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NPC Roadblock
aka: Drone Jam

Weird place to put a block... Wonder what's in it... Maybe I should stay here and stare at it for a while...
Zeekeeper Mascot, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

A Non-Player Character that prevents the Player Character from passing through a certain door or passage, effectively blocking it off. This means that the player will have to accomplish some task to gain access. The question of why the protagonist can't simply force the NPC to move is rarely brought up.

A Sub-Trope of Broken Bridge. A favorite tactic of the City Guards. See also Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The two kids who block the exits to Kokiri Village at the beginning of the game. The passage they're blocking is pretty big, so they sidestep back and forth, always standing exactly in front of you. Also of note: the ridiculously fat King Zora who blocks the entrance to Zora's Fountain. Other characters in the game pull off the same living Broken Bridge stunt, but none with quite the elan of King Zora.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: In Clock Town, guards block all four exits and refuse to let Link through when he's a Deku Scrub ("It's too dangerous out there!"). When he becomes a human again, they initially block him, but relent when they see that he has a sword. If Link happens to be a Goron or Zora, they won't even attempt to block him.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures has the Village of the Blue Maiden. In front of the Seeker's HQ, there's a long line of obstructing NPCs. To actually manage to enter the HQ, you have to use the Pegasus Boots to crash into the wall and scatter the NPCs and go through the door before they manage to return in line. The game also has a woman obstructing another important house. To get in you actually have to manually push the woman to the side.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, once you beat the first dungeon, you are unable to get past the guard blocking the west exit until you learn the Spin Attack. He, and the guards blocking the north and east exits, will run/walk parallel to you, preventing you from passing. Similarly, before going to Hyrule Castle for the first time, NPCs block off each of the town's areas so you have to follow Zelda around.
      • Once the endgame starts, guards start appearing in various places around Hyrule Town, telling you that it's too dangerous to proceed. Bafflingly, one such soldier is placed in front of the entrance to the library, leading one to wonder exactly what's dangerous about it.
    • The "line of NPCs" trope gets its fair share of use too: both The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword have a strangely cohesive group of NPCs blocking access to a specific area (A long queue for water blocking South Hyrule Field in TP, and a bunch of women chatting after laundry was done blocking the residential area of Skyloft in SS).
  • Spectrobes averts this trope by having every last NPC being both intangible and immobile.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has a lot of obstructive characters in the London areas, forcing you to go through scripted areas.
  • Jack from Cave Story blocks the doorway to mimiga cemetery due to fungi outbreak out there. Telling him that Toroko has been kidnapped will make him move out of the way.
  • Subverted in Beast's Castle in Kingdom Hearts 2. The wardrobe is standing in front of a door. You can push her out of the way, but if you wake her up doing so she'll complain and move back into position. Move her fully out of the way and then she'll wake up and engage you in a friendly chat.

    Adventure Games 
  • In the Hamtaro game, Ham-Hams Unite! for Game Boy Color, in one level, there's a hole you need to get through to get Cappy, but there's this one hamster who gets in the way and won't let you through, because he's "scared".
  • Peasant's Quest has a guard blocking access to Trogdor's mountain for most of the game, until Rather Dashing can convince him that he's a peasant.
    Guard: "You're not dressed like a peasant, you don't stink like a peasant, and you most certainly are not on fire like a peasant!"

    First-Person Shooters 
  • In Medal of Honor: Frontline, two guys block your path upstairs at the Golden Lion pub, and you must tip the piano player to play a song to distract them.
  • Often happened unintentionally in Marathon thanks to the terrible AI of the friendly NPC "BOBs". The developers had this to say on the subject: "BOB jam? Apply grenades liberally!"

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Pokémon is all about this.
    • The cranky Old Man in Viridian City won't let you pass until his coffee takes away the grumpiness. (In the original he's just drunk and needs to wait until he's sober.)
    • When Saffron City is under siege, several buildings are blocked by Team Rocket members standing in front of the door. Bizarrely, you can only get past one when he falls asleep and somehow moves one square to the right (Or in Yellow, randomly disappears instead).
    • A man prevents you from entering Cerulean Cave/Unknown Dungeon (where you find Mewtwo) in R/B/G/Y until you're the Pokemon League Champion because there are dangerous Pokemon inside. Said NPC is rather famous among the Pokemon fans, both because of both this very blatant case, and because of the fact that his black hair blended spectacularly with the door behind him, leading to the nickname "Afroman."
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, a police officer in Kanto's Radio Tower (formerly Pokemon Tower) will not let you ascend to any floors above the first, no matter what else you do.
    • In the fourth generation games, there's a man that blocks access to Sunyshore City because... there's a blackout. Exactly why that would make it dangerous to go to the city is a mystery.
    • And then there's someone who escorts you to see Brock's Gym. Several times. As in, until you actually beat him, the bastard will not let you onto the next route.
    • Another particularly annoying one: in Platinum you're chasing a criminal who just SET OFF A BOMB. He leaves the vision of the player, but if you follow the path which you saw him leave from, you come to the entrance of a lakefront blocked by two generic men with cameras saying "we're filming the lake." Guess where the whole evil organization sets off another bomb...
      • However, it's implied in companion materials that the two are disguised members of Team Galactic.
    • Diamond/Pearl: you've just gotten the bike, and you want to go back to Floaroma Town to check the trees you smeared with honey. Cue an NPC who wants you to go on the Cycling Road and simply will not let you pass until you go down it and come back. What's especially funny is that there doesn't appear to be any reason for him to be there - he's not even preventing you from Sequence Breaking, because you are trying to go back the way you came.
    • A very obnoxious one in Black and White involves a policeman standing at the entrance to a post-game route who refuses to let you past. His reason for not doing so? "There's something up ahead and you can't go through here." Nothing in the entire Pokemon canon hints as to what this mysterious "something" is.
    • And in its sequel, Black and White 2, in what is perhaps the most blatant example ever, a group of guys are blocking off the northern path to Black City/White Forest, claiming to be dancing for no reason and that someday they will disappear for no reason.
      • In the same game, there are several instances where the enemy is blocking the path, perfectly awake, yet you are unable to fight your way past, despite doing so throughout normal gameplay.
    • In Lumiose City in X and Y, when you first enter there will be all these mechanics stopping you from accessing a good bit of the town because of a blackout (which you won't be fixing until after you get your fourth badge). With the wonky camera angles in the town, it's safe to say you'll want to punch them in the face after the 9000th time they get to you. It doesn't help that the lights in the buildings just behind them are clearly working just fine.
    • Red in Twitch Plays Pokémon Red walks in just the right place when the Burglar sees him and approaches him, so after the Burglar defeated and just stands there, he is blocking the way out, as Red was in between the wall and a table. This is very problematic, since in Pokemon NPCs don't move after they are defeated...
  • In Tales of Phantasia, there's a crab in the Alvanista port that is there specifically to block your access to a chest (at least in the PSX version). Talking to it cause Cless to lash out at it.
    "What do you want from me, crab?!"
  • In Star Ocean Till The End Of Time there is a particular NPC in Airyglyph who just seemed to not get the point that you need to get through that door, dammit!
  • Live A Live features a sort of puzzle in the Prehistoric Chapter. You come into a room with one caveman. You talk to the caveman, and another one shows up. Now both are running around frantically. Talk to one of them and a third one will run in. Keep this up and eventually the room will be overrun with cavemen running around, making it quite hard to navigate. This is not a large room, by the way. Finally, your goal is to talk to the twentieth cavemen (this despite the fact that all of them are identical). If you get it right, you'll get a reward and all but one of the cavemen will leave. Get it wrong and they'll just leave, making you start over. Try to leave the room in the middle and you'll find it all but impossible.
  • Affectionate Parody RPG Maker game Jays Journey has a guard that is rigged to only walk back and forth through a narrow corridor (which is a shortcut out of the area that was accessible earlier in the game). When Jay speaks to this guard, he tells the guard to move... but is only met with a single useless phrase over and over again.
    Guard: We're renovating the tower!
    Jay: That's nice. Could you move? The shortcut's over there.
    Jay: ...stupid NPC.
    And later, if you decide to take the staircase at the other end of the shortcut up...
    Guard: We're renovating the tower!
    Jay: Are you STILL here?!
  • EarthBound has a maze made of NPCs. You have to shift them aside by talking to them.
  • Happens in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: An irate Zess T. will block a door to the west side of Rogueport because you stepped on her contact lens. You can order a replacement lens immediately after the incident, but if you forget to, you won't be able to purchase one until after chapter 1, leaving her blocking your way for some time.
  • The Code Geass RPG for Nintendo DS has a few instances of guards blocking item boxes (including the one containing the Guren Mk-II Kai parts). Talking to them goes into a Geass sequence: ordering them to sleep or dance permanently blocks the item, while ordering them to commit suicide or go home clears the way.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Geno Dome, in the far future, contains a one-eyed guard bot that won't let you through to claim a key. There's no slipping past until you find a deactivated unit of the same model, give it a jump, and lead it back to short-circuit the guard and lock them both into a permanent staring contest.
    • Another example occurs early in the game right after Crono's jailbreak, when the guards chase the party into Guardia Forest and cut off the exit. What makes this example particularly Egregious is that you were flattening guards left and right not two minutes ago.
  • Avernum still has the tile-based variant, as of Avernum 6 released last year. There are few Dronejams by design, many more occur from NPC roaming.
  • A particularly funny example in the Medabots RPGs for the GBA. In the first town, there are four exits leading to other areas. Four NPCs will be standing in front of them for no apparent reason, going away as the plot progresses. One of them is actually justifiable, as the path is still under construction and it can be assumed the guy was hired to stay there. The others? "I heard Medaropolis has huge markets! I wish I could go shopping there someday!" One assumes that her rationale is that if she can't go, then no one else will, goddamnit!
  • Slime Forest Adventure has moving NPCs, one of which found its way into a corridor. That NPC mentions he doesn't know which way he's going, and despite being able to move, will never leave the corridor when pushed using the whistle. Other NPCs also block access to other parts of the castle.
  • A Running Gag in the Touhou Mother crossover are the "ants at your feet", which block paths for plot reasons. The player characters refuse to step on them because that would kill them (they don't seem to think of stepping over the ants... or flying). This is Lampshaded repeatedly throughout the game, such as when they are found in a building ("What? Here? Get back to the forest!") or when they give you a gift near the end for being kind enough to never step on them.
    • This is a direct reference to Mother 3, which often blocks off areas you aren't supposed to visit yet with the same message and for the same reasons.
  • Lampshaded by a guard in Arieda Village in the Fan Translation of Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys:
    "Even though you know our leader, I still can't let you pass for no reason."
  • One of these in Secret of Mana blocks the way back to the main character's hometown. You can exploit a glitch to get past him, but all that's there is a shop selling weak early-game equipment and a bunch of NPCs repeating the same dialogue you heard back in the beginning.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun. The presence of living creatures (including plants) can block travel by astral entities. Some companies use walls of ivy or even a soup of astrally active bacteria to block astral intrusion into their facilities.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The Shining Series is covered with this trope blocking doors and leading the party down paths where events are taking place.
    • The first Shining Force has an interesting bug in the first town where two guards who actively block your path can themselves be blocked by a fellow townsperson, letting you leave town earlier than intended, without the rest of your starting party.
    • Early in Shining Force III a bomb goes off and you're expected to rush back to your HQ. There are two routes but the first one is blocked by a civilian who when talked to comments on being too shocked to move, apologizing, and asking you to take the long way around. This is so you'll trigger a cutscene with the main characters from Scenario 2.
    • Shining Wisdom has this in a form of a tutorial for the sprinting mechanic; where your grandpa blocks the way right at the start and the only way to get past is to run full speed at him knocking him over and almost breaking his neck. Grandpa spends the rest of the game in bed because of this.
  • Fire Emblem Jugdral has yellow NPC units that will block you from entering a new area until your lord seizes a certain castle.

    Web Games 

Mook BouncerThis Index Is in the WayOnly the Worthy May Pass
Now, Where Was I Going Again?Role-Playing GameOne Man Party
The Anime of the GameImageSource/Video GamesSchrödinger's Question

alternative title(s): Dronejam; NPC Barricade
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