Mooks

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Faceless, nameless Cannon Fodder for The Hero.


They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to.

A slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom the hero mows down with impunity. It's a thankless job, to be sure, especially in Real Life, but somebody's gotta do it.

Also called "goons," "scrubs," "drones," "small fries," "flunkies," "pawns," "crunchies," "popcorn," "grunts," "minions," "lackeys," "underlings," "henchpersons," and "Cannon Fodder". Nameless, faceless, horribly awful shots, incompetent, unwilling to retreat, and completely disposable: they provide a chance for the characters to show off their flashy fighting skills and can be shot without guilt. The hero might find it in his heart to Save the Villain, forgive him, even accept him into his inner circle, but the guys whose only crime is not finding a better employer will be shown no mercy. Next to Punch Clock Villain, but usually more faceless, this is one of the tropes most liable to Just Following Orders, a fact that may be pointed up in order to reduce Moral Dissonance about their disposability.

The term "mook" when used in this context comes from Hong Kong Cinema, and takes its name from the mook jong, the wooden training dummy used in Wing Chun, whose only function is to get hit (and hit hard). In Hong Kong movie circles, they're often called "three-hit men," in reference to how many hits it takes to knock them out, though the actual number of hits varies.

It's rarely explained just why they're willing to fight and die for villains who want to destroy the world, or what they get in return. Their life expectancy stinks, and you have to wonder why they took the job in the first place. Depending on just who/what they are fighting for, the plausibility of this can vary.

Despite all this Mooks play an important role, as without someone to fight, your action movie/show/or game would have a lot less action. And if every bad guy your hero runs into is a badass, then The Dragon or the Big Bad would just feel like same old same old. Mooks help provide that in-between by keeping things lively, without diluting The Climax or the big showdown with the Dragon just before the climax. In Video Games, they may also double as a ready source of Experience Points, gold, and recovery items for the player.

Sometimes Mooks will serve as comic relief rather than presenting an actual menace (having their jeeps flipped in the air, getting caught in their own traps, etc.) The Trade Federation droids in the Star Wars prequels are a good example here.

Not to be mistaken with a certain racial slur, or the tentacled aliens from the MOTHER series (although they themselves qualify).

Specific variations include:


Other related tropes:


This trope is the Evil Counterpart of the Redshirt Army, which are Mooks on the good side. Similar to but not to be confused with their non-combat brother Evil Minions (likewise the Redshirt Army with the Red Shirt). Occasionally, it turns out they were Good All Along.

Also Compare Meat Puppets when biological mooks are directly controlled via Demonic Possession, Mind Control, or similar.

In Video Games, mooks tend to be slightly more powerful, and able to at least hurt the hero, if not kill him a few times. However, 9 times out of 10, the hero has a Healing Factor (more often objects used to heal than spontaneous healing) while the mooks stay hurt forever. Also, while the hero can restart if he/she dies, the mooks (usually) only die once per level, and when the level is restarted, they usually do the exact same thing they did before.

If they're lucky, mooks may very occasionally get promoted to the status of a more major villain. The heroes may also be able to persuade them over to the good side, in which case they have performed a Mook Face Turn. Humanizing mooks is a basic technique of Deconstruction. In some Video Games, certain kinds of mooks will have a special introduction when they appear for the first time.

Armies of mooks are not always but usually overwhelmingly male. Typically, killing or harming even one nameless female tends to twist an audience's sympathies differently than the effect of the same to a male. As your protagonist escapes the fortress of doom, you don't want the audience worrying about the mooks being taken out or hurt.

When supposedly elite fighters in large number are less competent together than a man alone, it's Conservation of Ninjutsu.

Note #1: With respect to media (particularly anime), a "mook" can also refer to a Japanese publication which is a hybrid of a magazine and a book.

Note #2: It's also a mostly obsolete racial slur against Italians, so use with caution.

Examples of Mooks include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ghouls from Hellsing. Mindless, infinitely disposable, and created en masse by inexperienced vampires.
  • Mazinger Z: Baron Ashura's Iron Masks and Count Brocken's Iron Cross. They were mindless, obedient cyborgs Dr. Hell created using corpses. The former ones vaguely resembled an ancient Greek soldier whereas the later ones look like modern soldiers. Knowing who are their commanders, it is pretty logical.
  • The typical low rank Marines in One Piece. Luffy can defeat hundreds at once, and their role is just typically to showcase the abilities of a certain character (and freak out about how crazy he is,) then continue the attack so that they can get mowed down some more. True to form, they are frequently endless, for all intents and purposes.
  • The Zako Soldiers in SD Gundam Force, and later the Pawn Leos as well.
    • The Zakus and Leos are both mooks in their own original series, respectively.
  • When some Ryozanpaku masters in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple tell Kenichi that he is not as good a fighter as he ought to be because he didn't defeat his last opponent fast enough, Shigure, who nurtures some sisterly feelings towards Kenichi, tries to defend him by telling them that the opponent threw too many mooks at him. This provokes the following responses from them:

Sakaki: (laughing) There's no need to count trash... I once took out a master who had over 100 underlings.
Ma Kensei: I once slipped through 1000 soldiers and only took out the commander.
Apachai: I once completely annihilated all my enemies and allies.

  • Terrorists, cartel goons, Nazis, mercenaries, yakuza punks, and other no-name bad guys tend to die in droves whenever the crew of the Lagoon Company or one of the many other Badasses of Black Lagoon swings into action.
    • Balalaika's Vysotniki are Elite Mooks. Most of them are nameless. They have no faces and personalities to remember, and have no storyline role apart from "Balalaika's muscle." Nonetheless, most of the above-mentioned badasses in the show recognize attacking them as nothing short of suicide, not the very least because Balalaika herself has a policy of coming down like the Wrath of God upon those who dare to hurt or kill them.
  • Fist of the North Star has mooks by the truckload. Most of them meet a very messy end.
  • Zombies generally have a soft spot for being pretty much mooks. In the fifth movie of Kara no Kyoukai, it gets even worse than that. Simply put? Ryougi Shiki is a human wheat thresher.
  • Anyone below lieutenant rank in Bleach's Soul Society arc, and any arrancar other than the Espada in the arrancar arc. The Espadas' direct subordinates are Elite Mooks.
  • Madoka Magica: Every witch that we see the labyrinth of has minions. Said minions utterly fail to be any kind of threat, and secondary material indicates most of them weren't really designed for combat anyway.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in Grant Morrison's comic series-cum-"memetic hypersigil" The Invisibles. In the very first issue, King Mob guns down a large array of cannon-fodder, all wearing helmets with visors. Later in the series, we see the life and times of one of these nameless mooks, and his widow eventually saves Mob's life, calling in medical help for him when she finds him dying of gunshot wounds. When asked about her motive, she replies that her husband was likewise gunned down.
  • In pretty much all incarnations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Shredder has an endless supply of completely masked ninjas for our heroes to kick the crap out of. When the shows wanted to have things busted up, they used Mecha-Mooks. The comics weren't so choosy about showing the actual death of living Mooks.
  • Subverted with the X-Men character Strong Guy. Guido started out as just an anonymous mook working for some bad guys... but then he reformed and joined the good guys. At the time, he joked that he was just doing it for the paycheck, but he has proven to be a worthy hero.
  • Used extensively in Marvel Comics in the form of HYDRA—and then deconstructed by Deadpool's new bud Bob, Agent of HYDRA. He explains that he's in for the great benefits, and also to impress his girlfriend (which doesn't work.)
    • And AIM, The Hand and HAMMER.
      • Don't forget Flag-Smasher's ULTIMATUM.
  • In a very early issue of Daredevil, the Masked Marauder explains why he started recruiting tried-and-true criminals rather than relying on his costumed peons as he did before. The reason? Simple; they were incompetant morons. In a meta sense, you can argue that his chances of success are increased dramatically because now his thugs don't even wear masks.
    • Not that Daredevil would notice what they were wearing.
      • Ouch, low blow.
  • In Empowered, being a superhero comic, of course there are mooks. Subverted by Thugboy's gang "Witless Minions", who stole from the villains they worked for. And definitely weren't willing to die for their bosses.
  • Sin City stories often involve the hero destroying an increasingy larger number of mooks before fighting the Big Bad.
  • In the Asterix comics, most Roman legionaries exist to get beaten senseless by the Gauls.
  • In All Fall Down, the Order of Despots have a small army of mooks on their moon base.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The earliest known use of the term mook (and thus Trope Namer by default) is Mean Streets in 1973.
  • Most James Bond villains employ mooks.
  • Dr Evil has a never-ending supply of disposable 'henchmen' in Austin Powers.
    • Subverted in the deleted scenes as, whenever a wisecracking Austin killed a henchman, the film would immediately cut to the Mook's family or friends learning of his death and mourning him.
      • That thing was actually played once in the finished version of the original movie, where one of Dr. Evil's mooks gets run over by Austin Powers, after which it cuts to his family and stepson, where the sad news get to them and they all mourn his demise.
    • Played with and lampshaded by Nigel Powers in Goldmember:

Nigel Powers: Do you know who I am? [henchman nods yes] Have you any idea how many anonymous henchmen I've killed over the years? [henchman nods in the affirmative] And look at you. You haven't even got a name tag. You've got no chance. Why don't you just fall down? Go on, son. [henchman falls to floor]

  • The storm troopers from Star Wars.
    • In the prequels, the battle droids.
      • And maybe, just maybe, the clones, especially if they happen to be serving under Pong Krell.
  • Spaceballs, where the mooks are actually the titular "Spaceballs".
  • In the Blaxploitation thriller Three The Hard Way, the heroes take on a bunch of thugs, with nothing stronger than cap pistols, at long range, and never miss, while the thugs, armed with fully automatic machine guns, at point-blank range, can't hit the broad side of a barrel. The bad guys all succumb to the cap pistol assault, and the good guys emerge unscathed except for one of them who has a slight flesh wound.
  • The Chinese movie Hero has some almost Diablo-like flashback scenes where the heroes mow down enemy soldiers by the scores, if not hundreds.
  • The most recent Mummy film had an army of (technically) zombie clay soldiers. Which is about as dangerous as that sounds. Just the thing for killing with impunity.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Gene Cops, employees of Gene Co who are a lot more public and a lot less deadly than the henchgirls and Repo Men but are still enough to scare fifteen scalpel sluts and Grave-Robber into fleeing. Amber Sweet also has her valets.
  • David Lo Pan's army of Wing Cong in Big Trouble in Little China.
  • The dubiously named Crazy 88's were all mooks in Kill Bill which The Bride easily dispatched whilst on her revenge rampage. The trope was played with towards the end of the carnage as she spanks one of them with her sword.
    • Exactly how many members were there in the Crazy 88's? Did you count them?
    • A frame-by-frame count performed by Jonathan R. from Bouncing Ferret Films shows 82: 67 killed, 12 maimed, 1 killed by an axe thrown by somebody else, one possibly killed, one spanked and sent home to his mother.
  • Ecoban soldiers in Sky Blue.
  • Subverted hard in Brazil. Sam and Jill make a dramatic escape in her truck from a horde of guards giving chase; at the end their Mookmobile crashes and explodes. Cue the triumphant music, Sam celebrating... then slowly dissolving into horror as the camera shows the guards struggling to escape a horrible, burning death.
  • Inception has an interesting variant: the Mooks in this case are subconscious projections that populate the dreamworlds created by the lucid dreaming machines. The projections are initially harmless, so long as the dreamer's subconscious believes the dream is reality, but as the subconscious becomes aware that they are in a dream - accelerated by things such as shifting gravity or altered reality - they become more hostile, up until the point where they openly start attacking the "intruders." Certain people also undergo defensive training that "militarizes" the subconscious - which results in projections going from being an angry mob that only assaults when major changes are made to a well-armed, cohesive force of trained soldiers that attack intruders very quickly when a threat is detected. The latter is what composes the majority of the enemies the protagonists fight in the movie.
  • In Assault on Precinct 13, Duvall's cops.
  • In the Original The Crazies The Army never take cover and are incredibly easy to shoot because of their white NBC suits.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker has a seemingly unlimited number of mooks. One has to wonder what they're in it for, with a nearly 100 percent mortality rate and their crimes involve no apparent monetary gain.
    • Additional material seems to indicate that most of them were mentally-ill escapees of Arkham Asylum.
  • Used with an unusual (and probably realistic) moderation in Drive, where the two villain bosses, in spite of being depicted as very powerful and dangerous, don't really have more than 3-4 mooks on their side.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • As above, Terry Pratchett not only subverts, but smashes, immolates, and urinates on this trope with Guards! Guards! and, indeed, any book that stars the Ankh Morpork City Watch. People who have read these novels often have a hard time, thereafter, accepting city guards as nothing more than a mild threat to the hero. Even Nobby and Fred, ineffective coppers in every sense of the word, manage to be more competent officers than your standard fantasy watchman. Of course, the whole matter could be because standard fantasy officers are nameless, sometimes faceless, and effectively rankless since they're going to die anyway, while the average Ankh Morpork copper usually even has a personality, much to the envy of his friends on other worlds.
    • This may be due primarily to Pratchett's compulsive character-deepening. Originally, Guards! Guards! was going to be about Carrot and told from Carrot's perspective, but Pratchett found that Vimes had way more character to him than he expected, so he wrote it from Vimes' point of view. Every character he introduces into the watch ends up with a rather definable personality, even those who seem like cheap jokes based on the War On Straw. Constable Visit-The-Unbeliever-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets ends up with a fairly rounded personality even by the end of his introduction.
    • Guards! Guards! also has a side-example in the genuine Mooks of the Palace Guard, who are Genre Savvy enough to be terrified at the prospect of facing a single, unarmed, smiling foe: after all, that is statistically the most dangerous kind of enemy.
    • In The Last Hero, the Genre Savvy Silver Horde realized with horror that when Carrot showed up on the scene, alone, to arrest them, they themselves had become the mooks.
  • In The Dresden Files, the presence of hired, disposable minions is not only common, it is regularly lampshaded by the First-Person Smartass that is Harry Dresden.
  • Mercenary Song, a poem by Hungarian author Gyorgy Faludi, tells the everyday lives of mooks from their perspective. It involves the titular mercenaries proudly bragging about every single atrocity they committed, including breaking into people's houses, eating all their food, raping their wives, selling their daughter, and clubbing them to death if they don't say 'thank you', killing their own parents, cutting down all the trees, poisoning all the wells, just because they enjoy it, and specifically stating that they serve whoever pays them the most, quite possibly making them even more evil than their employer. The poem ends with them growing old and senile, living as beggars for the rest of their lives, barely surviving and only thanks to the mercy and goodwill of the very same people they loved to abuse so much.
  • The Draka's janissary troops are treated like expendable Cannon Fodder in military situations ranging from direct frontal assault to anti-partisan duty, as that is their purpose within the Domination's military hierarchy. The Draka's enemies usually only view the death of Citizens as meaningful.
  • The Godswords are this in the first Shadowleague book, before their collective Heel Face Turn. It makes one wonder why more mooks don't switch sides.
  • In JRR Tolkien's works, the creatures called "Goblins" in The Hobbit and "Orcs" in The Lord of the Rings are clearly mooks.
  • In the Harry Potter series, a handful of Voldemort's Death Eaters are significant villains in their own right, but most are basically mooks with names, albeit usually just a sinister-sounding last name with no mentioned first name. In the movie version of Deathly Hallows, actor Peter Mullan took Yaxley, one of the background generic Death Eaters in the books, and gave him a bit of character, playing him as sort of a classy gangster type.
  • Who could possibly forget the Erasers in the Maximum Ride series?
  • Penelope's suitors in The Odyssey are Bronze Age mooks.
  • The King's Wolves in Harald. They're officially 'Royal Messengers', they're actually secret police, and they're not working for King James any more.
  • Subverted with the Urgals in The Inheritance Cycle. Originally, they were portrayed as nothing more than inhuman Exclusively Evil orc-like creatures...until it's revealed that they were brainwashed by magic into doing Durza the Shade's bidding. In the second book, the race does a Heel Face Turn, and in the third, their race is given some cultural development beyond "standard generic fantasy orc ripoffs."
  • The Young Army in Septimus Heap.
  • In Belisarius Series most of the Malwan army are this. They are for all practical purposes slave-soldiers. To have any efficiency at all, the Malwa need Rajputs and Kushans, both of whom defect sooner or later.
  • The Havenite navy in Honor Harrington is a subversion. While they often receive poor handling by the Manticorans they grow to learn their trade.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Batman Rogues Gallery (in the Adam West series, at least) employed mooks. A particularly nicely named group were the Penguin's Grand Order Of Occidental Nighthawks (GOONs).
    • Some villains in the 1990s animated series followed suit, most memorably Mr. Freeze's thugs who wore heavy, hooded fur coats. Of course, since their employer produced pure cold, this may have been less about adhering to a theme, and more about staving off frostbite.
      • Joker started off with a few minions of his own, but between his financial troubles and his reputation as a Bad Boss, it was eventually down to just him and Harley.
      • Bad as he was, he had one recurring henchman in the comics before Harley: Southpaw, his left-hand man. He also had Mo, Lar, and Cur in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers. Suited guys with metal masks will usually come along with the Monster of the Week to dance around in the background while the Power Rangers pick them off. The first time a different kind of these guys are fought, the rangers will have to morph up in order to take them down, but after the first battle which has the rangers figuring out how to defeat them, they can thereafter be fought and taken down without morphing at all.
  • Kamen Rider has them less often, but a handful of KR series do. They'll often have design homages to the first batch, the Shocker Soldiers in the original series.
    • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight takes a one-shot monster from Kamen Rider Ryuki and mass-produces it.[1] One of the Kamen Rider Den-O movies, made after KRDK's end, then uses them! Yes, it's okay if your head hurts now. Of course, the movie was a Decade crossover, so it could be all Decade's fault (in other words, maybe they're really from Ryuki World or even an unseen Dragon Knight World.)
    • In the 999th and 1000th episodes of the Kamen Rider franchise, we get Mookdom taken to its logical conclusion: In Kamen Rider OOO, the main villains create the Monster of the Week from people's desires. This one's created from the rage of a former Shocker Soldier, who is pissed at the years and years and years of Mooks having their butts handed to them by Kamen Riders. He goes on to spawn a small army of footsoldiers from across franchise history... or rather, Yummies (OOO's monsters) in the form of them. Apparently, foot soldier job satisfaction is about as low as you'd expect... but they take pride in it.
    • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, we get a similar situation (though in a brief sequence), during Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie The Flying Ghost Ship. The Gokaigers face a multi-seasonal army of grunts who have Mook Pride. When looked down upon as cannon fodder, they insisted that they weren't just goons, they were valiant warriors of evil! They're told that they are just cannon fodder, and go on to experience typical results when the Gokaigers lay into them. At least, until they form a massive Mook conglomerate creature.
      • Funnily enough, the main spokesmook was a Nanashi. They didn't talk in Shinkenger.
  • The Jaffa of Stargate SG-1. Extensive work in both canon and Fanon has been done to justify this, mostly with weaknesses that could be removed once they changed sides;
    • Biology: As long as a Jaffa isn't decapitated or ripped apart and his symbiote isn't killed, he'll usually heal completely within a week. They thus willingly charge in blindly due to..
    • Training: Jaffa are conditioned from birth to see their leaders as gods who will reward them for their service in the afterlife - and thus rush their enemies on command. They have reserves, and young, ignorant soldiers are less likely to rebel.
    • Armament: Staff weapons fire energy bolts which are loud, flashy, and inflict distinctive wounds, but are really hard to aim, rarely do damage beyond twenty meters and fire only once a second. People who've trained for years such as Teal'c and Master Bra'tac can hit a human-sized target at range two times out of three. Fanon is that they are purposefully Awesome but Impractical - modified to produce louder, brighter bolts at the cost of range, accuracy and power.
      • O'Neil: [Hefts a staff weapon] "This is a weapon of terror. It's made to intimidate the enemy". [Returns staff to owner and hefts a P90] "This is a weapon of war. It's made to kill your enemy".
      • Once the marines wind up at a rebel training camp, they give them FN-P90s and decent training. It's the birth of the Free Jaffa Nation!
      • O'Neil outright stated that their armor and weapons were designed for intimidation, not killing. The Ori solders, who use simpler weapons that were designed for killing and ease of use, are so much deadlier despite being mostly untrained peasants, though still blindly fanatical mooks that die by the hundreds.
  • The sheriff's men from Robin of Sherwood. The Merry Men killed ten or so per episode. It really got to the point where you had to wonder what kind of recruitment package was being offered.
  • Most of the villains in Firefly have gangs of hired goons, mercenaries, or thugs to back them up. In particular, Rance Burgess and Adelei Niska seem to have their own personal armies.
  • In The Sixties spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., THRUSH employs metric tons of Mooks. They even wear uniforms and have distinct ranks of officers (whether commissioned or non-commissioned is left up in the air) and other ranks, usually distinguished by their uniforms when both types appear.
  • Subverted by Heroes, volume 4: when a Mook is sacrificed by Danko to keep his plans moving, Nathan tells him about the Mook's wife and children.
  • Most of the Big Bads in Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Mooks of one sort or another. Generally vampires, but the First had its Bringers and Glory had her demons.
      • In 'Once More With Feeling,' they were also trained dancers.
      • Buffy calls the mercenary demon from the episode "Flooded" a mook when he breaks her designer lamp.
  • The named warriors of Season 3 of Deadliest Warrior are always accompanied by four Mooks, who never survive the sim. Jesse James vs. Al Capone of Season 2 also had three mooks each, though it's subverted by there being another survivor alongside Jesse James, who's often speculated to be Jesse's big brother Frank..


Music[edit | hide]

"Never know what role I'll play, but for today I'm Soldier A!"


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The members of the croc fraternity Zeeba Zeeba Eata from Pearls Before Swine are these, with the added twist that they kill themselves rather than others killing them.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

Collectible Card Games[edit | hide]

  • Vs. System has army characters that are generally mooks given they can get killed off quickly and lack uniqueness because you can only have 1 copy of non-Army characters like Spider-Man on the field; army characters are replaceable. Some examples are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Doom Bots, and Sentinels. Also, army characters do not have any restriction whatsoever in deck construction whereas any other card besides anything that may be restricted is set to 4 copies.
  • Magic: The Gathering has creature tokens, which are creatures who aren't even worth having their own card. By default, creature tokens' names are also their creature type, and if they leave play they simply cease to exist. They rarely have abilities, and those they do have are typically keyword abilities ("Flying," versus, "Any creature able to block this creature must do so."). They are also typically created in large numbers, either via a one shot deal creating two or more, or by a repeatable effect squeezing out one each turn. Creature tokens didn't have any sort of official representation until Magic Online needed some standardized way to represent them, and then they weren't printed in paper for years afterward.
    • Each Color has their own flavor of Mooks: Green has Saprolings (it was squirrels), Black has Zombies, Red has Goblins, White has Soldiers, while Blue has whatever is assigned as Blue creatures in the settings. Green is the biggest offender when it comes to spawning endless horde of Mooks.

Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Feng Shui, the "Action Movie Roleplaying Game", divides foes into two categories: Mooks and Named Villains. Villains with a name are built from the same archetypes as player characters and get all the benefits the players do -- Wound Points, deadly skills and feats, the works. Mooks get the ability to attack poorly, and are out of the fight when someone hits them with an attack whose Outcome after subtracting the mook's attack skill from the action result is five or more, and the player can choose whether or not they're either knocked out or dead. Unarmed fighters usually prefer knocking mooks out, though those with deadlier weapons will often go for killshots.
    • One of the schticks available to Feng Shui players is a Gun Schtick called 'Carnival of Carnage.' It has four levels, the first two of which reduce a gunslinger's shot (action point) cost when attacking mooks, and the second two of which reduce the Outcome needed to take them down.
  • Exalted has a similar mechanic, with "Extras" whose sole purpose is to be mowed down by the players. They have three health levels instead of seven, take greater wound penalties, and basically serve no purpose except to slow down the players (unless they're on the players' side, in which case they serve as cannon fodder/footsoldiers).
    • Usually, they have a hard time doing even that.
      • Yeah, the real purpose of Extras (who also show up in Scion) is to show just how much more awesome the PCs (and their villainous counterparts) are than the average mortal.
  • Mutants and Masterminds have 'minion' of rules that made them easier for the heroes to drop then in large numbers quickly. The rules make them very weak, including allowing the hero to "take 10" on the attack roll, making missing them unlikely, and the feat "Takedown Attack" allows you to drop unlimited Minions as long as they are within melee reach and each one falls in 1 hit.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition has minions, a type of monster with only one hit point each.
  • While they have no specific mechanics for it, the rulebooks and scenarios for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Dark Heresy usually contain 'minion' characters with no names, subpar stats (they will usually never stand up to a Player Character overall, and their best scores are average by PC standards) and have less than 10 wounds, which allows all but the most unfortunate attacks to instantly splatter them. They also die the moment they take a Critical Hit, where player characters and named foes (usually) take at least one or two penalties called 'critical damage' before croaking, giving the minions an on-average shorter lifetime of one to two rounds.
  • Unknown Armies provides GMs with generic Goon stats; though in earlier stages of the game (given its intentionally weak combat skills) they can be quite dangerous when armed.
  • Justified for Cartoon Action Hour, which is a kiss-up to 1980s cartoons. They call them "Goons", which are just an unarmed, armed weapon or ranged weapon check which is either up to the Player or the Game Master.
  • 7th Sea divides antagonists into three categories: Villains, Henchmen, and Brutes. Brutes are transparently Mooks: their purposes are to buff a villain or henchman, and to provide the heroes with easy victories (players are encouraged to come up with creative ways to knock down two or more brutes at a time). It should be noted that since in Seventh Sea, it is assumed that no character is killed unless someone specifically states that they're doing so, Moral Dissonance is sidestepped.
  • In Savage Worlds (somewhat similar to other examples) any character with some degree of plot importance (even if it's just as a Boss Battle or similar) is a Wild Card: they get Wound points, their own bennies (used to re-roll dice and soak damage), and generally better gear and Edges (feats). While all player characters are Wild Cards by default, enemy characters generally aren't.
  • Represented by the "Cannon Fodder" rule in GURPS. Minor NPCs under its purview always fail attempts to dodge and are taken out automatically by any amount of damage.
  • Anyone of Minor importance in Hong Kong Action Theatre is a mook. They can mow down characters of no importance, and even manage to take down a Moderate importance character, but against Major and Extreme importance characters, they tend to die in droves, particularly since explosions, which do not affect Major and Extreme importance characters, can affect them.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Slimes are some of the most famous! Let's see... first enemy you face, starting monster in the Mons spinoffs, give 1 EXP and 1 Gold, come in many different variants including Metal Slime and King Mook, only have about 10HP ever...
  • GOOMBAS! As well as Koopa Troopas, Spinies, Lakitus, Hammer Bros., Magikoopas, and the rest of the Koopa Troop.
  • The Pokémon games absolutely love the latter category of mook. Almost without exception throughout the series, the actual leaders of any criminal organization are a genuine threat... but the legions upon legions of grunt-level members are a bunch of nameless goofballs who are played almost entirely for laughs and are minor obstacles at best.
    • It helps that they seem to just blindly recruit people off the streets. The Mooks of Team Galactic don't even know what they're being terrorists over.
    • To make things worse, since Generation II, all trainers are named. However, those organizations' grunts are never named. The sole exception to this are the Cipher Peons; it'd be almost impossible to distinguish one from another otherwise.
    • In fact, the games expect you to defeat every single grunt because they give good EXP. The bosses at the end are at the level where you'd need to train so you can beat them. This is especially true in the first few games and their remakes.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series games have the Sableyes to Dusknoir, and Aggron, Arbok, Magcargo, Magmortar, Mismagius, and Rhyperior to Darkrai.
  • Evil Genius takes the further step of explicitly telling you that Construction Workers are expendable and can be used as cannon fodder; they're still necessary, though, as they're the only ones who can build new rooms.
  • EarthBound features a minor enemy species actually named Mook found in large quantities in certain dungeons.
    • Senior Mooks, on the other hand, have powerful PSI that can drop Paula in one hit.
    • Not as conveniently named, but Foppy and Fobby are perhaps the embodiment of this trope: they are nondescript little blobs with feet, they are completely ineffectual in battle, they give massive experience compared to other enemies in the same areas, and it's unusual to face them any less than three at a time.
      • But if they were left alone for several turns, they could concentrate again and start casting powerful PSI powers, which might make them Elite Mooks, or even a lethal Underground Monkey
  • Like Earthbound, Chrono Trigger features "Hench" and "Goon" monsters.
  • The Waddle Dees from the Kirby games are not only completely ineffectual, they barely even have faces. Although they are adorable little guys but get disposed.
  • Mooks are the primary resource in most games in the Dynasty Warriors series. They're technically capable of hurting or even killing your character, and they can get between you and the more important foes you're trying to take out, but their primary purpose is to die by the hundreds and provide a bountiful harvest of experience points, arcade-style power ups, morale and, above all, entertainment.
    • The beat 'em up genre, consisting of titles such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, could be seen as the forerunner to more recent series like Dynasty Warriors. The threat posed by even the most lowly mook in 16-bit era beat 'em ups is more significant, but not by much.
  • Ace Attorney Investigations has "good" mooks, in the 99 policemen who follow Shi-Long Lang around. They tend to block your path or (literally) drag Gumshoe away when he's trying to be helpful to Edgeworth, but they're basically on the side of the angels and at the end of the game one of them even pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Used in City of Villains, where one of the early enemy types you encounter are a branch of the local mafia called "The Mooks". Like almost all enemy types in the game, they're an endless supply of easy beatings and experience points, with only the named bosses being particularly dangerous.
  • The identical nature of mooks was lampshaded in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, where Sam asks of one, "Didn't I kick your ass two rooms back?"
  • Deus Ex pits the player largely against humans wielding the exact same weapons the player can use. They also use the same model as the player for taking damage and dying.
    • Until the mid game, these mooks pose a serious threat as individuals, and more than three at a time is reason enough to look for a maintenance tunnel or sniper's nest.
    • The mook status is lampshaded in one mission where a mother begs you not to shoot at her son, who is one of the mooks outside. Her description is composed of elements hidden by the uniform, and chances are good you had to take him out just to get in and talk to the woman.
      • Deus Ex goes beyond lampshading and into bona fide Deconstruction. Many of the game's faceless mooks have multiple lines of unique dialogue, and mooks constantly have conversations which Anviliciously drive home the point that they are real human beings who probably don't deserve to be gunned down en masse just because you don't feel up to sneaking past them or incapacitating them non-lethally.
      • Except that they are trained soldiers and police with, for the most part, orders to kill you on sight.
        • Except that apart from MJ12 goons they were misinformed that you are a terrorist.
  • Most of the challenge in the first Prince of Persia game that wasn't about avoiding the ubiquitous instant-death traps was engaging in sword fights with guards. The sequel, The Shadow and the Flame, had Mooks wearing bird masks in the temple levels.
  • The Replicas and ATC Security guards in First Encounter Assault Recon are actually surprisingly competent and very dangerous if underestimated.
    • And then you go into bullet time and devastate them with the repeating cannon or whatever ungodly powerful weapon you happen to be carrying. Mooks, mooks, mooks.
  • The Fighting Polygons, Wireframes, and Alloys in the Super Smash Bros. series (they were all originally called Fighting Zakos, to top it off).
  • Due to the nature of the series, each Metal Gear title has their own set of mooks, whether it be the Genome Soldiers in the original Metal Gear Solid, the Gurlukovich Mercenaries in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and the PMCs in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Substance, there's a game mode called "Zako Survival".
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the enemy soldiers (GRU or KGB or Spetsnaz, or some combination thereof) are so disposable, at one point a bunch of them die to killer bees, while their leader (a plot-important character) simply kills all the bees that come near him. With his guns. By twirling them in the air. Snake, meanwhile, has to jump to probable death, to avoid certain death. Needless to say, he survives as well.
    • Depending on the difficulty level, though.
  • The Time Splitters series has evil henchmen in employment of the evil Khallos...EVIL, however, he does provide them with communal dressing rooms and rubber miniskirts for female members.
  • The short Vietcong campaign in Vietcong 2 is something of a subversion of this. You spend a few levels playing as a young Vietcong soldier, then the campaign's ending shows your character as one of the countless nameless mooks your American character mowed down in the main American campaign.
  • The running enemy grunts in the original Contra for the NES. As a reward, the quantity of these grunts increases each time you complete the game.
  • Overlord has a unique look on this for a video game, in that you have and command mooks to do your evil whim. And since it's a game where you play the Evil Overlord, you use a lot of them.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has two grades of these in the Big Bad's military: constabulary 'admins' and Army 'regulars'. Both wear fatigue pants; the admins wear yellow shirts (and are unseen after only a few engagements), while the regulars 'enjoy' red-orange tops. Towards the end of the game, these two forces give way to the "Elite Guard".
  • One of the biggest and most egregious abusers is the Grand Theft Auto series from III onward, especially San Andreas and IV. Most of these time these mooks just magically appear after a cutscene with no real explanation why they're there other than an out-of-hand implication that they're working for an antagonist that was in said cutscene. There are even entire missions where the whole point of the mission is to kill a specific collection of mooks.
  • Most levels in Banjo-Tooie have their own variant of the basic enemy that runs after you swinging its fists or some sort of blunt instrument: Ugger in Isle o' Hags (and a few other areas); Moggie in Mayahem Temple; Billy Bob in Glitter Gulch Mine; Jippo Jim in Witchyworld; Keelhaul in Jolly Roger's Lagoon; Guvnor in Grunty Industries; Biggyfoot in the icy side of Hailfire Peaks; Flatso in Cloud Cuckooland.
  • A large part of Batman: Arkham Asylum is spent either beating Joker's mooks into pulp, or slowly and silently taking them out from behind.
  • Every Ratchet and Clank game typically has one group of reoccurring organic mooks (the Blarg, Thugs-4-Less, Tyhrranoids, Drophyds, Agorians) and robotic ones (Drek's robots, Megacorp security, ninja bots, DZ Strikers, space pirates, Nefarious Troopers).
  • World of Warcraft (and typically any MMORPG): "Greetings, Darkvarriorz. We need your help; go kill 15 [Mooks with a sword], 12 [Mooks with a bow] and 25 [Mooks with an axe] from the Defias Brotherhood and come back to see me".
  • A Guilty Gear spinnoff game features the Mook Squad: Hundreds of generic guys with Only Six Faces, occasionally using Palette Swap to look more varied. Three of them can be unlocked but besides walking jumping, throwing some punched and kicks and sometimes a special attack or two (and sometimes not even that), they are next to useless. And you can't even assign them to the AI.
  • In Fur Fighters the mooks come in a couple of different shapes and sizes but it's generally three different types of Bear and a Peacock with different clothes depending on the level you're in, with polar bears standing in for the Elite Mooks.
  • In MadWorld, pretty much every enemy EVER ENCOUNTERED (aside from bosses and the big mooks you get once or twice per level, like Big Bull and Yee Fung) is a mook.
  • Pretty much any non-Boss Heartless in Kingdom Hearts. After you find the Keyhole in Traverse Town, the Heartless in Traverse Town serve two purposes; acquiring munny and Level Grinding.
  • HECU marines in the first Half Life, Combine Overwatch units in the second.
  • Valkyria Chronicles puts a lot of effort into giving Mooks a bit of dignity; the enemy soldiers all basically look the same, but some of them have specific names and are notably more bad ass than average and are worth remembering, your militia squad is colorful and full of personality, and there's a scene in one chapter devoted to the death of a single faceless enemy Mook who dies in the protagonists' arms, forcing them to realize that the enemy is human too. Of course, this doesn't extend to all the ally Mooks, who get slaughtered en masse and no one gives half a damn.
  • Every single soldier on the battlefield (around 600) except you and the one or two bosses in Sengoku Basara exist only for you to cut down in style with your flashy skills. Heck, 99% of them don't even attempt to either attack you or defend themselves. However they do provide some quite amusing background dialogue.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game (as well as in Turtles in Time), almost every enemy grunt is a Foot Soldier who are easily dispatched (but can be dangerous in groups). However, they carry various weapons, and are colored accordingly so that the player can quickly identify what weapon they're going to use.
  • Oddly, the Wizardry series of role-playing games had "Mooks" as a playable race. They were pretty tough.
  • The Legend of Zelda series can be a little unclear about which enemies are Mooks. It's typically accepted that Moblins, Bokoblins, and any permutations thereof work for Ganon/Ganondorf, and Stalfos are a safe bet, but it's anyone's guess as to whether Octoroks or Keese do or they're just mindless animals attacking Link.
  • The Shadow Hearts games are not strangers to this trope.
    • The original game featured the hapless Japanese soldiers under Lieutenant Colonel Kawashima's command.
    • Covenant introduced Sapientes Gladio's Steel Claws and Paladins, the thugs hired by the mayor of Le Havre and the Iron Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.
    • From the New World had the belligerent bums that attacked Johnny at the very beggining of the game and the countless mafia goons during the gang wars in Chicago.

Web Comics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • This was subverted very well in WITCH. The Big Bad's basic mooks are dumb orc-like guards who the heroines always beat easily. In one of the last episodes, they capture one of these guards alive, let him go... and he becomes a significant character in his own right.
  • Kim Possible has many examples of these. Lampshaded in "Odds Man In", when it is revealed that Dr. Drakken, in fact, did not pay his henchpeople but attempted to reward them with a large business-inspired incentive program (complete with trust exercises and org charts). Unfortunately for the villain, one of the good guys spread panic throughout the lair while incognito, convincing the henchmen to quit ("You know, 38% of all splinter mishaps are caused by manual lifting. Did you know you have a 17% chance of loosing your good looks practicing martial arts without the correct padding? Yep, one out of every two homemade explosive devices backfire.").
  • The codified hero/villain interaction in The Venture Brothers naturally involves henchmen; two, Number 21 and Number 24, become important recurring characters. Though they get beaten, maimed and killed on a regular basis, the henchmen frequently respect their enemies. (As one of them says of Brock Samson, "slayer of men, slayer of henchmen...".) Deconstructed a bit when it turns out that all of them except 21 and 24 have suicidal urges.
    • Various villains' henchmen make enough appearances that they could practically be considered a minor character, en masse. One episode even has a scene with The Monarch's Henchmen and Baron Ünderbheit's Henchmen sitting around a campfire discussing the reasons they went into henching.
    • The Monarch himself used to be a similarly number henchman for the Phantom Limb, Shadowman 9.
  • Aeon Flux repeatedly and graphically deconstructs the mook trope. It's like the titular heroine is some sort of latex-clad ninja Hitler.
    • This is especially true in the Pilot and some of the early shorts. In the pilot Aeon comes in guns blazing left and right killing the faceless mooks, only for the heroism to be cruelly reversed when we see the survivors amongst mountains of corpses and ankle deep blood.
    • Perhaps a more notable deconstruction is seen in the short "War" which manages to blind the line between mooks and heroes by having a random mook kill the main character take off his helmet and become completely Badass. He is then killed by another mook, in a double inversion of Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and we follow his killers Badass action sequence until he is shot by another mook, whose Badass action sequence we follow through to the end.
  • Duke Igthorn's monster mooks in Disney's Gummi Bears. While technically being giant technicolor ogres, the dim-witted monsters rarely presented any serious threat whatsoever. Occasionally, the law of Conservation of Ninjitsu did apply.
  • The various flavours of Cobra from G.I. Joe fit the bill here. Mostly faceless (The majority wear full-face masks) disposable henchmen of various combat specialties in colourful uniforms - and they're all psychotically over-armed.
  • The Fairly OddParents had the Eliminators acting like this for the Darkness in the "Wishology" trilogy. The Lead Eliminator acted as The Dragon.
    • And, by the end of the trilogy, The Starscream, with the Eliminators now being forced to work for him.
  • Foot Soldiers are the Stormtroopers of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They never hit anything and only die. They are probably the only units to die.
    • The ones from the 2K3 series at least were more dangerous and gave the turtles a good fight. The purple dragons straight up mooks though.
  • In an early episode of The Simpsons, Homer was visited by Mr. Burns' evil minions.

Homer: Who is it?
Goons: Goons.
Homer: Goons?
Goons: Hired goons.
Homer: [dismayed] Hired goons?


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the Whateley Universe, the main characters get to leave their Super-Hero School Whateley Academy and travel into Boston for the day.. only to face The Necromancer and his homicidal Quirky Miniboss Squad, along with a couple hundred Mooks who are literally nameless and somewhat faceless. The Necromancer has lived up to his name by animating hundreds of corpses, and Phase has to fight them in the sewers underneath Boston. Only she doesn't have a flashlight.
    • Clearly the writer had just played Doom 3.
    • Leading to one of the funnier Nightmare Fuel sequences. Phase is worried about getting zombie gunk over her/him, and is informed s/he's probably okay. Just..."make sure to get cremated when you die."
  • "Soldier A", an AMV, is a dedication to anime mooks in particular.
  • There seems to be a small army of freelance mooks in black suits and little red sunglasses in RWBY for such folks as Roman Torchwick and "Junior" to employ as muscle.
  1. You can tell the Ryuki footage because suddenly one Gelnewt - that's what the red minions are called, it's All There in the Manual - is a match for two Riders. It's shortly after we meet Thrust.