Up for Grabs
Large plot events tend to attract a lot of people. Sometimes one or more sides arrive with their own armies. This is all awesome but tends to complicate the situation and make the author's work harder. The audience would get bored with three straight episodes of the heroes fighting fodder. And if all those people fight each other in the background, that's a chore for the artists. The answer - make someone use an attack that one-shots the mooks en-masse, often taking out anyone without a Plot Armor
. The effect of such moves may depend on the targets' Power Level
or Heroic Willpower
. A villanous version of the trope can clear the area by one-shotting all civilians.
The trope also appears in video games, either as a tool to force a Flunky Boss
into a fair fight, or used by a boss to prevent the heroes from zerg-rushing him with npc allies and summons (when the boss area-attacks the heroes themselves, its not this trope - see Herd Hitting Attack
instead). This one is quite handy for optimizing video game performance. Just throw out all that unimportant stuff and focus on the action.
This is very very close to Smart Bomb
. It may be distinct but the difference will need to be specified to fight Trope Decay
Anime and Manga
- In Bleach the Battle Aura of powerful characters incapacitates weaker creatures, preventing massess of low level Shinigami from interfering with climactic battles.
- When Yammy and Ulquiorra appear in the town park, Yammy's first move is to suck out life force of all the muggles in the area.
- Haki serves this purpose in One Piece - in the Fishmen Island Arc, Luffy knock out over ten thousand mooks with just a mean look, leaving his friends to sweep up the remains over a single chapter and clearing the battlefield for the showdown against Quirky Miniboss Squad.
- In Naruto Madara's meteor reduces a large ninja force to a group of six people. - notably one of them is an ordinary ninja and Genre Savvy enough to realise his lack of Plot Armor. He was just lucky to be standing very close to the heroes.
- Common in Dungeons & Dragons - many spells are lethal to targets below a certain level, causing them to kill the mooks while just irritating primary targets. Subverted for holy word, which should work like this but is commonly mini-maxed to nuke pretty much everything.
- In 4th Edition there are "minion" creatures who have only a single Hit Point, basically making any damaging Area of Effect power into this.
- Any Area of Effect spell in videogames (or some spells in D&D if I am not wrong). Bonus points for Friendly Fire effects. Example of this one would go under "Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together" in which any damage spell damages everyone in its Ao E... Dragon Magic in particular recalls the Nuke them trope but does sweep Mooks AND Redshirts.
- Common in Baldur's Gate series, thanks to a choice of D&D spells. The final boss in Throne Of Bhaal uses the villanous variation - when she swings her halberd, heroes get Blown Across the Room while summons are instant-killed. Considering the kind of creatures the heros can summon at this stage, the effect seems to be Plot Armor based.
- Link's Spin-attack in the 3D Zelda games could count. Especially Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.
- Chrono Trigger: Magus' Black Hole spell, which has a chance to cause instant death to standard mooks.
- American McGee's Alice: During the fight against the Mad Hatter, he sometimes flees and sends you some robots to attack you. When he comes back after some time, he uses a special attack that doesn't harm you, but instead kills any surviving robot.
- Elvoret's wing sweep in Final Fantasy VIII blows two comical mooks, Biggs and Wedge, from the Dollet Comm Tower but does little if anything to the SeeD cadets (the player characters).
- That's pretty much what the Zodiac is for in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. It eliminates all the small fry on screen but is totally useless against bosses and giant critters in general.
- Monkey in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has a move that deals no damage, but has a wide sweep and knocks the unshielded Mecha-Mooks away to give him some breathing room. In theory, at least. Most players just consider it useless.
- Instant kill attacks Mahamoan and Mamudoan at the end Persona 4 function as this. With a boost, they pretty much one-shot any group of mooks during dungeon crawling sections, but are perfectly useless against bosses.
- Doombell in Girl Genius - its sound projects an overwhelming effect of "existential despair", incapacitating anyone who isn't either used to it or a total badass. This clears the enemy soldiers from the streets... except for enemy Elite Mooks, who seem to be safe thanks to Hollywood Cyborg ears.
- The Mr Welch RPG list discourages use of power word to identify the villain in complecated plots.