City of Heroes

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
COHMontage440x330 2938.jpg

City of Heroes is the now-defunct Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game based on comic-book style superheroes. Set in and around Paragon City, a fictional Rhode Island metropolis still recovering after a thwarted but still disastrous Alien Invasion, it superbly reproduced the flavor and feel of the superheroic genre. Players took on the role of one of many fledgling heroes surging to fill the void left in the wake of several heroes fallen in defense of the earth during the aforementioned "Rikti" alien invasion.

City of Heroes was complemented and paralleled by a villainous counterpart, City of Villains. Originally, players of City of Villains assumed the role of a freshly escaped super-powered convict who may fit into a prophecy about a "destined one" whom it is said will rise to threaten even the most powerful echelons of the Rogue Isles villain factions. The two games overlapped in select areas, including PvP zones and a no-conflict nightclub in another dimension called "Pocket D". The two games, originally separate, were eventually combined, and afterwards players could make both heroes and villains.

The subsequent Going Rogue expansion then allowed characters to change alignment repeatedly and expanded a mirror universe previously used as the setting for several adventure arcs into a third complete starting location.

Some of CoH/CoV's most innovative features were related to character/avatar design. The games provided a truly astounding variety of appearance combinations, which grew with each new version. The power combinations were similarly impressive.

The game was also the first major MMO to include user created content, in the form of its Mission Architect system and player-created story arcs.

Originally, a variety of (back)story was told through the developers' adopted avatars—known collectively as the Avengers-esque super-team Freedom Phalanx—with the hero Statesman as their (in game and out) leader. Their evil counterparts would later be introduced in City of Villains. Known as Arachnos by name, led by Statesman's equal-but-opposite in Lord Recluse, who not only ran the organization but ruled an entire country in which it was based: the Rogue Isles (a fictional archipelago about 50 miles north of Bermuda). Statesman was originally the in-game avatar of real life senior developer Jack Emmert, who moved on and left the game in the care of Lead Developer Matt Miller (known for his avatar, Positron), who himself moved down to hands-on design work, handing the role of Lead Developer to Melissa Bianco (known for her avatar, War Witch).

With an update (that also changed the game from a subscription-only to a Freemium model), most character classes (called Archetypes) became available to both sides from the start, except for the respective Epic Archetypes, described below. The tutorials for both hero and villain sides were replaced with a scenario which owed much to the Praetorian side tutorial, in which the player was guided through learning various mechanics to a "There I was" moment in the middle of a disaster, making a moral choice along the way which determined if the character was a hero or villain.

Former Hero archetypes included:

  • Tanker (High-defense, low-damage melee and great "aggro management" capabilities to protect allies)
  • Scrapper (medium-defense, high-damage melee with a chance for double damage in a critical hit.)
  • Defender (Primarily powers aiding (buff) allies or weakening (debuff) foes, backed up by medium-damage ranged attacks, defenders are among the hardest to quantify because each primary set is aimed in almost different directions ranging from the heal-tastic Empathy to the debuff kings and queens of Darkness)
  • Controller (Primarily powers that hold, disorient or otherwise control opponents, backed up by buffs/debuffs)
  • Blaster (High-damage ranged and high-damage melee attacks, but few defenses)

There were also two "epic" hero archetypes, unlocked once one of your heroes reached level 20: Peacebringers and Warshades. The result of a human merging with a symbiotic alien, these had unique abilities, such as intrinsic travel powers and shapeshifting. Their power sets appeared at first fairly similar, but they tended to play very differently. Warshades played to the strengths of their teammates, while Peacebringers tended to make up for their weaknesses. Also, Peacebringers were much more self-sufficient (e.g. if you want to heal yourself, you just press the button and get healed), while Warshades needed enemies (or their bodies) to drain for their self buffs. To compensate for this the Warshade buffs scaled upward with the availability of enemies to drain. When playing Dual- or Tri-Form, Peacebringers tended to stay in one form for the duration of the fight or even the mission, while Warshades often switched forms as needed to maximize the gain from their various buffs. The powers of their respective human forms were mostly a combination of Blaster and Scrapper for the Peacebringer, and Blaster and Controller for the Warshade.

Former Villain archetypes included:

  • Brute (Medium-defense and medium-damage melee whose damage increased the longer they fought)
  • Corruptor (Medium-damage ranged attack with "critical hits" as the enemy life is whittled down backed by buffs/debuffs)
  • Dominator (Primarily enemy control with a mix of medium-damage ranged and melee attacks to back it up.)
  • Stalker (Stealth-based "assassin type" with melee attacks, a Back Stab For Massive Damage, and weak defense)
  • Mastermind (Commands minions or "pets" and backs them up with buffs/debuffs)

Just like the heroes, there were two epic archetypes for the villains. Starting out as a member of the Arachnos faction, you could take the role of a Wolf Spider (Arachnos Soldier) or Blood Widow (Arachnos Widow). Each had two branches of development after a certain level. Wolf Spiders represented the rank and file soldiers, starting with guns while then adding cybernetic attachments or specialized tech-maces, while the Widows started out as pseudo-ninjas and could either stay as such or become a combat psychic. However, regardless of branch, you ultimately played as a damage type with some quirks (and a cool costume).

The second major expansion, Going Rogue, opened a third beginning to the game, the Praetorians. Praetorian characters were able to play as any of the non-epic archetypes and started off neither good nor evil; instead they had multiple opportunities over the course of the first twenty levels to chose whether they would be a Loyalist of the tyrannical Emperor Cole or join the terrorist Resistance against him, and if they would be ethical/noble or not in that role. It also introduced the ability to change alignment via Face Heel Turn or Heel Face Turn, allowing a hero to become a villain or vice versa as well as opening up the in-between alignments of Vigilante and Rogue.

In addition to their powersets, characters also chose an origin. Outside of Peacebringer (Natural), Warshade (Science), and the Arachnos archetypes (Natural), there were no limits placed on which origin can be used with what archetype/powers. It was possible to make one of your characters' powers, say, "Assault Rifle" with Magic Origins, and it didn't make a bit of difference to your abilities. The effects of origins tended to be seen in choices of contacts and mission offers instead, although you were never "locked in" to any particular series of contacts or arcs. Later, with the revamp of the opening game this was substantially reduced, leaving choice of origin more a "flavor" element than a game mechanic.

The origins were:

  • Science—Characters that got their powers via scientific means. Super serums, radiation, experiments gone wrong, experiments gone right, etc. Examples include Spider-Man, Marvel's Sandman and the Fantastic Four. In universe example: Synapse of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Mutation—Characters born with their powers because of a quirk in their genetic makeup. Most of the characters in X-Men qualify. In universe example: Sister Psyche of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Magic—Characters that got their abilities through mystic training or artifacts. Could also refer to characters that received their powers from a patron deity or are a magical creature. Examples include Ghost Rider, Hellboy and Doctor Strange. In universe example: Numina of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Technology—Characters that got their powers from technology. Where Science characters have been transformed in some way to gain their powers, Technology characters gain theirs through use of power armor, alien weapons, cybernetics, et al. Examples include Iron Man, Green Lantern, Doctor Octopus and Robotman. In universe example: Positron of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Natural—Characters who got where they are through the strenuous training of their bodies—and also characters whose species naturally have the abilities. Examples include Superman, Batman, The Punisher, J'onn J'onzz the Martian Manhunter and Kingpin. In universe example: Manticore of the Freedom Phalanx.

Heroes defeated NPC villains and foiled the plans of various archvillains and nefarious groups out to destroy Paragon/The World/Humanity. Villains carried out missions against NPC heroes or other villain groups to please various factions and power brokers and thereby improve their standing in the underworld. Player-vs-Player combat was limited to restricted areas and is not necessary for game or level progress, although certain bonuses could be gathered by risking yourself in these areas.

There have been two novels based on it, Web of Arachnos and The Freedom Phalanx, as well as two comic book series, one published by Blue King and the other by Dark Horse Comics. A movie and T.V. series based on the game were at one point in Development Hell, but are no doubt entirely dead now.

City of Heroes managed to stay alive for so long despite being only a few months older than the massive World of Warcraft juggernaut largely by occupying a niche market and having a die-hard, rabidly-devoted fanbase. However, this was not sufficient to keep owners NCSoft from shutting down the game (albeit with several months' notice) in late 2012. The move came as a complete surprise to the staff of Paragon Studios, who were in the process of designing and implementing at least a year's worth of new content at the time, and who were unceremoniously canned simultaneously with the announcement of the game's impending demise. Exactly why NCSoft killed a popular, groundbreaking game that earned them in excess of US$2 million every month is unknown. The company's few "explanations" were vague and confusing; industry observers and pundits generally agreed that the move made little to no sense. Additionally, NCSoft rebuffed all efforts to buy or license the game from them, apparently preferring to lock it up and throw away the key rather than earn any kind of money on the property. One of the more interesting speculations about their motivation was that it was a combination of face-saving for the Korean company and a deliberate slap at former NCSoft executive Richard "Lord British" Garriott, who had overseen COH's creation and had just won US$32 million in damages from NCSoft in a lawsuit over how they'd forced him out of the company. (Another, very detailed, analysis for the death of COH can be seen here.)

City of Heroes is the Trope Namer for:
City of Heroes/City of Villains provided examples of:

A-D[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Everywhere, at least in the earlier parts of the game. There are zones where you can't swing a dead catgirl without hitting an abandoned warehouse. And there are supervillains in every freaking one.
    • It gets to the point where, as a villain entering what seems like your eighty-third "Unused Arachnos Warehouse," you're presented with the mission entry text: "Another unused base. You have to wonder how many of these things Arachnos builds and never uses."
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Missions set in the sewers, the Sewer Network, the Abandoned Sewer Network...
    • Between the huge sewers, the everpresent caves, and the underground city of Oranbega, it's a wonder Paragon City hasn't collapsed into the ground.
      • In some places it has. The Hollows was caused by the Trolls trying to make a cave for themselves and causing a whole neighborhood to collapse. And Faultline was caused by a villain (actually a mind-controlled hero) losing control of his powers, causing the entire zone to shatter and fracture.
    • Averted in Going Rogue's Praetoria: the incredibly spacious Underground is not a sewer system, but an abandoned subway system -- with occasional intersections with what appears to be a subterranean canal network. It also serves as an underground logistical and maintenance network.
  • Action Bomb: The Embalmed of the Vahzilok, walking corpses made by a Mad Scientist and equipped with explosive backpacks.
    • Also, some of the Circle of Thorns Mages will try to blow themselves up when critically low on Hit Points.
    • In City of Villains, one power the Mastermind player characters can pick up in the Traps powerset lets them do this to their own minions.
    • With the addition of the Cyborg purchasable add-on pack, players can now self destruct to cause a lot of damage. It is actually preferable to simply allowing the enemies to kill you, as Self Destruct circumvents the game's death penalty.
    • Even though you don't die using it, one can consider any of the "nova" powers that Blasters, Corruptors, and Warshades get as they involve running into a mob and releasing all your power at once.
  • After the End: Usually tied in with Alternate Universes or straight up time travel. Some notable examples:
    • Recluse's Victory, a ruined version of Atlas Park used as a PVP Zone.
    • Praetorian Earth, which was nearly overrun by the Devouring Earth after a nuclear war. Doubly so, after the events of the Magisterium Task Force.
    • Pretty much any alternate world you visit during a Portal Corp mission that isn't Praetoria, The Shadow Shard, or Council Earth/Axis America.
    • Hinted at with the main game, after all the reason the War Walls exist is to keep the Rikti Invaders out...and even then they sometimes fail...so just what is going on outside Paragon City?
      • Mainly because they would be really hard to tear down they also act as containment so if something is going badly in one area it doesn't spill over.
  • AI Roulette: Found in more recent Mooks.
    • Deliberately added to the Flawed Clone during the battle with Ajax. Some players have reported the Flawed Clone to be amazingly competent. Others just watched as it performed the chicken dance in the corner during the whole fight.
    • Possibly deliberately lampshaded in a bit of NPC dialogue, wherein a Circle of Thorns Spectral Demon demands a Thorn Wielder turn over his magic knife because he's too stupid to use it properly.
  • Alien Invasion: The Rikti, although they're actually mutated humans from Another Dimension.
  • All Webbed Up: Arachnoid lairs are often decorated with humanoid web masses.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent
  • Alternate Universe: Tons. There's a company dedicated to exploring them. Some notable examples:
    • Praetoria: Formerly a standard Mirror Universe where the good guys are bad, since retconned into something a little less black and white.
    • Axis America: A world where Marcus Cole sided with Germany during World War II. Home of the Reichsman.
    • The Shadow Shard: Extradimensional prison of an insane god. Visually similar to Outland.
    • The Rikti Homeworld: Where humanity mutated themselves into powerful psychics after contact with an alien race.
  • An Adventurer Is You
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Perhaps the most eagerly pursued rewards too, despite their purely aesthetic effect.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: The addition of Superbases and the Mission Architect.
  • Animal Motifs: Arachnos really likes spiders. We're not kidding, damn near every single unit type is named after a kind of spider, up to Lord Recluse himself.
    • And he's got robot spiders as a common minion.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The Devouring Earth, who take it to the next level by going One-Winged Angel and turning into part-scientific, part-magical Eldritch Abominations with the ability to bring plants, fungi, and minerals to life as their minions.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Possibly the Radio contact in Port Oakes and definitely the Television contact in Grandville. Radio is either some DJ with a lot of contacts or a sentient machine that keeps tabs on you. Television appears to be the Avatar of this form of media, as it speaks to you using the characters in various TV shows. It's deliberately left ambiguous, though.
    • Definitely the Slot Machine contact in Saint Martial—it's An artificially-intelligent slot machine trying to get you to rescue its inventor.
  • Another Dimension: Portal Corp runs on this, as do the Praetoria and Rikti factions...
  • Antagonist in Mourning: According to a short story on the website, Lord Nemesis is disappointed by the death of Statesman, but in particular that it came at the hands of a 'nobody' like Darrin Wade rather than at his hands as he had been planning for decades.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: The Going Rogue expansion made these alignments possible in game with Rogues and Vigilantes.
    • A few of the redside contacts are Anti Villains. Most notable is a demon hunter who gives you missions where rescuing the demons' victims is mandatory.
  • Arc Words: Any arc involving Ghost Widow will usually have the phrase "The Dead can't change."
  • Art Evolution: Take a look at these screenshots from issue 1.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Combined with Gang Up on the Human, if you encountered opposed factions engaged in a standoff (a very common situation), attacking either one in defense of the other was likely to make both of them attack you!
  • Artifact of Doom: Lots, but the most important one is the Well of the Furies -- i.e., the source of Incarnate powers. It doesn't like Statesman because he protects the status quo, and it thinks Lord Recluse is a poser.
  • Artistic License Geography: Rhode Island has no place on its coastline that has ocean access to the north, the way Paragon City does.
  • Ascended Extra: The entirety of Praetorian Earth, in a way; these lategame hero missions were popular enough that the devs made Going Rogue focus on the world in which they took place, with much more development and many more shades of gray than their previous Evil Twin tendencies. In doing so, they also revamped those original Story Arcs to be consistent with the Praetorians' new portrayal.
    • There's also the Yin family; they began as largely background NPCs in the Faultline zone's redesign, though Penelope was known as a very powerful psychic, with a nebulous connection to the Clockwork King. Later on, Penelope Yin reappeared in the Lady Grey Task Force, as possibly the most powerful psychic on Earth. Come Going Rogue, we met her Praetorian counterpart, a questionably sane Seer; but more importantly, her father Wu Yin finally appeared—as head of the Syndicate.
      • And now she's taken Sister Psyche's place in the Freedom Phalanx -- and as the contact for what used to be the Sister Psyche Task Force.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Ascendant, a player character hero from early the game's history who would stand around roleplaying telephone calls to his agent (among others), became enshrined in NPC dialog—occasionally upon getting near a civilian with a cell phone you can hear them say something along the lines of, "Ascendant? Sorry, you have the wrong number."
    • The "Kill Skuls" badge, which was based off an amalgamation of two separate forum stories about bad pick-up group experiences: one who would recruit people only to say "Go. Hunt." over and over again, and one who would recruit people only to say "kill skuls" over and over again.
    • "It's always a Nemesis plot" made its ascent with the introduction of Tips: one Hero/Vigilante tip mission in the 30-40 range reveals the existence of a forum based entirely around making "everything is a Nemesis plot" jokes.
    • The "Strong and Pretty" badge was based off a forum post which sang the praises of a War Mace/Energy Aura Brute. With MS Paint illustrations. The Brute in question was "both strong AND pretty!"
    • An odd case of Meme-turned-extra: During the Closed Beta of City of Villains, A player on the Beta feedback message boards had posted confusion as to why your character didn't jump from gang to gang, using the already established villain gangs set up in City of Heroes. This troper had to point out to them that a lot of groups (Freakshow, Devouring Earth, etc.,) would be impossible to quit, and posted a few comical stories about a made-up incompetent trying to quit each different gang in City of Heroes/Villains with comedic results. More people followed suit, and eventually the "quitter" was given the nickname "Jenkins", and it stuck. (Which is possibly a World of Warcraft reference, or an incredible coincidence.) Jenkins quickly became popular on the Beta boards as a sort of meme, rather than an actual extra. Later, the programmer behind the character Black Scorpion posted that he had just read the thread and found it to be hilarious. The very next update to the Beta had added "Jenkins", an Arachnos incompetent, to the opening tutorial, whom the villain PC has to save him in order to escape from prison.
  • Asteroids Monster: Clockwork Princes and Devoured Earth rock and crystal monsters randomly spawn Underling-class enemies after death.
  • A Taste of Power: The first mission of the arc to unlock Incarnate Powers has you "reliving" a scene from the point of view of your Physical God future self. In it, you are completely invulnerable, and get to smack around Arch-Villain enemies like mooks.
    • A villain story arc ends with you having stolen, very briefly, the powers of an Eldritch Abomination. Just in time for an army of heroes to try and take you down.
    • The Sewer Trial offers as a reward one of four temporary powers to boost damage, accuracy, recovery, or regeneration, but it expires after 7 days or when you reach (or have already exceeded, sorry Exemplars!) level 22 (red or blue side).
    • A Villain SF has you going after godlike artifacts; each gives a temp power upon completion which seems to be permanent, until you hit level 50 at which point you can trade it in for Incarnate shards.
    • The Cathedral of Pain Trial also has a 7-day temporary power reward.
    • A Villain SF involves you breaking into Positron's base and taking a small bit of the Flames of Prometheus.
  • The Atoner: As of Going Rogue, villains can receive missions that allow them to repent and change alignment. Of course, heroes can receive Start of Darkness missions to switch sides, too.
    • Warshades are aliens who used to possess humans by force and suppress their personality, but have realised that it is better to share their power with willing hosts instead.
    • The infamous early archvillain Frostfire appears in high-level tips missions as a hero, making up for his earlier criminal career.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Giant octopus, giant robots, giant amoebas, giant giants, giant walking plants...
    • This handy comparison chart (and the detail shots) show you just how obscenely huge some of the Giant Monsters can be. Keep in mind even the smallest one pictured there is larger then the PC model.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: The Council loves this trope. All of their seemingly endless variations on "Attack formation (something)" essentially boil down to "everybody hit somebody".
  • Attention Whore: Flambeaux, a woman who built herself a set of flame powers and became a superhero simply to get attention and praise. As of Going Rogue, she turned villain because people weren't praising her enough as a hero. It's still not working like she'd hoped, but she can (and does) at least bomb the offices of magazines that won't print big articles on how glamorous and wonderful she is. This plus her habit of gasping out "But I only wanted to be loved" as she's defeated has predictably earned her the nickname "Flambimbeaux".
    • As of Freedom, she appears during Twinshot's first arc at a point in her career when she's still a full hero—and promptly demonstrates that as far as she's concerned, she's the player character and you're the NPC, because no matter what happens, it's all about her. And if you pay attention to another character's dialogue, she promptly gets annoyed.
    • In that same arc, Manticore's computer lists a couple of the arc's characters and points out that she's one of the likeliest members to fall into villainy just to satisfy her attention-seeking.
  • Author Avatar: a very literal example, most of the game developers will take notable NPCs as their avatars in the forums and are often referred to by their nicknames.
  • Ax Crazy: If you're a Scrapper or a Brute, this is pretty much the best way to play them.
  • Backstory: The game's mythology is surprisingly deep and complex, with basically an Alternate History of the entire 20th century due to the influence of superheroes. It is also notably original, rather than sampling heavily from any previously established superhero/comic-book mythos (as one might expect).
  • Badass Boast: Many. Villains especially get many in badge descriptions [1]
  • Badass Creed: The Midnight Squad has theirs written on their banner.
  • Badass Normal: Malta humans, Knives of Artemis, Family, Paragon City Police, and a fair number of Natural-origin human heroes.
    • Epic villain archetypes are mooks who were fed up seeing supers picked for promotion all the time and decided to show the world what a normal could do. Arachnos Soldiers fall under this trope; advanced Widows (especially Fortunata) do not.
      • And the ordinary citizens of Praetoria in the TPN Incarnate Trial, who can kill pretty much any Incarnate who hesitates outside too long.
  • The Baroness: Countess Crey.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: As the climactic conflict in several missions and arcs.
  • Beneath the Earth: Oranbega, The Eden Trial, The Hollows' Igneous faction.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lord Recluse is the Big Bad, but Tyrant and Hamidon are currently even greater dangers to Primal Earth. Many of the other villain leaders also have a claim to the title, to varying degrees.
  • Bizarro Universe: Praetoria, where all the heroes are evil and all the villains are good.
    • At least, that was the original depiction. When Praetoria was made the focus of the Going Rogue expansion, they changed the focus from Primal Earth with a goatee to the land of moral ambiguity. The alignment inversion is in place, but it's much less black and white.
  • Black Cloak: The Circle of Thorns.
    • Not any more; their robes show a lot more of their figure now.
  • Blown Across the Room: True to its superhero comic origins, gun attacks have a chance of sending the target flying backwards.
  • Boring but Practical: Powers that reduce the time you have to wait between fights, such as the now-inherent fitness pool and the option to multi-slot the rest power to use it more often with faster results.
  • Brain In a Jar: Malta Titans contain these at their core. The Clockwork King has a classic brain-jar, bobbing eyeballs and all. Nemesis' armour-automotons contain artificial brains. Nemesis Warhulks go a step further with entire People Jars.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Badges and Titles. Certain costume pieces also apply.
  • Breast Plate: Some armor pieces for female characters, like that of the Widows or the Roman Centurion armor, are rather form-fitting.
  • Buffy-Speak: Flambeaux, during the Twinshot arc, and also standing outside the Atlas Park Wentworth's.

Sorry, hun, but I'm busy shopping. Don't you have something heroey to do?

  • But Thou Must!: If you give the wrong password in Darrin Wade's villain arc: "Dad, come on. I know you know this. Are you just testing me to see if I'll call for backup or something? Let's try this again."
  • Cain and Abel: Statesman and Lord Recluse are former friends and brothers-in-law. Talk about a Big Screwed-Up Family now.
  • The Cape (trope): While player characters embody this everywhere, actual capes have a very special significance in the game, due in large part to Hero 1, a very well-known Cape who never returned from the Suicide Mission to end the Rikti War at least, not as he was known. Still has the cape though. For a time they were banned in Paragon City out of respect for him, and the mission any prospective cape-wearer must do has them learning about him and visiting the Omega Team memorial.
  • Cape Busters: The Malta Group, an anti-superhero force of Badass Normals. They are among the toughest enemy groups in the game.
  • Captain Ersatz / Expy: The game's character creator makes it trivially easy to reproduce virtually any published character—so much so that in 2004 Marvel sued NCSoft for trademark infringement. (Most of the case was thrown out by the judge, and the remainder was settled out of court.) And even though NCSoft and Paragon Studios would "generic" any too-blatant Captain Ersatz who comes to their attention, it was still hard to go through an evening's gaming without encountering at least one thinly (or not so thinly) disguised version of a published character.
  • Captain Geographic: Statesman for the USA, Hero 1 for the UK.
  • Captain Obvious: Parodied and played straight. Mooks often state the obvious. But in one mission a mook who speculates that heroes might be on their way is answered by another mook sarcastically hoping whoever turns up it isn't Captain Obvious. On seeing you the first mook confirms that you are indeed not Captain Obvious, Completely Missing the Point.
  • Cardboard Prison: Ziggursky Penitentiary, AKA "The Ziggurat" or "The Zig". Before Freedom, escaping from the Zig was the tutorial mission for villains.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Subverted. They're actually less evil than the Knight Templar and Villain with Good Publicity groups, apart from (maybe) the Circle of Thorns. They may have hung a lampshade on it, as the final stage in creating a character involves you... filling out a villain registration form, presumably so you can get a card that proves you are a villain.
    • The villain side of the game seems notably lacking in any concrete villainy.
      • Going Rogue has introduced a lot more, albeit optional, villainy in the form of the villain morality missions. Some players have admitted feeling very guilty after doing them.
  • Catgirl: Mynx and her Alternate Universe counterpart Bobcat. And a metric ton of player characters, thanks to costume options including cat legs, cat faces, cat eyes, cat markings for your cat faces, whiskers, animated cat tails, a power known as Claws, and two types of cat ears.
    • If while playing or browsing game forums, you ran across the phrase "You show me yours and I'll show you mine", this is what it probably referred to. There was an assumption that everybody had one.
  • Cement Shoes: You occasionally run into a group of Family goons fitting someone with these. if you attack them, the victim will try to hop away.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: PPD Psi-Cops, Arachnos Widows and Fortunatas, and again, many players.
  • Chest Insignia: Dozens of selectable ones!
  • Cherry Tapping: The infamous, universal starter power Brawl was often used as a coup de grace on any enemy (usually an Archvillain towards level 50)) that has barely a sliver of red health left.
    • This was also a common usage for the Rock, a one-shot low-damage temporary power you got from trick-or-treating during the Halloween event.
  • The Chessmaster: Nemesis. For a lark, browse ParagonWiki for a bit and pick out the number of times the phrase "mysterious benefactor" comes up. It's always Nemesis.
    • With issue 12, City Of Heroes introduced messages for instance mission loading screens. One is "Not everything is a Nemesis plot"; another is "It's all a Nemesis plot."
    • And with issue 14, which allowed players to create their own missions, a new one appeared: "If it's not already a Nemesis plot, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one."
    • The primary Nemesis contact in City of Heroes, Maxwell Christopher, spends much of his time trying to out-Chessmaster Nemesis, planning for as many possible contingencies as he can think of. Hilariously, several of his attempts fail and he has as many Oh Crap moments when he realizes how much of an Unwitting Pawn Nemesis has made of him and you.
    • Time Cop organization Ouroboros is lead by a man named Mender Silos who claims to come from the extreme distant future. "Mender Silos" just happens to be an anagram of "Lord Nemesis".
      • As of I19, Mender Ramiel confirms that Silos is a future version of Nemesis from hundreds of thousands of years in the future. He's supposed to have made a Heel Face Turn by then. Unless that's just what he wants everyone to think...
  • The Chosen One: Framing device in City of Villains. Before Freedom, new villain characters were broken out of the Zig due to their potential to become the Destined One. Turns out you are the Destined One. And so is everyone else. But by the end of the story arc, you aren't anymore.
    • You are a hero in a city of heroes. And you are The Chosen One. And so is everybody else out there.
  • The Chosen Many: In addition to the whole "Destined One" thing, there's the issue of "Incarnates", characters with a fragment of divine power. At first, it appears that Statesman and Lord Recluse are the only Incarnates. Then, it turned out several other characters (such as Sstheno and Trapdoor) can claim Incarnate powers. Then, as of Issue 19, player characters began acquiring Incarnate powers by drawing upon the Well of the Furies.
  • Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Shadows.
  • City Guards: The invincible Police and Arbiter drones, as well as Longbow and the Paragon Police Department in City of Heroes, and some Arachnos members in City of Villains.
  • City of Adventure: The whole city.
  • City of Canals: Founder's Falls, aka "Super-Venice". Also Crey's Folly, whose original name actually was "Venice".
  • Clingy Costume: Positron was permanently stuck in his anti-matter-driven armor for a while.
  • Clock Punk: 99.9% of all Clockwork enemies.
  • Cloning Blues: In the story arcs added for Issue 17, the player villain takes over a cloning factory. It eventually ventures into Me's a Crowd territory. See Doppelganger for the "blue side" equivalent.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Penelope Yin. Her Primal Version seems oblivious (at least the first time you encounter her, apparently in her mid-teens) to the fact that she's the most powerful psychic in existence. She sees the personal guard of Clockwork following her around as a perfectly normal thing, and acts confused and upset when she can't mentally communicate with her father like she can with most people. (Later in the game, she's more mature and quite aware of her abilities.) Her Praetorian version on the other hand, consistently calls the player "Rusty", seems convinced that she's the princess of "The Mirror Kingdom" and uses amusing childish terminology when giving missions. (Clockwork become "Teddy Bears", Seers become "Playtime Friends"...) Considering that she's in the "tender care" of Mother Mayhem, many believe that this is Obfuscating Insanity on Praetorian Yin's part (This is at least partially confirmed by Dark Watcher near the end of her mission arc.)
    • Also, a minor NPC villain known as Shock Treatment. At one point, you find her fighting in an Arachnos Base, trying to get vengeance on behalf of her appliances.

Shock Treatment: For my toothbrush!

  • Cognizant Limbs: Lusca has cognizant tentacles. The Hydra has cognizant tentacles with faces on them. The Hamidon has cognizant mitochondria.
  • Colon Cancer: Rikti communication: in this manner, with the Mark II translators. Mark III translators, the first time they're used, cause the Rikti using it to comment on our adorably primitive causation structures.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Energy blasts and lightning used to be blue for heroes and red for villains; similarly, the "neutral zone" nightclub Pocket D is blue on the heroes' side and red on the villains'. The default (customizable) interface colors also correspond to "blue side" and "red side". Going Rogue's default color is yellow.
    • Other neutral zones will also color the designated hero and villain exits in blue and red, respectively. The Midnighter's Club is one example. An exception probably occurs in The Rikti War Zone: the exits have "PARAGON CITY" and "ROGUE ISLES" painted on the walls because the Vanguard base is too well lit to accommodate the blue and red color code.
    • The Vanguard organization's colors are grey (white + black) and purple (blue + red), indicating they work with both sides.
    • Also the trays for Praetorian characters are grey.
    • Since the color spectrum added for issue 16, it's convenient so you can see which blasts are your attacks.
    • If the Circle of Thorns has dominion over any part of a zone, there will be large glowing crystals with color-coded effects on characters standing near them. Red crystals drain HP, green ones replenish it, and blue ones refill endurance.
  • Combat Stilettos: Lots of the clothing options for females.
  • Combining Mecha: The Malta Group's Hercules Titans.
  • Combo-Platter Powers: Every player (except epic archetypes) gets to pick a primary power set and a secondary one. Usually sets can be paired thematically, but you are under no obligation (and rarely any penalty) to pick said combos; you can choose to have one fire-based and one ice-based set for example.
    • The most commonly cited synchronicity is Trick Arrow/Archery, where if you pick both, you generally keep your bow drawn, making both power sets faster. This has been a source of contention between the players and developers; the players have always insisted this was true while the developers have vacillated.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Anyone with Teleport can use it to teleport almost anywhere they can see up to a certain (variable) range. For players, this means they can't teleport through walls in indoor missions. For enemy critters, this restriction does not apply; teleporting enemies can and will instantaneously transport halfway across the mission map, through several walls, to escape you.
    • NPCs that are meant to resemble player characters often have powers at far lower levels than players can get them (Rogues' Gallery epic blasts, Desdemona and Doppelgangers being the worst offenders) or have different, better versions (such as Longbow Wardens' undisableable Quills or Carnival Illusionists' super-phase).
  • Continuing Is Painful: Miss a gate on a ski race? Tough luck. Crawl back up and finish the race, because there's no way to abort it.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: An actual game mechanic for the mastermind. As he gains the ability to summon more minions, they become individually less powerful. At high levels the base minions tend to die a lot. But hey, that's what minions are for.
    • Several tanker/brute powersets have a power that increases certain stats based on the number of foes surrounding them, making them harder to kill. Not only that, but these powers also make the bad guys want to attack you more, so they stick around.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: A rare non-cartoon example: during one of the last missions of the first "Shining Stars" (AKA "Twinshot") arc, you had to find a secret passage in Manticore's mansion; the bookcase it was behind was distinctly brighter than the other bookcases in the room.
  • Conspicuously Selective Perception: See the entry.
  • Copy and Paste Environments: Each building/cave's rooms and corridors come in several different flavors and with different features. However, many office and warehouse missions have remarkably similar layouts for their buildings. After a while they all start to look the same.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Countess Crey, and Crey Industries in general. Kirk Cage, and the Cage Consortium in general.
  • Cosmetic Award: Badges and costume options.
  • Cosmic Retcon: The PsychoChronoMetron of the Faultline arc allows a psychic user to alter reality.
    • Continuity Snarl: The one use of it caused this, and the death of its inventor, when he tried to turn the hero Faultline into a villain, as well as misinterpreting his powers. As a result, a lot of information on Faultline is... confused.
      • Well generally when you try to brute force a change in reality with absolutely no idea what you're doing, it tends to make things go wonky. We're lucky he didn't cause a Critical Existence Failure to reality.
  • Curse Escape Clause: It is possible for a PC in City of Villains to get cursed by the Circle of Thorns to something truly nasty; the curse can be broken by killing the demon intended to finish fulfilling it.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: NPCs will hold victims hostage, hide out after a heist, or just make a base of operations for their goal in caves that are littered with gem stones the size of coffee tables. Never once do they think to mine this huge rock and sell it.
    • Because large quantities of gemstones being readily available to the market lowers their value.
  • Cutscene: Implemented as of Issue 6. Some hate them, others wish there were more.
    • Interestingly, the cutscenes were rendered in realtime at the moment they displayed. If a toon emitted his battle cry during a cutscene, it would appear on-screen as part of the action. Some players who ran certain task forces (like the Imperius) on a regular basis would actually set their battle cry to act as a comment on or reply to something said in a cutscene in that task force and then trigger it at the appropriate moment.
  • Cyberpunk: The Freakshow.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Not literally, but one of the Incarnate components was actually called Forbidden Technique!
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The "Darkness" power sets are available to heroes and villains, and heroes can easily be made to look this way. Infernal is a big-time canon example.
  • Dark World: The Night Ward.
  • Deadly Doctor: Dr. Vahzilok, and all the living mooks.
  • Deal with the Devil: Player characters' origins aside, the Hellions are a Satan-worshiping street-gang whose leaders have gained flame powers. The Circle of Thorns are sorcerers who long ago made a deal with demons to defeat their enemies, and have had a lot of time to regret it. In City of Villains, one mission arc has you helping the beneficiary of such a deal to weasel out of it.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Above level 10, dying resulted in a certain amount of experience debt, where half of the XP earned went to paying off that debt, while the other half was used to progress as normal. Also justified in-game, in that all heroes and villains were issued medicom patches that stabilize the wearer and teleport them to a hospital in the case of their vital signs dipping below a certain point.
    • Recent updates have added "patrol XP" which doubles-ish your XP gain for a time proportional to how long you've been logged off—dying while you have any will reduce that time, and you won't even accrue debt.
    • There's even a "Debt Paid" line of badges, so dying a lot earns you a Cosmetic Award or six.
  • Degraded Boss
  • Determinator: Many characters in-story, of course. The Willpower set is an example of just showing true grit while not technically being related to super powers.
    • The Arachnos Soldier and Arachnos Widow classes are so determined that according to Kalinda they warped reality. They weren't originally Destined Ones, but they become them by sheer force of will.
  • Development Gag: A long history of them.
    • Just one example. A long-standing bug was that, if the game couldn't find the proper model to display for a hostage, it would use the first model on the list—a 5th Column Mek Man. Fast forward several issues to two 5th Column Mooks discussing whether disguising robots in hard light holograms will work. And in an example of Cosmic Irony, said dialogue happened in the issue which broke that bug (now instead of a Mek Man there is another model, a 5th leader).
  • Did Not Do the Research: Rhode Island couldn't hold a metropolis, unless the whole state was one city. But honestly, do you really care?
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ancient goddess rousing her people to revolt and conquer the world? Go beat her up. Alone if you have to. She won't even be as powerful as that one guy possessed by a space alien.
    • See also the Cherry Tapping entry above.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Mayhem missions in City Of Villains, where you get extra time for destroying scenery. There is even a powerup available that has an amount of property damage among its prerequisites.[2]
  • Do Not Go Gentle: The player base's response to the NCSoft's shutdown announcement in August 2012. It ranged from protest rallies in-game to letter-writing campaigns to media action to fund-raising drives to finance the purchase of the game from NCSoft. When it became clear that regardless of everything NCSoft intended bury the game where no one would ever find it again, the response transitioned into a continuous vigil in the Atlas Park zone. Hundreds of players on all the servers set their heroes standing under the statue of Atlas holding torches, forcing the game to spawn a hitherto-unseen number of zone instances to hold them all. The vigils remained in place all the way to the moment the servers were powered down.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: "DOOOOOOOOOOOM!!" is actually a catchphrase used among the community to poke fun at the rioting that ensues whenever a major announcement is made..
    • Sadly, the last time they were right.
  • Door to Before: The "Exit Mission" button.
  • Doppelganger: In the story arcs added for Issue 17, every player hero has one. Two, actually; one's your standard Evil Twin, the other is nobler than you from a Mirror Universe. See Cloning Blues for the "red side" equivalent.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you complete a ski race good enough to earn the gold medal, you won't get the silver and bronze ones.
  • Down the Drain: Sewer missions which give you the constant nagging feeling that you're wading around in the combined filth of an entire city.
  • The Dragon: Several for each major villain.
    • Bonus points for the Rikti, because one of their bosses actually goes by the name of Dra'Gon.
    • Lord Recluse has four dragons (Mako, Scirocco, Ghost Widow and Black Scorpion). Each of these villains has a Dragon of their own!
  • Dramatic Wind: A Dramatic Wind came standard with each Cape and trenchcoat. And every character had their own personal wind, often blowing in a different direction from everyone else.
  • Dronejam

E-I[edit | hide]

  • Easter Egg: Many throughout the game. Even a badge called such.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Many a mission map. Also, starting with Issue 6, supergroups can build their own.
  • The Electric Slide: It was technically possible given that power lines acted like any other surface but there was no real point in doing so.
    • Even better, there was a VIP power that is called Prestige Power: Slide.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several.
    • The region known as Dark Astoria was a thriving upper-class suburb until the Rikti War, when an ancient cult took advantage of the confusion to sacrifice every man, woman, and child in the place to an ancient horror that sleeps beneath Moth Cemetary known as "Mot".
    • There is a Lovecraft-style Eldritch Abomination lying beneath Sharkhead Isle named "The Leviathan", complete with a Shadow Over Innsmouth-style race of fish-people that worship it.
    • The ancient deities of the Mu, the Oranbegans, the Banished Pantheon, and the Corallax are all implied to be from the same larger sphere of demideific beings, all of whom are either trapped, dead, or sleeping at the moment.
    • A football-stadium-sized single-celled organism with reality-warping powers is what remains of a human scientist by the name of Hamidon. Similarly, Rularuu, whose power was so great that when he was imprisoned within another dimension he immediately took control of it and became a being of godlike power, is implied by certain in-game text to also be a former human.
    • There is another entity that has no true form, has only a human-given nickname, is ancient and timeless, has the power to bend reality and span dimensions, and has no apparent grasp of or concern for human morality. It is known as the Well of the Furies, and all current end-game content currently revolves around the thin line between you mastering its power and its power mastering you.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Present, but not universal. There are several notable cases of elemental-powered enemies being resistant against their own element, but weak against the opposite. On the other hand, Freakshow both use and are weak to Energy attacks. For the player side of things, elemental armors tend to have the opposing element's damage type as their weakest resist.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Several of the tier 9 powers are used like this.
  • Elite Mooks: Every evil organization has 'em.
  • Emote Animation: There were upwards of a hundred or so, some of which were only available after being purchased or unlocked by some in-game action.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: More times than you can count. Although it never is.
  • Enemy Civil War: Warburg breaking off from the Rogue Isles and the Rikti's clash between the Traditionalists and the Restructurists.
    • Also, the Council splintered off from the 5th Column, and there was a civil war in-game when the group was introduced. With the return of the 5th Column in a later update, the two groups occasionally go at it again in some zones.
  • Enemy Chatter
  • Enemy Mine: Heroes and Villains can fight together during various special events in Pocket D, as well as in the Rikti War Zone against the Rikti and in the ancient Roman peninsula of Cimerora.
    • Issue 19 also saw an invasion of Primal Earth from Praetoria, giving both sides of the alignment spectrum (and everyone in between) an enemy that could only be fought off by pooling resources.
    • All Incarnate content, so far, is alignment-neutral. The Incarnate Trials all currently involve fighting against the Praetorians, and the one Incarnate Zone, Dark Astoria, is a Cooperative Zone dominated by the death god Mot, who even villains oppose.
  • Enemy Without: Inverted: Rularuu the Ravager, a god-like being from Another Dimension, has a Hero Without in the form of Faathim the Kind.
  • Energy Beings: Kheldians.
  • Escort Mission: With varying degrees of scrappyness; most of the time the escort-ee cannot actually be attacked, sometimes they are a powerful ally and capable of taking care of themselves, and sometimes they run off and attack every foe in sight like an idiot.
    • Hi, Lady Jane! My completely full team on the lowest difficulty level is here to help you, even with the Circle of Thorns being absolutely ridiculous at this level, I hope we ca—Oh. You've died.
      • Thankfully, they managed to tone her down in a recent update. And even if she does die, you are still handed the item you came for "just before she teleports out."
    • On the Lady Grey Task Force, you got an escort mission of two superhero sisters—Infernia and Glacia—whom you had to lead back to the door for successful mission. However, Infernia was such a Expletive Deleted chatterer who won't shut up that a good number of teams simply allowed the ambushes to kill her and be done with it.
      • "Die, Infernia, DIE!!!"
  • Equal Opportunity Evil: A lot of enemy groups are all-male (and two, the Cabal and the Knives of Artemis, are all-female), but Crey Industries, the Carnival of Shadows and Arachnos all have both male and female minions. Countess Crey runs Crey Industries.
    • On the villain side, Longbow is an Equal Opportunity Good enemy group.
    • And in Praetoria, the Resistance, the Destroyers, the Syndicate and, oddly enough, the Clockworks. The Ghouls might be, but are so heavily mutated that it's impossible to tell for sure. The PPD may qualify as well, if you count the Seers as part of their forces. And if you assume the hardsuits are not contour-fitting.
    • A late 2011 graphical update to the Circle of Thorns now makes it clear what gender they are under the robes; some of them have breasts, showing that yes, they too are an Equal Opportunity Evil group.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Some City of Villains missions have you taking on someone who has sunk to a level that disgusts even your character. Subverted if you take Westin Phipps' missions, which have you acting even worse. Double subverted if you choose to fail the last mission of his Francine Primm Story Arc, letting Ms. Primm escape to Paragon City in order to continue teaching reformed villains. If you do so, she sends you her syllabus and writes "It's never too late" on the back.
    • As a Villain you can't hurt civilians. Although The Lost is a villain group that consists of a great deal of homeless people...
    • Lord Recluse stayed neutral during World War II. Even a literal demonic spider hates Nazis.
    • Most of the Rogue alignment missions are this.
  • Everything Fades: The devs keep this vague on purpose; the official terminology is "defeat", which leaves the implication that a player can decide what fate his character inflicts on unfortunate opponents, from teleportation to the local Cardboard Prison (Zigursky Federal Penitentiary) to leaving them roughed up but alive to leaving thousands of corpses in your wake. Exactly how you non-lethally subdue someone with a powerset that is primarily Lethal damage (such as Assault Rifle or Broadsword) is never explained.
    • This changes in Going Rogue. There are several instances in Praetoria where you're given the option to kill people. Not defeat, kill. Most of them for treason.
    • There is even a hero side mission in the starting zone of issue 21 where you get a "arrest" or "Kill" option.
    • The "new" tutorial set in the ruins of Galaxy City gave you a "save/kill" choice about the fate of an injuried hero, which determined whether you were a hero or villain from that point onward.
  • Evil Minions: Enemies even spawn in a "Minion" class. Also, play a Mastermind and you get your own army of them. Inverted with the good minions certain high-level heroes get.
    • As of Going Rogue, you can now have Good (or at least Anti-Heroic) masterminds from Pretoria, or evil masterminds turned good. And after the destruction of Galaxy City, Masterminds could be heroes right from the start.
  • Evil Twin: The leaders of the Praetorian dimension are an evil Freedom Phalanx.
    • You can meet your own as of Issue 17.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Much of City of Villains' missions.
  • Expanded Universe: Comics and novels.
  • Expansion Pack: City of Villains; marketed as an "expandalone", since it could be played as a separate game. The game's major updates (known as Issues) fall in this category as well, happily adding a full pack's worth of content for free each time. Going Rogue was a traditional paid expansion pack, though it was also be available in a Complete Edition with the base CoX game, bonus costume pack, and 30 days of game time that you'd get even if you already own the base game.
  • Face Heel Turn / Heel Face Turn / Face Heel Revolving Door: The signature gameplay element of the Going Rogue expansion. Its mascots are an Arachnos-employed demon summoner who was lied to about her mother's death and a heroic Knight Templar superhero who became an insane vigilante. You can even have a hero turn into a villain then work their way back into being a hero again! (The same is true of villains.)
  • Faceless Eye: Some of the inhabitants of the Shadow Shard.
  • Faceless Goons
  • Fan Disservice: The default female Zombie costume is Stripperiffic.
  • Fan Nickname: When the Council were first introduced, they were known by many as "Sazis" or "Spazis" (for "Space Nazis"). Seems to have died out, though some still call the masked Galaxy soldiers "luchadores".
    • Rommy and the Fuzzies, for Romulus Augustus and his three Nictus, who look like floating balls of purple black smoke.
    • Boobcat for the new Praetoria revamp of Bobcat's costume.
    • Hami-O's for Hamidon Origin Enhancements.
    • Quite a few signature characters have shortened versions for ease of use: States, Posi, BABs, Manti, GW, Scorp, and DocQ.
    • Flambimbeaux.
    • The new tutorial level for Going Rogue has been referred to as the "Praetorial".
    • The underground city of Orangebagel.
    • Certain terms for players who play "hybrid" character, like "scranker" for a player who plays a tank but acts like a scrapper, or vice-versa. More here.
  • Feelies: Including Hero Clix of the signature characters.
  • Fetch Quest: Plenty of them, the repeatable ones often revolving around "Beat up this many members of a gang" but many also requiring you to be some kind of Fed-ex service between researchers, even though you'd be better off fighting crime. There are some seriously lazy people living in that city—and apparently a distinct lack of faxes, email, and courier services.
  • Flying Firepower: mix a ranged ability with flight, and you are one.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The "shadows" are actually a basic boss for the Nemesis faction—being the Magnificent Bastard that their titular leader is, his Power Armors have a very advanced AI that can work on its own. "Fake Nemeses" are, as one might guess, spare suits that have been activated to serve as field commanders/doppelgangers.
  • Five-Bad Band: The leaders of Arachnos.
  • Flash Back: Via the aptly-named Flashback system, complete with sepia tones at the beginning and end of missions.
  • Foreshadowing: The devs got very good at hinting at their plans through current updates. For instance, Requiem and the 5th Column turned out to be The Man Behind the Man in Cimerora, Issue 12, before the Column made their triumphant return in Issue 15.
    • On the other hand, the "Coming Storm" had been languishing in the background with (seemingly) no developments ever since Issue 11. Issue 17's new arcs made mention of it for the first time in years, and finally the first wave of it hit just before the game was shut down, destroying Galaxy City and thus creating the new Tutorial area. And it was apparently just the tip of the iceberg, according to Prometheus...
    • Also lampshaded and played straight with Foreshadow—a hero who alternates between good and evil every time he dies and is reincarnated. Which foreshadowed Going Rogue years before it ever came out.
  • Fragile Speedster: Any Blaster with the Speed travel power.
  • Freemium: Since the Freedom expansion. The majority of the game's content really was free, but endgame content, a special arc, certain archetypes, and a whole lot of costume options had to be paid for. Also, anyone who never spent any money on the game labored under some extra limitations.
  • Fog of War: While most zone maps are completely visible from the start, the various hazard zones must be revealed via exploration. Averted for some players in that a recent high-level Veteran's Reward negates this.
    • To a far smaller degree, the Steamy Mist power from the Storm Summoning set is quite literally a small-radius movable Fog of War centered on the user's person.
      • A full group of high level players fighting for their lives can send up a truly epic amount of particle spam, making it effectively impossible to see what is going on on your screen.
  • Friendly Fireproof: You can't set team-mates or hostages on fire. Unless your power is setting allies on fire.
  • Gambit Roulette: Lord Nemesis.
  • Game Breaker: Incarnate abilities are this in-universe, especially the fully-developed, not-controlled-by-the-Well version. Players will (likely) never get the full extent shown in one future flashback mission where Archvillains (the toughest regular foes in the game) are defeated with laughable ease.
  • Gender Bender: Possible with the third booster pack, Super Science... but please, for the love of all that is holy, don't bring it up on the forums.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sometimes mooks standing on the street corners will come out with hilariously insightful comments about their career path or how sometimes to be a catalyst of change you have to kick people.
  • Get on the Boat
  • Ghost Planet: Several of the other dimensions you get to visit. How they got that way is usually Nightmare Fuel.
  • Giant Germs: The Hamidon. And, depending on how you look at them, maybe the various Seedlings, Seeds and Avatars as well.
  • Glass Cannon: Blasters' tendency to get killed in any particular fight has lead to Blaster players referring to themselves as members of the "Floor inspectors' union".
    • Fiery Aura, in compared to other armor sets, also counts. No defense, lower resists compared to Electric Armor and Dark Armor, but has a Area of Effect attack, damage aura and a damage boosting power.
  • Glory Seeker: The "Power" storyline of the Loyalists in Praetoria revolves around your character being this, a fame seeker motivated to gain the adoration of the masses whatever the cost.
    • Also, this is Flambeaux's entire motivation for doing anything at all.
  • Going Through the Motions
  • Good Guy Bar: Pocket D is a neutral-zone club for all characters.
  • Gradual Grinder: Controller/Dominator primaries work that way. Debuff-based Defenders when soloing.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The Loyalists versus The Resistance in Praetoria. To put it another way, would you rather defend a society where free thought is abolished and civil rights barely exist... or would you rather destroy the last remnants of civilized society in the name of "freedom?" Tyranny or Anarchy, take your pick! (And no, you don't get a third option.) A character from either side can become a hero or villain, depending on your specific choices during game play.
  • Guns Akimbo/Gun Kata: The Dual Pistols powerset, available to Blasters, Defenders, Corruptors and Thug Masterminds. You have to be VIP, have bought them at the Paragon Shop, or have bought Going Rogue in order to get them though.
  • Hammerspace: Characters draw their weapons from thin air. Occasionally, enemies already with a weapon will put it away or leave it slung across their back, and draw another, different weapon from nowhere. Valkyrie is the primary example of the latter.
  • Hand Blast: The Blaster archetype runs on this. For at least half of the power sets, the first few powers involve firing fire, ice, radiation, energy, etc. from the hands.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: one of the costume options for gloves.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here
  • He Knows About Timed Hits
  • Heroes-R-Us
  • Hide Your Children: Except for Penny Preston and player characters, although the latter is mostly illusory.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Nemesis, mostly. Requiem's pulled it a couple times too.
  • Hollywood Giftwrap: During the winter holiday events, the gift-glowies that appeared all over the city were wrapped in this manner.
  • Homing Boulders: The Trope Namer. The success of a ranged attack is determined before or just as the attack animation begins, resulting in misses that always travel in straight lines, and hits that chase their targets down and pass unimpeded through solid objects in order to reach them.
    • Subverted in the same fashion; when a ranged attack misses "in a straight line," this is slightly off to the side when shot from across the room. When shot from point blank, it's hardly uncommon to see a fireball/lightning/ice blast/whatever suddenly shooting straight up or out to the side.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: The very last message on at least one server, sent moments before the November 2012 shutdown (and documented on a YouTube video) was a "looking for team" request.
  • Humongous Mecha: Malta Titans, especially the Kronos Class Titan. Depending on the definition, the Clockwork giant monsters may also apply. Also the Giant Zenith Mech from the last mission in the Hess Task Force on Striga Isle and the two repainted clones of it in the Imperius Task Force in Cimerora, although they're more properly part of the setting rather than an opponent.
  • 100% Heroism Rating
  • Idle Animation: The character cycles between several stances, including standing boldly with chest outthrust, crossing his/her arms, and placing their hands on their hips. The player can also pick one for AFK if they wish, such as reading a newspaper or listening to a police radio.
    • Also happens for NPCs. The default is punching a fist into a palm and the odd "bring it on!" gesture, but some enemy groups have their own, like standing at attention, sitting on boxes and cleaning weapons, or reading books and making tea.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: A lot of the reasoning that shows up in Vigilante tip missions. Also the default justification for the Loyalist/Responsibility path in Praetoria.
  • I Got a Rock: A Shout-Out during the Halloween events is that one of the "treats" you can get is a rock. Description: "You got a rock". Deals minor damage, and is prized by some for Cherry Tapping.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Motivation and frequent line of dialogue for NPC ex-heroine Flambeaux.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Your chance of hitting with ranged attacks is determined by your accuracy stat, and if you miss, the projectile physically misses the target. If you're firing at point-blank range, this can result in you shooting sideways, or straight up in the air.
    • Becomes somewhat egregious when the attacks in question are Eye Beams.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Many of the female options for clothing are possible to wear only if one's special abilities include attaching clothes with a nailgun.
  • Impossibly Low Neckline
  • Inescapable Ambush
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Pocket D, an interdimensional Night Club.
  • Instant Death Radius: Anything based on fire.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The Confusion status effect, which only allows you to target friendlies with your attacks and enemies with your support.
    • A specific case in Noble Savage's final mission in First Ward: Your character starts flipping out and shouting IN ALL CAPS when talking to people for no reason, and when you first enter the mission, the objective is (paraphrased) "Two poor souls who are possessing useless DUST shells to EAT" instead of "Two DUST Leader-possessing Apparitions to defeat." It's earnestly a little creepy. It turns out you were being possessed by the last Apparition you defeated -- during the course of the mission, the Apparition leaves your body to try and possess Katie Douglas, and the mission objective reverts to a more normal phrasing.
  • In-Universe Game Clock
  • Invisible Wall: Averted: City of Heroes has very visible War Walls, artifacts of the Rikti War that remain useful to the city. City Of Villains has unexplained blue force fields that are only visible up close.
    • Praetoria has sonic inhibitors in place of War Walls. Getting too close to a "restricted area" will shut off your powers and cause you physical harm. The Blue Forcefields used on mission maps and City of Villains zones are visible if you manage to get close enough to the edge without dying, or travel between Praetorian Zones via bridge.
  • Invulnerable Civilians
  • Irony: Paragon City is in Rhode Island. The setting for City of Villains is called The Rogue Isles. When Rhode Island was originally founded with the idea of creating a place of religious freedom, it was called "Rogues' Island" by the Puritans of Massachusetts.
  • ISO Standard Urban Groceries: Carried by some of the Invulnerable Civilians.
  • Item Crafting: The Invention system.
  • Item Farming:
    • The Invention system involves killing a lot of enemies to get recipes and components before you can build an Invention Origin Enhancement.
    • Hamidon Raids, along with the Statesman (now Back Alley Brawler) and Lord Recluse Task Forces, involve completing major quests to collect Hamidon Origin Enhancements.
  • It's All About Me: Trope, thy name is Flambeaux.

J-N[edit | hide]

  • Jack of All Stats: The Scrapper is the most balanced of the Archetypes, falling midway between the Blaster and Tanker in terms of its ability to both dish out and soak up damage. Scrappers therefore have the greatest survivability in solo play, but the downside is that in team play they lack a clearly-defined role and tend to be overshadowed by the more specialized Archetypes.
    • ...which is fine with them because they'll gladly go off and solo the other half of the map. And that's fine with you because you're getting a share of that experience.
    • Lacking a clearly defined team role isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the Scrapper can make a good stand-in for an aggressive Tank. Their greatest team-centric let-down is that they must run into a fight to land a hit, so you mustn't get too mad at them for going on ahead; they're a Melee class and their powers demand close-up fighting. As a result they get knocked out quite a lot in a team and are sometimes known as "Rug-Munchers".
    • Since side-switching became available, the Brute has fallen into this. Offensively, they're weaker than Scrappers, but stronger than Tankers (and vice-versa for defenses).
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Villain missions undertaken as a Vigilante are this, to a hilarious degree—blowing up a Longbow base to teach them a lesson about being complacent, destroying a charity event because no one in the Rogue Isles deserves charity, murdering a kidnapped girl, faking a distress call with a promised reward, and then killing any heroes who try to come rescue her since they were probably doing it for the reward...
    • Issue 19 added new tip missions for Vigilantes trying to become Villains and Rogues trying to become Heroes, which are much better written while still playing this trope straight—that is to say, Vigilantes jump off the slippery slope in a much more realistic and believable manner (along with Rogues... getting... back up the slippery slope?).
  • Jump Physics
  • Justified Tutorial: Originally the tutorials were containing a viral outbreak in City of Heroes and breaking out of jail in City of Villains. These were retired when Freedom launched and replaced with an evacuation from Galaxy City as it's hit by Shivan meteors during which you learn the interface and must make a moral choice that sets you on a heroic or villanous path. With Going Rogue, Prateorian characters found themselves going through Powers Division training and choosing to side with the Resistance or Loyalists.
  • Karma Meter: But not of the BioWare sort. Rather, each alignment (Hero, Vigilante, Rogue, and Villain) has their own bar, and completing Tip Missions will give you an alignment point for the respective bar. After filling up the bar by doing 10 missions towards that alignment, you'll end up with a Morality Mission that will allow you to make the hard switch to that alignment.
  • Kick the Dog: Westin Phipps, whose missions have you kidnapping families, poisoning food meant for the homeless, and other monstrous things for no reason but For the Evulz. Some players think he's too evil. Other players think he's not evil enough. Also that one mission where you go to Paragon City and kidnap civilians and hand them over to Dr. Vahzilok's minions so the Paragon Police will go after him and distract him from his plans in the Rogue Isles.
  • Killer Space Monkey: Rikti monkeys.
  • Knight Templar: Scirocco embodies this during his Patron arc, and Longbow sometimes indulges in tendencies like this. Malta, without a doubt, is made of these.
    • Pretty much literal with the on-a-mission-from-God Luddites.
      • ...although they're actually right, at least about Dr. Aeon.
    • Player characters can become one themselves either as a Vigilante or with the Crusader Resistance faction.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Especially bad for the Peacebringers and Warshades, whose presence on a team causes special enemies to spawn specifically to hose them.
  • Large Ham: Romulus Augustus' transformation, right down to larger font.
  • Laughably Evil: Dr. Thaddeous Aeon. His scatterbrained megalomania (complete with Did I Just Say That Out Loud?) is just so cute!
    • Ditto up-and-coming Mad Lab Assistant Vernon von Grun. He even tells you to laugh with him at one point. (Anyone who doesn't, for real, is not getting into the spirit of this arc.)
    • The Freakshow as well. Everything they say and do is ridiculously hilarious.
      • Combine the two and you have Doc Buzzsaw:
  • Lazy Artist: The never-ending supply of generic, near-identical warehouses with random floor plans. And the office buildings. And the caves.
  • Leaked Experience
  • Leave No Witnesses: In City of Villains, sometimes an explicit mission objective.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As a Shout-Out, no less.
    • And far, far too many players in bad pick-up groups to count.
  • Leet Lingo: The Freakshow tend to speak in l33t. Nobody really knows how they can pronounce it. Lampshaded on a regular basis.
  • Legacy Character: The current Manticore took up his father's role after his murder.
    • Also, in a Villain-Only Ouroboros mission you get to fight the mother (and former nameholder) of Miss Liberty.
      • Well technically the mother is Miss Liberty, her daughter is Ms Liberty. Yes, they're confused all the time.
  • Level Five Onix
  • Level Grinding: Although the devs do their best to minimize it.
  • Level Scaling: While enemies in open world areas have fixed levels, most missions are instanced, and the instances are scaled to player levels and group sizes. In case of the flashback system that allows high-level heroes to revisit low-level missions, the player is scaled in level to match the mission difficulty.
    • This was especially visible in Architect Entertainment missions: unless the creator overrode the default setting, missions would scale from level 1 to level 54 with the player.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The lotus pose and lotus-with-levitation are stock poses, although the latter is more a fortuitous accident stemming from the various "sit" emotes still being available to a toon in flight.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: If you create your character in Praetoria, the squeaky-clean police-state, you defect to Primal Earth (the main game setting) at level 20. Either because you believe that liberty is worth the chaos that comes with it, or because it'll make being a villain easier.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Standard editions, DVD Collector's Editions, Good vs. Evil pack...
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The end of the last mission in the Ernesto Hess Task Force is a nasty shock your first time through...
  • Lost Forever: Formerly the badges from the tutorial missions. Ouroboros was added to the game for the explicit purpose of averting this trope; today, only the anniversary badges can truly be considered to be Lost Forever.
    • The game itself, now.
  • MacGuffin: Including a literal P.L.O.T. Device.
    • Steven Werner's precious item, which is never described in more detail.
  • Made of Iron: No one ever really explains how archetypes with no defenses (Blasters, Masterminds, etc) can take a bullet to the chest without flinching.
    • Made of Diamond: Some of the Tier 9 moves skyrocket your defense for about 3 minutes. Moment of Glory takes this Up to Eleven by combining two Tier 9 effects, but only for 15 seconds.
  • Mad Scientist: Several of them, from the Praetorian Anti-Matter to Dr. Aeon.
  • Magikarp Power
  • Mana Meter: Called "Endurance" here.
  • Meta Origin: The Well Of The Furies, a very controversial and often misunderstood bit of lore. Originally described as being a literal Fountain of Phelebotinum that could grant anyone who tasted its waters the powers of a deity, it has since been retconned to become a semi-sentient entity responsible for spreading superpowers throughout the world to fulfill its own mysterious agenda.
    • By completing the Dark Astoria storyline you could find out from Prometheus that the Well is actually something called a Force of Potential, formed from the collective thoughts and ideals of humanity. Every species in the multiverse has a Force of Potential, but some have been consumed by members of the species going One-Winged Angel, and others are being hunted by a mysterious force called The Batallion -- which is, or is part of, the "Oncoming Storm".
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Clockwork are an entire faction of these; in addition, The Council, the 5th Column, Arachnos, Nemesis, Malta, and the Sky Raiders all have their own punchable robots.
    • Also, Mastermind PCs can have mecha-mooks of their own, with the Robots power set.
    • Going Rogue brings graphical updates for the Praetorian Clockwork, providing male, female, huge, and Giant Monster flavors of Mecha Mooks.
  • Mighty Glacier: Stone Tankers and Brutes. As well, Ice Tankers can usually move as fast as anybody else—except when using the tier 9 power, Hibernate, which renders you immobile, invulnerable, and incapable of attacking, but boosts your regen and recovery.
  • Mind Screw: The villain-side Television contact, which has you taking orders from Bart Simpson, burning books and blaming it on videogames, and going into a gangster movie to defeat Nemesis troops, among other weirdness.
    • Some Vigilante-to-Villain morality missions follow the idea that your character is becoming evil via descent into madness. To symbolize this, those missions will delve into Mind Screw territory.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: The Good vs. Evil box art.
  • Mirror Universe: Praetorian Earth... sort of. After Going Rogue more of a funhouse mirror, but still...
  • Mook Maker: Of both the fixed type, in Circle of Thorns demon portals and Council vampyri generators, and the recurring one, in Rikti Communication Officers' summoning Portals. Both type earn much ire from the playerbase for the fact that, while the summoner offers decent rewards, all the Mooks offer none.
  • Mook Promotion: The basis for the Arachnos player character plot line.
  • Money Spider: Especially since the introduction of Inventions.
  • Monty Haul: Some players design their Mission Architect arcs like this, much to the developers' dismay.
  • Most Common Superpower: It's still impossible to make a heroine with less than a C-cup.
    • You can go a good way towards making a flat-chested female by giving her the armored upper body costume piece.
    • For some bizarre reason, some robots have this.
  • Motor Mouth: Trope, thy name is Incendia. Flambeaux during Twinshot's initial arc also qualifies.
  • Name of Cain: "Cutter Cain", who kills Praetorian Seers, typically with a knife, in Going Rogue. Subverted in that his real name is Doctor Steffard, and he's actually a Resistance Warden trying to help them by removing cybernetic implants binding them to mindless slavery; but the science is so experimental it's not always successful, and at least one was killed by a remote kill-signal in the implants after he had released her.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Malta, Arachnos, the Council, the Nemesis Army...
  • Nerf Arm: Intentionally averted: the developers want customizable weapons to still look like they should do significant damage. Nevertheless, a Nerf bat option remained one of the more popular requests all the way up to the shutdown.
    • That's only because it was already in the game, but as a dev-only power, which they'd use to smack people dead in one it if you annoyed them!
    • That said, some of the options were still not entirely serious-looking (for example, one of the battle axe options was a shovel, one of the shield options was a manhole cover, and among the war mace options were a wooden baseball bat, a variety of pipe wrenches, a shillelagh, a bone club, and... a shovel).
      • You think a shovel doesn't make a good battle axe? Look up "entrenching tool" some time.
      • It was also no doubt a reference to The Shoveler.
  • News Travels Fast: Even backwards in time. It's amazing how well-informed Roman-era Cimerorans were about events in 21st-Century Rhode Island.
  • NGO: Vanguard, a branch of the U.N. specifically created to handle invasions by the Rikti and other outsiders, and coordinate the efforts of both heroes and villains. Occasionally seems to veer into NGO Superpower.
  • Nice Job Breaking It Vigilante: the 30 range Vigilante Morality Mission revolves around the player character discovering that Frostfire is about to get Off on a Technicality, and deciding to break into the Longbow base where he's being held. So after smacking around hordes of decent members of Longbow, the character meets Frostfire's lawyer, who refuses to give up the code to Frostfire's cell, even after being smacked around; your only choice is to overload the cells... which releases a bunch of much more dangerous villains who are far too strong to fight and quickly escape, and reveals that Frostfire has since become The Atoner, and does nothing to defend himself as the player character beats him to a pulp.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: There are gameplay aspects of this (such as building a tank who mocks whatever the opposition throws at him), but by getting KO'd and paying off the experience debt that comes with it, you eventually earn badges for it. The next to last badge hangs a lampshade on it as so:

The Undying: You can't be certain, but you believe the possibility exists that you cannot die.

  • Nintendo Hard: The MA critters will go to extremes to teach you exactly how broken player powers are, and that's not even factoring in the bugged powers.
  • Non-Lethal KO
  • No OSHA Compliance
  • No Swastikas: The 5th Column, while explicitly said to be a fascist villain group left over from Nazi Germany, use a skull with the Roman numeral V behind it as their logo. The release of Issue 3 replaced all 5th Column content in the game with the Council, who are an Italian fascist villain group plus space aliens who co-opted the 5th Column in a hostile takeover. The 5th Column began reappearing in select stories, however, and officially returned in Issue 15.
    • As one of the developers explained they still "have to avoid certain symbols" and themes.
    • One of the developers has stated that the reason for replacement of the 5th Column by the Council was due to the original concept for City of Villains, where a starting character would join one of the villain factions as a rank-and-file thug, advancing in the organization before having an Origin; the 5th Column was replaced to eliminate the issues associated with players being able to join a Nazi organization. This starting premise was dropped when the developers decided it would constrain gameplay too much for starting characters, and the 5th Column was later brought back and fights the Council when they encounter each other.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: ...it's the stone thrown at you that removes the 1 HP you have left!
  • Notice This: Inanimate mission targets glow pulsatingly and emit a distinctive sound.


O-S[edit | hide]

  • Obfuscating Insanity: Praetorian Penelope Yin is merely pretending to be insane in order to take down Mother Mayhem from within the BAF. Dark Watcher is concerned that she may be Becoming the Mask, however.
  • One-Winged Angel: Romulus and potentially anything and anyone related to Nictus/Kheldian storyline, including players. Hamidon did this to himself and his Animal Wrongs Group in the backstory.
  • Ouroboros: An organisation called Ouroboros tries to save the world from an unspecified disaster via time travel. To do this they... let heroes and villains jump back in time to do whatever they want.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Council and 5th Column's Vampyri are explained as being the pinnacle of a super-soldier program rather than a bite-transmitted disease. However, players love to both embrace and avert the trope. With the advent of player-created Custom Critters in the Mission Architect tools, a player can make "Vampires" that do pretty much anything.
  • Painted-On Pants
  • Parental Incest: Actually, make that GrandParental Incest, implied between Tyrant and Dominatrix (the evil versions of Statesman and Ms. Liberty), especially in the spin-off comic.
    • Ironically retconned as of the Going Rogue expansion. The official reaction to questions about this could be summed up as "wait, what? *looks* Oh, ewewewewewewewewewewewewewewwwww!"
      • Which suggests the current developers are woefully ignorant of their own setting's lore, the players (who've been joking about it for years) are perverts, or both.
  • Patchwork Map
  • People Jars: Several examples.
    • Nemesis Warhulks have their pilots floating in a gold-colored liquid.
    • Arachnos bases frequently have creepy glowing tubes mounted on the walls in which various varieties of Mooks appear to be growing.
    • In the "laboratory" portion of the Lambda Sector Incarnate trial, the "containment chambers" which are the targets to be destroyed contain human beings (who disappear when the chambers are broken).
  • Perpetual Molt: For burned wings; this is more like perpetual smoke. The straight version was meant to be put in but was initially pulled due to hardware limitations; as of issue 20.5 it's now available for Incarnates to purchase with Astral or Empyrean merits.
  • Personal Raincloud: One of the top-end powers in the Storm Summoning set lets you create one of these—complete with destructive lightning—over anyone you care to inconvenience. Sadly, it stays put instead of following them.
  • Pet the Dog: A villain going to a rogue has moments like these. Your character justifies it by saying it's simply good business.
  • Pick Up Group
  • Playable Epilogue: In the last few issues before its demise, City of Heroes started including story arcs that ended with an optional "mission" in which you played a different character and got to see what happened to them after your part of the story finished.
  • Point Defenseless: Averted with the Vanguard Base in the Rikti Warzone. The turrets around the base are level 54, whereas the nearest enemies are, at maximum, level 38. Played straight during missions involving the Vanguard base, as those selfsame turrets spawned to the level of the mission, alongside notably more enemies than they can usually successfully take on. Similarly, the turrets in the Shadow Shard are never shown firing on anything (because they actually predate the Turrets enemy group).
    • Additionally, missions involving attacking Longbow or Wyvern at sea. The turrets on these ships can quickly shred an unprepared villain, and the ones inside the ships can be an unwelcome surprise during the inevitable hero battles that take place within.
  • Powers Via Possession: Peacebringers and Warshades, lots of villain PCs.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Necessary for game balance, but not handled so well in a certain mission available only to characters who are explicitly highly-trained soldiers, where they are sent to defeat a Flying Brick wielding the power of Zeus just to prove how tough they are.
  • Preorder Bonus: City of Villains offered special Arachnos themed costume pieces to those who preordered the game. Going Rogue offered early access to two of its new power sets.
  • Product Placement: The recently introduced "Optional In-Game Advertising" has thus far advertised Nike and T-Mobile products.
    • Strangely, despite all the kerfuffle about its addition to the game, actual ads not only weren't all that common, but actually seemed to disappear entirely in the last couple years before the shutdown.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The trainer in one of the two hero starting zones has Excalibur on her belt.
  • Punch Clock Villain: A number of mooks are just in it for the reliable paycheck.
    • With Going Rogue, you can play one—much of the "switch to Rogue" missions is your villain deciding that power isn't worth his conscience and going the Anti-Villain route of working with the local Affably Evil chaps for much less morally-ambiguous cash.
  • Punny Name: Carefully slipped in here and there. One particular favorite was the Mystic Mu'Kau, whom Ghost Widow would dispatch you to interrogate during one of her arcs.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Male, female, and "huge". While there are no statistic differences, some costume options, like skirts, are specific to certain body types.
  • Pyromaniac: Several flame-powered npcs, both villains and, to a lesser extent, heroes.

Pyra: I'm just here for the money. Well, the money and a chance to set people on fire.

  • Ragdoll Physics: Once this was implemented, defeating enemies became much more awesome ... not to mention amusing. Curiously, the original "keeling over" sound effect, which involves two distinct thuds, has remained despite not matching up with the ragdolling in the slightest...
  • Random Drop
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: As an Obvious Rule Patch, all custom enemies with a melee attack set now get Throwing Knives as a ranged attack power, to stop ranged characters from killing them in midair from a position of perfect safety.
    • Similarly, after one early issue all player characters also received a minor ranged attack (which varied by Origin, but bore no relation to powerset selection) upon creation.
  • Recurring Boss
  • The Remnant: The Rikti, after their failed Alien Invasion; specifically, the Reconstructionist faction.
  • Retcon: When the Council replaced the 5th Column, all 5th Column missions and story arcs were rewritten as if they'd always been about the Council, no matter how little sense that made. Mostly averted with Going Rogue; the Praetorian arcs were rewritten, but as sequels to the old arcs, which are still available in Ouroboros. About the only detail to actually be retconned is allusions to a sexual relationship between Tyrant and Dominatrix.
    • There may be another "developer oops" retcon coming up: there is no interpretation of the in-game evidence that permits the most likely candidate for Penelope Yin's mother to have been older than 16 when Penelope was born—and depending on how you interpret "young graduate student" and some other pieces of the in-game timeline, said mother could have been as young as 8.
    • Various retcons involving Stateman and Sister Pysche were being implemented as of the shutdown, to reflect their deaths in the "Who Will Die?" special arc/storyline.
  • Rewarding Inactivity: As an Anti-Poopsocking measure, logging off—and staying logged off—in certain locations will grant your character a temporary power. The longer he is logged off, the better the power.
  • Ride the Lightning
  • Rival Turned Evil: Statesman and Lord Recluse.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The Cabal. With the release of the Magic Booster pack, players can join in.
  • Rogues Gallery: Issue 18 introduced the "Rogues Gallery" faction of various enemy supers for the player to fight during Tip Missions.
  • The Roleplayer: Virtue is the unofficial Roleplay Server and, though you'll find roleplayers elsewhere, they're not nearly as common. (Or as welcome).
  • Roof Hopping
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The Going Rogue expansion added a badge called "Going Rouge." It's right by the Praetorian tailor.
  • Run, Don't Walk: For over five years, you could take down anything from lowly street thugs to gods of alternate dimensions to next-gen SWAT teams and demonic mystic forces... and you could never not run. This has finally been changed with the addition of the Walk toggle, although it turns off all other powers, so you shouldn't use it in combat.
    • The animation of female characters using the Walk toggle is a form of Fan Service.
  • Running Gag: In the mission to rescue Dr. Stephen Fayte (who is, we are told, often mistaken for a famous sorcerer), everyone describes him with exactly the same phrase: "a gifted surgeon, and nothing more."
  • Run the Gauntlet: In a couple of story arcs.
  • Saving the World: Several different ways, as many times as you like. One such mission even awards you with a "Saved the World" badge!
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Rikti.
  • Screw Destiny: In fact, screw Operation: Destiny!
  • Screw Gun Safety: Random NPC chatter has an Arachnos officer threatening to hurt his underlings if they don't observe gun safety, whether (they think) the gun is loaded or not.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: Somewhat averted in that the chat filter can be disabled when it gets too ridiculous.
    • Back in force in the Mission Architect, which for quite a while banned such words as "nip" (as in "nip in the bud") or "God".
      • Even more ridiculous when you remember that one of the first enemy boss types are called "Damned".
      • As of late, the word "Spook" has been banned. Nobody really knew why until someone pointed out that it was an extremely archaic racist term, that has dropped out of use since the 50's.
      • Referring to the Weekly Task Force (a rotating "extra" which adds Incarnate bonuses to one of the existing high-level Strike Forces/Task Forces) as "WTF" will be censored.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Everywhere. Some of it gets unsealed, fought and resealed.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Doing an Ouroboros mission with any (or all!) of the difficulty options turned on.
  • Sequential Boss: Snaptooth.
  • Serial Killer Killer: One of the characteristics of Vigilantes is that they usually kill villains rather than arresting them.
  • Serious Business: During a radio mission you may be sent to rescue "Jake Emmet", the designer of the newest Freedom Phalanx game. He's been kidnapped by a villain group who are portrayed rather negatively in the game. When you finally fight your way to him, the boss/lieutenant guarding him complains that his character got nerfed in the last patch.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The definitions of "right" and "wrong" may be subjective. Happens occasionally in City of Villains, to the point of Fanon Discontinuity on the part of some players, mostly due to Status Quo Is God.
  • Sequel Escalation: If you consider each level tier to be sequels to the previous one, you go from fighting street level thugs with minor powers to Saving the World multiple times from threats that could flay those earlier thugs alive just by looking at them.
  • The Shepherd: New players, especially ones who come from other MMORPGs, seem to be constantly surprised at the relative friendliness of the official forums, especially in the 'Player Questions' board, whose motto is "Being a newbie is not a crime." Some half-jokingly treat such players like refugees.
  • Shout-Out: Hundreds. Just a sampling...
    • Additionally, one of the pieces of salvage you can gather for crafting invention origin enhancements, the Conspiratorial Evidence, reads: "Who knew that the simple aglet's true purpose was so sinister?"
    • And of course, The Inanimate Carbon Rod, another piece of invention salvage. Its description simply reads: "In Rod we trust".
    • The Ouroboros contact who sells inspirations is Mender Roebuck (as in "Sears, Roebuck & Co.")
    • The NPC who built and runs the monkey fight in Pocket D is Joe Young.
    • The descriptive text for the "Fervent" Veteran's badge (42 months) is "Forty-two. Could you be the answer to everything?"
    • One of the possible passwords to give the Latin Student in Steel Canyon to gain access to the Midnighter Club is Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (alas, the response text doesn't continue the Shout-Out).
    • Dr. Forrester is a contact in Grandville. An NPC in a mission for the "Television" contact is named Dr. Big McLargeHuge.
    • Little Bill didn't deserve to die, not that deserving's got anything to do with it...
    • The mission to rescue Dr. Frank N. Scott, who is being forced to reveal a ritual that might cause a time warp, a ritual which starts with a jump to the left... and then a step to the right.
    • Another mission to recover the Overation Oscillithruster.
    • Let us not forget Dr. Stephen Fayte, who is merely a gifted surgeon, nothing more.
    • Every (non-hazard/trial) zone has a police contact who is a shout out to a TV show, ranging from Fish to Miami Vice to Due South, or to a movie, ranging from Bullitt to Blade Runner to RoboCop.
    • The little snatch of dialog heard from a police drone as you pass them is straight from a Season 1 Justice League cartoon.
    • The "glowie sound" emitted by inanimate mission objectives is from an episode of the 1970s science fiction show Space: 1999.
    • The hastily scrawled note you are required to read as the first mission of the Villain invention tutorial concludes with first a grocery list, and then the line "Jenny (555) 867-5409 Call her!"
    • In one Grandville mission for the villains, you are sent to deal with a Malta cell whose commanders are at odds with each other and are convinced that both are out to get each other. The two in question are Commanders Grimm and Weir.
    • The zone "Monster Island" features an Exploration badge titled "Rikti Monkey Island". To drive the reference home, the description text for the badge begins with "There is a secret to this island of monkeys...". Continuing the theme, a nearby Exploration badge is named "Grim Fandango", the location of and description text for which is heavily bone-themed.
    • Some of the most dangerous, 41-50 enemy groups include: Psychic Aliens with a Collective mental network who use pylons to power their technology, a bunch of creatures mutated by a collectively sentient microscopic organism and a bunch of highly skilled normals including a handful of extremely stealthy assassins.... so, basically: Protoss (Rikti), Zerg (Devouring Earth) and Terrans (Malta/Knives).
    • The choice of a shovel as an alternate form for both War Mace and War Axe may be a shout out to the Shoveler in Mystery Men.
    • One of the options you have to identify yourself to the security computer at the start of the first mission of Twinshot's initial arc is "My name is Inigo Mon--"
    • ...and literally hundreds more. Just try to list them all!
  • Shoot the Medic First: When in PVP, kill off your enemy's healers first, obviously. And the same goes for any villains who can heal other minions. The Tsoo Sorcerers are one of the earlier examples of this trope, especially annoying since they'll heal any other faction you're trying to kill. Later on you may run into the Devouring Earth.
    • Confounded by the Praetorian ghouls, who radiate healing energies (that affect only other ghouls) when they die—in other words, shooting them turns them into medics.
  • Significant Anagram: The Honoree. Mender Silos.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: City of Heroes is generally pegged firmly on the Idealism end of the scale—villains get their comeuppance and stopped, and only the lowest, cruelest sorts firmly over the Moral Event Horizon aren't Genre Blind. City of Villains is generally more cynical, with everyone (with a few exceptions) generally being unpleasant at the very least, and the closest characters to idealism being a demon hunter whose major pleasure in life is inflicting pain upon demons, and a Knight Templar whose aspirations involve brainwashing every villain in the world into being good. Going Rogue gives players the ability to move along the scale as they see fit, and the world it introduces is...squiffy about the issue.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Frostfire Mission.
  • Soaperizing: In the Show Within a Show.
  • Solo Class:
    • The Scrapper is the local soloist-class in City of Heroes proper. Striking a good balance between absorbing damage and dishing it out, a well-built Scrapper can solo anything short of a full-on Archvillain. (And sometimes even that, depending on the version. Early versions had a few exploits that certain builds of scrappers could use to become virtually immortal at higher levels.) Unfortunately they have to get in close for their attacks to land and it can get them knocked out a lot, leading them to be also known as "Rug Munchers".
    • In City of Villains, the Brute can play pretty much the same role as the Scrapper, but the real solo-master there is the pet-centric Mastermind-class, who basically get to bring their own army with them wherever they go. At higher levels, you'll have anywhere from 6 to 8 pets following you around (depending on the exact powerset), making it quite possible to handle most bosses on your own without even getting your hands dirty.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil
  • Squad Controls: Masterminds, for their pets.
  • Status Buff
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Averted somewhat, since several areas, such as Faultline and the Rikti War Zone, have seen permanent changes.
    • Going Rogue's release also gave a modern update to the previous Praetorian Earth content, though the old story arcs are still playable through Ouroboros.
    • Indeed, almost every mission that was ever available to do is still available.
    • Also embraced mercilessly by at least a couple story arcs in City of Villains, sometimes to the point of Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Steampunk: Nemesis.
  • Stock Sound Effects: As of issue 17, a Wilhelm Scream will occasionally be emitted by defeated opponents.
  • Story Arc: Dozens, if not hundreds. Most contacts, even the initial ones in the later years of the game, had one or more, and successfully completing them earned you Reward Merits and a "souvenir" which contained a write-up that recapped the events of the arc. The souvenirs were usually that arc's particular MacGuffin.
  • Stripperiffic: Technically it's the choice of the player, but once you've made a female Hero, even the costume options that are in both male and female show off a lot of skin. There's lots of options in leather too, and some very revealing costume options.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The 5th Column.
  • Sturgeon's Law: In full effect with the Mission Architect. Even with the search options, it is a huge chore to actually find missions with actual stories instead of being just a farm or meant to be a challenge.
    • And then, predictably, 90% of those are... not very good.
      • When it comes to the Mission Architect, Sturgeon was a wild-eyed optimist.
  • Suicide Mission: In the backstory, the Rikti War ended with a suicide mission led by Hero One to cut off the Rikti homeworld from Earth. For a long time, only one survivor, Ajax, was known; Lady Grey's task force reveals that three more survived on the Rikti homeworld: sisters Infernia and Glacia, and Hero One, turned into a Rikti named The Honoree.
  • Summoning Ritual: The Circle of Thorns can be easily located from a distance by their summoning rituals and their habit of stealing souls.
  • Supercop: The Paragon Police Department has regular beat cops, cops in Powered Armour, cops with Psychic Powers, cops merged with alien symbiotes, at least one cyborg cop, and Blue Steel, a superhero who works directly for the police.
    • Distinctly averted in the earlier issues of the game, when the police were just another skin for the standard passer-by NPC, and had all the same reactions as the civilians—including fleeing in panic upon encountering any kind of villain.
  • Superhero: It's all about them, of course!
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Why exactly do the Praetorian Clockwork robots, used for such dangerous jobs as trash pickup and gardening, have flamethrowers and lasers built in?
    • To help assist in arresting any uppity citizens of course.
    • Actually; the 'flamethrowers' in question are actually plasma torches; used for welding. The lasers are probably a self-defense mechanism built in just in case The Resistance or other attackers show up... however, the animation looks to be like a different version of their welding torch, much as the "flamethrower" is.
  • Superpower Meltdown: Subverted with the origin of the Siren's Call zone; played straight at first glance in the origin of Faultline.
  • Super Reflexes: One of the Power Sets for Scrappers, Stalkers, and Brutes.
  • Super Registration Act: Established in the backstory, and generally not seen as a bad thing. You have to register having powers, but it doesn't force you into anything. The last time supers were drafted was WWII.
    • Actually, it used to be a lot worse. The infamous "Might for Right Act" (passed during the Cold War, and used to secretly draft supers—especially minorities who couldn't fight it—into working for the CIA) is a major part of the game's Backstory.
    • In Praetoria, anyone with superpowers (or who is talented at martial arts, or just owns a weapon) is forced to join the Praetoria Police's Powers Division.
  • Supervillain Lair: Though the feature was introduced with City of Villains, both Villains and Heroes can make lairs/bases for their Super Group. Of course, you also assault a fair number of NPC lairs.
  • Swiss Cheese Security

T-Z[edit | hide]

  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: ...if you don't want to. The game uses "defeated", but it's up to you whether you kill, arrest, beat up, or do whatever else to enemies. Until you notice if your power does "lethal" damage.
    • Averted with Going Rogue—missions in Praetoria often require you to explicitly kill someone, particularly morality missions.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Literally, in the original (later, Echo) Dark Astoria!
    • Mostly averted in other areas, there's lots of pedestrians walking around.
    • Dark Astoria also has pedestrians. They just vanish when you get too close.
  • Time Police: Ouroboros Well, that's what they claim, anyway.
  • Time Travel
  • Timed Mission: A regular mission format. Can get annoying.
    • Made worse in Going Rogue, which includes missions that give you two minutes to accomplish some subgoal before all hell breaks loose—often with no warning that a timer has started ticking away save for its appearance in the mission compass.
    • To clarify, there are two formats of Timed Mission. In the old format, the timer starts as soon as you accept the mission, is typically four to ten times longer than the mission will take, and letting the timer expire results in failure of the mission. An old-style timed mission means "do this mission now, rather than logging off and doing it tomorrow". In the new format, the timer starts when you enter the mission door or complete some mission objective, gives you just barely enough time to complete a timed objective, and letting the timer expire means the mission will get harder. A new-styled timed mission means "do this part of the mission at a dead run."
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In a high-level villain story arc. Subverted: You're real, but your contact is an automaton.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: The "Who Will Die?" Signature story arc. It's right there in the title: a member of the Freedom Phalanx will die by the end of the arc. Who does it end up being?
    • Statesman himself, in Part 5...and then Sister Psyche in Part 6.
      • And for bonus points, Statesman's daughter, who while not a crimefighter is still an influential figure, got offed in Part 4. It's starting to look like "Who Won't Die?" in the last few segments.
  • Totally Radical: Played for laughs with a certain famous Nemesis quote:

"I assure you, my good man, Nemesis is most definitely 'down with the street.' Word up, my homie, as it were."

  • Training Boss
  • Training Dummy: The disabled Rikti drones in the old "Outbreak" tutorial zone.
    • Also Rikti shaped dummies in the Vanguard Base shooting range.
  • Transformation Sequence: Available in the Magic Booster Pack as of Spring 2009.
  • Truce Zone: Pocket D, the Vanguard Base, the Rikti War Zone, Cimerora.
  • Tuckerization: In addition to shout out locations such as Perez Park and Gaiman Woods, a particular example is the first superhero that players encountered in the old hero tutorial, Coyote.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In a short arc available to characters in their early L30s, the Council accidentally improves their robot A.I. to the point that a group of rogue robots starts not only rebelling against them, but planning to wipe out all of humanity.
  • Uncanceled: The Cathedral of Pain trial, which up until Issue 18/Going Rogue was hopelessly bugged and unfinished.
  • Underground Level: The many cave maps; some are hated.
  • The Unintelligible: Ricochet of the Crusaders part of the Resistance. The Resistance use their own slang but they can be understood. Ricochet uses slang that's so thick that the first thing you do after accepting her first mission is get someone to translate what she just said. The second has a question mark next to the mission objective. It doesn't get any better.
  • Unobtainium: An actual MacGuffin, made from Nonesuchium and Yeahrightium. Played straight with Impervium.
    • Parodied by the bombs the Lost can be found fiddling with in the central trench of Terra Volta; rather than being matter or antimatter, the bombs are "Doesn't Matter."
  • Up, Up, and Away: After flight poses were added.
  • Valley Girl: Becky the Tarantula Mistress, as well as Flambeaux from the Shining Stars Hero arc you get at level five.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Featured in several story arcs, and usually with their own custom tilesets.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Villain Tip Missions, particularly when you're a Vigilante-turning-Villain in the Rogue Isles.
  • Video Game Historical Revisionism
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Crey Industries, which is responsible for rebuilding much of Paragon City after the First Rikti War, is run by an evil mastermind who is using this clout to cover up many evil projects, including one to clone dead and kidnapped supers so they can brainwash the clones and use them for their own purposes.
    • Subverted in City of Villains with Aeon Corp, which built a power plant fueled by a bound demon. As this is on the Villain side, it's never really hidden that Aeon is up to something suspicious, Aeon's offices on Cap Au Diable is constantly being protested by a group of militant activists called The Luddites.
    • Played straight with the "utopia" of Praetoria introduced in Going Rogue. Emperor Cole rules a "meritocracy" where any and all basic needs are provided free of charge, Clockwork robots handle all manual labor, and Praetorian PD officers on every corner have all but eliminated crime. Which happens thanks to a drugged water supply, the psionic Seers being literal thought police, the PPD drafting any super-powered individuals, and the Secret Police under Chimera having full authority to "disappear" anyone whom they think is a threat to "the peace." Such threats usually wind up as guinea pigs for the resident Mad Scientists.
  • The Virus: The Will of The Earth.
  • The Wall Around the World: The War Walls.
  • Warp Whistle
  • We Buy Anything: Partially subverted, in that stores dedicated to origins other than your own won't pay you full price. Also, your contacts will purchase Recipes and Salvage, but not Enhancements, and no NPCs will buy Inspirations.
    • Thanks to the auction house, though, players can and do buy anything that has an Inf prices on it.
  • Wham! Episode: "Who Will Die Part 3". The identity of The Dragon is revealed to be Malaise, and Statesman's daughter Miss Liberty is killed - possibly by the player villain.
  • What Could Have Been: Kallisti Wharf. The Moon Base. The Battalion. The top-end Incarnate powers. "Who Will Die?", Part 6.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: See Playable Epilogue.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Almost every mission in the game involves punching (or shooting or stabbing) someone in the face.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Subverted, to an extent. There's proof that high technology/super science is relatively common amongst the populace of the Cities' world; however, many players tend to embrace this trope with Technology-origin characters.
  • World Half Full: Yes, there's mystically powered, drug-fueled, technologically enhanced street gangs running rampant. There's NeoNazis with werewolves and vampires, members of an Animal Wrongs Group gone all One-Winged Angel, zombies of both scientific and magical nature, employees of a corrupt Mega Corp, and demons wandering the streets. The world is still recovering from a not-quite-over alien invasion. Oh, and there's a nation ruled by supervillains just off the coast. But there are also superheroes. Lots of superheroes.
    • Praetoria also presents a world where a totalitarian government is fought by La Résistance. Both sides have bad people trying to either grab power or having no qualms about harming the innocent. It also doesn't help that the ruler of the world is a power-mad supervillain going all A God Am I. But! There are some people that genuinely do good on both sides of the equation. And no matter who you are and what you decide to become, hero or villain, one day you'll take the fight back to that ruler.
  • You Break It, You Profit: Mayhem missions, Villain-side, allow you to get small rewards for blowing up cars and such.
  • You Fail Geology Forever: Averted (although probably not intentionally). While many players seem to think that the network of tunnels, caverns and caves beneath Paragon City, as well as the rock in which they exist, are unlikely, Rhode Island has in fact a real geological history—complete with volcanoes and other phenomena—that is just complicated enough to make them just barely plausible.
    • Plus Oranbega being magical and not entirely in this dimension certainly helps.
  • You Mean "Xmas": The blandly-named Holiday Events, complete with snowballs, presents that give Status Buffs, the ugliest Baby New Year ever, and giant snow monsters.
    • One of the rewards for completing the Baby New Year is a temporary power that references Hannukah, while another reward temp power is called "Five Golden Rings". No Festivus or Kwaanza powers yet, though.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Halloween 2008 special event, in which the city is beseiged by waves of zombies even tougher than the usual, everyday Vahzilok and Banished Pantheon varieties. This has since become a recurring hazard, like the Rikti invasions.


The powers the game offers to players provide examples of:
  • Abnormal Ammo: A large part of Dual Pistols' shtick is the "Swap Ammo" power, which gives you access to three toggles: Incendiary, Cryo, and Chemical Ammunition. Every other power in the set will do 70% Lethal damage, with the remaining 30% depending on the ammo you have toggled on.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Battle Axe power set.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The high level "nuke" powers for some. Extremely powerful blast, but leaves you unable to attack again for a goodly while.
    • Awesome Yet Practical: Some character builds and team compositions are based on compensating for that drawback. The Green Machine team, for example, has been described as a rolling nuclear barrage. Also, the Water Blast set introduced not long before the game shut down tops out with the Geyser power, which is a ranged near-nuke which does not particularly inconvenience its user.
  • Back Stab: Stalkers can land Critical Hits with any attack, whether in or out of Hidden Status, but using their Assassin's Strike from Hidden status grants a massive critical hit far beyond any other crit in the game.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The recent Mutant super booster's bonus power can give you a number of buffs that can increase your defenses, boost your regeneration, or turn you into a Rikti Monkey for 1 minute.
  • Barrier Warrior: The Force Field power set.
  • Combat Tentacles: Dark Melee's Midnight Grasp, Dark Miasma's Tenebrous Tentacles, and half the powers in Plant Control.
  • Determinator: The Willpower defense set. Created to represent comic book characters who don't have special defensive abilities; they can take massive amounts of damage because they have enough willpower to keep fighting. Ironically, it's commonly considered one of the strongest defense sets overall.
  • Drop the Hammer: One of the possible looks of the War Mace power set is a big hammer. Also, Stone Mallet and Heavy Stone Mallet from Stone Melee. The Fusion Hammer in the Titan Weapons powerset as well.
  • Dual-Wielding: The Dual Blades and Dual Pistols power sets.
  • Elemental Powers: As expected for a game built around Superhero Tropes, there are plenty.
    • Blow You Away: Storm Summoning, especially the trademark powers of Gale and Hurricane.
    • Dishing Out Dirt: Between Stone Melee, Stone Armor, Earth Control, and Earthen Assault, runs the gamut of uses of this one.
    • An Ice Person: Ice Melee, Ice Blast, Icy Assault, Ice Control, Ice Armor, Cold Domination...
    • Playing with Fire: Fire Melee, Fire Blast, Fiery Assault, Fire Control, Fire Aura, Thermal Radiation—seeing a theme here?
    • Shock and Awe: Electric Melee, Blast, etc. etc...you get it by now.
    • Casting a Shadow: Dark Melee, Dark Blast, Dark Armor and Dark Miasma, and the recent addition of Dark Control and Assault.
    • Light'Em Up: Surprisingly rare, first only present in a NPC subgroup, the Legacy of Light of the Legacy Chain, then used by the three factions of the Carnival of Light, but still unavailable to players.
      • Technically, Illusion Control describes itself as bending light to make illusions. It also uses bright flashes of light to blind enemies. Then there's Peacekeepers...
    • Making a Splash: The latecomer Water Blast powerset for blasters. Unlike the usual water manipulator described by that article, though, Water Blasters never lack for their element, no matter where they are.
  • Elemental Punch: Almost every one on the list is in there somewhere.
  • Eye Beams: "X-Ray Beam" from Radiation Blast, "Ebon Eyes" from Umbral Blast, Laser Beam Eyes from Body/Energy Mastery, and Rularuu Watchers.
  • Finishing Move: The Dual Blades power set combo system utilizes these.
  • Flash Step: "Shield Rush" from Shield Defense and "Lightning Rod" from Electrical Melee are both the rare "attack while stepping" variety.
    • Some roleplayers with the Teleport power play it off as this.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Beam Rifle powerset.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns used by the Council, Crey, Nemesis, Longbow and...your everyday ordinary bank security.
    • Bank security don't get gatling guns until level 30. By that time, my villain has taken down demigods, and these guys still put up a credible fight. They are anything but your everyday bank security.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: Standard pose for characters Held psionically.
  • Good Old Fashioned Fisticuffs: The Street Justice powerset, mixing this with a healthy dose of Combat Pragmatist and, with attacks like Shin Breaker and Rib Cracker, a pinch of Video Game Cruelty Potential.
  • Green Thumb: Plant Control.
  • Groin Attack: Appropriately sized characters can pull this off with the Kick power from the Fighting pool, and, rather intimidatingly, Super Strength's Knockout Blow. However, a status of special note belongs to Stalactites from Earth Control.
    • Martial Arts has not one, but two groin-punches: The old animation for Cobra Strike, and for MA Stalkers, the alternate animation for their assassin-strike, "Fist of Annihilation."
    • At least one War Mace attack does much the same—there's something disturbingly hilarious about a four-foot fairy bashing some hapless Super Soldier six feet into the air with a hammer larger than her torso... straight to the junk.
    • One of the powers in Street Justice is a quick, hard knee strike aimed for the enemy's ribcage, but due to height differences, often ends up either in the jaw or the groin.
  • Guns Akimbo: Part of the Thugs power set for Masterminds, also combined to great effect with Abnormal Ammo and a bit of Improbable Aiming Skills by Malta Gunslingers. With the Going Rogue expansion, also available as a primary set for Blasters and Corruptors, and a secondary for Defenders.
  • Gun Fu: The animations for the Dual Pistols power set, which involve Gun Twirling, rapid turning, posing, and bullets arcing in midair. Pretty clearly inspired by the Wanted movie and Equilibrium.
    • An alpha version of the powerset, shown off at a con, even had a chance that some Disturbed Doves would appear.
  • Healing Factor: The Regeneration power set.
  • Healing Hands: Several buff/debuff power sets have one heal, and the Empathy set has several...but never assume it's the most important part of the set.
  • Heal It with Fire: Thermal Radiation.
  • Hellfire: Used by Demon Summoners and some of their pets. Functionally similar to fire, but oddly colored and with a toxic, resistance reducing after-effect.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: There are literally two attack sets in the game without one, but primarily a Blaster specialty, with Controllers and Dominators emphasizing keeping enemies conveniently bunched up.
    • Incarnate characters of any archetype could eventually get one of these as one of their power slots.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Radiation Blast and Radiation Emission, which can also buff and heal your allies.
    • The literal "nuke" temporary power from the zone event in Warburg.
    • The Tier 9 Radiation Blast power is Atomic Blast, in which the player literally sets off a nuclear bomb centered on themselves; any enemies left alive are even left choking on the atomic radiation (a hold) for a brief while.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Not explicitly shown or stated, but the Broadsword and Katana sets have "Parry", a power that grants defense against Lethal damage—which just happens to be the damage type dealt by guns.
  • Improvised Golems: Some characters can summon pets made out of rock, magma, crystal, fire, ice, darkness, electricity or gravity. Said pets usually have no set duration but die if the owner does.
  • In a Single Bound: With the Leaping power pool.
  • Instant Runes: Mystic Fortune, Vanguard Sigil, and the Demon Summoning power set.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: The Dual Pistols powerset operates entirely on the Rule of Cool and not according to any realistic expectations of Gun Safety. Of particular note is the animation for Piercing Rounds, in which your character, in true spirit of the trope name, throws both guns up into the air before catching them to "punch" the bullet forward.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. The Katana power set is a slightly faster and less fatiguing clone of Broadsword, with lowered damage. Even the attacks are the same, just the names and animations are different. In fact, at launch, it was an exact clone down to the names and animations, but not the damage.
    • Played very straight once you start quantifying numbers, though. The faster animations in Katana mean the set can put out a lot more damage than the slower Broadsword in the same amount of time. The only advantage Broadsword really has is being wielded with only one hand, permitting the player to pair it with Shield Defense.
  • Kung Fu Sonic Boom: Every. Single. Super Strength power.
  • Limit Break: Domination for Dominators; some NPC enemies also have special powers that trigger upon reaching a certain HP threshold.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Sonic Blast and Sonic Resonance.
  • Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: The entire Martial Arts power set, especially Eagle's Claw.
  • Mana Drain: Damn you, Malta Sappers!
    • Most of the electrical powers do this to a limited extent, as well as some Kinetic powers.
    • And Carnies.
    • And Clockworks in the 1-20 game.
    • And Mu magicians.
    • And The Cabal.
    • And numerous custom enemies....
  • Megaton Punch: Several attacks qualify, but none can match Super Strength's "Knockout Blow," a powerful windup and uppercut which sends the target a dozen feet or so into the air. (Or, if the level difference is sufficient, halfway across the zone.)
  • Meteor Move: Air Superiority from the Flight power pool is a Type A if used against a flying target.
  • Mid-Air Bobbing
  • More Dakka: "Gun Drone" from Devices = Pet Flying Dakka. Malta Engineers get an even better version. Assault Rifle's mini-nuke, "Full Auto," and some Dual Pistols powers like "Empty Clips" and "Hail of Bullets," also qualify.
    • As do ranged Mastermind pets, particularly Robotics. You begin with a single robot with a laser that fires a simple three-round burst. By the time you finish out the set, you have six robots firing fully automatic heavy lasers, two different types of missile, seeker drones, dual plasma blasters, photon grenades, and a flamethrower.
  • Multishot
  • Ninja Run: From the Natural-Origin Super-Booster pack. The power is actually called this.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Most pets die if their creator bites it. While it makes total sense for various elemental golems, zombies and summoned demons, it becomes dubious when applied to killer robots, automatic mortars, or thugs and mercenaries.
  • Not Quite Flight: Temporary, buyable, and stealable jetpacks.
  • Oil Slick: The "Trick Arrow" powerset includes an Oil Slick Arrow. The oil slick it creates can catch on fire.
  • Punched Across the Room: Once very prolific, many complaints from the players resulted in much of the knockback melee attacks being turned to knockdown/knockup. Still, there are still many examples: Energy Manipulation's Power Thrust, Luminous Blast's Radiant Strike, Battle Axe's Pendulum...
  • Rain of Arrows: ...Happens to be the name of the final power in the Archery set.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Available both in Speed Echoes and Casting a Shadow flavor, with Flurry from Super Speed and Shadow Maul from Dark Melee, as well as the "Sands of Mu" temporary/veteran's power.
  • Screen Shake: Side effect of various hard-hitting powers. The developers attempted to ramp it up for the Super Strength power set, but dialed it back after players complained of motion sickness.
    • Also whenever a Kheldian transforms from human to an alien form. (Going back to human is comparatively anticlimactic.)
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Used in one of the taskforces, also powers available to some NPCs and players.
  • Shockwave Clap: Hand Clap from Super Strength tosses enemies away from the user, stunning but dealing no damage. Electrical Melee and Electricity Manipulation have Lightning Clap, which is exactly the same power but with slightly different looks. A few other attacks are also performed by clapping one's hands together.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The aptly named Foot Stomp from Super Strength is one of the game's most potent non-nuke PBAoE attacks. Several other attacks also have the character driving their foot into the ground.
  • Shovel Strike: Flat-on as a club for War Mace, edge-on for Battle Axe.
  • Socketed Powers: The enhancement system, which allows you to add sockets ("slots") to powers as a character levels up, and provides upwards of eight different degrees of enhancements that lock into them.
  • Speed Echoes: Used in the Super Speed Flurry attack and the Sands of Mu temp/veteran power, as well as some high-end Dual Pistols attacks.
  • Spin Attack: All melee weapon sets (on non-Stalkers) have some variation on spinning around and attacking all foes in range, including using a sword made out of fire or ice.
  • Stone Wall: Fittingly, Granite Armor from the Stone Armor power set turns the player nigh unkillable and nigh harmless.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path/Trick Arrow: Two (complementary) arrow sets are available: Archery and Trick Arrow. Trick Arrow has the aforementioned Oil Slick Arrow (that can catch on fire and burn mooks to death; Glue Arrow, useful for keeping them in said flames, an Ice Arrow that freezes them helpless, and numerous debuffing arrows like Flash (blind), Poison Gas (sleep) and Acid (resistance debuff).
  • Summon Magic: Controllers and Dominators can summon pets at higher levels. The Masterminds have this as their entire powerset. The Demon Summoning powerset takes it Up to Eleven.
    • And then there are Temporary Powers which are usable by anyone (but wear out after 1-5 uses), which include zombies, snowmen, werewolves, a power-armored policeman (or power-armored criminal, depending on your alignment), giant robots, tiny robots, witches, cosmic horrors and oh yeah, a jar of bees!
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Assault Rifle or Dual Pistols Blasters/Defenders/Corruptors/Masterminds.
  • Super Speed: A power pool available to anyone.
  • Super Strength: Available as a primary or secondary set to Tankers and Brutes.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Assault Rifle power set.
  • Sword Beam: Focus and Shockwave from the Claws power set.
  • Tarot Motifs: The "Fortune" power lets players draw a tarot card to buff another player. Only a few of the Major Arcana are represented, however, and none of the Minor Arcana.
  • Video Game Flight: Superheroes.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Need to arrest someone? Blast them with your powers. Need to assassinate someone? Blast them with your powers. Need to interrogate someone? Blast them with your powers. Need to shut off a computer? Blast it with your powers.
  • Whip It Good: The weapon of choice for Demon Summoning Masterminds. It's also literally made of fire.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Claws power set. This actually got NCSoft into some legal trouble with Marvel.
  1. For instance, the Abyssal Gaze exploration badge gives this description: "A yawning void opens before you, a testament to Hamidon's power, but you are unmoved. You have seen true darkness first hand and it has not kept you from pressing onward. You carry enough darkness within you and its going to take a lot more than a big hole in the ground to impress you. You've gazed into the abyss, and it's gazed into you too; you're both well acquainted with each other and have few secrets left to share."
  2. 100 cars, 25 hydrants, 25 mailboxes, 25 newspaper stands, 25 pay phones, 10 bank vaults, 10 burned buildings, 1000 cops, 1000 Longbow and 25 hero NPCs