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Basic Trope: The guards are really, really stupid.
Straight: Emperor Evulz' guards fail to notice obvious things and only investigate for intruders when someone's right in front of them.
Exaggerated: The heroes practically walk into the Emperor's front door unaccosted by guards - they only get suspicious after the heroes kill several of their coworkers in front of them. And even then, it's only to ask, "hey, what's the big deal?"
Emperor Evulz didn't bother to do background checks with his employees.
Inverted: The guards are hypercompetent - every noise out of place is checked immediately, all guards remove their masks every few minutes to ensure that no one's an impostor, and if anything isn't up to snuff, they all shoot at it.
Subverted: Bob tries to sneak around the Emperor's lair. His guards round him up immediately.
Double Subverted: ...But only to ask him to stop making so much noise.
Parodied: When hiring the guards, Emperor Evulz had to follow certain Troperia-mandated rules about hiring the mentally deficient.
Zig Zagged: Bob tries sneaking around the lair, but the guards accost him immediately...to ask him to stop making so much noise. Then they kill him.
Averted: The guards are as competent as one would expect for their station. The guards on the outside of the castle are fairly competent, while the Emperor's personal guards are elite.
Enforced: "We can't make the guards competent! We need the hero to be able to infiltrate Emperor Evulz' base without getting caught."
Lampshaded: "Why did I use that bargain guard hiring service?" "This is what I get for hiring locals."
Invoked: The Emperor's Magnificent Bastard cousin, Emperor Wykkid, suggests that Evulz use a cheap guard service so his own Evil Empire has one less competitor.
Exploited: After noticing the guards' lack of competence, the hero uses the chance to perform a successful Bavarian Fire Drill gambit.
Defied: All the Emperor Guards must pass a strict qualification exam before entering full service. Plus, they are on continual evaluation and training to keep their standard of competence.