What Measure Is a Mook?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Well, do you remember them, You Bastard? Do you?

In far too many fantasy stories only the main characters are people. Palace guards, in particular, come off badly; nobody seems to think twice about slitting the throats of a few guardsmen.


When the hero confronts the Big Bad, no matter his crimes, he will spare him, despite all logic being against it; however, when he kills a Mook who happens to be in his way, it's delicious.

Why? Because Red Shirts and Mooks are not generally seen as people. After all, they lack a name and other distinguishing characteristics, so they also have no identity or soul.

This is generally done intentionally. A primary antagonist, even if their face is somehow concealed, will likely have a very distinctive appearance and a considerable amount of dialogue, establishing him as too important to kill. However, mooks are often clones or wear masks (perhaps even both), and consequently have very little chance of surviving an encounter with the hero.

However, there are exceptions that can save a mook. If the mooks switch sides (a rare event), they usually get the benefit of Redemption Earns Life; additionally, if they were Good All Along and only doing evil because they had no choice, they have a shot. Also, some works of (generally kid-friendly) fiction explain the heroes used a Non-Lethal KO on their foes.

Compare What Measure Is a Non Super, What Measure Is a Non Unique, and What Measure Is a Non-Human?. A Million Is a Statistic can be this when applied to mooks in large numbers. Contrast Immortal Life Is Cheap. Pay Evil Unto Evil normally goes hand-in-hand with all this mookocide, often with sneers about the way mooks will go around Just Following Orders. Sometimes justified(?) by the assumption that mooks are Exclusively Evil, though, as many examples show, entirely innocent Gullible Lemmings are often gunned down, as well. Breakout Mook Character may be a subversion. Notably lampshaded by the Mook Horror Show.

Before adding an example, consider this: is the Final Boss treated any better than the mooks? If not, it's probably not an example.

Examples of What Measure Is a Mook? include:

Anime and Manga

  • Lampshaded in the Mazinger Z manga. After some Iron Cross soldiers are fatally injured breaking into Kouji's house to try and kidnap him, he states he wants to try and save them so he won't be a murderer (and he was very hesitant about killing them even if he was defending himself. And after getting forced to kill one, he was shaking, shell-shocked). A policeman who helped protect them points out that self defense isn't a crime, and that Kouji's using the "justification of a manga protagonist".
    • This is also justified since...well, they aren't exactly alive.
      • To elaborate on it: they are cyborgs made from corpses, reanimated with a mechanized brain, programmed to obey faithfully Hell and his Co-Dragons. Empty Shell not even begins to describe it.
  • Averted in Trigun by Vash the Stampede who refuses to take a human life, sometimes using his Improbable Aiming Skills to shoot other people's bullets out of the air. When he gets caught flat-footed by a couple of Mooks in one episode and accidentally shoots them seriously in self-defense, he's overcome with panic for their welfare, desperately trying to bandage them up first even though he was shot as well. On the Crapsack World he lives, even young teens consider this behavior immature.
  • Similarly averted in Grenadier with Rushuna Tendou, who is pretty much Vash's Distaff Counterpart. She offers everyone she meets a smile and a hug and even if they try with all their might to kill her, no matter who, she sticks to her ultimate strategy of "taking away the enemy's will to fight", which involves not killing them. And I'll be damned if it doesn't work, it being what it is.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Rei kills the last fleeing members of the Fang Clan (Psychopathic Manchildren who had kidnapped his girlfriend Mamiya and killed her brother) after they had abandoned their boss and given up. Compare this with his treatment of Yuda, a deranged Dirty Coward who killed Mamiya's parents on her birthday and forced her to be his sex slave.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Setsuna spares Graham/Mr. Bushido after defeating him in combat, and then convinces him to not commit seppuku. This is someone who says, "Setsuna F. Seie. Eliminating/Exterminating target" before going into combat and then proceeds to, well, do a pretty good job at exterminating his targets. This might be because Graham's/Mr. Bushido's monologue where he calls out Celestial Being for the deaths of his brothers-in-arms sent Setsuna on a guilt trip.
  • There is a tragic example in Gundam AGE. While Grodek and Flit hesitated on what to do with Yark Dore, the Diva's crew had no problem with their men slicing up UE mobile suits and throwing grenades at enemy foot soldiers. Such different treatment is exposed when, while trying to find Flit, Woolf runs into a dying Veigan soldier. While learning about the soldier's identity, Woolf seems to have befriended him as the soldier gives Woolf his necklace. He dies in Woolf's arms shortly after, causing Woolf to have a Heroic BSOD when he returns to the Diva.
  • Commander Sazabi's troops in SD Gundam Force may apply in a far less spoken version. The Zako Soldiers, by far considered the series most innocent mooks never die on screen, and are simply cast aside. The more malicious Dark Axis troops are not as fortunate, however, and very clearly explode. Tallgeese's Pawn Leos fall into a middle ground, in that they enjoy what they do, but are as Woobie-like as the Zakos, and aren't said to actually die when defeated.
  • El Cazador de la Bruja has gas-mask-wearing government soldiers attack the protagonists in a misguided attempt to contain a non-existent plague only to be killed off by various good and bad characters. The gas masks were a dead giveaway that they needed extra dehumanization for their murders to be even remotely justifiable as a good act.
  • Explored and subverted in A Certain Magical Index, with Mikoto's "sisters": a series of 20,000 clones of her made just to provide a challenge so that a "level 5" (absurdly powerful) ESPer can develop his powers to the theoretical godlike level 6 stage, just to see if it can be done. Touma and Mikoto are horrified at the idea of her clones being mooks made just to die, and nearly get themselves killed trying to stop the genocide, though over 10,000 have already died.
  • Mentioned in Rurouni Kenshin, when Aoshi Shinamori condemns Shishio after Shishio sends four mooks to fight Aoshi knowing they would die just so he can see how good Aoshi really is. Shishio's Dragon Soujiro responds by saying that it's just as heartless to kill four men without hesitation when you know that they're just being used. Unfortunately this theme is never brought up again, but then again the main character of the series is a humongous Technical Pacifist, so this situation doesn't come up very often.
  • Averted in Fullmetal Alchemist, probably as a part of the whole idea of all sympathetic characters being very loyal to their friends, in contrast to the villains. When heroic characters start rebelling against the Army, they inflict injuries on mooks working for the State Military on several occasions, but none of them will kill (for characters who are soldiers, it is because the mooks are their former comrades-in-arms, for Ed, it's more because he's a Technical Pacifist). Also, the idea of "mooks don't have families" is averted in a recent chapter, where "Greedling" tells members of the Army that if they have wives, families, etc. at home waiting for them, he's giving them a chance to run.
  • Subverted hard in Eureka Seven when Renton loses self-control and beats an enemy KLF into a bloody pulp only to see a severed human hand with a wedding ring on it. Until then, he had remained ignorant of what exactly joining a group like Gekko State entailed.
  • Lampshaded in Code Geass, Lelouch has only a mild reaction when he finds out that his plan to cause a landslide has buried not only enemy soldiers but also part of a town and possibly enemy medics, but when he finds out that Shirley's father was one of the individuals killed, he becomes very upset and is reminded by C.C. that most of the people who died because of him had families.
    • Then there is Rolo who just can't understand why Villeta Nu's upset (and fearful) with him for killing his own allies in the SIA. Rolo also kills many unnamed enemy soldiers with no problem but not the pursuing Black Knights after their betrayal.
      • Though that was most likely due to him spending all his effot escaping and keeping the shield up to have time to kill the persuers, rather than caring for their lives. Afterall, if he followed this trope, Shirley would have lived
  • A case in and out of universe occurred in Naruto recently; Sasuke is pursuing Danzo, the most recent target of his ongoing quest for revenge, into a foreign country where the Kages are meeting. On the way, he is found by the Samurai in charge of guarding the area. Before, Sasuke proved capable of defeating hundreds of mooks non-lethally, but Sasuke elects instead to just kill everyone that gets in his way, slaughtering dozens of men just doing their jobs because it was quicker than not killing them. Ironically, this act is never remarked upon by other characters beyond Suigetsu noting that Sasuke is becoming more and more of a Hypocrite, and the fandom didn't consider Sasuke across the Moral Event Horizon until he stabbed Karin, a character with a name, several chapters later.
    • To be fair, Karin was one of Sasuke's few allies. Trying to kill someone who would follow you into hell is a better indicator for crossing the Moral Event Horizon than killing people he never knew nor cared for.
    • Also, don't forget the reason why he's doing all this: His clan, according to Tobi, was being accused by the Leaf Council of using Kyubi to attack the village and planned a coup, and Koharu, Homura and Danzo, huge believers of all Ninjas being replaceable, disposable Mooks who only live to serve the village, ordered Itachi, also a believer of this and For Peace, to kill all of his family. This, coupled with the revelation that Itachi planned his death at Sasuke's hands to cover up ALL OF THIS SHIT is what drove Sasuke to start crossing Moral Event Horizon. Also, Sasuke himself might count, since Itachi manipulated him so much that he even planned to use a permanent Mind Trick, sealed in Naruto, to make Sasuke protect the village for the rest of his life should he decide that his family's death was not nice. Anyone else seeing a Moral Dissonance here?
  • In One Piece, the one thing Luffy can't stand in a man is someone who would hurt his/her own crew. While the Straw Hats themselves have no trouble bashing through people and leaving them in severe condition, Luffy's Berserk Button is pressed when he finds someone with so little care towards their own crew.
    • Captain Kuro was the first to show this attitude, when he not only threatened to kill everyone if they screwed up his three year-long plan, but unleashes the "Cat Out of the Bag Attack." Such an ability lets him move at high speeds, but at the cost of vision, leaving him swiping and cutting away at everyone in his crew, as well as Luffy.
    • Don Krieg is next. He shows a lot of care for his crew, desperately wanting food for them all after they've been left starving for so long, but if they don't follow orders, he doesn't give a crap. He orders his commander, Gin, to suffer through a poisonous gas bomb because he refused to kill someone.
    • Arlong is, actually, the first to subvert this. He addresses everyone in his crew as "brothers" and becomes severely pissed when he finds many men from his crew injured from Zoro.
  • In an early arc of Zombie Loan there was a woman turned into a zombie minion and subsequently re-killed. Cue the end of the arc where the main characters attend her funeral, and one of the characters saying something along the lines of "When someone dies, someone always cries for them."
  • Typical in Sailor Moon. Monsters of the Day, be they Youma, Droids, Cardians, Daimons or others, never survive an episode, and the Sailor Scouts never show any regrets when utterly destroying the - often terrified and cowering - villains. This is despite the fact that monsters or not, most of these creatures are shown to be intelligent, sapient beings capable of emotions, some even being friends with other villains (Castor and Pollux, Thetis) while some are even reluctant to fight and just want to survive (Doorknobdar). Yet, when facing the Big Bads, they often get the chance to explain themselves (such as with Diamande and his followers, or Ai and Len) despite them being responsible for much worse then what the often very-short lived monsters of the day ever accomplished.

Comic Books

  • Ruthlessly subverted and taken apart in Hench, by Adam Beechen and Manny Bello. In this graphic novel, a professional henchman (he's worked with a lot of supervillains, and tells us which are good bosses and which ones to stay away from at all costs) reflects on his life, and how it got so crazy. He isn't in the life For the Evulz so much as having no other way to make a living and support his kid.
  • Volume One, Issue Twelve of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, titled "Best Man Fall", is a Posthumous Character study of a guard who appeared in only one panel of a previous issue. It shows various snapshots from his life, up until the point where he gets shot. While he's far from the a saint, it still works to make you feel sad for him dying.
  • One of the many Star Wars comic series, called Empire, focuses on the Empire's side of the conflict against the Rebels. One of the main characters is an up and comer in the Empire who gets mocked because he cares about the lives of each and every Stormtrooper.
  • Actively defied at the end of Empowered volume 2, in which the heroine earns a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming by showing she does care about a mook's family.
  • In Frank goddamn Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Batman won't kill the Joker even though his grinning adversary has recently murdered an entire studio full of people, on live TV. Earlier on, however, he has no hesitation about using a gang member as a Meat Shield, and then turning that gangster's machine-gun on his buddies. Sure, the gangsters were bad but WTF, Millar?
    • That was a split decision to save his own life. The Joker was already beaten. Just to be safe, Batman applied enough pressure to paralyze him from the neck down.
  • One of the last few G.I. Joe comic books ("America's Elite") had a flashback to the early days of G.I. Joe and the evil Cobra. One of the undercover operatives was saying (paraphrased) "Yes, General Flagg, some of them are jerks but a lot of them are just confused people, they aren't really bad."
  • The subject is explored in the Astro City arc Dark Age when Royal and Charles go undercover as mooks in Pyramid.
  • This trope is brought up sometimes in Sin City, despite the protagonists' violent nature. Marv refused to kill the initial set of cops sent against him and he employed similar methods when deaking with the henchmen at the Lord's estate, Wallace only killed a few assassins since he was one of the few SC characters who didn't like killing, Hartigan killed the guards at the Farm but mentioned that he hated doing it, and Dwight once questioned whether or not he should kill a cop on the grounds that he might be one of the few honest ones.
  • In the most recent Wolverine comics, one issue explores the background of a female Hand ninja, known best for being Marvel's go-to mooks for stories set in Japan. The ninja dies early on during one of Logan's frequent rampages. The Hand brings her back to life only to serve as the human equivalent of a broodmare. She refuses and instead joins the Right Red Hand, a group of people who blame Logan for ruining their lives.
  • One issue of Tales of the TMNT goes into the backstory of a new recruit to the Foot Clan ninjas—his family, his personality, and why he wanted to join the Foot. He comes back from his first fight with the turtles in a body bag.

Fan Works

  • Kyon averts this trope in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Before fighting 24 Mooks with Yuki's help he asks her not kill any of them and/after the fight, worried about the battle aftermath on them, he asked her how much they were injured.
  • The Villain Protagonist of the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era, Tyrin Lieph, completely disregards his own Mooks as expendable. While this is reasonable when it only refers to his Mecha Mooks, later within the storyline, (i.e. The second part, The Krogan Rebellions, tenuously scheduled to start in summer of 2011) he has completely disregarded the value of the lives of his dezban militia, the Krogan Resistance Movement, and even his own devoted Soldiers of Salvation.
  • Heavily deconstructed in The Measure of a Guard, a short story set in the world of Fall From Heaven, where the protagonist himself is a mook.
  • Lampooned and Subverted in this Deviant Art picture, where the mooks rudely complain about the costumed heroine thrashing them; she's clearly not amused.


  • Subverted in City of God. One of the guards shot dead in a montage sequence has an adolescent son who witnesses his death at the hands of the heroic gang leader. The son joins the gang to take revenge and kills Ned at the end.
  • Parodied with great relish in the deleted scenes from the first Austin Powers film. All the henchmen Austin kills have families and friends, who are shown receiving the news of their deaths. One had a wedding coming up, and the other was happily married with a kid. The scenes were major Mood Whiplash, especially given the silly ways they died, which is probably why they didn't make the final cut. (For America, that is. They were in the UK cut.)
    • In Part III, Nigel is able to defeat a Mook by reminding of how many anonymous henchmen he's indiscriminately killed over the years. The fact that he's not even wearing a name tag isn't improving his chances. The guy just decides to lie down and play dead.
  • Road House: When Patrick Swayze's character breaks into the Big Bad's mansion, he beats the tar out of him, but then can't bring himself to kill him... despite having killed nearly all the villain's henchmen on the way in.
    • The henchmen died fighting. The Big Bad is helpless. The distinction between combat action and murdering prisoners is not this trope.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the Big Bad is an evil, murderous, genocidal git who orders the killing of his own men for propaganda, and is generally not a nice guy. Three times the heroes have him at their mercy and either can't bring themselves to kill him or straight up let him go. Because it's wrong to kill. All those guards and soldiers who were just following orders get slaughtered by the hundreds without hesitation.
    • It should be remembered that there is a considerable difference between killing a soldier in a fight to the death, and killing an unarmed and helpless prisoner. Slaughtering Miraz's troops on the battlefield was the former. Killing Miraz when he could not fight back was the latter.
  • In On Deadly Ground, Steven Seagal's character brutally massacres dozens of guards on an oil rig, some of whom aren't even posing a real threat to him, ostensibly for the horrific crime of being accessories to pollution. After killing all these people, he finally gets the Big Bad right where he wants him, and then decides he's not worth killing (though, of course, The Chick then takes the initiative to off the Big Bad herself).
    • He more or less kills one for smoking (ok smoking on an oil rig not very smart, but so isn't blowing one up)
  • In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu seem to spend most of their time killing either hired security guards or actual law enforcement officers, whose sole fault is that they unknowingly work for a corrupt official. The morality portrayed is quite questionable. One may be somewhat unsettled for the entire movie after the first shoot-out, and genuinely think it's building up to something more, but it never does.
  • Subverted and made into a plot point in Machine Girl, where the heroine's slaughter of a squad of ninja mooks leads to a scene with their mourning families..
  • Occurs in the film Hitman, where the eponymous assassin has no problem shooting his way through hordes of gas-masked troops, but always lets named characters go, despite that fact that they are the ones leading the investigation into him. Particularly bad as the troops are simply ordinary Russian soldiers protecting their president.
    • Which is weird, since in the games this trope is inverted: 47 is supposed to only kill his target(s) and no one else. In fact, the Agency does not like it when innocents die and will send someone to kill an excessively homicidal agent if he continues the way he does.
    • When necessary, he will fight his way through security goons like that, but he just canonically doesn't because part of what makes him Shrouded in Myth is that his planning and skill are such that there are barely any witnesses to his assassinations or to his existence.
  • Rationalized in Clerks, when Dante and Randall are talking about the thousands of innocent contractors that must have been blown up when the Death Star is destroyed. They are then interrupted by a man who works putting up drywall who tells them about how he was offered a substantial amount of money to work on a gangster's house. He refused, but let one of his friends know, and he took the job. Later, a rival gang pulled up to the house and murdered his friend and everyone on his team trying to whack the gangster - who wasn't even home. He felt bad about his friend dying, but doesn't feel sorry for him, as he knew exactly what he was getting into, and says that the same would apply to the Death Star workers.
    • Also, there is a reason it is a Geneva Conventions violation ('human shields') to force noncombatants into staying on top of a military base against their will, and that reason is because the act of voluntarily entering and working in a legitimate target zone for enemy attack forfeits your non-combatant protected status. Or in plain English, a civilian contractor working on an army base is still choosing to act as combat support for that army, which means he can't complain if he gets caught in the blast radius.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, it has some good examples of this. That being said, the civilians on the Death Star (if there were any, see below) weren't working for some shady gangster. They were working for the Emperor, ruler of the galaxy. It's more like justifying the death of contractors for the US government working in hot zones because they "knew the risks"...except that given his workplace policies, rejecting a job from him isn't even an option.
    • Confirmed in the novel Death Star. Two of the characters the book follows—an architect working on the project and a doctor stationed on board to tend to the personnel—are there because they were conscripted by the Empire. They were undoubtedly not the only ones. Even the stormtroopers and TIE pilots and such don't necessarily know they're on the wrong side; Palpatine was a master of propaganda, after all. More than one character believes that the Death Star will only be used as a deterrent, the mere existence of which will surely scare those evil rebel terrorists into behaving themselves without it ever being fired. By the time the thing is used to blow up Alderaan and Heel Realization sets in, it's too late.
      • Although the above is true to a degree, they were still building and operating what essentially amounted to a giant death ray for a fascistic empire which was explicitly called "the Death Star"; even if they chose not to acknowledge it and had little say in the matter, they had to know what they were potentially getting into on some level.
      • Also, one has to consider that the second Death Star, which is where the famous Clerks discussion originated, was already FULLY operational when the rebels attacked it. It's entirely possible (in fact probable) that there were no contractors at that time and the exterior was left "incomplete" as part of the ruse. Ackbar's famous line can be taken as evidence.
      • For that matter, what else is the Rebellion supposed to do? Evacuate an enemy ship in the middle of a battle before destroying it? The destruction of the first Death Star wasn't even a terrorist attack on a military target - it was defending against an attack on their own base. Even the second one was isolated, away from any known civilian facilities, and attacked in a way that somehow avoided any collateral damage. The rebels didn't violate the Geneva convention, and aren't shy about killing named characters, either. Not an example.
    • What about the Endor Holocaust?
      • Don't worry, there was no such thing.
        • And even if their was, the war crimes violation would fall on the Empire for putting their base there in the first place when any # of uninhabited moons were available to use instead.
    • Lucas himself weighed in on this for his commentary of Attack of the Clones (he even specifically referenced Jay and Silent Bob when doing it). He figures the Geonosians were the ones who built the Death Star, and that it was probably okay for them to die, since they were "just large termites." What Measure Is a Non-Cute? / Non Human factor in as well, apparently. Family-Unfriendly Aesop ahoy!
  • Subtly lampshaded in Brazil, when the protagonist and his love interest are being chased by the dystopian police in a Hot Pursuit. When the protagonist looks back and sees the police trucks crash and explode, he cheers. But then we see a policeman getting out of the wreckage, covered in flames and flailing about, and the protagonist watches in horror. In the commentary, Terry Gilliam states that he goes out of his way to humanize the bad guys because he doesn't like this trope. Later, we see a pair of the frightening faceless state police take off their masks to complain about how hot they are - one mentions that his oversized eyebrows help him deal with sweat.
    • Further, when our desperate protagonist breaks free, they try to reason with him for several seconds - in what appears to be an honest and slightly worried attempt to get him to calm down - before thwunking him with their sticks.
  • Max Payne in the film version doesn't have any qualms gunning down several dozen security personnel whose only crime is working for a company that harbors some dark secrets that any low level employees aren't likely to know about. In the game, he only kills mobsters who shoot first, or guys who are deeply involved in the whole conspiracy, as they mean to kill him already.
  • In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise knows there's one evil agent who framed him, and the agency now wants him dead. So Cruise actually manages to kill about thirty completely innocent agents but avoid directly killing the villain.
  • Judge Dredd has the title character kill dozens of law-enforcement officials, despite the fact that they legitimately believe him to be a murderer (not to mention the likelihood that he personally trained some of them]].
  • In GoldenEye, James Bond kills a number of Russian soldiers while he and Natalya are escaping from the archives, despite the fact that they're only shooting at him because they think he'd stolen the Tiger helicopter and killed Defense Minister Mishkin.
    • It's not as if Bond has much of a choice; if he remains there instead of trying to escape he and Natalya will be executed without trial. The fact that they're trying to kill him by mistake does not change the part where they're trying to kill him—he has to defend himself (and the civilian woman in his care) with lethal force, or else they will die.
  • While Merantau does not explicitly confirm the mooks' deaths, the protagonist uses a number of techniques that would almost unquestionably kill, notably kicking a man in the head in the middle of a running long jump such that his body is sent flipping backward and whips his skull into the corner of a steel shipping container.
  • The Matrix films, particularly the first film, has this happening in spades to the human security guards and law-enforcement officers.


  • All Quiet on the Western Front is all about this trope. In one scene, Paul attacks a French soldier, whom he previously sees as nothing more than a Mook, but after realizing that the soldier has friends, a job, and a family, Paul is profoundly disturbed.
  • Taken up to eleven in Michael Crichton's final novel Pirate Latitudes. The "heroes" slaughter hundreds of people, among them a nineteen-year-old kid. It's not even acknowledged that the mooks these people slaughter are actually on the side of the law and it's the protagonists who are menacing the populace. The Big Bad of the novel is essentially evil incarnate, because he'd have to be, in order to be worse than the heroes. Keep in mind that this novel was published posthumously, and it wasn't actually complete.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle book Eldest, Eragon does some angsting after killing rabbits to eat them and resolves not to eat meat anymore because it involves killing living things. (Let's not start on the Fridge Logic of a young man raised as a medieval peasant being squeamish about dead animals.) This does not prevent him from later in the book massacring enemy Mooks in a borderline Ax Crazy manner, even after the opening to Eragon establishes that most of these mooks just got picked up by the draft, and some may even be from his home town.
    • It gets far worse in Brisingr. When Eragon is undercover in the Empire with Arya, they get into a fight with a group of soldiers and kill them all with no weapons. One almost escapes, and as Eragon catches up with him, starts begging for his life, repeating (truthfully) that he was dragged against his will into the war, that his parents will miss him, that he has yet to get married and live a life, and so on. Eragon rationalizes him as a threat, and breaks his neck with his bare hands. Now, to be fair, you can argue (and people have. Extensively.) about whether any of the other options available to Eragon (memory-wiping, invisibility, knocking the man out and leaving too quickly for an alarm he raises to make a difference, or trying to recruit him to La Résistance and sending him elsewhere) are really viable here, but the real point is that Paolini doesn't. No indication is given that avowed vegetarians Eragon and Aya think twice before slaughtering effectively defenseless Punch Clock Villains, even when they're surrendering.
    • Subverted with Eragon's cousin Roran who, by contrast, is uncomfortably aware of the humanity of the soldiers he kills and often has to remind himself where his priorities are. Well, apart from the scene in Brisingr where he offs 297 Mooks (this is after we find out that most of them are conscripts), and his only regret is that there wasn't enough for a round 300.
  • Averted quite bluntly in Monstrous Regiment. Polly and the rest of her squad are sneaking into an enemy fortification, and hear some guards coming up, and her inner monologue goes:

Yes, a good swipe at head height would kill...
...some mother's son, some sister's brother, some lad who'd followed the drum for a shilling and his first new suit. If only she'd been trained, if only she'd had a few weeks stabbing straw men until she could believe that all men were made of straw...

    • It's also the original basis of the City Watch characters: Guards! Guards! is dedicated to the mooks:

Whatever their name is, 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.

  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Death Star features the personal lives of many mooks. For example, one of the guys seen at the fire control station of the laser is there, as is the Stormtrooper who leads the chase against Han. Due to an influx of guilt and a bit of Force sensitivity, many mooks form an escape plan just to get out of the damned place. This even leads to a combination Redemption Equals Death and Crowning Moment of Awesome: When the Death Star gunner, suffering from textbook Being Evil Sucks, gets the order to fire on Yavin IV and wipe out the Rebel leadership, he stalls, praying for the rebels to come kill him. They did.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer 'Gatekeeper' novel trilogy. The Big Bad has dozens of human mooks on his side. Many of them are smart enough to figure out they're getting a raw deal from a guy who wants to turn Earth into a charnel pit. The authors delve into the minds of many mooks, making some sympathetic. Then the mooks tend to explode.
  • Both averted and played straight in The Lord of the Rings. In the averted case, when Sam sees Faramir's rangers attacking a band of Southrons in service to Mordor, he wonders of a dead Southron soldier "whether he was really evil at heart, and what lies or threats had driven him on this march so long from his home, and whether he would have rather stayed there in peace." On the other hand, Orcs are slaughtered wholesale and without a moment's hesitation by pretty much everybody.
    • Well, orcs are Exclusively Evil, although Tolkien was troubled by the Unfortunate Implications.
    • There's also the fact that orcs are never shown even trying to surrender- if they can't escape, then they always choose to fight to the death. This rather limits one's options in dealing with them.
  • Inverted in The Dresden Files, especially near the end of Small Favor. Harry is more than willing to do absolutely everything in his power to kill Nicodemus, even slowly throttle him to death over several minutes, but he steadfastly refuses to kill the mooks that chase him down afterward.
  • In The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, Vin is perfectly happy to attack an enemy keep, killing dozens of soldiers at least. However, when she reaches the lord and his son—the only two named characters in the building—she refuses to harm them and leaves instead.
    • This is actually a subversion - it wasn't the sight of the lord and his son, but the realization that the lord was crippled, the son was harmless, and though the lord had made himself look very dangerous, he wasn't a serious threat that did it - because this makes Vin realize that she just killed an entire building of people for no reason. She promptly goes off, sick to her stomach, and hides until her friends find her.
    • Played straight with Kelsier from the same series. He considers working for the nobility, even if you're just a Punch Clock Villain, to be a death sentence. However, Kelsier is generally presented as bordering on being a Well-Intentioned Extremist (albeit not outright villainous).
  • Jenna in the Great Alta Saga is prone to these moments, but she usually feels guilty (read: can barely keep going) afterword. It makes sense given that she has been raised in a culture that has no real taboo against violence, but she remains a seventeen-year-old girl.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, the hero tortures one of the villain's mooks to try to get information from another. He slackens off without getting everything he wanted, realizing that she didn't know anything and that he was invoking this trope. That thought horrifies him -- just because they were two paintings who came to life, and whom the villain had sent to kill him didn't mean torturing them was all right. At the climax, the trope is reversed: they kill the villains and tell the mooks that as long as they stay out of their way, the heroes won't bother them.
  • Surprisingly (given the nature of the series they spawned) often averted in the Literature//JamesBond novels. Bond almost never kills without considering the consequence, even in Dr. No he actually has to tell himself that the two nameless security guards he is about kill were almost certainly murderers themselves. Also, the start of Goldfinger shows Bond in a funk after killing a Mexican bandit -- in self-defense, after the man tried to stab him unprovoked on the street -- mourning that the nature of his job requires him to treat human life so cheaply, and hoping that he never grows so desensitized to killing that he ends up like that guy on the other side of the knife.
  • In His Dark Materials, this is a function of the daemons: if the daemon is a rare animal, it would be a crime to kill the owner. If the daemon is a guard dog or a wolf, go ahead it's a war, any kill in the other camp is good!
  • Visser Three from Animorphs certainly seems to feel this way, as he executes his fellow Yeerks so often he's probably killed more than the entire Andalite military. Largely subverted in the rest of the series, however—as the series goes on the Animorphs become more and more aware that the Yeerks they're killing are as real people as they are, and that they have a good reason for wanting to play Puppeteer Parasites to humanity. And that doesn't even count their hosts, who of course have no control over the situation at all.
    • Of course it's also played straight. Even after the Animorphs start to think of the Hork Bajir and Taxxons as people they are still far less likely to look for nonlethal resolutions than they are when dealing with Human Controllers.
      • Which is itself brought up as a plot point when Visser One figures out that the Animorphs are human because of this. It's probably safe to say that this trope was totally Deconstructed.
  • In one of Michael Moorcock's Elric stories, not known for their kind treatment of, well, anyone, up to and including the human race, there is a subversion where, after a humble sailor and a central character have been killed, Elric carves a memorial to the latter, and the story then comments on how there are no memorials made for the former (I think this was in The Jade Man's Eyes).
  • Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. The heroine refuses to kill the villain when she has him at her mercy, despite the fact that he has been leading a genocide for some time now and plans to continue to do so (she claims to oppose killing when faced with this choice). She shows no remorse when she kills and/or blinds large numbers of random nameless people, though.
  • Averted in Percy Jackson and The Olympians. Percy kills countless monsters, (and it's not exactly killing because the monsters can reform) but when a demigod apart of Kronos' army is fighting he will do whatever he can not to kill the demigod.
    • Although he doesn't appear to mind killing enemy human mercenaries.
  • R.A. Salvatore's Demon Wars Saga largely follows this trope with regards to goblins, giants, and powries (evil dwarves), with one interesting exception: in Transcendance, the heroine Brynn and her elvish escort come across a band of goblins deep in the wilderness, away from any human settlement. The Elf almost casually slaughters the goblin group, but Brynn objects, claiming that the goblins have done no wrong and do not deserve to be murdered. The Elf's response is rather disturbing (he holds Goblins collectively responsible for atrocities committed by their race in the past), and the whole thing ends up never getting mentioned again in the series.
  • Inverted to the extreme in Ken Follett's Lie Down With Lions, where Jane refuses to kill the Russian soldiers who are at that very moment trying to capture her and Ellis and bring them back for execution, and who are at war with the very Afghans who's she's been trying to help for the past few years, because the soldiers "all have mothers." She has considerably less consideration than that for the actual Big Bad.
  • As mentioned above, Star Wars, at least with regards to certain types of mooks. In one novel, during a scene from the perspective of an Imperial officer, he muses that since the Emperor's death, stormtroopers are even less willing to retreat, becoming almost fatalistic in their outlook. Of course, said perspective also includes musing that stormtroopers aren't really people—even the Empire believes that, apparently. Meanwhile, it's averted with the more run of the mill mooks. In the Wraith Squadron novels, they try hard to avoid casualties, since they're fighting more for hearts and minds than control, as the New Republic has already conquered Coruscant. One notable sequence a gunner jump from his ground-based gunnery tower a second before a Wraith fighter hits it, and he muses that at least he won't have to worry about the outcome of the battle in another fifteen hundred meters. One thousand. Five hundred...

Live Action TV

  • In Walker, Texas Ranger, the title character will slaughter any mostly harmless Mook on the way to the horrifyingly evil Big Bad, but when he gets there, he usually spares the villain and preaches a Broken Aesop.
  • Inverted on The Wire. Several mooks die throughout the series as the cops try to take down the gang lords. Most of them get a great deal of characterization and their deaths visibly haunt the cops throughout.
  • Occurred at least once in Knight Rider where a young child was playing with a beach ball in the garden of the kidnapper, and the mook in question was entertaining her. There was no real communication - just a few minutes of play and him passing the ball back to her, but given that this guy had been quite ready to seriously hurt someone in the other room and was portrayed as a bit of a Silent Badass... yeah.
  • Lampshaded in Robin of Sherwood where there is an argument between Robin and Will Scarlet after they have captured a Guy of Gisbourne leading group of homicidal Flemish mercenaries. Will Scarlet wants to kill them but Robin says that that would make them no better than the Guy of Gisbourne. Will replies 'Well what makes you think we are any better? What about all the men-at-arms we've killed?'
  • Pointed out in Heroes when Danko is talking with Nathan about how his plans have been ruined thanks to Nathan's interference. Nathan retorts that people could have died, and Danko counters that people had died, if one considered Danko's Mooks to be people.
    • And then Danko causes heads to bang walls everywhere when he inexplicably feeds one of his men to Sylar to allow the latter to use the man's identity as cover.
  • Doctor Who is almost bipolar with this trope (along with What Measure Is a Non-Human?), not helped at all by the Doctor's personality varying wildly Depending on the Writer or the actor. The most obvious example is his repeated attempts to save the Master, despite easily (if reluctantly) killing anywhere from several dozen to several million nameless enemies in numerous other episodes.
    • Somewhat better-justified these days, since The Master is literally the only other surviving member of his race...
    • Also Foe Yay. They did used to be friends, after all, and both the Doctor and the Master appear to remember those days fondly.
  • In The Avengers, Steed and Mrs. Peel typically kill half a dozen or more mooks and henchmen without breaking a sweat (or a nail). They're quite indiscriminate, though: the Big Bad usually gets killed just as unceremoniously.
  • Averted in Burn Notice: Michael wants to keep the body count as low as possible.
  • The main character of Human Target, Christopher Chance, seems to have no problem mowing down security guards in one episode where he breaks into a large corporation. Although the company was selling weapons to terrorist organizations, such dealings would probably be beyond the knowledge of normal security personnel.
    • This actually happens throughout the series. Christopher Chance regularly mows down Mooks, and kills the Head Mook. The episodes actual Big Bad however, is usually arrested.
  • Played straight, Lampshaded, and then Justified on Rome. When Pompey flees to Egypt, he is captured and executed by a soldier loyal to Caesar. Caesar, who has no qualms killing Pompey's men, is livid that a nobleman would be killed by a commoner and ultimately executes the soldier and desecrates his body.
    • Historically this was generally what happened, although Ceasar's reasons for anger were less about who killed him, but that his usual process was to spare his military rivals and thereby gain popularity for his mercy. He was not a man driven by revenge but by what would get him the most control over a situation and cause the least disruption to the safe progress of his burgeoning empire (nee republic). The execution of Pompey gained him nothing militarily or politically, and he took out his disapproval on the over-zealous Egyptian authorities afterwards.
  • In Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy kills several members of the Knights of Byzantium in the process of protecting her sister. But she can't bring herself to kill Glory, the hellgod who wants to sacrifice her sister, and eventually Giles has to do it for her.
    • Not... quite. It wasn't that she couldn't kill Glory, it's that she couldn't kill Ben, whose body Glory was using and who Buffy would have to kill as well. Buffy wouldn't kill an innocent person, even if it meant leaving an immensely dangerous enemy alive... but Giles would.

"She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."


Lily: So when they blew up the Death Star, those were people on that thing?

  • Critics of the failed 2011 pilot for Wonder Woman have called out the lead character for this. After beating up (and by on-screen evidence killing in a couple of cases) several super-powered mooks, Wonder Woman proceeds to successfully deflect a standard-human guard's bullets easily before throwing a pipe through his neck, killing him. Moments later, she encounters the Big Bad and does little more than knock her out.

Video Games

  • Played with Dragon Age: Origins. Just before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the game takes time to show an average man bidding farewell to his wife and child, possibly for the last time, before setting off for war. The image will stay with you. Since the guy is technically on your side, he's more of a Red Shirt than a Mook. The mooks on the other side? Yeah, not so much. That being said, occasionally one will surrender, usually when plot convenient and you need information they have, but when you get what you need you have the option to spare them or kill them anyway.
  • Ninja Gaiden 3. The teaser trailer indicates that this will be a major theme in the game.
  • In Uncharted 2, Drake has the Lazarevic at his mercy finally, and he tries to tell Drake that "We're Not So Different, you and I". This of course immediately makes him unable to pull the trigger on him, despite having no problems killing hundreds of human enemies throughout the game.
    • Or, he saw an opportunity for the guy to experience some poetic justice and be torn apart by the Guardians. Besides, Drake was using an M4, which is pretty much just a pea-shooter on someone who drank from the Tree of Life.
    • There's another, slightly strange instance of this early in Uncharted 2; in the early museum break-in level, there's a scene where Harry offers Nate a pair of pistols. Nate is horrified by the prospect of shooting at the innocent guards until Harry reassures him that they're just non-lethal tranquillizers. Shortly after this scene though, there's an in-game sequence where Nate, hanging from a ledge, tosses an unsuspecting guard off the roof and hundreds of feet down the cliff below. Harry makes a quip about the guard's demise, and the two proceed as though nothing had happened.
      • If you look closely enough you will see that the guard lands in water and swims away.
        • That would still probably injure if not kill him, unless he hit in a certain way (like a cliff diver). A ~200 foot fall into water would hurt you pretty badly.
      • Shown in Penny Arcade's comic Ambiguitas.
    • Penny Arcade also dealt with the seemingly suicidal Uncharted henchmen in Working Conditions.
  • Commented on in Ghost Trick. One of Sissel's powers is saving the lives of others by changing their fates. However, he defeats hitmen Jeego and Tengo by dropping heavy objects on them, crushing them apparently to death (we even see Jeego's body comedically flattened against a rolling wrecking ball). Sissel muses whether, if he killed Tengo, he'd then have to go back and save his life. He doesn't. In fact they're not mentioned again, even in the epilogue.
  • Partially subverted in the ending of the first Metal Slug, where a paper airplane is shown flying over past stages full of the bodies of mooks you slaughtered. Towards the end, you see a grave with a crying woman standing before it.
    • Or, if you finish the game with two players, you could see them relaxing and having one hell of a time doing stuff other than being, you know, evil.
    • It's exacerbated if you know the backstory. The whole war is a result of General Morden's Roaring Rampage of Revenge after his son was killed in an attack that the hideously corrupt military higher-ups knew about. His soldiers followed him out of loyalty.
  • Used disturbingly in Xenosaga I. The main character Shion is shown conspicuously caring about artificially-created humans called Realians, even helping maintain them and arguing on their behalf. Later on, however, she has no compunctions about mowing down hundreds of them in random battles, right before confronting the bad guy and calling him out for, wait for it, abusing the Realians. Made even worse by the character Momo, who is a realian herself but who will gladly take part in the above-mentioned random battles.
    • In all fairness, almost every enemy from the game is either an automated robot, a Gnosis (monster things), or a Gnosis-infectee; we know from the game that once infected, it's impossible to resist, and everyone who touches a Gnosis winds up infected (unless they have Plot Armor) and become Gnosis themselves. And, since all the soldiers, etc., in the game are in all likelihood Realians, we do know that they are highly susceptible to Gnosis contamination. The few enemies you fight who don't fall into one of those three categories are sentient, fully self-aware, and actively trying to kill you (or at least, most of the party/the universe).
  • Played with in Tales of the Abyss. Most of the party has no qualms with cutting down a dozen mooks who get in their way (even the 13 year old girl), but The Hero Luke goes into a brief Heroic BSOD after he first kills an enemy soldier. Afterwards, it's mentioned that whenever he kills someone, visions of their death haunts his dreams, and he has a unique victory dialogue against human enemies.
  • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 averts this by giving the option to spare Mooks and bosses. Though the game is already Nintendo Hard enough and doing this only makes it more difficult.
    • Fire Emblem touches on it in a few other areas, for example one chapter in the 9th game has you fighting rebels fighting against an underground slave ring, in this chapter you are awarded for killing as few as possible, in another, a villager mentioned you killed her son in the last battle. In the 10th game, the perspective is flipped to that of the enemy side from the 9th game, and it is portrayed in a significantly different light.
  • In The Mark Of Kri, murdered bandits will crawl, squrim, or even cry on the ground for a little while after being killed, unless Chunky Salsa'd. It's not fun to watch.
  • In the final mission of Syphon Filter 2, Gabe Logan and Jason Chance have a Circling Monologue in which Chance calls Logan out on killing hundreds of agents over the course of the game who were just trying to do their job.
    • Though in balance to this, the Syphon Filter series had several missions where you were forced to avoid killing certain enemies, even assisting them in battles despite the fact that if they saw you, they would shoot you on sight. Syphon Filter 2 especially loved doing this with escaping the airfield guarded by military police, the Moscow club and streets with Russian police, and avoiding as well as assisting the NYPD in the streets of New York.
    • And in one particular example, there was Teresa's flashback mission in Syphon Filter 3 of her time in the ATF dealing with a Survivalist compound, where at first you work for the ATF, but soon switch over to the Survivalists when you realise the ATF's more devious intentions of a Waco-style cover up.
  • Perfect Dark for the N64 has, being of course a FPS, tons of mooks to mow down. No moral problems on shooting the folks intending to ventilate the President or your personal friends. But many levels take place in regular old buildings, where it is fairly obvious that the guards were just hired hands. Relatedly, the same production team made Goldeneye 64, with all original levels full of guards on patrol in public places (such as the streets or a junkyard) being mowed down for the crime of being ordered to stop the intruder.
    • A strange version of this appears in Goldeneye 007. It's perfectly fine to shoot soldiers, who have no say in what they're doing and are really just being paid to defend whatever complex. Even the ones who are just standing in a bathroom stall taking a whiz. But kill a scientist, who is actively involved in creating weapons of mass destruction, and you fail the mission. You CAN knock them out and disarm them with your fists, but with the exception of a single named villain (who has a key card you need that stops working if she dies) and 1 objective that requires you KO someone (so they can be interrogated) not expected or required. To be fair, the missions where scientists are in Soviet installations (Facility and Missile Silo come to mind), and the USSR's scientists were more or less forced at gunpoint to work on whatever project the Kremlin decided they should work on, it may be justifiable. That, and the fact that the West has interests in getting them to defect rather than killing them, which also justifies this.
  • In the original Fallout, the mooks consist of raiders who Kick the Dog for laughs (sometimes literally), ghouls who have all the sentience of a rabid cheetah, and ordinary men and women who were forcibly mutated and brainwashed by the Master. And you kill all three indiscriminately. Appropriately enough, after you kill one Super Mutant, you can find his girlfriend in another room, sobbing inconsolably and cursing your name (in Fallout 2, many of the surviving Super Mutants have settled down following the Master's death and aren't quite so hostile).
    • Of course, this being Fallout, you can kill everyone you see or never kill anyone (unless the plot calls for it).
      • And in Fallout 1, you can avoid killing anyone, even setting off an Evac alarm when you blow up an enemy base.
    • Plus, the Super Mutant-ization process typically reduces them to a beast-like state, not to mention that many or all of them have been brainwashed by The Children prior to being dipped.
    • Fallout 3 has plenty of raiders, soldiers, and guards that constantly respawn for you to kill and are indistinguishable from one another. In the case of raiders, the majority are torturers, murderers, and rapists, so it's hard to feel any regret for decapitating them with a chainsaw and placing their head on a pedestal for all to see. This still does occur near the end of the main campaign, when the player faces off against The Dragon and has the option of sparing him. Sparing him is treated as a moral and noble action by others you speak to, despite the fact that you've slaughtered several dozen of his soldiers to get to that point. To be fair, said Dragon was painted in-game to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist with some Kick the Dog moments to compensate, and a comparatively sane goal. The main reason you are fighting him is because he happens to be loyal to The Enclave.
      • On the other hand, have this option taken, you can spare two Mooks along with The Dragon. Otherwise, they are doomed.
    • Fallout: New Vegas plays this trope straight at the conclusion of its Honest Hearts expansion. If you choose to destroy the White Legs, you'll find Joshua Graham holding their leader at gunpoint, and you have the option to tell Joshua to let him go or kill him, with either choice affecting your karma and the ending. That said, not only did you mow down dozens of mooks to get to this point, but Joshua executes two kneeling-in-surrender White Legs himself.
      • In this case, it's less about saving the villain as it is saving Graham from his own rage. Salt-Upon-Wounds is stated to be doomed either way.
  • Iji completely averts this trope. How and which identical mooks you kill actually affects how the enemy sees you (though they do still all mostly attack on sight after the third level).
    • According to the logs, this may be because they still don't know who you're fighting for.
    • In fact, there is one specific faceless mook early in the game who has an effect on the plot near the end—whether or not you kill her determines whether in sector nine Iji will have a crisis of faith as she finds the log of a close friend of hers or find a log stating how the two of them found a safe place to flee to and will become two of the only three Tasen who are capable of surviving the end of the game. There will be no evidence at all that this mook was different from the others until you've reached sector nine (or more likely, read some of the earlier logs after reaching sector nine on a previous playthrough), and even then you have to infer which one she was. The mook in question is all by herself and little threat and can be easily killed or easily run past (and thanks to the truce won't attack you at all if you've followed the pacifist path up to that point), so it's probably a fair bet that most first-time players will kill her for her nano if they're playing a killer and spare her if they're playing a pacifist.
    • Hell, Iji actually apologizes after her first few kills.
  • Averted in Fate's story mode in Magical Battle Arena. When everyone else fought their illusionary copies on the fifth stage, they felt uncomfortable about it because they were basically beating themselves up. Fate, on the other hand, felt really bad about it because they were still technically alive even though their lives were fake and temporary, which struck a little too close to home for her.
  • In Marathon, there's no sympathy at all for the thousands of Pfhor you kill through the games (only one has been explicitly referred to, and that was as "that pile of chitin and fluids cooling on the floor behind you"). In the Marathon 3rd party scenario Rubicon, however, the player comes across this terminal after killing a whole lot of Enforcers. (The kind of mook seen in the picture.)
    • In one of the early missions of Marathon 2: Durandal, you encounter a Sph't compiler at a terminal, who quickly notices you and is summarily dispatched. What was he programming? A message for you, apologizing for his incapacity to resist the compulsion to kill you, and forgiving your for your inevitable response. He encourages you to make haste and fight hard, for the sake his fellow Sph't, yet to be freed.
    • Infinity turns the But Thou Must! nature of the series and this trope on its head, at some points pitting you as a pawn in an internecine Pfhor power struggle cutting down Enforcers and Troopers alongside Fighters and Hunters, at other points as a slaver ruthlessly mopping up uncooperative humans.
  • Lampshaded and statistically measured in Second Sight. Each mission gives you a "morality" score, which starts at 100% and drops each time you kill someone (but not when you trick one mook into killing another one). The player has the option of sneaking past some mooks, and most can be knocked out with tranquilizers. Oddly enough, fisticuffs are lethal.
  • The first Deus Ex has several instances where the question of killing mooks is mentioned. The most memorable instance, however, is in Paris where JC encounters a couple in a café. The couple are discussing the recruitment of their son to Majestic 12. When JC enters the conversation and makes his intents for Majestic 12 clear, the mother begs JC to keep an eye on for their son even though "those gas masks make them indistinguishable from each other". The whole game can be considered an example of this as well as it is possible to finish the whole game without killing a single mook.
    • Additionally, JC eventually defects, and the masked mooks he (optionally) slaughtered in the game's early stages become his allies. While some of them are to some degree humanized, the rest become, essentially, Red Shirts.
    • Deus Ex actually does an astonishingly good job of letting you choose whether this trope is in effect. Aside from a straight Pacifist Run, from the very start the game offers a variety of non-lethal ways to take out mooks, and up until you leave for the resistance your efforts to either cheerfully indulge in or stringently avoid wanton mook killing are noted by the game and commented on by other agents, for better or worse.
  • In Tenchu, the player can often hear the mooks utter some lines while hiding in the Shadows. That includes lines as "The doctor said I should stay away from dangerous business for a while" (said by a Ninja of all people) and "I need to cut down on my drinking, or my wife will be mad at me again". Though that might not be intentional. You could feel sorry for mooks getting murdered seconds after saying "I'm sure tonight will be completely uneventful".
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume plays with this - the protagonist (and by extension, his comrades) are actively encouraged to kill every foe they face, and brutally beat every trace of life from them while they're at it. The protagonist acknowledges what he's doing is morally questionable at best, but considers himself too far gone to care. Depending on the path the player takes, this can come back to seriously bite him in the backside.
  • The personal emails that you sometimes find, alongside useful passcodes, security information etc, in dead or unconscious guards' computers in Splinter Cell can be a bit of a guilt trip.
    • A particularly noteworthy example occurs in the first mission of Chaos Theory; one of the guards you can grapple and interrogate instead tells you how he knew something like this would happen ever since his family was killed by Americans, and how he's prepared to die so he can meet them again. And he doesn't even have a name. It's a little disturbing, actually; even Sam is creeped out.
    • Entirely averted in Conviction though.
  • Sin and Punishment has the Armed Volunteers, a military group devoted to defending against the monstrous Ruffians. Unfortunately, they're also creating martial law in Japan, so Achi's group labels them as their enemies. Once one of the main characters becomes a giant Ruffian, they mobilize, and the other main character's next mission is basically wiping out their entire military, a military that most of them joined specifically to protect humanity. If that wasn't enough, Achi laughs at their pathetic deaths, providing an early clue that there is something wrong with her.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas follows this trope in order to Follow the Plotted Line. CJ is told by some corrupt cops that if he leaves town, they'll pin the murder of another cop on him. Thing is, during the game you can murder cops and civilians by the dozens with your comeuppance being...respawning at the police station or hospital less 10% of your money.
    • Tenpenny and later Toreno stonewalls any attempts to put CJ away for good. And besides, it's knocking out a few fellow officers off the ladder.
  • In Half-Life, both Mook and One-Man Army are deconstructed; sneaky players can listen in on the Army as they have weird self-hating conversations about slaughtering hundreds of scientists who expected them to RESCUE them - and later their rage at the player, a scientist who has the audacity to not die like his colleagues and is instead slaughtering them in return.
    • There's also the Opposing Force expansion pack for the original game, where you play as a HECU marine.
    • However, Gearbox pretty much avoided even addressing the whole "Military ruthlessly guns down the civilians" angle by having your character comatose for most of the span of the original game, only waking up around the time the military is pulling out and never having to deal with the issue on his side, other then a scientist mentioning his HECU buddies killing everyone indiscriminately.
  • In the Halo series, this is used in ODST and horribly deconstructed in Reach. In both cases, you play as the semi-expendable soldiers of the UNSC (the eponymous soldiers in ODST, and the SPARTAN-IIIs in Reach). As powerful as you are, your shirt is still mauve, and you and your team are expendable. By the end of Reach, your entire squad is killed, and only Halsey laments it.
  • Max Payne 2 plays with this; it is possible to overhear two mooks having a conversation about the theme park you're all in. One will even spoil the other, and the latter will get pissed at him. After that, they just stand there until you kill them or they see you. It's also possible to come across one mook playing a piano beautifully while the other watches. Of course, the two are part of a squad sent to kill everyone in the building, and the second they see you, both try to kill you.
    • The Enemy Chatter in the original game paints the mooks as actual people with lives and families—who just so happen to all be remorseless bastards.
  • Textbook use of this in The Force Unleashed. Using the dark side to kill hundreds, maybe thousands of stormtroopers fighting for their lives? Awesome! Trying to strike down Vader or Palpatine in anger? Bad apprentice! Bad!
    • The Novelization does have the apprentice's pilot/love interest tell him that one of the TIE pilots he casually slaughtered was an old friend of hers, and killing's not so easy when you know who's under the helmet. But as soon as he apologizes she tells him that it's okay, she hadn't talked to that friend in years, and it never comes up again. Well, sort of. At one point the apprentice looks at Vader's plan to get all the rebel leaders in one place, which involved sacrificing literally thousands of loyal Imperials, and thinks that those lives mean nothing to Vader and the Emperor. Even though those loyal Imperials meant nothing to the apprentice either, and he killed a good percent of them anyway.
    • Vader said no witnesses. And seeing as how every single ONE of them will attack with the aim of killing you first, self-defense is hardly unjustified. To say nothing of the fact that the stormtroopers are genuinely on Vader's side, whereas to Starkiller they were either obstacles he was obliged to neutralize on orders of his master or genuine enemies, and that Vader and Palpy are quite capable of manipulating attacks on them to turn the tables (and the near-certainty that Palpy is playing possum) means that there is some justification for this.
  • World of Warcraft subverts this with two mooks, one each for the Alliance and the Horde. When you kill the Alliance one, you find a letter on her corpse. Turns out she was forced to fight for the bad guys, was sabotaging them from the inside where she could, and she loved her daddy. Much the same applies to the Horde one, except the letter is addressed to his sister.
  • Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy has Punis. They're capable of human language, thoughts, etc, and are friendly, gentle creatures; if you're playing Raze's path, you even get a party-member, a cute little girl, who was raised by Punis. Except Puniballs (not what you think... probably) are an ingredient in synthesizing, and how do you get those Puniballs? Why, killing Punis in random encounters, of course! Including adorable Baby Puni, who have little pacifiers and everything. I might want to add that Punis look like blue Flan-type monsters, only with a happy little smiley face.
  • If you've seen the capabilities of Milo and Kate with the new Project Natal technology, you won't be surprised to see this kind of thing happen in future games. The game demo has shown that AI can be programmed to be almost indistinguishable from a normal human, which could lead to some very poignant moments in a game: Talking to another randomly spawned ally in Call of Duty and hearing him give his views on the war or talk about his family, and then watching as a rogue grenade promptly takes him out. Or an enemy begging for his life after watching his squad get slaughtered and allowing you to talk to him just like you would a real man pleading to be spared. The humanizing aspects that modern AI technology is demonstrating could be enough to make you question senseless killing of the mooks.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 reminds one of this near the end. The Big Bad is then revealed to be a rogue general who has orchestrated the events of the game as one giant Batman Gambit, and now the two main characters shoot up his private guard in a mission to take him out for sheer revenge. While the game implies that these mooks are an elite paramilitary unit handpicked by the general and not really US soldiers at this point, there's no question that most if not all signed up believing they would be doing the right thing and probably aren't even aware of their boss's behind the scenes actions. On the other hand, Shepherd's troops saw him shoot Roach and Ghost, then threw their bodies into a ditch then doused them with gasoline.
    • Although the Player is encouraged as Mactavish to treat them such a way when Sheperd bombs a base with many soldiers STILL INSIDE. And a variation of this occurs within the Airport scene, as most people treat the civilians as faceless, even though being encouraged to feel for them (and all the other people they have to kill). Heck, some are dragging the bodies of their FRIENDS less than 20m in front of you.
  • This is probably one of the biggest complaints of new-to-MMORPG Star Trek fans about Star Trek Online. Since about 98% of the enemies in the game are members of other sentient species, and there are (at the moment) no alternatives to destroying them en masse, first-time RPG players often complain on the forums in a shocked state about the number of Klingons they just vaporized. The fact that several missions involve being tricked or manipulated into slaying innocents doesn't help in most cases. The trickery runs you into Moral Dissonance territory when you slaughter an entire base of Romulans on the orders of an admiral who turns out to be a member of Species 8472. And any even mildly Genre Savvy player should have realized that by now.
  • In a web flash game series MARDEK, Emela asks this very same thing. She questions the morality of killing henchmen, remarking on how they have lives, and possibly families of their own, that she and her crew are tearing apart. She even exclaims "A killer killer is still a killer" (if you kill a killer, you're a killer as well), confusing the main lead. Her fellow teammates tells her to put it out of her mind, since as soldiers, this is part of the job.
    • Judging by one of said teammates' comments, that little speech got to him, too. Also, the speech was brought on by a semi-accidental Unfriendly Fire Shoot the Dog moment when Saving The Villain.
    • However, it's also explicitly stated a few times that most of the monsters in the series are made of "Miasma" which randomly forms into monsters to attack you, and have no mind or soul. It goes on to say that this solves a whole lot of tricky ethical questions.
  • Although it doesn't come up in gameplay, in Metal Gear Solid, Snake's practically self-hating codec conversations reveal that he does take this trope to heart, although it is infused with some I Did What I Had to Do.
    • In the non-Canon Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, Pyro Bison actually cites the player's current Mook body count on that save file as proof of Snake's murderous tendencies in a What the Hell, Hero? monologue. Does create some Values Dissonance given that the Psycho for Hire boss also describes how glorious burning someone to death with a flamethrower is.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 features a good aversion when you face The Sorrow - who is backed up by everybody you've previously killed in the game. The more you've killed, the more bodies you have to slog through.
      • Before that, you can befriend the guard in the Groznyj Grad cells by throwing the food he gives you back out to him. He then shows you a photo of his family and tells you a little about his history. Unfortunately, Snake gets on bad terms with him after proposing the guard let him out.
    • Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker actively encourages the player at every turn to avoid killing enemies. Paz will plead for you to spare the lives of the men gunning for you over the radio (and balk when you do kill them), not to mention every single human soldier in the game can be defeated, brought back to your base and added to your army.
    • In 2, each soldier has their own dogtags, having their name and info on it,and every different member has a unique one. Raiden become angsty after your fist kill as well, feeling bad about it. You will even get called out on killing too many SEAGULLS.
    • Kill enough mooks in 4, and Snake will have a flash back to when Liquid accused him of enjoying the killing in the first game, and will throw up.
  • Featured in Red Dead Redemption when bounty hunting. Bounties brought in alive give bigger cash and honor awards - but the bounty's gang of mooks are worth jack squat alive or dead. Which was often Truth in Television.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the protagonists storm an underwater reactor under the city of Junon. They have to take the elevator to get there—and it's presently occupied by a girl, and two random Shinra mooks who are desperately trying to work up the courage to speak with her and ask her out. When they discover Cloud, though, they're bound by duty to try and stop him, and a brief battle ensues. The girl is horrified and laments the soldiers' death; Cloud and company don't even flinch. Similarly, another squad of Shinra soldiers tries to stop the invasion and scream "For Junon!" as they rush Cloud, and meet the same fate as their compatriots. The fact that Cloud himself was a faceless, nameless grunt a few years ago doesn't seem to bother him at all.
  • In Sonic Adventure, one of the storylines revolves around one of Eggman's robot Mooks, E-102 Gamma. It plays around with this trope a few times, and ends with one of the most poignant moments in the series.
    • The Sonic series is actually generally an aversion. Robotnik's Mecha-Mooks (in most games) are actually Sonic's animal friends that have been brainwashed and put in a robot body, and by destroying their robotic shell the player is actually freeing them. Granted Gamma's story adds a rather tragic sense of ambiguity into this concept.
  • In Mega Man Zero, Zero stops short of killing the Guardians when you first fight them, with no explanation offered. Granted, you find out later that they're Hero Antagonists, but their subordinates, who are similarly just doing their job, are all fair game for bisection.
    • The Guardians also apply this as What Measure is a Red Shirt. In the second game, Harpuia chooses to spare Zero when Zero is at his mercy, even though he spent the previous game retiring Resistance soldiers left and right. Later on, they also let Zero leave with Elpizo after slaughtering his entire army.
  • The first two Thief games make a point of averting this. On the hardest difficulty you must never kill. Even at easy difficulty there are some major guilt trips awaiting the kill-crazy thief. Ironically the most effective of these is a spider. His name is Longdaddy, he is avoidable and the owner of the garden he lurks in is overjoyed at the work he puts in keeping his garden free from pests.
  • Lampshaded in Universe At War: the Novus faction has the Ohm Robos, dirt-cheap Mecha-Mooks who have a self-destruct attack. Their info card states that they know they're completely expendable... and they have no problem with the logic.
  • One of the missions in an expansion for Command & Conquer: Red Alert gives you a Russian Cyborg Super Soldier who easily slaughters his way though infantry, tanks, even a battleship and the Allies' Memetic Badass commando Tanya. The Cutscene afterwards shows Tanya's grave...among hundreds of others.
  • In Heavy Rain, one of the protagonists are given the choice of getting a crime boss you just interrogated his heart medication or leave him to die. Unless you're a really bad guy, you'll probably save him. On the way out you step over dozens of his guards, whom you killed on your way in. You might say they were shooting at you, but that's not an unusual reaction when someone drives a car into the house you're paid to protect.
    • This might qualify as Fridge Brilliance as it turns out that the character in question is the main killer of the game and is searching for a father willing to go to lengths to protect his son unlike his father over his late brother. And covering up events protecting his son is exactly what the villain in the scenario was doing.
  • Variation in Valkyria Chronicles: You get bonuses for killing the Aces, who actually do have names, but the game treats them like miniature boss fights and they have no lines. Then Selvaria's DLC came out and let you play as the Empire. The player character's face is never seen. This comes with a bit of a gut punch when you realize that you're playing as Oswald The Iron, one of the Aces that you probably gunned down with glee.
    • In one cutscene Welkin and Alicia come upon a wounded enemy soldier and tend to his wounds. He dies the next morning, but the enemy general who finds them decides to allow them to return to their unit rather than having his men shot them, as a sign of gratitude, even if their compassion had been in vain.
      • Of course, the Gallian military doesn't get that much compassion. Squad 7 is built on Video Game Caring Potential and the enemies have the above scene to remind us how they're human too, but the complete annihilation of most of the army proper doesn't have any attention paid to it except how tragic it was for the person who caused it, and how without the army, it's up to Squad 7 to save the day. A Million Is a Statistic, indeed.
  • Portal's turrets shouldn't invoke this, as they're just mass-produced robotic gun turrets. But their cute characterisation, saying things like "I don't hate you" when you knock them down made more sensitive players feel guilty, and that was before they start saying "I'm different."
    • Also, in Portal 2 they are said to feel very real pain, according to Wheatley.

"All simulated, of course, but real enough to them, I suppose."

  • Sengoku Basara plays this trope to the hilt. The various warlords you play as playable characters fight each other for practically no reason and are on quite cordial terms even as they're busy smacking the crap out of each other—the hundreds of people KOed every battle are never even mentioned. In one case in Samurai Heroes, Ieyasu consents to an alliance with the Hojo clan after the clan's messenger—the ninja Kotaro Fuuma—has butchered his way through Ieyasu's guards and doesn't seem to give it a second thought.
  • In MMORPG RuneScape, this is parodied when in a quest cutscene an NPC guard openly acknowledges that the guards are killed all the time with no one complaining. Of course his partner is horrified, at least until someone comes and kills both of them.
  • Zig zagged in Super Robot Wars: original generation. your battalion cuts through what amounts to an intermediate army of mooks without mention, then there's one that's portrayed as sympathetic, but he joins your battalion and you go back to killing an army of mooks without a second thought.
  • NieR: You will hate yourself when you learn what the Shades are.
  • Like its predecessor (er, technical successor), Deus Ex Human Revolution gives the player many, many options besides murder. Adam's monologue at the end of the game is either pessimistic, neutral, or optimistic, based on what kind of body count he did or didn't rack up. On top of that, in every building Adam enters, he can hack the computers to read personal e-mail exchanges; a few have people talking about getting together for drinks later, another with an employee expressing doubt in their cause, and at least one mentions talking to his kids on the phone. In fact, the player can even invert this trope: It is entirely possible to get through the entire game without killing a single Mook, but the bosses—who actually are evil—must be killed.
  • Invoked on the player's part in Pikmin. Over the course of the game, you'll send wave after wave of Pikmin to their inevitable doom, and when they're gone you'll just pull up more without thinking about it. The theme song, however, is a tearjerking, melancholy ballad from the Pikmin's point of view in which they're resigned to their fate.

We'll work together, fight, and be eaten,
But we won't ask you to love us.

    • Olimar, the main character of the game, shows shades of remorse as well. In his closing day remarks, he mentions how he feels bad about the fate that ultimately follows when Pikmin are left at the end of the day outside of the pod (they'll get eaten), and expresses outright guilt when all of his Pikmin followers have been destroyed, lamenting on how his absolute carelessness got his followers killed.
  • Guild Wars Beyond: Winds of Change plays this trope hard at times. Having spent the better part of a decade at war, your character is increasingly bitter about the thousands he has killed and the pain it has caused to their loved ones and companions. One guard even muses he has spent so long treating a gang as a faceless enemy he never believed any would be there save to act as villains.
    • Seen earlier but not expanded on during the Nightfall Pogahn Passage mission. While disguised as a Kournan, it was possible to overhear the enemy talking about how Varesh was a visionary who planned to bring prosperity to all the nations. Most telling was one who talked about how his poor family had been promised fertile land in Istan for their role in the war.
  • Sifu: Getting the true ending only requires you to spare the bosses. You can toss mooks off high places, poke them with sharp objects, and generally do all kinds of should-be-lethal injury without suffering any penalty.


  • Invoked in Concerned Detailing the life and death of a random Overwatch Soldier. Only to be subverted one issue later.
  • In Elf Quest: The Searcher and the Sword, Shuna (who's been living with the elves for about two years) goes and gets married to a human man, who starts off with just bad vibes but quickly jumps off the slippery slope and becomes a full-fledged wife-beater. After he beats her the first (and only) time, she fights off typical "maybe my love could change him" reasoning, beans him one last time, and flees. Her erstwhile husband and three or four human fighters pursue her. For the showdown? One of the Mooks makes ready to shoot the elves point-blank while they're in a hole; Strongbow responds in kind. That's one down, deader than dead. The elves quickly subdue the rest, Shuna duels her hubby, and then they tell them to leave and never come back.
  • In Antihero for Hire, mooks are taken down with little to no guilt by Dechs. Crossroad has a bad habit of killing everyone, to an extreme even he doesn't agree with (for her part, she considers Dechs a "rampant idealist").
    • However, the reason Dech dislikes killing major villains isn't morality, it's pragmatism. He gets paid for thwarting villains. If he takes them in alive, he is paid more, then they can potentially escape from the Cardboard Prison and try some harebrained scheme again - at which point he can get paid for thwarting them again.
  • Parson from Erfworld has little Heroic BSOD when he realises that he pretty much killed around a small nation worth of soldiers. While others think "they were just units" Parson considers them real people.
  • Subverted in The Last Days of Foxhound, where The Sorrow chews out Liquid over his past mook killing. Liquid's excuse of "they're just mooks" doesn't fly with him.
  • Girl Genius: Both on the official cast page and on this very wiki, Zola's Minions are called "A bunch of guys in funny hats who appear to be along to carry the equipment and get killed". Although in this case, the Cannon Fodder is fed to the sadistic and insane trap-filled castle, rather than the hero(in)es.
    • Master Payne points out that even when dealing with faceless mindlessly aggressive monsters there can be ugly problems.
  • Goblins is actually an attempt to explore the other side of this trope... by starting off in a goblin battle camp, with a handful of goblins, guarding a chest, and what happens when an adventuring party stumbles upon them. The surviving goblins become adventurers, and attempt to change their lives... making the 'adventuring parties' and the nearby towns into mooks.
    • Well, not quite. The heroes still try to avoid killing anyone other than the (justifiably) Exclusively Evil Elite Guards.
  • Subverted and inverted in Terinu, as the main cast shoot down attacking Galapados warriors with no remorse, even blasting a breeding facility without a qualm to cover their escape. An act that is immediately inverted when the Galapados leader contradicts the Big Bad's orders to go after them, in order to save the dying Galapados clones.
  • Lampshaded very effectively in this Tom the Dancing Bug.

ARG! My hopes and dreams!


These minions clock in from 9 to 5// to provide for their wives// not knowing' it'd be the last day// of their liiiives!


Walkbot: Hey, Dino, can robots last forever?
Dino: Maybe, but most of the time, a robot's sole purpose is to be killed, just like clones and ninjas.


Web Original

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Special Edition reveals that one of the powerups from Oil Ocean Zone was sapient. His name was Failure Cresh, and he had a thorough backstory involving being born with a ten-ring monitor for a head, and a Hilariously Abusive Childhood resulting from this. When the player destroys the monitor, the video pauses for a moment of silence—but it's obvious that the player himself is completely oblivious to the fact that he just killed a person.
  • The characters in Darwin's Soldiers kill a lot of terrorists, rogue guards and other assorted mooks and no one seems to have a problem with it.
  • New York Magician: Part of the reason Michel hurls Malsumis off a building is because he's pissed off about Mal's cavalier attitude towards his minions' deaths, and the mortality of humans in general, culminating in "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • CollegeHumor's video Stormtroopers' 9/11, while arguably in bad taste, shows the fact that the Death Star's destruction was probably similar to a terrorist incident like 9/11 for the Stormtroopers.
    • Star Wars and Americans politicians are so full of cliche parts, it's like shooting fish in the barrel. "I've heard this Skywalker guy is the son of our Emperor's apprentice?.." "What dirty Cloud Eater told you that?"

Western Animation

  • Inverted with great style in Samurai Jack's 50th episode, "Tale of X9". X9 is a retired assassin droid who, thanks to an experimental emotion chip, has fallen in love with a puppy. Aku kidnaps the puppy and forces X9 to go after one last mark—Jack. The episode is completely from X9s point-of-view, with Jack only making an appearance right at the end. You know X9 is doomed, but you root for him none-the-less. This has got to be the only time you feel sorry Jack won a battle. Arguably one of the saddest, best episodes of the entire series.
    • Averted mostly by Jack himself. He never attacks anyone unless they attack him first or do something evil, be they human, robot, alien, etc.
      • And while he does slaughter Aku's minions without remorse, he's at least consistent in that he'd gladly kill Aku himself, should he get a chance.
        • It does help that the majority of Aku's minions are robots.
  • In Ben 10, the trope is most obvious with the Forever Knights. Because they wear face-concealing armour, it's okay for them to be left in a Collapsing Lair or caught in a nuclear explosion. Note that this is only the most obvious instance.
  • Lampshaded, parodied, and subverted with almost sadistic glee in pretty much any scene in The Venture Brothers involving Brock Sampson and the Monarch's minions.
    • A big subplot in the season four premiere involved one of the minions trying to find some way to bring his friend back to life, first by trying to get him cloned by Dr. Venture, and then tried to get the Necromancer to use magic. Dr. Venture refuses the payment (a comic book), because he deems it worthless (it wasn't, but by the end of the episode, it was). And it turns out the Necromancer can't actually do necromancy. Despite trying to raise the eponymous brothers in season 2's premiere and admitting he's done "hundreds" of them. David Blaine and Evel Knievel for example. As was Ronald Reagan until he bounced a check.
    • Although with Orpheus, that may have to do with those bodies were whole, whereas Henchman 24 was blown to several pieces from a blast of plastic explosives.
  • Aeon Flux played with and subverted this trope time and time again. After the very first short, which showed Aeon mowing down endless armies of mooks, the second short focused on the aftermath, sympathetically showing the deaths of two of her victims and also (briefly) showing a mop-and-bucket mook whose job was to clean up the lakes of blood left behind. A later short ("War") pushes the trope even further, showing a Heroic Hero slaughtering endless mooks until one mook proves to be an even more Heroic Hero. The new hero kills the last hero and the plot quickly switches sides. This pattern repeats itself four times.
  • Involuntarily inverted in the first two seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 (2003): thanks to standards and practices, defeated mooks were invariably shown as being merely knocked out, despite the fact that the turtles theoretically had no problem killing in self defense and tried several times to kill the Shredder.
  • In ReBoot, Matrix slaughters countless viral Mooks and numerous viruses, but after a huge battle, he spares Megabyte, despite his torturing Phong, oppressing the people of Mainframe, infecting many of the survivors, and turning Mainframe into a hell hole. At the very least, Megabyte comes back to bite them in the ass because Matrix didn't just put a bullet in Megabyte's face.
  • Stroker and Hoop. Hoop fires at ninjas in order to save Stroker and his son. Instead of scaring them away (his secret usual M.O.) he nails one in the brain. Hoop goes into a wild emotional breakdown and essentially takes over the ninja's life. Stroker doesn't see what the big deal was (he intentionally shoots people all the time) and even the ninja's boss kills his own minions (despite saying how stupid it would be to do so).
  • For all that Avatar Aang struggled with the morality of killing Ozai, he never gave much thought to the soldiers he blasted off the mountaintop in The Northern Air Temple or all the engineers and technicians drowned in slurry in The Drill.
    • The difference is that with Ozai, it wasn't in the heat of battle, it was explicitly stated the only way to stop Ozai is to kill him. That made it, at least to Aang, a premeditated act instead of a split second choice in the middle of a battle..
    • The difference in morality between killing soldiers invading a mountaintop temple and killing a guy who took a break from burning every living thing in the Earth Nation to death so he can personally kill *you* is a very subtle one.
  • Megatron's Decepticons in Transformers Prime are—save for a few lieutenants—seemingly nameless, faceless Vehicons (unlike most characters on the show, they have Cylon-like unemotive faces). Needless to say, the Autobots kill them by the dozen in each episode, and even Starscream once demonstrates a Doomsday Device on a hapless Vehicon. But...later on we see them talking, interacting, and some even expressing doubts about the current leadership, demonstrating that they are living thinking beings. Yet, average, about 10 of them die in every episode at the hands of our "heroes", often in very brutal ways (disemboweling, decapitation) which is allowed to be shown on a kid's show because, a) it's Hasbro's own network and b) "Hey, they are robots". And all this often by the very same Optimus Prime who offers Starscream to actually join the Autobots, and for a long time, does not want to kill the Megatron who essentially destroyed Cybertron and turned it into a desolate world crawling with cyber-zombies—because they used to be buddies...
    • Especially jarring in the episode where Ratchet supercharges himself with an experimental Energon drug, and becomes a badass jerk. After an attack at a Decepticon Squad, while the others massacre the guards, Ratchet goes on to capture and then interrogate and torture (with a scalpel!) a Decepticon Technician. Optimus Prime stops him, and warns Ratchet that he should not torture a non-combatant Decepticon. Okaaaay... so torturing a captured Vehicon soldier would be ay-okay for Prime?!?
  • Utterly averted in the 2011 Thundercats show. The lizards, while being ancient enemies of the thundercats, are revealed in the first episode already to have a very good and valid reason for attacking Thundera - the cats have occupied the most fertile lands in the desert and are denying other races the food and water needed for survival. Despite the lizards remaining the main antagonists throughout the first 13 episodes, many lizards have been depicted as individuals, despite most of them remaining nameless. The best example are the two lizard prisoners whome Lion-O saves from a lynching mob in the first episode—at the end of the second episode, the same lizard repays his kindness by helping him escape from prison.
    • Panthro is very much an equal opportunity guy in his handling of the trope—his own arch-enemy gets the same treatment as any nameless mook. Whenever he encounters Grune, he doesn't even want to talk to the guy who used to be his friend before his betrayal—he just wants to kill him, same as any other enemy. (And, he is not afraid to make any sacrifices to get the job done).
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks is an animated series that seems devoted to the Deconstruction of this Trope, showing the Star Trek mythos from the point of view of four Ensigns, showing how horrifying it can be for a potential Red Shirt. Of course, on the other hand the show is also a Deconstructive Parody and the four named characters seem mostly unfazed by the violence and - for now - manage to survive.

Real Life


  1. For those lacking knowledge of Forbidden Lore (Xenos) and Forbidden Lore (Chaos) of The Grim Darkness of Grimdark Future, the Dark Eldar, of all creatures, have little interest in the ways of life developed by their cousins, let alone lesser beings (they are extremely arrogant first and foremost, and too busy with internal backstabbing). And are Exclusively Evil because they don't have much choice in the matter, even if they wanted to: they all live with Slaanesh's straws stuck into their souls, and he/she is slurping them slowly, thus they are doing much the same to others in turn. They develop taste for it, of course, but ultimately spreading pain and fear is a matter of simple "intake pipe":"drain pipe" balance. And for those lacking knowledge of Common Lore (Imperium), right-thinking Imperium citizen don't bother to ponder how much evil or not any given Xeno Scum is either way, which usually doesn't change anything.