Created By: Mith4 on November 3, 2011 Last Edited By: Mith4 on January 6, 2015

Send in the muggle-assasins

Villain sends ordinary lakeys to kill superstrong heroes, then wonder why they don\\\'t die

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Trope
In most stories that contain heroes with abilities beyond those of every day men (i.e. heroes with Super Weight 2 or higher), there will be villains who underestimate these heroes.

The villain decides he wants the heroes dead. And who does he send to fulfill the job? A bunch of regular, everyday bandits with Super Weight 0 or 1. Call them muggles, call them NPC's, whatever the case may be. These bandits provide no real challenge to the heroes, just one cool fight scene, where the audience isn't likely to actually worry about the heroes' lives. The heroes almost shrug it off; it's another everyday afternoon to them.

The villain, however, will be absolutely convinced that the heroes are dead, and prematurely gloat about his victory. He might utter a phrase along the lines of "No one can stop me, now that [heroes] are dead." If the villain is keeping a friend of the heroes captive, the captive might also assume the heroes dead, despite the fact that they should know better.

Needless to say: once the heroes do show up alive, the villain is completely flabbergasted. In fairness though: in a lot of cases, e.g. if they don't know the heroes well enough yet, there's no way they could have known just how strong they are.

When the mooks decide to do it themselves it's Mugging the Monster or Bullying a Dragon depending on whether they know how dangerous the hero is.

Anime & Manga:
  • A villain example happened in Dragon Ball Z in which Cell is attacked by Earth military who are blown to bits.
    • The Red Ribbon Army attacks Goku once or twice during the series as well. In the original Dragon Ball series, they were a little more likely to kill Goku (although not by much) but by DBZ, Goku is several times more powerful and practically feels sorry for them.

Comics:
  • When Marvel Man attempts to gain entrance to a vault detailing his origin, he is beset by the best the british army can offer; explosives, traps and ninja assassins. They do not fare well.
  • In The '60s, Spider-Man's enemies would often send a group of gangsters aftert Spidey who would often try to fight him hand-to-hand and got man handled everytime. The odd part about this is that the villains all had powers that allowed them to deal with Spidey on even ground but they apparently wanted to see their gang get clobbered before fighting him.
    • This also happens whenever Spider-Man goes after enemies such as Kingpin or other mafia leaders. Eventually, he ends up having to kick the crap out of a room full of gangsters at some point.
  • Averted in Savage Dragon when a group of criminals decide to get revenge on Dragon for sending them to prison in the very first issue. They had no powers and were soundly defeated the first time. When they come back, Dragon scoffs at them until it is revealed that they had befriended the massive superhuman Zeek who knocked Dragon clear across Chicago with a single punch.
  • In an example of one villain doing this to another villain, human villains in the X-Men series are always shocked when their Sentinels (which are made entirely of metal) are utterly useless when used against Magneto.

Film
  • Justified in Superman Returns in which Lex Luthor makes sure Superman is depowered on an island of kryptonite before sending in a few thugs to rough him up.
  • In Watchmen, the "Mask Killer" sends an ordinary assassin to kill Ozymandias. (While he doesn't really have superpowers, he is in good physical shape with awesome gadgets.)

Literature
  • In the 6th book of "The Legend of Drizzt", Pasha Pook sends 3 pirate ships to go kill Drizzt and Wulfgar. Artemis Entreri, however, is Genre Savvy enough to know that they're probably not dead.
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden, one of the most powerful wizards on the planet, with the forces of nature at his beck and call, says that one of the things he fears most, and has the best chance of taking him out, is a plain old vanilla human armed with a sniper rifle. This is what kills him at the end of Changes.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Your enemies are likely to do this to you if they know who you are, at least early on in the quest, before you face the boss. (However, you're not likely to hear the villain gloating about your supposed deaths, since that would happen "off-screen".)

TV-series

Western Animation
  • Utilized in The Dreamstone while only a couple of episodes revolve around directly going after a hero (eg. "The Statue Collection"), Zordrak always sends his powerless (and usually incompetant) Slave Mooks the Urpneys to steal the aforementioned stone from the Land Of Dreams, where powerful wizards such as the Dream Maker and the Wuts exist (and often trounce them in an instant). Granted the heroes themselves almost always entrust Muggles Rufus and Amberley to go to Viltheed and steal it back whenever they succeed.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • November 3, 2011
    Lavalyte
    When Marvel Man attempts to gain entrance to a vault detailing his origin, he is beset by the best the british army can offer; explosives, traps and ninja assassins. They do not fare well.
  • November 3, 2011
    Bisected8
    When they decide to do it themselves it's Mugging The Monster or Bullying A Dragon depending on whether they know how dangerous the hero is.
  • November 3, 2011
    MorganWick
    So basically, this is Shooting Superman with Muggles as the "bullets".
  • November 3, 2011
    AP
  • November 3, 2011
    AP
    (For your unspecific examples)

    Anime and Manga

    • A villain example happened in Dragonball Z in which Cell is attacked by Earth military who are blown to bits.
      • The Red Ribbon Army attacks Goku once or twice during the series as well. In the original Dragon Ball series, they were a little more likely to kill Goku (although not by much) but by DBZ, Goku is several times more powerful and practically feels sorry for them.

    Comics

    • In The Sixties, Spider Man's enemies would often send a group of gangsters aftert Spidey who would often try to fight him hand-to-hand and got man handled everytime. The odd part about this is that the villains all had powers that allowed them to deal with Spidey on even ground but they apparently wanted to see their gang get clobbered before fighting him.
      • This also happens whenever Spider-Man goes after enemies such as Kingpin or other mafia leaders. Eventually, he ends up having to kick the crap out of a room full of gangsters at some point.
    • Averted in Savage Dragon when a group of criminals decide to get revenge on Dragon for sending them to prison in the very first issue. They had no powers and were soundly defeated the first time. When they come back, Dragon scoffs at them until it is revealed that they had befriended the massive superhuman Zeek who knocked Dragon clear across Chicago with a single punch.

  • November 4, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Every single episode of The Adventures Of Superman. Justified since Superman is the only superbeing in that world.
  • November 4, 2011
    Arivne
    On TV Tropes we call those "weak, disposable lackeys" Mooks.

    Send In The Mooks?
  • November 4, 2011
    stupac85
    In an example of one villain doing this to another villain, human villains in the X Men series are always shocked when their Sentinels (which are made entirely of metal) are utterly useless when used against Magneto.
  • November 5, 2011
    Mith4
    Indeed, Mugging The Monster is rather similar. But I don't think it's the same thing. Particularly, it doesn't include any of the frame story I mentioned, with the villain gloating and all that. My guess is it's still a separate trope. (But I added in the mention of the other tropes)

    Renaming it "Send in the Mooks" seems worth a consideration. Although, if it's "muggle-assasins" it makes the point clearer that the army is underpowered. Also: should I edit my description of "call them muggles, call them NP Cs"? Is that part too "no need to mention that, experienced tropers know that already" ?
  • November 14, 2011
    Mith4
    Actually, on further thought, I probably wouldn't rename it "send in the mooks". Because Mooks don't need to be "muggles". I wouldn't consider Sauron sending orcs after the Fellowship of the Ring this trope, for example, as it's not implausible that orcs could kill them. And when Voldemort sends his mooks after Harry Potter, said mooks are wizards, and in fact in most cases they're technically more powerful than Harry, Harry just escapes with luck and wits. What I have in mind is when the mooks are laughably underpowered for the job. And the villain sent them cause he didn't know any better, underestimating the heroes' power.

  • November 15, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Sorting Algorithm Of Evil?

    "If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops, instead of wasting time with progressively-stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress."
    -- Resolution #80 from the Evil Overlord List
  • November 15, 2011
    nitrokitty
    • Subverted in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden, one of the most powerful wizards on the planet, with the forces of nature at his beck and call, says that one of the things he fears most, and has the best chance of taking him out, is a plain old vanilla human armed with a sniper rifle. This is what kills him at the end of Changes.
  • November 16, 2011
    Psi001
    • Utilized in The Dreamstone while only a couple of episodes revolve around directly going after a hero (eg. "The Statue Collection"), Zordrak always sends his powerless (and usually incompetant) Slave Mooks the Urpneys to steal the aforementioned stone from the Land Of Dreams, where powerful wizards such as the Dream Maker and the Wuts exist (and often trounce them in an instant). Granted the heroes themselves almost always entrust Muggles Rufus and Amberley to go to Viltheed and steal it back whenever they succeed.
  • November 16, 2011
    HumanaUox
    In Watchmen, the "Mask Killer" sends an ordinary assassin to kill Ozymandias. (While he doesn't really have superpowers, he is in good physical shape with awesome gadgets.)

    I like Send in the Mooks.
  • November 16, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    The Watchmen example has a justification known to anyone who's made it through the whole thing, and probably will need spoiler-tagging to explain everything.

  • November 22, 2011
    Sotesf
    No, I don't think it's Sorting Algorithm Of Evil. That trope refers to what the villain does after "send in the muggle-assasins/Mooks" failed. My trope refers specifically to how the villain ridiculously underestimated the heroes when he sent the first wave of attackers.

    I added in the other examples. Anyway, I'm open about the whole calling-it-mooks thing, but as I said, the term isn't specific enough. It's not just "send in the mooks", it's "send in the ridiculously underpowered mooks", only it needs a shorter catchier title. If you call it "mooks", then pretty soon every single villain attack will count as this trope, apart from the Boss Fight and maybe a fight with one or two Dragons. We can also name it something completely different, like "Villain underestimates Super Weight" (again, not short enough, I know.)
  • April 16, 2014
    Sotesf
    I agree with the use of "Mooks" instead:

    Mook: "A slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom The Hero mows down with impunity. Strong, competent, loyal... pick any two."

    I prefer "Send in the Mooks"
  • April 16, 2014
    Daefaroth
    Another vote for Mook over Muggle.

    TV Series:
    • Played with in a rare successful use in the Highlander episode Unholy Alliance. An immortal sends mortals with guns in first to shoot his target so he can walk in and take their head while they are weak.
  • January 5, 2015
    DAN004
    How would this relate to Five Rounds Rapid?
  • January 6, 2015
    StellarBlitz
    Shredder always seems to send in his extremely weak foot soldiers to fight the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when they're not fighting other mutants he's hired.
  • January 6, 2015
    randomsurfer
    the Watchmen example is also done in the original comic, so it should be listed there instead.
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