Created By: RazorSmile on July 26, 2011 Last Edited By: RazorSmile on December 21, 2013

Mook Competence.

Not So Cannon Fodder

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Trope
The rare occurrence in which Mooks, normally expected to be little more than speedbumps for a Heroic Foe-Tossing Charge, instead operate with efficiency, intelligence and something approaching efficacy — and actually do so on-screen (coughcoughSardaukarcough)

Compare with Red Shirt, Mauve Shirt, Villainous Valour and Artificial Brilliance. Related to Elite Mooks.

Examples

Film
  • The henchman that fought the invisible girl in The Incredibles. Does he panic when faced with a foe he can't see? No, he kicks up dust and watches for the silhouette.
  • The second X-Men movie featured an impressive performance from the military fighter pilots chasing Storm in the Blackbird.
  • The Marines in the Transformers films certainly qualify. Despite being greatly outgunned by the Decepticons, they manage to hold their own and even defeat a couple of them. In this case, the mooks are on the heroic side, but given their stature in the battle, I think it's still valid.

Literature
  • The Dresden Files: The Fomorian servitors in Aftermath and, especially, Ghost Story.

Video Games
  • The Replicas from FEAR.

Western Animation
  • The Equalist chi-blockers from The Legend of Korra are stunningly effective, using pressure-point martial arts, insane agility and gas grenades to school benders left and right — including the Avatar herself.

Rolling Updates. Needs More Examples.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • July 26, 2011
    fluffything
    Not sure if it counts, but the JSDF in the Godzilla films do show a suprising amount of competence. They set up stratetiges, use high-tech weaponry, and even make sure the city is evacuated safely before engaging Godzilla in combat. Their only downfall is that, well, they're going up against Godzilla and they keep using methods that consistantly prove ineffective against the monster.
  • July 27, 2011
    BlackDragon
    The Roguelike Smart Kobold uses this in the form of Artificial Brilliance, pitting a powerful, high-level Warrior-type character against a bunch of weak, easily-OHKO'd mooks... who act intelligently and use traps, distance and sabotage to their advantage. Making it not only possible, but highly probable that they can and will kill the powerful PC.
  • July 27, 2011
    Octagon8
  • July 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    • Titan AE had a random guard who managed to call their bluff and rattle off a list of problems with their story when the main characters attempted a Trojan Prisoner trick.
  • July 27, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Arguably, the prison-guards of the Kingdom of Blood in Order Of The Stick - not so much because of any particular competence on their part, as because they have a Dangerously Genre Savvy boss who've made sure they have the training and information needed to handle all the usual PC tricks. Haley STILL manages to BS her way past them, but only after using a magical potion to boost her Bluff-skill into the stratosphere.

    Not sure if it counts when it's only competence-by-extension, though...
  • July 27, 2011
    RazorSmile
    No. The competence has to be displayed on-screen/on-page. That's the point.
  • July 28, 2011
    Bisected8
    Their competance was still shown on screen in the Order Of The Stick example (they confronted the characters and pulled out their handbook).
  • July 30, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Exactly. The only question is whether it counts if it's just garden-variety mooks being directed by a particularly competent boss, whose management renders them much more dangerous than they'd ordinarily be.
  • July 30, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Can we not have badass in the name? These characters aren't badass, they're just not incredibly stupid like most brainless mooks and actually manage to do their jobs.
  • July 30, 2011
    RazorSmile
    I figured since we already have so many tropes that begin with "Badass", what's one more? But fair enough.
  • August 4, 2011
    DarkConfidant
    The Marines in the Transformers film certainly qualify. Despite being greatly outgunned by the Decepticons, they manage to hold their own and even defeat a couple of them. In this case, the mooks are on the heroic side, but given their stature in the battle, I think it's still valid.
  • August 4, 2011
    ScanVisor
    EVERY enemy in Ninja Gaiden Black/Sigma. Combine that with a lack of Mook Etiquette and . . . hoo boy. That game is just fucking HARD!
  • August 9, 2011
    lunarkweh
    Final Fantasy XII gives us the anonymous Imperial bowman who proved he could hit a two-inch moving target in the middle of a pitched battle--said target being the sole unarmored bit of the current Prince of Dalmasca, who quickly died of the injury. Granted, the Imperial did get shot immediately afterwards.
  • August 9, 2011
    Ominae
    The Japanese Strategic Self Defense Forces in Neon Genesis Evangelion actually succeed in overwhelming NERV security forces and base defense and kill of a main character!
  • August 11, 2011
    Bisected8
    So doesn't the Titan AE example count?
  • May 1, 2012
    Delphi
    • In Time Chasers, hero Nick gets the snot beaten out of him by one random mook, only getting out of it when love interest Lisa brains the guy with a fire extinguisher.
  • May 1, 2012
    DannyVElAcme
    The Shin Megami Tensei series is notorious for this. Part of what makes the series Nintendo Hard is that you can't breeze through random battles.
  • May 1, 2012
    azul120
  • May 1, 2012
    DannyVElAcme
    @azul120: An Elite Mook is an upgrade from a regular mook. This trope is about the regular mooks actually being competent and formidable.
  • May 1, 2012
    ScanVisor
    On higher difficulty levels, the mooks in the Metal Gear series become astoundingly competent. Able to see you from full-screen, do tons of damage, etc.
  • December 20, 2013
    Ominae
    In Spriggan, the most dangerous enemy ARCAM faced to date is the US Army's black-ops unit COSMOS, which is made up of children kidnapped from around the world and brainwashed. Their integration into Trident's mercenary forces, coupled with surgical upgrades to its soldiers allows them to face-off against Spriggan agents and hardened mercenaries alike due to Sho Kanaya's Orihalcon brain chip, allowing his thoughts to be sent to his subordinates as mental commands to make them fight effectively or change tactics based on the situation.
  • December 21, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    So basically, normal, nameless faceless mooks who happen to be more competent than their mass produced ilk?

    i don't know if i can name some, since they kinda aren't very memorable since they're mooks....

    really though, not sure this is a trope.
  • December 21, 2013
    DAN004
    Define "competence". Let me guess: maybe this is when the mooks win/make a successful decision for once?

    Well there's Badass Army...

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=gl56xqo6q6zo4reslkn87ufo