In days long past, the alien race known as the Sirians did battle with the alien overlord "Mental". Although many Sirians were killed, Mental was repelled.
In the 22nd century, Mental has returned, bringing with him a vast army that spacefaring Humanity fails to beat back. With Mental's forces pressing onto Earth, the decision is made to send a single elite back in time via rediscovered Sirian time-travel technology known as the "Time Lock" and defeat Mental in the past, thereby changing history in Humanity's favor. Sam "Serious" Stone is the (un)lucky man.
Armed with only a head-implanted AI and a self-replenishing revolver, Serious Sam battles through ancient Egypt in The First Encounter, bringing down Mental's HUGE warlock Ugh-Zan III and finding a Sirian ship in the Great Pyramid, with which he heads for space.
Unfortunately, he collides with a "Croteam Crate-Bus" and crash-lands in Mayan-era South America, which is where The Second Encounter begins. Battling across South America, Babylon and medieval Europe, Sam brings down a wind deity, a cyborg giant larva and Mental's summoner before finding a second backup ship.
In Serious Sam: Next Encounter, Mental attempts to get retaliation on Sam by creating a pint-sized evil clone of Sam.
By Serious Sam II, Sam has finally made it to Sirius, where he is made to collect five artifacts to weaken Mental and set up the overlord's downfall. The final battle has yet to come, though.
The game series was praised for being a well-made throwback to old-skool shooters where the emphasis is on massacring enemy hordes instead of dueling small, smart squads. When we say hordes, we mean hordes, especially in those nice open expanses where you truly get to appreciate how much opposition Sam's up against - and, consequently, how much of a Badass he is.
In November 2009 and April 2010 Croteam released a remake of both halves of the first game called Serious Sam HD. It features enhanced graphics, ragdoll physics, and various minor tweaks, but the gameplay is otherwise unchanged.
In February 2011, Croteam announced a more realistic-looking Prequel called Serious Sam III: BFE. It came out 22/23 November 2011. It is set during Earth's final days attempting to repel Mental's invading hordes. Humanity doesn't yet know how to activate the Timelock, and Sam has been sent in with a team of EDF Redshirts to find a scientist who might know. Things go rather sour from there.
The series also spawned several spin-off games, released in 2011 to promote BFE:
- The Random Encounter: Serious Sam re-imagined as an RPG.
- Double D: Serious Sam as a 2D side-scrolling Shoot'Em Up.
- The Greek Encounter: Serious Sam as a top-down Shoot'Em Up.
- Kamikaze Attack: A Perspective Flip where you control a Headless Kamikaze trying to kill Sam.
- A-Team Firing: The Sniper Rifle in TSE won't hit unless the player zooms. In the HD remake, it instead only deals half damage when unzoomed.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sewer levels in TFE and II.
- Action Bomb: The Headless Kamikaze, which constantly screams as it runs towards the player, despite having no head.
- TNE includes a second version of the Kamikaze. This one still has his head attached, but he wears a strait jacket, a hood with a painted-on smiley face, and lugs a giant stick of dynamite on his back.
- Adaptation-Induced Plothole: Second Encounter's opening Cutscene was omitted from the HD remake, leaving you beginning the game standing underneath a burning spaceship wreck with barely any explanation as to what happened.
- Alien Blood: Green is present in the original. Monsters with purple and yellow blood variety are added in II.
- It is possible to change the blood effects from red to green to hippie (Enemies bleed fruit and flowers) in the settings menu.
- Alien Sky:
- The final level of TFE
- The South/Central America stages of TSE
- A lot of instances in II.
- Alliterative Name: About all the player characters available to choose.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: II.
- Ancient Astronauts: The Sirians. Most evident in BFE, where you find their hidden facilities beneath ancient landmarks, like the Great Pyramid and the ruined cities of Karnak and Luxor. The way their stuff looks would seem to imply that the Egyptians adopted their aesthetic.
- ...And Show It to You: Ripping hearts out is possible in BFE.
- Apocalypse How: Planet Kleer suffered from this with the severity of planetary extinction but the air is still breathable.
- Arm Cannon: Biomechanoids in TFE, TSE, and BFE; Tank biomechanoids in II; Scrapjacks in BFE.
- Art Evolution: Goes from looking like a Duke Nukem clone to a cartoony buff dude. In III, he retakes the realistic path.
- Artificial Stupidity: Every single enemy is dumb as a bag of hammers. Melee enemies will simply run at you and hit you, while projectile enemies will stand still and shoot at a very slow and inaccurate rate, not even trying to dodge your attacks, even the Painfully-Slow Projectile weapons. This is mostly done so they can throw hundreds of enemies at you at a time without straining system resources. Enemy AI is improved a bit in BFE, where enemies are more accurate, shoot their weapons faster, occasionally hide behind stuff, and can move out of the way of your projectiles.
- Asteroids Monster: The Lava Golems.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Seen in one of the II cutscenes and the box art of TFE HD.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Alcor-class warship and Mental Institution have weak points to shoot.
- Author Avatar: The Croteam caricatures seen in the secret areas of TFE and TSE. Not to mention they are brought back in 3.
- While more of a publisher than an author, Fork Parker, the financial director of Devolver Digital, gets one as a multi-player skin in 3.
- Awesome but Impractical: Melee attacks in BFE. When in sufficient range of most enemies, pressing the melee button will cause Sam to pull off an awesome One-Hit Kill, like breaking a cloned soldier's neck, pulling the head off a kleer, stomping a hatchling spider, tearing a Gnnar's eye out, or ripping a beheaded Rocketeer's heart right out of its chest. These moves, while awesomely gory, take a few seconds to pull off, leaving you vulnerable to the non-stop Zerg Rush of enemies. Plus, all of the enemies that can be killed with melee can also be killed in one hit with the sledgehammer, which doesn't leave you vulnerable while using it.
- The only enemy against which it's actually useful is the baby arachnoid, which instakills them, and actually has quite some range and low execution time.
- Bad Santa: Ho, ho, ho, motherfucker!
- Badass: Sam, taking down entire armies since 2001.
- Badass Normal: He's an otherwise regular EDF trooper dragged into this mess.
- Bag of Spilling: Sam loses all his items save for the basic pistol every time he finishes an episode. In Serious Sam, the Second Encounter, he has to gather up all the weapons no less than three times. In Serious Sam 2, Sam's health, armor, and extra lives are all reset to default at the end of each level, presumably so players won't have to worry about conserving them.
- Beam Spam: Since the game loves to throw hundreds of enemies at you, and a lot of them shoot lasers (most prominently the minor biomechanoids), this will happen frequently.
- BFG: The Cannon. Not a Hand Cannon, a "technomagical" Cannon Cannon which fires uranium-filled cannonballs no less. Great for taking out bulls and bio-mechs, as well as the Final Boss.
- Really, almost all of Sam's guns besides the pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles / submachine guns count. There is: A grenade launcher with Bottomless Magazines, a semiautomatic rocket launcher that never needs to be reloaded, a gigantic minigun, a 16mm sniper rifle, a plasma rifle, a laser gun that chews up enemies like a chainsaw through tapioca, and the aforementioned cannon. BFE also introduces the Devastator, an automatic shotgun with explosive rounds and a ridiculously oversized range of attack.
- Big No: In TSE, after Sam discovers that Mental has already taken the Holy Grail.
- Big Shadow, Little Creature: One of the secrets in The Pit level from TSE.
- Bilingual Bonus: In II, zombie stockbrokers speak Italian, zombie chaingunners speak German and finally bull soldiers and tank biomechanoids speak Croatian.
- Also present in TFE and TNE in a stealth form. The word "Reeban" as in the Reeban fishes is pretty close in pronunciation to a Russian word "ryba", which means "fish". Ditto for the Peelah chainsaw.
- Bittersweet Ending: In BFE, Sam ends up defeating the powerful Ugh-Zan IV and activates the Timelock, (thus traveling back in time for TFE) but Mental throws the moon at the Earth causing both to be destroyed.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The council from II the brothers and sister appear to be from different races and species.
- Blackout Basement: A few rooms in TSE. One of them had the player fire at a switch to keep the room lit.
- Blatant Item Placement: The scientists are throwing the items into the same time travel device you went into. In the GBA version, this utilized one of your weapons where when you press a trigger, a safe, bathtub or piano will be dropped on an enemy.
- Bloodier and Gorier: HD (both TFE and TSE) has a lot more plasma to spare. Parodied in one the trailers for the game showing off one of the alternate blood types. Put to "Sunshine and Lolipops".
- Booby Trap:
- Many items spawn enemies. Most notably, optional pills and small armor shards often trigger ambushes in Serious Sam I and II.
- In TFE, in the Oasis level, there're two health pills. Grabbing one of them causes a large biomechanoid to spawn right next to you, but the other double subverts this in that it just causes a rapid-fire usage of the spawning sound.
- Subverted in an instance in TSE, there's a pill that spawns another pill when collected. The pill trail eventually spawns a valuable item that generally causes the Genre Savvy player to open fire. In Serious difficulty, however, it double subverts this in that an enemy is spawned with that item.
- Border Patrol: BFE has a nasty surprise for those who want to wander off into the desert.
- TFE and TSE make you slowly lose health and burn in the sun if you go too far out of open area levels.
- Boss Dissonance: Mario type. Hordes of enemies (especially kleers) will mess you up, but the bosses are often easier due to the fact they are big, easy to hit, and have slow, easy to dodge attacks. Averted in BFE, where the difficulty between bosses and levels is more even.
- Bottomless Magazines: The pistols and double shotgun have to reload, but all automatic weapons literally have bottomless magazines.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall / Lampshade Hanging
- In TFE, NETRICSA is pissed about Sam taking a shortcut to a valley, away from their main destination, just because he wanted to kill more aliens. She chastises the player for such action.
- The entire plot of TSE revolves around replacing the space ship you got in First Encounter. How did the space ship get damaged? At the beginning of the game, it crashes into a flying bus called "The Cro-Team bus" filled with caricatures of the game's designers.
- Sam frequently breaks the wall in Next Encounter.
- When NETRICSA starts talking in II, Sam wonders why she didn't before, following by this reply:
"Increased game budget."
- When fighting a boss called Zum Zum:
"This game is full of bugs!"
- Breather Level: Sewers and a water-filled temple in TFE.
- BFE has a few breather sections, if not whole levels.
- Brick Joke:
- A few secret ones between TFE and TSE involving Pinky.
- A very clever one in TSE involves Time Travel. One of the phone booth conversations takes place between you in the Second Encounter and you near the end of II.
- Bubblegloop Swamp: First two Magnor levels in II.
- Bullfight Boss: Only the first bull enemy you encounter is a mini-boss. After that they become one of the most common enemies. Later you encounter a version with cannons mounted on their backs.
- Cephalothorax: Gnaars.
- Dum Dums in TNE.
- Call Back: In BFE. Or rather Call Forward, due to Time Travel. Echoing a sequence in TFE, a lone Beheaded Kamikaze comes running over a hill. After taking him out, Sam utters a Post Mortem One Liner... only for a whole horde of them to come surging over that same hill.
Sam: Uh oh.
- Catch Phrase: No particular phrase, but Sam's brand word "serious" pops up quite a bit.
- TNE has a couple of one-liners which occur every time Sam fights the werebulls, no matter on which level he is.
Sam: Enough of the bull already.
- Chainsaw Good: Against Gnaars and Marsh Hoppers and even Kleer Skeletons due to its significant length, though only available in the Xbox port for Serious Sam and beyond. The Cucurbito the Pumpkin enemies in The Second Encounter also use chainsaws.
- Charged Attack: Grenade launcher and cannons.
- Check Point: Present in Next Encounter and Serious Sam 2.
- Chekhov's Gunman: You know those Sand Worms that keep trying to munch Sam if he wanders out into the desert? Well, they do that to anything, including the Final Boss, which gives you an opening to attack his weak point!
- Cherry Tapping: Ripped out heart or a skull in Serious Sam 3 can be thrown at enemies for a minor amount of damage. In addition to small damage, the attack is delayed and rather inaccurate. Killing an enemy that way yields an achievement.
- Chicken Walker: Biomechanoids from TFE and TSE; Torso Mech - The Nervous Chickens in II.
- Chunky Salsa Rule: Enemy cannons in TSE are capable for doing that.
- Climax Boss: Ugh-Zan III.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Sam in BFE, as part of the Darker and Edgier package. Not so in the earlier games.
- Convection, Schmonvection: Fight on a narrow bridge above a huge lake of lava, in a confined space so there's nowhere for the heat to go but where you are? Why not?
- Cool Shades: At first; gone by TSE and II. They're back in BFE, for this game being, as the title says, before The First Encounter.
- Copy Protection: Pirated copies of BFE will spawn an invincible, quick, deadly scorpion. Which is also giant and pink. When it was bypassed, the player would periodically start spinning wildly while looking upwards at level 5.
- Crate Expectations:
- The massive crate pyramid in TFE.
- II. Almost every one of them contains an item.
- Curb Stomp Battle: BFE introduces One-Hit Kill melee attacks to Sam's arsenal. Among other things, he can rip the eye out of a Gnaar, rip the heart out of a Beheaded Rocketeer or twist the face off a Scrapjack. Most of these come with ludicrous amounts of blood sprayed all over the camera. If that wasn't enough, he can then toss the newly obtained gib at another enemy- potentially killing it! This nets you the "Useful Trophy" achievement.
- Custom Uniform: Sam doesn't wear the standard military uniform the redshirts do.
- Cute Monster Girl: The Hellchicks in II and Harpies in TFE.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: One BFE achievement requires you to refrain from sprinting, aiming down sights or manually reloading for an entire campaign runthrough. If you've played any recent shooter, the temptation is very hard to resist.
- Darker and Edgier: BFE compared to the rest of the series, due to being a Prequel, since You Can't Thwart Stage One.
- Deadly Dodging: One of the doors in TFE requires dodging one of those werebulls at the very last second so it could hit the door to break it.
- Deadly Lunge: Kleer Skeletons in all games and space monkeys in Serious Sam 3.
- Degraded Boss: Alduran Reptiloid - Highlander. Even though in TSE, they've gained more hitpoints and higher resistance to cannonballs, they're just Giant Mooks.
- BFE is full of these, most of the early bosses are only bosses because you lack more powerful weapons, though they at least have three times as much health as the normal mook versions and you fight them in an area that is to their advantage. In the case of the first one, the Major Biomechanoid, it also has the unique ability to sprint.
- Dem Bones: Kleer Skeletons in every game; Bone snakes and Kleerfloski in II.
- Denser and Wackier: II, compared to the rest of the series.
- Double Entendre: On being told by Sam that he needs to reactivate the Sirian generators, Hellfire responds with this:
Oh, so you can turn things on now?
- Difficulty Levels: TFE and TSE have one of the greatest difficulty difference in any FPS. Tourist difficulty is like disguised god mode while Serious, especially with extra co-op enemies, may include FPS hell elements and may leave you wondering if it can be completed without god mode or not. In Mental mode, enemies are invisible unless they're attacking. This includes melee enemies. And you will still run out of ammo long before you have killed all the mobs. Good luck with that.
- Disco Dan: Dancing Denzell and Groovy Gregory characters.
- Disc One Nuke:
- The Rocket Launcher, which is found at the very start of each game if you take your time to explore the first level.
- The Flamethrower and Sniper Rifle can also be found at the start of each chapter in TSE.
- Dismantled MacGuffin: The medallion in II.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Picking up a mere 1HP pickup might trigger an ambush with HORDES of enemies. This game is totally not friendly to Munchkins.
- A secret rocket festival secret on a TSE level, The Pit, had a Schmuck Bait 100HP bonus which spawned not just one Major Biomechanoid, but a whole bunch of these. Good luck dodging their missiles without losing what you got as a secret.
- The Dragon: Ugh-Zan III to Mental in The First Encounter.
- Drop the Hammer: Sam's melee weapon in BFE is a sledgehammer.
- Dummied Out: The Laser Turret in II is seen during one of the cutscenes. It didn't make it to game.
- A Gnaar Voodoo Doll graphic would be seen in the same game as well, right as soon as you explore its' .gro files.
- In a similar fashion to Duke Nukem 3D, Croteam once planned to include pipebombs in TFE, which apparently were nothing more than the grenade launcher ammo thrown separately from the main ammo. After so many years, the weapon concept finally gets defictionalized and makes its' actual debut in BFE as the C4 explosives.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Earth gets destroyed at the end of BFE, by nothing short of Mental dropping the moon on it. Sam made it through the timelock though, and may be able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- Easier Than Easy: Tourist difficulty.
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: In Serious Sam 3, you'll get a jetpack during the final boss fight.
- Elite Mooks: Pretty much every enemy type has an Elite Mook version. Some examples include:
- The Beheaded Rocketeers have the Red-Shirted Rocketeers that fire out five shots at a time instead of one.
- There's also the Zorg; while they are still disposable cannon fodder, they are basically Beheaded Rocketeers except twice as good in every way. Twice as durable, fire two projectiles at a time instead of one, said projectiles do twice as much damage, and they travel twice as fast.
- The Gnaars have the female Gnaars, which are bigger and have more health.
- The Arachnoid Juveniles have the Arachnoid Adults, which are also bigger and have more health.
- The Biomechanoid Minors have the Biomechanoid Majors, which have much more health, are bigger, and fire missiles instead of energy beams.
- Fiendian Demon Reptiloids in The Second Encounter are just like Aludran Reptiloids... except they are twice as tough, deal twice as much damage, and their projectiles travel twice as fast.
- The Beheaded Rocketeers have the Red-Shirted Rocketeers that fire out five shots at a time instead of one.
- Emergency Weapon: Knife, P-Lah chainsaw and Schofields in TFE and TSE (except with the second being actually absent in TFE).
- II and BFE turn the amount of emergency weapons up to three: the first offers the redesigned P-Lah, Zap Gun and Colt Anacondas, while the second has sledgehammer, Desert Eagle and, at a later time, Sirian Mutilator.
- Empty Room Until the Trap: All over the damn place.
- Enemy Summoner: Mordekai The Summoner; Giant spiders and Spawner enemies in II.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: BFE wastes no time in offing every Red Shirt that shows up, but by the end of the game, everyone except Sam, including Quinn and very likely Hellfire is dead. And we do mean everybody.
- Every Ten Thousand Points: It's a rare example of seeing it in a first-person shooter, especially in a series made after the year 2000. Getting lots of points in XBOX version of Serious Sam and both versions of II will award you extra lives. They also reappear in BFE, but only during the coop sessions.
- Everything Is Worse With Dinosaurs: T. Wrecks, a Biomech with a T-Rex head, in Serious Sam II.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Sam remarks about this after killing the first zombie monkey to appear in TNE. Same after destroying the first wave of them during the entire game.
Sam: It's been a while since I haven't spanked a monkey.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Par for the course for the genre, although Serious Sam II surprisingly averts this, as some of the levels are sparsely populated with friendly natives who cheer you on, give you powerups, and even sometimes act as helpful NPC allies in combat.
- Evil Laugh:
- In TFE, Ugh Zan III does an evil laugh after managing to stomp the player and when he first appears.
- Kleerofski in II has an even more maniacal evil laugh.
- Expy: New enemies Scrapjack and Khnum in BFE bear a resemblance to Doom's Mancubi and Hell Knights, both in appearance and attacks. The Cloned Soldiers also bear a resemblance in fighting style to the zombiemen, being disposable and weak humanoid enemies with hitscan weaponry.
- The Khnums can also be considered expies of the Serious Sam 1 enemy Aludran Reptiloid, Highlander. They look vaguely [dead link] similar, [dead link] are roughly the same height, are both enemies encountered first as a boss and then as a giant mook, and they both use fireballs as their main attack. However, the Khnums are stronger, faster, and do more damage than the Highlanders, in addition to being completely bullet proof.
- Sam to Duke Nukem, holding the Captain Ersatz status previously.
- Many of the concepts and enemies first introduced in TNE have appeared in II and 3 in this form or another. For instance, TNE has Dum Dums while II gets extremely similar Slimeballs. Ditto for Uzis, Martial Arts Masters and... shoot-as-you-click pistols for III.
- Exploding Barrels: II. They don't do much damage.
- Fireballs: Many enemies fire them, though they seem to be favored by Giant Mook types in particular, including the Aludran Reptiloid, Highlanders from the First Encounter, Fiendian Reptiloid Demons and Aludran Reptiloid, Highlander's Brides in The Second Encounter, big lava Golems in both games, and BFEs new enemies, the Khnums.
- First Person Ghost: You can't see Sam's feet if you look downward.
- Flunky Boss:
- TFE has Ugh-Zan III on the first half of the battle.
- TSE has Kukulchan the Wind God and Mordekai the Summoner.
- In a fashion similar to the above game, TNE puts the first and the last bosses into this trope, which are Diabloid and Sirian Overlord.
- Kwongo, Zumzum, Prince Chan and Mental Institution in II.
- Ugh-Zan IV in BFE.
- Floating Continent: These are floating above the surface of the planet Ellenier in II.
- Futuristic Pyramid: The final boss of II.
- Gatling Good: The Minigun, the Chaingun and the Laser Gun. This gets turned against the player in BFE, where Gatling Sentry Guns will target Sam if he enters their view. Funnily enough, he obtains his Gatling gun from one of these sentries.
- Genre Savvy: Sam exhibits this at times.
- George Lucas Throwback: To the old-school first-person shooters.
- Giant Eye of Doom: Picking up a lone pill at one point in TSE spawns a "secret watcher", a pair of giant eyeballs staring at you. Shooting them reveals that they're connected to a Giant Kamikaze.
- Giant Mook: Many, from adult Arachnoids to the Biomechanoids to BFE's Scrapjacks and Khnums.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Ugh-Zan the Third shows up on the last level, the only warning being Sam's AI warning him about seismic activity.
- Ugh-Zan IV's appearance is equally random.
- Glass Cannon: Some enemy cannons take only a few hits to kill but will do massive damage to Sam.
- Golem: Lava Golem.
- Guide Dang It: The sniper rifle and the lasergun make their return in BFE, although without knowing all the secret places, one might think they never ever appear in this game at all. The ammunition to these two guns is extremely rare, not to mention that at one point, it shows up as a regular, non-hidden item...
- Gun Accessories: BFE's new assault rifle, subbing in for the Thompson seen in previous games, features a holographic sight. It's ideal for picking off small enemies at range.
- The Goomba: Gnaars and Rocketeers in TFE and TSE. Funnily enough, there's a Gnaar in II dressed as Mario.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Pieces of medallion in II.
- Gratuitous Latin: Subverted with Mordekai, who speaks "utter crap in Latin" due to brain damage.
- Guns Akimbo: Shofields, Ugh-Zan III, several enemies in TSE. Desert Hawks and Uzis in TNE.
- Harder Than Hard: Serious and Mental difficulty.
- Hailfire Peaks: The next-to-last stage of TSE.
- Healing Factor: Ugh-Zan III, which leads to the Puzzle Boss part of his fight. Also Sam on Tourist mode, albeit slowly.
- The same goes for Ugh-Zan IV in BFE.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Mental himself. The only thing we've seen of him in the whole series is a boney hand. In a spinoff.
- Homing Projectile
- In TFE and TSE, the alduran reptiloids, fiendian reptiloids and Ugh Zan III fires these.
- In II, the number of enemy types shooting homing projectiles is bigger.
- BFE, thankfully, has very little of this.
- Sam officially gets his turn to shoot lock-on stuff in TNE, Homing Bullets and Heat-Seeking Rockets in particular.
- The Horde: Mental's army of course! They're mostly made up of things like robots, zombies, clones, biomachines, war beasts, and genetically engineered species, but Mental's not above just recruiting primitive races and using their own primitive technologies (such as the Reptiloids, Arachnoids, Orcs, Zorg, and Atlantleans) to bolster his ranks.
- Human Aliens: Sirians.
- Hyperspace Arsenal
- Idiot Hero: Sam in II
- Immune to Bullets: Kukulcan the wind god, the first boss in Second Encounter, can only be killed with explosive ammunition or lasers. Or the chainsaw, though the prerequisites for a chainsaw kill include having titanium testicles.
- Improbable Weapon User: Kleer skeletons and their "two metal balls chained together" weapons. They're real tools, that are supposed to be thrown so that they wrap around a person's legs and trip them up, but instead they're always used as standard projectile weapons.
- Improvised Weapon: Sam uses a conveniently placed pile of metal poles to turn Ugh-Zan IV into a giant walking lightning rod.
- Inescapable Ambush: Arena-type fights.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Present in II where they yield points.
- Instant Death Radius: Huge Lava Golem, Ugh Zan III, Ugh-Zan IV, Alduran Reptiloid Highlander's Bride (with a HUGE instant death radius) and to some extent many medium-large enemies which have long-range main attack.
- Interface Screw: The Witch-Brides of Achriman in BFE will use telekinesis to slightly pixelate your screen, slow you down and then after a couple seconds, lift you into the air and throw you around.
- Invincibility Power-Up: The invulnerability powerup.
- Invisible Monsters:
- Some Gnaars in TFE and TSE, especially at higher difficulties, are nearly invisible.
- Mental difficulty makes every monster to constantly flash between invisible and visible.
- Invisible Wall: II was quite a heavy offender. In TFE and TSE, there were invisible teleporters or jump pads which would lead back to area or nothing at all. However, II includes some in very uncomfortable positions.
- Jungle Japes: M'Digbo.
- Kill It with Fire: One puff of flame can ignite and kill human-sized troops, a constant stream can wear down hordes of enemies in seconds. If you're good at dodging, the low rate of ammo consumption and high damage over time makes the flamethrower one of the best weapons around. And in Mental difficulty, have fun with looking for flamethrower ammo ALL the damn time.
- King Mook: The Aludran Reptiloid Highlanders and the Uber Lava Golem.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: TFE and TSE for the XBOX and II.
- Last Ditch Move: Beheaded bombers and biomechanoids in TFE and TSE. Major biomechanoids have quite a high chance of hitting the player with that one.
- Leap of Faith:
- The black wall in one of the Egyptian tombs in TFE.
- In TSE, palace of Courtyards of Gilgamesh level had a Leap Of Faith room.
- Lethal Lava Land: Half of the penultimate stage in TSE and the entire planet Kleer in II.
- Lighter and Softer: II was much more brightly colored and cartoonish than its' prequels.
- Same Content, Different Rating: Even despite II included absolutely serious sceneries and lacked any kind of swearing (discounting one "damn" said by Sam in the ending), ERSB rose the rating to M thanks to the explicit amount of blood and gore, in contrast to Australian (15+) and European releases (12+). And that's with 2K Games requesting Croteam making the game lighter and softer to it would appeal to younger audiences.
- Lightning Bruiser: Alduran Reptiloid Highlander, especially Alduran Reptiloid Highlander's Bride who is the fastest enemy in TSE. And one of the biggest.
- Also, Sam himself, who can run at sixty miles per hour while carting around a minigun that's bigger than he is. BFE is not even afraid of showing him running with a goddamn cannon in his hands.
- Losing Your Head: Beheaded zombies. Especially kamikazes.
- Ludicrous Gibs: HD has this, plus you can carve up bodies with your knife if you want.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The rockets fired by the BFE enemy Scrapjack are weak, but they fire a lot of them. In one memorable instance in the final level, around eight Scrapjacks appear at the same time in an open canyon, and cover the entire area with rockets.
- Macro Zone: Planet Magnor in II. Most notable in Giant Junkyard level.
- Magma Man: Lava Golems.
- Marathon Level:
- "The Great Pyramid", "Karnak" and "Metropolis" in TFE
- "Grand Cathedral", "The City of the Gods", "Ziggurat", "Courtyards of Gilgamesh" and "Tower of Babel" in TSE
- "Mental Institution" in II.
- Several later levels of BFE can feel like this... but "The Guardian of Time" takes the cake.
- Seventeen hundred enemies, followed by the final boss fight. This isn't a marathon, it's an Ironman triathlon.
- Mayincatec: South American levels in TSE.
- Mighty Glacier: Ugh Zan III in TFE and his father, Ugh Zan IV in BFE.
- Missing Secret:
- The demo level for TFE has a broken secret, but this was fixed or removed in the full game. However, if you play the same level in co-op, there is a secret that becomes unreachable because it closes before the first player can act.
- Due to a few broken triggers, some secrets in Serious Sam - The Second Encounter don't exist but the secret counter still shows like they're there.
- Monster Clown: The unicycling suicide clowns from II.
- Monster of the Week: Taken to the form of "Monster Of The Stage" in TNE. In a nutshell, some non-boss mooks will be exclusive not only on a certain episode, but on a certain level as well, unless they make their only reappearance in The Lost Levels section. Several of these include Elephant Gunner, Wicker Man, Dib Dib Dum Dum and Phoenix Bomber.
- More Dakka: Thompson/Uzis, Laser, the Chaingun and the Minigun.
- Mooks: Oh boy are there mooks. There are literally thousands of mooks in any given game. They range from aliens, to wild alien animals, to alien mercenaries, to zombies, to robots, to clones, to biological war machines. Mental's got a lot of resources, apparently.
- Mook Maker: Mordekai the Summoner in TSE. The Alcor Warship in BFE. It also shoots lasers.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous
- All 3 sizes of Alduran reptiloids who have 4 arms.
- Ugh Zan III has four arms too. As does Ugh-Zan IV, though two of his are cybernetic.
- My Greatest Failure: According to the original backstory, Sam was the captain of the starship that drew Mental's attention to humanity and he threw himself headlong, even suicidally, into the fighting to try and atone.
- Nerf: Inverted in TNE, where most of the guns have been boosted up significantly. For instance, the Shofield pistols have a 12-bullet clip compared to the Colts' 6-bullet drum and can shoot as fast as their 3 counterpart. Rocket launcher, grenade launcher, flamethrower and Uzi pistols support at least two types of ammo, with one being the "original" mode and the rest being gimmicky. But what really takes the cake here is the sniper rifle that takes down an Adult Reptiloid in two shots while zoomed. Needless to say, neither the original sniper rifle nor even TNE's cannon had such power.
- Neural Implanting: An AI, NETRICSA, is surgically implanted into Sam's brain.
- No Fair Cheating: You can't get points at the end of the level when using cheats in II.
- No-Gear Level:
- In TFE, the player loses most of the ammo at the beginning of "Alley of the Sphinxes", save shotgun shells and cannonballs which is handwaved by having Sam being forced to drop the weapons and ammo due to weight in the desert in the level's introduction message. The XBOX port even disallows Sam to ride on a magic surfboard should only he arrive on the Alley.
- After completing each chapter in TSE or II, you'll have only basic weapons remaining.
- Happens in BFE at the beginning of "The Lost Temples of Nubia".
- Partially occurs in TNE, which has predefined weapon sets at the beginning of each level, which means that whenever you find a secret place with a new weapon, you have to exploit it now because you'll lose it by the end anyway. It gets more ridiculous between The Three Halls of Harmony and The Beast Beneath The Temple stages: on the first, you officially possess the cannon (it's not hidden anywhere), then it disappers heck knows where until the boss battle.
- Noodle Incident: Mordekai apparently died after an incident involving "the Necronomicon, 20.000 pounds of ectoplasm and a mispronounced Latin proverb".
- Ugh-Zan IV is actually the biological father of Ugh-Zan III thanks to an accident with an experimental time machine.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: 3 actually provides a plausible explanation for these, regarding the Scythian Witch-Harpies, who have breasts despite being a bird-like species. The harpy's datafile indicates the breasts are non-functional, and are merely an evolved form of predatory mimicry for attracting primate prey.
- Oh Crap: Sam has a couple of these moments.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: The entire medieval episode is this.
- One Bullet Clips: Present in 3.
- One-Hit Polykill: A zoomed-in sniper rifle shot in Next Encounter.
- One-Man Army: Sam.
- 1-Up: One of the pickups in II and in the XBOX version of Serious Sam.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Sci-fi orcs in this case in II. They have green skin and are in space suits.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Beheaded units deployed by Mental's hordes are reanimated Sirian soldiers, revived with a combination of magic and cybernetics (in BFE especially, where they have a robotic eye in the place of their head). They are extremely weak when compared to the average human, but unlike most zombies they still retain rudimentary intelligence (being able to use weak, basic weapons and obey orders) as well as move at a pace faster than a walk.
- Oxygen Meter: Appears when starting to run out of air.
- Painfully-Slow Projectile: The main reason rockets are not as effective at a range anymore in BFE is because most enemies have actually learned to move out of the way of them, which is easy since they're very slow. In addition, ninety percent of enemy projectiles count.
- Pinball Projectile: The ammo from the cannon and grenade launcher qualify for this.
- Next Encounter adds ricochet ammo for the Uzis.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Some mooks can be seen scaled down quite a bit while retaining their combat strength. One of the most memorable is a stampede of rat-sized bulls in TSE.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Expected, since the eponymous character is thought as a parody of Duke Nukem.
- Plot Coupon: The medallion in II.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Mental may count as this, since he makes mooks based off horror movies, like Curcubito the Pumpkin, lives in a building with Dark Vader and Lex Luthor, and destroys entire planets by throwing their own moons at them. Also, when ordering helicopters for his army, he simply told his staff to make a fleet of "big mofos of helicopters".
- Punch Clock Villain: The Beheaded Kamikazes, believe it or not.
- Puppeteer Parasite: An odd case in BFE's "Technopolyps", which infest machines rather than people -- in this case, attack helicopters. The first time you face one, you lack weapons that can damage it and must use buildings to avoid it until you find a Rocket Launcher.
- Puzzle Boss
- Ugh-Zan III in TFE, more so on the highest difficulty.
- To some extent, Exotech Larvan in TSE.
- Zum Zum, and Kleerovski in II.
- Ugh-Zan IV in BFE.
- Quad Damage: The Serious Damage powerup.
- Rated "M" for Manly: Within the first five minutes of playing TSE, you'll be doing bullfighting with a pump-action shotgun. This only serves to set the bar for the rest of the game.
- Recurring Riff:
- In Serious Sam II a certain riff plays during battle music of Ursul Gardens, most of Planet Kleer levels and when getting a medal piece.
- In The First Encounter a similar melody plays in Oasis and Metropolis peace theme.
- Red Shirt: Sam's squadmates are given just enough dialogue in the opening cutscene to make you think they'll at least play a minor role in the story, then are promptly killed off in the first level. Other than Tripwire, all other human allies that appear later in the game suffer similar "killed-as-soon-as-they're-introduced" deaths.
- Remilitarized Zone: Planet Kronor in II.
- Retcon: BFE performs one on the Backstory of the previous games. Sam was not chosen to go back in time. He was the only guy left alive and close enough to get to the Timelock, and took it upon himself to jump through.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Most breakable objects in II contain a useful item.
- Taken literally in TNE, Under the name of "Prohibition Bonus".
- Ribcage Ridge: Lots of giant skeletons found in planet Kleer in II.
- Roar Before Beating: Some of the bosses in 3.
- Rocket Jump: Though it never worked in the original, it can result in excessive Sequence Breaking.
- Rope Bridge: There's one in a level in TFE. It breaks if you try to cross it, conducing you to the next level.
- Ruins of the Modern Age: Seen in some of BFE's early levels, set in Cairo.
- Sand Worm: These won't let Sam go into the open desert in Serious Sam III.
- Save Scumming: In Hard, Serious and Mental difficulty, be prepared to use quicksave and quickload VERY frequently.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: TFE. In the harder difficulty settings, "Dunes", "Metropolis", "Alley of the Sphinxes" and "Karnak" are more challenging than rest of the levels.
- Schizo-Tech: Kleer skeletons use old ball-and chain projectiles, in II, some enemies like centaurs use classic weapons, other enemies use weapons ranging from modern to futuristic. There is also magic involved.
- Scoring Points
- Screaming Warrior: The headless kamikazes.
- Sentry Gun:
- Cannon turrets in I and II.
- Rocket and plasma turrets in II.
- Minigun turrets in 3.
- Serial Escalation: This is done with the amount of bad guys onscreen at once. It's the most apparent in The First Encounter and 3.
- Shifting Sand Land: TFE, most notably the "Dunes" level.
- Shiny Sense: In Serious Sam III, ammo glows yellow, health red, armor blue, weapons green and key items purple. This was done to compensate the lack of spinning around mid air and sparkling in the previous installments.
- Also available in TNE, even though they still float.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Averted with the multi-barreled shotgun in II which has a decent range. The single shotgun in I and 3 has slightly poorer range. Played straight however, with the double shotgun, which is basically a melee weapon, similar to its Doom counterpart.
- To Duke Nukem. In fact, Sam's incarnation in TFE, at least on the package, looks like a black-haired Duke Nukem.
- Another one is at the start of TSE, in the form of a red phone booth (gold in the XBOX version), and its conversation.
- One boss in II is called "Boss Hugo".
- In the second level of TFE and the XBOX Serious Sam, at one point a boulder drops down and starts rolling toward you. Sam begins whistling the Indiana Jones theme.
- In the first level of TSE, while crossing a rope bridge he whistles the Peruvian song El Condor Pasa.
- To Monty Python upon picking up the chainsaw in Poland
"Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK!"
- In II, near the beginning of the first level is a domesticated green velociraptor that can be ridden around like a horse.
- In II in the penultimate level of the first chapter he can't get past a door and at one point screams WILMAAA!.
- Later on, before facing Prince Chan, the cutscene is highly reminiscent of an old Asian movie, including voice-dubbing not matching lip movements.
- In the intro cutscene to the second level of the Kleer planet chapter in II, the famous "Warriors, come out to playyy!" scene from the film is recreated.
- In the end of the penultimate chapter, Sam calls out to the alliance fleet about to attack planet Sirius "Are you with me?" Among the responses are "Acknowledged!", "Ready!", "Affirmative!", "Roger!", "Rabbit!"
- Shout-Out/To Shakespeare: In TSE after grabbing a crystal skull:
"To be or not to be - that is a serious question."
- In BFE Sam can use Duke's Mighty Boot.
- In BFE, after "scaring off" one of Mental's warships:
- In BFE, after Sam meets the Arachnids for the first time, he whistles the Spiderman theme.
- Silliness Switch
- "Hippie" blood which consists of flowers and confetti.
- A teaser for HD shows off "Super Happy Fun Time Mode" where blood and gore is replaced with sparkles, lollipops, pumpkins, and all other manner of good things. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows are probably sold separately.
- Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Kamikazes, chainsaw pumpkins and pretty much any other enemy. Lampshaded in Second Encounter, where the player's AI comments that she can "hear those familiar hooves coming" right before a fight with a bunch of hoofed Kleer skeletons.
- Spider Tank: There are giant spider robots in 2 sizes in II.
- Spikes of Doom: There are spikes here-there in both TFE, TSE and II scattered around the game.
Sam: Spikes? I hate spikes!
- Splash Damage: Comes from explosive weapons, as well as from the Kamikazes.
- Sprint Shoes: Literally. Picking up special shoes allow Sam to move faster for a short period of time.
- Story Overwrite: When end of level cutscenes in II show Sam walking through a battlefield, disappeared bodies have not only appeared again, but also they include enemies not fought in the said area. Also happens in the Dunes and Grand Cathedral cutscenes from the XBOX version.
- Suddenly Voiced: NETRICSA in II.
- Sugar Bowl: Ellenier in II. Although it's more of fairytale land.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: TNE has gnaars replaced with dum dums, the teethy green balls with two arms, similar to the ones you may find in II's M'Digbo. Not only they're not a big threat either, they also come up in two flavours: walking and flying (with the second codenamed as Twiddle Dum Dums). They can't be invisible, however...
- Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Lampshaded throughout. At one point, a minor health pill runs away from you. Getting it spawns enemies.
- Take That:
- Serious Sam is brought back in II because "Some blondie guy was taking forever." This was back in 2002, so it's not completely unwarranted.
- The BFE trailer ends with "No cover. All man.", one towards cover-based games.
- The "Serious Sam Help Line" series of trailers for BFE contain lots of these; at one point the operator tells someone who wants regenerating health to "stop being such a f****** p****".
- Teleporting Keycard Squad: To the point of parody. Whenever you pick up anything, expect a legion of monsters to attack you. And if it's any level after the first, another one after that.
- Also happens in TNE, but this time, complete with the items being Crosshair Aware.
- Tech Demo Game: One of the reasons of making of The First Encounter was to show off the capabilities of Serious Engine. The First and Second Encounter even had a tech demo level.
- Tempting Fate: "Are you serious?"
Sam: Why yes, as a matter of fact, I am.
- Testosterone Poisoning: To be expected in an Affectionate Parody of Duke Nukem, Doom and other macho first-person shooters.
- Threat Backfire: A Gnaar threatens Sam that he will be mooned. Sam isn't impressed, nor is he when Mental's daughter reiterates the threat. Cue the moon falling from orbit, prompting Sam to leap into the Timelock.
Sam: Oh fuck!
- Too Awesome to Use:
- Averted by providing enough ammo for all of them except the chaingun. The chaingun's small, for its fire rate, supply is lampshaded in its description, where they warn you that it eats through all 1000 rounds in seconds.
- Subverted in II, the ammo wasting rate is lowered considerably.
- Played more straight with some of the weapons in 3 due to less generous ammo.
- Translator Microbes: NETRICSA actively translates other languages for Sam. BFE features both old tablets with hieroglyphs and modern Egyptian graffiti in some areas. Upon looking at them, subtitles will appear in the original language, but then slowly transition to English (or whatever set language). This is also presumably why Sam can talk to Gnaars, Mental and whoever else.
- Turns Red:
- Highlander (And highlander's bride) alduran reptiloids in Serious Sam 1 fire twice as fast when heavily damaged.
- Major biomechanoids in Serious Sam 3 start to fire volley of rockets when damaged enough.
- Updated Rerelease: The first two games were released in High Definition. Parodied in many commercials.
- Variable Mix: Music becomes more intense when there are many enemies nearby.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Quinn in BFE.
- The War Sequence: Many, many examples. Hell, you might as well rename the series "War Sequences: The Game". Major battles are often punctuated with a voice aptly screaming "WAAAAAAAAR!!!" right before the heavy metal music starts.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Parodied at the end of II.
- Wutai: Chi Fang in Serious Sam II.
- You All Look Familiar
Sam: Hey, didn't I kick your ass two rooms back?
- Before First Encounter