyramids of Mars while the Hammer Horror film series had also included what had become a stock genre character.
- The TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Groovie Goolies feature a Mummy (voiced by Howard Morris impersonating Ed Wynn) as a member of the Groovie Goolies.
- The TV series Drak Pack features a super-strong mummy named Mummyman (voiced by Chuck McCann) who is a member of the evil organization OGRE.
- The TV series Gravedale High features mummy characters like Cleofatra (voiced by Ricki Lake) and Mr. Tutner (voiced by Tim Curry).
- In Big Bad Beetleborgs, the character Mums is a mummy that resides at Hillhurst.
- The anime franchise for Digimon features Mummymon.
- The main protagonist of a cartoon series Tutenstein is a reawakened mummy.
- In the Ben 10 franchise, there is a race of alien mummies called Thep Khufans. Ben Tennyson's alien form Snare-oh (originally called Benmummy) is a Thep Khufan.
- Some Mummy Monsters appeared in Super Sentai:
- In Seiju Sentai Gingaman, the monster Morgumorgu is a mummy-themed monster. In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, the monster was adapted as Crumummy.
- In Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoFive, the monster Zombeast is a mummy-themed Psyma Beast. In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, the monster was used for one of the unidentified defeated demons in the Shadow World.
- In Mahou Sentai Magiranger, the villain Sorcery Priest Meemy is a mummy. In Power Rangers Mystic Force, he is adapted as Imperious.
- In Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the monster Zeibu of the Mummy is a mummy-like creature with centipede-like features. In Power Rangers Megaforce, he is adapted as Mummy who is one of the illusions of the monster Distractor.
- In Ugly Americans, there are mummies living in Manhattan. One Mummy is revealed to be the mother of Francis Grimes as seen in "Mummy Dearest."
- The Jim Henson Company's "Henson Alternative" banner had different mummy characters:
- In Late Night Liars, the character William A. Mummy (performed by Brian Clark) is one of the main characters. He is a flamboyant mummy who Shelley Oceans' ex-wife and a parody of Paul Lynde.
- In No, You Shut Up!, Andy Al-Jizah (performed by Brian Clark) is a mummy who is the President of the AAMRP (short for American Association of Mummified and/or Retired People).
- In Jake and the Neverland Pirates, some people believe that the crook and flail has the power to bring the mummies to life.
- The anime series Monster Musume features Mummies where they are depicted as a subspecies of the Zombies. As the desert environments have made their skin dry, the Mummies must take long baths to replenish their fluids and even do this by sucking the life force out of humans to supplement their beauty as a placebo.
- The TV series OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes features the character Ms. Mummy (voiced by Ashly Burch) who is a regular of the Lake Plaza Turbo where she lives behind "Gar's Hero Supply & Bodega."
- In 1966, Mummy Man, a revived ancient creature that attacked a research facility. His demise led to the summoning of Dodongo in episode 12 of Ultraman.
During the 20th century, horror films and other mass media popularized the notion of a curse associated with mummies (see Curse of the pharaohs). The 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter brought mummies into the mainstream.
- One of the earliest appearances was The Jewel of Seven Stars, a horror novel by Bram Stoker first published in 1903 that concerned an archaeologist's plot to revive an ancient Egyptian mummy. This book later served as the basis for the 1971 film Blood from the Mummy's Tomb.
- Films representing such a belief include the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep; four subsequent 1940s' Universal Studios mummy films which featured a mummy named Kharis, and a 1959 Hammer remake of The Mummy's Hand and The Mummy's Tomb which also featured Kharis. The belief in cursed mummies probably stems in part from the supposed curse on the tomb of Tutankhamun.
- In 1979, the American Broadcasting Company aired a TV holiday show, The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, in which a mummy from Egypt (Robert Fitch) arrived at Count Dracula's castle without speaking.
- Slapstick comedy trio The Three Stooges humorously exploited the discovery in the short film We Want Our Mummy, in which they explored the tomb of the midget King Rutentuten (and his Queen, Hotsy Totsy). A decade later, they played crooked used chariot salesmen in Mummy's Dummies, in which they ultimately assisted a different King Rootentootin (Vernon Dent) with a toothache.
- Comedy duo Abbott and Costello, as part of their series crossing over with the Universal Monsters, encountered a Mummy in 1955's Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.
- A Mummy was featured in the film Mad Monster Party?. He does not talk and is among the monsters invited by Baron Boris von Frankenstein's castle on the Isle of Evil. The Mummy's sarcophagus was carried to Baron Frankenstein's castle by the Hunchback. In one scene, the Mummy dances with Monster's Mate to "Do the Mummy" by Little Tibia and Fibias.
- A Mummy was featured in Mad Mad Mad Monsters voiced by Allen Swift. He is among the monsters invited by Baron Henry von Frankenstein to attend the wedding of Frankenstein's Monster and his mate at the Transylvania Astoria Hotel on Friday the 13th.
- The Disney Channel film Under Wraps featured a mummy that was named Harold (performed by Bill Fagerbakke).
- The Halloweentown franchise featured different mummies.
- A new Hollywood series of films featuring an immortal undead High Priest began with The Mummy in 1999. The film was a box-office success and was followed by two sequels, The Mummy Returns in 2001 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008. The first two movies featured the mummy of Imhotep (portrayed by Arnold Vosloo) and the third movie featured the mummy of Emperor Han (portrayed by Jet Li).
- The Night at the Museum franchise centers around the tablet of Ahkmenrah (portrayed by Rami Malek), intended to keep his family together forever, by granting life to his mummy. Later, his parents are also seen in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with the tablet providing similar effects. Unlike in most portrayals of mummies, the magic is so thorough that the mummies are restored to full lifelike appearance as opposed to simple reanimation.
- The Hotel Transylvania franchise features Murray the Mummy (voiced by CeeLo Green in the first movie, Keegan-Michael Key in the second movie) as one of the main characters. In addition, there was also a female mummy that made background cameos.
- The 2017 film The Mummy features the mummy of Ahmanet (portrayed by Sofia Boutella).
- In the PlayStation and PC versions of Breakout, a Mummy is the boss of the Egyptian Lair as Bouncer must rescue one of his friends from the Mummy.
- The Kirby series features the recurring mummy-based enemy Mumbies. It appears to be a floating ball of bandages who follows the player character when he or she looks the opposite direction. The series later has another mummy enemy named Mummbon in Kirby Mass Attack.
- The eroge video game Big Bang Age features the mummy Shiraville VIII.
- The RPG game Eiyuu X Maou features the mummy Faora.
- In the Age of Mythology video games, the Mummies are part of the Egyptian faction's Myth Units and are associated with Osiris.
- The Warcraft franchise have mummies that are part of the Scourge. These mummies are mummified versions of creatures from other races that are reanimated through necromancy. The trolls and the nerubians are known to mummify their dead.
- The eroge video game Monster Girl Quest features the Mummy Girl who works for the Sphinx.
- The video game Moe Chronicle features an unnamed female mummy.
- In the game MediEvil, Mummies are enemies that Sir Dan must kill. In its sequel MediEvil 2, there is a blue-skinned mummy named Princess Kiya who is Dan's love interest.
- In fighting game, Killer Instinct, There is an immortal mummy named Kan-Ra.
- The Legend of Zelda features recurrent mummy-like enemies called Gibdo. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess featured an enemy known as a ReDead Knight, which combined features from Gibdo and ReDeads (another undead enemy from the series).
- In ARMS, one of the playable characters is a mummy named Master Mummy.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, there are Mummies that are undead creatures and come in various types like Bog Mummies, Clay Mummies, Greater Mummies, Hunefers, Ice Mummies, Mummy Lords, and Salt Mummies.
- Lego is shown to have different Mummy minifigures:
- Lego Minifigures is shown to have a Mummy as part of its series three. This Mummy later appeared in The Lego Movie. He is among the Master Builders that meet in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
- Lego Monster Fighters features The Mummy who roams the desert roads of the Monster Realm at night on his chariot pulled by fire-eyed skeleton horse. This Mummy later appeared in The Lego Batman Movie. He alongside Lord Vampyre and the Swamp Creature appear as inmates of the Phantom Zone.
- Lego Pharaoh's Quest features the Mummy of Amset-Ra, a Mummy Warrior, a Flying Mummy, and a Snake Charmer Mummy. The minifigures for the Mummy of Amset-Ra and a Mummy Warrior have double-sided heads.
- In the Monster High franchise, Cleo de Nile and Nefera de Nile are known mummies who are the daughters of the mummy Ramses de Nile.
- In the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline, there is a mummy villain named Wrap Trap who is enthralled to the Evil Horde.
- Corriou, Nolwenn (July 21, 2015). "'A Woman is a Woman, if She had been Dead Five Thousand Centuries!': Mummy Fiction, Imperialism and the Politics of Gender". Miranda. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- Deane, Bradley (May 29, 2014). Masculinity and the New Imperialism: Rewriting Manhood in British Popular Literature, 1870–1914. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107066076.
- Don't Tell Mummy recap by Point Horror
- Blockfort: Top 10 Best Egyptian Video Game Characters!
- Doyle, Arthur Conan (2010), McGregor, Rafe (ed.), The Conan Doyle Weirdbook, 56 Leyton Road, Birmingham: Theaker's Paperback Library, p. 67, ISBN 978-0-9561533-2-6
- catmom-2 (7 May 1999). "The Mummy (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved 22 November 2014.