Mook Chivalry

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Take turns 9353.png
"Oh, put the guns down. Is this the first day on the job or something? Look, this is how it goes: you attack me, one at a time, and I knock you out with a single punch. Okay? Go."

The life of the mook is a humble one, in which the poor cannon-fodder must look like everyone else, act like everyone else, and get their butt kicked by the hero like everyone else.

But becoming a mook is much harder than it looks. On TV (and in video games), humility is only the first step in a fighting code of mooks's honor, as complex and rigid as that of the medieval knight or the samurai. This is why most Mooks fare about as well as a bunch of knights or samurai would when faced with a modern army. The principles of the code are:

  • Ganging up is unsporting and dishonorable. Mooks must always attack the hero one at a time; to gang up would be to destroy the principle of war.
    • The one-on-one rule may be borne out by the fact that stunt coordinators and fight choreographers find it easier to have the hero fight one or a few opponents at a time than to have large groups attack the hero en masse (and it's easier for an artist to draw).
  • Interrupting someone - even an enemy - is bad manners. If an enemy obviously needs a few moments to prepare before he can fight back, give it to him. If he starts talking to you while you are charging at him, you are supposed to stop and listen. If he exploits this to lay a punch on or drive a weapon through one of you and it's not you, you need to wait until he finishes with your comrade before you can launch a desperate attack at him. And you must always leave time for transformations.
  • A Mighty Man Fights Alone. Even if some common mooks disobey the rule above and attack in twos or threes occasionally, any Giant Mook present must always attack the hero one-on-one, preferably after all lesser mooks are down so that the Giant Mook can't call on them for help. A really big Giant Mook (e.g. the Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings) may attack a whole group of heroes alone, he's just that tough! And if The Dragon or the Big Bad joins the fight, any remaining mooks must simply stand by and watch. Forming a circle around the fight is encouraged.
  • Taking cover is for cowards. A true mook must charge straight forward; victory is meaningless if it is achieved by surprise. It is acceptable to attack the hero from different directions at once, as long as each attacker reaches the hero at a different moment (thus being neither surprised nor ganging up).
  • Masters may overcome any terrain. As a corollary to the previous two principles, tactics must be the same in all places and times, no matter what the terrain is. A mass rush works just as well in the open field as it does in a cramped cave where only one warrior at a time can physically get to the hero (Not that any true mook would ever get involved in a mass rush, see above).
  • The true warrior cares not what his enemies know. Minions must shout commands to each other where the hero can hear them, or communicate by radio when the hero can intercept. Who cares if the enemy knows all your plans? A true plan succeeds whether the enemy knows it or not.
  • Let the enemy know who is going to face him. Like the knights and samurai, Mooks must shout out a formal challenge when the battle begins. Each group of cannon fodder has their own challenge - it might be shouting out their names, or baring claws and roaring, or just saying "you will die!" True, the pause does let the hero sucker-punch them. But victory is hollow if the defeated foe does not know who beat them...if the foe is ever defeated, which will surely happen someday. As a result, they may sneak With Catlike Tread, but the attack is nowhere near sneaky.
  • Attack as rarely as possible. A truly great warrior doesn't need to attack all-out. Try to do other things, like roaring, taunting the hero, jumping about, or just sitting back and watching the battle. When you do attack, make sure it is as slow and choreographed as possible.
  • Retreats are a sign of defeatism. Finally, preparing for a retreat is disgraceful. It does not matter how many of you the hero has beaten—keep rushing. If fifteen out of sixteen orcs are down, the sixteenth orc must charge exactly like the first fifteen. Unfortunately, this principle is not as adhered to as the others - many Mooks have decided to retreat. Fortunately, they are never defeatist enough to prepare for a retreat, so they always wind up making suicide charges or panicked routs.

Strangely enough, an army of Ninja—despite being dishonorable sneaks—will follow Mook Chivalry as if they were samurai. Due to Conservation of Ninjutsu, a small group of ninja will behave dishonorably, and actually attack from cover, retreat, and so on, but large ninja forces will be made up of Highly-Visible Ninja.

Video game developers actually have a practical reason for this; they call it "unit slotting".

See also No Sneak Attacks. If it suddenly comes into play with a pack of enemies who previously were winning because they attacked together, see also Lowered Monster Difficulty. Contrast Zerg Rush.

Examples of Mook Chivalry include:

Anime and Manga

  • The samurai and Yakuza in Samurai Champloo have the same tactics—charge! Sometimes they attack from multiple directions at once, but they never actually manage to close ranks with Mugen or Jin all at once. Mugen even tells them "Forget all that formal crap 'bout comin' at me one at a time. I'll take all you bitches on!".
  • In Naruto, the titular character regularly duplicates himself by the dozen then takes on his enemies one or two at a time. This may simply be a function of the Inverse Ninja Law, however. Of course he also has an attack that involves attack with one thousand of them at once.
    • Most of the time there's just isn't enough room to attack with any more at once, especially when you run the risk of them running into each others attack and dispersing anyway.
    • Averted with Killer Bee much later, when Sasuke and his teammates attack him simultaneously. Not that it helps them.
  • Lampshaded in the Vagabond manga's two-volume fight between Miyamoto Musashi and the Yoshioka school, where he intends to get this trope ("instead of seventy against one, it should be one against one, seventy times"), while the leadership of the Yoshioka try to avert it (Ueda Ryohei, Fujiie, and Nanpo Yoichibe all having lines specifically encouraging mobbing). As a whole though the Yoshioka are not able to follow through due to a mix of Musashi's sheer skill (he usually manages to avoid getting mobbed by mentally "flowing" between enemies), physical advantage (his strength and physical toughness protecting him from being incapacitated by the few hits that manage to sneak through), and their own mentality being too used to this.
  • In End of Evangelion, the mass-produced EVA units seem to mostly just stand around while Unit 02 goes ripping through them. However, when it runs out of batteries and they all recover from their injuries, then they decide to descend on it like vultures and stab the remains.
  • Bleach
    • During the battle with Big Bad Aizen, the heroes adhere to mook chivalry at first, attacking one at a time, often charging in a blind rage straight at him, usually after announcing their attacks with predictable results. Finally, they get tired of this and dogpile him with 3 Captains and a Vizard/Captain all attacking him at the same time using 3 Shikai and 1 Bankai. Aizen says a bad word. Though that didn't really work anyway.
    • Anime episode #14. While Ichigo and Uryu are talking, the hollows surrounding them politely stand around, allowing them to finish their conversation.
    • Anime episode #156. While Uryu Ishida and Pesche Guatiche are fighting the Arrancar Cirucci Sanderwicci in Las Noches, she calmly stood there and waited for them to stop bickering, only attacking when they finished.
  • In one of the early episodes of the Tales of Symphonia OVA, a dozen or so Desians attack Lloyd in neatly-organized ones and twos.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho the members of the Triad attack Yusuke and Kuwabara one at a time. This is nice of them since Tarukane is betting on the outcome and they don't seem to be Noble Demons.

Comic Books

  • In Identity Crisis, the heroes suffer from Mook Chivalry while fighting Deathstroke. They all attack him one at a time. Even then, it took a huge amount of Handwaveing to justify him lasting as long as he did against the group of heroes he was up against.
    • In the end, they gain the upper hand by just deciding to Zerg Rush him.
  • In the Shattered Glass universe, the heroic Slugslinger has an overdeveloped sense of fair play, in contrast to this main universe counterpart, a vainglorious soldier who loves dominating his opponents. In any case, it's a personality quirk that directly lends itself to this kind of thing. For instance, when the bumbling evil Autobot Star Saber dropped his spear, Slugslinger thought it was the least he could do to let him pick it up before continuing the fight.


  • Best example of Mook Chivalry, in Who Am I?, as the two accountants turn out to be ridiculously sturdy and accomplished martial artists. At first they attack one at a time, allowing each other 45 seconds before switching off, but when Jackie starts winning they fight two on one and whup some serious ass. Jackie is only saved because he notices they have very flashy clothing and are wearing earrings, so he targets those instead, using their clothes to bind or blind them, and tearing their piercings off. Even still, it looks like it's going to turn out bad for the hero, as while Jackie beats on the Korean accountant, the Dangerously Genre Savvy lanky British contortionist begins removing the clothing he sees Jackie use on his partner.
  • The ending scene of Jet Li's The One is a classic example, with mooks attacking one by one, getting knocked to the bottom of the ziggurat they're fighting on, then getting up and climbing back up without having learned a thing.
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 1, when The Bride is fighting the Crazy 88. Justified Trope, though: the build-up to the fight makes it very clear that although they outnumber her by a ridiculous degree, every single one of them (with the possible exception of Johnny Mo) is scared to "go first" and die by her blade. Those who are not currently fighting her can be seen in the background, apparently fighting each other, possibly as some sort of warm-up exercise.
    • Though it should be noted that The Bride keeps moving around to keep from getting surrounded or backed into a corner, including leaping to the second floor while the Mooks are forced to take the long way and chase her up the stairs, and using other tactics that keep too many of them from attacking at a time.
  • Parodied masterfully in the third Austin Powers where Nigel Powers tells Dr. Evil's henchmen:

Look, here's how it goes: you attack me one at a time and I knock you out with one punch, okay? Go.

  • The Smiths battle in The Matrix Reloaded does a good job at averting this trope for the most part. In Revolutions, however, the final battle with the Smiths involves just one facing off against Neo as the others stand aside and watch like honor guards. Justified Trope there as that particular Smith was the Oracle and knows his victory is a Foregone Conclusion ... sort of.
    • It's also implied that with all the other Smiths in "standby," the fighting Smith was stronger.
  • Strangely inverted in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The heroes battle Shredder on a rooftop, and proceed to fight him one at a time. Donatello and Michaelangelo even have an impromptu game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine which of them had next turn.
    • The game is to see which one of them doesn't fight him next as he had already beaten Leo and Raph (who are regarded as the better fighters of the four).
    • This was based on the first confrontation between the Turtles and Shredder in the original comics, in which Shredder easily defeated the Turtles in one-on-one combat.
    • Later in the fight they do try to rush him all at once, but Leo gets there first and is utterly curbstomped.
    • As noted in the Kill Bill entry above, The Turtles are constantly moving around the field in order to keep from being fenced in, and regularly switch positions and even fight in pairs at times.
  • Gymkata: A particularly Egregious example. In the pommel horse fight scene, all the mooks look somewhat menacing with their pitchforks and such, but they're not even making an effort to appear as if they're aching to jump Cabot if not for his combat skills. Most are quite literally just standing still until its their turn.
  • In Ip Man, the titular hero's fight against ten Japanese pugilists demonstrates this, seeing as none of them interrupt his Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs Finishing Move. However, in Master Liu's 3v1 fight immediately beforehand, the Japanese pugilists disobeyed this and worked to prevent Master Liu from finishing any one of them off. Although it may be a Justified Trope if you believe that martial artists can sense intent, as Ip Man's being on a Tranquil Fury Roaring Rampage of Revenge would have given him enough violent intent to make his opponents hesitant about bumrushing him.
    • The risk of interruption is one the reasons why students of Wing Chun (the martial art espoused by Ip Man both in the movie and in Real Life) are advised to limit their chain punching to short bursts in actual application.
  • An unusual example that's also an example of Real Life chivalry. In Undercover Brother, while Sistah Girl and White She Devil are fighting the enemy Mooks in the island fortress Communications Room, each Mook attacks one at a time. In fact, while the fight is going on the uninvolved Mooks are standing in line with their arms folded, waiting their turns!
  • Played horribly straight in Ultraviolet. Forming circles around the heroine, attacking one-by-one, charging forward with guns at ready - it has them all.
  • The Mask of Zorro demonstrates why the first part of the Mook Code of Conduct, while not necessarily smart, is still not an entirely stupid idea. At one point in the movie, several dozen mooks rush the new Zorro at once, and in the ensuing dogpiling confusion, Zorro gets away cleanly.
  • During Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Lucas Lee's clones follow the code to the letter.


  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a Jedi named Ganner takes advantage of the Yuuzahn Vong's Mook Chivalry to stall them and buy time for Jacen. Eventually the highly honor bound Vong get fed up and try to swarm Ganner. He still holds them back until the Yuuzhan Vong finally decide to just shoot him with a giant cannon--and even then, he uses the Force to bring the building down on them...and himself.
  • Justified Trope in A.K. Dewdney's The Planiverse, in which all battles are one-on-one...because the combatants live on a two-dimensional planet, and fighting many-on-one would require flying.
  • Lampshaded by the dedication to the Discworld novel Guards Guards.
  • Justified in Death Or Glory when Cain engages an Ork Warboss in a duel while a group of Ork Nobs (lieutenants) just stand there and watch. However Cain's aide, who is somewhat of an expert on Orks, explains that for them to interfere would mean to imply that their Boss is unable to deal with Cain on his own, and that is a gross transgression punishable by death. This is why when Cain asks for help, the aide doesn't intervene; that would make it a free-for-all.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Beyond the Black River" Balthus wonders why their enemy sent only one leopard after them; in this case, it appears to be limitation in his ability to command animals.
  • This trope is lampshaded/justified in Starship Troopers; In the boot camp combat training, the instructor states that a trained combatant will always have the advantage against multiple attackers unless they have been specifically trained to fight as a group, because they'll get in each others' way. See the "Real Life" folder for more on this.

Live-Action TV

  • The mooks of Power Rangers take these to an extreme: they actually form a circle around the heroes and attack at rates of one to each hero present at the time (perhaps as consideration to the absent hero). Strangely enough, each mook within a series is identical, so they could really be the same group every time.
    • There's a bizarre instance in Power Rangers RPM. When the military is shooting at the Grinders, the Grinders are ducking behind cars and firing their own weapons... and then the Rangers arrive. The Grinders pop out from behind cover, run in, and fight with the usual grunt tactics, and with the usual results.
  • Parodied in the Saturday Night Live sketch "The Plucky Ninjas", where action movie ninjas (after one of their many losses at the hands of just one guy) are berated by their leader for, no matter how many time he tells them, always attacking one at a time. Their spirits lifted by his inspirational speech, they proceed to... get their asses handed to them every time anyway.
  • Subverted in Hyperdrive. The Shiny Red Robots of Vortis attack Sandstrom one at a time and she is easily beating them. Henderson comments about this, the robots hear it- and the crew of HMS Camden Lock get captured.
  • Lampshaded in the unaired Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot:

Buffy: I don't suppose you'd have the good manners to attack me one at a time, would you?"
Vampire: "You watch too many movies."

  • Lampshaded in an episode of She Spies when the girls were attacked by ninja. One of them notes that ninja are terribly polite combatants, only ever attacking one at a time while the rest just stand back.
  • Goons in Xena: Warrior Princess love this. They will stand in a circle, attack one by one, and always go down in a few strikes as if they read the Austin Powers grunt handbook.

Tabletop Games

  • In early published adventures for Dungeons & Dragons, goblins and orcs were famous for attacking in cramped cavern passages where only one goblin could face a hero at once—so one by one, they got killed. This has been dubbed the "Conga Line of Death."
    • Averted in D&D 4th edition, where many mooks have mechanical advantages to attack en masse and combat usually occurs in more open areas.
  • An optional cinematic rule for GURPS, called Melee Etiquette, does this.

If a PC chooses to fight unarmed or with melee weapons, his opponents always face him one-on-one, one at a time. Unengaged NPCs can dance around the fight uttering shrill cries of encouragement, but wait their turn to attack.



  • In Peter Pan and Wendy, the stageplay that was the first work to feature Peter Pan, this is played for laughs — Captain Hook sends two very nervous pirates into a cabin one at a time to separately fight the "Doodle-doo" demon (a not-so-disguised Pan) that haunts it.


  • Performed masterfully in Metal Gear Solid, where four invisible mooks that are on the elevator with Snake, literally close enough to reach out and touch him from the moment he steps on, must sit and wait for our hero to riddle out what's going on in an absurd fashion over the radio despite the fact that all four of them have machine guns. Conforming to the mook code even further, one of the mooks announces their presence after the hero has already figured out what's going on with a hearty, "Too late, Snake. Now you die!" Of course no, no he doesn't. This is almost a direct reference to the previous game Metal Gear 2, where four assassins announce their presence before attacking Snake in an elevator, and then only attack two at a time. How they managed to stay in business boggles the mind.
    • And used again with the mass-produced RAYs in the sequel, which only attack three at a time for no reason whatsoever.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots had a beautiful/shameless example in one of the last cutscenes, where dozens of mooks decide to use their machettes against a sword-wielding Raiden, after not lifting a finger against Snake when he and Raiden explained how one of them would hold off the mooks while the other would complete the objective. Liquid Ocelot doesn't seem to be the type to explain his Xanatos Gambit to all his lackeys, but considering this behavior...
      • Towards the end of the game, the FROGs are trying to kill Meryl and Sasaki, who have to Hold the Line. The FROGs have P90 PDWs, while our heroes have mostly handguns. So, naturally, the PMC troops tend to advance to close range before trying to shoot them. And they use a grand total of one flash grenade for the entire fight. Why they don't just hang back and shoot the lovebirds from a range where they have an advantage, or use their wall-clinging ability, is never explained.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater's mooks also are notorious repeat offenders; however, they will gang up on you, and they only grudgingly let Major Ocelot fight Snake one-on-one; when they break the code and attack Snake during the battle, Ocelot yells at them.
  • In Harpoon, enemies tend to come one after the other even if they're in large groups. It is not uncommon for a ship or base to be attacked by a "conga line of missiles". These are quite a bit more threatening, being harder to hit.
  • In most Roguelike games, the most effective strategy against multiple enemies is to back up into a corridor one space wide, forcing them to fight you one at a time. Some games try to combat this by allowing enemies with ranged weapons to fire over the heads of other enemies, but that just revises the player's strategy to incorporate corners where the archers can't get a line of sight.
  • The AI in many older strategy games act this way, sending units as they are created on suicidal attacks, rather than forming a solid army to attack the enemy with. This is counterattacked by the AI being a cheater, so most of them don't run out of resources this way.
  • In Puzzle Quest, it's actually impossible to have a fight with more than one person, so larger encounters are usually either consecutive fights or a single fight against a slightly more powerful enemy. However, this goes both ways, your companions only provide a specific bonus against some enemies rather than fighting alongside of you, even though some of them are capable fighters on their own.
  • Some minibosses in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that are fought in pairs act like this, with the second one waiting in the background. However, the Iron Knuckles fought in the final dungeon don't follow the rule, but it's possible to lure one of them away from the other. Same applies to the similar Darknuts in Twilight Princess, except for the Bonus Dungeon, where 3 of them wait on the final floor with no means of separating them.
  • In Gears of War, when a player or computer player is chainsawing someone, your character must patiently wait with his chainsaw revved until the animation finishes, where you can subsequently avenge your fallen ally.
  • Partially justified in the game of The Bourne Conspiracy. In the hand-to-hand combat segments, when you are fighting multiple mooks, when one of them tries to attack you from behind while you are preoccupied with his comrade. Bourne will hit him with a "Wait your turn" Offhand Backhand.
  • God Hand's Mooks follow this... but only at Level 1 of its Dynamic Difficulty curve. At Level 2 or higher, they can and will attack you even if they're not on-camera. At the highest difficulty level, Level DIE, they will gleefully attack you from the other side of the fighting arena without warning.
  • In Assassin's Creed, guards who are attacking Altair will attack individually every few seconds at the start of a brawl, but if the player is aggressive or good at countering, they will become a lot more hesitant to attack as they watch their comrades getting cut down. On the other hand, if the mooks are repeatedly hitting Altair, they become more aggressive, sometimes batting the player back and forth like a tennis ball.
    • Also, when an assassination target is attacked, any nearby mooks will rush to his aid and won't let him fight alone—in fact, when it is necessary for the hero to go one-on-one with a target, often it is because the nearby mooks were all slaughtered a few minutes previously.
    • In Brotherhood, guards are dirty fighters, not hesitating to attack Ezio in the middle of his killstreaks, throw dirt in his face, or grabbing and holding him to let their comrades get free hits in.
  • In the game Luminous Arc 2, even when the enemies outnumber you, they seem to prefer to rush you in waves - some of the mooks (and almost always the boss units) in the back will not even advance to attack you until either you've killed a number of mook units, or if you step in their attack range. This allows you to simply stay where you are and pick off the enemy with ease.
  • Gothic 3 is a particularly ludicrous example. Much of the gameplay involves liberating cities from whichever faction (orcs or humans) you side against. While you likely have a few AI allies, you'll do much of the fighting on your own. Cue the Nameless Hero being surrounded by twenty orcs... who form a neat circle and keep their distance while engaging him one at a time.
    • This is an Acceptable Breaks From Reality, considering the previous installment. Fighting more than one enemy in melee was an awful chore, courtesy of a targeting-system-from-HELL (Autotarget all the time, Can't select a different target at will, timing counterattacks against the enemy you didn't target becoming impossible, target automatically changing when the enemies cross paths even though you almost managed to kill the first bastard).
  • In Jade Empire, mooks will surround you in threatening ways, but they'll hold back and delay their attacks so you're almost never fighting more than one mook at a time. This is most noticeable when the enemies who have long range attacks are obviously holding back when you're in melee. Combat in Jade Empire is practically a homage to Hong Kong action movies, so this is fitting (if a little less spectacular than it could have been).
  • In Quest for Glory 1 and 2 you encounter this. In QFG 1, if you wander into the goblin camp, first one will attack you, the next time you wander in, 2 will attack you, and so on, and so on. They all stand in line maces at the ready until the goblin currently fighting you dies. The brigands at the end of the game also do this if you rush front the gate rather than sneaking in. In QFG 2, you encounter Jackalmen and bandits in the desert as random encounters, in groups of 2-5 which also fight in this style. In QFG 4, you fight flocks of bat-spiders who charge in one at a time and if you're faced with two necrotaurs or chernovy wizards, the second won't attack until you're done with the first. (since the 4rd game's battle system doesn't support battles with two monsters at the same time)
    • Averted in Fan Remake of QFG 2 on harder difficulty levels, where jackalmen and palace guards have no moral issues in ganging up on you. Likewise, in the fifth game, mooks will engage you in numbers.
  • The Swordplay Showdown mode of Wii Sports Resort keeps this in effect. Although it's possible for you to hit multiple opposing Miis at once with a single swing of your sword, you stay locked on to one of them at a time, and whichever one you're locked onto is the only one that attacks you. However, the boss Mii(s) at the end of each level comes in with a few more mooks, rather than appearing alone.
  • The enemies in Star Fox Adventures do the traditional "circle the hero, then attack one at a time" deal. Noted by the developers to be completely intentional, for a cinematic feel.
  • Occasionally, when attacking an officer in Dynasty Warriors 6, a duel will initiate where the cannon fodder will circle around the combatants. Enemy mooks will attempt to knock you back into the dueling ring should you try to escape through them (and can cause quite a bit of damage in the process).
    • Sometimes the officer you're dueling with will also call in some of his Lieutenants to come help him out. Kinda defeats the purpose of a "duel," but heck, like they care.
  • While enemies generally do attack in groups in World of Warcraft, they attack in much smaller groups than they should do. At times this can be explained by them all having No Peripheral Vision and terrible eyesight so they fail to notice you slaughtering all their comrades. But on others they definitely know you're there, and are just not attacking to be sporting. At least one instance has the boss greet you when you enter the room, clearly demonstrating that everyone knows you're there. Then you kill your way through the room one group at a time while he waits patiently for you to finish, recover all your health and Mana, and attack him.
    • HILARIOUSLY lampshaded in a series of books written by someone who seems to be a Scourge Mook and is obviously MUCH more intelligent (or less arrogant) than ANY leader of ANY enemy faction in the game. Had this guy been given a position of some importance, the Scourge would already have dominated Azeroth a long time ago.
  • Demon's Souls: In the opening cutscene the literal army of mooks attack the heroes one at a time, even faithfully standing by while the heroes gang up on and kill a larger mook. Once you actually get in game however, everything will attack you at once and nearly everything can kill you in one or two hits. To further avert this, their attacks will avoid each other, even push them out of the way and hit you, and half of those attacks off balance and stun you.
  • Scarface the World Is Yours doesn't know what it wants to do. Facing off against Tony's armored, machine-gun mounted SUV while armed only with chainsaws? Okay, sure. But if the last guy does decide to run for it and steal a car and escape, Tony better get him or there will be reinforcements.
    • And yet, when Tony is set upon in the abandoned Freedom Town, the mooks gracefully wait for him to defeat the Machete Man. -Then- it's time for a mass charge. Tony has to hunt down someone with a gun and chop them so he stands a ghost of a chance.
  • Although generally averted in Mass Effect 2, Liara lampshades this in her DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker when the enemy comes at you in waves:

Liara: Their attacks are disorganized. They'd do better if they all attacked at once.
Shepard: Please don't give the mercs ideas.
Liara: The next wave looks like a big one!
Shepard: You just had to give them tactical advice.

  • A rare example of this done by the good guys happens in the new Mortal Kombat, as some of Earthrealm's greatest heroes attack Sindel one at a time without using their special abilities, only to be easily dispatched, many of them killed, just to prove how tough she is.
  • In EarthBound, the best of the Onett Police Force except for one takes you on, one at a time.
  • Particularly noticible in Mega Man. While it may make some sense for one Robot Master to control a given area, why is it that they later wait politely in eight individual rooms for their rematch? Averted in the stages themselves; every mobile enemy around will charge Mega Man on sight, even if he's fighting something else at the time.
  • Teams Rocket, Aqua, Magma, Galactic, and Plasma. You're lucky if you see a double battle.
    • Played even straighter than normal at Dragonspiral Tower in Black and White. Four Plasma Mooks gang up and encircle you...then fight you one at a time anyway.
    • This happens within each battle, too; none of your opponents, no matter how evil, ever release multiple Mons to gang up on yours. Even though they let you send out two at once if you're fighting two trainers at the same time.
  • Way of the Samurai explicitly points this out in the tutorial (it's required by the gameplay style, as combat plays out like a 3D fighting game). Given how much the series works like a vintage Samurai film (even down to Bad Bad Acting for the English versions), it works out fine.
  • MadWorld: Played straight somewhat and subverted. Enemies will take their time to attack on at least the earlier levels during Normal mode (mainly area 1 and 2). Adverted with Hard mode as even simple enemies like the street punks will do huge damage and will actually coordinate their attacks. Sometimes they will let one of their own be killed so they can trap Jack and pummel the crap outta him. This is also played straight when in a power struggle with the levels' Mini Boss (with the exception of Death Blade). It justified considering the mini bosses are huge guys and Jack is well...Jack.
  • Thoroughly averted in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, where even the most insignificant enemies will gang up on Geralt from all sides without hesitation, and beat him to death in seconds if the player doesn't take control of the situation.
  • In Escape Velocity it's possible to conquer planets if you have a high combat rank. Due in part to engine limitations, they can only attack you a few at a time.
  • Mortal Kombat
    • The series is usually good about the concept of a "fair fight" (as far as gameplay is concerned, anyway) except where the Endurance Matches are concerned. In the original game, the player had to go through three of these, fighting two opponents per match (one after the other) per round without replenishing his/her life bar. The third one occurred right before the Boss Battle with Goro (but your life bar did replenish before that, fortunately). This was taken even further in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 where some Endurance Matches required you to fight three opponents, and the optional Shao Kahn's Lost Treasures lets the player select the Mega Endurance Kombat where you have to fight all five of the game's Hidden Characters: Noob Saibot, Classic Sub-Zero, Human Smoke, Ermac, and Mileena.
    • The Story Mode of 9 defies the Trope both in gameplay and story in some places; there are quite a few instances where two enemies "gang up" on the hero who is the focus of the chapter. (This is like Tag mode, except you don't get a partner.) The worst part is, Smoke and Johnny Cage, two guys who are supposed to be heroes do this to Kitana in her chapter and to Jade in hers.


Web Original

  • Throughout Haloid, the Covenant will cheerfully individually walk up to the Chief and Samus, despite both of them mowing Covvies down by the truckload. At one point, the Chief is standing in the middle of a circle with Covvie drop pods falling around him. Pods that contain Elites armed only with Plasma Swords, several of which can be seen running around doing nothing in the background.
    • In one sequence in Red vs. Blue season 10, also worked on by Monty Oum, dozens of mooks seemed reluctant to lay a finger on the two project-Freelancer operatives caught in their base. Or shoot at them. There is one, and precisely 'one, scene in the sequence where this is justified; when the mooks are ignoring the two so they can get to someplace where they can capture them with overwhelming firepower. Otherwise, they seem content to run up and get beaten down.
  • In the climactic battle of Suburban Knights, the reviewers attack Malecite one at a time, with the exception of Obscurus Lupa and Angry Joe who double-team with machine guns. Justified in that the reviewers are supposed to be ordinary people who have seen him punch a person into orbit and summon lightning to disintegrate others, and are therefore too scared to attempt a Zerg Rush.
    • Spoony's team also takes advantage of the Cloaks' thinking that the reviewers will have this. The reviewers instead run when they're distracted.
    • Though two Cloaks did double-team The Cinema Snob at one point, they otherwise followed this trope.

Western Animation

  • The bad guys in WITCH frequently ambush the Magical Girls—and every time, they lose surprise by pausing to cackle, show their claws, shout "It's Guardians! Get them!", etc. In a rare breach of Mook Chivalry, their archers do attack all at once; fortunately for the heroines, the archers all studied at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
  • Lampshaded on Titan Maximum:

Palmer: You guys are doing this wrong! I can only punch one of you at a time!


Real Life

  • According to some accounts, the men who assassinated Julius Caesar crowded around him so tightly and stabbed at the same time so that they began accidentally stabbing one another.
  • In the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg during World War I, a German army, facing two separated Russian armies that did not attack in unison. The Germans stopped the first, then turned to destroy the second. They were ably assisted by luck, skill, the German rail network, and the fact that the Russian generals hated each other's guts.
  • Arguably seen in history as the events of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth battles of Thermopylae, if only because the narrow pass limited the number of troops that could physically attack at any given time. You could apply overcoming terrain (see said mountain pass and the First and Fourth battles) and no-defeatist-retreats to the area; First Thermopylae arguably defined that trope in its entirety while Fourth Thermopylae showed why you don't retreat. Sometimes Mook Chivalry has its historical backgrounds...
  • The unnamed Viking who held the narrow Stamford Bridge singlehandedly. He managed to mow down forty Saxons before they got him, because they had to fight one at a time. Legend says that the Saxons had to resort to floating beneath the bridge and stabbing up at him from below.
  • Horatius at the Bridge. "In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three; / Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?"
  • The Society for Creative Anachronism refers to this as "Conan syndrome", and for good reason.
  • Some of you may have heard of the Japanese hornet, a 2-inch-long flying insect that attacks beehives to capture the bee larvae to feed to their own young. They normally succeed because most bees (barring things like the Africanized species) practice Mook Chivalry. They're easily defeated by a Zerg Rush, as bees can survive temperatures 2 degrees hotter than the hornet, and will swarm it and heat it to death.
  • Polish hooligans known as git-men in the 1960s and 70s had a code of conduct which included strictly one-on-one brawls, regardless of a gang's headcount. Of course, this often played out as a gang of thugs waiting in line for their turn to beat up their mark.