[[quoteright:138:[[VideoGame/HyruleTotalWar http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_21cannonfodder_7789.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:138:At least the uniform is stylish.]]
->''"Whoever has the most liquor to get the soldiers drunk and send them to be slaughtered... he's the winner."''
-->--'''Union Captain''', ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly''

%% One quote is enough. The rest go to the quotes page.

In most wartime shows that focus on {{Ace Pilot}}s and other {{Military Maverick}}s, there will be a point when these are contrasted to "normal" foot soldiers who [[RedshirtArmy wear red shirts for standard issue uniform]]. They have weak weaponry, little to no armor, their only strength are their numbers, and their only available tactic is ZergRush. And, of course, they [[AnyoneCanDie die]] [[EverybodysDeadDave en]] [[KillEmAll masse]]. It is the latter fact that almost certainly gonna cause [[InterserviceRivalry tension between them and said ace pilots and mavericks]] (who, at the very least, receive PlotArmor, if not better equipment and training), ranging from alienation to open enmity.

WeHaveReserves is a related trope but, as often as it happens to CannonFodder characters, it is different. WeHaveReserves is there to establish a military commander as a particular villain by having him give an inhumane order where it could have been avoided. CannonFodder has no other option but get killed and hope the reserves come in time. And yes, even the good guys employ CannonFodder in battle, as sad as it may be for them.

The term Cannon Fodder itself originated in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, where such high casualties were sustained for so little gain, that the infantrymen were [[BlackHumor joked]] to be nothing more than fodder (a term usually used to describe animal feed) for the artillery. [[WhatASenselessWasteOfHumanLife The soldiers of WWI knew this trope well enough]]. However, its French equivalent ''chair à canon'' (cannon meat) was used a hundred years earlier by Chateaubriand and a similar term from times when there was less field artillery, "food for powder" dates back to the 16th century at least; it is used by Falstaff in Shakespeare's ''Theatre/HenryIVPart1''.

NewMeat and RedshirtArmy are also similar but here, everyone in the unit is expected to die not for drama but just because of the unit's nature. Read more in the CanonicalListOfSubtleTropeDistinctions.

If you're liable to be on the receiving end of a WannabeDiss, expect to be cast as this too.

{{Conscription}} is the TropeMaker for CannonFodder. If the commanding officer treats his troops like CannonFodder, it is WeHaveReserves.

[[IThoughtItMeant For the classic video game named]] ''Cannon Fodder'', [[VideoGame/CannonFodder see here]]. Not to be confused the the [[PunnyName punny trope]] CanonFodder.



* During the joint infantry-air operation in ''{{Simoun}}'', the AcePilot Floe grows close to a simple rifleman, only to painfully discover the enormous gap between them.
* ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' has the mass-produced Grappal Army as cannon fodder; the one-of-a-kind Ganmen and the Gurren Lagann, meanwhile, are the ones who do most of the ass-kicking. Gimmy and Darry, however, are {{Mauve Shirt}}s and often receive PlotArmor.
** And Kamina frequently shouted things such as "Outta the way, cannon fodder!!!" before destroying about a dozen beastmen gunmen with his drills.
* Generally, this happens in most HumongousMecha series; you know it's happening when the more important characters of the show are sporting unique mecha with [[AceCustom customized specs]] or [[SuperPrototype weapons and armor that outclass almost everything else]]. More regular, nameless forces will use mass-produced models that are destroyed by the dozen.
** As with many other mecha tropes, ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' turns this on its head, with the mass-produced models ultimately defeating one of the special prototypes.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', Jiraiya sneaks into the Hidden Rain Village, and captures two people who come into the "bar" he sets up.
--> '''Jiraiya''': Judging from your seemingly low standards and mannerisms, you must be the bottom-most of the Fodder nins, right?
** The whole of ANBU. Exceptions are named people such as Kakashi (former member), Tenzo/Yamato, Ibiki, Anko, Aoba, as well as Danzo, Sai, Fu and Torune from the Root.
* The Pawn-ranked Chess Pieces from ''Anime/{{MAR}}'', unlike the higher ranks, wear identical outfits and masks, and are given very generic Arms to use. Only one in the entire series even gets ''named'', and things go [[FaceMonsterTurn very bad for her]].



* This is referenced by name in ''FanFic/OhGodNotAgain'' by the Sorting Hat. He was describing the Gryffindors.
* In ''Fanfic/TheLegendOfTotalDramaIsland'', Chris uses this term for the contestants whom he had expected to be eliminated early in the game. Subverted when Chris notes with mixed feelings that the "cannon fodder" is turning out to be more capable than he expected, for which he blames the profilers for not doing their jobs.



* Mobile Infantry from the first ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' movie is easily the most recognizable example.
* The Taliban soldiers that come after the Navy Seals in Lone Survivor (2014)
* [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] by Creator/CharlieChaplin in the famous soliloquy that closes ''Film/TheGreatDictator''.
-->"Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder."



* In Creator/GordonRDickson's ''Literature/ChildeCycle'' series, the Friendlies provide this as their major export. Being a fundamentalist [[PlanetOfHats society]] and lacking any rare resources, the Friendlies could only serve as [[PrivateMilitaryContractors Mercenaries]]. However, the BadassArmy market was already covered by the Dorsai, so the Friendly mercs' only advantage was that they were [[ZergRush cheap and plentiful]].
* In ''Literature/{{Matched}}'' [[UnPerson Aberrations]] are sent to the Outer Provinces as "decoys" to draw the fire of the mysterious Enemy.
* The soldiers of the Spartan III program from GhostsOfOnyx are meant to be this. Their sole purpose is to take the suicide missions that are beyond the skill level of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers but beneath the potential loss of the Spartan II's.
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' gives us... [[BigScrewedUpFamily the Freys]] (and their hapless retainers). [[WeHaveReserves There are a lot of them]], and the House is at least rich enough to equip them all fairly well. There are also a lot of factions willing to wield armies in the field, most of whom they have tried to ally with. They have, however, gone and made the mistake of getting [[HateSink generally hated]] by ''all'' sides for [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder various]] [[SacredHospitality reasons]] just as they've ditched their habit of turning up more than fashionably late to wars. Guess who has pride of place on the top of the list of those chosen for the front lines when any given commander wishes to reserve their best, most loyal troops? Go on... guess.


[[folder:Live Action Television]]
* Played with in the opening scene of the first episode of ''{{Blackadder}}'', when King Richard III and his nephew talk about Edmund at the banquet on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth:
--->'''Richard III:''' You're not putting him anywhere near me, are you?
--->'''Richard, Duke of York:''' No, Uncle. He will somewhere with the rabble.
--->'''Richard III:''' Oh. Arrow fodder?
--->'''Richard, Duke of York:''' Precisely.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Anything fielded by Orcs or Goblins in ''any'' tabletop game, including tanks and HumongousMecha. Dem humies (stunties, skinnies) just rilly cawn't kil us ladz all, can dey?
* WarhammerFantasy:
** Bretonnian Infantry, as Knights are actual Nobles while their infantry are made up of dirt poor peasants.
** Skaven units are this, given their culture. Skaven Slaves are this in the actual game, as you can fire into melees where only they and the enemy are, making them literal cannon fodder.
* The Imperial Guard from ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''.
** And for them, first [[{{Conscription}} conscripted]] troopers which have less training and only the most basic equipment. Then the Planetary Defense Forces which ''usually'' are even less skilled and have even less equipment.
** For a bit of perspective, in terms of point value a single SpaceMarine Terminator costs as much as 10 Imperial Guard Conscripts. He can take them all together too, and will probably emerge unscathed unless the RandomNumberGod is grumpy. Nevertheless, every round they spend slaughtering expendable troops is a round they're not killing something valuable.
** The Tyranids have basic troops called Rippers that are sent en masse to enemy lines, causing them to waste ammunition for when the ''real'' attack begins with larger and more intelligent troops. The Rippers don't even have digestive systems - after they've consumed all the biomass they can, they are unfit for combat and return to reclamation pools to be consumed for the biomass they contain.
*** Practically all of the Tyranid's basic troops are used like this this includes the gaunt breeds.
** Tau have a habit of turning their enemies into this repeatedly, provided they can stay at a safe distance to do so.
** The Orks have their Grotz who are at the very bottom of the Ork hierarchy, their basic roles are cannon fodder, as well as used to clear land mine fields, emergency rations, and even used for football.
*** Ork Boyz are only slightly less expendable. One of the defining traits of the average Ork Warboss is the ability to view everyone but himself as totally expendable if it leads to a good fight, and one of the defining traits of the Ork mentality is that this is a positive trait for a leader to have.
** Come to think of it, all armies employ Cannon Fodder to a degree. Even the [[OurElvesAreBetter Eldar]], but Eldar lives are far too valuable to be spent in most circumstances, nevermind wasted, and so the Eldar prefer to [[ManipulativeBastard trick some other schmucks, like humans or Orks, into being the cannon fodder for them]].
** In the game, the concept of "ablative wounds" is the game mechanic of this; Most infantry squads only have a limited number of units that can be upgraded to special weapons or heavy weapons, while the rest are stuck with their stock equipment (which range from comically ineffective to just a tad inefficent, with very few exceptions). Thus the only use for these models is to absorb incoming shots to preserve the heavy/special weapon gunners from harm so they can make the most out of their gun. The most prevalent of these are Tactical Squads; they must be at full strength to take a Heavy Weapon in the first place, meaning you're stuck buying at least 7 generic members (the other two can be upgraded to be a veteran sergeant and a special weapons) who have no other options. Since the Heavy Weapon guy will be firing at stuff far out of the range of the generic ones, all they can do is take hits.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is that rare example where the players themselves are the [[strike: cannon]] laser fodder.
* This is the role that mortals play in ''{{Exalted}}'', because their world just [[CrapsackWorld sucks that much]]. It's even codified in the rules: "extras" -- usually defined as anyone without an [[PowerLevels Essence rating]] -- have only three [[HitPoints health levels]] where everyone else has at least seven. A FanNickname for mortals in Exalted combat is "Ablative People Shields".
* Pawns in TabletopGame/{{Chess}}.
* Most linemen in ''TabletopGame/BloodBowl''. Orcs, for once, avert their usual tendencies, as their players are ''very'' hard to hurt and even their linemen can end up as SurprisinglyEliteCannonFodder with a few (randomly awarded) MVP awards.
* ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech'''s Clans, [[ProudWarriorRace nations of caste-based warriors]], treat their "old" (over 35) soldiers as cannon fodder. They are transferred into "Solahma" units, which are mostly assigned in garrison duty, and are also sent out as shock troopers in outdated and decrepit [[HumongousMecha battlemechs]], combat vehicles, or armed with nothing more than an assault rifle and a flak jacket, and are expected to die in battle.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* Often used in strategy video games for baseline infantry units, whose basic tactic is ZergRush or just to stand there, fire at the enemy, and keep reinforcements coming.
* ''VideoGame/CannonFodder''. Eponymous trope, eponymous pixels. WarHasNeverBeenSoMuchFun!
* When Peasants are a combat unit, they will always be cannon fodder.
* In VideoGame/StarWarsBattlefront, the player that had the most deaths earns the title 'Bantha Fodder'.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' series, the Covenant military use the Grunts primarily as cannon fodder, giving them such glorious jobs as running across active minefields to clear the way for more elite troops. Their fighting skills are generally laughable at best, as their tactics are usually nothing more complex than taking potshots at the enemy and hoping it dies. They also tend to run away when their squad leader is killed. However, Grunts can also be surprisingly dangerous in large numbers; when the entire Grunt race rebelled against the Covenant, it took an Arbiter ordering a massive orbital bombardment of their homeworld to end their revolt. Additionally, some Grunts carry heavy weapons capable of instantly tearing the player apart, and the sticky grenades that all ranks love to throw make them a potential threat even when the player is in a heavy vehicle. They've also taken some levels in badass as the series progressed; from ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'' onwards, Grunts can drive light vehicles and will sometimes attempt to suicide-bomb their foes instead of running away if things go south for them.
* Perhaps the most relevant example is Men of War: Condemned Heroes. The player goes into tough battles, in a series where you usually get a sufficient amount of men and vehicles, with nothing more than a squad or two - and usually with little ammo. The necessity of capturing enemy equipment is paramount to succeed. The game's producers, 1C, also added the original Orders No. 227, the famous 'Not one step backwards!' from Stalin, as well as a modern analysis of the use of penal battalions, pointing out that while they were brutally treated and suffered beyond heavy casualties, in the eyes of the contemporary Red Army, they were repaying their debt to the Motherland, either in heroism or blood.
* The Cultists in DawnOfWar are actually referred to as CannonFodder by their own unit description.
* In the StrategyRPG [[IOSGames iPhone Game]] ''Ravenmark'', some battles sees you command Militiamen, in addition to your core Imperial Legion troops. Basically farmers and local constables with little to no training and basic equipment, pressed into service when an unexpected full-scale invasion stretched the imperial armies beyond capacity. Their most notable ability is that any enemy unit that kills a squad of them is slowed down to 1 move and low initiative in the next round. In other words, they're most useful when their piled-up corpses are impeding the progress of your foes. Of course, whether you use them as such, or try to keep them in reserve until things get truly desperate, is [[VideogameCaringPotential up]] to [[VideogameCrueltyPotential you]].
* In VideoGame/{{Xenonauts}}, it is a tactic happily employed by the aliens and sometimes the player too, to a certain degree.
* In the VideoGame/{{X-COM}} series, it is the default ''modus operandi'' of the alien force. The reason: the aliens are effectively countless, they can be easily bred and they have little to no survival instinct.
** XCOMEnemyUnknown subverts this: the less-equipped aliens are still cannon fodder, but they're strategically-placed cannon fodder. [[spoiler:The Etherial Faction, which rules over the other alien factions like a theocracy, is trying to find new forms of life, test and experiment on them, and determine their place in the hierarchy with the ultimate goal of finding a race that can surpass them - everyone in the hierarchy, Ethereals included, are considered failures by the Ethereals.]] You fight waves of Greys and Thin Men with ease in the beginning stages of the game [[spoiler:because the Ethereals are testing to see if your race can survive their weakest, most inept soldiers. If so, great; have some more technology and harder enemies to fight. If not, get ready to beg and grovel before your current foes as their new thralls.]]
* Pictured, a [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman Tokay slave]] used as Cannon Fodder by the [[TheEmpire Labrynna Regime]] in ''VideoGame/HyruleTotalWar''.
* ''Videogame/MechWarrior'' generally turns tanks, infantry, and aerospace fighters (all of which are deadly in the [[Tabletopgame/BattleTech original material]]) into cannon fodder designed to waste your [[HumongousMecha BattleMech's]] ammunition reserves upon before the enemy Battlemech force shows up. The only time they're dangerous in ''Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries'', for example, is when the AI sics over 40 tanks onto your squadron. The trope is averted to a hilarious degree in ''Living Legends'', where countless ''Mech 4'' veterans were slaughtered by rampaging [[MightyGlacier Demolisher]] [[TankGoodness mech-hunter tanks]] and angry [[PoweredArmor battlearmor]] players [[PersonalSpaceInvader swarming over their mech]].
* In ''VideoGame/PinballQuest,'' the goblins of the third table simply stand immobile, blocking your way to the Goblin King.
* {{Discussed}} in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3: Citadel'' between two CAT-6 mercs who've been ordered to slow Shepard down. One of them questions the ExactWords of the order, wondering if they're allowed to kill Shepard. The other suggests that they aren't ''expected'' to. Shepard is [[GenreSavvy fully aware of this]].
-->'''Shepard:''' You don't have a ''squad'', you have ''minions''. And you're running out.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* D-Class Personnel at the Wiki/SCPFoundation. These are the people that they shove through doors into deep space in order to see what happens.
** They do have a fully functional moon base now...

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ExoSquad'' had an on-going conflict between the HumongousMecha pilots and the jumptroopers (basically, light paratroopers) who die like lemmings when things get hot.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': All the soldiers from the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom except [[EliteMooks the Dai Li]].
* The Monarch from ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' regards his henchmen as basically disposable pawns and often sends platoons of them to be butchered by Brock Samson while he directs them from the safety of his flying cocoon headquarters.
* Captain Zapp Brannigan from ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' makes no attempt to hide the fact that he sees everyone on his crew as completely expendable. His notable "victory" over the Killbots was achieved by feeding them wave after wave of his own men until they reached a pre-programmed kill limit and shut down. He has claimed that when he's in command, "Every mission is a suicide mission!", and he considers clogging the enemy's cannons with the wreckage of his own ships to be a viable combat tactic.
* Both averted and subverted in WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars. The clones are often viewed as this even admitting it themselves, but to the Jedi (with the exception of Pong Krell) they are invaluable friends and kept alive as much as possible, not that it helps the Jedi in the end.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* During UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, Japanese infantrymen were called 'senrin' by their officers, referring to the price of mailing a conscription notice: one sen, one rin, or about 1/99th of a yen.
** Several Japanese officers who fought on Guadalcanal went further, calling themselves and their men 'teppodama', literally "bullets" in being ''that'' expendable.
* According to TheOtherWiki, the first documented use of the term "cannon fodder" appears in an [[NapoleonBonaparte anti-Napoleonic]] pamphlet by French writer François-René de Chateaubriand, [[NapoleonicWars published in 1814]]. In it, Chateaubriand lambasted Napoleon's battle strategy, particularly his treatment of new recruits: "the contempt for the lives of men and for France herself has come to the point of calling the conscripts [[NewMeat 'the raw material']] and [[TropeNamer 'the cannon fodder']]."
* The ugly truth is that this has been the purpose of infantry since WWI in conventional warfare. While some armies have embraced it and some haven't, ultimately the infantry's job is to go first and locate targets for the artillery, aircraft, and armored vehicles. That this is frequently accomplished by losing a few of them to fire from a concealed position is an unfortunate inevitability.
** Napoleonic armies were raised by {{conscription}}, and any conscription armies tend likewise to be CannonFodder. Equipment and weapons are expensive, human life is cheap.
* [[RedsWithRockets Red Army staff officers]] sometimes referred to lost soldiers as "material" or "wastage". Euphemisms such as "how many pencils were broken today?" were common. This is actually something of a subversion: it was not simple callousness, but a coping strategy given the incomprehensibly massive casualties (twelve million dead and several million more crippled, more than every other combatant [including China] put together) the Soviets suffered in WWII. Given [[NazisWithGnarlyWeapons how much as been written about the "Red hordes" (most of it nonsense, based upon accounts by embittered ex-Wehrmacht personnel)]], this may come as a surprise to some.
* This happened a lot in the UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar. When Pickett's Charge was repulsed at Gettysburg, the retreating survivors were taunted with shouts of "Fredericksburg!" In that earlier battle, it was the Army of the Potomac that suffered frightful casualties in failing to break a fortified line. Almost one year later, one soldier wrote in his diary: "June 3, 1864. Cold Harbor. I was killed." Which he was. Many other soldiers pinned nametags to their uniforms before this and other battles so they could be identified if they were killed; ironically, the author of the diary omitted his name in the book, and it has been suggested that the diary entry is apocryphal.
* ''How many hordes there are in a Chinese platoon?'' A sarcastic joke amongst the UN troops during the Korean War. The [[ZergRush human wave attacks]] of the Chinese infantry produced an appalling amount of dead, implying the Chinese infantry were nothing but cannon fodder.