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Video Game: City of Heroes
aka: City Of Villains

City of Heroes was a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game based on comic-book style superheroes. Set in and around Paragon City, a fictional Rhode Island metropolis still recovering after a thwarted but still disastrous Alien Invasion, it superbly reproduced the flavor and feel of the superheroic genre. Players would take on the role of one of many fledgling heroes surging to fill the void left in the wake of several heroes fallen in defense of the earth during the aforementioned "Rikti" alien invasion.

City of Heroes was complemented and paralleled by a villainous counterpart, City of Villains. Players of City of Villains assume the role of a freshly escaped super-powered convict who may fit into a prophecy about a "destined one" whom it is said will rise to threaten even the most powerful echelons of the Rogue Isles villain factions. The two games overlap in select areas, including PvP zones and a no-conflict nightclub in another dimension called "Pocket D". The two games, originally separate, were eventually combined, allowing players who hadn't bought Co V to make villain characters, and vice-versa.

An expansion titled Going Rogue was released in 2010, and allowed characters to change alignment repeatedly and added a third starting location (Praetoria, originally a simple Mirror Universe featured in a few high-level story arcs).

    Character Design 
Some of CoH/CoV's most innovative features were related to character/avatar design. The games provided a truly astounding variety of appearance combinations, which would grow with each new version. The power combinations are similarly impressive.

The game was also the first major MMO to include user created content, in the form of its Mission Architect system and player-created story arcs.

Originally, a variety of (back)story was told through the developers' adopted avatars — known collectively as the Avengers-esque super-team Freedom Phalanx — with the hero Statesman as their (in game and out) leader. Their evil counterparts would later be introduced in City of Villains. Known as Arachnos by name and led by Statesman's equal-but-opposite in Lord Recluse, ruler of the Rogue Isles (a fictional archipelago about 50 miles north of Bermuda). Statesman was originally the in-game avatar of real life senior developer Jack Emmert, who has since moved on and left the game in the care of Lead Developer Matt Miller (known for his avatar, Positron), who has since moved down to hands-on design work, handing the role of Lead Developer to Melissa Bianco (known for her avatar, War Witch).

With the aforementioned expansion merger, most character classes (called Archetypes) became available to both sides from the start, except for the respective Epic Archetypes, described below.

Former Hero archetypes include:
  • Blaster (High-damage ranged and high-damage melee attacks, but few defenses)
  • Controller (Primarily powers that hold, disorient or otherwise control opponents, backed up by buffs/debuffs)
  • Defender (Primarily powers aiding (buff) allies or weakening (debuff) foes, backed up by medium-damage ranged attacks, defenders are among the hardest to quantify because each primary set is aimed in almost different directions ranging from the heal-tastic Empathy to the debuff kings and queens of Darkness)
  • Scrapper (medium-defense, high-damage melee with a chance for double damage in a critical hit.)
  • Tanker (High-defense, low-damage melee and great "aggro management" capabilities to protect allies)
There were also two "epic" archetypes, unlocked once one of your heroes reached level 20 (formerly level 50): Peacebringers and Warshades. These had unique abilities, such as intrinsic travel powers and shapeshifting. Their power sets seemed to be fairly similar, but they tended to play completely different. Warshades played to the strengths of your teammates, while Peacebringers tended to make up for their weaknesses. Also, Peacebringers were much more self-sufficient (e.g. if you wanted to heal yourself, you just pressed the button and get healed), while Warshades needed enemies (or their bodies) to drain for their self buffs. To compensate for this the Warshade buffs tended to be a lot more powerful when there were a lot of enemies to drain. When playing Dual- or Tri-Form, Peacebringers tended to stay in one form for the duration of the fight or even the mission, while Warshades tended to constantly switch forms to maximize the gain from their various buffs. The powers of their respective human forms were mostly a combination of Blaster and Scrapper for the Peacebringer, and Blaster and Controller for the Warshade.

Former Villain archetypes include:
  • Brute (Medium-defense and medium-damage melee whose damage increases the longer they fight)
  • Corruptor (Medium-damage ranged attack with "critical hits" as the enemy life is whittled down backed by buffs/debuffs)
  • Dominator (Primarily enemy control with a mix of medium-damage ranged and melee attacks to back it up.)
  • Mastermind (Command minions or "pets" and back them up with buffs/debuffs)
  • Stalker (Stealth-based "assassin type" with melee attacks, a Back Stab For Massive Damage, and weak defense)
Just like the heroes, there were two epic archetypes for the villains. Starting out as a member of the Arachnos faction, you took the role of a Wolf Spider (Arachnos Soldier) or Blood Widow (Arachnos Widow), then took one of two "branching" leveling paths. The former represent the rank and file soldiers, starting with guns while then adding cybernetic attachments or specialized tech-maces, while the latter started out as pseudo-ninjas and could either stay as such or become a combat psychic. However, regardless of branch, you ultimately played as a damage type with some quirks (and a cool costume).

The second major expansion, Going Rogue, opened a third beginning to the game, the Praetorians. They were able to play as any of the non-epic archetypes and start off neither good nor evil, choosing over the course of the first twenty levels whether they would be a Loyalist of the tyrannical Emperor Cole or join the terrorist Resistance against him. It also introduced the ability to change alignment via Face-Heel Turn or Heel-Face Turn, allowing a hero to become a villain or vice versa as well as opening up the in-between alignments of Vigilante and Rogue.

Heroes and villains both chose an origin. Outside of Peacebringer (Natural), Warshade (Science), and the Arachnos archetypes (Natural), there were no limits placed on which origin could be used with what archetype/powers. It was possible to make one of your characters' powers, say, "Assault Rifle" with Magic Origins, and it won't make a lick of difference to your abilities.
  • Magic — Characters that got their powers through mystic training or artifacts. Can also refer to characters that get their powers from a patron deity or are a magical creature. Examples from other popular media include Ghost Rider, Hellboy and Doctor Strange. In universe example: Numina of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Mutation — Characters born with their powers that eventually unlock as they grow older. Generally refers to humans inexplicably born with these features. Most of the characters in X-Men qualify. In universe example: Sister Psyche of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Natural — Characters who got where they are through the strenuous training of their bodies — and also characters whose species naturally have the abilities. Examples include Superman, Batman, The Punisher, J'onn J'onzz the Martian Manhunter and Kingpin. In universe example: Manticore of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Science — Characters that get their powers via scientific means. Super serums, radiation, experiments gone wrong, experiments gone right, etc. Examples include Spider-Man, Marvel's Sandman and the Fantastic Four. In universe example: Synapse of the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Technology — Characters that got their powers from technology. Where Science characters have been transformed in some way to gain their powers, Technology characters gain theirs through use of power armor, alien weapons, cybernetics, et al. Examples include Iron Man, Green Lantern, Doctor Octopus and Robotman. In universe example: Positron of the Freedom Phalanx.

Heroes defeated NPC villains and foil the plans of various archvillains and nefarious groups out to destroy Paragon/The World/Humanity. Villains carried out missions against NPC heroes or other villain groups to please various factions and power brokers and thereby improve their standing in the underworld. Player-vs-Player combat was limited to restricted areas and is not necessary for game or level progress, although certain bonuses could be gathered by risking yourself in these areas.

The game managed to stay alive despite being only a few months older than the massive World of Warcraft juggernaut, largely by occupying a niche market and having a die-hard, rabidly devoted fanbase. There have been two novels based on it, Web of Arachnos and The Freedom Phalanx (a third about the Ritki War was also planned), as well as two comic book series, one published by Blue King and the other by Dark Horse Comics. A movie and T.V. series based on the game were in Development Hell, until Paragon Studio's forced closure.

Despite the reported profitability of the game and its diehard fanbase, parent company NC Soft closed Paragon Studios and set the game's closure for 3 months after that to use the game's servers to run Guild Wars 2. Paragon Studios was informed of the decision, which was effective immediately. It was announced to the players on August 31st, 2012 that Paragon Studios would be dissolved and that preparations for CoH's permanent retirement were already underway. The servers were shut down shortly after midnight Pacific Standard Time on December 1st, 2012.

All is not lost, however, as a large group of fans are starting work on a Spiritual Successor called City of Titans (after a successful Kickstarter campaign), with two other projects also in the works: Heroes and Villains (by a splinter group from the City of Titans project) and Valiance Online (by a separate company that is also simultaneously working on a fantasy-genre MMO). And on top of that, fans continue to try to find groups to buy the original game and bring it back, with a fourth attempt being underway at the time of writing.

NC Soft has registered the domain names coh2.com and coh3.com, but whether that means they have any plans to bring the game back in any form remains to be seen. (Doubtful, since they were registered back in 2004, but they continue to be renewed). Currently, they only redirect to the City of Heroes sunset announcement.

This game provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

     Tropes A-D 

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Everywhere, at least in the earlier parts of the game. There are zones where you can't swing a dead catgirl without hitting an abandoned warehouse. And there are supervillains in every freaking one.
    • It gets to the point where, as a villain entering what seems like your eighty-third "Unused Arachnos Warehouse," you're presented with the mission entry text: "Another unused base. You have to wonder how many of these things Arachnos builds and never uses."
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Missions set in the sewers, the Sewer Network, the Abandoned Sewer Network...
    • Between the huge sewers, the everpresent caves, and the underground city of Oranbega, it's a wonder Paragon City hasn't collapsed into the ground.
      • In some places it has. The Hollows was caused by the Trolls trying to make a cave for themselves and causing the entire city section to collapse. And Faultline was caused by a villain (actually a mind-controlled hero) losing control of his powers, causing the entire zone to shatter and collapse.
    • Averted in Going Rogue's Praetoria: the incredibly spacious Underground is not a sewer system, but an abandoned subway system — with occasional intersections with what appears to be a subterranean canal network or, more likely, storm drains. It also serves as an underground logistical and maintenance network.
  • An Adventurer Is You
  • And the Adventure Continues: Achieving the maximum level of 50 is the point when your hero or villain starts achieving their true potential.
  • After the End: Usually tied in with Alternate Universes or straight up time travel. Some notable examples:
    • Recluse's Victory, a ruined version of Atlas Park used as a PVP Zone.
    • Praetorian Earth, which was nearly overrun by the Devouring Earth after a nuclear war.
    • Pretty much any alternate world you visit during a Portal Corp mission that isn't Praetoria, The Shadow Shard, or Council Earth/Axis America.
      • Apparently common enough in alternate universes that one contact in Night Ward uses the acronym "L.M.O.E." casually in conversation: "Last Man on Earth."
    • Hinted at with the main game, after all the reason the War Walls exist is to keep the Rikti Invaders out...and even then they sometimes fail...so just what is going on outside Paragon City?
      • Mainly because they would be really hard to tear down they also act as containment so if something is going badly in one area it doesn't spill over.
  • A.I. Roulette: Found in some Mooks.
    • Deliberately added to the Flawed Clone during the battle with Ajax. Some players have reported the Flawed Clone to be amazingly competent. Others just watched as it performed the chicken dance in the corner during the whole fight.
    • Possibly deliberately lampshaded in a bit of NPC dialogue, wherein a Circle of Thorns Spectral Demon demands a Thorn Wielder turn over his magic knife because he's too stupid to use it properly.
  • Alien Invasion: The Rikti, although they're actually forcibly-mutated humans from Another Dimension.
  • All Webbed Up: Arachnoid lairs are often decorated with humanoid web masses.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent
  • Alternate Universe: Tons. There's a company dedicated to exploring them. Some notable examples...
    • Praetoria: Formerly a standard Mirror Universe where the good guys are bad, since retconned into something a little less black and white.
    • Axis America: A world where Marcus Cole sided with Germany during World War II. Home of the Reichsman.
    • The Shadow Shard: Extradimensional prison of an insane god. Visually similar to Outland.
    • The Rikti Homeworld: Where humanity mutated themselves into powerful psychics after contact with an alien race.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Perhaps the most eagerly pursued rewards too, despite their purely aesthetic effect.
  • Animal Motifs: Arachnos really likes spiders. We're not kidding, damn near every single unit type is named after a kind of spider, up to Lord Recluse himself.
    • And he's got robot spiders as a common minion.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The Devouring Earth, who take it to the next level by going One-Winged Angel and turning into part-scientific, part-magical Eldritch Abominations with the ability to bring plants, fungi, and minerals to life as their minions.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Possibly the Radio contact in Port Oakes and definitely the Television contact in Grandville. Radio is either some DJ with a lot of contacts or a sentient machine that keeps tabs on you. Television appears to be the Avatar of this form of media, as it speaks to you using the characters in various TV shows. Though, it's deliberately left ambiguous.
    • Definitely the Slot Machine contact in Saint Martial - it's An artificially-intelligent slot machine trying to get you to rescue its inventor.
    • Night Ward introduces the Animus Arcana: sentient spells, some of whom are bonded to magical artifacts. So you'll be fighting wooden staffs, crystal balls, and so on.
  • Another Dimension: Portal Corp runs on this, as do the Praetoria and Rikti factions...
  • Antagonist in Mourning: According to a short story on the website, Lord Nemesis is disappointed by the death of Statesman, but in particular that it came at the hands of a 'nobody' like Darrin Wade rather than at his hands as he had been planning for decades.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: The expansion Going Rogue makes these alignments possible in game with Rogues and Vigilantes.
    • A few of the redside contacts are Anti Villains. Most notable is a demon hunter who gives you missions where rescuing the demons' victims is mandatory.
  • Arc Words: Any arc involving Ghost Widow will usually have the phrase "The Dead can't change."
  • Art Evolution: Take a look at these screenshots from issue 1.
  • Artifact of Doom: Lots, but the most important one is the Well of the Furies-ie, the source of Incarnate powers. It doesn't like Statesman because he protects the status quo, and it thinks Lord Recluse is a poser.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Combined with Gang Up on the Human, if you encounter opposed factions engaged in a standoff (a very common situation), attacking either one in defense of the other is likely to make both of them attack you!
  • Artistic License - Geography: Rhode Island has no place on its coastline that has ocean access to the north, the way Paragon City does.
  • Artistic License - Geology: Averted (although probably not intentionally). While many players seem to think that the network of tunnels, caverns and caves beneath the city, as well as the rock in which they exist, are unlikely, Rhode Island has in fact a geological history — complete with volcanoes and other phenomena — just complicated enough to make them just barely plausible.
    • Plus Oranbega being magical and not entirely in this dimension certainly helps
  • Ascended Extra: The entirety of Praetorian Earth, in a way; these lategame hero missions were popular enough that the devs made Going Rogue focus on the world in which they took place, with much more development and many more shades of gray than their previous Evil Twin tendencies. In doing so, they also revamped those original Story Arcs to be consistent with the Praetorians' new portrayal.
    • There's also the Yin family; they began as largely background NPCs in the Faultline zone's redesign, though Penelope was known as a very powerful psychic, with a nebulous connection to the Clockwork King. Later on, Penelope Yin reappeared in the Lady Grey Task Force, as possibly the most powerful psychic on Earth. Come Going Rogue, we met her Praetorian counterpart, a questionably sane Seer; but more importantly, her father Wu Yin finally appeared — as head of the Syndicate.
      • And now she's taken Sister Psyche's place in the Freedom Phalanx.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • The "Kill Skuls" badge, which was based off an amalgamation of two separate forum stories about bad pick-up group experiences: one who would recruit people only to say "Go. Hunt." over and over again, and one who would recruit people only to say "kill skuls" over and over again.
    • "It's always a Nemesis plot" made its ascent with the introduction of Tips: one Hero/Vigilante tip mission in the 30-40 range reveals the existence of a forum based entirely around making "everything is a Nemesis plot" jokes.
      • Before Tips the meme was referenced in the Mission Architect system, offering those developing their own story arcs suggestions among which were "Not everything is a Nemesis plot" and "Everything is a Nemesis plot."
    • The "Strong and Pretty" badge was based off a forum thread which sang the praises of a War Mace/Energy Aura Brute (which started when neither powerset was considered very good). With MS Paint illustrations. The Brute in question was "both strong AND pretty!"
    • An odd case of Meme-turned-extra: During the Closed Beta of City of Villains, A player on the Beta feedback message boards had posted confusion as to why your character didn't jump from gang to gang, using the already established villain gangs set up in City of Heroes. It was pointed out to them that a lot of groups (Freakshow, Devouring Earth, etc.,) would be impossible to quit, and some posted a few comical stories about a made-up incompetent trying to quit each different gang in City of Heroes/Villains with comedic results. More people followed suit, and eventually the "quitter" was given the nickname "Jenkins", and it stuck. (Which is possibly a World of Warcraft reference, or an incredible coincidence.) Jenkins quickly became popular on the Beta boards as a sort of meme, rather than an actual extra. Later, the programmer behind the character Black Scorpion posted that he had just read the thread and found it to be hilarious. The very next update to the Beta had added "Jenkins", an Arachnos incompetent, to the opening tutorial wherein the villains PC has to save him in order to escape from prison.
      • Jenkins also makes a brief appearance in the revamped Faultline missions and can be recruited as an ally in another villain mission where somehow he moved up to the rank of Huntsman.
    • The Meme-Based Costume Contest. Effectively, EVERY MEME became an Ascended Meme, at least for a short while.
  • Asteroids Monster: Clockwork Princes and Devoured Earth rock and crystal monsters randomly spawn Underling-class enemies after death.
  • The Atoner: As of Going Rogue, villains can receive missions that allow them to repent and change alignment. Of course, heroes can receive Start of Darkness missions to switch sides, too.
    • Warshades are aliens who used to possess humans by force and suppress their personality, but have realized that it is better to share their power with willing hosts instead.
    • The infamous early archvillain Frostfire appears in high-level tips missions as a hero, making up for his earlier criminal career.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Giant octopus, giant robots, giant amoebas, giant giants, giant walking plants...
    • This handy comparison chart (and the detail shots) show you just how obscenely huge some of the Giant Monsters can be. Keep in mind even the smallest one pictured there is larger then the PC model.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: The Council loves this trope. All of their seemingly endless variations on "Attack formation (something)" essentially boil down to "everybody hit somebody".
  • Attention Whore: Flambeaux, a woman who built herself a set of flame powers and became a superhero simply to get attention and praise. As of Going Rogue, she turned villain because people weren't praising her enough as a hero. It's still not working like she'd hoped, but she can (and does) at least bomb the offices of magazines that won't print big articles on how glamorous and wonderful she is. This plus her habit of gasping out "But I only wanted to be loved" as she's defeated has predictably earned her the nickname "Flambimbeaux".
    • As of Freedom, she appears during Twinshot's arc early in the game at a point in her career when she's still a full hero — and promptly demonstrates that as far as she's concerned, she's the player character and you're the NPC, because no matter what happens, it's all about her. And if you pay attention to another character's dialogue, she promptly gets annoyed.
    • In that same arc, Manticore's computer lists a couple of the arc's characters and points out that she's one of the likeliest members to fall into villainy just to satisfy her attention-seeking.
  • Author Avatar: a very literal example, most of the game developers will take notable NPCs as their avatars in the forums and are often referred to by their nicknames.
  • Ax-Crazy: If you're a Scrapper or a Brute, this is pretty much the best way to play them. (Brutes even have a Battle Axe powerset, so you can make it literal)
  • Backstory: The game's mythology is surprisingly deep and complex, with basically an Alternate History of the entire 20th century due to the influence of superheroes. It is also notably original, rather than sampling heavily from any previously established superhero/comic-book mythos (as one might expect).
  • Badass Boast: Many. Villains especially get many in badge descriptions note 
  • Badass Creed: The Midnight Squad has theirs written on their banner.
  • Badass Normal: Malta humans, Knives of Artemis, Family, Paragon City Police, and a fair number of Natural-origin human heroes.
    • Epic villain archetypes are mooks who were fed up seeing supers picked for promotion all the time and decided to show the world what a normal could do. Arachnos Soldiers fall under this trope; advanced Widows (especially Fortunata) do not.
      • And the ordinary citizens of Praetoria in the TPN Incarnate Trial, who can kill pretty much any Incarnate who hesitates outside too long.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Zigzagged. While most of the original [note]Well, since Co V release[\note] class system and in-game heroes were meant to play this straight, there are subversions:
    • Dark Contol/Dark Blast powersets for heroic Defenders.
    • More darkish powersets for heroic Warshades.
    • Infernal, the heroic trainer, summons demons. And Malaise and his mind control, but since he's basically [Heel Face Brainwash brainwashed], he may not count.
    • And of course, once Going Rogue hit, Masterminds with demon-summoning or necromancy powers, or any Corruptors, Brutes, Dominators, or Assassins could become heroes.
  • The Baroness: Countess Crey.
  • Beneath the Earth: Oranbega, The Eden Trial, The Hollows' Igneous faction.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lord Recluse is the Big Bad, but Tyrant and Hamidon are currently even greater dangers to Primal Earth. Many of the other villain leaders also have a claim to the title, to varying degrees.
  • Bizarro Universe: Praetoria, where all the heroes are evil and all the villains are good.
    • At least, that was the original depiction. When Praetoria was made the focus of the expansion, they changed the focus from Primal Earth with a goatee to the land of moral ambiguity. The alignment inversion is in place, but it's much less black and white.
    • The unfinished Issue 24 was going to change that further, with new story arcs where various Praetorian characters change sides. Marauder and Mother Mayhem were going to join a new heroic group, while Resistance leader Calvin Scott and Praetorian Penelope Yin were going to join the side of villainy. Even Tyrant, Statesman's counterpart and the apparent Big Bad of the setting, turned out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and was planned to have a full Heel-Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice in Issue 28.
  • Black Cloak: The Circle of Thorns.
    • Not any more; their robes show a lot more of their figure now.
  • Blown Across the Room: True to its superhero comic origins, gun attacks have a chance of sending the target flying backwards.
  • Body Horror: Some villain groups have members in them that fit this trope. To wit:
    • A number of villain groups involve humans being mutated in some way. The Lost are homeless people being mutated into Rikti soldiers. Most of the Coralax you encounter are actually humans infected with living coral. Greater and Lesser Devoured are what you get when the Hamidon mutates a human being into one of his Devouring Earth monsters.
    • Arachnos gives us the Tarantulas, some of whom are human Arachnos operatives grafted into arachnoid exoskeletons. They are also responsible for creating the Arachnoids. A description is given in the Uncanny Valley entry under the YMMV tab. invoked
    • The Awakened are Praetorian psychics that responded violently to Mother Mayhem's Seer Program. The Subjugator shows us just how badly some of those psychics can react to the procedures Mayhem puts them through.note 
  • Boring, but Practical: Powers that reduce the time you have to wait between fights, such as the now-inherent fitness pool and the option to multi-slot the rest power to use it more often with faster results.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Badges and Titles. Certain costume pieces also apply.
  • Brain in a Jar: Malta Titans contain these at their core. The Clockwork King has a classic brain-jar, bobbing eyeballs and all. Nemesis' armour-automotons contain artificial brains. Nemesis Warhulks go a step further with entire People Jars.
    • In October 2011, this was added as a purchasable costume piece for player characters.
  • Breast Plate: Some armor pieces, like that of the Widows or the Roman Centurion armor are rather form-fitting.
  • Buffy Speak: Flambeaux, during the Twinshot arc, and also standing outside the Atlas Park Wentworth's.
    Sorry, hun, but I'm busy shopping. Don't you have something heroey to do?
  • But Thou Must: If you give the wrong password in Darrin Wade's villain arc: "Dad, come on. I know you know this. Are you just testing me to see if I'll call for backup or something? Let's try this again."
  • Cain and Abel: Statesman and Lord Recluse are former friends and brothers-in-law. Talk about a Big Screwed-Up Family now.
  • Cancellation: NC Soft abruptly shut down Paragon Studios on August 31, 2012, and pulled the plug on City of Heroes at the end of November that year.
  • The Cape: While player characters embody this everywhere, actual capes have a very special significance in the game, due in large part to Hero 1, a very well-known Cape who never returned from the Suicide Mission to end the Rikti War at least, not as he was known. Still has the cape though. For a time they were banned in Paragon City out of respect for him, and the mission any prospective cape-wearer must do has them learning about him and visiting the Omega Team memorial. (Villains have it easier - if they want to wear a cape, they just have to rip one off the back of a defeated hero)
  • Cape Busters: The aforementioned Malta Group are an anti-superhero force of Badass Normals. They are among the toughest enemy groups in the game.
  • Captain Ersatz / Expy: The game's character creator makes it trivially easy to reproduce virtually any published character — so much so that in 2004 Marvel sued NCSoft for trademark infringement. (Most of the case was thrown out by the judge, and the remainder was settled out of court.) And even though NC Soft and Paragon Studios will "generic" any too-blatant Captain Ersatz who comes to their attention, it's still hard to go through an evening's gaming without encountering at least one thinly (or not so thinly) disguised version of a published character.
  • Captain Geographic: Statesman for the USA, Hero 1 for the UK.
  • Captain Obvious: Parodied and played straight. Mooks often state the obvious. But in one mission a mook who speculates that heroes might be on their way is answered by another mook sarcastically hoping whoever turns up it isn't Captain Obvious. On seeing you the first mook confirms that you are indeed not Captain Obvious, Completely Missing the Point.
  • Cardboard Prison: Ziggursky Penitentiary, AKA "The Ziggurat" or "The Zig". Before Freedom, escaping from the Zig was the tutorial mission for villains.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Subverted. They're actually less evil than the Knight Templar and Villain with Good Publicity groups, apart from (maybe) the Circle of Thorns. They may have hung a lampshade on it, as the final stage in creating a character involves you... filling out a villain registration form, presumably so you can get a card that proves you are a villain.
    • The villain side of the game seems notably lacking in any concrete villainy.
      • Going Rogue has introduced a lot more, albeit optional, villainy in the form of the villain morality missions. Some players have admitted feeling very guilty after doing them.
  • Cat Girl: Mynx and her Alternate Universe counterpart Bobcat. And a metric ton of player characters, thanks to costume options including cat legs, cat faces, cat eyes, cat markings for your cat faces, whiskers, animated cat tails, a power known as Claws, and two types of cat ears. The "Animal Pack" set of costume pieces added more cat-like paws, more "fur patterns" (tigers and leopards), more tails (including a lion tail), and full lion, tiger, and panther heads.
    • If while playing or browsing game forums, you run across the phrase "You show me yours and I'll show you mine", this is what it probably refers to. There's an assumption that everybody's got one.
  • Cement Shoes: You occasionally run into a group of Family goons fitting someone with these. if you attack them, the victim will try to hop away.
    • Additionally, you can attack the cement shoes victims and still gain the experience points for it.
    • Amusingly, if you encounter one of these groups in the tangle of barges on the south side of Port Oakes in the Rogue Isles, the victim may actually hop off the barge into the water... where they will stand with their head and shoulders above the water, because deep water was not modeled in the game.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Mayhem missions in City Of Villains, where you get extra time for destroying scenery. There is even a powerup available that has an amount of property damage among its prerequisites.
  • Character Customization: One of the games main selling points (see Character Design above).
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: PPD Psi-Cops, Arachnos Widows and Fortunatas, and again, many players.
  • Cherry Tapping: The infamous, universal starter power Brawl is often used as a coup de grace on any enemy (usually an Archvillain towards level 50)) that has barely a sliver of red health left.
    • This is also a common usage for the Rock, a one-shot low-damage temporary power you get from trick-or-treating during the Halloween event.
  • The Chessmaster: Nemesis. For a lark, browse ParagonWiki for a bit and pick out the number of times the phrase "mysterious benefactor" comes up. It's always Nemesis.
    • With issue 12, City Of Heroes introduced messages for instance mission loading screens. One is "Not everything is a Nemesis plot"; another is "It's all a Nemesis plot."
    • And with issue 14, which allows players to create their own missions, a new one has appeared: "If it's not already a Nemesis plot, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one."
    • The primary Nemesis contact in City of Heroes, Maxwell Christopher, spends much of his time trying to out-Chessmaster Nemesis, planning for as many possible contingencies as he can think of. Hilariously, several of his attempts fail and he has as many Oh, Crap moments when he realizes how much of an Unwitting Pawn Nemesis has made of him and you.
    • Time Cop organization Ouroboros is lead by a man named Mender Silos who claims to come from the extreme distant future. "Mender Silos" just happens to be an anagram of "Lord Nemesis".
      • As of I19, Mender Ramiel confirms that Silos is a future version of Nemesis from hundreds of thousands of years in the future. He's supposed to have made a Heel-Face Turn by then. Unless that's just what he wants everyone to think...
  • Chest Insignia: Dozens of selectable ones!
  • The Chosen Many: In addition to the whole "Destined One" thing, there's the issue of "Incarnates", characters with a fragment of divine power. At first, it appears that Statesman and Lord Recluse are the only Incarnates. Then, it turned out several other characters (such as Sstheno and Trapdoor) can claim Incarnate powers. As of Issue 19, player characters have begun using Incarnate powers, drawing upon the Well of the Furies.
  • The Chosen One: Framing device in City of Villains. Before Freedom, new villain characters were broken out of the Zig due to their potential to become the Destined One. Turns out you are the Destined One. And so is everyone else. But by the end of the story arc, you aren't anymore.
    • You are a hero in a city of heroes. And you are The Chosen One. And so is everybody else out there.
  • Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Shadows.
  • City Guards: The invincible Police and Arbiter drones, as well as Longbow and the Paragon Police Department in City of Heroes, and some Arachnos members in City of Villains.
  • City of Adventure: The whole city.
  • City of Canals: Founder's Falls, aka "Super-Venice". Also Crey's Folly, whose original name actually was "Venice".
  • Clingy Costume: Positron was permanently stuck in his anti-matter-driven armor for a while.
  • Clock Punk: 99.9% of all Clockwork enemies.
  • Cloning Blues: In the story arcs added for Issue 17, the player villain takes over a cloning factory. It eventually ventures into Me's a Crowd territory. See Doppelgänger for the "blue side" equivalent.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Penelope Yin. Her Primal Version seems oblivious to the fact that she's the most powerful psychic in existence. She sees the personal guard of Clockwork following her around as a perfectly normal thing, and acts confused and upset when she can't mentally communicate with her father like she can with most people. Her Praetorian version on the other hand, consistently calls the player "Rusty", seems convinced that she's the princess of "The Mirror Kingdom" and uses amusing childish terminology when giving missions. (Clockwork become "Teddy Bears", Seers become "Playtime Friends"...) Considering that she's in the "tender care" of Mother Mayhem, many believe that this is Obfuscating Insanity on Praetorian Yin's part (This is at least partially confirmed by Dark Watcher near the end of her mission arc.)
    • Also, a minor NPC villain known as Shock Treatment. At one point, you find her fighting in an Arachnos Base, trying to get vengeance on behalf of her appliances
    Shock Treatment: For my toothbrush!
  • Cognizant Limbs: Lusca has cognizant tentacles. The Hydra has cognizant tentacles with faces on them. The Hamidon has cognizant mitochondria.
  • Colon Cancer: Rikti communication: in this manner, with the Mark II translators. Mark III translators, the first time they're used, cause the Rikti using it to comment on our adorably primitive causation structures.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Energy blasts and lightning used to be blue for heroes and red for villains; similarly, the "neutral zone" nightclub Pocket D is blue on the heroes' side and red on the villains'. The default (customizable) interface colors also correspond to "blue side" and "red side". Going Rogue's default color is yellow.
    • Other neutral zones will also color the designated hero and villain exits in blue and red, respectively. The Midnighter's Club is one example. An exception probably occurs in The Rikti War Zone: the exits have "PARAGON CITY" and "ROGUE ISLES" painted on the walls because the Vanguard base is too well lit to accommodate the blue and red color code.
    • The Vanguard organization's colors are grey (white + black) and purple (blue + red), indicating they work with both sides.
    • Also the trays for Praetorian characters are grey.
    • Since the color spectrum added for issue 16, it's convenient so you can see which blasts are your attacks.
    • If the Circle of Thorns has dominion over any part of a zone, there will be large glowing crystals with color-coded effects on characters standing near them. Red crystals drain HP, green ones replenish it, and blue ones refill endurance.
  • Combat Stilettos: Lots of the clothing options for females.
  • Combining Mecha: The Malta Group's Hercules Titans.
    • The Malta Group's giant Kronos Titan looks like a scaled up Zeus Titan (the combination of two Hercules Titans), but it is never revealed in-game whether the Kronos Titan is the result of the merger of some unnamed scaled-up Hercules Titan.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Every player (except epic archetypes) gets to pick a primary power set and a secondary one. Usually sets can be paired thematically, but you are under no obligation (and rarely any penalty) to pick said combos; you can choose to have one fire-based and one ice-based set for example.
    • The most commonly cited synchronicity is Trick Arrow/Archery, where if you pick both, you generally keep your bow drawn, making both power sets faster. This has been a source of contention between the players and developers; the players have always insisted this was true while the developers have vacillated.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Anyone with Teleport can use it to teleport almost anywhere they can see up to a certain (variable) range. For players, this means they can't teleport through walls in indoor missions. For enemy critters, this restriction does not apply; teleporting enemies can and will instantaneously transport halfway across the mission map, through several walls, to escape you.
    • NPCs that are meant to resemble player characters often have powers at far lower levels than players can (Rogues' Gallery epic blasts, Desdemona and Doppelgangers being the worst offenders) or have different, better versions (such as Longbow Wardens' undisableable Quills or Carnival Illusionists' super-phase).
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: An actual game mechanic for the mastermind. As he gains the ability to summon more minions, they become individually less powerful. At high levels the base minions tend to die a lot. But hey, that's what minions are for.
    • Several tanker/brute powersets have a power that increases certain stats based on the number of foes surrounding them, making them harder to kill. Not only that, but these powers also make the bad guys want to attack you more, so they stick around.
  • Conspicuously Selective Perception: See the entry.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Miss a gate on a ski race? Tough luck. Crawl back up and finish the race, because there's no way to abort it.
  • Copy And Paste Environments: Each building/cave's rooms and corridors come in several different flavors and with different features. However, many office and warehouse missions have remarkably similar layouts for their buildings. After a while they all start to look the same.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Countess Crey, and Crey Industries in general. Kirk Cage, and the Cage Consortium in general.
  • Cosmetic Award: Badges and costume options.
  • Cosmic Retcon: The PsychoChronoMetron of the Faultline arc allows a psychic user to alter reality.
    • Continuity Snarl: The one use of it caused this, and the death of its inventor, when he tried to turn the hero Faultline into a villain, as well as misinterpreting his powers. As a result, a lot of information on Faultline is... confused.
      • Well generally when you try to brute force a change in reality with absolutely no idea what you're doing, it tends to make things go wonky. We're lucky he didn't cause a Critical Existence Failure to reality.
      • More specifically, mistaking how your archnemesis' powers work and then altering reality based on those false assumptions is a bad idea- because the PsychoChronoMetrondoesn't change things you don't know about. the Hero, Faultline, was one of the first mutants. Psi Curse, his enemy and creator of the PsychoChronoMetron had no idea what a Mutant was, always assumed his powers were based on technology. So when he rewrote history to make Faultline his ally, He included such technological earth-control devices... without removing his mutant abilities. The feedback between the devices and his powers caused a massive earthquake, tearing that section of the city apart, and killing everyone involved- except Blue Steel.
  • Critical Hit Class: The Stalker archetype, which will always land critical hits with their single-target attacks when attacking while hidden, and a chance to do so even when not hidden that increases with team size. They even have an Assassin Strike power.
  • Curse Escape Clause: It is possible for a PC in City of Villains to get cursed by the Circle of Thorns to something truly nasty; the curse can be broken by killing the demon intended to finish fulfilling it.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: NPCs will hold victims hostage, hide out after a heist, or just make a base of operations for their goal in caves that are littered with gem stones the size of coffee tables. Never once do they think to mine this huge rock and sell it.
    • Because large quantities of gemstones being readily available to the market lowers their value.
      • Also, just because a crystal is shiny doesn't mean it's valuable. Most likely they are formerly molten silica (glass), quartz or some other common mineral.
      • On top of all that, in some cases, the crystal is a source of great power that the villains wouldn't want anyone else taking advantage of. This is especially evident in Oranbega, where the glowing crystals in these lost cities can do everything from buffing allied units to making intruders suffer constant pain.
  • Cutscene: Implemented as of Issue 6. Some hate them, others wish there were more.
  • Cyber Punk: The Freakshow.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Not literally, but one of the new Incarnate components is actually called Forbidden Technique!
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The "Darkness" power sets are available to heroes and villains, and heroes can easily be made to look this way. Infernal is a big time canon example.
  • Deadly Doctor: Dr. Vahzilok, and all the living mooks.
  • Deal with the Devil: Player characters' origins aside, the Hellions are a Satan-worshiping street-gang whose leaders have gained flame powers. The Circle of Thorns are sorcerers who long ago dealt with demons to defeat their enemies, and have had a lot of time to regret it. In City of Villains, one mission arc has you helping the beneficiary of such a deal to weasel out of it.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Above level 10, dying results in a certain amount of experience debt, where half of the XP earned goes to paying off that debt, while the other half is used to progress as normal. Also justified in-game, in that all heroes and villains are issued medicom patches that stabilize the wearer and teleport them to a hospital in the case of their vital signs dipping below a certain point.
    • With the addition of "patrol XP" which doubles-ish your XP gain for a time proportional to how long you've been logged off, dying while you have any will reduce that time, you won't even accrue debt.
    • There's even a "Debt Paid" line of badges, so dying a lot earns you a Cosmetic Award or six.
  • Degraded Boss
  • Determinator: Many characters in-story, of course. The Willpower set is an example of just showing true grit while not technically being related to super powers.
    • The Arachnos Soldier and Arachnos Widow classes are so determined that according to Kalinda they warped reality. They weren't originally Destined Ones, but they become them by sheer force of will.
  • Development Gag: A long history of them.
    • Just one example. A long-standing bug was that, if the game couldn't find the proper model to display for a hostage, it would use the first model on the list — a 5th Column Mek Man. Fast forward several issues to two 5th Column Mooks discussing whether disguising robots in hard light holograms will work. And in an example of Cosmic Irony, said dialogue happened in the issue which broke that bug (now instead of a Mek Man there is another model, a 5th leader).
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ancient goddess rousing her people to revolt and conquer the world? Go beat her up. Alone if you have to. She won't even be as powerful as that one guy possessed by a space alien.
    • See also the Cherrytapping entry above
  • Ditzy Genius: Dr. Aeon.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: "DOOOOOOOOOOOM!!" is actually a catchphrase used among the community to poke fun at the rioting that ensues whenever a major announcement is made.
  • Door To Before: The "Exit Mission" button.
  • Doppelgänger: In the story arcs added for Issue 17, every player hero has one. Two, actually; one's your standard Evil Twin, the other is nobler than you from a Mirror Universe. See Cloning Blues for the "red side" equivalent.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you complete a ski race good enough to earn the gold medal, you won't get the silver and bronze ones.
  • Down the Drain: Sewer missions which give you the constant nagging feeling that you're wading around in the combined filth of an entire city.
  • The Dragon: Several for each major villain.
    • Bonus points for the Rikti, because one of their bosses actually goes by the name of Dra'Gon.
    • Lord Recluse has four dragons (Mako, Scirocco, Ghost Widow and Black Scorpion). Each of these villains has a Dragon of their own!
  • Dramatic Wind

     E-I 
  • 100% Heroism Rating
  • Easter Egg: Many throughout the game. Even a badge called such.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Many a mission map. Also, starting with Issue 6, supergroups can build their own.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several.
    • The region known as Dark Astoria was a thriving upper-class suburb until the Rikti War, when an ancient cult took advantage of the confusion to sacrifice every man, woman, and child in the place to an ancient horror that sleeps beneath Moth Cemetary known as "Mot"
    • There is a Lovecraft-style Eldritch Abomination lying beneath Sharkhead Isle named "The Leviathan" complete with a Shadow Over Innsmouth-style race of fish-people that worship it.
    • The ancient deities of the Mu, the Oranbegans, the Banished Pantheon, and the Corallax are all implied to be from the same larger sphere of demideific beings, all of whom are either trapped, dead, or sleeping at the moment.
    • A football-stadium-sized single-celled organism with reality-warping powers is what remains of a human scientist by the name of Hamidon. Similarly, Rularuu, whose power was so great that when he was imprisoned within another dimension he immediately took control of it and became a being of godlike power, is implied by certain in-game text to also be a former human.
    • There is another entity that has no true form, only a human-given nickname, is ancient, timeless, has the power to bend reality and span dimensions, and has no apparent grasp of or concern for human morality. It is known as the Well of the Furies, and all current end-game content currently revolves around the thin line between you mastering its power and its power mastering you.
  • The Electric Slide: It is technically possible given that power lines act like any other surface but there's no real point in doing so.
    • Even better, there is a VIP power that is called Prestige Power: Slide.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Present, but not universal. There are several notable cases of elemental-powered enemies being resistant against their own element, but weak against the opposite. On the other hand, Freakshow both use and are weak to Energy attacks. For the player side of things, elemental armors tend to have the opposing element's damage type as their weakest resist.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Several of the tier 9 powers are used like this.
  • Elite Mooks: Every evil organization has 'em.
  • Emote Animation
  • The End of the World as We Know It: More times than you can count. Although it never is.
  • Enemy Chatter
  • Enemy Civil War: Warburg breaking off from the Rogue Isles and the Rikti's clash between the Traditionalists and the Restructurists.
    • Also, the Council splintered off from the 5th Column, and there was a civil war in-game when the group was introduced. With the return of the 5th Column in a later update, the two groups occasionally go at it again in some zones.
      • Actually, the Council splintered off from (pre-Recluse) Arachnos in the 40s. Then, much much later, the Council and 5th Column have a war which the Council wins. 5th Column members either defect during the war or are absorbed into the Column afterward.
  • Enemy Mine: Heroes and Villains can fight together during various special events in Pocket D, as well as in the Rikti War Zone against the Rikti and in the ancient Roman peninsula of Cimerora.
    • Issue 19 will also see an invasion of Primal Earth from Praetoria, giving both sides of the alignment spectrum (and everyone in between) an enemy that can only be fought off by pooling resources.
    • All Incarnate content, so far, is alignment-neutral. The Incarnate Trials all currently involve fighting against the Praetorians, and the one Incarnate Zone, Dark Astoria, is a Cooperative Zone dominated by the death god Mot, who even villains oppose.
  • Enemy Without: Inverted: Rularuu the Ravager, a god-like being from Another Dimension, has a Hero Without in the form of Faathim the Kind.
  • Energy Beings: Kheldians.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: A lot of enemy groups are all-male (and two, the Cabal and the Knives of Artemis, are all-female), but Crey Industries, the Carnival of Shadows and Arachnos all have both male and female minions. Countess Crey runs Crey Industries.
    • On the villain side, Longbow is an Equal Opportunity Good enemy group.
    • And in Praetoria, the Resistance, the Destroyers, the Syndicate and, oddly enough, the Clockworks. The Ghouls might be, but are so heavily mutated that it's impossible to tell for sure. The PPD may qualify as well, if you count the Seers as part of their forces.
    • A late 2011 graphical update to the Circle of Thorns now makes it clear what gender they are under the robes; some of them have breasts, showing that yes, they too are an Equal-Opportunity Evil group.
    • And the Dark Astoria update/remake added women to the ranks of the Banished Pantheon's cultists and the Tsoo.
  • Escort Mission: With varying degrees of scrappyness; most of the time the escort-ee cannot actually be attacked, sometimes they are a powerful ally and capable of taking care of themselves, and sometimes they run off and attack every foe in sight like an idiot.
    • Hi, Lady Jane! My completely full team on the lowest difficulty level is here to help you, even with the Circle of Thorns being absolutely ridiculous at this level, I hope we ca— Oh. You've died.
      • Thankfully, they managed to tone her down in an update. And even if she does die, you are still handed the item you came for "just before she teleports out."
    • On the Lady Grey Task Force, you get an escort mission of two superhero sisters — Infernia and Glacia — whom you have to lead back to the door for successful mission. However, Infernia is such a chatterbox (serving as Ms. Exposition for what happened to Omega Team after the portal closed) that a good number of teams simply let the ambushes kill her and be done with it.
      • "Die, Infernia, DIE!!!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Some City of Villains missions have you taking on someone who has sunk to a level that disgusts even your character. Subverted if you take Westin Phipps' missions, which have you acting even worse. Double subverted if you choose to fail the last mission of his Francine Primm Story Arc, letting Ms. Primm escape to Paragon City in order to continue teaching reformed villains. If you do so, she sends you her syllabus and writes "It's never too late" on the back.
    • As a Villain you can't hurt civilians. Although The Lost is a villain group that consists of a great deal of homeless people...
    • Lord Recluse stayed neutral during World War II. Even a literal demonic spider hates Nazis.
    • Most of the Rogue alignment missions are this.
  • Everything Fades: The devs keep this vague on purpose; the official terminology is "defeat", which leaves the implication that a player can decide what fate his character inflicts on unfortunate opponents, from teleportation to the local Cardboard Prison (Zigursky Federal Penitentiary) to leaving them roughed up but alive to leaving thousands of corpses in your wake. Exactly how you non-lethally subdue someone with a powerset that is primarily Lethal damage (such as Assault Rifle or Broadsword) is never explained.
    • This changes in Going Rogue. There are several instances in Praetoria where you're given the option to kill people. Not defeat, kill. Most of them for treason.
    • There is even a hero side mission in the starting zone of issue 21 where you get a "arrest" or "Kill" option.
  • Evil Minions: Enemies even spawn in a "Minion" class. Also, play a Mastermind, and you get your own army of them. Inverted with the good minions certain high-level heroes get.
  • Evil Twin: The leaders of the Praetorian dimension are an evil Freedom Phalanx.
    • You can meet your own as of Issue 17.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Much of City of Villains' missions.
  • Expanded Universe: Comics and novels.
  • Expansion Pack: City of Villains; marketed as an "expanshalone", since it could be played as a separate game. The game's major updates (known as Issues) fall in this category as well, happily adding a full pack's worth of content for free each time. Going Rogue was a traditional paid expansion pack, though it was available in a Complete Edition with the base CoX game, bonus costume pack, and 30 days of game time that players got if they already owned the base game.
  • Face-Heel Turn / Heel-Face Turn / Face Heel Revolving Door: The signature gameplay element of the Going Rogue expansion. Its mascots are an Arachnos-employed demon summoner who was lied to about her mother's death and a heroic Knight Templar superhero who became an insane vigilante. You can even have a hero turn into a villain then work their way back into being a hero again! (The same is true of villains.)
  • Faceless Eye: Some of the inhabitants of the Shadow Shard.
  • Faceless Goons
  • Fan Disservice: The default female Zombie costume is stripperiffic.
  • Fan Nickname: When the Council were first introduced, they were known by many as "Sazis" or "Spazis" (for "Space Nazis"). Seems to have died out, though some still call the masked Galaxy soldiers "luchadores".
    • Rommy and the Fuzzies, for Romulus Augustus and his three Nictus, who look like floating balls of purple black smoke. Boobcat for the new Praetoria revamp of Bobcat's costume. Hami-O's for Hamidon Origin Enhancements. Quite a few signature characters have shortened versions for ease of use: States, Posi, BABs, Manti, GW, Scorp, and DocQ.
    • Flambimbeaux.
    • The new tutorial level for Going Rogue has been referred to as the "Praetorial".
    • The underground city of Orangebagel.
    • Certain terms for players who play "hybrid" character, like "scranker" for a player who plays a tank but acts like a scrapper, or vice-versa. More here.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If you're lucky, Metronome just wants to kill you. If you're not, he wants to rip out your soul and shove it into a robot body.
  • Feelies: Including Hero Clix of the signature characters.
  • Fetch Quest: Plenty of them, the repeatable ones often revolving around "Beat up this many members of a gang" but many also requiring you to be some kind of Fed-ex service between researchers, even though you'd be better off fighting crime. There are some seriously lazy people living in that city.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The "shadows" are actually a basic boss for the Nemesis faction - being the Magnificent Bastard that their titular leader is, his Power Armors have a very advanced AI that can work on it's own. "Fake Nemeses" are, as one might guess, spare suits that have been activated to serve as field commanders/doppelgangers.
  • Five-Bad Band: The leaders of Arachnos.
  • Flashback: Via the aptly-named Flashback system, complete with sepia tones at the beginning and end of missions.
  • Flying Firepower: mix a range ability with flight, and you are one.
  • Fog of War: While most zone maps are completely visible from the start, the various hazard zones must be revealed via exploration. Averted for some players in that a high-level Veteran's Reward negates this.
    • To a far smaller degree, the Steamy Mist power from the Storm Summoning set is quite literally a small-radius movable Fog of War centered on the user's person.
      • A full group of high level players fighting for their lives can send up a truly epic amount of particle spam, making it effectively impossible to see what is going on on your screen.
  • Foreshadowing: The devs have gotten very good at hinting at their plans through current updates. For instance, Requiem and the 5th Column turned out to be The Man Behind the Man in Cimerora, Issue 12, before the Column made their triumphant return in Issue 15.
    • On the other hand, the "Coming Storm" had been languishing in the background with (seemingly) no developments ever since Issue 11. Issue 17's new arcs made mention of it for the first time in years, and now FINALLY the first wave of it hit, destroying Galaxy City and thus creating the new Tutorial area. And it's apparently just the tip of the iceberg, according to Prometheus...
    • Also lampshaded and played straight with Foreshadow, a hero who alternates between good and evil every time he dies and is reincarnated. Which foreshadowed Going Rogue years before it ever happened.
    • In the Praetoria tutorial, while in the Underground, a giant glowing being can be seen standing outside an enclosed passage. He is then properly introduced around level 15 of the Praetorian story arc as Noble Savage.
  • For the Evulz: The Redside villain alignment tip missions. Also the Phipps mission arc.
  • Fragile Speedster: Pretty much any Blaster with the Speed travel power (Blasters had the lowest HP of all the Archetypees, and had very few abilities available to them that could raise their defense or resistance ratings). Synapse would be this in canon, except when you have to fight against him and he has all the HP and resistances of any Boss or Arch-Villain. However, this trope doesn't apply in full force: Anyone using Super Speed got a bonus to stealth, meaning that most enemies wouldn't be able to attack them, anyway.
  • Freemium: Since the Freedom expansion. The majority of the game's content really is free, but endgame content, certain archetypes, and a whole lot of costume options must be paid for. Also, anyone who's never spent any money on the game labors under some extra limitations.
  • Friendly Fireproof: You can't set team-mates or hostages on fire. Unless your power is setting allies on fire.
  • Gambit Roulette: Lord Nemesis.
  • Game Breaker: Incarnate abilities are this in-universe, especially the fully-developed, not-controlled-by-the-Well version. Players will (likely) never get the full extent shown in one future flashback mission where Archvillains (the toughest regular foes in the game) are defeated with laughable ease.
  • Gender Bender: Possible with the third booster pack, Super Science... but please, for the love of all that is holy, don't bring it up on the forums.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sometimes mooks standing on the street corners will come out with hilariously insightful comments about their career path or how sometimes to be a catalyst of change you have to kick people.
  • Get on the Boat
  • Ghost Planet: Several of the other dimensions you get to visit. How they got that way is usually considered terrifying.
  • Glass Cannon: Blasters' tendency to get killed in any particular fight has lead to Blaster players referring to themselves as members of the "Floor inspectors' union".
    • Fiery Aura, in compared to other armor sets, also counts. No defense, lower resists compared to Electric Armor and Dark Armor, but has a Area of Effect attack, damage aura and a damage boosting power.
  • Glory Seeker: The "Power" storyline of the Loyalists in Praetoria revolves around your character being this, a fame seeker motivated to gain the adoration of the masses whatever the cost.
  • Going Through the Motions
  • Good Guy Bar: Pocket D is a neutral-zone club for all characters.
  • Gradual Grinder: Controller/Dominator primaries work that way. Debuff-based Defenders when soloing.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The Loyalists versus The Resistance in Praetoria. To put it another way, would you rather defend a society where free thought is abolished and civil rights barely exist... or would you rather destroy the last remnants of civilized society in the name of "freedom?" Tyranny or Anarchy, take your pick! (And no, you don't get a third option.) A character from either side can become a hero or villain, depending on your specific choices during game play.
  • Guns Akimbo / Gun Kata: The Dual Pistols powerset, available to Blasters, Defenders, Corruptors and Thug Masterminds. You have to be VIP, have bought them at the Paragon Shop, or have bought Going Rogue in order to get them though.
  • Hammerspace: Characters draw their weapons from thin air. Occasionally, enemies already with a weapon will put it away or leave it slung across their back, and draw another, different weapon from nowhere. Valkyrie is the primary example of the latter.
  • Hand Blast: The Blaster archetype runs on this. For at least half of the power sets, the first few powers involve firing fire, ice, radiation, energy, etc. from the hands.
  • Hand Wraps Of Awesome: one of the costume options for gloves.
  • Heel Face Brainwash: Scirocco does this to his lackey, Ice Mistral, as a prelude to his plan to attempt to do it on a worldwide scale.
    • In this case, mind you, Scirocco is a self-hating villain who sees this as his only chance for redemption. Since it's a villain arc, we never find out what actual heroes would think of this.
    • A similar case within City of Heroes could be the case of Malaise, an insane supervillain who projected his thoughts onto others in the form of intense illusions. He was eventually subdued by the psychic superheroine Sister Psyche, who 'healed' his mind and had him serve as her sidekick while maintaining a Mind Link with him. Of particular, suspicious note however: when the Mind Link was broken, Malaise quickly reverted. And, in any case, he has turned evil anyway, joining a conspiracy to depower/kill as many of the most powerful heroes as possible, with a personal interest in Sister Psyche.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits
  • Hello, Insert Name Here
  • Heroes R Us
  • Hide Your Children: Except for Penny Preston and player characters, although the latter is mostly illusory.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Nemesis, mostly. Requiem's pulled it a couple times too.
  • Homing Boulders: The Trope Namer. The success of a ranged attack is determined before or just as the attack animation begins, resulting in misses that always travel in straight lines, and hits that chase their targets down and pass unimpeded through solid objects in order to reach them.
    • Subverted in the same fashion; when a ranged attack misses "in a straight line," this is slightly off to the side when shot from across the room. When shot from point blank, it's hardly uncommon to see a fireball/lightning/ice blast/whatever suddenly shooting straight up or out to the side.
  • Humongous Mecha: Malta Titans, especially the Kronos Class Titan. Depending on the definition, the Clockwork giant monsters may also apply. Also the Giant Zenith Mech from the last mission in the Hess Task Force on Striga Isle and the two repainted clones of it in the Imperious Task Force in Cimerora, although they're more properly part of the setting rather than an opponent.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: A lot of the reasoning that shows up in Vigilante tip missions.
  • Idle Animation: The character cycles between several stances, including standing boldly with chest outthrust, crossing his/her arms, and placing their hands on their hips. The player can also pick one for AFK if they wish, such as reading a newspaper or listening to a police radio.
    • Also happens for NPCs. The default is punching a fist into a palm and the odd "bring it on!" gesture, but some enemy groups have their own, like standing at attention, sitting on boxes and cleaning weapons, or reading books and making tea.
  • I Got a Rock: A Shout-Out during the Halloween events is that one of the "treats" you can get is a rock. Description: "You got a rock". Deals minor damage, and is prized by some for Cherry Tapping.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Motivation and frequent line of dialogue for NPC ex-heroine Flambeaux.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Your chance of hitting with ranged attacks is determined by your accuracy stat, and if you miss, the projectile physically misses the target. If you're firing at point-blank range, this can result in you shooting sideways, or straight up in the air.
    • Becomes somewhat egregious when the attacks in question are Eye Beams.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Many of the female options for clothing are possible to wear only if one's special abilities include attaching clothes with a nailgun.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline
  • Inescapable Ambush
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Pocket D, an interdimensional Night Club.
  • Instant Death Radius: Anything based on fire.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The Confusion status effect, which only allows you to target friendlies with your attacks and enemies with your support.
    • A specific case in Noble Savage's final mission in First Ward: Your character starts flipping out and shouting IN ALL CAPS when talking to people for no reason, and when you first enter the mission, the objective is (paraphrased) "Two poor souls who are possessing useless DUST shells to EAT" instead of "Two DUST Leader-possessing Apparitions to defeat." It's earnestly a little creepy. It turns out you were being possessed by the last Apparition you defeated — during the course of the mission, the Apparition leaves your body to try and possess Katie Douglas, and the mission objective reverts to a more normal phrasing.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: The addition of Superbases and the Mission Architect.
  • In-Universe Game Clock
  • Invisible Wall: Averted: City of Heroes has very visible War Walls. City Of Villains has unexplained blue force fields that are only visible up close.
    • Praetoria has sonic inhibitors in place of War Walls. Getting too close to a "restricted area" will shut off your powers and cause you physical harm. The Blue Forcefields used on mission maps and City of Villains zones are visible if you manage to get close enough to the edge without dying, or travel between Praetorian Zones via bridge.
  • Invulnerable Civilians
  • Irony: Paragon City is in Rhode Island. The zone for City of Villains is called The Rogue Isles. When Rhode Island was originally founded with the idea of creating a place of religious freedom, it was called "Rogues' Island" by the Puritans of Massachusetts.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Carried by some of the Invulnerable Civilians.
  • Item Crafting: The Invention system.
  • Item Farming:
    • The Invention system involves killing a lot of enemies to get recipes and components before you can build an Invention Origin Enhancement.
    • Hamidon Raids, along with the Statesman (now Back Alley Brawler) and Lord Recluse Task Forces, involve completing major quests to collect Hamidon Origin Enhancements.
  • It's All About Me: Trope, thy name is Flambeaux.

     J-N 
  • Jack of All Stats: The Scrapper is the most balanced of the Archetypes, falling midway between the Blaster and Tanker in terms of its ability to both dish out and soak up damage. Scrappers therefore have the greatest survivability in solo play, but the downside is that in team play they lack a clearly-defined role and tend to be overshadowed by the more specialized Archetypes.
    • ...which is fine with them because they'll gladly go off and solo the other half of the map. And that's fine with you because you're getting a share of that experience.
    • Lacking a clearly defined team role isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the Scrapper can make a good stand-in for an aggressive Tank. Their greatest team-centric let-down is that they must run into a fight to land a hit, so you mustn't get too mad at them for going on ahead; they're a Melee class and their powers demand close-up fighting. As a result they get knocked out quite a lot in a team and are sometimes known as "Rug-Munchers".
    • Since side-switching became available, the Brute has fallen into this. Offensively, they're weaker than Scrappers, but stronger than Tankers (and vice-versa for defenses).
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Villain missions undertaken as a Vigilante are this, to a hilarious degree — blowing up a Longbow base to teach them a lesson about being complacent, destroying a charity event because no one in the Rogue Isles deserves charity, murdering a kidnapped girl, faking a distress call with a promised reward, and then killing any heroes who try to come rescue her since they were probably doing it for the reward...
    • Issue 19 added new tip missions for Vigilantes trying to become Villains and Rogues trying to become Heroes, which are much better written while still playing this trope straight — that is to say, Vigilantes jump off the slippery slope in a much more realistic and believable manner (along with Rogues... getting... back up the slippery slope?).
  • Jump Physics
  • Justified Tutorial: Containing a viral outbreak in City of Heroes and breaking out of jail in City of Villains (both of which were retconned away when Freedom launched; now, in either case, you're evacuating from Galaxy City as it's hit by Shivan meteors); going through Powers Division training (and choosing to side with the Resistance or Loyalists) in Going Rogue.
  • Karma Meter: But not of the Bioware sort. Rather, each alignment (Hero, Vigilante, Rogue, and Villain) has their own bar, and completing Tip Missions will give you an alignment point for the respective bar. After filling up the bar by doing 10 missions towards that alignment, you'll end up with a Morality Mission that will allow you to make the hard switch to that alignment.
  • Kick the Dog: Westin Phipps, whose missions have you kidnapping families, poisoning food meant for the homeless, and other monstrous things for no reason but For the Evulz. Some players think he's too evil. Other players think he's not evil enough. Also that one mission where you go to Paragon City and kidnap civilians and hand them over to Dr. Vahzilok's minions so the Paragon Police will go after him and distract him from his plans in the Rogue Isles.
  • Killed Off for Real: As of Issue 23, Statesman and Sister Psyche, to the extent that they were entirely removed from the game in issue 24. They now only appear in the tutorial and certain time-travel related missions. In all other cases, Statesman has been replaced by Positron, and Sister Psyche by a now-grown Penelope Yin.
  • Killer Space Monkey: Rikti monkeys.
  • Knight Templar: Scirocco embodies this during his Patron arc, and Longbow sometimes indulges in tendencies like this. Malta, without a doubt, is made of these.
    • Pretty much literal with the on-a-mission-from-God Luddites.
      • ...although they're actually right, at least about Dr Aeon.
    • Player characters can become one themselves as both a Vigilante and with the Crusader Resistance faction.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Especially bad for the Peacebringers and Warshades, whose presence on a team causes special enemies to spawn specifically to hose them.
  • Large Ham: Romulus Augustus' transformation, right down to larger font.
  • Laughably Evil: Dr. Thaddeous Aeon. His scatterbrained megalomania (complete with Did I Just Say That Out Loud?) is just so cute!
  • Lazy Artist: The never-ending supply of generic, near-identical warehouses with random floor plans. And the office buildings. And the caves.
  • Leaked Experience
  • Leave No Witnesses: In City of Villains, sometimes an explicit mission objective.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As a Shout-Out, no less.
    • And far, far too many players in bad pick up groups to count.
    • Seasoned tankers tend to do this. Face planting into one enemy group after another is the best way to insure you take the initial burst of damage instead of an over eager blaster or scrapper who will likely melt before you can pull the agro off them.
  • Leet Lingo: The Freakshow tend to speak in l33t. Nobody really knows how they can pronounce it. Lampshaded on a regular basis.
  • Legacy Character: The current Manticore took up his father's role after his murder.
    • Also, in a Villain-Only Ouroboros mission you get to fight the mother (And former nameholder) of Miss Liberty.
      • Well technically the mother is Miss Liberty, her daughter is Ms Liberty. Yes, they're confused all the time.
  • Level Five Onix
  • Level Grinding: Although the devs do their best to minimize it.
  • Level Scaling: While enemies in open world areas have fixed levels, most missions are instanced, and the instances are scaled to player levels and group sizes. In case of the flashback system that allows high-level heroes to revisit low-level missions, the player is scaled in level to match the mission difficulty.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The lotus pose and lotus-with-levitation are stock poses, although the latter is more a fortuitous accident stemming from the various "sit" emotes still being available to a toon in flight.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: If you create your character in Praetoria, the squeaky-clean police-state, you defect to Primal Earth (the main game setting) at level 20. Either because you believe that liberty is worth the chaos that comes with it, or because it'll make being a villain easier.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Most Tanker/Scrapper/Brutes (Archetypes with high Defense and offense) with the Speed travel power. "Most" being the key term, as some of the Defensive powersets had powers that could slow the player down or even immobilize them in exchange for higher defensive stats. In-canon example would be Cap'n Mako, but in-game almost every high-level Boss could run faster than any non-superspeed Player Character and of course had higher damage output abilities.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Standard editions, DVD Collector's Editions, Good vs. Evil pack...
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The end of the last mission in the Ernesto Hess Task Force is a nasty shock your first time through...
  • Lost Forever: Formerly the badges from the tutorial missions. Ouroboros was added to the game for the explicit purpose of averting this trope; by the time the game closed, only the anniversary badges can truly be considered to be Lost Forever.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The Clockwork King and Metronome are in love with their respective Penelope Yin. The Clockwork King's army of clockwork robots follows his Penelope Yin around to protect her from villain, heroes, and boys. Meanwhile, back in Praetoria, Metronome wants to rescue his Penelope Yin from Mother Mayhem's mental hospital and put her soul into the body of a Clockwork.
    • Praetorian Calvin Scott's mental stability is suspect due to Mother Mayhem taking over the body of his wife, Aurora Borealis.
      • Then we find out, after "Mother" is finally forced out and destroyed, that Aurora is not Scott's wife, and he apparently fixated on her during treatment.
  • MacGuffin: Including a literal P.L.O.T. Device.
    • Steven Werner's precious item, which is never described in more detail.
  • Made of Iron: No one ever really explains how archetypes with no defenses (Blasters, Masterminds, etc) can take a bullet to the chest without flinching.
    • Made Of Diamond: Some of the Tier 9 moves skyrocket your defense for about 3 minutes. Moment of Glory takes this Up to Eleven by combining two Tier 9 effects, but only for 15 seconds.
  • Mad Scientist: Several of them, from the Praetorian Anti-Matter to Dr. Aeon.
  • Magikarp Power
  • Mana Meter: Called "Endurance" here.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Incarnate abilities from the Degenerative Interface line give all of your and your pets' attack powers a chance of applying this effect and/or Toxic damage over time.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Clockwork are an entire faction of these; in addition, The Council, the 5th Column, Arachnos, Nemesis, Malta, and the Sky Raiders all have their own punchable robots.
    • Also, Mastermind villain PCs can have mecha-mooks of their own, with the Robots power set.
    • Going Rogue brings graphical updates for the Praetorian Clockwork, providing male, female, huge, and Giant Monster flavors of Mecha Mooks.
  • Meta Origin: The Well Of The Furies, a very controversial and often misunderstood bit of lore. Originally described as being a literal Fountain of Phelebotinum that could grant anyone who tasted its waters the powers of a deity, it has since been [[Retcon retconned] to become a semi-sentient entity responsible for spreading superpowers throughout the world to fulfill its own mysterious agenda.
    • By completing the Dark Astoria storyline, Prometheus reveals that the Well is actually something called a Force of Potential, formed from the collective thoughts and ideals of humanity. Every species in the multiverse has a Force of Potential, but some have been consumed by members of the species going One-Winged Angel, and others are being hunted by a mysterious force called The Batallion.
  • Mind Screw: The villainous Television contact, which has you taking orders from Bart Simpson, burning books and blaming it on videogames, and going into a gangster movie to defeat Nemesis troops, among other weirdness.
    • Some Vigilante-to-Villain morality missions follow the idea that your character is becoming evil via descent into madness. To symbolize this, those missions will delve into Mind Screw territory.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: The Good vs. Evil box art.
  • Mirror Universe: Praetorian Earth... sort of.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: In the early days, the smoke bomb in the /devices powerset reduced foes' perception to zero, allowing /devices blasters to kill foes with impunity. This turned out to be due to a misplaced decimal in the magnitude of the debuff, and was subsequently corrected.
  • Money Spider: Especially since the introduction of Inventions.
  • Monty Haul: Some players design their Mission Architect arcs like this, much to the developers' dismay.
  • Mook Maker: Of both the fixed type, in Circle of Thorns demon portals, and the recurring one, in Rikti Communication Officers summoning Portals. Both type earn much ire from the playerbase for the fact that, while the summoner offers decent rewards, all the Mooks offer none.
  • Mook Promotion: The basis for the Arachnos player character plot line.
  • Most Common Super Power: It's still impossible to make a heroine with less than a C-cup.
    • You can go a good way towards making a flat-chested female by giving her the armored upper body costume piece.
    • For some bizarre reason, some robots have this.
  • Motormouth: Trope, thy name is Incendia. Flambeaux during the Twinshot arc also qualifies.
  • Name of Cain: "Cutter Cain", who kills Praetorian Seers, typically with a knife, in Going Rogue. Subverted in that his real name is Doctor Steffard, and he's actually a Resistance Warden trying to help them by removing cybernetic implants binding them to mindless slavery; but the science is so experimental it's not always successful, and at least one was killed by a remote kill-signal in the implants after he had released her.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Malta, Arachnos, the Council, the Nemesis Army...
  • Nerf Arm: Intentionally averted: the developers want customizable weapons to still look like they should do significant damage. Nevertheless, a Nerf bat option remains one of the more popular requests.
    • That's only because it's ALREADY in the game, but as a dev-only power, which they'll use to smack people dead in one it if you annoy them!
    • That said, some of the options are still not entirely serious-looking (for example, one of the battle axe options is a shovel, one of the shield options is a manhole cover, and among the war mace options are a wooden baseball bat, a variety of pipe wrenches, a bone club, and, yet again, a shovel).
  • News Travels Fast: Even backwards in time.
  • N.G.O.: Vanguard, a branch of the U.N. specifically created to handle invasions by the Rikti and other outsiders, and coordinate the efforts of both heroes and villains. Occasionally seems to veer into N.G.O. Superpower.
  • Nice Job Breaking It Vigilante: the 30 range Vigilante Morality Mission revolves around the player character discovering that Frostfire is about to get Off on a Technicality, and deciding to break into the Longbow base where he's being held. So after smacking around hordes of decent members of Longbow, the character meets Frostfire's lawyer, who refuses to give up the code to Frostfire's cell, even after being smacked around; your only choice is to overload the cells... which releases a bunch of much more dangerous villains who are far too strong to fight and quickly escape, and reveals that Frostfire has since become The Atoner, and does nothing to defend himself as the player character beats him to a pulp.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: There are gameplay aspects of this (such as building a tank that mocks whatever the opposition throws at it), but by getting KO'd and paying off the experience debt that comes with it, you eventually earn badges for it. The next to last badge hangs a lampshade on it as so:
    The Undying: You can't be certain, but you believe the possibility exists that you cannot die.
  • Nintendo Hard: The MA critters will go to extremes to teach you exactly how broken player powers are, and that's not even factoring in the bugged powers.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.
  • No OSHA Compliance
  • No Swastikas: The 5th Column, while explicitly said to be a fascist villain group left over from Nazi Germany, use a skull with the Roman numeral V behind it as their logo. The release of Issue 3 replaced all 5th Column content in the game with the Council, who are an Italian fascist villain group plus space aliens who co-opted the 5th Column in a hostile takeover. The 5th Column have been reappearing in select stories in some updates, however, and officially returned in the Issue 15.
    • As one of the developers explained they still "have to avoid certain symbols" and themes.
    • One of the developers has stated that the reason for replacement of the 5th Column by the Council was due to the original concept for City of Villains, where a starting character would join one of the villain factions as a rank-and-file thug, advancing in the organization before having an Origin; the 5th Column was replaced to eliminate the issues associated with players being able to join a Nazi organization. This starting premise was dropped when the developers decided it would constrain gameplay too much for starting characters, and the 5th Column was later brought back and fights the Council when they encounter each other.
  • Notice This: Inanimate mission targets glow pulsatingly and emit a distinctive sound.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: ...it's the stone thrown at you that removes the 1 HP you have left!

     O-S 
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Praetorian Penelope Yin is merely pretending to be insane in order to take down Mother Mayhem from within the BAF. Dark Watcher is concerned that she may be Becoming the Mask, however.
  • One-Winged Angel: Romulus and potentially anything and anyone related to Nictus/Kheldian storyline, including players. Hamidon did this to himself and his Animal Wrongs Group in the backstory.
  • Ouroboros: An organisation called Ouroboros tries to save the world from an unspecified disaster via time travel. To do this they... let heroes and villains jump back in time to do whatever they want. As of Issue 23, there are strong hints (both in-game and out) that the unspecified disaster is imminent.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Council and 5th Column's Vampyri are explained as being the pinnacle of a super-soldier program rather than a bite-transmitted disease. However, players love to both embrace and avert the trope. With the advent of player-created Custom Critters in the Mission Architect tools, a player can make "Vampires" that do pretty much anything.
  • Painted-On Pants
  • Parental Incest: Actually, make that GrandParental Incest, implied between Tyrant and Dominatrix (the evil versions of Statesman and Ms. Liberty), especially in the spin-off comic.
    • Ironically retconned as of the Going Rogue expansion. The official reaction to questions about this could be summed up as "wait, what? *looks* Oh, ewewewewewewewewewewewewewewwwww!"
      • Which suggests the current developers are woefully ignorant of their own setting's lore, the players (who've been joking about it for years) are perverts, or both.
  • Patchwork Map
  • People Jars: Several examples.
    • Nemesis Warhulks have their pilots floating in a gold-colored liquid.
    • Arachnos bases frequently have creepy glowing tubes mounted on the walls in which various varieties of mooks appear to be growing.
    • In the "laboratory" portion of the Lambda Sector Incarnate trial, the "containment chambers" which are the targets to be destroyed contain human beings (who disappear when the chambers are broken).
  • Perpetual Molt: For burned wings; this is more like perpetual smoke. The straight version was meant to be put in but was initially pulled due to hardware limitations; as of issue 20.5 it's now available for Incarnates to purchase with Astral or Empyrean merits.
  • Personal Raincloud: One of the top-end powers in the Storm Summoning set lets you create one of these — complete with destructive lightning — over anyone you care to inconvenience. Sadly, it stays put instead of following them.
  • Pet the Dog: A villain going to a rogue has moments like these. Your character justifies it by saying it's simply good business.
  • Pick-Up Group
  • Point Defenseless: Averted with the Vanguard Base in the Rikti Warzone. The turrets around the base are level 54, whereas the nearest enemies are, at maximum, level 38. Played straight during missions involving the Vanguard base, as those selfsame turrets are spawned to the level of the mission, alongside notably more enemies than they can usually successfully take on. Similarly, the turrets in the Shadow Shard are never shown firing on anything (because they actually predate the Turrets enemy group).
    • Additionally, missions involving attacking Longbow or Wyvern at sea. The turrets on these ships can quickly shred an unprepared villain, and the ones inside the ships can be an unwelcome surprise during the inevitable hero battles that take place within.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Necessary for game balance, but not handled so well in a certain mission available only to characters who are explicitly highly-trained soldiers, where they are sent to defeat a Flying Brick wielding the power of Zeus just to prove how tough they are.
  • Powers via Possession: Peacebringers and Warshades, lots of villain PCs.
  • Pre-Order Bonus: City of Villains offered special Arachnos themed costume pieces to those who preordered the game. Going Rogue offered early access to two of its new power sets.
  • Product Placement: The "Optional In-Game Advertising" has thus far advertised Nike and T-Mobile products.
    • Strangely, despite all the kerfuffle about its addition to the game, it seems to be impossible to find actual ads anymore even with the option on.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The trainer in one of the two hero starting zones has Excalibur on her belt.
  • Punch Clock Villain: A number of mooks are just in it for the reliable paycheck.
    • With Going Rogue, you can play one — much of the "switch to Rogue" missions is your villain deciding that power isn't worth his conscience and going the Anti-Villain route of working with the local Affably Evil chaps for much less morally-ambiguous cash.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Male, female, and "huge". While there are no statistic differences, some costume options, like skirts, are unique to the bodytype.
  • Pyromaniac: Several flame-powered npcs, both villains and, to a lesser extent, heroes.
    Pyra: I'm just here for the money. Well, the money and a chance to set people on fire.
  • Ragdoll Physics: Once this was implemented, defeating enemies became much more awesome ... not to mention amusing. Curiously, the original "keeling over" sound effect, which involves two distinct thuds, has remained despite not matching up with the ragdolling in the slightest...
  • Random Drop: Invention Recipes, invention Salvage, Inspirations, and basic Enhancements.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: As an Obvious Rule Patch, all custom enemies with a melee attack set now get Throwing Knives as a ranged attack power, to stop ranged characters from killing them in midair from a position of perfect safety.
  • Recurring Boss: The Tip missions feature a small cadre of recurring heroes and villains, several of whom switch sides as their stories go on. Several other major bosses (particularly faction leaders, like Requiem and Reichsman, plus many of the Praetorean bosses like Marauder, Anti-Matter, and Maelstrom) show up multiple times as well.
  • The Remnant: The Rikti, after their failed Alien Invasion; specifically, the Reconstructionist faction.
  • Retcon: When the Council replaced the 5th Column, all 5th Column missions and story arcs were rewritten as if they'd always been about the Council, no matter how little sense that made. There was an attempted aversion with Going Rogue; the Praetorian arcs were rewritten, but as sequels to the old arcs, which are still available in Ouroboros. However, the Praetorian's Appearance, behavior, motives, methodologies, and background were all revised, going from simple evil counterparts to Tyrants of Necessity and give some moral depth (as was the entire purpose of the Going Rogue expansion). While most of the interpersonal relationships between them were kept, the only detail to actually be retconned out of both the original stories and the new content is allusions to a sexual relationship between Tyrant and Dominatrix.
    • There may be another "developer oops" retcon coming up: there is no interpretation of the in-game evidence that permits the most likely candidate for Penelope Yin's mother to have been older than 16 when Penelope was born — and depending on how you interpret "young graduate student" and some other pieces of the in-game timeline, said mother could have been as young as 8.
    • When Statesman was killed in the first Signature Story Arc, all mentions of him were removed from the game and replaced with Positron, messing up the in-game timeline badly. Statesman dies long before you are able to play the arc where you see him die - which is not a flashback, it's happening in "real time" - and while he and Sister Psyche (who was killed in the same arc) are both entirely removed from the game as contacts, the man who killed them (who doesn't die in the arc, but ends up hopelessly insane and permanently imprisoned) is just standing in his usual spot, as if the arc hadn't happened for him yet (even after you complete it).
  • Rewarding Inactivity: As an Anti-Poop Socking measure, logging off — and staying logged off — in certain locations will grant your character a temporary power. The longer he is logged off, the better the power.
  • Ride the Lightning: The Lightning Rod power in the Electric Melee power set.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Statesman and Lord Recluse.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The Cabal. With the release of the Magic Booster pack, players can join in.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Your character could be wearing a full-body suit of cybernetic power armor, but you're still just as vulnerable to the Cimerorans' swords and spears as anybody else. On the other hand, you can also destroy a Humongous Mecha with a baseball bat.
  • Rogues Gallery: Issue 18 also introduces the "Rogues Gallery" faction of various enemy supers for the player to fight during Tip Missions.
  • The Roleplayer: Virtue is the unofficial Roleplay Server and, though you'll find roleplayers elsewhere, they're not nearly as common. (Or as welcome).
  • Roofhopping
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The Going Rogue expansion added a badge called "Going Rouge." It's right by the Praetorian tailor.
  • Run Don't Walk: For over five years, you could take down anything from lowly street thugs to gods of alternate dimensions to next-gen SWAT teams and demonic mystic forces... and you could never not run. This was finally changed with the addition of the Walk toggle, although it turns off all other powers, so you shouldn't use it in combat.
    • The animation of female characters using the Walk toggle is a form of fanservice.
  • Running Gag: In the mission to rescue Dr. Stephen Fayte (who is, we are told, often mistaken for a famous sorcerer), everyone describes him with exactly the same phrase: "merely a gifted surgeon, and nothing more."
  • Run the Gauntlet: In a couple of story arcs.
  • Running on All Fours: the power Beast Run lets your character do this.
  • Saving the World: Several different ways, as many times as you like. One such mission even awards you with a "Saved the World" badge!
    • Oddly, villains get in on the act several times themselves, despite ostensibly being evil. Frequently you're just trying to stop the total destruction of the world, including you or "just saving it for villains," but really...
    • The villain version of the "Saved the World" badge is "Saved the World...for later".
    • One endgame story arc lets you save the world - and then steal some of the power of the entity that was threatening it, giving you a fairly decent (albeit not overwhelming) long-duration power boost.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Rikti.
  • Screw Destiny: In fact, screw Operation: Destiny!
  • Screwed by the Network: The game was shut down by NCSoft for unknown reasons unrelated to its ongoing profitability.
  • Screw Gun Safety: Random NPC chatter has an Arachnos officer threatening to hurt his underlings if they don't observe gun safety, whether (they think) the gun is loaded or not.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: Somewhat averted in that the chat filter can be disabled when it gets too ridiculous.
    • Back in force in the Mission Architect, which for quite a while banned such words as "nip" (as in "nip in the bud") or "God".
      • Even more ridiculous when you remember that one of the first enemy boss types are called "Damned".
      • As of late, the word "Spook" has been banned. Nobody really knew why until someone pointed out that it was an extremely archaic racist term, that has dropped out of use since the 50's.
      • Referring to the Weekly Task Force (a rotating "extra" which adds Incarnate bonuses to one of the existing high-level Strike Forces/Task Forces) as "WTF" will be censored.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Everywhere. Some of it gets unsealed, fought and resealed.
  • Sequel Escalation: If you consider each level tier to be sequels to the previous one, you go from fighting street level thugs with minor powers to a Save The World Climax multiple times from threats that could flay those earlier thugs alive just by looking at them.
  • Sequential Boss: Snaptooth.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: One of the characteristics of Vigilantes is that they usually kill villains rather than arresting them.
  • Serious Business: During a radio mission you may be sent to rescue "Jake Emmet", the designer of the newest Freedom Phalanx game. He's been kidnapped by a villain group who are portrayed rather negatively in the game. When you finally fight your way to him, the boss/lieutenant guarding him complains that his character got nerfed in the last patch.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The definitions of "right" and "wrong" may be subjective. Happens occasionally in City of Villains, to the point of Fanon Discontinuity on the part of some players, mostly due to Status Quo Is God.
  • The Shepherd: New players, especially ones who come from other MMORPGs, seem to be constantly surprised at the relative friendliness of the official forums, especially in the 'Player Questions' board, whose motto is "Being a newbie is not a crime." Some half-jokingly treat such players like refugees.
  • Shoot the Medic First: When in PvP, kill off your enemy's healers first, obviously. And the same goes for any villains who can heal other minions. The Tsoo Sorcerers are one of the earlier examples of this trope, especially annoying since they'll heal any other faction you're trying to kill. Later on you may run into the Devouring Earth.
    • Confounded by the Praetorian ghouls, who radiate healing energies (that affect only other ghouls) when they die — in other words, shooting them turns them into medics.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few...
    • Additionally, one of the pieces of salvage you can gather for crafting invention origin enhancements, the Conspiratorial Evidence, reads: "Who knew that the simple aglet's true purpose was so sinister?"
    • And of course, The Inanimate Carbon Rod, another piece of invention salvage. Its description simply reads: "In Rod we trust".
    • The Ouroboros contact who sells inspirations is Mender Roebuck (as in "Sears, Roebuck & Co.")
    • The NPC who built and runs the monkey fight in Pocket D is Joe Young (Mighty Joe Young).
    • The descriptive text for the "Fervent" Veteran's badge (42 months) is "Forty-two. Could you be the answer to everything?"
    • One of the possible passwords to give the Latin Student in Steel Canyon to gain access to the Midnighter Club is Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (alas, the response text doesn't continue the Shout-Out).
    • Dr. Forrester is a contact in Grandville. An NPC in a mission for the "Television" contact is named Dr. Big McLargeHuge.
    • Little Bill didn't deserve to die, not that deserving's got anything to do with it...
    • The mission to rescue Dr. Frank N. Scott, who is being forced to reveal a ritual that might cause a time warp, a ritual which starts with just a jump to the left... and then a step to the right.
    • Another mission to recover the Overation Oscillithruster.
    • Let us not forget Dr. Stephen Fayte, who is merely a gifted surgeon, and nothing more.
    • Every (non-hazard/trial) zone has a police contact who is a shout out to a TV show, ranging from Fish to Miami Vice to Due South, or to a movie, ranging from Bullitt to Blade Runner to RoboCop.
    • The little snatch of dialog heard from a police drone as you pass them is straight from a Season 1 Justice League cartoon.
    • The "glowie sound" emitted by inanimate mission objectives is from an episode of the 1970s science fiction show Space: 1999.
    • The hastily scrawled note you are required to read as the first mission of the Villain invention tutorial concludes with first a grocery list, and then the line "Jenny (555) 867-5409 Call her!"
    • In one Grandville mission for the villains, you are sent to deal with a Malta cell whose commanders are at odds with each other and are convinced that both are out to get each other. The two in question are Commanders Grimm and Weir.
    • The zone "Monster Island" features an Exploration badge titled "Rikti Monkey Island". To drive the reference home, the description text for the badge begins with "There is a secret to this island of monkeys...". Continuing the theme, a nearby Exploration badge is named "Grim Fandango", the location of and description text for which is heavily bone-themed.
    • Some of the most dangerous, 41-50 enemy groups include: Psychic Aliens with a Collective mental network who use pylons to power their technology, a bunch of creatures mutated by a collectively sentient microscopic organism and a bunch of highly skilled normals including a handful of extremely stealthy assassins.... so, basically: Protoss (Rikti), Zerg (Devouring Earth) and Terrans (Malta/Knives).
    • The choice of a shovel as an alternate form for both War Mace and War Axe may be a shout out to the Shoveler in Mystery Men.
    • One of the options you have to identify yourself to the security computer at the start of the first mission of the Twinshot arc is "My name is Inigo Mon--"
    • ...and literally hundreds more. Just try to list them all!
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: City of Heroes is generally pegged firmly on the Idealism end of the scale — villains get their comeuppance and stopped, and only the lowest, cruelest sorts firmly over the Moral Event Horizon aren't Genre Blind. City of Villains is generally more cynical, with everyone (with a few exceptions) generally being unpleasant at the very least, and the closest characters to idealism being a demon hunter whose major pleasure in life is inflicting pain upon demons, and a Knight Templar whose aspirations involve brainwashing every villain in the world into being good. Going Rogue gives players the ability to move along the scale as they see fit, and the world it introduces is...squiffy about the issue.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Frostfire Mission.
    • And the Ski Chalet in Pocket D.
  • Soaperizing: In the Show Within a Show.
  • Solo Class:
    • The Scrapper is the local soloist-class in City of Heroes proper. Striking a good balance between absorbing damage and dishing it out, a well-built Scrapper can solo anything short of a full-on Archvillain. (And sometimes even that, depending on the version. Early versions had a few exploits that certain builds of scrappers could use to become virtually immortal at higher levels.) Unfortunately they have to get in close for their attacks to land and it can get them knocked out a lot, leading them to be also known as "Rug Munchers".
    • In City of Villains, the Brute can play pretty much the same role as the Scrapper, but the real solo-master there is the pet-centric Mastermind-class, who basically get to bring their own army with them wherever they go. At higher levels, you'll have anywhere from 6 to 8 pets following you around (depending on exact powersets), making it quite possible to handle most bosses on your own without even getting your hands dirty.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil
  • Squad Controls: Masterminds, for their pets.
  • Status Buff
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Averted somewhat, since several areas, such as Faultline and the Rikti War Zone, have seen permanent changes.
    • Going Rogue's release also gave a modern update to the previous Praetorian Earth content, though the old story arcs are still playable through Ouroboros.
    • Indeed, almost every mission that was ever available to do is still available.
    • Also embraced mercilessly by at least a couple story arcs in City of Villains, sometimes to the point of Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Steam Punk: Nemesis.
  • Stock Sound Effects: As of issue 17, a Wilhelm Scream will occasionally be emitted by defeated opponents.
  • Story Arc: Dozens, if not hundreds. Most contacts, once you pass the intro levels, have one, and successfully completing them rewards you with Reward Merits and a "souvenir" which contains a write-up that recaps the events of the arc. The souvenirs are usually that arc's particular MacGuffin.
  • Stripperiffic: Technically it's the choice of the player, but once you've made a female Hero, even the costume options that are in both male and female show off a lot of skin. There's lots of options in leather too, and some very revealing costume options.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The 5th Column.
  • Sturgeon's Law: In full effect with the Mission Architect. Even with the search options, it is a huge chore to actually find missions with actual stories instead of being just a farm or meant to be a challenge.
    • And then, predictably, 90% of those are... not very good.
      • When it comes to the Mission Architect, Sturgeon was a wild-eyed optimist.
  • Suicide Mission: In the backstory, the Rikti War ended with a suicide mission led by Hero 1 to cut off the Rikti homeworld from Earth. For a long time, only one survivor, Ajax, was known; Lady Grey's task force reveals that three more survived on the Rikti homeworld: sisters Infernia and Glacia, and Hero 1, turned into a Rikti named The Honoree.
  • Summon Magic: Well, magic, science, what have you, pets were everywhere. In addition to Masterminds' armies, Controllers and Dominators had a pet-summoning power, some Support sets (for Defenders, Corruptors, Controllers, and, yes, Masterminds) had pets or pseudopets, Arachnos Soldiers had robotic pets (and Crab Spiders even more), high-level characters of any class could get pets via Patron and Lore powers, and long-time players got a pet of their choice to follow them around and buff them. And that's not even a full list...
  • Summoning Ritual: The Circle of Thorns can be easily located from a distance by their summoning rituals and their habit of stealing souls.
  • Super Cell Reception: You can get a signal in the sewers, or alternate dimensions, or ancient Rome (this one's Hand Waved as being something the Midnight Squad set up). However, inside a mission - even one in an outside area of Paragon City - your phone is useless.
  • Super Cop: The Paragon Police Department has regular beat cops, cops in Powered Armour, cops with Psychic Powers, cops merged with alien symbiotes, at least one cyborg cop, and Blue Steel, a superhero who works directly for the police.
    • Distinctly averted in the earlier issues of the game, when the police were just another skin for the standard passer-by NPC, and had all the same reactions as the civilians — including fleeing in panic upon encountering any kind of villain.
  • Superhero: It's all about them, of course!
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Why exactly do the Praetorian Clockwork robots, used for such dangerous jobs as trash pickup and gardening, have flamethrowers and lasers built in?
    • To help assist in arresting any uppity citizens of course.
    • Actually; the 'flamethrowers' in question are actually plasma torches; used for welding. The lasers are probably a self-defense mechanism built in just in case The Resistance or other attackers show up... however, the animation looks to be like a different version of their welding torch, much as the "flamethrower" is.
  • Super Power Meltdown: Subverted with the origin of the Siren's Call zone; played straight at first glance in the origin of Faultline.
  • Super Reflexes: One of the Power Sets for Scrappers, Stalkers, and Brutes.
  • Super Registration Act: Established in the backstory, and generally not seen as a bad thing. You have to register having powers, but it doesn't force you into anything. The last time supers were drafted was WWII.
    • Actually, it used to be a lot worse. The infamous "Might for Right Act" (passed during the Cold War, and used to secretly draft supers — especially minorities who couldn't fight it — into working for the CIA) is a major part of the game's backstory.
    • In Praetoria, anyone with superpowers (or who is talented at martial arts, or owns a weapon) is forced to join the Praetoria Police's Powers Division.
  • Supervillain Lair: Though the feature was introduced with City of Villains, both Villains and Heroes can make lairs/bases for their Super Group. Of course, you also assault a fair number of NPC lairs.
  • Swiss Cheese Security

     T-Z 
  • A Taste of Power: The first mission of the arc to unlock Incarnate Powers has you 'reliving' a scene from the point of view of your Physical God future self. In it, you are completely invulnerable, and get to smack around Arch-Villain enemies like mooks.
    • A villain story arc ends with you having stolen, very briefly, the powers of an Eldritch Abomination. Just in time for an army of heroes to try and take you down.
    • The Sewer Trial offers as a reward one of four temporary powers to boost damage, accuracy, recovery, or regeneration, but it expires after 7 days or when you reach (or have already exceeded, sorry Exemplars!) level 22 (red or blue side).
    • A Villain TF involves you breaking into Positron's base and taking a small bit of the Flames of Prometheus. It gives a temp power upon completion which seems to be permanent, until you hit level 50 at which point you can trade it in for Incarnate shards.
    • The Cathedral of Pain Trial also has a 7 day temp power reward.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: ...if you don't want to. The game uses "defeated", but it's up to you whether you kill, arrest, beat up, or do whatever else to enemies. Until you notice if your power does "lethal" damage.
    • Averted with Going Rogue — missions in Praetoria often require you to explicitly kill someone, particularly morality missions.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Literally, in Dark Astoria!
    • Mostly averted in other areas, there's lots of pedestrians walking around.
    • Dark Astoria also has pedestrians. They just vanish when you get too close.
  • Timed Mission: A regular mission format. Can get annoying.
    • Made worse in Going Rogue, which includes missions that give you two minutes to accomplish some subgoal before all hell breaks loose — often with no warning that a timer has started ticking away save for its appearance in the mission compass.
    • To clarify, there are two formats of Timed Mission. In the old format, the timer starts as soon as you accept the mission, is typically four to ten times longer than the mission will take, and letting the timer expire results in failure of the mission. An old-style timed mission means "do this mission now, rather than logging off and doing it tomorrow". In the new format, the timer starts when you enter the mission door or complete some mission objective, gives you just barely enough time to complete a timed objective, and letting the timer expire means the mission will get harder. A new-styled timed mission means "do this part of the mission at a dead run."
  • Time Police: Ouroboros Well, that's what they claim, anyway.
  • Time Travel
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In a high-level villain story arc. Subverted: You're real, but your contact is an automaton.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: The "Who Will Die?" Signature story arc. It's right there in the title: a member of the Freedom Phalanx will die by the end of the arc. Who does it end up being?
    • Statesman himself, in Part 5...and then Sister Psyche in Part 6.
      • And for bonus points, Statesman's daughter, who while not a crimefighter is still an influential figure, got offed in Part 4. It's starting to look like "Who Won't Die?" in the last few segments.
  • Totally Radical: Played for laughs with a certain famous Nemesis quote note 
  • Training Boss
  • Training Dummy: The disabled Rikti drones.
    • Also Rikti shaped dummies in the Vanguard Base shooting range.
  • Transformation Sequence: Available in the Magic Booster Pack as of Spring 2009.
  • Truce Zone: Pocket D, the Vanguard Base, the Rikti War Zone, Cimerora.
  • Tuckerization: In addition to Shout-Out locations such as Perez Park and Gaiman Woods, a particular example is the first superhero that players encounter in the game, Coyote.
  • Uncanceled: The Cathedral of Pain trial, which, up until Issue 18/Going Rogue, was hopelessly bugged and unfinished.
  • Underground Level: The many cave maps; some are hated.
  • The Unintelligible: Ricochet of the Crusaders part of the Resistance. The Resistance use their own slang but they can be understood. Ricochet uses slang that's so thick that the first thing you do after accepting her first mission is get someone to translate what she just said. The second has a question mark next to the mission objective. It doesn't get any better.
  • Unobtainium: An actual MacGuffin, made from Nonesuchium and Yeahrightium. Played straight with Impervium.
    • Parodied by the bombs the Lost can be found fiddling with in the central trench of Terra Volta; rather than being matter or antimatter, the bombs are "Doesn't Matter."
  • Up, Up and Away!: After flight poses were added.
  • Valley Girl: Becky the Tarantula Mistress, as well as Flambeaux from the Shining Stars Hero arc you get at level five.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Featured in several story arcs, and usually with their own custom tilesets.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Villain Tip Missions, particularly when you're a Vigilante-turning-Villain in the Rogue Isles.
  • Videogame Historical Revisionism
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Crey Industries, which is responsible for rebuilding much of Paragon City after the First Rikti War, is run by an evil mastermind who is using this clout to cover up many evil projects, including one to clone dead and kidnapped supers so they can brainwash the clones and use them for their own purposes.
    • Subverted in City of Villains with Aeon Corp, which built a power plant fueled by a bound demon. As this is on the Villain side, it's never really hidden that Aeon is up to something suspicious, Aeon's offices on Cap Au Diable is constantly being protested by a group of militant activists called The Luddites.
    • Played straight with the "utopia" of Praetoria introduced in ''Going Rogue''. Emperor Cole rules a "meritocracy" where any and all basic needs are provided free of charge, Clockwork robots handle all manual labor, and Praetorian PD officers on every corner have all but eliminated crime. Which happens thanks to a drugged water supply, the psionic Seers being literal thought police, the PPD drafting any super-powered individuals, and the Secret Police under Chimera having full authority to "disappear" anyone whom they think is a threat to "the peace." Such threats usually wind up as guinea pigs for the resident Mad Scientists.
  • The Virus: The Will of The Earth.
  • The Wall Around the World: The War Walls.
  • Warp Whistle
  • We Buy Anything: Partially subverted, in that stores dedicated to origins other than your own won't pay you full price. Also, your contacts will purchase Recipes and Salvage, but not Enhancements, and no NPCs will buy Inspirations.
  • Wham Episode: "Who Will Die Part 3". The identity of The Dragon is revealed to be Malaise, and Statesman's daughter Miss Liberty is killed - possibly by the player villain.
  • What Could Have Been: Apparently, Jack Emmert (the lead developer) was planning on implementing a skills system. This never came to be, with the Invention System instead.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Almost every mission in the game involves punching (or shooting or stabbing) someone in the face.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Polar Shift, a young hero who ends up going crazy after discovering a Nemesis plot to replace other heroes with automatons; she begins to believe that anyone might be a Nemesis automaton and ends up blowing up a Longbow base full of innocent people. Eventually, she becomes a full villain who believes that the world is so corrupt it has to be destroyed. However, you can make the choice to help her redeem herself.
  • World Half Full: Yes, there's mystically powered, drug-fueled, technologically enhanced street gangs running rampant. There's NeoNazis with werewolves and vampires, members of an Animal Wrongs Group gone all One-Winged Angel, zombies of both scientific and magical nature, employees of a corrupt Mega Corp., and demons wandering the streets. The world is still recovering from a not-quite-over alien invasion. Oh, and there's a nation ruled by supervillains just off the coast. But there are also superheroes. Lots of superheroes.
    • Praetoria also presents a world where a totalitarian government is fought by La Résistance. Both sides have bad people trying to either grab power or having no qualms about innocent. It also doesn't help that the ruler of the world is a power-mad supervillain going all A God Am I. But! There are some people that genuinely do good on both sides of the equation. And no matter who you are and what you decide to become, hero or villain, one day you'll take the fight back to that ruler.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Subverted, to an extent. There's proof that high technology/super science is relatively common amongst the populace of the Cities' world; however, many players tend to embrace this trope with Technology-origin characters.
  • You Break It, You Profit: Mayhem missions, Villain-side, allow you to get small rewards for blowing up cars and such..
  • You Mean Xmas: The blandly-named Holiday Events, complete with snowballs, presents that give Status Buffs, the ugliest Baby New Year ever, and giant snow monsters.
    • One of the rewards for completing the Baby New Year is a temporary power that references Hannukah, while another reward temp power is called "Five Golden Rings". No Festivus or Kwaanza powers yet, though.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Halloween 2008 special event, in which the city is beseiged by waves of zombies even tougher than the usual, everyday Vahzilok and Banished Pantheon varieties. This has since become a recurring hazard, like the Rikti invasions.

The powers the game offers to players provide examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: A large part of Dual Pistols' shtick is the "Swap Ammo" power, which gives you access to three toggles: Incendiary, Cryo, and Chemical Ammunition. Every other power in the set will do 70% Lethal damage, with the remaining 30% depending on the ammo you have toggled on.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The high level "nuke" powers for some. Extremely powerful blast, but leaves you unable to attack again for a goodly while.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Battle Axe power set.
  • Back Stab: Stalkers can land Critical Hits with any attack, whether in or out of Hidden Status, but using their Assassin's Strike from Hidden status grants a massive critical hit far beyond any other crit in the game.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The Mutant super booster's bonus power can give you a number of buffs that can increase your defenses, boost your regeneration, or turn you into a Rikti Monkey for 1 minute.
  • Barrier Warrior: The Force Field power set.
  • Combat Tentacles: Dark Melee's Midnight Grasp, Dark Miasma's Tenebrous Tentacles, and half the powers in Plant Control.
  • Determinator: The Willpower defense set. Created to represent comic book characters who don't have special defensive abilities; they can take massive amounts of damage because they have enough willpower to keep fighting. Ironically, it's commonly considered one of the strongest defense sets overall.
  • Drop the Hammer: One of the possible looks of the War Mace power set is a big hammer. Also, Stone Mallet and Heavy Stone Mallet from Stone Melee. The Fusion Hammer in the Titan Weapons powerset as well.
  • Dual Wielding: The Dual Blades and Dual Pistols power sets.
  • Elemental Powers: As expected for a game built around Super Hero Tropes, there are plenty.
    • Blow You Away: Storm Summoning, especially the trademark powers of Gale and Hurricane. Moreover, an unfinished Wind Control Set can be found in the data files of the final version of the client.
    • Dishing Out Dirt: Between Stone Melee, Stone Armor, Earth Control, and Earthen Assault, runs the gamut of uses of this one.
    • An Ice Person: Ice Melee, Ice Blast, Icy Assault, Ice Control, Ice Armor, Cold Domination...
    • Playing with Fire: Fire Melee, Fire Blast, Fiery Assault, Fire Control, Fire Aura, Thermal Radiation — seeing a theme here?
    • Making a Splash: Water Blast
    • Shock and Awe: Electric Melee, Blast, etc. etc...you get it by now. Available to all A Ts via the Mu Mastery power pool and the Ionic Judgement Incarnate power.
    • Casting a Shadow: Dark Melee, Dark Blast, Dark Armor, Dark Miasma, Dark Control and Dark Assault.
    • Light 'em Up: Surprisingly rare, first only present in a NPC subgroup, the Legacy of Light of the Legacy Chain, then used by the three factions of the Carnival of Light, but still unavailable to players.
      • Technically, Illusion Control describes itself as bending light to make illusions. It also uses bright flashes of light to blind enemies. Then there's Peacekeepers...
      • Depending on how you play it, Energy Blast can also fall into this category, if your superhero's backstory involves them being able to shape light of some variety into coherent projectile blasts.
  • Elemental Punch: Almost every one on the list is in there somewhere.
  • Eye Beams: "X-Ray Beam" from Radiation Blast, "Ebon Eyes" from Umbral Blast, Laser Beam Eyes from Body/Energy Mastery, and Rularuu Watchers.
  • Finishing Move: The Dual Blades power set combo system utilizes these.
  • Flash Step: "Shield Rush" from Shield Defense, "Lightning Rod" from Electrical Melee, Burst of Speed from Martial Combat, and Spring Attack from the Leaping pool are all the rare "attack while stepping" variety. (The last two were to be added in Issue 24)
    • Some roleplayers with the Teleport power play it off as this.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Beam Rifle powerset.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns used by the Council, Crey, Nemesis, Longbow and... high level bank security.
  • Good Old Fashioned Fisticuffs: The Street Justice powerset, mixing this with a healthy dose of Combat Pragmatist and, with attacks like Shin Breaker and Rib Cracker, a pinch of Video Game Cruelty Potential.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: Standard pose for characters Held psionically.
  • Green Thumb: Plant Control.
  • Groin Attack: Appropriately sized characters can pull this off with the Kick power from the Fighting pool, and, rather intimidatingly, Super Strength's Knockout Blow. However, a status of special note belongs to Stalactites from Earth Control.
    • Martial Arts has not one, but two groin-punches: The old animation for Cobra Strike, and for MA Stalkers, the alternate animation for their assassin-strike, "Fist of Annihilation."
    • At least one War Mace attack does much the same- there's something disturbingly hilarious about a four-foot fairy bashing some hapless Super Soldier six feet into the air with a hammer larger than her torso... straight to the junk.
    • One of the powers in Street Justice is a quick, hard knee strike aimed for the enemy's ribcage, but due to height differences, often ends up either in the jaw or the groin.
  • Gun Fu: The animations for the Dual Pistols power set, which involve Gun Twirling, rapid turning, posing, and bullets arcing in midair. Pretty clearly inspired by the Wanted movie and Equilibrium.
    • An alpha version of the powerset, shown off at a con, even had a chance that some Disturbed Doves would appear.
  • Guns Akimbo: Part of the Thugs power set for Masterminds, also combined to great effect with Abnormal Ammo and a bit of Improbable Aiming Skills by Malta Gunslingers. With the Going Rogue expansion, also available as a primary set for Blasters and Corruptors, and a secondary for Defenders.
  • Healing Factor: The Regeneration power set, and to a lesser extent the Willpower power set, which has a power that boosts your regeneration more as the number of enemies around you increases.
  • Healing Hands: Several buff/debuff power sets have one heal, and the Empathy set has several...but never assume it's the most important part of the set.
  • Heal It With Fire: Thermal Radiation.
  • Hellfire: Used by Demon Summoners and some of their pets. Functionally similar to fire, but oddly colored and with a toxic, resistance-reducing after-effect.
  • Herd Hitting Attack: There are literally two attack sets in the game without one, but primarily a Blaster specialty, with Controllers and Dominators emphasizing keeping enemies conveniently bunched up.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Radiation Blast and Radiation Emission, which can also buff and heal your allies. Future issues were set to add Radiation Melee and Radiation Armor.
    • The literal "nuke" temporary power from the zone event in Warburg.
    • The Tier 9 Radiation Blast power is Atomic Blast, in which the player literally sets off a nuclear bomb centered on themselves; any enemies left alive are even left choking on the atomic radiation (a hold) for a brief while.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Not explicitly shown or stated, but the Broadsword and Katana sets have a power that grants defense against Lethal damage, which just happens to be the damage type dealt by guns.
  • Improvised Golems: Some characters (specifically, Controllers and Dominators) can summon pets made out of rock, magma, crystal, fire, ice, darkness, electricity or gravity. Said pets usually have no set duration but die if the owner does.
  • Improvised Weapon: The Titan Weapon's railroad pike (It's a sign that's normally found at railroad crossings... with lights still attached).
  • In a Single Bound: With the Leaping power pool.
  • Instant Runes: Mystic Fortune, Vanguard Sigil, the Demon Summoning power set, and the Sorcery pool power set.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: The Dual Pistols powerset operates entirely on the Rule of Cool and not according to any realistic expectations of Gun Safety. Of particular note is the animation for Piercing Rounds, in which your character, in true spirit of the trope name, throws both guns up into the air before catching them to "punch" the bullet forward.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. The Katana power set is a slightly faster and less fatiguing clone of Broadsword, with lowered damage. Even the attacks are the same, just the names and animations are different. In fact, at launch, it was an exact clone down to the names and animations, but not the damage.
    • Played very straight once you start quantifying numbers, though. The faster animations in Katana mean the set can put out a lot more damage than the slower Broadsword in the same amount of time. The only advantage Broadsword really has is being wielded with only one hand, permitting the player to pair it with Shield Defense.
  • Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: Every. Single. Super Strength power.
  • Limit Break: Domination for Dominators; some NPC enemies also have special powers that trigger upon reaching a certain HP threshold.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Sonic Blast and Sonic Resonance.
  • Mana Drain: Damn you, Malta Sappers!
    • Most of the electrical powers do this to a limited extent, as well as some Kinetic powers.
    • And Carnies.
    • And Clockworks in the 1-20 game.
    • And Mu magicians.
    • And The Cabal.
    • And numerous custom enemies....
    • While a few other defense sets can provide some protection from this, Electric Armor is unique in being the only one with scaling resistance that approaches immunity near the end of the game.
  • Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: The entire Martial Arts power set, especially Eagle's Claw.
  • Megaton Punch: Several attacks qualify, but none can match Super Strength's "Knockout Blow," a powerful windup and uppercut which sends the target a dozen feet or so into the air. (Or, if the level difference is sufficient, halfway across the zone.) In addition, there's an entire category of enhancements that serve to increase the distance that enemies are knocked back or up.
  • Meteor Move: Air Superiority from the Flight power pool is a Type A if used against a flying target.
  • Midair Bobbing
  • Mind Control: Had a bit of a What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? stigma (mostly because it lacked a pet as a tier 9 like all the other Controller sets), but had some awesome utility if you played it right. For instance, it was one of the few powersets in the game that, due to having non-"typed" attacks, could ignore many enemies special defenses, specifically, being able to attack each of the various Mitos that made up Hamidon (The mitos were such: Yellows could only be hit by melee attacks, Blues could only be hit by ranged attacks, and Greens could only be hit once they were sufficiently held... Mind Control powers ignored the first two restrictions and had 3 hold powers in its arsenal). Between that and having 5 different types of control at its disposal (sleep, hold, fear, confuse and repel), it was a very diverse and utility-driven set.
  • More Dakka: "Gun Drone" from Devices = Pet Flying Dakka. Malta Engineers get an even better version. Assault Rifle's mini-nuke, "Full Auto," and some Dual Pistols powers like "Empty Clips" and "Hail of Bullets," also qualify.
    • As do ranged Mastermind pets, particularly Robotics. You begin with a single robot with a laser that fires a simple three-round burst. By the time you finish out the set, you have six robots firing fully automatic heavy lasers, two different types of missile, seeker drones, dual plasma blasters, photon grenades, and a flamethrower.
  • Multishot
  • Ninja Run: From the Natural-Origin Super-Booster pack. The power is actually called this.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Most pets die if their creator bites it. While it makes total sense for various elemental golems, zombies and summoned demons, it becomes dubious when applied to killer robots, automatic mortars, or thugs and mercenaries.
  • Not Quite Flight: Temporary, buyable, and stealable jetpacks.
  • Oil Slick: The "Trick Arrow" powerset includes an Oil Slick Arrow. The oil slick it creates can catch on fire.
  • One-Hit Kill: The specialty of the Stalker, they even have a unique attack designed to do this if they pull it off while stealthed. At one point, the devs implemented a PvP feature that prevented a single attack from killing a player at full health (to address an issue with low-level players getting picked off just for trying to cross a PvP zone). This had the unintentional side-effect of nerfing Stalkers in PvP until the players figured out work-arounds involving adding DoT effects.
  • Punched Across the Room: Once very prolific, many complaints from the players resulted in much of the knockback melee attacks being turned to knockdown/knockup. Still, there are still many examples: Energy Manipulation's Power Thrust, Luminous Blast's Radiant Strike, Battle Axe's Pendulum...
  • Rain of Arrows: ...Happens to be the name of the final power in the Archery set.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Available both in Speed Echoes and Casting a Shadow flavor, with Flurry from Super Speed and Shadow Maul from Dark Melee.
  • Screen Shake: Side effect of various hard-hitting powers. The developers attempted to ramp it up for the Super Strength power set, but dialed it back after players complained of motion sickness.
    • Also whenever a Kheldian transforms.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Used in one of the taskforces, also powers available to some NPCs and players.
  • Shockwave Clap: Hand Clap from Super Strength tosses enemies away from the user, stunning but dealing no damage. Electrical Melee and Electricity Manipulation have Lightning Clap, which is exactly the same power but with slightly different looks. A few other attacks are also performed by clapping one's hands together.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The aptly named Foot Stomp from Super Strength is one of the game's most potent non-nuke PBAoE attacks. Several other attacks also have the character driving their foot into the ground.
  • Shovel Strike: Flat-on as a club for War Mace, edge on for Battle Axe.
  • Socketed Powers: The enhancement system, which allows you to add sockets ("slots") to powers as a character levels up, and provides upwards of eight different degrees of enhancements that lock into them.
  • Speed Echoes: Used in the Super Speed Flurry attack, as well as some high-end Dual Pistols attacks.
  • Spin Attack: All melee weapon sets (on non-Stalkers) have some variation on spinning around and attacking all foes in range, including using a sword made out of fire or ice.
  • Squad Controls: The game has this for the Mastermind class so they can control their pets. The player can set both the stance (aggressive, defensive, passive) and the specific command (follow, attack, go to, stay). Any damage the Mastermind takes is split among the Mastermind and any nearby pets that are in Defensive-Follow (specifically known as "Body Guard Mode"). With their full array of minions acting as bodyguards, a Mastermind can act as a surprisingly effective tank, especially if they are able to heal themselves and their minions to keep the effect going. The downside is that AoE attacks end up hitting the minions even harder (as they take normal damage, plus their share of the master's).
  • Stone Wall: Fittingly, Granite Armor from the Stone Armor power set turns the player nigh unkillable and nigh harmless.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path / Trick Arrow: Two (complementary) arrow sets are available: Archery and Trick Arrow. Trick Arrow has the aforementioned Oil Slick Arrow (that can catch on fire and burn mooks to death; Glue Arrow, useful for keeping them in said flames, an Ice Arrow that freezes them helpless, and numerous debuffing arrows like Flash (blind), Poison Gas (sleep) and Acid (resistance debuff).
  • Summon Magic: Most Controllers and Dominators can summon pets at higher levels. Masterminds have this as their entire Primary power set and intended playstyle, with their Demon Summoning and Thugs power sets taking it Up to Eleven (thanks to Hell on Earth and Gang War, respectively, which each summon a swarm of temporary pets, on top of the normal six pets every Mastermind gets). Several secondary sets for Controllers, Corruptors, and Masterminds (or Primary sets for Defenders) had pets or pet-like entities. Patron Power sets for all A Ts but Masterminds had a summon as well. And that's still not a complete list!
    • And then there are Temporary Powers which are usable by anyone (though wear out after 1-5 castings), which include zombies, snowmen, werewolves, a power-armored policeman (or power-armored criminal, depending on your alignment), giant robots, tiny robots, witches, cosmic horrors and oh yeah, a jar of bees!
    • And the Lore slot in the Incarnate powers could be slotted with a craftable ability to summon controllable pets belonging to one of twenty of the game's villain groups. Each type of Lore ability could be built up through nine different subtypes across four levels of power; the different subtypes summoned different combinations of pets from that group. If you had made more than one Lore boost, you could swap them in and out of your Lore slot out of combat and with a 15-minute cooldown, which gives a dedicated player some additional flexibility for known future threats.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Assault Rifle or Dual Pistols Blasters/Defenders/Corruptors/Masterminds.
  • Super Speed: A power pool available to anyone.
  • Super Strength: Available as a primary or secondary set to Tankers and Brutes.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Assault Rifle power set.
  • Sword Beam: Focus and Shockwave from the Claws power set.
  • Tarot Motifs: The "Fortune" power lets players draw a tarot card to buff another player. Only a few of the Major Arcana are represented, however, and none of the Minor Arcana.
  • Video Game Flight: Superheroes.
  • Whip It Good: The weapon of choice for Demon Summoning Masterminds. It's also literally made of fire.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Claws power set. This actually got NCSoft into some legal trouble with Marvel.

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