Created By: BinaryStep on February 6, 2018 Last Edited By: BinaryStep on February 21, 2018
Troped

Harmless Enemy

An enemy in a video game that is completely incapable of directly damaging the player.

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A type of enemy in video games that is completely incapable of damaging the player. Usually, they attack in an unconventional way (such as draining Mana or causing Interface Screw), but some serve no purpose other than to be destroyed by the player for points.

Super Trope to Bandit Mook, Helpful Mook, Personal Space Invader, and Pushy Mooks. See also Defenseless Transports, Fairy Battle, and The Goomba. Compare Harmless Villain, and contrast Utility Party Member, a Player Party member who doesn't participate in combat often (if at all).


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action 
  • Burrito Bison: The only enemies that cause harm as the cops, who greatly reduce your speed and interrupting your run. All other enemies instead boost your speed when they explode.

    Action-Adventure 
  • Cave Story: The Chinfish (or the Egg Fish) is a Unique Enemy in the Mimiga Village fishing hole, who never attacks or interacts with the player character, but can still be destroyed for XP.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons game for the Intellivision has spiders that steal the player's arrows, of which there is a limited supply. The game also has bats which follow the player around and make an annoying flapping noise. The only "harm" they can do is tempt the player into wasting an arrow on them, which can also wake up other monsters sleeping nearby.

    Fighting Game 
  • WWE Games: In Smackdown vs Raw 2011's edition of Road to Wrestlemania, one of the stories involved trying to break The Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak. The Raw before Wrestlemania involved the player facing Paul Bearer in a backstage brawl, in which the player has to knock him out in under ninty seconds. Paul Bearer will spend most of that match running away begging you not to hurt him as opposed to attacking you. The most he'll do is reverse your moves but he won't try and hit you.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Mame enemies in CarnEvil are a group of Enemy Mimes that do nothing but perform their mime routines and get in the player's way without actually hurting them.

    Idle Game 
  • Zombidle: The only things that can do damage are on your side. Combat is not a matter of killing enemies but doing damage fast enough, as not killing bosses in the time limit simply pushes you down a level.

    MMORPG 
  • AdventureQuest Worlds often has inanimate objects that the player can 'fight', but they do not attack back at all and are typically just for receiving quest drops.

    Platformer 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
      • The Hydrocity Zone features the Mega Chopper, a piranha enemy that latches onto the player, draining coins and making you unable to jump, duck, or Spin Dash. However, you can randomly mash the controls for a bit to make the Mega Chopper fall off, and if you're playing co-op with Sonic and Tails, the second player can use Tails to destroy the Mega Chopper as long as there isn't one attached to him as well.
      • The Sandopolis Zone features the Rock'n enemy, which is a giant walking block of rock that pushes the player into obstacles.
    • The Mega Chopper from Sonic 3 & Knuckles reappears in Sonic Mania with the same attack pattern, again in the Hydrocity Zone.
  • A recurring trend in the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy was that most of the enemies in beginning stages run and mock Spyro instead of attacking him.
    • Spyro the Dragon (1998)
      • The first Hub Level Artisans has two gnorc enemies; the Goon and Gem Thieves. The Goons (also known as Common Gnorcs and Basic Gnorcs) run away from Spyro as soon as they see him and cower when cornered. Gem Thieves do the same, running in circles and dropping gems (and life if they have been killed before) every time they get hit before dying.
      • The second Hub Level Peace Keepers has Foot Soldiers, who run and hide when they see Spyro. When They are cornered, they ineffectually moon Spyro before dying.
    • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!: In the first world Spyro explores Glimmer, the Indigo Lizards laugh and mock Spyro from a distance or when his back is turned. They run from him as soon as he goes after them and cowers when he catches up to them, usually hiding behind the much more threatening Brown Lizards.
    • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: The main enemy from Sunny Villa are the aptly named "Coward Rhynocs". They dress like centurians and possess only ridiculously tiny shields. They run and cower when Spyro is near.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario 64:
      • Bullies do nothing but charge at Mario and shove him around, possibly into a nearby pool of lava.
      • Chuckyas, a non-explosive Bob-omb variant, pick Mario up and throw him in a random direction.
      • The Heave-Ho enemy has a dustpan in the front that flings Mario if he steps on it.
    • Super Mario Galaxy:
      • Unlike in their previous appearance where they cause Collision Damage, Cataquacks in this game are completely harmless, only being capable of flinging Mario into the air.
      • The various types of Topmen, spinning top-shaped enemies that try to bump Mario off ledges or into electrified rails. Although Spiky Topmen damage Mario when jumped on, Spring Topmen and Topminis are completely harmless.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:
      • Bumpties are harmless penguins which are capable of causing Yoshi to bounce into enemies and obstacles. Additionally, if Yoshi's damaged, Bumpties can steal Baby Mario similar to Bandits
      • Fuzzies are flying cotton balls that cause the stage to appear colorful and distorted if Yoshi comes into contact with them.
      • Grim Leechers are small ghost enemies that switch places with Baby Mario and reverse the controls if they come into contact with Yoshi.
      • The game also features extremely rare unnamed green Shy Guys (known as Itsunomanika Heihō in Japanese guides), which hide behind foreground objects such as crystals in underground stages. If Yoshi comes into contact with them, they'll switch places with Baby Mario, who will be quickly stolen by a suddenly appearing Bandit.
  • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 features Wanderin' Gooms, which are completely incapable of attacking Wario in any way.

    Puzzle 

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin: While most of PNF-404's fauna is notable for its aggressive and predatory natures and their tendency to gobble the titular creatures in vast amounts, numerous creatures throughout the games are completely unable to directly harm player characters or their Pikmin. Some can cause harm in more indirect ways, such as the Breadbugs (Bandit Mooks who steal treasures back to their dens), the Puffy Blowhogs (who shoot guest of air that knock Pikmin about and scatter them) and the Swarming Sheargrubs (who consume nectar before Pikmin can and cling on fruit to make it heavier and require more Pikmin to carry back), but others (like the butterfly-like Spectralids, the nectar-carrying Honeywisps or the timid, leaf-like Skitterleaves) cannot even do that, and largely serve as extra sources of nectar and/or Pikmin seeds that need to be chased down before they escape.

    Roguelike 
  • Crypt Of The Necrodancer:
    • Green Slimes never move, and thus never attack the player. There is an achievement for getting killed by one, which requires you to go out of your way and use very specific items.
    • Water balls in the Amplified DLC create a puddle of water upon colliding with the player, slowing them a bit. They do no damage otherwise.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft: Slimes are a kind of Asteroids Monster that attack players by ramming into them and usually come in three sizes, huge, normal and small, the larger ones splitting into two to four slimes of the next size tier down upon death. The larger kinds deal damage like all hostile mobs do — the huge ones dealing more than the normal ones — but small slimes cannot deal any damage. They will still tackle the player, but they cannot do more than lightly push them back — which, however, can still be threat if the player is standing next to a cliff or another high drop.


Non-Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Tabletop Game 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, "Shriekers" are fungal Plant Mooks that can't move, attack, or even think, but scream like banshees whenever they detect movement or light. In the Death World of the Underdark, this is quite dangerous enough: they survive by attracting more dangerous predators like Violet Fungi and digesting the remains of their meals.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • February 7, 2018
    Arivne
    Note: Pushy Mooks is an old YKTTW/TLP proposal which hasn't been launched.
  • February 7, 2018
    Chabal2
    Does it still count if they can do harm in certain circumstances?

    • Warcraft III's Wisps are the Night Elves' Worker Unit. They have no attack, unlike the other three, but they have the Detonate ability which kills them in exchange for draining a small amount of mana, removing buffs, and doing damage to summoned units around them. The demon lord Archimonde is defeated in the final cutscene by countless wisps simultaneously using the spell on him.
    • Starcraft: Overlords and Larva have no attacks, but it's important to kill them to lower the Zerg's food cap/remove detection/kill the units they're transporting or growing into more units respectively. The Lurker form of the Hydralisk has no attack when aboveground, and needs to bury to attack.
  • February 7, 2018
    MetaFour
    See also The Goomba.

    • Cave Story: The Chinfish (or the Egg Fish) is a Unique Enemy in the Mimiga Village fishing hole, who never attacks or interacts with the player character, but can still be destroyed for XP.
  • February 7, 2018
    LavonPapillon1
    • A recurring trend in the original Spyro The Dragon trilogy was that most of the enemies in beginning stages run and mock Spyro instead of attacking him.
      • Spyro The Dragon 1998
        • The first Hub Level Artisans has two gnorc enemies; the Goon and Gem Thieves. The Goons (also known as Common Gnorcs and Basic Gnorcs) run away from Spyro as soon as they see him and cower when cornered. Gem Thieves do the same, running in circles and dropping gems (and life if they have been killed before) every time they get hit before dying.
        • The second Hub Level Peace Keepers has Foot Soldiers, who run and hide when they see Spyro. When They are cornered, they ineffectually moon Spyro before dying.
      • Spyro 2 Riptos Rage: In the first world Spyro explores Glimmer, the Indigo Lizards laugh and mock Spyro from a distance or when his back is turned. They run from him as soon as he goes after them and cowers when he catches up to them, usually hiding behind the much more threatening Brown Lizards.
      • Spyro Year Of The Dragon: The main enemy from Sunny Villa are the aptly named "Coward Rhynocs". They dress like centurians and possess only ridiculously tiny shields. They run and cower when Spyro is near.
  • February 16, 2018
    AnitaShower
         Fighting and Combat Games 
    WWE Games: In Smackdown vs Raw 2011's edition of Road to Wrestlemania, one of the stories involved trying to break The Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak. The Raw before Wrestlemania involved the player facing Paul Bearer in a backstage brawl, in which the player has to knock him out in under ninty seconds. Paul Bearer will spend most of that match running away begging you not to hurt him as opposed to attacking you. The most he'll do is reverse your moves but he won't try and hit you.
  • February 7, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    • Pikmin: While most of PNF-404's fauna is notable for its aggressive and predatory natures and their tendency to gobble the titular creatures in vast amounts, numerous creatures throughout the games are completely unable to directly harm player characters or their Pikmin. Some can cause harm in more indirect ways, such as the Breadbugs (Bandit Mooks who steal treasures back to their dens), the Puffy Blowhogs (who shoot guest of air that knock Pikmin about and scatter them) and the Swarming Sheargrubs (who consume nectar before Pikmin can and cling on fruit to make it heavier and require more Pikmin to carry back), but others (like the butterfly-like Spectralids, the nectar-carrying Honeywisps or the timid, leaf-like Skitterleaves) cannot even do that, and largely serve as extra sources of nectar and/or Pikmin seeds that need to be chased down before they escape.

    (not sure how to classify Pikmin — it doesn't fit genres very well. Maybe Real Time Strategy?)

    Wide-Open Sandbox
    • Minecraft: Slimes are a kind of Asteroids Monster that attack players by ramming into them and usually come in three sizes, huge, normal and small, the larger ones splitting into two to four slimes of the next size tier down upon death. The larger kinds deal damage like all hostile mobs do — the huge ones dealing more than the normal ones — but small slimes cannot deal any damage. They will still tackle the player, but they cannot do more than lightly push them back — which, however, can still be threat if the player is standing next to a cliff or another high drop.

    On that note, would this be a super-trope to Bandit Mook as well?
  • February 7, 2018
    intastiel
    • In Dungeons And Dragons, "Shriekers" are fungal Plant Mooks that can't move, attack, or even think, but scream like banshees whenever they detect movement or light. In the Death World of the Underdark, this is quite dangerous enough: they survive by attracting more dangerous predators like Violet Fungi and digesting the remains of their meals.
  • February 7, 2018
    Malady
    Is there a connection with Fairy Battle? Which is either a battle that is not a battle, or Laconic: "A "battle" in which you don't actually fight."
  • February 7, 2018
    MazeMaker
    • The Dungeons and Dragons game for the Intellivision has spiders that steal the player's arrows, of which there is a limited supply. The game also has bats which follow the player around and make an annoying flapping noise. The only "harm" they can do is tempt the player into wasting an arrow on them, which can also wake up other monsters sleeping nearby.
  • February 8, 2018
    Koveras
    On the flip side of this trope, we have a Utility Party Member, i.e. a Player Party member who doesn't participate in combat (much or at all).
  • February 8, 2018
    Mhazard
    See also Helpful Mook if the enemies can be used by players for some helps.
  • February 8, 2018
    Omeganian
    Starcraft also has the Observer.

    And there is the Defenseless Transports trope.
  • February 8, 2018
    TBTabby
    The first enemy to appear in The Adventures of Lolo is Snakey, who does nothing but stand there. His sole function is to block Lolo...or be turned into an egg.
  • February 9, 2018
    MathsAngelicVersion
    The Mega Chopper from Sonic 3 & Knuckles kills you if it manages to drain all your rings. Therefore it's not completely harmless.

    If we're going to include enemies with unconventional attacks, maybe something like Non Damaging Enemy would be a better title? "Harmless Enemy" suggests that the enemy does absolutely nothing to hurt the player's progress, and only serves to be destroyed for points.

    Also, do Shoot Em Up enemies who never attack count when they...

    1: Can't even deal Collision Damage?
    2: Are capable of dealing Collision Damage, but move so that no sane player ever risks getting hit by them?
    3: Move so that Collision Damage is an actual threat?
  • February 9, 2018
    BinaryStep
    ^If the enemy does Collision Damage, it's not this trope.
  • February 9, 2018
    DrNoPuma
    Compare Harmless Villain.

    First Person Shooters
    • The Mame enemies in Carn Evil are a group of Enemy Mimes that do nothing but perform their mime routines and get in the player's way without actually hurting them.
  • February 16, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    Fixed red link to Pushy Mooks. Not sure why it didn't work.
  • February 17, 2018
    313Bluestreak
    Sonic Adventure 2: There are boos, the ghost enemies seen in the haunted stages, who are categorized into two types - attack and normal. What the Normal boos' do is Jump Scare a character or hold them in place (they will disappear once the character breaks free).
  • February 16, 2018
    Someoneman
    Roguelike:
    • Crypt Of The Necrodancer
      • Green Slimes never move, and thus never attack the player. There is an achievement for getting killed by one, which requires you to go out of your way and use very specific items.
      • Water balls in the Amplified DLC create a puddle of water upon colliding with the player, slowing them a bit. They do no damage otherwise.
  • February 16, 2018
    NateTheGreat
    Examples that belong in Pushy Mooks: Rock'n, Bullies, Heave-Ho, Chuckyas, Cataquacks, Spring Topmen, Topminis, Bumpties, and perhaps others.
  • February 16, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    ^ The Minecraft slimes?
  • February 16, 2018
    Snowy66
    • Adventure Quest Worlds often has inanimate objects that the player can 'fight', but they do not attack back at all and are typically just for receiving quest drops.
  • February 17, 2018
    NateTheGreat
    We seem to need a common definition of "harmless" between this trope and Pushy Mooks. Over there I included loosing weapons as "harm". In fact, the only "leftover" definitions I can see for this trope are "only steals money/points" and "completely stationary and existing only to be killed to get money/points/resources". Beyond that we're getting into the harmful enemy categories.
  • February 17, 2018
    Theriocephalus
    ^ As a whole, and also including the Bandit Mook, Helpful Mook, etc., I would classify as "harmless" enemies who cannot deal direct damage — that is, those enemies who cannot directly remove health points or lives from the player character or kill the outright. This category would include enemies who steal things, enemies who create obstacles or sabotage you (for example, the Female Sheargrubs in Pikmin are largely limited to destroying bridges you build), enemies who debuff the player character (as in by lowering their speed, hampering their ability to attack, etc.), "enemies" who exist to be killed for points, perhaps also enemies who screw with your controls or specialize in causing Interface Screws, depending on how they do this (for instance, again from Pikmin because I'm familiar with that series, Mitites have no way of directly interacting with Pikmin at all, let alone attack, but being near them causes non-Purple Pikmin to start running around in panic and be impossible to control until the Mitites are dead). I would exclude enemies who summon other harmful enemies, like Mario's Lakitus, because they technically do harm the player on their own power, if not in the most immediate way.

    My instinct would be to use this in the way that Fantastic Flora is — as a supertrope to a number of more specialized tropes (Bandit Mook, Pushy Mook, Helpful Mook, and whichever other ones), which also serves as a place to list examples that for whichever reason don't fit in the specialized pages. I would also argue that an enemy can be, for instance, a Bandit Mook without needing to be a Harmless Enemy. For instance, the Like-Likes in the Zelda games are always Bandit Mooks — the specialize in swallowing Link, stealing his shield and sometimes other equipment and spitting him out — but in some games they will actively deal damage while swishing Link around their mouths, and in others they can't do anything beyond filching his stuff. Likewise, while most Bandit Mooks just steal things but don't use them, some types will also turn the things they steal against you to damage the player.
  • February 17, 2018
    KTera
    Does this include Zero Effort Bosses that can't harm the player?
  • February 18, 2018
    Arivne
    Video Games
    • Akalabeth. The game has two enemies like this.
      • The Thief can steal items you are carrying, such as weapons, shields and the amulet.
      • Each turn, the gremlin will steal exactly half of your character's remaining food.
  • February 18, 2018
    Chabal2
    • Burrito Bison: The only enemies that cause harm as the cops, who greatly reduce your speed and interrupting your run. All other enemies instead boost your speed when they explode.
    • Zombidle: The only things that can do damage are on your side. Combat is not a matter of killing enemies but doing damage fast enough, as not killing bosses in the time limit simply pushes you down a level.
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