Mook Mobile

The Grandad(dies) of them all

No shields. No ejection seat. TIE Fighters were disposable attack vehicles for disposable pilots, and Wedge never cared to feel disposable.

In contrast to the Ace Custom and Super Prototype, the Mookmobile is the standard craft designated for Mooks to drive around and get blown up in. May be equipped with basic armaments and little in terms of protection. The hero or heroes may talk them up for dramatic purposes, but when engaged in actual combat, the Mook Mobiles die like flies. People may wonder if they're made out of cardboard and intentionally designed to kill the occupant inside without damage to the hero. But at least they're cheap to make!

Will usually be the opposite of a Cool Ship. When one these puts up a decent performance, it's probably because someone with actually decent piloting skill is behind the wheel, or perhaps the Inverse Ninja Law is in effect.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gundam has plenty of mook mobiles in all of its incarnations — the Zaku in in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, the GINN in Gundam SEED and really just about any mobile suit that isn't a Gundam in the first season of Gundam 00. Gundam Wing starts off in a similar vein, though better mobile suits are introduced as the series goes on. The Leo, defenseless against the Gundams at the start of the show are defenseless against all other mobile suits at the end, although they still got used. Note that with most of these, they were state of the art and the most advanced weapons around when they were invented, but then somebody had to go and invent Gundams. The Ball and Moebius mobile armor is considered weak and expendable compared to the above mentioned Zaku and GINN, respectively.
  • Lesser model Knightmare Frames in Code Geass. Especially the Britannian Empire's poor, much-abused RPI-13 Sutherland.
  • The Grappal from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Mauve Shirts Gimmy and Darry try their best to fight with them, but they can never live up to real Ganmen. Also a bit unusual in that they're hero Mook Mobiles. Of course, the Gunmen not operated by humans or Beastmen Generals quickly went from Monster of the Week to Mook Mobiles.
  • The Brocken military mechs in Patlabor, hired as security forces for various unscrupulous corporations and usually destroyed en masse by the good guys. They're really no better or worse than any of the other mechs in the setting besides the cutting-edge Ingrams the heroes use, though.
    • Though it wasn't always this way. In the original manga & the first OAV, the Brocken was a nearly unstoppable top of the line military machine that could take on the entire SVU with just one unit. In the TV series, however, Conservation of Ninjutsu set in & they were stuck playing backup dancer to ridiculous, gimmicky borderline-Super Robots like the Phantom. To their credit, they still vastly outperformed any civilian Labors & always managed to inflict impressive levels ofdamage on the Ingrams before finally being brought down.
  • KLFs in Eureka Seven.
  • Both subverted and played straight in Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The VF-1 Valkyries of the original series are differentiated only in the number of laser guns mounted on the head (one for the common "Brownie" VF-1A fighter, two for the squadron leader model VF-1J and four for the CAG-exclusive VF-1S) but otherwise perform identically. Played with for the Zentraedi Esbelien Regult tactical battle pod, which has inferior performance to the Roycommi Glaug officer pod but is quite dangerous to even elite Valkyrie pilots. Played painfully straight with the UN Spacy's Destroid mecha, which are, um, destroyed with ease by the enemy and primarily exist for the VF-1s to swoop in and save them.
  • Subverted with Armored Trooper VOTOMS. The Mook Mobiles are the only units there are. The Scopedog is the most common, and the unit of choice for the protagonist but other factions have their own mass produced AT. None are really better than the others. Even the Super Prototype units are simply Scopedogs with increased handling and special weapons.

    Comic Books 
  • Villain organizations in Marvel Comics such as Hydra, AIM, and the Secret Empire all drive around on various hovercrafts, only to get shot down en masse by the heroes.
  • A car variation exists in Sin City in which bad guys often drive around in modern cars, which are shown to be ineffective against the vintage V8 engine-loaded cars the heroes usually have.
  • Happens in the IDW Publishing run of The Transformers Megaseries, where a cabal of humans are working with Scorponok to gain access to Headmaster technology. To do this, the Machination captures and copies the Autobot Sunstreaker, then modify themselves to transform into heads for these clones so they can effectively be equals to Cybertronians. This leads to the incongruous scenario of an army of Mook Mobiles consisting of nothing but multicolored Lamborghinis.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Perhaps the Ur-Example is the above mentioned TIE Fighter. Supposedly one of the "symbols of the Empire", the TIE Fighter is really only seen being successful during the first (er, fourth?) movie, during the famous Death Star trench run. Other than that, it exists solely to inflate Rogue Squadron's kill count. Two simple lasers, no shields, no air, and leaving the pilot completely screwed in the face of real competition, the TIE Fighter is always seen in pushover swarms - the best you can say about it is that it's more maneuverable and faster in space than an X-Wing. The disparity was largely based on the Japanese Zero vs the American F4F and F6Fs which were less maneuverable but much better armored such that their pilot were more likely to survive repeated combat.
    • Elsewhere in canon we have the Sith Empire's Mark 6 interceptors in Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic, who would actually be surprisingly effective were it not for Artificial Stupidity in both cases forcing the fighters to use braindead tactics that permit them to be easily downed in hordes by their more heroic foes.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic also introduces the Aurek starfighter, an unusual example of the good guys using swarms of "expendable" starfighters.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The Necrocraft fighters used by Ronan's forces. Equipped with powerful weapons, but quite fragile — easily torn apart by two mining pods ramming into them. The Ravager ships and Nova Corps fighters easily plow down through them, and it's only through sheer number they have any advantage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek has several craft that could qualify, especially smaller craft — the Klingon Bird of Prey, the Dominion Fighter, and the Maquis Raider pretty much embody this trope.
  • The Cylon fighters in the original 1970's Battlestar Galactica. The ships weren't very maneuverable compared to the Colonial Vipers, and it didn't help that the Centurions were such poor pilots or that they piloted in a comitate of three.
  • Goa'uld death gliders in the Stargate Verse. In the movie and the first half of Stargate SG-1, they subverted the trope in that they were a serious threat to ground-bound SG teams (never mind bystanders), against which the only defense (other than running away) was a shoulder-fired missile or grenade launcher (not exactly something they carry around at all times). Once it entered service, the Tau'ri F-302 quickly proved itself far superior to the glider, which was built in line with the typical Goa'uld design philosophy.

    Literature 
  • X-Wing Series:
    • The series elaborates on this, as seen in the page quote. The lack of shields, missiles, life support, hyperdrive, etc. makes Imperial TIE Fighters faster and more maneuverable than the Rebels/New Republics' X-Wings, and in a skilled pilot's hands even the humble TIE Fighter can be a lethal opponent. The problem for Imperial New Meat is surviving that long, as one mistake with their craft is often fatal, while Rebel pilots' shields give them a much greater opportunity to survive and learn from their errors.
    • The improved successor to the TIE Fighter, the TIE Interceptor, has quad lasers and is even faster and more maneuverable than its predecessor, putting it on even footing with an X-Wing and prompting the Rebels to develop the A-Wing in response. But even Imperial starfighter developers realized the advantages shields offered, and put them on the later TIE Advanced/Avenger and TIE Defender - unfortunately this made the advanced models prohibitively expensive at about the time that the Empire began losing ground to the New Republic, so that TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors continued to be a mainstay of Imperial fighter groups.

    Video Games 
  • A staple trope of video games, especially simulator games, though they really become just more of a mook in themselves at that point.
  • The hovering Pig Mask Army transports in Mother 3.
  • In certain situations, the Ghost, Wraith, and Chopper, Prowler, and Banshee of Halo. If you're on foot with only an assault rifle, they can be deadly (especially in the first game, with no boarding). But once you get a vehicle of your own, they're doomed by Artificial Stupidity and weak weaponry; the Wraiths are the only ones with weaponry that can actually damage the light Scorpion tanks you can drive, and their projectiles are slow and easy to dodge. Standout examples are a level in Halo 2 where you take a tank down a highway and destroy about 20 Ghosts along with several Wraiths and Banshees in a row, Tsavo Highway in Halo 3 where you take on almost two dozen Choppers and Prowlers around a highway overpass, and the air battle in the Covenant where you in a Hornet can single-handedly destroy a swarm of Banshees with ease.
  • The PVF Anubis from the first FreeSpace game is one of the most pathetic space sim fighters of all time. Paper thin armor, no afterburners (making it so slow it can easily be run down by a GTF Hercules), crappy guns, and general inadequacy make the Anubis totally outmatched against any Terran or Shivan fighter.
  • In Freelancer, the Startracker is this. Sure, it's actually a little tougher than the Starflier that Trent starts with, but it's a lightly armed, lightly armored fighter that steers like a tranquilized cow, something that a Fragile Speedster-class light vessel can't afford. You'll find that they're flown by a fair number of rogue groups, but the pilots are about as lousy as their ships. Seeing a hostile Startracker is basically a chance to score free shield and armor power-ups.
  • The Super Robot Wars games have a few iconic bot's of their own, in addition to many of the anime examples listed above. Most notably the Gespenst series. Mind you, in these games even a regular grunt unit can be pretty Badass in the right hands. Watch here and here as Major Kai demonstrates why you don't need no fancy Ace Custom to kick ass. The closest to the trope is probably the DC built Lions. While actually packing a decent edge when first deployed (they all have Tesla Drives which allow atmospheric flight, something the Gespenst standard variation lacks) they are only vaguely human shaped, more like fighter jets with stumpy limbs, and have only one gun and a few missiles, with light armor leaving them much easier to destroy than the EFA Gespenst's. As a result while initially threatening in large numbers they die in droves, with only extremely skilled aces managing to keep themselves alive, let alone do damage, all of whom are very quickly given better machines to make better use of their skills. Still due to their cheap and easy production every side and rebel faction has some, and they continue to appear in every game, though any pilot worth their salt would quickly pick something better.
  • The various basic tanks in Command & Conquer - the Titan, Predator, or Tick tank, Grizzly, Rhino or Anvil, Crusader, Battlemaster or Scorpion - all get chewed up by the larger, far more powerful superheavy tanks and epic units. On the other hand, fielded early enough and in sufficient numbers, some of these tanks are pretty effective.
  • The Space Pirate APCs in Metroid are more durable and maneuverable than the pirates they carry, but Samus can still shoot them down on foot even without most of her suit's capabilities and the only real distinction between their weapons versus those the pirates carry themselves is a somewhat higher rate of fire. The Pirate Skiffs are pure mook mobiles, serving only to move pirates faster and having no protection.

    Western Animation 
  • In Transformers Prime, the Vehicons are both Mooks and Mook Mobiles.
    • The chartreuse faux-Corvettes of M.E.C.H. are a straighter example.

    Other 
  • In WWII films or shows, enemy aircraft tend to be portrayed like this. In Real Life, the Luftwaffe mainstays, the Bf-109 and FW-190, were heavily armed fighter aircraft that were among the most capable of their day, and the highest scoring fighter aces in history flew these two aircraft, many of them with over 100 kills. In TV and flim, they'll be armed with glorified BB guns and highly suggest that the Germans simply cannot build anything other than Cannon Fodder. Even documentaries do this.
    • If it's set in the Cold War, expect Russian MiGs to exhibit the flying and combat qualities of a poorly-thrown brick. Yes, even in documentaries, although it was Averted on History Channel's Dogfights series. You'll frequently see the same thing happen to their tanks.
    • This is a result of the fact that the Soviets fought the Cold War by proxy, and the reason Soviet gear was always available in plenty was because, outside the Soviet military and a select few allies, it came in "Monkey Models", which were significantly downgraded - for instance, the T-72 has early composite armor, but the T-72M had simple rolled steel (granted, as thick as the friggin' Maus in some places). Combine that with subpar training, tactical ineptitude, supply problems, and often Western gear being from a newer generation, and, well... When your fancy tanks like the Abrams (1990s, 120 mm smoothbore main gun) face T-55s (1950s, 100 mm rifled main gun) with the occasional, similar-looking T-72 (1980s, 125 mm smoothbore, mostly assembled from spare parts by Iraqis), with undertrained and demoralized crews, suffering from constant aerial attacks and armed with training ammunition (mild steel rounds instead of tungsten or depleted uranium), the result is predictable. And this is called Combat Pragmatism, not bad tanks.
  • In books, films and accounts of WW2, the T34 is this trope, at least in German-sympathetic accounts. Many authors focus on Tiger and Panther tanks sweeping forward, knocking out T34's by the dozen. This is despite the fact that initially, the T34 tank outclassed anything the Germans could field. The T34 medium and its heavy partner the KV-1 were capable of turning the average 1941 panzer tank into Mookmobiles. (There is an account of a single KV-1 knocking out THIRTY panzers in a single engagement). By 1944 the Germans had a far smaller number of better tanks which could turn a T34/76 unit into a scrapyard.