Call of Duty

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Call of Duty (Or CoD when abbreviated) is a series of First-Person Shooter games mostly set during World War II, as the Spiritual Successor to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault after the exodus of some 2015Inc. staff, who would go on to form Infinity Ward. The series is developed mostly by either Infinity Ward or Treyarch and published by Activision, famed for its immersive storytelling techniques and engaging multi-player mode. So far, the series has appeared on the PC and has has also appeared on most major consoles and handhelds. A card game has also been announced.

Unlike the rest of the series, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare takes place in a modern setting and contains a brand-new, fictional campaign mode involving the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and the Middle East in a nuclear weapons plot. Soon afterward, a spin-off, World at War (often referred to simply as Call of Duty 5), brought the series back to its roots as a World War II title.

Modern Warfare 2, aka "Call of Duty 6" was released on November 10, 2009. While the game has been well received by major reviewers and console gamers, PC gamers were upset over the removal of dedicated servers, which resulted in the loss of game mods and being able to pick one's own server (let alone administrate them), and the reduction of the number of players to 18 per server.

Call of Duty: Black Ops was released November 9, 2010. The story centers on Alex Mason, an American squad leader who is probed on his exploits in Cuba, Vietnam, and other areas. Oh, and the PC version has dedicated servers and game mods again.

Modern Warfare 3 was released on November 8, 2011. A direct sequel to MW2, the game mainly deals with Price and Soap hunting down Makarov, along with the global war that has engulfed the Western World.

Black Ops 2 was announced on May 1, 2012. According to the reveal trailer, it will be set Twenty Minutes in The Future.

Though the series earned early fame as one of the finest WWII shooters on the PC, it didn't really take off on consoles until the fourth installment. Each of the latest two editions of the series has set its own record for the largest launch in entertainment history.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Call of Duty franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.

Please add any examples relating to the Modern Warfare sub-series or Call of Duty: Black Ops to their dedicated pages.[1] Likewise, add tropes relevant to Nazi Zombies in... well, Nazi Zombies.

Tropes used in Call of Duty include:

"On the Führer's birthday... A barrage of Katyushka rockets will tear Berlin to pieces. With your bullets... With your bayonets... With your bare hands... Do the same to their wretched soldiers!"

    • Another Russian soldier gets at it in the first game as a Bond One-Liner: "You can heil Hitler in Hell!"
  • AKA-47: Averted; most weapons appear with their real names.
    • Oddly played straight due to a possible bug in Call of Duty 2: the Gewehr 43 with a scope is referred to as the Springfield in single-player.
  • The Alliance: The Allies of course. For the most part they're made of the Americans, the British and the Soviets but at some points, Canadians, Poles, French and Dutchmen appears to join the fight. Their counterpart are the Axis Nations. For 85-90% of the series they're made of Germans but other nations appears as well, In Big Red One Vichy French and Italians appears and in World at War the Japanese appear.
  • American Armed Forces
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted in World at War, which presents the American Marine Raiders as dying constantly and being ground down by the Japanese troops' tactics despite the eventual progress of their forces. The protagonist and his battle group are eventually sent home after taking a castle - but the war is not presented as being over by their hands; the Russians' have the final missions in the game and take the Reichstag.
    • Yet the missions are presented in Anachronic Order, the Reichstag fell a month before the events of the final Marine missions, meaning the war technically really did end with the Marine Campaign.
  • America Wins the War: Mostly averted, in that the WWII installments usually let you see the conflict from the British (except in World at War) and Soviet sides as well.
    • Also averted insofar they show all three major Allied nations' contribution to the war effort. The first and fifth games even end with the player leading a squad of Russian soldiers on the final assault on the Reichstag (German parliament) in Berlin.
    • Call of Duty: Big Red One, however, IS this trope. You follow the Big Red One from the sands of North Africa to the borders of Germany, kicking the collective asses of the entire Vichy French, Italian, and German Armies with no mention of any of the other allied nations.
    • Call of Duty 3 also had you play from some Polish and Canadian troops' perspectives.
    • World at War has you play as Americans in the Pacific - but their segment ends with them going home before the war is over, with the final part of the game showing the Russians taking the Reichstag (though, as above, note that the Reichstag mission took place several weeks before the final Marine missions on Okinawa).
    • Also subverted in the Modern Warfare series, where the British are responsible for killing Zakhaev, and at the end of Modern Warfare 2 the war with Russia is still ongoing despite Shepherd's death. Modern Warfare 3 plays it semi-straight: while the war officially ends with the rescue of the Russian President's daughter by US forces, they're assisted by Captain Price and Yuri, who go on to kill Makarov and what remains of his inner circle.
  • Anyone Can Die: It became official in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One and oh, and how they do. Oddly enough, averted in Call of Duty 2, where none of your named allies die.
    • Killed NPC's include: CoD1's Price, Elder (depends on the player), Sullivan, Chernov, Roebuck or Polonsky, Woods, Bowman and Reznov.
  • Arrow Cam: The Kill Cam in the multi-player, an anti-cheating feature which shows the POV of the player who just killed you. This feature has been around since the first game.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: World at War has Sgt. Sullivan until the end of the second mission, Cpl./Sgt. Roebuck, and Pvt. Polonsky. (Roebuck and Polonsky are a special case in that one of them will die at Shuri Castle, although the only difference is an achievement if Roebuck lives, and the player becoming Sgt. Miller if he doesn't.)
    • Black Ops does this to Reznov, who was apparently made Captain near the end of the war, by the time you play as him in "Project Nova".
  • Badass: It's a game about the scrotum-crushing badasses who fought WWII.
    • In the Easy Detail level of Call of Duty: Big Red One, five guys take on an entire division. And win.
    • Badass Boast: Commissar Markhov makes one in World at War, over a loudspeaker:

Citizens of Berlin! A ring of steel surrounds your rotten city! We will crush all who dare resist the will of the Red army! Abandon your posts! Abandon your homes! Abandon! All! Hope! URA!!!

    • Badass Driver: Sgt. Moody and Pvt. Elder both do a little of this in first game, Pvt. MacGregor does this at least twice in the second game.
  • Bag of Spilling: Compared to the later Modern Warfare games, the original games very rarely indulged in this - missions that took place one after another let you keep what you previously had.
  • Battleship Raid: One of the original game's most ignored achievements was recreating the entire 830-foot Tirpitz in the iD Tech 3 engine.
  • Bayonet Ya: One of the attachments for weapons in WaW is a bayonet.
  • BFG: Quite a few in the various games, though the biggest would be any time you're handed an anti-aircraft gun; Call of Duty had you handle a FlaK 37 (normal crew: 10) solo and not from the side the elevation and traverse wheels are on, and a FlaK 30 quad with a normal crew of 8. The 25mm Type 96 triple in World at War would normally have a crew of nine. But you're too awesome to care about such limitations.
    • The example in United Offensive was done to keep people with infinite ammo tanks from ruining the multi-player.
    • World at War has crew-served machine guns such as the M1919 and MG 42 that you can fire from the hip. Extra silliness point for including the PTRS 41 anti-tank rifle as a sniper rifle that you can carry as if it was nothing.
      • You may or may not have read a certain article from Russian sniper Vasily Zaitsev used a PTRS-41 with a sniper scope to murder bunkers. Bunkers. Admittedly, having every soldier in World at War be as badass as Mr. Zaitsev is unrealistic, but it sure is awesome.
    • Black Ops introduces the the Death Machine and Grim Reaper, respectively a man-portable gatling gun and a quad-barreled, incendiary rocket launcher. Both appear briefly in the single player and are obtainable from care packages in multi-player.
  • Black and Gray Morality/Gray and Gray Morality: The Soviet Campaign in World At War, puts your teammates, (and by choice, yourself) in a gray territory. Granted, the Germans did rape their way through Russia, but the Soviets do the same through Germany, and it is shown that many of the soldiers you capture and kill are human beings just trying to defend their homeland.
    • In addition, during the capture of Berlin, the narration points out that many of the soldiers you're fighting against, though identical in appearance, are old men, young boys and the mentally ill forced into battle at gunpoint.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Modern Warfare was like this to the previous games, bumping the rating up to an M. World at War cranked up the gore, including dismemberment. And Black Ops is easily the most graphic and brutal Call of Duty yet.
    • Black Ops has scenes which deliberately amp up the horrific mutilations, particularly in pre-scripted melee kills and sections such as the VC "Rat Hole". The latter sequence has Mason wielding a Colt Python in close quarters, and every shot fired grotesquely rends limbs and sends victims sprawling as they clutch at ruined stumps. The Python has no such effect outside of this situation, and without such sequences the game would have received a 16+ rating at most. The player can choose to dial back the gratuitous sections by choosing to at the start of the game. Strangely enough, averted in the multi-player, which has no gibs whatsoever (compare World at War).
  • Broken Faceplate: One mission in Black Ops requires you to wear an NBC suit during a chemical attack. You're still fighting, though, and as you take damage, your faceshield will crack. While your health will regenerate normally, your faceshield won't, meaning that if you take too much damage in the entire sequence, you'll die from exposure to the chemical agent.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The flamethrower in World at War never runs out of fuel, though it can overheat.
    • This also applies to mounted machineguns and vehicular weapons. Only the armored car guns overheat, though.
  • Captain Private Obvious: Private Chernov in World at War: "But sir, these men are already bleeding to death!" "Sergeant Reznov! You seem to relish in the slaughter!" "Our rockets are tearing the city apart!"
  • Cherry Tapping: It is possible to kill an opponent by hitting them with a grenade (not the explosion, but the grenade itself smacking into them) if their health is low enough.
    • It is also possible to kill an enemy with a flash grenade in the same manner. You can one-shot people if you hit them in the face in this manner.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The opening to World At War has your character witness his fellow private, who is amusingly named Private Pyle, being beaten with a bamboo cane and then burned in the eye with a cigarette. The torturer then cuts his throat with a knife, and goes to do the same to you, but you are then rescued.
    • Vorkuta... implied, at least.
    • Goes beyond mere implications for Hudson and Clarke in "Numbers", though; YOU, Mr. Player, get to give the good Dr. a nice piece of glass candy.
  • Cold Sniper: Sergeant Reznov in World at War was a Cold Sniper until just before Pvt. Petrenko meets him; wounds to his right hand mean that he can't handle a sniper rifle anymore, so he gives it to you and takes up a PPSh-41 submachine gun. He manages to maintain the general attitude of one though, until you've gotten the solitary German sniper, then he drops it for Sergeant Rock once you're performing overwatch for the Soviet counterattack and especially when you down the high value target, especially if you did so with a pistol for the "Gunslinger" Achievement.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: First Call of Duty: "Martin! Over here! Get in the car!"
    • "Ser-geant Evans! Light up those bloody Stukas that aren't in bloody range yet with the bloody flak gun!"
    • Captain Price in Modern Warfare. "On your feet, soldier! We. Are. LEAVING!" during Crew Expendable and "You're still in one piece, get up!" during Hunted: both times after getting knocked out or stunned.
    • Just about everything Gaz says in the Modern Warfare level Heat. "Soap, we're falling back to the next phase line! Let's go! Let's go! You're gonna get left behind!" "FALL BACK! FALL BACK!!"
  • Controllable Helplessness: Used to the point of irritation in World at War. You start the game as an American POW watching the Japanese torture and execute your squadmates, and in every other level or so that follows, there's a point where your character gets his ass kicked and his sergeant drags you to safety. Even more so in the Soviet campaign. Finally, both campaign stories end with this: the U.S. Marine campaign ends with you having to choose whether it's Sgt. Roebuck or Pvt. Polonsky who survives right before fending off a humongous Japanese counterattack -- your weapon was lowered before the choice had to be made, so you can't simply shoot the Japanese beforehand -- and the Soviet campaign ends with Pvt. Petrenko being shot as he charges at the Reichstag flagpole, and having to be helped up to slowly make his way to it.
  • Cool Guns: Kind of goes without saying.
  • Critical Existence Failure: You've been shot twice? Hide and Walk It Off. You've been shot three times? Have a Nice Death!
  • Cutscene Incompetence: In the ending of World at War, your character, an invincible, all-powerful Russian god of war who more or less wiped out the German Army by himself is severely and seemingly mortally wounded by a single 9mm bullet fired from an injured German soldier's pistol.
    • He also has an alarming habit of starting missions lying in a heap.
  • Darker and Edgier: World at War goes into this from Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4 was in itself a Darker and Edgier version of the rest of the series, while World at War went down the Bloodier and Gorier route for World War II with the Pacific Campaign, as well as a very graphic take on the Eastern Front.
    • And Black Ops is the darkest one yet. It even has a playable torture scene, where you are the torturer!
  • Dead Character Walking: has glitches with corpses, from just silently talking faces to really strange animation and postures. Cracked page explains it the best...
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original game (and its expansion) had a health bar which required you to hunt down health packs to keep up. You could also quick-save at anytime in the original, which was more or less required as checkpoints were much farther apart. Until Call of Duty 3, there were no cut-scenes in-between levels, only slide show briefings and journal entries.
  • Emergency Weapon: Call of Duty 1 and 2 allow you to club enemies with the butt of your rifle. World at War, in addition to keeping CoD4's one-button knife, added one step to this with the bayonet attachment, extending your melee attack reach when holding a rifle equipped with it. Banzai chargers are a regular source for these in single-player, although they're always Arisaka bolt action rifles.
  • Enemy Chatter: There's a lot of shouting from both sides, though the enemy's is in their own language.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Enforced in that any vehicle that ISN'T a car except the tanker trucks can not explode.
  • The Faceless: Notably averted in Finest Hour, in which all of the playable characters are depicted visually and even have spoken dialogue in cutscenes. Call of Duty 2 had a lesser aversion, where every player character's face was shown in the mission-select screen.
  • First-Person Shooter
  • Fission Mailed: In most of the games, if your characters is stunned by an explosion, or the area is being bombarded by an artillery barrage, the action will slow down and blur, sometimes playing the same sound heard when the player dies, which can lead to confusion and possibly a real death if the player is in the open.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: only for major characters, whereas New Meat dies just as easily as the protagonist.
    • Finest Hour averts this, where major characters are just as vulnerable as you are - however, the game also adds medkits that you can carry around and use on them if necessary.
    • Also occasionally averted for those major characters in the original, for example Private Elder from the American campaign can die in combat with no consequence at any point after the driving sequence.
  • Grenade Spam: Be prepared to see upwards of three grenades tossed at you at any one time. Even worse in the original game, as there is no HUD indicator for nearby grenades.
  • Griefer: Hardcore is filled with team-killers, to the point it's often become standard practice to kill each other after a round is over for fun.
  • Harder Than Hard: One wonders if the developers are attempting to justify the Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels by making the Veteran mode give you Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • Best described by IW themselves.

Veteran Mode: You will not survive.

  • Have a Nice Death: Excluding World at War, dying in any of the games under normal circumstances shows you some form of quotation relating to war.
  • Heal Thyself: Medkits in the first game and expansion, variously healing 10, 25, or 50 hit points. Finest Hour had a similar system; normal medkits heal 25 health on contact, while larger medkits heal 50 and can be carried 4 at a time to use when necessary.
  • Heroic Mime: Applicable in all games, though Finest Hour and 3 avert this trope.
    • Lampshaded in the mission on the Tirpitz in the first game, where Price specifically tells you to let him do the talking, "unless your German's improved".
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Averted in Call of Duty 2; if you go to Mission Select, you can see the faces of all the characters you play, notably in a photographic format.
    • You can see a glimpse of Miller in the intro of World at War, though the "M.I.A." notice on his dossier manages to cover his eyes. He also shows up in the PlayStation 2 port, which is otherwise notorious for being very low quality.
    • Averted in Black Ops three times. The first time is with Alex Mason, the game's main character; before actual gameplay even starts, you can see his face on the monitors in the interrogation room. The second time is with Hudson, who you've already seen multiple times before you play as him in a few missions. The third example is when you play as Reznov in a flashback. Dimitri Petrenko, the Russian player character in World At War, is in your squad.
  • Hold the Line: Played straight in defending Point Du Hoc and Hill 400 in Call of Duty 2. The game even had a level actually called "Holding the Line", which was all about this.
    • Call of Duty 1 had British paratroopers defending Pegasus Bridge from a German counterattack.
    • The last segments of Hard Landing (you can use a wall-mounted MG, your personal weapons or even a captured Triple 25 anti-aircraft artillery three-barreled gun) and Breaking Point in World At War are also examples.
    • Black Ops has the defense of Khe Sanh in Vietnam. A tide of NVA troops rush at you throughout the mission.
    • The Modern Warfare series has several. The end of the Chernobyl mission involves you holding off waves of Russian infantry until the extraction helicopter arrived. Modern Warfare 2 had the Rangers defending Raptor while TF141 had to protect a DSM while it downloaded critical data.
  • Homage: To Enemy at the Gates in World At War. Think about it. Both scenes start with Nazis and tanks passing by a fountain, a Nazi randomly shooting the dead bodies, someone faking death and moving, being assisted by a sniper, having to take out henchmen from cover while using the sound of bombers overhead to mask your rifle shots' report, then killing an officer who tries to flee. Oh, and the Nazi who begins to nervously approach you. Also, the opening scene in Finest Hour bears a striking resemblance to Vasili's entry into Stalingrad, right down to "The first man in line gets the rifle, the second, ammunition!"
    • Two at the beginning of World at War: one of the captives is Private Pyle, and a little into the first mission a private will be grabbed by a burning Japanese soldier and Jack Bauer will yell for you to rescue him. The private's name? Ryan.
    • The beginning of the first game's Stalingrad campaign (the first mission and the beginning of the second one) is also lifted straight from Enemy at the Gates, rampant historical inaccuracy and all.
    • The first game and United Offensive's American campaigns take copious amounts of inspiration from Band of Brothers, most notably by having a mission set at Brecourt Manor in the first game and taking the Foy single player mission and multi-player map in United Offensive straight from the show. The Italian segment of the British campaign in United Offensive also has been noted for its similarities to The Guns of Navarone.
    • One of Black Ops' Laos levels starts with a scene where two POWs use a game of Russian roulette to escape their captors.
      • Immediately after, you begin re-enacting Rambo - and right before that, the Russian Operator's presence commanding the Viet Cong is reminiscent of Rambo II.
      • The level "Crash Site" ends with a shot mirroring the finale of Modern Warfare. Your squad is severely wounded, and you are flat on your back in the dazed state. You pull an M1911 as the Big Bad approaches, but this time he kicks it away and you and your CO are captured.
        • If you do pull the trigger before he gets to you, you realize the gun is out of ammo, not unlike that fellow who survived the heli crash in Modern Warfare 2.
    • Black Ops cribs a good amount of plot from The Manchurian Candidate
    • Dimitri's death is reminiscent of the poor bastard in The Rock, and NOVA-6 is very similar to the film's VX.
    • The assault on the final level brings up a very James Bond-esque theme.
  • Ho Yay: Dimitri and Reznov. Well, not really, but that doesn't stop this video from joking that there is.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted, as you can only carry up to two weapons (three in the original game and its expansion), though inverted somewhat in that a pistol with a few spare mags is treated as being the same effective size as a rocket launcher in any game later than United Offensive. In single-player this can be two primary weapons, a primary and a pistol, or two pistols; in multi-player it's a primary and a pistol unless you're using the Overkill perk to be able to carry two primary weapons, though there's nothing stopping you from dropping your pistol for someone else's gun. In both modes, though, you have the knife.
    • This is played straight in Modern Warfare 2 multi-player with the perk One-Man Army, that replaces your secondary weapon with a backpack that lets you switch out your current class for another you have set up, also replenishing grenades and ammo without having to die first. Add to that you have a total of five custom classes (and five pre-built ones) and that backpack must be getting pretty heavy.
      • Not to mention that any of those classes could also have One Man Army...
      • In the Campaign mode of Modern Warfare 2, this is averted, as you can actually see where all of the weapons are on the other NPCs. Further averted in multi-player for that game and Black Ops, where the Overkill perk was removed.
  • I Call It Vera: The cover art for Black Ops has Alex Mason holding a pistol with the name "Sally" etched into it.
    • Mustang and Sally in Nazi Zombies... and they spit out grenades. In full-auto.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Greenhorn/Recruit, Regular, Hardened, and Veteran.
  • Identical Grandson: Modern Warfare's Captain Price looks just like (right down to the righteous mustache) Captain Price in Call of Duty 2 who looked like Captain Price in Call of Duty.
    • It's even implied that Price is the same man in every game.
    • Also, Sgt. Reznov in World at War/Black Ops is an ancestor of Zakhaev from Modern Warfare. Zakhaev's own son even has the same first name as Reznov.
    • As this seems to be a theme of the series, identical names could carry the same weight even if one of the characters in question is never shown by his face: Dimitri Petrenko is both the Red Army player-character in World at War and the loyalist medic trying to revive Price at the end of Modern Warfare.
      • A reincarnation of Petrenko, maybe...
    • Also, Foley, who was present in the first game, makes a reappearance in Modern Warfare 2. However, the first Foley was white and a Captain while the Modern Warfare 2 version is black and a Sergeant. Similarly, there's a Major Sheppard (spelled that way before you correct it) in the first game and a General Shepherd in Modern Warfare 2. Ramirez turned up in United Offensive as a Sergeant.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The series has quite a few unclimbable chest-high walls. Which is odd, seeing as there are also climbable head-high walls.
  • In the Back: You get more points for knifing enemies in multi-player in the back.
  • It's Up to You: Many, many examples. Let's just say that unless the player moves their ass and gets across the room, the enemies will usually keep spawning at the far end indefinitely. Though, to be fair the NPCs, especially the unkillable ones, sometimes act useful to the plot, too. (Fortunately, in some case, it only looks infinite... particularly if you're just picking a really suboptimal approach to the objective.)
    • It may be lampshaded in World at War, where Sergeant Reznov tells you that "As long as you live, the heart of this army will never be broken."
    • World at War has what is perhaps the silliest example: defending against a Japanese counterattack on Pelielu, there are two anti-air cannons and two fixed machine gun that the player can use against them. NPC allies are for some reason unable to make use of the additional firepower.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When Call of Duty 2 first came out, the Regenerating Health system was criticized, with critics claiming that it made the game too easy. Oh, how wrong they were...
  • Just Plane Wrong: In World At War's Stalingrad stage, huge numbers of four-engined Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors are seen flying overhead. Only 272 were built in total, with hardly any of these being present at Stalingrad, certainly not in the numbers shown. Only nine Condors were shot down over Stalingrad.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In the World at War mission "Little Resistance", the landing craft the player character is in gets caught on something. An NPC then shouts "It's the coral! We're stuck on the cor--" * Cue headshot* (A rather gory one at that.)

Clarke: "Ah, yes, the numbers! They're the key to-"*BOOM*

  • Kill'Em All: None of your allies in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One survive except Sgt. Kelly.
    • Actually, Cpl. Smith and Cpt. Delaney also survived. Though neither of them were nearly as important as Sgt. Kelly.
    • Its actually never stated if Sgt. Hawkins died or was sent home.
    • In Black Ops, both Woods and Bowman die near the end of the game. And, well... Reznov was Dead All Along. Hudson survives, though, as do Mason and Weaver.
    • It is, however, stated in an email that Woods was actually taken prisoner and sent to Hanoi's prison camp, where a rescue force was sent to help him.
  • Kill It with Fire: The flamethrowers in United Offensive and World at War, used by both Allies and Axis soldiers. WaW also has a flamethrower mounted in a tank, and refreshing Molotov cocktails. Black Ops has a flamethrower attachment for assault rifles.
  • Large Ham: Sergeant Reznov in World at War starting with the level Their Land, Their Blood. He arguably manages to out-ham Commissar Markhov, who has No Indoor Voice and speaks half his lines through a megaphone.
    • Reznov hasn't lost his touch in Black Ops.

Reznov: "Never lose faith, friends... NEVER! MONTHS of planning, Mason. We will NOT pause. We will NOT falter. We will be FREE - OR DIE TRYING!"

    • This guy could've written a best-selling book: "How to Escape From Prison in 8 Simple Steps." See Spy Speak below.
    • The multi-player announcer for the German side in World at War gives Reznov a good run for the money in terms of ham.
  • Left the Background Music On: In a scene in the World at War mission "Eviction", "Dies Irae" playing in the background. If you follow the sound of the music, you will eventually find a running gramophone. Destroying it will stop the music.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Special editions existed for Call of Duty 2, Modern Warfare 2 and again for Black Ops.
  • Mad Scientist: Richtofen in Nazi Zombies. He invented the Wunderwaffen DG-2, and he's certainly a madman, what with the screaming in orgasmic joy of blowing off body parts. Also, may or may not be Edward, a scientist who murdered his business partner and said partner's daughter.
  • Master of Unlocking: Typically, only the ranking officer in a squad has had the years of training required to operate a door. Except Call of Duty 1, where the player can open some doors when required, and Call of Duty 2, where said ranking officer tends to make his second-in-command open doors instead.
  • Military Alphabet: Military game. Natch.
  • Multi Platform: Oddly enough, the side story games were multi-platform before the main series.
  • Multiple Endings: Sort of.
    • In the final mission of World at War's the American Campaign: Roebuck and Polonsky get themselves into hand-to-hand combat with two Japanese soldiers that pull an I Surrender, Suckers. The player is given the option to save Roebuck or Polonsky. After the final battle, the character you picked to survive will go up to the body of the other, remove his dogtags, and hand them to you, as Roebuck gives a final narration.
    • Before the final mission in World at War, Reznov will read a passage from Chernov's diary. If the player went and slaughtered helpless Germans during the Soviet Campaign, the passages will be critical, if the player spared them, the passages will praise the player. If the player did a mixture of both, the passages will paint the character as a moral question mark.
  • More Dakka: Aside from all the vehicle-mounted and fixed machine guns, autocannons and grenade launchers in the games, the minigun in Black Ops.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Makarov in MW 2 is named after a gun.
    • Note: the gun in question was named after the designer, as are many Russian/Soviet weapons. Could simply be Famous-Named Foreigner.
  • Nerfed: For better or worse, the (in)famous MP 40 is noticeably weaker on the PC version of World at War compared to the console version, dealing the same damage as the Thompson (instead of significantly more), while retaining its lower rate of fire). Why they did this in the PC version only instead of implementing it in the console version as well via a patch is anyone's guess.
  • New Meat: CoD 2 plays this trope even straighter than MW - your character for the tutorial level is a newly drafted Russian Infantryman literally fresh off the truck, who's never fired a rifle in his life. The first level involves shooting bottles and plates on a nearby fence, throwing potatoes ("Grenades are more valuable than you'll ever be!") into a destroyed building for grenade practice, and destroying a German armored car that entered the area.
    • Partially averted in Modern Warfare 2. While there is a tutorial level at the beginning, your character goes through the tutorial to show a group of locals how to fight, not so your character himself learns.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The unlockable Nazi Zombies bonus level after you beat World at War, where you fight, well...
  • Nazi Zombies
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Black Ops: The SAS raid on the Nova 6 ship unwittingly saves Reznov from being exposed to the chemical weapon.
    • Of course, they aren't so much villains as just the people who happen to be fighting against you, particularly in comparison to the two other factions involved.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "No cows were harmed in the making of this game" at the end of the first two games, due to all the dead cattle that popped up everywhere, particularly in the first game's American campaign.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Unless you count campaigns for the Stalinist Soviets who brutally kill their enemies despite any notions of surrendering.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Call of Duty ended with the Soviets storming the Reichstag and planting the flag on top. Guess how World at War ends.
    • They end differently. COD 1 had someone else wave a flag while you watched. COD 5 had you surviving a bullet wound and get a rousing speech... and then the last cutscene shows historical black-and-white footage of the actual flag.
  • Nominal Importance: Every friendly soldier has a name. Members of the Redshirt Army have randomly-selected ones. Don't bother learning them.
    • The prisoners in Vorkuta don't even have names, only serial numbers.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: When you get blown up by a grenade ("Watch for the grenade danger indicator"), chewed up by a dog ("Press (melee key) to fight off the dog") or accidentally shoot one of your teammates ("You are a traitor to the motherland!" and/or "Friendly fire will not be tolerated!").
  • No Swastikas: Averted.
    • Played straight in a few instances in World at War. One example is the multi-player map "Breach", which features the Brandenburg Gate adorned with red flags with white circles in the middle, and, you guessed it, Iron Crosses. Particularly interesting when you consider the Nazi Zombies map included in the same map pack has several neon blue swastikas.
  • Notice This: Important stuff is often glowing. In the first game, so did medical items.
  • One Bullet Clips: Enforced - one of the most common tips repeated to you is to reload early and often, and if you fail to heed that advice your reloads take longer.
  • One-Man Army: Averted... in theory.
    • Played straighter in Black Ops, where any section where Mason's teamed up with Reznov alone is actually him single-handedly going on a massacre
  • Personal Space Invader: Banzai chargers in World at War. (Note: It is actually possible for the player to embody this trope, whether using the knife or a rifle bayonet.)
  • Parachute in a Tree: In the first game.
  • Playing Possum: Some enemies, when critically wounded and grounded, keep shooting you with their handguns. If this happens in the single-player campaign, you should be able to scoop up their pistol upon their death—while this is exactly how the Last Stand perk works in multi-player.
    • In World at War, Japanese enemies can and will lie in wait in the grass, nearly invisible until they're on top of you. Liberal application of flamethrowers and shooting at misshapen lumps evens the odds. What's more, in some instances Japanese units will literally play dead until you're right on top of them.
  • Press X to Not Die: World at War to take out Banzai chargers if they do the same.
    • Call of Duty 3 also has several of these at predetermined places.
    • Black Ops also has a few scripted events like this.
  • Ray Gun: A surprise appearance by name as one of the best weapons in World at War's Nazi Zombies mode.
    • It's also possible to find it as an Easter Egg in the campaign.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Remember Pavlov's House in the first game? Seems silly, that one house holding out against a whole German army complete with tanks...Except that it really happened. And a realistic version of the mission would be three months long.
  • Real Is Brown: Every game (except parts of "Modern Warfare 2", mostly in Brazil, and most Russian missions in the early games, which are covered in snow) has a basic color palette of brown.
  • Redshirt Army: Any ally you see who is not important to plot, unless you go out of your way to protect them, is going to die.
  • Reds with Rockets
  • Regenerating Health: Call of Duty 2 and thereafter.
    • Possibly lampshaded in World at War, where Reznov says he has seen you cheat death over and over again.
  • Reporting Names
  • Reverse Grip: The only way a knife may be used in World at War, unless it's attached to a gun.
    • If you die during the American Marine campaign by a Banzai charger, you'll see yourself holding your knife in a normal grip. Since succeeding to press the knife button before they stab you has your character push away their bayonet and stab the charger in the neck in a Reverse Grip, it can be interpreted that your character attempting to draw the knife in a normal grip to fight the charger was an incorrect action that cost him his life.
  • Recurring Location: Berlin and Stalingrad in particular. Normandy in general is pretty common as well, though no one location within appears in more than one game.
  • Rousing Speech: "For Mother Russia, comrades!"
    • "For the Soviet Union, and for your Glorious Motherland! Get ready!!!"
  • Ruined FOREVER: Quick Scoping has been gimped in Black Ops? And Commando is nowhere to be found? And Kill Streaks don't build, allowing someone to hide while a Harrier or a Chopper Gunner builds towards a Nuke? Lame!
  • Sequel Escalation: United Offensive was the original game turned up to eleven. Gun turret sequence where you shoot a vaguely preposterous amount of tanks? Right, let's have a gun turret sequence where you shoot down half the Luftwaffe! Pavlov's House? Now it's a bigger house with even nastier attack waves! Big dramatic ending? Let's defend a railyard that's constantly being attacked by tanks, Stukas, and Germans who are apparently breeding frantically inside the signal box!
    • And unlike Modern Warfare 2, everyone agreed that it was awesome. Sure, the battles portrayed in United Offensive aren't as famous as the ones in the original, but the cool factor more than makes up for it.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sgts. Sullivan, Roebuck, and Reznov in World At War, though Reznov sometimes shows some Neidermeyer-y tendencies toward the unfortunate Pvt. Chernov. This is until the poor private gets fried by a German flamethrower, after which Reznov seems to recant his negative opinion of Chernov's journal.
  • Shooting Gallery: The opening levels of 2 and 4.
  • Shout-Out: In Call of Duty 2, many of the actors who worked on Band of Brothers had major voice acting roles in the game.
    • The mission "Vendetta" in World At War is full of shout-outs to the movie Enemy at the Gates, from the fountain scene at the beginning to the entire "Soviet sniper tracking down a wicked Nazi officer"-theme.
      • The first Call of Duty's Stalingrad mission basically was Enemy at the Gates.
      • A couple of grunts named Zaitsev and Danilov accompany you at the start of the train station mission.
    • You get to see Privates Pyle and Ryan. Guess what happens to the first and what Jack Bauer wants you to do to the second.
    • The tank mission in World At War has a shout-out to Modern Warfare, during the loading cut-scene you can hear the woman's voice who warns people about the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare playing softly in the background.
    • In Finest Hour, Sgt. Starkey, voiced by Brian Johnson, has a few lines that shout out to lines from his songs.
    • The scene towards the end of Black Ops, where Steiner is in a chair and gets shot by Reznov/Mason looks oddly close to the climax of Fight Club, which makes sense, as they share a critical plot point.
    • In Black Ops, the name of the CIA analyst in all of the intel files is Ryan Jackson - an inversion of Jack Ryan.
    • Also in Black Ops's intel files, there's a reference to a voyage up the Nung river to eliminate a rogue SF colonel. The achievement for that level is "Never get off the boat".
    • According to United Offensive privates Linnell and Flansburgh fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Silliness Switch: Nazi Zombies.
    • Goes farther with Shi no Numa. The four soldiers' backgrounds are Sociopathic Soldiers (Played for Laughs), and apparently, there is a zombie war going on.
    • Lets not even get into Black Ops zombie mode, where you can play as Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro in one of the most wildly implausible but hilarious Zombie Apocalypse scenarios ever.
    • Co-op campaign in World at War has some Death Cars that are also pretty silly - the Joker card arms you with nothing but a knife and rocks, Ace of Spades makes enemies look like the aforementioned Nazi Zombies, Six of Clubs gives you paintball guns, and Eight of Hearts causes enemies shot in the head to explode.
  • Sniper Pistol: Surprisingly, your pistols can reach a LONG way.
    • In World at War the Gunslinger achievement is attained by doing this to kill General Amsel.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: Very minor amount in the original (which works pretty similar to the ACOG from the later Modern Warfare series, though with more zoom). The games after the original have much more noticeable scope sway, and let you hold your breath to steady your aim for a few seconds, after which the sway will be even worse until you get your breath back. You can also use perks to extend how long you can hold your breath in multi-player. The same is true of the thermal scope, while the ACOG scope has a lower zoom level and less sway, but you can't hold your breath.
  • Sniping Mission: "Vendetta" in World at War.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Every character in the Shi No Numa and Der Riese maps. The American one's voiced by Steve Blum.
    • Sergeant Reznov likes killing Germans a little... too much.

Reznov: (if the player stops shooting or moving for more than a second during "Blood & Iron") WE COULD BE BURNING GERMANS RIGHT NOW!!

  • Spam Attack: The entire series frequently has the enemies constantly throwing grenades at you. It had a slightly more honest instance in World at War of a Japanese soldier programmed to be standing over a castle's balcony constantly throwing grenades at you until you get close enough for him to worry about you and just shoot at you.
  • The Squad: Too many to count.
  • The Stinger: Captain Price's rescue in Call of Duty 2, the Nazi Zombies in World at War, and Zombie Mode in Black Ops.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: When the subtitle "Modern Warfare" became the main title.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: The enemy Mooks who kill Sergeant Sullivan, Private Chernov, and Polonsky or Roebuck in World at War are either invincible till after they deliver the killing blow to the above NPCs or circumstances simply prevent you from shooting in time.
    • In Modern Warfare: the final part of mission "One Shot, One Kill", when you picked up MacMillan to rush for the heli, the game will enable God Mode for you.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: "You look like hammered shit." Considering these quotes Book End one of the hardest missions in Black Ops, it can count as Breaking the Fourth Wall too.
  • Sturgeon's Law: Between the Infinity Ward-made installments, Activision tries to make some quick cash with a game (usually console exclusive) made by another developer. Quality-wise, this worked well with the first one, United Offensive (the developer, Gray Matter, was eventually bought by Treyarch). The rest?
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In Reznov's flashback mission in Black Ops, Dimitri is revealed to have survived his wounds from the end of World At War - then he's horribly gassed to death in front of Reznov.
  • Tank Goodness: Any level regarding driving a tank, of which there is at least one in every WWII installment.
  • Technical Pacifist: The closest description of Pvt. Chernov in World At War, who is mostly okay with killing Nazis, but never more than is necessary and absolutely refuses to torture them like Reznov and the player might. He's no coward, and he tends to take point in the formation as well as fight.
  • Tempting Fate: Brooklyn in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One in the last level. "I think I might actually make it home from this lousy war!" Cue to mortar shells and one dead body.
  • Unexplained Recovery: World at War's ending saw Dimitri Petrenko taking what seemed to be a lethal pistol shot. Black Ops reveals he recovered just fine, and in 6 months he was back in action kicking Nazi ass. Until he got gassed by his own commander.
  • Universal Driver's License: Parodied in a sequence in Call of Duty 2 where Captain Price tries to teach how his men to drive.
    • And when your Irish Scottish comrade complains that the instructions to a German armored car are all written in...German.
    • Played straight in World at War's Blood and Iron mission, where Dmitri drives a tank. Somewhat justified by the fact that the Soviets designed the T-34 to be easy to drive with very little training, so they could get drivers for the tanks as fast as they could make 'em.
    • Also played straight in Black Ops, where Mason is capable of driving not only cars, but boats and helicopters as well.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: In the first game, you control a tank during the liberation of Poland. There's also The Tank Squadrons in Call of Duty 2; Liberators in Big Red One; Blood & Iron and Black Cats in World at War, and the bomber mission from United Offensive.
    • Many segments in the handheld version of World At War.** "WMD" in Black Ops has you briefly fly a plane and then command a squad on the ground RTS-style before going back to the shooting.
  • Urban Warfare: Many levels in the WWII games.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Mostly in the form of protecting your squadmates, though the later titles also offer the chance to put dying enemies out of their misery. World at War made this more blatant during the campaign.
    • There are Russian, German, and American soldiers who are set on fire during Black Ops. The Russians are set on fire when you shoot down Soyuz 2. One of your squadmates says "Poor bastards", but another one says that they should die because they're helping Nazis. You can shoot the dying men if you want. There are also Americans who are set aflame by a Vietcong with a flamethrower, and Germans who suffer the same fate at the hands of your teammates in "Project Nova". All of these are a potential Mercy Kill.
    • Finest Hour for PlayStation 2 added the ability to heal teammates with medkits if they needed it.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Mixed with some Unfortunate Implications. In World at War, it can be a little unnerving playing co-op with friends in the Pacific Front missions who aren't shy about saying how much the like killing "the Japs."
    • This did not go unnoticed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as demonstrated in the South Park episode "The Ungroundable".

Cartman: "Aw dude, I wish I had a real flamethrower! It works awesome on Japs!"

  • Video Game Perversity Potential: The ability to create your own emblems in Black Ops resulted in the creation of many penis emblems, along with Swastikas.
  • War Is Hell: The feeling which they were going for in World at War, with watching many people being turned to Gorn in the game, and plenty of dog-kickery in the Eastern Front.
  • We Have Reserves: Basically happens in any map or campaign that has Russians involved. They may even be the protagonists of it and win, but they'll be dying left and right the way there. This can also happen in game since your Redshirt Army allies will respawn infinitely.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The mission "Eviction" in World at War explicitly requires you to finish off wounded German soldiers lying on the ground. Then you must kill a group of unarmed soldiers attempting to surrender while Reznov implores you to show them no mercy. If you don't do that, they get burned to death while Reznov yells at you... for being cruel to animals.
    • If you do kill them, though, you get a You Bastard moment before the last mission.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Shooting your own teammates will give you a Nonstandard Game Over, giving you the message "Friendly fire will not be tolerated!"

Weaver: Your side, YOUR SIDE!!!

    • The Nonstandard Game Over is only triggered when you accidentally kill an important named character, but if you kill at least a few random Red Shirts nothing happens.
  • World War II: The entire main series, with the exception of the Modern Warfare subseries and Black Ops. Except for "Project Nova" in the latter game, although it is technically after the war, since the mission takes place in October of 1945.
  • You All Look Familiar: This is especially prevalent in World at War, where ALL of the German soldiers look exactly the same, except for, strangely enough, the storming of the Reichstag.
  • You Bastard: In World at War, If you mercilessly slaughter soldiers left and right in the Russian campaign, a diary entry written about you by a squadmember will talk about how you are no hero. Play more compassionately, the entry will praise you for having some morals. Do a mix of both, and the diary will simply label you an enigma.
  1. unless, of course, they also apply to the main series