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Video Game: Modern Warfare
aka: Call Of Duty 4
"Learning to use the tools of modern warfare is the difference between the prospering of your people and utter destruction."
General Shepherd

Modern Warfare is a Spin-Off of the World War II-themed FPS series Call of Duty, set Next Sunday A.D. or so. Technically, the three MW games are considered the fourth, sixth, and eighth installments of the main series, respectively, despite 2 and 3 not keeping the "Call of Duty" overtitle.

The setting is best described as an Alternate History, with the point of divergence being some time in The Nineties when a powerful Russian leader named Imran Zakhaev starts an "Ultranationalist" party. The movement eventually culminates in a Russian civil war, with the Ultranationalists fighting against the "Loyalists" (the pro-Western faction of Russia). This serves as the backdrop in the first game and the catalyst for the Middle Eastern rebellion which the first game deals with. The second game, set five years later, sees what happens to a new Cold War between the US and an Ultranationalist Russia when a covert op to unmask a wanted terrorist goes horribly wrong. The third one follows the resulting World War III and the desperate hunt for the man that caused all of this.

In 2013, Infinity Ward released a new installment, called Call of Duty: Ghosts. While initially suspected of being a side-story focusing on the character "Ghost" from Modern Warfare 2, it is actually a Spiritual Successor set in a new universe (new plot, new characters).

Not to be confused with the Troperiffic Community episode of the same name. See also Find Makarov, a Web Original Fan Film series based on the games.

RAMIREZ! Take out that BTR and add more tropes to this page!

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     Alpha to Delta 
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: We're not sure on how, in multiplayer matches, Brazilian gangs, African militia, or the Afghan Taliban... er, "Op For"... get ahold of Harriers, Pave Lows, Russian choppers, UAVs, NATO weapons, and nukes, or how they're able to defend their turf from highly-trained Black Ops, but unless one likes having their multiplayer turned into a curbstomp...
    • The EMP killstreak in multiplayer bends the way an actual Electromagnetic Pulse would work in Real Life. However, it somehow manages to disable only the opposing team's electronics, and the effect only lasts for about two minutes, but continuously afflicts opponents even if they die and respawn multiple times during those two minutes. Of course, this is all in the name of game balance - it'd be a Game Breaker if it permanently disabled enemy electronics and entirely worthless if it disabled everyone's.
  • Actor Allusion: "The Vet and the N00b" trailer is both this and a Call Back. Sam Worthington plays the "Vet," after previously appearing as the commando Alex Mason in Call of Duty: Black Ops. The commercial also calls back to the Black Ops advertising twice. First, with the tagline "There's a soldier in all of us." Second, having NBA star Dwight Howard appear toting an M16 with a grenade launcher. NBA star Kobe Bryant appeared toting the same gun in ads for Black Ops.
  • Adjustable Censorship: In 2, you can skip the infamous "No Russian" level, and in 3 you can skip the "Davis Family Vacation" level.
  • Adult Fear:
    • 2's mission "Of Their Own Accord" opens with an automated public service broadcast as the Ultranationalists invade the United States. That single PSA broadcast is enough to scare the piss out of anyone viewing it, because it indicates just how far along the "To Shit" meter everything has gone.
    • "No Russian", where the squad you're with commences a terrorist attack on an airport. That airport may very well be your local airport.
    • 3 had the level where you played a father on vacation in London with his family, videotaping his daughter running around enjoying herself right before a truck bomb blows up next to her.
  • A.K.A.-47: Mostly averted, only some weapons appear without their real names.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • "Loose Ends" contains a lot of explanations to some apparent plot holes in Modern Warfare 2's story, if you look at the newspaper clippings. For example: it's explained Makarov, despite his own status as an Ultranationalist, was specifically harassing the new Ultranationalist government, and tensions were very high between Russia and everywhere else.
    • The Hardened edition of Modern Warfare 3 includes a field journal kept by Soap that goes into detail about his thoughts regarding each mission, along with other little details that would be hard to show in-game, as well as his gradual growing obsession with killing Makarov.
    • The text on all of the loading screens shows quite a bit of interesting background information on many of the characters. For example, the intro screens to "Blackout" in the first game notes that Nikolai was a former sergeant of a Soviet anti-tank rifle unit, and the loading screens for "No Russian" in the second list Makarov's extensive history of terrorist attacks.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Being a soulless monster seems to be a requirement for being in Makarov's Inner Circle. Probably why Yuri left.
    • The Russian Army as a whole isn't much better. They are way to eager to shoot down civilian evac choppers when invading America, and are just as bad in Europe.
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted in both Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2. (While the details of the player character in Modern Warfare 2 are unconfirmed beyond his name, rank and unit, his senior, the now-Captain "Soap" MacTavish, and the apparent Number Two "Ghost" are both from the Special Air Service.)
    • Modern Warfare's brutal, while still heroic subversion of this occurs when the American protagonist's team has been ordered to retreat because of the possibility of Nuclear arms on the battlefield. When an allied aircraft gets shot down, your team opts to land momentarily to save the crew, using the "leave no man behind" mentality. For a second there it seems the ploy works and the Americans save the surviving crew member. Instead, the nuke goes off, the chopper goes down, everybody dies, including the American player character, who while surviving the initial crash and explosion; dies of his injuries.
    • Modern Warfare 2 when Pfc Allen, deep undercover with the Ultranationalists, kills civilians instead of, well, saving them. And to make matters worse, when Makarov kills him, he leaves the very American body to be found. Much later, you find out that Shepherd helped stage the conflict so that he could abuse it as a mad attempt to get himself written into history. Then he betrays both Makarov and you... and to get at Shepherd, Price lets Makarov go, albeit not on good terms.
    • The main American character in MW 1, played for three missions, is killed, as is the main American supporting character, and it comes down to the Brit to fire the last shot of the conflict.
    • Subverted when it turns out that Shepherd started the war with Russia in the first place in an insane attempt at creating a new era of American supremacy and getting his name written into history; moreover, the surviving American character Ramirez's unit seems completely unaware of this and all too happy to counterattack Russia.
    • SOMEWHAT played straight in MW3, as the USA arrives in time to shore up the defense of Western Europe, and then later the Delta Force has a Heroic Sacrifice to make sure Price and Yuri can save the Russian President and end the war.
  • A Million is a Statistic: The global conflict that the trilogy covers causes literal millions of military and civilian deaths, of which the player causes many hundreds and witnesses the deaths of others on his side. None of it holds a torch to the single death of Soap and the reaction it elicited from pretty much everyone.
  • And This Is for...: In "No Russian" Makarov says "For Zakhaev" before engaging the FSB on the runway. Which is ironic, as the airport he's murdering everyone at is called Zakhaev International Airport.
    • Done twice in Modern Warfare 3 "This is for the boys at Hereford". And at the very end, "For Soap.".
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: When you complete the "Ghillie in the Mist" (completed by getting one-shot kills with sniper rifles) challenges. The clothes you unlock are ghillie suits, which actually make your sniping better.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The Ultranationalists seem fond of them, to Soap's despair. Warrabe on the other hand prefers hyenas.
  • Anyone Can Die except Price. Or rather, Price can die, but it doesn't seem to bother him that much anymore. Well, Nikolai and Derek "Frost" Westbrook seem to survive. The former because he played an advisory role to the final mission and the latter supposedly due to being taken off duty due to injuries suffered from an exploding door.
    • NPCs: Vasquez, Gaz, Griggs, at least 30,000 Americans sent into Qurac, a lot of civilians in a Russian airport, Meat, Royce, Ghost... Ozone and Scarecrow are interesting, as you can save one —or, if you're really good, both— but they will die shortly before Ghost and Roach. Not to mention pretty much every major character except Price and Nikolai in Modern Warfare 3: even though in Soap and Yuri's case, they die as NPCs even though they were at one point PCs.
      • Even more interesting with Ozone and Scarecrow, is that those two can show up as Red Shirt troops in earlier levels... so they somehow come back from the dead if they die there...
    • PCs: Al-Fulani, Jackson, Allen, Sat-1, Roach, Harkov, and Yuri. Soap survives being shot in COD4 and survives a nasty knife stab to the chest in MW2, but finally meets his maker in MW3 after falling out of an exploding building.
  • Arc Words: "History is written by the victors."
    • "...the will of a single man."
  • Armor Is Useless: In the Rio missions, the TF141 red shirts who wear Kevlar vests are only slightly more durable than the gangsters, who wear soccer t-shirts. Averted by the Juggernauts, who are just as durable as their hulking appearance, unless you can get behind them. Or you use their slow turn speed to your advantage. If you're good you can run around them in circles and stab them a dozen and a half times to death.
    • Same goes for the Op For and Militia forces in multiplayer - despite a number of character models being unarmored, they are just as durable as their armored foes or allies (that is, not very). Of course, PVP Balanced is not a bad thing.
      • Justified Trope: Modern infantry armor, while it will generally work against pistol rounds and shotgun pellets, is not going to reliably stop rounds from anything that is of at least assault rifle caliber. Now if the operators had hard armor with ballistic inserts, then they might survive rifle shots.
    • Averted in Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer, where Ballistic Vests are one of the killstreak rewards you can earn. They essentially double the number of hits your character can take before dying, which makes a noticeable difference in a firefight. They're also available in Survival mode, where they nearly quadruple how much damage you can take.
  • Artistic License - Chemistry: The Nerve Gas made by Waarabe is only lethal when Inhaled. It does not stick to any surface nor does it penetrate the skin or infiltrate into open wounds. Another detail is that open flames provide some refuge against it.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Captain "Soap" MacTavish in MW 2.
    • Captain MacMillan in Modern Warfare 1. Not even breaking a leg when a helicopter falls on him can kill him... or even lower his sniping accuracy.
    • And also Modern Warfare 2's Big Bad, General Shepherd, who in the game's finale nearly kills Soap and manages to beat Price in hand-to-hand combat, nevermind the fact that Shepherd had just been in a helicopter crash and is able to stand, let alone put up a fight.
    • Averted with Imran Zakhaev, the Big Bad of Modern Warfare. Despite surviving the loss of his arm in an earlier mission, in the final confrontation he goes down just as easily as any of his soldiers.
    • Averted with Al-Asad (newly-assumed leader of an unnamed Middle Eastern country) and Victor Zakhaev (son of the Big Bad and commander of the Russian Ultranationalist forces) as well. Al-Asad is captured as soon as you enter his safehouse, and is shot in the head after Captain Price questions him. At the end of "Sins of the Father," you corner Victor Zakhaev on a rooftop. He shoots himself in the head to avoid being captured.
  • A-Team Firing: Discussed by Sgt. Foley when he's training the local Afghani militia, saying that firing fully automatic from the hip will result in a lot of his. Since this is also the Justified Tutorial, when the Player Character is called upon to demonstrate, trying to aim down the sights will get a prompt of "No, not yet. I'm trying to prove a point here. Fire from the hip, just like in the movies."
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Cpt. Price and his absolute inability to die throughout MW 1 (or due to being shot in the head aboard the Tirpitz during World War II, for that matter). This carries over to Captain MacTavish in MW 2.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: A lot of the real world carriers make it into the game like the BTR, BMP, M2 Bradley and Humvee.
  • Back for the Dead: Kamarov and Griffen in 3.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sure, by the end of Modern Warfare 2, Soap and Price have killed Shepherd, but that doesn't change the fact that his Batman Gambit has already succeeded. If MW3's leaked plot is any indication, Makarov was also able to escape Shepherd's men in MW2's ending and causes more havoc amongst both the Russians and Americans in MW3.
  • Badass: Soap, Price, Gaz, Griggs, Jackson, Vasquez, Roach, Ghost, Ramirez, Sgt. Foley, Dunn, Sandman, Truck, Grinch, Frost, Yuri...basically the entire main cast.
  • Badass Beard: Price, Gaz, And arguably Sandman.
  • Badass Crew: Several, but Task Force 141 arguably plays the trope the straightest.
  • Badass Mustache: Shepherd and Price, of course.
    • Sandman
  • Bag of Spilling: Most levels start you off with whatever weapons the game designers want you to have, even if you ended the previous level with a different loadout and there was no time or reason to change. "Takedown" -> "The Hornet's Nest" is the most obvious example. There are a only a few levels where your load-out carries over.
    • A particularly egregious example is near the end of "Loose Ends." No matter what weapon you had before getting knocked off your feet by a mortar, you'll have Ghost's AK-47 given to you by the end of the mission. Not that it helps.
    • Averted in the first Modern Warfare levels "Ultimatum" -> "All In" -> "No Fighting in the War Room". "All Ghillied Up" -> "One Shot, One Kill" as well, though only a few weapons will carry over; anything else turns into an AK-47.
  • Banned In Russia: Modern Warfare 2 was banned for a while, though the game is now available (apparently with some cut content), including from Russia's biggest online retailer,
  • Bash Brothers: Soap and Price. Epically so.
    • Ghost and Roach from Modern Warfare 2.
    • Arguably Sandman and Price in the third game.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: The famous line "Fifty thousand people used to live here... now it's a ghost town." was not spoken by MacMillan. It was actually spoken by Gaz in the intro. MacMillan's line in the game is "Fifty thousand people used to live in this city. Now it's a ghost town... I've never seen anything like it."
    • Oddly, MacMillan DOES say that line in the Wii port of the first game.
    • There's a form of this in-series: part of Zakhaev's speech from "Ultimatum" in 1 is reproduced in the introduction for 2 - "My son's blood, on their hands." The original speech didn't include the word "son".
  • Been There, Shaped History: In Modern Warfare 3, it turns out that Yuri was there when Zakhaev's arm was shot off, watched the nuke go off in MW1, and was supposed to join Makarov in the "No Russian" airport massacre, but Makarov gut-shot him in the underground parking lot after Yuri had a change of heart. Yuri even managed to crawl up to the main terminal and was steps behind Makarov, Private Allen et al., trying to stop them before passing out from his injuries.
    • Makarov himself gets this treatment for most of that scene as well, showing him as the driver that got Zakhaev safely away after he was shot, and as the one who detonated Al-Asad's nuke.
  • Big Bad: Imran Zakhaev in Modern Warfare.
    • Vladimir Makarov in Modern Warfare 2 seems to be this, but he is revealed to be a pawn in Shepherd's plan. He's the true villain of Modern Warfare 3, though.
  • Big "NO!": Gaz and Ghost both get one in their respective games, and Price gets a Star Wars worthy one when Soap dies.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the airport level, a poster with a picture of an aircraft and the word "Mukha" in Cyrillic letters. This word means "fly" as in "small and extremely common insect." If you are feeling charitable this could be seen as a inside joke; if you are not, then it is a "Blind Idiot" Translation.
    • Which is peculiar, as other Russian texts are done quite right.
    • Enemy chatter is delivered in original languages (Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese). There are also some sentences uttered by Kamarov's men in Blackout mission in the first game.
    • In addition, the drunk Russian in "Crew Expendable" says "Drink to health, Captain!" right before you shoot him.
    • And Nikolai drops a rather foul-mouthed tirade at Makarov's and Shepherd's goons in "The Enemy of My Enemy"... in Russian, of course.
    • All the French from the Paris mission in Modern Warfare 3 is more than convincing.
      • As is the German from "Scorched Earth".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The third game. Makarov has finally paid for what he's done and the war's come to an end, but nearly everyone who worked to get that far, including Soap and Yuri, are dead, and the world still had to fight a war in which millions of people died, essentially, for nothing. London is devastated in the chemical attacks and most of the European capitals suffered a similar fate.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: throwing knives
  • Black and Gray Morality: Your enemies are monsters, there is no question about that. That said, you and your team members sometimes resort to... less than savory methods of dealing with antagonists.
    • Such as tying Rojas to a telephone pole so his enemies can find and kill him, only after torturing his assistant with a car battery.
    • When Price contacts Makarov under the premise that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," he's essentially letting him off the hook for the time being.
      • Although its not as if he could have gotten to Makarov at the time he made the offer anyway. The only concession Price made to Makarov was that he'd try to kill Shepherd first.
    • Also in 3 Yuri, Soap and Price track down a man who knows the whereabouts of Makarov's bomb-maker, Price sets off a can of nerve gas in the room and makes a deal to give him a mask if he gives them the information. After all the information is given Price hands him the mask, only to shoot him in the head with his pistol saying, "This is for the boys at Hereford."
  • Blind Idiot Translation: The Japanese version has multiple translation issues, especially the eponymous line in "No Russian". Instead of being translated to the Japanese equivalent of "Do not speak any Russian," it ended up as "Kill the Russians."
    • Not only that, about all the Russian in the game has a huge risk of running into the gratuitous territory. Anatoly's line at the end of "No Russian"? It really means "don't move" rather than "good, you made it". The "To air gates" sign in the same level? That's to be literally translated as "ALL EXIT". Nikolai's cursing in "The Enemy of My Enemy"? Seems to be an automatical translation; and "rbut" isn't even a proper word in Russian. Not even a curse, at that matter!
  • Blinded by the Light: Flashbang grenades, the resident Trick Bombs.
  • Break the Badass: When Price is talking to MacMillan about Soap's death, his usual gruff and mean voice is shakey and soft, as if he was fighting back tears.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: In Modern Warfare 3: Sandman and the rest of the delta team (except Frost who is absent for some reason) stay behind to allow the others to escape, fending off a large amount of soldiers. To make matters worse, the diamond mine collapses on them.
  • Bonus Level: "Mile High Club" at the end of the first game. Word of God says it was an axed campaign mission that took place midway but it was such a devilish challenge that they wanted to recycle it somehow.
  • Book Ends: Roach's story begins and ends with someone tossing a lit cigar. (Soap tosses one at the start of "Cliffhanger" and Shepherd drops one on to Roach's body after it's been doused with gasoline at the end of "Loose Ends".)
    • The first time the Modern Warfare version of Price is seen going into action, he is smoking a cigar. After he kills Makarov, he smokes a cigar.
    • Yuri and Makarov's first appearance is in the same location as Price, who is there to assassinate the Big Bad. The pair's final appearance is in the same location as Price again, though this time Yuri is on Price's side.
    • To a lesser extent, the same music plays during the starting and penultimate mission briefings in Modern Warfare 2. The starting and ending briefings also feature a short Character Filibuster. Captain Price's is even a response to General Shepherd's.
    • The plot of the second game begins and ends in Afghanistan.
    • A subtle one in 3: Makarov's first appearance has him stepping out of a helicopter. His last appearance has him trying to leave in a helicopter.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In MW2's multiplayer, the voiceover alerts for an incoming enemy AC130 are rather... emphatic.
    • With the exception of Task Force 141 (voice of Ghost). He doesn't seem too concerned.
    • Notably the Spetsnaz announcer who seems to lose it on finding out.
      • Oddly enough, the Spetsnaz announcer is rather calm when a friendly nuke is called in.
  • Brits with Battleships
  • But Thou Must: In MW 2, The 'No Russian' level, even though you are heavily armed the game prevents you from trying to thwart the terrorist attack by giving you a game over and telling you that you must go along with the massacre should you try and shoot the terrorists.
    • The politically correct German version, however, turns this into "But Thou Must Not" by NOT allowing you to shoot civilians despite this being the whole point of the level (you get a Game Over for that). Considering that you still can't shoot your "allies," there's nothing much to do for you throughout the first half of the level, except perhaps shooting the skylights for the particle effects.
    • Also, thou must reach the top of the White House to prevent the bombing run, even though when you get there there's already at least four other soldiers signaling, one from the same position as you, and Ramirez doesn't have any further role in the plot. So you could have died anywhere along the way and achieved the same result. Although, to be fair, if only one or a small hand full of buildings were lit up, the military could assume it to be the last desperate act of men about to die or they could miss the. Everyone, including civilians, would have every reason in the world to lit up as much of the city as possible so that the hyper sonic planes could be assured a glimpse of green before carpet bombing everything.
  • Butt Monkey: The United States of America. As a result of... less-than-ethical (and intelligent) decisions (as well as being framed by Russian ultranationalists into looking as if they supported a horrific terrorist attack) they wind up being painted as the Bad Guy by the rest of the world.
    • Let's be fair: Shepherd doesn't give two craps about anything less than his own personal satisfaction over accomplishing his goals. People will die, civilizations will crumble, and injustices will be committed so long as Makarov is made to pay for the events of Call of Duty 4. If the United States has to become the enemy of every armed force on the planet, that's an acceptable sacrifice.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Shepherd's motivation in MW2. After the nuclear explosion in the original murders thirty-thousand American soldiers under his command, he is outraged at the apathetic response of the American people, which could only be exasperated by Russia's continued militarisation. In an attempt to motivate his own country to war and bring about a new generation of willing martyrs with which to battle foreign threats, he manipulates Makarov into sparking an invasion of the US mainland.
  • Call Back: Many of them in Modern Warfare 2:
    • Sneaking through the snow with Soap in "Cliffhanger" homages the level "All Ghillied Up" from the previous game, but the true call back comes in "Contingency," in which Roach and Price sneak around sniping soldiers and dogs. Price even says the dogs are nothing compared to the ones in Pripyat.
      • That in itself is a shoutout to the fanbase, with whom the dogs had a rather... tenuous relationship in Call of Duty 4.
      Soap: I hate dogs...
      • Price's lines during this level also reference many of Captain MacMillan's in "All Ghillied Up." Specifically "Don't do anything stu-pid", "gooooodnight". and "this one's mine."
    • Modern Warfare 2's final level is one huge homage to Call of Duty 4's final level. Both have "game" in the title ("Game Over" and "Endgame"), both involve a vehicular chase (in CoD4, the player is being chased in a truck; in MW 2, the player is doing the chasing in a boat); both involve said vehicle being destroyed and the player (Soap in both levels) being wounded, and then even more badly injured; and both involve Soap desperately using an emergency weapon (pistol in CoD4, knife in MW2) to kill the Big Bad before he kills Price.
    • MW 2's Ghost is a callback to Gaz from MW 1. He's voiced by the same actor, you never see his face behind his skull and his name is "Ghost". As in dead.
    • Once you rescue Price from the Gulag, Soap immediately hands over his M1911.
      • "This belongs to you, sir."
      • And then said M1911 is given back to Soap after his death in MW3.
    • After Makarov orders the nuclear bombing of Al-Asad's capital in a flashback, Yuri comments "This wasn't war, this was madness." which is a virtual callback to Chernov's line "This is not war. This is murder!" in World at War.
    • Price's conversation with Baseplate/MacMillan in MW3 is a callback all the way to the first mission (chronologically) in the entire Modern Warfare franchise, 'All Ghillied Up/One Shot, One Kill':
    Price: It was Makarov. The bastard slipped through my fingers in Sierra Leone. What does MI-6 know?
    Baseplate: (sighs) You're on everyone's shit-list, John. There's no way I could get you clearance.
    Price: Don't give me that! You still owe me for Pripyiat. I'm calling it in.
    • Soap's field journal in the MW3 Hardened Edition reveals Price's race horse is called MacGregor.
    • The family briefly seen in England is named Davis, the same as Call of Duty 2's British Player Character.
    • In the first SAS mission in MW3, you have two invulnerable NPCs with you: Wallcroft and Griffin. If these two names have an inkling of familiarity to them, they were part of the assault team in the first SAS mission in Call of Duty 4, and they were also generic names for British soldiers in Call of Duty 2.
    • Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer map "Wasteland" has an identical layout to that of Call of Duty 2's "Brecourt" map, combined with the general appearance and atmosphere of Modern Warfare 1's Chernobyl missions.
      • This isn't the first time; Call of Duty 4's "Chinatown" is a Chinese-themed revision of the classic map "Carentan".
    • The end of "Down the Rabbit Hole" in MW3 is one to Operation Kingfish: Find Makarov. In Find Makarov, an injured Soap is dragged to the chopper, as Price stays behind to cover them. Price insists the chopper leaves, despite Sandman demanding it wait for him. In "Down the Rabbit Hole" an injured Yuri is dragged into the chopper as Sandman, and the rest of Team Metal, cover them. Price insists they wait for Sandman, but he tells them to leave. Price survived, but Sandman presumably doesn't.
    • Many names are reused from the original games. They include: (Captain) Foley, (Captain) Price, (Major) Sheppard (phonetically the same), (Sergeant) Ramirez, (Sergeant) Makarov, and (Private) Yuri. The 5th game, World at War had Dimitri Petrenko whose last name was a possible soldier of the Russian campaign back in the first game; additionally, one of the names for the Russian Secret Service agents in MW3's "Turbulence" mission is the extremely-similar Dmitri Petrenko.
  • Call That A Wound: Allied NPC's with Plot Armor are prone to this, sometimes shrugging off damage that really should down them. Sometimes they'll do things like get shot several times in the face, go down, then inexplicably get back up 30 seconds later as if they just needed to lie down for a bit.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: In spades. 2 had the largest first-day gross in entertainment history. Not just video games — all of entertainment, including movies and music.
    • Which was then beaten by Call of Duty: Black Ops. Then that record was beaten by Modern Warfare 3, which managed to smash MW2's record by over a hundred million dollars. Say what you like about the quality of the games, they certainly can sell them.
    • The developers certainly said they would want to continuously make more games even after Modern Warfare 3 in a live interview. And they certainly did.
  • The Cavalry: Normally, the extraction copter has a squad of soldiers inside it that immediately pours out and begins shooting anything that moves. This is normally when you're in a tight spot, as in the second part of the Pripyat sniping mission in Modern Warfare.
    • Also played straight by Nikolai in Modern Warfare 2 when he saves Soap and Price three times, first in Brazil, again in the boneyard and once more after Shepherd's death.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: General Shepherd and Shadow Company.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Various times in 2's multiplayer. For example, Commando Pro allows you to take no falling damage and is earned by kniving enough people.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. France is merely one of the many European countries the US comes to the aid to. You fight alongside the GIGN, who prove themselves to be very capable. Also while Delta ultimately take Volk down, the GIGN were the ones who found him. France is also one of the countries NATO manages to hold onto; Germany, meanwhile, is clearly falling. GIGN troops are also a support option in Survival, and are extremely durable and more than able to hold their own against anything short of a Juggernaut.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In MW2, the much advertised knife-throwing feature of multiplayer is what Soap uses to kill the Big Bad. Also, the wall climbing with icepicks that you learn in the first mission as Roach is reused to crawl on the ground by Soap in the final mission of the game.
  • The Chessmaster: MW 2's General Shepherd appears to have been outmaneuvered when his deep cover agent is used by Makarov to frame America and set off a war. And then it turns out Makarov was playing into his hands, and Shepherd is using the resultant chaos to cover his tracks.
    • Arguably, Makarov was hired by Shepherd to kill Allen and precipitate an invasion of the US by Russia. He certainly seems to think it would happen at the end...
    • Arguably, the entire series focuses on Price and his efforts to outmaneuver the Big Bad of each game. Although he's not the one to finish off Zakhaev or Shepherd, it's only because of his intervention that Soap manages to kill either. His Arch-Enemy Makarov, however, dies by Price's own hand.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: Modern Warfare 3 has one halfway through the last level, when Price and Yuri ride an elevator to the final battle with Makarov and his goons.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: The beginning of "Cliffhanger" from Modern Warfare 2.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Nikolai gives one, in Russian, to Makarov's men and Shadow Company in The Enemy of My Enemy.
    Nikolai: Holy shit! No, I'm really not paid enough for this job! The missiles alone cost so much! Your mother! Cunt!
  • Cold Sniper: Cpt. MacMillan in Modern Warfare, though he is also brilliantly ironic and averts this when it comes time to high-tail it out of the sniping position.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Deathstreaks. Much like it sounds, it's a bonus given to players who're doing particularly bad. If they die multiple times in a row without ever getting a kill, the game will give them a buff of some sort (such as increased health or dropping a grenade upon death) to help them out.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Grenade spam. It's not uncommon to have more aim bot assisted frags used than actual bullets, more than the soldiers could possibly carry.
    • When you're carrying a riot shield, you cannot shoot. Your enemies can, though fortunately so can your NPC allies.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Several segments of missions are not actually timed, but the music and your squadmates/mission control yelling at you at you create the necessary tension. Case in point: you can take your sweet time meeting up with Soap and Ghost during the first favela mission even though it sounds like Rojas will get away if you don't haul arse.
  • Continuity Nod: When the team first rescues Price, the first thing Soap does is hand him back the pistol he used to kill Zakhaev at the end of the first game.
    • And in MW3, Price places it upon Soap's body in tribute after he dies.
    • A subtle example in the third game: Baseplate is Captain MacMillan from ''MW1. At one point, Price says, "You still owe me for Pripyat."
    • Another subtle example in the third game: the briefing/loading video for the level "Back on the Grid" ends by showing a series of photos of people affiliated with Makarov. Among the photographed people is Lev Kravchenko, The Dragon from Call of Duty: Black Ops. Less subtly, one of the buildings in that level is taken directly from a multiplayer map from Call of Duty 4.
  • Controllable Helplessness: The level "The Coup" in Modern Warfare.
    • And the "Aftermath" level, where you get to control the dying American protagonist after the nuclear explosion, as well as the Fission Mailed sequence near the end of the game, at least until Price throws you a pistol.
    • The ending sequence in Modern Warfare 2 has your character watching Shepherd brutally beating Captain Price in hand to hand combat, with you not being able to help because of a rather large knife in your chest. At least, until you realize that you have a rather large knife in arm's reach.
    • And a bit before that, you get to see through the eyes of the mortally wounded Roach, Ghost being killed, and being burned alive after Shepherd has their bodies tossed in a ditch and doused in gasoline.
    • And being an astronaut witnessing a nuclear explosion and getting literally blown away by it. Even if you survive the force of the blast, you're dead from the big panel that you can see hurtling towards you before the screen goes black.
    • Played with in 3. As Yuri, you're behind Makarov as he guns his way through the airport, just after shooting Yuri in the stomach for betraying him. You can try to shoot Makarov with a security guard's pistol, but Yuri will miss every time, and eventually pass out from his injuries.
    • Again in 3: the player controls a dad using a camcorder, recording his vacation in London with his family and unexpectedly getting caught in a nerve gas attack."
  • Cool Shades: Proudly worn by Ghost, Sandman, and Grinch. And if the soldier on the cover of Modern Warfare 2 is in fact Ramirez, him as well.
  • Cool Guns: Obviously.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Modern Warfare 2 featured "Spec Ops" missions, which can be played alone, or with a friend. A few require a buddy (such as one that places one player into a vehicle, like an AC-130 or a Black Hawk]).
    • Modern Warfare 3 allows Spec Ops to make its return, this time with online play even with people you don't know. In addition to the regular Mission Mode, there is also Survival Mode, with a ranking and unlock system similar to the multiplayer.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Double Subverted: At the end of "Game Over" Soap can see a soldier start CPR on Price. Soap apparently blacks out, and the soldier is now pounding on Price's chest in an attempt to revive him. The game ends giving you the impression that it fails however. Modern Warfare 2 reveals that Price is alive, meaning it did revive him; but it should be noted that it is unclear how long it took, or what Price's condition upon being revived was.
  • Crapsack World: Hoo, boy. Aside from multiple nuclear detonations and an army of West-hating psychopaths in control of Russia, there's also more subtle indicators of just how screwed up MW-Earth is, like how even private terrorists have access to large amounts of heavy-duty military hardware, and the sheer size of the favela gangs in Rio leaves you wondering just how bad things are down there.
    • To illustrate this, in the Chernobyl missions, the then-obscure group of Russian mercenaries are equipped with BMPs, attack helicopters and at least one T-72. And what were they doing there? They were selling nuclear material.
      • They mentioned how a lot of it was unintentionally similar to real life. Jesse Stern said "We also talked about how terrorists operate in the modern era. We played around with situations where we had heavily armed terrorists carrying machine guns and explosives — shortly after this, the terror attacks took place in Mumbai. That was really scary. We actually sent out e-mails saying, "All right, let's take a little break, and stop talking about these horrific things," because it felt like it was hitting a little too close to home. "
    • Lampshaded sarcastically by Gaz: "Good news first, the world's in great shape."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Heat": 6 SAS operatives vs. an army of angry Ultranationalists. The SAS lost a man from tank fire. The Ultranationalists lost several hundred men, five tanks and eight helicopters. The Ultranationalist leaders, unsurprisingly, were pissed.
    • The first part of the last level in MW3. Dozens of guards in suits with pistols against two men In juggernaut suits with belt-fed machine guns.
      • When you reach the end of the level, you finally get to kill Makarov. The problem is, Price is an unquestionable Badass while there's nothing suggesting Makarov is a skilled hand-to-hand fighter. Once Price manages to actually get his hands on him, he goes down much more pathetically than, say, Shepherd did in MW2. Makarov's death is more of a brutal execution than a straight-up fight.
  • Cutscene Boss: General Shepherd from Modern Warfare 2 is a quicktime event variety. It's very well done.
    • Also Makarov in MW3.
    • Indeed, each of the bosses are of the quicktime variety, and they get increasingly awesome.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Zakhaev hated the Americans and Britons for ruining his country, so he started a terrorist campaign against them. They blew his arm off. He assisted Al-Asad, who also thought the Americans weakened his country, in the violent coup of his country and gave him a nuke. The Americans Marines invaded the country and defeated Al-Asad's army. He detonated the nuke that killed thousands of them. The SAS tracked down, interrogated, and executed Al-Asad. Zakhaev sent an army to kill them, they killed the army. They tried to use his son against him, who committed suicide. He launched more nukes at them and when that failed , killed whoever he could. Soap killed him for that. Now Makarov and the whole Russia hated Americans for it, complete with Makarov revealing photos of three SAS troopers and a US Marine involved in his death. Also, Shepherd hates the Ultranationalists for killing 30,000 of his men. The subsequent Russian-American War results in thousands of civilian deaths on both sides (though more on the Americans'). Soap and Price kill Shepherd in retaliation. But someone else will surely pick up the command of the American forces, now targeting both the Russians and them too...
    • Well, at least Makarov's dead now, and the war is over. The Russian President and the American President both advocate peace as well; and Word of God states that the generals and politicians who allied with Makarov were arrested, the Loyalists were welcomed back into Russia, and relationships between Russia and the US/NATO finally evolved into peace. Hopefully this will finally end the cycle.
  • Danger Deadpan: A lot of them in Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Several characters, such as Price, Makarov, and Shepard seem to know almost exactly how their opponents will think and/or react to a situation happening.
  • Darker and Edgier: Modern Warfare was a Darker and Edgier version of the rest of the Call of Duty series, while World at War went down the Bloodier and Gorier route for World War II with the Pacific Campaign, as well as a very graphic take on the Eastern Front. Modern Warfare 2 took it further, what with Washington, DC becoming a war zone, with the White House taken over and the infamous playable "terrorist" level. The Moral Guardians were not amused.
    • It makes a comeback in 3 when you play a dad on vacation with his family, filming your little daughter. Suddenly, a truck parks near where your daughter was playing and detonates, releasing a chemical agent all over the city.
  • Deadly Lunge: Hitting the melee button (which swings the player's knife in front of him like he's waving a car to pass) from a short distance away from an enemy will change the knife animation to a stab and cause the player to quickly slide forward towards their opponent as if the rocket boots just kicked in. Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer features Commando, a selectable perk to give the player an even larger and more unrealistic lunge range.
  • Deadly Road Trip: The Davis' family vacation to London.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Subverted with Zakhaev's assassination attempt. Turns out, "shock and blood loss" didn't take care of him as expected.
  • Death from Above: The levels Death From Above and most of Shock and Awe in Modern Warfare 1, as well as the gameplay moments where you can call in airstrikes and/or artillery barrages.
    • A selectable 25 Kill Streak in Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer drops a tac nuke, winning the game for whoever achieved the streak, regardless of score. That is, if you have it.
      • Other kill streak rewards do this to a lesser degree by calling in Predator UAVs with missiles, Harrier Jets, helicopters or an AC-130 'Spectre' Gunship.
    • One of the Spec Ops levels in 2 involves one player as a Blackhawk door gunner clearing a path for a 2nd player on the ground, and another is basically the first game's Death From Above with the second player taking the place of the SAS team. However, in both cases the player on the ground is no more durable than he normally would be, and friendly fire is not disabled.
    • The Iron Lady mission in Modern Warfare 3
  • Death In All Directions: Modern Warfare frequently has the enemies constantly throwing grenades at you on Veteran difficulty. Averted in Modern Warfare 2, although now they sometimes resort to flashbang grenades instead.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Averted. None of the playable characters that die in the series ever get a meaningful last moment with their friends or a heartfelt speech. Sgt. Jackson gets blown up by a nuke and is left all alone in a ruined city to die in agony making all of his accomplishments meaningless. Roach is shot in the gut by his commanding officer Shepherd and burned to death. Soap probably the closet thing to a main protagonist in the whole series bleeds out after an explosion and doesn't get to say any meaningful last words as his friends desperately try and fail to keep him alive.
    • played somewhat straight in the level "Down The Rabbit Hole." where Sandman and his team all sacrifice themselves to allow Price and Yuri to escape with the Russian President.
  • Destination Defenestration: In Scorched Earth, Sandman charges a Russian soldier and throws him out of a window. Justified in that the glass was already broken.
  • Determinator: Soap, who doesn't let having just gone over a frickin' waterfall or being stabbed stop him when he's after Shepherd; even after the aforementioned stabbing, Soap still pulls himself across the ground toward a gun while Shepherd and Price duke it out. When the gun is kicked away, Soap resorts to pulling the knife out of his gut and throwing it into Shepherd's head.
    • Although it isn't pointed out directly, Yuri was gutshot by Makarov four days before he shows up as the playable character in MW3.
    • The US military during the battle of Washington, DC. One of the most memorable lines is:
    Sgt. Foley: [after the helicopter is hit by a missile] Take us up! If we're going down, we're taking those SAM sites with us!
    • Captain Price in Modern Warfare 3, who will stop at nothing to hunt down Makarov.
    • Special mention has to go to Makarov, who survives being shot dead center in the chest three times and then being strangled. It's only once he gets tossed down a glass ceiling and hung by a zipline does he finally die, and spends a good thirty seconds flailing when the force should have broken his neck.
    • Sandman in Scorched Earth continues to look for Alena, despite Overlord telling him to abort, the fact the city is falling to the Russians, and that the Russians drop a damn building on his team.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The South American arms dealer that Task Force 141 chases in Rio is known to the men as "Alex the Red". This is said by Shepherd after he dramatically gives the man's real name as "Alejandro Rojas," which, in English, means..."Alex Red".
  • Didn't See That Coming: Played straight and averted at the same time in the 3rd game when Yuri got punched down a staircase by Price. Yuri obviously did not expect Price to punch him or else it would not have worked so simply. The player, however, probably saw it coming from a mile away, not just because Soap planted the seeds of doubt about Yuri within Price moments earlier but because betrayal isn't exactly unheard of in a Call of Duty game.
  • Dirty Coward: For all of his showboating and grand speeches about a new era to lead his country, Al-Asad proves himself to be a coward among cowards. It probably doesn't help that he was little more than a pawn of the Ultranationalists, as he wasn't even the one who ordered the nuclear detonation.
  • Disposable Pilot: In "Hunted", both pilots are always killed, though most of your squad survives.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Russians want a thousand dead Americans for every civilian killed in the airport attack. Thankfully this isn't literal.
  • Dissonant Serenity: All the MW 2 multiplayer announcers are appropriately freaked out when an enemy AC-130 is called in... except for TF 141's Ghost, who reports it matter-of-factly.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Whenever you're downed in the single-player campaign, the game tosses up a quote from a historical figure lamenting the cost and violence of warfare on humanity. However, no one can deny it's pretty fun to be a One-Man Army Badass caught in the middle of World War III so the weight of their quotes seems lost.
    • They also rub players' nose in it with things like "No Russian" and "Davis Family Vacation". Even the famous AC-130 level is making a point about how dehumanizing swatting people like flies from a gunship is. Sister series Black Ops is, if anything, even more blatant.
  • Downer Ending: Modern Warfare ends with most of the SAS/USMC joint task force dead and the Ultranationalist leader taken out, but as Modern Warfare 2 shows, that just makes things worse...
    • Modern Warfare 2: Yes, you stopped Shepherd, but Task Force 141 has been destroyed, Price and Soap are internationally wanted fugitives for "treason" — despite having done nothing against their home country — along with "global terror" and "violent acts against the government", the East Coast and Washington in particular are devastated, the US is going to war with Russia without a commander (the SECDEF having given Shepherd "a blank check"), Makarov is still on the loose, and as noted on Fridge Brilliance , Shepherd already won even in death.
      • There is a bit of a high note, though: Shepherd was presumably going to use his hero status and unlimited budget to perform unilateral military actions across the globe (as evidenced by his very well equipped "Shadow Company"). Even if he ends up a martyr, his death prevented his plan from going any further. Price and Soap are still alive, and as Price admitted, the key was both for Shepherd to die and for them to live.
      • And, if nothing else, at least Shepherd would not live to see his dream carried out in full...
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Cpt. Price acts like this towards Soap in the prologue, but this attitude doesn't survive the first mission where he saves Soap from sliding off the helicopter's ramp to his doom.
    • While Price quickly drops the attitude once the real mission starts, even a nasty superior isn't going to let one of their men fall to their doom - he's vitriolic but a true leader.
    • Price becomes this to Yuri in Modern Warfare 3 after Soap's final words were that Yuri and Makarov somehow knew each other too well. After learning the truth about the two, Price grudgingly lets Yuri tag along in the next mission, but says he has to keep up at his pace, and if the player is discovered but manages to survive during the stealth section Price threatens to let them kill you the next time. This is mostly gone by the end of the mission though.
  • Due to the Dead:
    Price: [about Soap and other fallen SAS] There's a clock tower in Hereford where the names of the dead are inscribed. We try to honor their deeds even as their faces fade from our memory. Those memories are all that's left, when the bastards have taken everything else.
  • Dummied Out: Hackers have found a surprisingly large amount of abandoned content in the first game, including different reticule images for every rifle scope (in the released versions of CoD4 and MW2, due to a programming oddity, all rifle scopes use "scope_overlay_m40a3," but in the former game there are seven others, including two for the M21), several abandoned levels including one where the player would have controlled an attack helicopter, and the AT4 rocket launcher, which is in the game but never accessible without cheating. Modern Warfare 2 was planned to have a level set on board the ISS rather than a brief scene featuring it, but this was cut due to fears it damaged the flow of the game. The level "Contingency" was also intended to have Roach follow Price into the submarine and watch him launch the nuke; this was presumably cut to keep the launch a surprise right up until it happens, but with noclip the player can still follow Price inside and watch him go through the launch process.
    • There are other clues about the developer's original intentions hidden within dummied-out weapons - two in Call of Duty 4, the "Brick Blaster" and "Select a location", seem to indicate that Quick Melee would have still involved bashing people across the face with your gun rather than the newly-added knife. In Modern Warfare 2, the HUD icon for the L86 LMG, as well as its maximum ammo in singleplayer (420, the same as most assault rifles) indicate that it was originally meant to be an L85 assault rifle instead. And, if you can find a way to input console commands, you can summon the G36, M60, R700 and M40 from Call of Duty 4 in MW2, all of which are fully playable (other than the G36 having slightly-borked ADS animations due to the model lacking ironsights).
    • In the released version of Modern Warfare 3, the penultimate level has the remains of Task Force 141 and Delta Force join forces, but the Delta player character Frost does not show up for said level. However, there is a sound clip in the game files of Price shouting his last name, indicating that at some point it was planned to have him in the level.
  • Dynamic Entry: Soap tackles Rojas off a first floor balcony and onto a wrecked car as soon as you catch up to him.
    • In the third game, an American tank drives through an office that a group of Russians are taking cover in. Later in the same mission, another tank comes to your rescue by exiting directly through a brick wall without warning right on top of the Russian troops that had you pinned down, and blows up a Russian tank.

     Echo to Hotel 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first installment of the series is noticeably different from its later two installments. Most obviously, it was sold under the title Call of Duty 4, which was later mostly phased out due to the franchise's split between Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Its campaign switches between the Russian countryside and a hostile, unnamed Islamic country, as opposed to the more varied environments of the series' later two installments. This, combined with the second and third installments' heavy use of Rule of Cool, may explain why some of the first installment's gritty realism feels lost in its sequels. It also featured "Arcade Mode" and unlockable campaign cheats, which were no where to be found in later installments.
    • The game's multiplayer experience is also heavily modified in its sequels. The first installment featured three fixed killstreaks, equippable night vision goggles, and an equipment system that was heavily reworked in sequels (an RPG in Call of Duty 4 is classed as a perk, rather than equipment, for example).
  • Earn Your Bittersweet Ending: Sweet Jesus did they ever earn it. Khaled Al-Asad, Imran Zakhaev, Shepherd, and Makarov are dead. WWIII has ended, with Russia withdrawing from Europe. Relations between Russia and the US/NATO finally evolve into peace, and the Loyalists are welcomed back into Russia. Task Force 141 has been cleared of the charges of treason and terrorism. But Europe has been devastated by chemical attacks and (a pointless) war. And Vasquez, Jackson, Griggs, Gaz, Ghost, Roach, Kamarov, Sandman, Grinch, Truck, Yuri, and even Soap are all dead.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted. After learning about Yuri's past with Makarov, Price feels that he sufficiently regrets his actions to be allowed to live. For now. However, during the next mission he is clearly still pissed at Yuri and doesn't fully trust him. This is apparently gone by the next mission though.
  • Easter Egg: Many, including teddy bears and other amusing details in environments if the player chooses to look carefully. For example, in "Mind the Gap", while leaving Westminster Station, the player character can have a look at the posters, one of which should look familiar to those who preordered Modern Warfare 3. There are also maps (copyright "Infinity Ward Trans. Subway") that have humorous place names such as "Bilbo Town", "Infinity Station Ward", and "That's What We Do Town".
  • Easy Logistics: The invasion of the United States in Modern Warfare 2. The Russians are able to get an enormous amount of manpower, including armored vehicles and Havoc helicopters to the United States' Eastern Seaboard. It is implied in the Alternate History of the setting that the Russian military - particularly their Navy - is a lot more powerful than it is in Real Life, but some players found it difficult to swallow. However, by the later levels, the Russians seem to be running out of munitions and weapons, as they're shown using captured Javelin launchers and Barrett rifles instead of the gear they dropped with, and when Price detonated the EMP over the East Coast the invasion instantly comes to a complete halt due to the lack of resupply.
    • During the battle in New York City, the Russians are winning, primarily because their jammers are making it impossible for the USAF to attain air superiority. Once Team Metal destroys it, the Air Force blows the hell out of the Russians' supply and support apparatus, forcing the Russians back to the waterline where their navy can support them. When Metal subsequently boards the Russian command sub and turns their cruise missiles against the fleet, the entire Russian invasion breaks down and they withdraw across the entire East Coast.
    • The Russian invasion of Europe. ALL OF IT. Former Soviet Generals, eat your heart out.
      • They had the admittedly huge advantage of the simultaneous chemical strikes on all the European capitals to clear the way, and the NATO counterattack beats them back within mere days anyway.
      • Though how exactly you drive an army into France, from Russia, without being noticed by any of the other countries between those two, remains unclear and a source of great jealousy for those nations NOT equipped with Whole Army Stealth Systems.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: The last level of Modern Warfare 3 puts the player in Juggernaut armor, not seen anywhere else in singleplayer, and then allows you to rampage with it by marching directly into the teeth of multiple waves of enemies, backed up by RPG teams, without any cover to hide behind... and without needing any. Then you're stripped of your armor and have to proceed normally for the rest of the level.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: In Call of Duty 4, you had the U.S. Marine Corps' Force Recon and the British S.A.S. In Modern Warfare 2, you have the international special ops unit Task Force 141 (made of the best soldiers from the best units) , and the U.S. Army Rangers. And one mission for the CIA.... Modern Warfare 3 sets you in the boots of Delta Force, more S.A.S., Spetsnaz and (Russian) Secret Service characters, with French GIGN and U.S. Navy SEALs as NPC allies.
    • The aforementioned CIA mission subverts this by being completely devoid of glamor, that goes oh-so-horribly-wrong at the end.
    • Controlling elite forces actually justifies why you're being handed the very latest in military hardware (thermal sights, heartbeat sensors, etc.). Cpl. Dunn remarks at one point that Delta Force have access to fancier gadgets and tools than the Army Rangers.
  • Elite Mooks: Shadow Company in Modern Warfare 2. They have about 50% more health than normal soldiers, and can usually survive 1 additional bullet compared to everyone else. They are also notably better shots than most enemies, carry better weapons, and sometimes use smoke grenades to cover themselves. Justified, as they are Americans (though it's not explained whether they are mercenaries or soldiers) and so would have access to better equipment and training than the Ultranationalist Russians you've been fighting throughout the game.
    • Juggernauts in the same game, but only in Special Ops. They take a ridiculous amount of damage... and that's not counting the fact they take five .50BMG rounds to the face before dying.
    • In Survival Mode in Modern Warfare 3, enemies get stronger over time, until you are fighting commands and heavy commandos, who take seven to ten rifle rounds or two to three knife hits to bring down, and carry western assault rifles (like the ACR) and tons of grenades.
  • Emergency Weapon: The knife, although several of the Modern Warfare 2 perks and the Tactical Knife 'attachment' make it less so.
    • Easily subverted in multiplayer, where many veteran players have a gear and perk configuration based entirely around running around and stabbing people, and one of the more infamous issues with Modern Warfare 2.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: There's an abandoned teddy bear in just about every single multiplayer level of CoD4. One even pops up, prominently lit, in an empty safehouse in MW2. MW2 also has one pinned to a wall with a knife through its head.
    • There is also an inflatable sex doll found in a bathtub in Makarov's hideout. No telling whose it was.
    • The inflatable sex dolls are also in multiple places in the Multiplayer and Spec Ops, albeit usually tucked away out of plain sight...
  • Enemy Chatter: After a Deal with the Devil, Price somehow manages to score not only Shepherd's location but also a "decryption code" allowing himself and Soap to tap into Shadow Company's wireless voice communications.
  • Enemy Mine: After Shepherd's betrayal, Price invokes this to get Makarov to divulge the location of Shepherd's hideout.
    • As it turns out, the entire enemy plot was one big example, which came entirely unravelled at the end of MW 2 when everybody proceeded to stab eachother in the back.
  • Escort Mission: Mostly averted. You rescue and protect VIP Nikolai in the first game, but he's invincible and can fight.
    • Similarly, the "One Shot One Kill" mission requires you to carry the now-disabled Captain MacMillan to safety (no sprinting). He can be killed BUT he does provide excellent cover fire for you when you put him down, which is useful.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In the second game, Shepherd's betrayal of Task Force 141 in the mission "Loose Ends."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Inverted with Makarov. He quit the Ultranationalists because they weren't evil enough. Played straight with Yuri, who saw how increasingly insane and monstrous Makarov was becoming.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Everyone but Soap and Price dies at the end of Modern Warfare. And again (though only for Task Force 141 this time) in Modern Warfare 2.
    • Not necessarily. Archer and Toad may have escaped at the end of the level "Loose Ends" since they were far enough away to provide sniper support. Also since Rook(as the last TF 141 member you see alive) was still alive by the betrayal, its possible other Task Force members might still be alive.
    • Ultimately, by the end of the events of MW3, The only major squad members we know to still be alive are Price, Nikolai and probably Frost, who hadn't gone to the Siberian Mine mission. The Rangers from MW2 don't show up in MW3, so we don't know if they survived, and the SAS members from the London mission would have been dealing with the chemical attack, so we have no idea if they lived. They were wearing Gas Masks though and Russia didn't manage to invade England, so they might be alive.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: If a car gets shot enough, it explodes. Naturally, tanks and other armored vehicles are immune to this, which is why you have RPGs and Javelin Missile Launchers.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: A lot of the guys you hear from, you'll only know them by their callsigns. And even if you know their names, chances are the other guys they'll be talking to will only know them by their callsigns. Examples include: Overlord, Baseplate, Honey Badger, Excalibur, Disciple, Oxide, Avatar, Sat1, Thunder 1-1 and almost the entirety of Task Force 141.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Modern Warfare 2's relevant level is called "The Enemy of my Enemy", and is caused by Shepherd deciding that Makarov, as well as everyone else, has outlived his usefulness. It's notable that Infinity Ward could have covered all the necessary plot points in a cutscene, but chose to make a full level instead.
    • Also comes up in "One Shot, One Kill" where a number of feral dogs can attack the Ultranationalists and kill several.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Shadow Company soldiers' voices, which are pretty damn scary.
    • Inverted with Makarov, who speaks in a somewhat high-pitched rasp. Doesn't make him sound any less scary, though.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games are... Call of Duty in a modern war setting. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Exact Words: In Modern Warfare 3, after (what remains of) Task Force 141 corners Warabe, Price tosses a canister of toxic gas that he deals with and promises a gas mask in exchange for information on Makarov's bomb-maker. He spills and Price fulfills his end of the bargain... he just forgot to mention the bullet to the face that came with it.
  • Executive Meddling: Bobby Kotick broke up the dev team due to drama over royalty payments, and charged co-development of MW3 to series newcomer Sledgehammer Games.
  • Explosions in Space: Played painfully straight during the sequence in which a nuclear warhead ICBM is launched by Price and detonates above the atmosphere over Washington DC, creating an Electro Magnetic Pulse that disables the invading Russian vehicles... and other things. Not only does the resultant explosion have a Planar Shockwave, but there's also a delayed air pressure shockwave that destroys the observing International Space Station.
  • Expy: Ghost to Gaz, they play the second-in-command to the captain of their respective squad, played by the same actor, and are executed by high-caliber pistol.
    • Sandman in 3 is basically Sgt. Sanderson plucked straight from Black Hawk Down
  • Eye Scream: In Modern Warfare 2, Soap kills General Shepherd by throwing a knife at him. It hits him in the eye.
  • Faceless Goons: A lot of the Ultranationalists and Al-Asad's soldiers wear face-concealing masks, as do a few of the Favela gang members in Rio. Later Shepherd's Shadow Company troops wear helmets and balaclavas.
  • Fan Nickname: "Grenade of Grenade: Grenade Grenade" and "Stay Frosty Oscar Mike: Ramirez Do Everything!"
  • Fake Balance: Check the trope page.
  • False Flag Operation: In Modern Warfare 2, Makarov kills a known American agent after said agent takes part in a civilian massacre without realizing his cover's already blown, leaving the body so the Americans will be blamed. In a variation, the evidence is not forged, just taken out of context.
    • Then it happens again when Price launches the nuke to send an electromagnetic pulse over Washington, DC. Before the missile has even hit its target, even though there might have still been time to shoot it down, Shepherd is blaming Makarov in order to get his blank check.
  • Fatal Family Photo: After completing the "Mile High Club" mission at the end of Call of Duty 4, a photo depicting Vasquez, Price, Gaz, and Griggs is shown. With the exception of Price, everyone in the photo is dead by the end of the game.
    • At the end of MW2 there is a photo of Task Force 141. Although only Price, Soap, and Ghost are recognizable anyway, only Soap and Price are known to still be alive at the end.
    • And in MW3 there's a photo of Soap, Price, Sandman, and Ghost. Again, with the exception of Price, everyone in the photo dies.
    • Somewhat unusually for this trope, the pictures at in MW1 & MW2 are shown at the end, meaning the characters are already dead. For the one in MW3 Sandman is the only one who's face isn't initially blacked out (though it's not too hard to recognize the characters), Ghost is already dead, and when all the faces are revealed Soap is dead as well.
    • Video version in MW3, you briefly take control of a father recording his daughter and wife while on vacation in London. Then you notice a delivery truck in the background which is the exact same type as the ones the SAS were hunting down in the mission immediately prior... and then it detonates a dirty bomb which instantly kills the girl (and probably the wife) while the husband gets to survive just long enough to die from exposure to chemicals/radiation.
  • Field Promotion: After the events of Modern Warfare, Soap has been promoted all the way from Sergeant to Captain.
  • Final Battle: Dust to Dust in Modern Warfare 3.
  • Finishing Stomp: Done to Soap by General Shepherd.
  • Fission Mailed: The missions "Shock and Awe" and "Game Over" in Modern Warfare.
    • There are many more of these sequences in Modern Warfare 2. The most notable examples: Roach is nearly blown up by a mortar, but survives it...just long enough to get shot in the chest and killed off for real. A little later, Soap is slammed over the head, stabbed in the stomach, and stamped on the face all in a row. None of these actually kill him.
    • And, most notably, when the defense of a downed aircraft ends with a blinding flash. Some time later we learn that Pvt. Ramirez hasn't met the fate of Sgt. Jackson from the first game.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Taskforce-141, which includes some of the best of the best of both US and British Special Forces, gives its members codenames which include "Taco" and "Worm". Special mention goes to our hero, "Soap" MacTavish.
    • This tends to actually be the case with most military members. A callsign is bestowed upon you, not picked by you, and it is not usually because of your proudest moment.
      • Soap.
    • Do you think that "Honey Badger" is a bad name? Think again.
  • Foreshadowing: There's actually a decent amount of this regarding General Shepherd's Face-Heel Turn.
    • More subtly, in "Game Over!", black birds (presumably ravens) can be seen when the helicopter first comes into view. That helicopter then blows up the bridge you're going over for extract, sealing Gaz and Griggs's fates.
    • Also, towards the end of "Of Their Own Accord", you can hear Overlord ordering every unit in the city to "get the hell out of there!" before the nuclear missile Price launches in the next level hits.
    • The end of the MW3 mission "Persona Non Grata" briefly shows some rather elaborate tattoos on Yuri's arm. They're from back when he was an Ultranationalist. When his face first appears in the intro to the same level, a Call of Duty 4-era ultranationalist with a gas mask is briefly shown in the background. Yuri was a Call of Duty 4-era Ultranationalist.
    • When Sandman is first introduced, there's a picture of him and two guys with blacked out faces. They're Price and Ghost, and the picture is the Fatal Family Photo of Operation: Kingfish. Soap is also in the picture
    • An unintentional example: also in "Persona Non Grata", when taking control of the UGV, looking back at the control station reveals Yuri using Kamarov's model from Call of Duty 4. Kamarov shows up to help later on, though he doesn't actually do much before he dies.
  • A Friend in Need: Nikolai comes to Soap's rescue in Brazil and then remains the only one to stand by Soap and Price when they are framed as terrorists. Guess he takes care of his friends, too, even when the whole world is against them. The fact that it isn't pointed out anywhere in the game, makes it ever more awesome.
    • Then again, five years before, guess who personally "walked him out of there" when he had been caught and tortured by the Ultranationalists? That's right, Soap himself.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There's a surprising amount of background information on the characters during the loading cutscenes, in all the text that briefly appears. For example, in the intro to "No Russian" you can get a rather detailed breakdown of the terror campaign Makarov's been going on (he's killed thousands, making the airport massacre Tuesday), and during the loading scene for "Takedown" you can learn that Rojas supplies governments and mercenaries and serves as a buffer between the two as well.
  • From Bad to Worse: Invoked twice in CoD4. The first time is just after you've rescued the downed American chopper pilot, then as you're being evac'ed, a nuke goes off, crashing your helicopter and killing the Marine character Sgt. Paul Jackson. The second time is when the joint S.A.S.-Marine squad is making their way toward Zakhaev at the missile silo, only to watch in horror as two ICBMs launch and head toward America, where the projected casualty rate will be almost 42 million instantly killed.
    • Arguably the point of Modern Warfare 2.
      Price: "Out of the frying pan" is more like it. This world looks more like hell than the one I just left.
      • Taken to eleven in Modern Warfare 3, if the advertising campaign is anything to go on. A poster with a Time magazine mock-up, showing a mostly destroyed or crumbling urban center, with the headliner "World On The Brink" featured prominently.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The first training mission for the first two games are F.N.G and S.S.D.D. Shepard says it's, "Same shit, different day" just before the reveal of the mission title and F.N.G needs little introduction: you're introduced as said friggin new guy and the regiment is despairing training you up.
  • Funny Background Event: If you stealthily approach the VIP's house in Arcadia, you can surprise a Russian soldier inside, who is busy raiding the fridge, despite wearing a full gas mask.
    • A very, very, very dark one in the No Russian level. After the shooting starts, the flight schedule suddenly shifts all flights to "delayed". Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. It does nothing to really help that level, though.
  • Gatling Good: You know the part in CoD4. Also, Modern Warfare 2 seems to be in love with this trope. Gatling guns as sentry guns, Gatling guns on helicopters, Gatling guns on planes, player-used Gatling guns, Gatling guns on SUVs, Gatling guns on Humvees, about the only thing a Gatling gun isn't attached to is tanks or being as a BFG.
    • This is a bit of truth in video games, as Humvees, helicopters, planes, and even SUVs can be equipped with Gatling guns. There are in fact real-life SUVs with Gatling gun roof-turrets exactly like the ones that Shadow Company use.
    • In Modern Warfare 3, you can wield Gatling guns on helicopters, tanks, and a remote controlled vehicle armed with a gatling gun and a grenade launcher.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Players have discovered how to glitch the console versions to allow unlimited ammo and no need to reload, ever. This leads to a More Dakka grenade spam fest the likes of which the world has never known.
    • Ok, the Dakka bar has been raised. The glitch works on the AC-130 Killstreak Reward, meaning that it can fire its 105 mm cannon (the size of an artillery shell) at machinegun speed. ...My god (4:00).
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Only for major characters, whereas New Meat dies just as easily as the protagonist.
    • A mixed bag in the case of Task Force 141 — certain men are almost guaranteed to die, although it is possible to prevent this, while other operators are outright Redshirts; on the other hand, during "Loose Ends" both Ozone and Scarecrow have this until you plant the DSM. Makarov's partners during "No Russian" also are almost guaranteed to die, and if you somehow manage to prevent this will actually stop and disappear at the end of the level.
  • Gamers Are Morons: The primary justification for switching to IWnet was that it's "more accessible" than opening a server list and clicking on a server.
  • Gang Up on the Human: "Enemy of My Enemy" notably has two large factions of NPC's (Makarov's men and Shadow Company) fighting each other instead of you, both having several dozen men and a lot of vehicles. Your goal is to not attract attention and just get away, however, if spotted by anyone, everyone stops firing at each other and turns their attention to you immediately.
  • Genre Savvy: General Shepherd knows when an entire squad of men suddenly drop out of contact that he's being hunted by Soap and Price and orders an immediate evacuation, knowing they can't stop them.
    • Sergeant Foley of all people knows that if you have a Player Character in your squad, make good use of him.
  • Giant Mook: The Juggernauts. They soak up .50BMG rounds like a sponge, and nearly everything else is useless. To elaborate, killing a Juggernaut takes about 2.5 full magazines of assault rifle fire, 14 shotgun blasts, nearly 60 rounds of machinegun fire, or 5-6 direct hits from a M203 40mm grenade launcher, putting them on par with fantasy enemies like Heavy Armor soldiers from F.E.A.R. or Boomers from Gears of War. Fortunately, for realism and balancing issues they're pretty much exclusive to Special Ops missions and multiplayer in 3 - the sole time they show up in the campaign, you are said Juggernaut.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Toward the end of the American missions in MW 2, things get so bad that they enact "Hammerdown", an emergency protocol for the capital being overrun is to carpet-bomb everything in Russian control. Your objective is to fight your way to the top of the goddamn White House and deploy green flares to show that it's still in American hands. Seeing how most surrounding buildings had flares too, this measure is ultimately unnecessary.
    • Before that happens, another one: One of the first thing Price does after being freed is detonate a nuclear missile above the eastern seaboard to EMP the hell out of everything, with the rationale that thing couldn't possibly get worse for the Yanks. He's right to do so, since ultimately it gives the Americans a window of advantage to retake everything, as seen above.
  • Golden Snitch: In the multiplayer of Modern Warfare 2, you can choose to have your third killstreak be a Tactical Nuke, which immediately wins the game for you after 25 kills in one life, regardless of your team's score. Naturally, this didn't return in Modern Warfare 3 (though it instead had the similar "secret" M.O.A.B. streak: same number of kills necessary, but rather than ending the game immediately, your team just gets doubled experience for the rest of the round, and it kills every enemy on the map, no matter where they are, and you don't have to give up one of your three "regular" killstreaks to get it).
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: After the EMP strike, the Rangers encounter a fellow soldier acting as a "runner", who has been sent to regroup the remaining soldiers to retake the White House.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Sarge? Did HQ just tell us to go "F" ourselves?"
  • Gravity Screw: On the Russian plane, the pilot loses control for a moment during which everyone inside gets weightless. In the middle of a firefight.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Oh so much. Raid on the cargo ship? Lost in a storm. Your heroic saving of Pelayo? No one knows about it thanks to the nuke. Your CO's executing Al-Asad? Nope. He's presumably said to have died in the nuclear explosion. How about SAVING THE US FROM A MASSIVE NUCLEAR INVASION, watching your friends be gunned down and killing the world's Big Bad? Nope! "Missile tests" and "skirmishes". Hijacking a submarine and stopping a Russian invasion? Of course not!
    • Most likely averted with Team Metal's actions though. Their turning the battle of New York (and the invasion of America) isn't going to be forgotten (their commander even calls it "one for the books"), they won't be forgotten for saving the Vice President, the President knows that they took down Volk, and them sacrificing themselves to save the Russian President and end WWIII definitely won't be forgotten.
  • Grenade Spam: Quite possibly the Trope Namer. Not as bad in singleplayer as in the WWII games, though.
  • Grenade Tag: If you get stuck with a Semtex grenade, kiss your ass goodbye.
  • Gun Accessories: So very many of them; gun customization is half the fun in multiplayer.
  • Guns Akimbo: In Modern Warfare 2, where you can get dual weapons in Story and Spec Ops Mode and unlock them in Multiplayer. And you can get dual Desert Eagles.
    • Dual Desert Eagles as 'More Dakka'? Please. Dual P90s (there's a reason it's called a "bullet hose") w/ the "Rapid Fire" or "Extended Mags" attachments. That's More Dakka.
    • Dual lever action shotguns.
      • This particular combination ended up being one of the iconic multiplayer "wrongs," alongside the Javelin and infinite glitches, noob tubing, and knifing, to the point that when Infinity Ward finally released a patch to reduce their effectiveness, hackers promptly got to work trying to circumvent it.
    • In Down The Rabbit Hole Grinch dual wields Desert Eagles, at two different targets.
  • Guns Are Worthless: One of the more popular multiplayer setups in Modern Warfare 2 is Marathon/Lightweight/Commando. The high movement speed works with lag to make the user very difficult to hit, while Commando effectively renders the user invulnerable for a brief period when stabbing and allows him to stab people from farther away than usual.
    • Oddly inverted with an unfixed bug in Call of Duty 4 - attaching a suppressor to the G3 causes knife stabs initiated with it to take a full extra second to registernote , by which time it's entirely possible for your target to have moved out of the way if he didn't just knife you first.
  • Gunship Rescue:
    • Modern Warfare 1 featured at least three Gunship Rescue scenes: one is in the USMC mission "The Bog", featuring two Super Cobras coming to the squad's rescue when it's overwhelmed by enemies; the second features a Lockheed AC-130 gunship appearing just before the team faces an enemy armored platoon; and the third one is in the very end, when a Havoc arrives to rescue Soap in the last damn moment, it's too late for Gaz and Griggs though. There's also a mission where you can call in a Mi-28 at will, so whether it invokes a Big Damn Heroes moment depends entirely on you.
    • Modern Warfare 2: When Roach and Ghost escape from Makarov's safehouse, chased by dozens of Russian Mooks. 30 meters from the extraction point, you get knocked out by a mortar right next to you, only to awaken while being dragged away by the collar by Ghost. As you try to take some more enemies down through your blurry gaze, the ringing in the ears turns into the unmistakeably sound of miniguns warming up and a chopper flies over your head, completely shredding the pursuing soldiers to pieces. But once you're up on your feet and handed the retrieved data to General Shepherd, he shoots Roach and Ghost and burns their bodies in a ditch.
    • The gunship levels from the first game return in the third, in which you have to blast free a path out of Paris for the soldiers who captured Volk. Earlier in the level and in the previous one you can throw purple smoke grenades to call an airstrike. At the end of the level, the Delta Force soldiers are making a stand on the Pont d'Iéna against vastly superior Russian forces with heavy tank backup. Just as you start to run out of ammo and the tanks close in, American bombers come in and obliterate the Russian forces. Unfortunately, this causes the Eiffel Tower to collapse. In Sierra Leone you can take remote control of the gun on Nikolai's gunship and to take care of the Russian tanks in Berlin you are given a target designator for an A-10, "the tank's natural enemy".
  • Happy Ending Override: Happens in the opening scene of Modern Warfare 2. It turns out that despite everything you did in the first game, the Ultranationalists ended up seizing power anyway and Zakhaev is now considered a national hero in Russia.
  • Harder Than Hard: The "Veteran" difficulty level. Technically subverted as of Modern Warfare 2, where the four difficulties roughly equate to "Very Easy" (not available in Spec Ops), "Easy", "Normal", and "Hard". It won't stop Veteran from sniping you in the crotch from halfway across the world.
    • It also subverts Easier Than Easy (assuming Recruit equates to Very Easy, which is implied at the difficulty select screen which describes it as "casual") because even on Recruit, you will die. A few times. Maybe even a lot.
  • Hatedom: The rage about the Dedicated Server brouhaha and the infamous lack of multiplayer balance aside, this hatedom is one part Hype Aversion, one part "lol it's the same game", and one part "it's not realistic".
  • Hellish Copter: Poor Sergeant Jackson.
    • Subverted in Modern Warfare 3. At the end of the "Black Tuesday" mission, Frost's helicopter takes a hard hit and it looks like it's going to crash into a New York high-rise, but it levels out just in time and flies away safely.
  • Heroic Mime: The player character never speaks while you are playing as him. However, a flashback mission in Modern Warfare has you playing as the otherwise-talkative Captain (then-Lieutenant) Price, and the guy you play as in "Death from Above" is just as talkative as the rest of the gunship's crew. In Modern Warfare 2, Soap, the PC from the previous game, is now your team leader, though he stops talking when you take control of him again later on.
    • In coop Spec Ops mode and multiplayer, no one can hear what their own character says, but they can hear what their teammates say.
    • Averted in the last mission of Modern Warfare 3, where, in the vein of Black Ops, Captain Price is just as chatty as ever when it's his turn to be the Player Character again.
    • Also averted briefly in "No Russian" in Modern Warfare 2, where Private Allen is heard once ("Copy, second floor window!") while responding to a teammate.
    • Also averted with both Warhammer and Yuri, though Yuri usually only talks in cutscenes.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The case for all of the playable characters, although subverted by Call of Duty 4 with "Death From Above" where you can see your SAS team and usual character as little splotches of black or white (depending on whether you chose a "black hot" or "white hot" thermal setting), and turned around in Modern Warfare 2 where you're a newer operator and the player character in 4 is now your NPC team leader.
    • Also used with your Mission Control: Baseplate in MW, and Overlord in MW2. Worth noting is that they're both played by the same voice actor. Averted across the series in the third game, however, where the new Baseplate in Modern Warfare 3 turns out to be MacMillan from Call of Duty 4.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Russian police and airport security you fight in "No Russian".
  • The Hero Dies: Several times, but done most tear-jerkingly with Soap in the third game.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Invoked towards the end of Modern Warfare 3 by Team Metal.
    • In Modern Warfare 1 Griggs is killed while trying to get an incapacitated Soap to safety.
    • Doubly subverted in the same game when Jackson's squads of Marines successfully rescue a downed pilot when it's known that a nuclear threat is likely. They retrieve the pilot, only for the nuke to go off maybe thirty seconds after they take off again.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: British players above a certain age may realise that Captain Price is voiced by DC Don Beech. In Modern Warfare 2, U.S. Army Ranger squad leader Sgt. Foley is played by Keith David. So yes, as Pvt. Ramirez you have The Arbiter / Captain Anderson leading your squad. Also, Bishop / Admiral Hackett plays General Shepherd.
    • Also worth noting is that the HQs (Baseplate and Overlord for MW and MW2, respectively) are played by the same guy. The same guy (Dave Mallow) also voices most of the helicopter pilots.
      • Mallow also fulfills a similar role to his HQ persona in the movie Black Hawk Down as the air operations commander issuing most of the radio commands to the Army helicopter pilots.
    • "Hey, Cpl. Dunn, you sound famila-OH MY GOD ZEUS HAS BEEN SPOTTED! OPEN FIRE!"
    • Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson did some voice acting for the game (as the multiplayer announcer for the Navy SEALs). Cue Fan Dumb declaring they would not buy the game.
    • Soap MacTavish is played by Kevin McKidd. In what would be a somewhat recursive instance, McKidd has stated that Infinity Ward expressed interest in having him play Soap in a movie adaptation, but since the movie is still hypothetical, it's not a certainty.
      • Hell, the game itself could be a movie!
    • Will GOB Arnett also lent his uber-husky tones, having publicly professed his love for the series. Damned if anyone can tell who he is from the morass of gruff and husky voices that proliferate the soundtrack.
    • Overlord is Agent Aaron Pierce.
    • Also in the third game, Stringer Bell, Thomas Gabriel, and Sanderson are members of Delta.
    • Captain MacMillan is voiced by Vincent Van Gogh
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Captain MacMillan does this to a soldier (who drops the only accessorized P90 in single-player) with his rifle during the level where you play as Captain Price in the past during CoD4.
    Captain MacMillan: Oi! Suzy!
    • Captain Price has his own variation in "Just Like Old Times"... with a knife.
  • Hide Your Children: Horribly averted in the third game with the Davis Vacation Scene. It's a video from the perspective of a camcorder showing a family on vacation in London. A little girl is playing with some birds when a terrorist bomb in a truck next to her suddenly explodes.
    • Played straight in the infamous No Russian level of the second game. Despite being a major Russian airport, not a single child can be seen among all the civilians. Most likely since the nature of the level was controversial enough.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Soap kills Shepherd by pulling out the knife which the latter stabbed him with and throws it into his head while he's distracted.
  • Hold the Line:
    • In Modern Warfare, after killing al-Asad you have to defend your position against enemy troops until your ride out of there arrives, steadily falling back after to more defensible positions towards the primary landing zone (LZ). This is turned around later in the mission, where you have to advance through the same territory you'd conceded to the enemy earlier, and reach the new LZ before the helicopter reaches "bingo" fuel. Gaz is not happy.
      • Neither is the player in Veteran mode. 3 minutes to get to the LZ, and a nonstop pit of super-accurate Russian soldiers swarming from across the only two stretches of land you can pass through. You could expend 30 rounds killing 10 soldiers in front of you only to get shot dead by 10 more arriving on your flank.
    • The ending of the mission "One Shot, One Kill" has you and a paralyzed-from-the-waist-down Captain MacMillan defending a fairground in Pripyat against an endless spawn of baddies until the helicopter arrives to get you out of there.
    • "Wolverines!" in Modern Warfare 2 features a sequence where you have to defend a restaurant containing a VIP from Russian soldiers, who will climb onto the roof from two separate ladders while you're supposed to have a sentry gun pointed elsewhere.
    • "Loose Ends" has you holding a mountain estate while a portable hard drive with the worst transfer speeds ever takes anywhere from twenty-eight hours to four minutes to perform a file dump. It actually only takes around five minutes, but the file transfer status shown on the HUD makes you wonder why the manufacturer's building hardware for TF141.
      • It doesn't help that fellow TF141 operator Scarecrow, the main NPC guard for the portable hard drive, simply stands next to it in a de facto hallway and fires towards the front door despite his complete lack of cover or even concealment, while the layout of the ground floor allows two or three routes for enemy troops to reach the DSM. Fortunately, two of those routes merge directly in front of his fire arc, and the enemy helicopter-inserted troops can be interdicted, i.e. shooting them down once they fast rope down or even shooting down the helicopter in midair.
    • The end parts of Iron Lady and Down the Rabbit Hole has you holding out for a couple of minutes protecting a VIP while evac arrives.
  • Hollywood Tactics: When supporting a seaborne invasion, you'd probably be better served having your carrier stand off a little ways from the beachhead rather than being parked fifty yards from shore, Russia.
  • Homage: Zakhaev's son's tracksuit is a homage to Behind Enemy Lines.
    • A lot of the American campaign in MW2 uses elements from Red Dawn (1984).
    • A ruthless American General-turned-bad who has a team of black-clad mercenary commandos called Shadow Company? Lethal Weapon, anyone?
    • Chasing Rojas through Rio in "Takedown" recalls a different team of commandos chasing Bruce Banner down those same alleyways in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.
    • Soap being held up by Russian soldiers in "Cliffhanger" is similar to an early scene from GoldenEye.
  • Hope Spot: "Checkpoint Reached". The game's auto-save feature is pretty good at avoiding "unsurvivable" moments.
    • Story-wise, there's a small moment in "Loose Ends" after Roach has been hit by a mortar, where it seems like he's going to make it out all right, complete with the enemy suddenly going Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy while he's magically handed a whopping nine magazines and 40mm grenades to go with his new AK. Then Shepherd shoots him.
    • A couple in Modern Warfare 3 - A small one early on, when you're a Russian FSO agent tasked with locating and defending the president from an attack after a plane crash. You get him to a chopper for extraction, open the door, and find Makarov on the other side. Who promptly shoots you. There's another one in the ensuing conversation when you slowly go for a gun, but Makarov decides to finish you just as you pick it up.
    • When Yuri and Soap have to dive out of a window when a bomb goes off near them during the Kremlin mission in the third game, Price manages to get Soap back to the safehouse, just like he did at the beginning of the game. Never have the words, "Press X to help Soap" been so misleading. It looks like he'll survive, and then... "Oh no... no, no, no, NO! SOAP! NO!! NO!!! NOOO!!!"
  • How We Got Here: One mission begins with your team surrounded by smoking wreckage, with your squad leader screaming at you to get off the street and reporting on the radio how badly everything is going. It then flashes back to twenty minutes earlier as your team is being inserted at the start of an operation.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Ramirez! Add another trope entry!
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted, as you can only carry up to two weapons. The first Modern Warfare limited it to a primary and a sidearm, with heavier weapons requiring a Perk slot, or the Overkill perk used to equip two primaries. In Modern Warfare 2, still averted, but while the Overkill perk is gone the secondary weapon may be a sidearm, a shotgun, or an explosives launcher. The Riot Shield counts as a primary weapon, while the One Man Army perk (change classes without having to die first) prevents you from equipping a secondary weapon. Oddly enough, in 3rd Person mode even sidearms will be carried on the character's back. In the story modes and co-op mode though the player character may carry any two different weapons (or weapon configurations) of any type, and will do so several times through the story.
    • You can also see every weapon on your fellow NPCs during the story mode.
    • There are some single-player story mode weapons that mount more attachments than they can have in multiplayer; for example, the M4A1 SOPMOD (Red Dot Sight, Suppressor, M203 Grenade Launcher), or the special ACR from Modern Warfare 2's "Cliffhanger" level: Red Dot Sight, Suppressor, and Heartbeat Sensor.
    • Step 1: Select a class with One Man Army. Step 2: Use all your ammunition. Step 3: Use One Man Army to switch to a class with One Man Army. For maximum fun, equip both classes with grenade launchers.

    India to Quebec 
  • Identical Grandson: Modern Warfare's Captain Price looks just like (right down to the righteous mustache) Captain Price in Call of Duty 2 who looked like Captain Price in Call of Duty.
    • The Price Mustache has been passed down the Price line for generations!.
    • Also, Sgt. Reznov in World at War is an ancestor of Zakhaev from Modern Warfare.
    • Also, Foley, who was present in the first game, makes a reappearance in Modern Warfare 2. However, the first Foley was white and a captain while the Modern Warfare 2 version is black and a sergeant. His go-to guy, Ramirez, was in United Offensive as a sergeant.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Recruit, Regular, Hardened, and Veteran. Modern Warfare 2 suggests these translate to "Very Easy," "Easy," "Normal," and "Hard," respectively, due to the exclusion of "Recruit" from the difficulty list in Spec Ops.
  • Implacable Man: In multiplayer, anyone who knows how to properly use the riot shield. Quickly becomes the bane of the other team in Headquarters Pro matches, as the headquarters may only be captured or destroyed if no opposing players are within range.
    • The last level of MW3 starts with Yuri putting on a juggernaut suit and picking up a machine gun. And turns out, so do you! Then you kick the door of the van open and jump out in front of Markarovs Hotel. The guards in their fine suits don't stand a chance.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Military usage of the Desert Eagle, the RPD and AK-47 are in service despite being outdated and replaced by modern models in real life, the Russians use NATO-calibre bullpup assault rifles like the FAMAS and the Tavor, and African militias wielding the Peruvian FAD. The series loves this as much as Soap loves Plan B.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Completion achievements in MW2, such as Soap On A Rope? Really?!!
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in Modern Warfare 3. We see a little girl on vacation with her family get killed by a truck bomb full of poison gas.
    • Played straight in "No Russian" since not a single child can be seen among the civilians. This was likely because the level was already controversial enough as it was...
  • In Medias Res: The series as a whole begins in the midst of a Russian civil war in 2011. We are never given any explanation as to the causes of this situation, but needless to say, it serves as a catalyst for everything else that happens.
    • Each of the later games similarly begins in the middle of one ongoing war or another, with the context of what's going on getting explained as you go along.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: a series staple since the first game is that a closed door might as well be a steel bank vault covered in barbed wire and tigers if your superiors aren't around to open it. Justified in that doors are incredibly complicated machines that require years of specialist training to operate.
    • Finally in MW3 you are allowed to open a door... and immediately get punched down a flight of stairs for doing it.
      • MW2 allows you to smash through windows that are big enough.
      • There are three other occasions in the third game where you're prompted to open a door by a superior officer earlier than the above. The first time is the side door of an Mi-8 Hip, which turns out to be carrying Makarov, who promptly shoots you and kidnaps the man you've been trying to rescue. The second leads out of a church, and upon opening it you are immediately attacked by a hyena and a group of enemies. The third is the back of a truck believed to be holding a bomb, which under normal circumstances ends up empty and nothing bad happens, yet. However, if you took the option to skip the "Davis Family Vacation" scene, the truck ends up being the real deal, exploding and killing your entire squad.
    • There's also many of the regular fences around to stop you wandering off the map.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Subverted; sometimes in campaign, if shot once in the leg, enemies will crawl around or draw their guns when downed. With the Last Stand perk, someone taking will receive a chance for payback by drawing their sidearm while downed. With the Final Stand deathstreak, your character will draw their primary weapon, and if they manage to survive long enough, will be able to pick themselves up and return to the fight.
    • Watching two players with Last Stand incap each other at the same time, and then begin wildly trying to finish the other off with their sidearms first is awesome.
      • Hilarity ensues if one of them has Final Stand, wins, then gets up in time to kill the loser when he comes back for revenge.
    • Mostly averted in CoD4, enemies can survive multiple shots to the chest. The knife and shotguns can kill in one shot, though (assuming you're within range to hit with them). Played straight at the end, when Soap kills Zakhaev and his two men with one shot each, no matter where the player actually hits them.
    • Horrifically averted with Roach. He's clipped by a mortar, and then shot point-blank in the chest with a Hand Cannon. He's still alive when Shepherd sets him on fire.
    • Also notably averted with Yuri, who has the distinction of being the only person in the campaign to not only survive being shot at point-blank range with a Desert Eagle and live, but he even has the strength to stumble around for a while before blacking out trying to stop Makarov's massacre at the airport.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Get a 25 killstreak in multiplayer? Congratulations, your team wins, no matter how much you were losing (though to even get 25 kills in a row either your team was winning anyway or it's because of an immense fluke).
  • Interface Screw: Dropping a M.O.A.B. in multiplayer results in a few seconds of slow-mo for everyone before the enemies of the player who called the bomb die. Should the game switch hosts while this happens, the countdown before resuming is slowed down as well, leading to a three-second timer that takes fifteen.
    • EMP's do this in-universe by disabling all electronics (and all electronic weapon-guiding interfaces) and even causes static to appear devices that are minimally electronic (like Thermal Scopes).
  • Invaded States of America: Russia invades the United States as revenge for what they thought was a terrorist attack on their soil sponsored by the United States.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Averted. The level "The Coup" in CoD4 shows civilians fleeing from and subsequently being gunned down by Al-Asad's soldiers.
    • Part of "Takedown" in MW2 has civilians fleeing the battle between your unit and Rojas's militia, and said civilians will be killed if they're caught in the crossfire. Killing too many yourself is a Non-Standard Game Over; in "O Cristo Redentor" (a Special Ops mission using this map) each difficulty has a certain number of acceptable civilian casualties.
    • Averted in "No Russian," where killing civilians, or at least allowing it to happen, is part of the entire point of the mission.
    • The Paris missions also show lots of dead civilians from the gas attacks.
  • In the Back
  • Ironic Echo: "Since when does Shepherd care about danger close..."
  • Ironic Name: The first name of the terrorist you spend most of the game fighting (Vladimir Makarov) name means "ruler of peace".
  • It's Personal: The death of Soap in 3 finally brings the conflict with Makarov home for Price. As for Yuri, his desire to end Makarov started back in "No Russian".
  • It's Up to You: Many, many examples. Let's just say that unless the player moves their ass and gets across the room, the enemies will usually keep spawning at the far end indefinitely. Though, to be fair the NPCs, especially the unkillable ones, sometimes act useful to the plot, too. Fortunately, in some case, it only looks infinite... particularly if you're just picking a really suboptimal approach to the objective. The first game has more justifiable examples in certain spots.
    • There are certain infinite spawns in MW, but MW2 does away with them: if you kill enough people, they will stop coming in every instance. That being said, there's a lot of places that have a lot of guys attacking from a lot of directions, possibly more than you have ammunition... the Gulag (and its Spec Ops counterpart "Breach and Clear") includes vertical flanking, but at least it's generally in one direction, while the favela missions "Takedown" and "The Hornet's Nest" are all about this.
    • Refreshingly averted on the first mission of MW1: the SAS operatives are so efficient at their job that a new player might actually have difficulty getting to enemies before they're gunned down. This sets the tone that "We are special forces, we do not screw around" early on though sadly it doesn't hold throughout the game, let alone the franchise.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Players in Modern Warfare 2 can be rewarded an emblem resembling the flag planting at Iwo Jima for killing a bomb-carrier in Sabotage or Demolition multiplayer game modes.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Shown in Call of Duty 4, where Price is beating the crap out of Al-Asad for info. Though this is the only time in the series the technique doesn't yield information; but Price learns what he needs to know when Zakhaev calls anyway, so he just executes Al-Asad.
    • Done twice in the Rio missions. In "Takedown" you capture Rojas's right-hand man, and MacTavish and Ghost torture him for info. In the next mission, you can see a post-torture Rojas chained to a wall with a power drill, car battery, cigarettes, etc, on a table nearby. Making this doubly creepy is that MacTavish apparently just tortured Rojas in a public street.
    • Sandman beats up Volk at the end of Bag and Drag, and he is presumably interrogated after Iron Lady. They following exchange happens in the next mission.
    Price: Did our man talk?
    Sandman: They always talk.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Unintentional or not, under a certain light the game can be seen as recruitment software. It succeeds too.
    • Kind of undone when you realize that one level involves the player killing a corrupt American general.
  • The Juggernaut: The Juggernauts. They only appear in Spec Ops and as a perk in multiplayer. Until the final level of 3, where you are the Juggernaut.
  • Jump Scare: During "Crew Expendable" if Soap moves too far away from Price while in the first cargo hold, a mook will usually leap out of nowhere, screaming and firing a Desert Eagle. This is practically guaranteed to make any player who encounters it for the first time brown their pants, especially because the mook can kill you in a couple of shots.
  • Justified Tutorial: As per the habit of the parent series, the tutorial is presented as having your character on a shooting range and training course where an instructor gives you a run-down on what are obviously game mechanics, with dialog written to sound like training instruction. The player's performance in the training course prompts the game to suggest a difficulty setting. The obvious fourth wall breaks like explaining aim assist or checking if you know how to switch weapons (tick box: recruit does have arms) do tend to swing these into unintentional hilarity; particularly when it's assumed you'll do something you don't have to, such as "he's spraying bullets all over the place" which can follow a controlled burst with every round on target.
    • Inverted in Modern Warfare 3, where there's no separate tutorial level and the first mission shows you hints along the way.
      • Then again, they assume that if you're playing the campaign of the third game, you've at least played the second and know what you're doing. In any case, there is a Special Ops mission that is basically the live-fire course from the previous game with a different layout, which could count as a tutorial level.
  • Just Plane Wrong: the intro to Modern Warfare 3's second mission has dialogue by F-22 pilots preparing an attack run, only for the cinematic to clearly show F-15 Eagles. Additionally, their drop tanks appear to be mislabeled as bombs, and the description of HARMs as JDAMs is totally off.
    • In Modern Warfare 2, during the attack on the Gulag, the jets that appear to support (and sometimes hinder) the assault are F-15's. However, the group assisting you is said to be the Navy. The Navy does not use the F-15.
    • The Mi-24 in all instalments is seen armed with both a fixed twin 30mm cannon and a trainable 12.7mm gatling gun; in real-life, those weapons are segregated amongst different Mi-24 variants.
  • Karma Houdini: For gassing and then physically devastating Europe, Russia got off relatively light. Granted, Russia as a whole isn't exactly responsible for the gassing part, but they sure took advantage of it; NATO, on the other hand, likely has become too weakened by the war's end to demand reparation and might have considered moving on the better course of action.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Price's summary executions of Al-Assad and Warrabe after interrogating them. Both victims really, really had it coming to them but still clearly paint Price as Good Is Not Nice, to put it mildly.
  • Kill 'em All: Modern Warfare does this twice, first to almost the entire American cast halfway through the game, then nearly all of the SAS characters at the end of the game; Soap survives, as does Price.
    • Modern Warfare 2 kills off almost everyone in Task Force 141 other than Soap, Price, and possibly Archer and Toad (Sniper Team One).
    • By the end of Modern Warfare 3 everyone except Price (and Nikolai) is dead, including Soap, Yuri, Delta Force, and even Kamarov.
    • It's legitimately easier to list who's still alive: Price, Nikolai, MacMillan, Burns, Wallcroft, Frost (presumably), and the Rangers: Col. Marshall, Ramirez, Dunn, and Foley.
  • Knight of Cerebus: As if the Modern Warfare series wasn't dark enough already, once Makarov makes his appearance things get more serious.
  • Knife Nut: One of the dominant playstyles in online games, particularly in 2 (alongside akimbo shotguns and infinite-ammo grenade launchers).
    • Arguably, any of the Player Characters depending on your actions. Price and Soap stand out, though, in that they continue the drawn-out knife kills even when the player isn't controlling them.
  • Leitmotif: Both games have short series of notes that make up parts of a lot of the other songs in each game. In 2's case, it even plays in multiplayer during quiet moments.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Plenty.
    • "Who's Soap?"
      • "Who the bloody hell is Yuri?"
    • Call of Duty 4 may have a very subtle bit of this in the role Soap takes in the squad. Contrary to real-world military tactics, wherein it can take hundreds of bullets to down a single man due to suppression fire and whatnot, shooter games expect the player to expend as little ammo as possible to kill enemies. So naturally, the player takes the role of the squadron's new sniper.
  • Large Ham: MAJOR PETROV, a One-Scene Wonder from "Cliffhanger" and the Spetsnaz multiplayer announcer in 2. Doubles as No Indoor Voice.
  • Left Hanging: Who was the VIP in Arcadia and why was he important? It's implied he was killed by someone from Shadow Company, after he got the guy to open the door but you never find out what was in the briefcase or who he was; the most that's revealed is he's not the Vice President, since he's saved by Sandman's team in the Modern Warfare 3 mission "Goalpost."
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Winchester Model 1887, which dates from the 19th century and is available in a game set 130 years after it was developed. While it has one of the longest ranges for a shotgun in-game, it's pretty mediocre in all other stats. When paired up with akimbo however, rate of fire is effectively doubled, allowing players to easily overcome its lack of one-hit kill reliability. Prior to patching, the Akimbo Model 1887s were probably the most powerful close quarters weapons in the game, and still remain viable today.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: AM3RICA, 3NGLAND, FRANC3, G3RMANY.
  • Level In Reverse: Mostly occurs with the Spec Ops missions, but one of the levels in the first one used the same level data as a previous one, only played backwards.
  • Levels Take Flight: Mile High Club, the Brutal Bonus Level.
    • The first half of an early campaign level and one Spec Ops mission in Modern Warfare 3 take place in the Russian equivalent of Air Force One. In a reference to the CoD4 level (since the two have nearly the same layout), the Spec Ops version is given the name "Milehigh Jack".
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Riot shields, which can block absolutely anything, but only head on. Your enemies can use both the shield and shoot at you, but you can't.
    • Shield Bash: Quick Melee while equipping a riot shield takes the form of this, though it's slower and weaker than if using the knife.
  • Made of Iron: In this series, the player character being rocked by an explosion and temporarily losing consciousness is used as a way to change scenes. This means your characters can be knocked unconscious multiple times per mission and keep fighting.
    • Soap has had a tanker blown up at his back, went over a waterfall, got stabbed in the chest and stomped on the face. It takes an explosive bomb planted right behind him and a drop out of a multi-storey church, coupled with severe chest wounds, to finally do him in.
    • Price has survived the aforementioned exploding tanker, at least two years in a gulag, getting the crap beaten out of him by Shepherd, outrunning a bomb meant to kill him, crashing a helicopter and throwing himself and the Big Bad of the third game through a glass atrium. The first thing he does at the end of the trilogy? He simply lights up a cigar and puffs away.
    • Yuri in the third game is shown to be badass enough to survive being shot in the stomach by his former employer (then dragging himself through an airport to stop his attempted killer, being thrown down a raging river and waterfall, diving out of a building and falling several stories to the ground below, taking an RPG round that only stuns him, and taking a direct RPG round from a helicopter while in a Juggernaut suit.
      • At another point, he gets jumped by a hyena as he opens a door. As it bites down on his arm, he keeps it at bay, draws a pistol and kills two hostile African militiamen before capping the hyena. Bear in mind, hyenas have a bite force of 800 psi, and his arm does not have a scratch on it.
    • Sandman, up until the penultimate level anyway. He takes a booby-trapped door bomb to the face and still has the presence of mind to wave the squad down from shooting at the escaping kidnappers ten seconds later.
    • Shepherd. He beats that crap out of Soap and Price after having just been in a helicopter crash.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: Most combat dialogue in the various single-player modes. It fits together surprisingly well (most of the time), but in the second game especially you'll hear a lot of "<name>! <enemy> at your <number> o'clock!" "I can't get a shot, he's out of my line of sight!".
    • The mad libs in question include the player characters' names. Which can lead to some hilarious combinations, such as Dunn shouting "Ramirez! WOULD YOU COVER ME?!" as if it's your fault there's two dozen angry Russians trying to kill him at any one time.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: How do we instigate a fight between the world's only superpowers? Have an Ultranationalist frame the U.S. for a terrorist attack on Russia.
  • Man on Fire: "Back on the Grid" has a point where a group of militia are preparing to execute a villager. If the player does nothing, the villager in question is doused in gasoline, and then the militia leader pulls out a lighter, with predictable results.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: MacMillan -> Price -> Gaz -> Soap -> Ghost -> Roach
  • Master of Unlocking: Typically, only the ranking officer in a squad has had the years of training required to operate a door.
    • Though in MW2, you get to blow open a number of doors with breaching charges.
    • There are three instances where you can open a door, without a breaching charge, in MW3, and something bad happens each time. Andrei Harkov opens a door on a helicopter, only to be met by Makarov who promptly shoots him. Yuri kicks down a door in Sierra Leone and is attacked by a hyena. Yuri opens another door in Prague, only to to be punched down a flight of stairs by Price.
  • Meaningful Echo: "History is written by the victors." Interestingly, one instance is spoken by the Big Bad while another comes from a protagonist, but they're both making the same point: the victors wrote their history.
    • And again in the third game: "The will of a single man." The only difference in usage is which man is being referred to.
    • From the training mission of Call of Duty 4: "What the hell kind of name is Soap?" From Soap's Journal released with Modern Warfare 3: "What the hell kind of name is Ghost?"
  • Meaningful Name: Mocked. Gaz was an extremely popular character in MW1, and so many players came up with elaborate Epileptic Trees to justify how he could have survived being executed right in front of you. So Infinity Ward added a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of him, who uses the same voice actor and performs the same role on the team. His codename is "Ghost."
    • According to the official comic miniseries, the "Ghost" who appears in Modern Warfare 2 is a separate and clean-shaven British operator named Simon Riley.
    • It's played straight with Roach and the absurd amount of abuse he endures to that the rest of TF141 either avoids or is killed by. He nearly falls to his death after missing a jump between cliffs, then doesn't make a subsequent jump and gets knocked out from the fall, flees a horde of angry gunmen on foot while unarmed after waking up and with no support at all (he to literally jump off of a rooftop again, this time into the air from even higher up, towards a flexible ladder suspended below a helicopter), has part of a gulag collapse on him, gets punched in the face by Price, survives a minefield ambush, and holds out for several minutes against ongoing siege with only small arms and claymore mines, and still manages to sally from the building and break through. He only dies after being clipped by a mortar blast — from which he wakes up and is still able to aim and fire a weapon — being shot in the stomach with a high-caliber handgun, and being set on fire.
    • After his long career in the Call of Duty series, Price comes back from the gulag and unflinchingly does some really crazy shit no one was ready for. His bill for stopping a war and killing the Big Bad is very high.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The airplane graveyard level features a 3-way shootout between the player, Makarov's men, and Shadow Company. Although, despite Nikolai and Price both suggest letting them duke it out themselves, they're all rather eager to ignore each other and focus on the player instead.
  • Mercy Invincibility: The "Pain Killer" Deathstreak perk in MW2, except it's simply increased health for the first ten seconds after respawning. Unfortunately less than completely effective, as while spawn-camping is not necessarily rampant nor possible, spawn-kills are very possible, especially from player-controlled air support.
    • However, by using Pain Killer in conjunction with a cleverly and secretively deployed Tactical Insertion, a savvy player can pop up metres away from the enemy position reloaded and packing a huge health boost.
  • Mighty Glacier: Juggernauts, natch. They can take up to ten times as much small-arms fire as other soldiers but move slower due to the extremely heavy armor they wear.
    • Stone Wall: Of a sort, Juggernauts with Riot Shields can move around like others but have to switch to a secondary (losing the shield's protection) or use melee attacks to deal any damage at all. They're even better at soaking up fire though.
  • Military Alphabet: Military game. Natch.
  • Misblamed: "No Russian" in MW2. The general consensus, before release, is puzzlement at an already wildly popular, M-rated game series going the Rated M for Money route, some even demanding that IW should remove it from the game. The game allows the player to choose to skip it right at the outset or during the mission, which does not count towards any Achievements/Trophies or towards the completion percentage, and no one would even think about making that demand of a book or a movie. The idea that they're doing it for the sake of the narrative barely seemed to cross anyone's mind. To quote Destructoid;
    Brad Rice argues that such a harrowing scene takes the will to fight out of him, that it makes him question if such a fight is worth the lives as stake. I can only see that as statement in favor of the game, rather than in condemnation of it. That a game could so powerfully affect Rice's state of mind, simply through watching it passively, is quite an amazing achievement if you ask me. Perhaps Infinity Ward hopes to raise and possibly answer the questions Brad throws up — is such sacrifice worth it? Should we fight such dirty battles for the greater good? How much loss of civilian life is acceptable in the name of American security?
    • Ironically, the above arguments are much more appropriate for "Davis Family Vacation", the sequel's attempt to up the ante by blowing a little girl up in a chemical attack. It's pretty clear that the sequence is mainly there to remind the player that Americans are still dying.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Price and Mac Millan don ghillie suits in the mission "All Ghillied Up]". They work like a charm if standing still or moving slowly, though one has to wonder how much the [[TheGuardsMustBeCrazy Russian guards had to drink when they walk past a man-sized bush crawling under their jeep and think nothing of it.
  • Monumental Damage: Look no further to Washington D.C.
    • Part of Modern Warfare 3 takes place in Paris. What more do you have to say? The New York Stock Exchange also gets quite a beating; but the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower seem to be intact. The Hamburg City Hall gets hit by a few missiles, but remains standing with only superficial damage. The church in Prague seems to be a stand in for the Saint Nicholas Church, but is not an actual recreation. But it also gets blown up with you inside. The Diamond Mine in Siberia also exists in Real Life, but it's not really a monument.
      • The Louvre in Paris was also hit by chemical attacks, but it is unclear what type of structural damage it suffers.
  • Moral Dissonance: Subverted in Modern Warfare 2. It initially looks like Price fired the nuke at Washington to wipe out the invading Russians, but instead he detonates it in the air, setting off an EMP which turns the tide for the Americans... albeit at the cost of their own electronics too.
  • More Dakka: They really didn't tone down the dakka. In many ways there's even MORE in MW2.
    • The Akimbo weapons are the best examples, especially machine pistols or submachine guns. Light machine guns also count. You can also use the "double tap" perk from the first game, which doubles any gun's firing rate.
  • Motive Rant: Shepherd gives one after stabbing Soap in the chest and pulling out his revolver.
    "Five years ago, I lost 30,000 men in the blink of an eye... and the world just fuckin' watched. But after today, there will be no shortage of patriots, no shortage of volunteers. I know you understand."
  • Multinational Team: Task Force 141, as well as the "Joint Operation" team from near the end of COD4. The COD4 team is made up of SAS and USMC Force Recon, TF141 is made up of US, British, Australian and Canadian special forces, and modeled on real-life special operations task forces operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and probably elsewhere.
    • Of course TF141 ends up being Red Shirts and cannon-fodder for Shepherd's plans, with only two Brits left and everyone else either dead or completely unaware of what Shepherd did.
  • Mythology Gag: In the intro to the final mission in MW2 it becomes clear that Price is carrying three weapons, one of which is his pistol. This is a rather crafty joke about his origins; he's such an old hand, he still has his CoD1 dedicated pistol slot, which contains the same incorrect-for-his-country M1911!
    • Price himself is taken directly from the original Call of Duty right down to his facial hair; slightly less well-known is that a Captain Foley and Major Sheppard showed up back in the first game too. Ramirez waited until United Offensive, when he turned up as a sergeant. Death in the CoD universe apparently works on the honour system.
      • In the first Russian mission of the original "Call of Duty", you (as Alexei) team up with a sniper named Borodin to take out German MG nests. In the Red Square mission right after, you team up with a Sgt. Makarov to flank another MG nest.
  • Nerf: The Model 1887 shotgun. Most guns lost reach and accuracy when used in akimbo. The Model 1887 shotgun lacked this reduction. It was fixed, though, in subsequent patches, turning it from a Game Breaker to a regular gun, and then to a Joke Gun. The third game went even further and completely removed attachments from the gun.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: The start of the General Shepherd fight, where he defeats Soap despite the latter having a knife.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Invoked by the Ultranationalists in 2 to diabolical effect; after Zakhaev is killed, they portray him as a hero and martyr gunned down by evil Americans, and gain control of Russia as a result.
  • New Meat: Soap starts off like this in Modern Warfare, as he's whisked off to his first mission hours after reporting to Captain Price on his first day in the Regiment. Ironic to be treated so, considering that he'd had gone through and passed Selection.
    • The reason Price seems to have no respect for Soap at the beginning of the game is because he doesn't seem to believe that a guy like Soap could pass Selection. Suffice to say, Soap proves his worth.
    • Ironically, there's a new minor character in MW2 called "Meat" who accompanies you and Royce in the Brazilian favela. He dies first.
    • Roach doesn't get the same treatment, as he's already an operator from whichever parent unit he was in before TF141, but he may be a relatively new member of the 141.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Price's attempted assassination of Zakhaev took place in 1996. Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 take place in 2011 and 2016, respectively. 3 is also mostly late 2016, with the final level taking place after New Year's Day.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Modern Warfare 2, the current Big Bad's reign of terror is attributed to the fact that, without the previous game's Big Bad, no one is around to "keep him in check." As it turns out, "No Russian" was a Batman Gambit; Makarov knew all along the player was a spy, and kills him at the end so the Russians will find the body and blame it on America, touching off a war.
    • Essentially what Captain MacMillan says after you kill the lone dog in the ruins, right before you get swarmed by a ton of dogs that will most likely kill the good Captain.
    • In the third game, Price, Yuri and Soap all travel to Russia to attack a location they all believe is Makarov's safehouse, with the help of Kamarov (from the first game. However, this plan goes awry when Makarov reveals that he knew Kamarov was a mole and knew what they were planning all along, then tries to kill the whole team with planted explosives, resulting in Yuri being injured and Soap and Kamarov dying.
  • Nintendo Hard: Veteran difficulty. Crazy accurate baddies, your aim is thrown off moreso and the screen bloodied more quickly when you get hit, no blindfiring, painfully short time limits... Ouch. It's so hard, it could be called I Wanna Be The Soldier.
    • Technically all the combat in the Modern Warfare games are short-to-medium range. Assault rifles can generally hit a small window from a thousand feet away. Veteran isn't just hard. It's realistic.
    • The Call of Duty franchise's Veteran mode is truly Nintendo Hard: The Next Generation. The ferris wheel stage in COD4 was quite literally the only case where the only chance of survival came from acting like a devil or a moron, as in abandoning the sniper and rushing enemies with an AK-47. The only solution which worked was hiding in a one-person booth the entire time while grenades came by the DOZENS every second.
    • Modern Warfare 2 is mostly better about it. The more 'special' sequences in the game where you must go though it in a particularly different manner than the rest of the game tended to be still enraging, though. You will probably still die at least once every level, so get used to that fact.
    • The Achievement obtained for completing "Mile High Club" on Veteran difficulty is considered to be one of the hardest Achievements to get. Not in COD 4, mind you - one of the hardest ON THE XBOX 360.
  • No Arc in Archery: No bullet-drop, but Granada will still arc.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Played straight in the missions 'Wolverines!' and 'Exodus' taking place in "Northeastern Virginia". Averted once you get to Washington DC.
    • The Oasis Hotel, "Arabian Pennisula" at the end of MW3 is obviously modeled on the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: the American protagonist dies because, after saving a downed chopper pilot, he isn't far enough away when the nuke blows.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Shepherd beating the hell out of both Price and Soap in the climax of Modern Warfare 2, by himself.
    • At the end of Modern Warfare 3, Price delivers one to Makarov. It's immensely satisfying.
  • Nominal Importance: Every friendly soldier has a name. Members of the Redshirt Army have randomly-selected ones. Don't bother learning them.
    • A somewhat mixed bag in the case of Task Force 141.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: When you get killed by a grenade ("Watch for the grenade danger indicator") or accidentally shoot one of your teammates ("Friendly fire will not be tolerated!").
    • Also, the trailer for Modern Warfare 2 shows Captain MacTavish being gunned down if the player fails to rescue him.
    • Same goes for letting one's target (i.e. Faust or Shepherd) get away, and Price dying if you fail to crawl for Shepherd's revolver, then to retrieve and finally throw the knife from your chest at Shepherd.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Price: Not so fast. Remember Beirut? You're with us.
    Kamarov: Hm... I guess I owe you one.
    Gaz: Bloody right you do.
  • No One Could Survive That: The SAS has quite a bit of Genre Blindness regarding Zakhaev's supposed death, assuming that blood loss and shock would finish him when they should have known better. Given the circumstances though, it's not as if they could take another shot to make sure.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Deconstructed for the Americans in Shock and Awe from the first game.
    • Played straight in "Blackout" (and paid back with interest throughout the rest of the series) and "One Shot One Kill" (even though MacMillan would have been fine no matter what you did).
    • Averted in Heat. Mac is wounded and left behind (though some leftover dialogue files suggest the player would have at least had the option of rescuing him), and Gaz also tries to motivate the player to fall back by suggesting he'll be left behind.
    • Averted for most of Team Metal (except Frost) in "Down the Rabbit Hole", who stay behind as they buy time for the helicopter to escape. Despite Price insisting that the helicopter stays for them. Notably, Sandman insists that Price and the helicopter do leave without them.
    • Subverted in "Blood Brothers". Soap is injured and you spend the entire mission getting him to safety, but as soon as you do he dies anyway.
  • Notice This: Important stuff/objectives are often glowing.
  • Not So Different: Zakhaev and Shepherd. They both think that their countries have become weak nations and they both want to make them strong again through bloody wars, which they think is the only way to make them strong again.
  • Not So Stoic: The multiplayer announcers in the second game keep their cool even as relay that enemy helicopters, stealth bombers, and drone strikes are incoming. Then once the enemy starts using AC-130 gunships or EMP's, they appropriately lose their shit (with the exception of Ghost, weirdly).
  • Now You Tell Me: Subtly Played for Drama at the end of "Loose Ends". Price tells you over radio not to trust Shepherd. Shepherd, meanwhile, is setting you on fire.
  • Nuke 'em: The ending of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and in Modern Warfare 2, if a player manages to achieve a very difficult 25 kill streak, a tactical nuke drops on the battlefield, killing all the players. The player who initiates the launch gets XP for the players it kills and has their team win. Think it as winning because it was launched on your terms.
    • A forgotten, unused gametype appropriately titled "Global Thermonuclear War" has you holding down a nuke in the middle of the battlefield like Headquarters. When you capture it, it goes off like a normal nuke.
  • Oh Crap: In multiplayer, your announcer is usually calm and collected; but when the opposition rolls out a higher-end Killstreak, he loses it.
    • Though the Task Force 141 announcer is rather calm when an enemy AC-130 is called in.
    • Price doesn't think someone like Soap could pass Selection for the Regiment. Hey, wait, you're playing Soap...
    • The first game is known for the degree to which it uses this trope as a part of its anti-war themes. Throughout the game, you play as:
      • A dethroned president as he is manhandled, beaten and ultimately executed.
      • The gunner of an AC-130 gunship providing support to the main characters, showing how easy and detached the experience of killing may be.
      • A USMC Force Recon grunt who gets blown up by a nuclear warhead. Then you see through his eyes as he desperately crawls through the nuclear wasteland.
      • A sniper in a flashback mission, which explores the origin of the Big Bad.
      • An SAS operative watching helplessly as his comrades are gunned down, then personally kills the Big Bad.
    • A minor example in 2: when Price opens the doors on the nuclear sub all the Ultranationalists will get the HELL out of there. This is even funnier when one of the Russians is most of the way up the ramp, and then immediately turns back around.
    • Happens at the end of 'Turbulence' (the one where you play as Harkov) in MW3. Okay, we rescued the President, now let's open the helicopter door and complete the missio-cue Makarov. Objective Failed.
    • An awesome one comes from Corporal Dunn who is normally collected and even clean-mouthed ("Hey, Sarge, did HQ just tell us to "f" ourselves?"). And then in Second Sun, we get " EMPPPPP!!! HOLY SHIIITTTTT!" Of course all-caps are necessary.
  • Once per Episode: Each game has at least one event where you are put into the first-person perspective of someone who ends up Killed Off for Real.
  • One-Man Army: Averted... in theory.
  • The Other Darrin: Nikolai, MacMillan and Kamarov all get new voice actors for 3.
    • Perhaps justified in MacMillan's case, since the last time we heard from him was over 20 years before this game takes place.
    • Taken a step farther with Nikolai, who has a new character model. Overlord also has a new voice actor in 3, but this one might actually be a different general.
  • Out-Gambitted: Zig-zagged between Shepherd and Makarov. Shepherd outgambits Makarov, then Makarov outgambits Shepherd, then it turns out that was part of Shepherd's plan, then Price throws a spanner in the works, then Shepherd uses that to outgambit Makarov further, then Price and Soap go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Shepherd that may have been part of Makarov's plan. Then Makarov gets killed later.
  • Painting the Medium: In Modern Warfare 2, the between-mission briefing is at one point replaced with an "EMERGENCY BROADCAST" for several minutes. In fact, every cutscene qualifies as this trope, they're presented as an information system displaying relevant details about the mission in an unrealistically efficient manner while the characters all talk over it off-screen, as if they're standing next to the player watching it. The emergency broadcast cutscene just kicks it up a notch. These type of cutscenes were also used by Treyarch in their Quantum of Solace game.
    • In one mission in Modern Warfare 2, Soap mentions that he hates dogs, echoing the feeling of many players. Captain Price says that they were nothing compared to the ones in Pripyat.
    • Griggs was going to, in deleted dialogue, compare Soap to Jackson.
  • Parental Substitute: Implied between Soap and Price, who the former affectionately refers to as 'old man'.
  • Personal Space Invader: The attack dogs and hyenas.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Exaggerated. Some enemies will try to hit you with the butt of their assault rifles.
  • Playing Both Sides: General Shepherd and Makarov in MW2.
  • Playing Possum: In the single-player campaign, when critically wounded and grounded, some enemies will keep shooting at you with their sidearms. (This only applies if they only take a single bullet to the leg that drops them fully and manage to crawl away long enough to turn over and draw the sidearm, as opposed to simply staggering them; a subsequent hit would kill them.) In multiplayer, the "Last Stand" and "Final Stand" perks allows the player to do so, and in Special Ops the player(s) can do this... albeit it's not exactly "possum" against the AI.
    • Played with near the end of "Endgame," when Soap starts staggering towards the Pave Low crash site; as you reach it, a lone Shadow Company trooper lays on his back next to the wreckage, and as you get closer you realize that he's pointing his G18 machine pistol at you — but after a few squeezes of the trigger just result in empty clicks, he tilts the weapon and takes an almost surprised or exhausted look at it before collapsing against dirt and rock behind him and going limp. Other than seeing his comrades' pitiful fate at the end of "Just Like Old Times," possibly the only truly sad moment for Shadow Company.
    • If wounded but not killed near a wall or other object, enemy soldiers will sometimes fall against it and then prime a grenade, at which point they'll wait for the player or another enemy to move close and then drop it. They'll typically hold the grenade for about thirty seconds or so before passing out and dropping it anyway, and can be taken ut by shooting them in the leg or shoulder, which is usually exposed.
  • Powerful Pick: You use ice picks to climb at the beginning of an early mission. Soap later uses his to knock some enemies off a snowmobile.
  • Precision F-Strike: Shepherd at the end of Modern Warfare 2.
    • Also, Corporal Dunn during the MW2 level "Second Sun" (well, a Precision S Strike, really); considering that he and his squadmates (including Ramirez/you) were running for their lives as, thanks to an EMP, it was literally raining aircraft all around them.
    • In The Sins of the Father if Soap has 100% accuracy up to that point, Griggs will say "Oh Fuck" when Victor Zakhaev rams the guard tower. Otherwise he says "Oh shit".
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Modern Warfare 2 has two special versions, the Hardened Edition and Prestige. Hardened contains an art book, steel case and other bonus content, while the Prestige edition contains an IW-branded EyeClops Night Vision toy. The word "toy" is not a baseless insult- the manufacturer really does advertise it as being for children. To be fair, real night vision goggles would simply cost too much to include with the game.
    • That being said, the NVGs do work as advertised: they're effective up to 30 feet or so.
    • Modern Warfare 3 had just the Hardened Edition, which came with bonuses such as a free 1-year-subscription to Call of Duty ELITE, a Juggernaut-themed outfit for your Xbox LIVE Avatar, and "Soap's Journal", a document written from Soap's point-of-view, detailing the events of every mission he was involved in across the series. Additionally, preordering the PC version from Steam also gave the buyer a free copy of Call of Duty 4.
  • The Present Day
  • The President's Daughter: Appears in Modern Warfare 3. She's the daughter of the Russian president.
  • President Evil: Al-Asad.
  • Press X to Die: The Big Red Button in Modern Warfare 2's "Museum" level. It will make all the people in the exhibits in the room come alive and attack you.
    • They do warn you, though. Go up to the button and a little message will pop up on screen that tells you NOT to press the button.
  • Press X to Not Die: After a dog knocks you down and rears its head back your throat, a message appears telling you to press the knife button when it lunges at you to bite, which will get your character to snap its neck if done correctly. Quite a few others are scattered throughout Modern Warfare 2.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Oh so averted. Especially so in the cases of Griggs and Gaz.
  • Previews Pulse: A ringing trailer chord from Hans Zimmer himself.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Soap MacTavish of Modern Warfare is the Player Character's CO in Modern Warfare 2.
  • Prop Recycling: Closer looks can reveal where Infinity Ward re-used various models to fill out levels. Of note are crashed Technicals in Washington D.C. (oh, those crazy Virginia rednecks), and American police cars on the tarmac at the Russian airport.
    • Hidden in plain sight during Modern Warfare 3's campaign: There's a warehouse that you fight through which is a literal shot-for-shot recycle of a warehouse from CoD4's multiplayer; even the crates are the same.
  • Punched Across the Room: In MW3, Yuri opens a door to a basement and gets punched down a flight of stairs by Price.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Right before the last section of the last level, Captain Price ends his speech with a simple "We. Will. Kill him."
  • Qurac: At least in Modern Warfare they don't bother naming the country. The pre-mission briefings show where in the Middle East various missions take place, but they take care to spread them over the geographic locations of several different real-life countries.
    • And its overthrown president, Al-Fulani, is named the Arabic equivalent of "John Doe".
    • The final mission in MW3 takes place at the Oasis Hotel at the "Arabian Peninsula". Yet it's a dead ringer for the Burj Al-Arab Hotel in Dubai, UAE. Granted, IW was probably trying not to get sued by the real Hotel, for suggesting they would allow the most famous terrorist on Earth to just check in with 50 of his terrorist buddies.
    • Averted in MW2, though, where you're fighting in Afghanistan. But that's of little importance to the plot, at least until the very end.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Call of Duty 4 ends with the death of Zakhaev. However this comes with the knowledge that countless citizens in Al-Asad's country and American forces were lost when the nuke couldn't have been stopped and Zakhaev himself kills off most of what remains of Soap's squadron before the killing blow is landed. The game also ends with a Bolivian Army Ending as we don't see what becomes of Soap or Price, both who end the game on the verge of death. This sequence of events leads into the sequel where General Shepherd becomes a traitor to America out of disillusionment and disappointment in his fellow Americans to prevent the above nuclear tragedy. The sequel then ends on yet another Pyrrhic Victory as Shepherd is killed by Soap but it accomplishes little. Shepherd has already betrayed Task Force 141 and killed Roach, marked Soap and Price as international terrorists, and the war he was trying to incite by aligning himself with Makarov has come to fruition. Soap once again ends the game knocking on death's door as well.

    Romeo to Zulu 
  • Ranger: In Modern Warfare 2, SGT Foley, CPL Dunn, PVT Ramirez, and PFC Allen are from the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment (1/75).
  • Rare Guns: Less blatant than Black Ops, but still present occasionally; there may be more WA2000's in the second game than actually exist.
    • The SCAR-L in the third game straddles the line between "rare" and "cool"; presumably the war made the government un-mothball the L variant of the gun.
    • The PM-9 in the third game is a notable one, as it only made and used in Japan by the JSDF, has never been exported, and the JSDF plan on replacing it with another SMG, most likely the MP5, yet Makarov's men somehow have some.
  • Rated M for Manly: Well, given the target demographic...
  • Real Is Brown: The first game has no brown filter, but is beautifully desaturated. The bloom effect associated with this trope is used very sparingly.
    • The second game is more colorful.
    • The third game is also colouful, except for Germany, where apparently real is washed out green.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Several characters, especially Baseplate and War Pig, speak with a fair share of "uh"'s and other stumbling. This is pretty much limited to anyone who isn't fighting on foot, however.
  • Reality Ensues: Soap, Made of Iron badass extraordinaire and survivor of many near-fatal injuries ... finally dies by simply bleeding out when said crudely-healed wounds open up from some blunt trauma.
    • Two Abrams tanks roll through a parking garage to get around a collapsed building in Germany. Tanks are quite a bit heavier than the automobiles that such garages are intended for, and one of them ends up falling through the floor.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Russian President Vorchevsky, who doesn't really want war with the United States. However, he's not as in control of his military as he would wish - it's implied he only authorized the invasion in MW 2, due to massive pressure from the populace and hardliners, and early on in 3 he gets kidnapped by Makarov to derail the peace process.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Yuri.
  • Red Herring: In the cutscene preceding the 'Turbulence' level in MW3, Harkov's name is labelled 'inside man', implying that as the Russian President's bodyguard, he's actually working for Makarov. Nothing comes of this, however, as Makarov murders Harkov just like the other bodyguards at the end of that level.
  • The Red Stapler: Many manufacturers of airsoft replicas have become absolutely drained because of these games. KWA, a former specialist in gas-powered pistols, has stated that their entire stock of Beretta 93R pistols flew out the door in record time, with the reason "thanks to MW2, these things go quick like hotcakes."
  • Reds with Rockets
  • Renegade Russian: Zakhaev and his protege Makarov.
  • Reporting Names
  • Retcon: "Soap's Journal" indicates that "Mile High Club", The Stinger from the fourth game, was one of the first of Task Force 141's missions.
  • Reverse Grip: The only way a knife may be held and used. Unless thrown.
  • Revision: In the third game, it is revealed that Yuri played a background role during several key events in the Modern Warfare timeline. He is first seen during the nuke deal held in the "One Shot, One Kill" mission from the first game (where he and Makarov are the ones who drive the injured Zakhaev to safety), as well as being present when Makarov (standing in Al-Asad's safehouse) detonates the nuke in the "Shock And Awe" mission. He is then revealed to have been present during the "No Russian" mission in MW2 - Makarov shoots him in the stomach before he, Private Allen and the other Ultranationalists massacre the civilians in the airport. Yuri makes it to the lobby and witnesses the aftermath of the massacre before collapsing and being treated by paramedics.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the final mission of Modern Warfare 3, Price and Yuri don Juggernaut suits and shoot their way through a small army of terrorists on their way to kill Makarov.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The mission "Shock and Awe" in Modern Warfare, in which a nuke goes off, killing the American player character and his squad.
    • In All Ghillied Up if you ignore MacMillan and shoot the lone dog in the ruins, you get attacked by a pack of dogs which, if they kill him, will result in a Nonstandard Game Over.
    • Get a 25 Kill Streak in Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer and use the killstreak reward if you have it. This is what happens for everyone. But for whoever used the nuke, it's also a "I Win" button.
    • Modern Warfare 3 has a similar killstreak for making 25 kills in one life - it still instantly kills everybody on the map, but it doesn't instantly win the game for the guy who called it in this time around.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: For God's sake, the General's name in MW2 is Shepherd, not any of the following: Shepard, Sheperd, Shephard, Shepperd or Sheppard.
    • Also, the Scottish sniper in the first game's flashbacks is MacMillan. Not McMillan, or MacMillian, or whatever.
  • RPG Elements:
    • You get to "Create a Class", where you get to choose a primary weapon, sidearm (whether pistol, machine pistol, shotgun, or explosive launcher), as well as Equipment, a special grenade, and three Perks. And a deathstreak reward. It overlaps with Archive Panic quite a lot- especially in Modern Warfare 2.
    • The series actually has a unique system for it, though. Besides standard level ups, there is also a system where for each kill you get with a specific weapon, you get to unlock one of its many attachments. So get ten kills with an assault rifle in Modern Warfare 2 and you get to attach a grenade launcher to it. However, if you decide to switch to a different assault rifle, you must get another ten kills with it before you can attach a grenade launcher to that one.
    • Modern Warfare 3 adds a second set of ranks for the cooperative-centric Special Ops mode. They determine what you are able to buy in Survival levels, but you can gain experience and level up in either Survival or Mission modes. It also changes around killstreaks to be point-streaks and lets you set them individually for each class.
  • Rule of Cool: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had its moments, but Modern Warfare 2 goes into it far more with the ability to go Guns Akimbo with pistols, submachine guns, Sawn Off Shotguns; throwing knives; and a plot more concerned with HSQ rather then sensibility and seeming possible.
  • Rule of Drama: Every helicopter in the series that comes to pick you up has about 30 seconds worth of fuel before having to leave you. Any more fuel than that and they will get shot down, either before they can even pick you up or before they can get you out of the combat area.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Modern Warfare 2 uses a highly implausible invasion of the United States to tell an allegorical tale about the Afghan War, and with it the dangers of Patriotic Fervor, the use of information to deceive and manipulate the masses, and the all-consuming thirst for revenge.
  • Running Gag: An unbelievably subtle one. In the first mission of Call of Duty 4 (F.N.G.), there are posters for "Porter Justice" movies on the wall. These reappear later in the game and in random places in Modern Warfare 2 and 3.
    • Characters voiced by Craig Fairbrass complaining about their uncooperative backup.
      • Gaz in Heat:
    Sea Knight Pilot: Bravo-Six, the LZ is too hot! We cannot land at the farm! I repeat, we CANNOT land at the farm! We're picking up SAM sites all over these mountains!
    Gaz: That's just great! Where the hell are they gonna land now?
    Sea Knight Pilot: Bravo-Six, we're getting a lot of enemy radar signatures, we'll try to land closer to the bottom of the hill to avoid a lock-on.
    Gaz: Oh, he's gotta be takin' the piss! We just busted our arses to get to this LZ and now they want us to go all the way back down?!
    • Again in Game Over. Although it's then subverted.
    Gaz: Baseplate this is Bravo Five! We are under heavy attack at the highway bridge at map grid 244352. Request helicopter gunship support! Over!
    Baseplate: Workin' on it Bravo Five. Loyalists forces in the area may be able to assist but we cannot confirm at this time. Baseplate out.
    Gaz: Useless wanker!
    Captain Price: Gaz, gimme a sitrep on those helicopters!
    Gaz: Captain Price! We're on our own, sir!"
    Sgt. Kamarov: Bravo Team, this is Sgt. Kamarov, I understand you and your men could use some help.
    Gaz: It's bloody good to hear from you mate!
    Sgt. Kamarov: Standby, we're almost there, ETA 3 minutes Kamarov out.
    • Ghost in Takedown:
    Ghost: Command, ready for dustoff. Send the chopper. Coordinates to fol- ... Bollocks! The skies are clear! Send the chopper now! Command's got their head up their arse. We're on our own.
    • Wallcroft in Mind the Gap:
    Wallcroft: Baseplate! Where's that backup?
    Baseplate: Local police are arriving on scene. Bravo 2 will be on station in five minutes.
    Wallcroft: Bollocks! Nothing takes five minutes!
  • Sawn Off Shotgun: Which can be dual wielded. Tycho and Gabe agree; it's the mark of a cad.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Big Red Button with the "Do NOT press X/Square/F" prompt in Modern Warfare 2's post-game museum. It makes the exhibits come to life and attack you.
  • Scenery Gorn: The nightime D.C. levels are breathtaking in how messed up the city looks.
    • The nuclear wasteland and Prypiat in the first game definitely count too.
    • In MW3, multiple European cities get torn apart by fighting. Paris tops it, with the collapse of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Scenic Tour Level:
    • Many of the levels start with a quick helicopter ride to the starting area. It's possible to shoot, but doing so is a waste of ammo so you're pretty clearly just supposed to kick back and hum The Ride Of The Valkyries.
    • In Modern Warfare's 'The Coup', when Al-Fulani is driven through the streets of the city to his execution. And you're watching through his eyes.
    • Continues in Modern Warfare 2, when the game opens with the player at an American base in Afghanistan, where he trains some local militia, runs an obstacle course, and can walk around and observe the other soldiers.
  • Screwed by the Network: Might become this due to Infinity Ward being disbanded by Activision.
  • Sealed Badass In A Gulag
  • Second Person Attack: Happens in all three games.
    • In the very beginning of the first, you're given nominal control of former President Al Fulani as he's being lead to his execution.
    • In the second, you've managed to escape Makarov's forces and make it to the helicopter for escape when General Sheppard shoots you and Ghost, then has his men toss you both in a ditch, and burn your bodies.
    • In the third, you're a Russian Secret Service Agent attempting to get the President to safety. You've gotten to the helicopter for extraction when Makarov appears from inside the chopper, shoots you, and abducts the President.
  • See You in Hell: Price and Makarov wish each other good luck this way after Shepherd double-crosses both. Price even asks to give his regards to Zakhaev, if Makarov gets there first.
  • Sentry Gun: You can deploy one briefly in the Wolverines! level of the second game. Optional, but it definitely helps in the higher difficulties against the Russian onslaught. Versions with both gatling turrets and Anti-Air missiles are possible killstreaks in multiplayer, starting in the second game.
  • Sergeant Rock: Foley in Modern Warfare 2 is willing to put his squad (and himself) at great personal risk to get the job done. For instance, refusing to pull back when ordered, so that they could continue to cover evacuating civilians, and ordering that a crippled Blackhawk be positioned to take out as many surface-to-air missile launchers as possible before it could go down; he maintains his cool after the EMP starts causing aircraft to fall out of the sky, gets the squad under control, and continues to lead the squad through the rest of the Second Battle of Washington, D.C.
    • Sandman in Modern Warfare 3.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop/Sequel Difficulty Spike:
    • In the single-player campaign, you can survive a lot more bullets in Modern Warfare 2 compared to the first Modern Warfare, especially on the Regular difficulty setting, and even noticeable on Veteran difficulty. It also, with very few exceptions, removes the infinitely-respawning enemies of the previous games. This is balanced out somewhat by the sequel having more open levels giving the enemy many more opportunities to flank and ambush you, as well as having larger groups of enemies than in the first game.
    • Modern Warfare 3, in contrast, is roughly on par with Modern Warfare 2 on most difficulties, but is absolutely insane on Veteran difficulty, as you are given much less health than in previous games, combined with enemies that are suddenly psychic as well as given superhuman reflexes and perfect aim.
  • Sequel Escalation: One of the themes of MW2 is how crazy things have gotten due to the events of the first game. Yes, it went from a nuke going off to worse. There's an underlying theme about how you can't just shoot everything and hope to win.
  • Serial Escalation: Modern Warfare 2: Washington, DC, is turned into a war zone, with the White House and Washington Monument in ruins. The fact that it's clearly not the Capital Wasteland is what makes it truly striking, with the White House mostly intact, except for the enemy combatants occupying it and shooting at the American troops storming up the front lawn. The rest of Washington, DC is full-on horrific, with fires breaking out everywhere, concertina wire strung out, Apache gunships in the air, and what looks like a casevac chopper taking off from the streets.
    • There's also the matter of character deaths. In 4, you get to watch Gaz and Griggs be shot and killed. Then in 2, you get to watch in first person as you and your friend are shot and burned. Then in 3, you spend a whole level watching Soap fade, before a Hope Spot and then his death. Not fun.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: With the exception of small arms gunfire, any kind of explosion will make your character deaf for a few seconds if he was standing next to it. Tank guns, guided missiles, grenades... you name it.
  • Shooting Gallery: The opening levels of both games.
  • Shoot The Hostage Taker: The bonus level "Mile High Club" ends with you having to shoot a terrorist using a hostage as a Human Shield. On higher difficulty you must get a headshot or you fail the mission.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Potentially MW 2; Shepherd's plan succeeded although you killed him, Soap and Price are fugitives, and the USA and Russia are about to start World War III. Darned if there isn't a third installment.
    • Let's not forget, everything Jackson and the USMC did in the original MW was rendered inconsequential when that nuke went off.
      • Though to be fair, they *did* effectively demolish Al-Asad's war machine and regime to the point where he got desperate enough to do it, which considering the very heavy implications that he was a threat to the entire Middle East proves that what happened was preferable to the alternative. Of course, that should tell you something about the games in general....
      • In MW 3 its suggested the nuke would have gone off regardless of whether Al-Asad had been caught, Makarov's dialogue during Yuri's flashback gives the impression he had intended for the nuke to go off and kill as many Americans as possible in a trap. Its consistent with his actions in that game and his far reaching plans. Adds a delicious irony: Shepherd's alliance with the man who is responsible for killing his 30,000 soldiers is motivated by the lack of response from the world at their deaths.
    • Also the second game renders many of the first game's accomplishments moot, as more than one character mentions.
  • Shoot The Television: The level "Charlie Don't Surf" in the first installment of the franchise has an achievement called "Your Show Sucks" for shooting or otherwise destroying all the televisions showing Al-Asad's speech.
  • Short Lived Aerial Escape: Hunter 2-1's Blackhawk (and the accompanying SEAL team's Little Bird) in "Of Their Own Accord", General Shepherd's Pave Low in "Endgame", Makarov's Little Bird in "Dust to Dust".
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: The main reason helicopters were considered overpowered in the original was because of the notoriously poor accuracy of the RPG-7 (the only real anti-vehicle weapon available), making it impossible to reliably hit anything beyond 5-10 meters. Of course, the splash damage meant that using it at that range was a bad idea.
    • In real life, the RPG-7's range is... bad... compared to other launchers. In any case, inverted with the other weapons - you can shoot across the map with a pistol, and hit far and away in large maps with assault rifles.
  • Shot to the Heart: At one point in Modern Warfare 3 you need to press X to do this to Soap.
  • Shown Their Work: The AC-130 sequence is so spot on that it can fool actual AC-130 crew.
  • Silliness Switch: Modern Warfare also has some silliness cheats like Ragtime Warfare, which is basically Soundtrack Dissonance on demand, or enemies exploding into tires.
  • Sink The Life Boats: Everything that dares to fly openly gets shot at during the Russian invasion of the U.S., including civilian evacuation craft. This is a plot point in one mission where the objective is take out anti-air placements so that the helicopters can escape.
  • Slashed Throat: If knifing someone in the campaign of any of the games results in a custom animation that plays out at no other point, chances are pretty high this will be how your character actually kills the target.
  • The Slow Walk: The first half of "No Russian" locks you and your "allies" into doing this. Also briefly forced during the "Suspension" Special Ops mission, after a fighter jet-launched munition hits the side of the bridge, though eventually you're able to continue sprinting towards the second part of the fight.
    • Juggernauts, which use the walking animation of your "allies" from No Russian. They can charge at you if you're far away or (in the third game) if they're heavily injured, but even then you're still faster than they are. This is used to deliberate effect in the third game, when Price and Yuri take their slow Unflinching Walk towards Makarov's safehouse while wearing the suits.
  • Sniper Pistol: Surprisingly, your pistols can reach a LONG way.
    • The 1887 shotgun in Modern Warfare 2 had been criticized for its unreasonably long range and accuracy, before it was nerfed. (In reality, shotguns are very accurate to about a hundred meters...) Thankfully, it is one of the last guns unlocked and has a shitty fire rate and reload time (compared to other shotguns), preventing most players from using it.
      • The main reason for people hating on the 1887 is the fact that every other shotgun is atrocious at range. To the point that you can fire at someone across A ROOM and for some reason cause no damage whatsoever since all of your buckshot seems to have magically disappeared for no reason. The 1887 mysteriously lacked this problem. Not to mention that the shotgun with the shortest barrel is somehow the most accurate one in the game, compared to even the M1014, which is one of the most accurate shotguns in use today.
    • Pretty much all guns that aren't shotguns can be effective at all ranges with enough skill to use them at exceedingly long ranges - the bullets will hit whatever you aim at, with no bullet drop needing compensation for.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: You can hold your breath to steady your aim for a few seconds, after which the sway will be even worse until you get your breath back. You can also use perks to extend how long you can hold your breath. The same is true of the thermal scope, while the ACOG scope has a lower zoom level and less sway, but you can't hold your breath.
    • Changed around in Modern Warfare 3 - all weapon sights have sway of some degree, which becomes less severe when the player is crouched or laying down. Using the "Breath" weapon proficiency let's you hold your breath like with a sniper rifle to eliminate sway for a few seconds, while the "Stability" proficiency reduces the overall amount of sway.
  • Sniping Mission: All Ghillied Up and One Shot, One Kill in Modern Warfare.
    • A few Spec Ops missions in 2 also are designed for sniping. Just about every Stealth-Based Mission in this series tends to overlap with this trope, for that matter.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: At one point your character does this to a Havoc. Then Captain MacMillan does it to another one. Which almost crashes on top of him.
  • Society Marches On: A dialogue between two background soldiers in 2 was clearly written before December 22, 2010.
    Soldier 1: Hey man, you still gay? ...Just kidding.
    Soldier 2: Don't ask, don't tell, man.
    • Not surprising, since MW2 came out in November 2009.
    • Prior to No Russian, a screen indicates that Makarov is now as much of a threat as Al-Qaeda. It was more devastating then, since Al-Qaeda has been on the decline of late.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Makarov and his Inner Circle definitely. The Russian Army as a whole probably. The fact that Allen went along with the "No Russian" mission doesn't say anything good about him, but it is ultimately up to you to kill civilians.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Yuri, in MW3. For the first time in the trilogy, you play as a Russian. A good guy, too.
    • Harkov, Russian equivalent of Secret Service, also qualifies.
  • So Much for Stealth: Screwing up during the stealth portion of missions will alert all nearby enemies, causing your partner to tell you to "go loud" (or something similar) or to get the hell out of there.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Cpl. Dunn in MW2.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: The destruction of the space station by an apparent blast wave in Modern Warfare 2. Nukes don't have the same effects in space that they do on Earth.
  • Spanner in the Works: In Modern Warfare 2, the only thing that Shepherd's Batman Gambit doesn't take into consideration is Price breaking out, going "off the grid," and being willing to do anything to succeed. Unfortunately, as fate would have it the only difference it makes is accelerating Shepherd's plans instead of stopping him.
  • The Squad: Too many to count.
  • Stay Frosty: Soap says this quite often in Modern Warfare 2, Sgt Foley several times, and once by a Shadow Company trooper, to the point of absurdity. Then, of course, Sandman says it... to Derek "Frost" Westbrook.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: the first parts of "Cliffhanger," of "Contingency," and the (intended) entirety of "Evasion" (based off of "Contingency") in Modern Warfare 2.
    • All Ghillied Up in Modern Warfare. Later recreated in the Modern Warfare 2 Special Ops map "Hidden".
  • Stealth Pun: The snipers that are covering you in "Loose Ends" are named Archer and Toad.
    • Derek Westbrook's codename is "Frost" meaning that he's always Frosty.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted. Explosions that go off near you will send your PC's vision in a daze and cause Shell Shock Silence for a few seconds.
  • Sticky Bomb: Semtex grenades and C4.
  • The Stinger: The bonus level Mile High Club in Modern Warfare, and the museum in Modern Warfare 2.
  • Storming the Castle: Modern Warfare 3 has a literal one in "Stronghold", the achievement for beating it is even called Storm the Castle, and ends with one in "Dust to Dust".
    • "The Gulag" in Modern Warfare 2 also qualifies, bonus points for having once been a castle.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Zakhaev in the flashback mission, and the Hind gunship in the final mission, in Modern Warfare. (The bridge goes down whether or not you connect with a shot against the Hind.)
    • However, it IS possible to, with timing and a foreknowledge (or just spamming rounds everywhere), to take out the RPG guy that shoots down Deadly, the Cobra that's been covering you the entire mission. Rescuing the pilot is what got your helicopter caught in the nuke in the first place. However, Deadly will still crash, and instead of landing to help your chopper will continue to fly off the map, ending with the game crashing.
  • String Theory: Price has one in MW3 to try to track Makarov and down. It later also becomes a Shrine to the Fallen.
  • Suicide Mission: Occurs at the end of Modern Warfare 2.
  • Superdickery: Price appears to launch the nuke to demolish D.C., but he just used an EMP to destroy the Ultranationalists' air-support and transport. Unfortunately, this also destroys the International Space Station, kills a hapless astronaut in the wrong place at the wrong time, and might have brought down any American aircraft still in range when the EMP hit. To say nothing of anyone who had been on life support or a pacemaker, considering how the Modern Warfare EMP seems to work... heck, it even takes out the electronics of the American forces on the ground too, leaving you without any working optics or night-vision, and only spoken words within earshot for verbal communications, for the rest of "Second Sun".
  • Super Window Jump: Soap seems to like doing this. In MW2 he tackles Rojas through a window, and in MW3 he dives through one to escape a street full of enemies.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Price is the real star of the Modern Warfare series seeing as how he's the only character to live through each game. However, he's only playable twice: once in the first game as a flashback, and again in the last mission of Modern Warfare 3.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Ghost (in the second game) and Wallcroft (in the third game), who are voiced by the same person as the deceased Gaz from the first game. He also fulfills the same role as said character.
  • Suspsicious Video Game Generosity: After capturing Makarov's safe house in "Loose Ends", the player has access to the extensive armory there, including grenade refills, a dozen or so claymore mines, and quite a few sniper rifles and heavy machine guns. Then they get word that a lot of Makarov's hired guns are on their way to counterattack. Yup, you're going to need every bit of that.
  • Take That: In Modern Warfare 2, the local militia are less than helpful, and it's up to the U.S. soldiers to do all the work. The first combat mission begins with a team of Army Rangers engaged in a pitched firefight with insurgents across a river, while the sole local militia ally present, instead of helping out, is calmly sitting behind cover eating a candy bar. Further down one can also spot a trio of Rangers looking at a cell phone. The entire sequence may be a reference to a similar scene in Generation Kill, where the Marines were engaging an enemy force across a river, with only some of the Marines firing while the remainder stayed in cover, resting and eating while waiting to be rotated into combat or receive orders.
  • Take the Wheel: In the second game, when Price and Soap escape the Shadow Company in a Jeep and their driver gets hit by a stray bullet. This can be a very Unexpected Gameplay Change, as you are thrust from Rail Shooter into Driving Game with no warning whatsoever.
  • Take Your Time: Many missions feature countdowns, but one notable exception is when you're chasing Rojas in "Takedown." Despite Ghost and Soap yelling frantically at you during the chase, you have as much time as you need to fight your way through the alleys.
  • Taking You with Me: A bug which was once taking over MW2 multiplayer involves players tricking the game into cooking a Javelin Anti-Tank missile. The second you die, it fires into the ground at your feet, killing everyone nearby. Fortunately for everyone ticked off about how a coding error turned half the players in any given match into running suicide bombs, the Javelin Glitch has been excised.
    • "Of Their Own Accord" from MW2 gave us this awesome line:
    Sgt. Foley: [after the helicopter is hit by a missile] Take us up! If we're going down, we're taking those SAM sites with us!
    • And this is essentially the point of the MW1/MW2 perk/deathstreak "Martyrdom" (drop a grenade after you die) and the MW3 perk "Dead Man's Hand" (detonate C4 after you die).
  • A Taste of Power: Sort of. The default classes in multiplayer have stuff that you won't be able to use off-the-bat after you gain class customization.
    • Best example is from MW3: one of the default classes gives you a G36 (unlocked at level 42) as well as using the Overkill perk (level 47) to also start with a PP-90 (level 28).
  • Technology Marches On: One of the main complaints over MW2's inclusion of the TAR-21 among gun circles was that the real gun did not come with unpowered ironsights. This has since changed.
  • Technology Porn: Modern Warfare 3 showcases some of the U.S. Military's latest toys, including an F-22 dropping JDAM GPS-guided bombs (they only got this ability later in their production life) in a cutscene and V-22 Ospreys, used in a mission to rescue the Vice President.
  • Tempting Fate: In the Siberian Mine mission of Modern Warfare 3, Grinch asks if the elevator they're in can go any faster. Not thirty seconds later it takes an RPG hit and plunges down the shaft.
    • In Modern Warfare 2 if the player waits a few seconds before entering "The Pit", Corporal Dunn comments that he wants some real action rather than just blocking positions for SEALS and Delta Force. A few days later, America is invaded by the Russians.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Viewer discretion is advised when looking directly at Captain MacTavish. Pregnant women, non-pregnant women, all the geeks in high school, your average blue-collar worker, and Americans in general should all exercise caution when looking directly at Captain MacTavish. If Captain MacTavish looks directly back at you, contact your local poison control immediately.
  • That's What I Would Do: How Price guesses Makarov's attack plan at the beginning of Modern Warfare 3. Probably a part of him being Not So Different.
  • The Ace: Gaz in Modern Warfare, he does hold the team record on the training course and is Cpt. Price's right-hand man.
    • Soap in Modern Warfare 2, as well. If you listen closely to the two Rangers in The Pit's observation area with Shepherd, they refer to Soap as having finished the course in 18 seconds. If you listen for longer, you get to hear about the 'creepy dude in a skull mask' who completed it in 18.2 seconds. With a 1911.
  • Theme Tune Rap: Sgt. Griggs raps over the end credits of Modern Warfare. Possibly an Expository Theme Tune as well.
  • Throwing Your Knife Always Works: This is how Soap kills Shepherd, using the knife lodged in his chest.
    • In Down The Rabbit Hole Sandman kills a charging Russian with his knife, and then throws it into another charging Russian. Justified both times, as both of these characters are more than badass enough to pull it off.
    • Throwing knives are also available in the multiplayer of MW2 and 3. Instant death if they hit an enemy, plus you can pick the knife back up and use it again if you can get to the body.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Tactical Nuke killstreak reward in MW2, which instantly kills every player on the map and ends the game in victory for your team.
    • The death of Roach and Ghost. Shot at point-blank range by a .44 Magnum, tossed in a ditch, doused with gasoline, then lit on fire.
    • Jonah Hill as the "N00b" in "The Vet and the N00b" trailer has the titular characters come up behind a marksman on a building who is completely distracted by firing away at targets below. The N00b brings out an RPG to make this kill despite the Vet's "No!". Neither of them get harmed by the excessive display though the N00b asks "Should I'd have used a knife?"
  • Throw Away Guns: Not only can the player drop his weapons to pick up others, he's often instructed by his superiors to do so.
  • Time Skip: Modern Warfare 2 takes place five years after the end of the original, during which time Zakhaev has been hailed as a hero and his party is now the dominant force in Russian politics.
  • Title Confusion: No Russian is often presumed to mean "don't kill any Russians," because Makarov and the Ultranationalists are themselves Russian, and the first line is Makarov doing a Title Drop, using the phrase as an order to the player and his other lackies before the shooting starts. The airport, however, is in Russia, and as such, the people waiting in line to pass through the metal detectors before boarding outbound flights are most certainly Russian, barring a few tourists or businessmen returning home. "No Russian" means "don't speak any Russian, use English," to disguise the fact that the attack is conducted by Russians because Makarov intends to frame the United States for it. The ambiguity of this line is probably responsible for the infamous (in Japanese) mistranslation of this line in the Japanese version of the game as "Kill them, the Russians."
    • It's also a REALLY dark piece of metahumour: Makarov's crew mow down the civilians at a casual pace, without any sense of urgency until the armed forces arrive. There's No Russian about with them...
  • Title Drop: From General Shepherd in MW2: "Learning to use the tools of modern warfare is the difference between the prospering of your people and utter destruction."
    • There's also a smaller one in that game: the main menu refers to the campaign mode as "For the Record", and Price's first line during the loading screen for the last mission is "This is for the record."
    • Gaz refers to "the sins of our fathers" in the intro for the level "Sins of the Father".
    • "Good, that's one less loose end".
    • In Just Like Old Times, in the beginning if you kill both of your guards and the dog, Price will say "Just like old times."
  • Title In: Used to introduce every mission, except for one (Of Their Own Accord). In that mission, it is delayed until The Reveal when you leave the bunker and see Washington D.C. in flames.
  • Token Minority: Sgt. Griggs.
    • Not just him, Sgt. Jackson is also black, although it's hard to tell with the gloves. Also, Lt. Vasquez and Pvt. Ramirez are Hispanic, and the randomly generated Marines and Rangers have no fixed ethnicity, although they mostly lean towards white (which is Truth in Television) anyway.
    • Partially subverted in Modern Warfare 2 with Sgt Foley. You'll also find guys like Worm, Meat (sometimes?) and the driver from TF141 and a few randomly generated Rangers and Task Force members are black. (Unfortunately, in "Takedown" the driver is the first to go... albeit at the hands of another black dude, and Meat is always the second.) Also Faust and Warrabe are arguable Token minority Villains.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Definitely Soap, or should we say, Captain MacTavish in Modern Warfare 2, who as your team leader is now way more hardcore than he ever was in Call of Duty 4.
    • Like he had to take any. In the first game, just 4 days after entering the SAS, he took down 5 tanks and 8 helis all by himself.
  • Torture Always Works: "Did our man talk?" "They always talk."
  • Torture for Fun and Information: Rojas and Waraabe's interrogations head into this territory. Rojas's involves a car battery, power tools, cigarettes, and a plunger. Waraabe's consists of threatening to poison him with a nerve gas, then when he talks giving him a gas mask. Then shooting him.
  • Tranquil Fury: In the briefing for the penultimate mission of Modern Warfare 2, Soap angsts about how it's just him and Price up against Shepherd's entire Shadow Company. Price is simply checking inventory and explaining, in a voice so calm that it sends shivers down any player's spine, that there's a certain satisfaction to knowing when you will die, and that Shepherd's number is up.
  • Trick Bomb: The flashbang grenade is Shell-Shock Silence and Blinded by the Light put together in one neat Sensory Overloading package. Just make sure you're not caught in the blast you've made.
    • And Up To Nine with Team Metal's Nine-Banger alternate grenades.
  • Tricolours With Rusting Rockets
  • Troubled Production: The long-brewing conflict between Activision and lead elements of Infinity Ward finally came to a head during the development of Modern Warfare 3. A large portion of Infinity Ward's staff ended up leaving or being forced out, forcing Activision to bring in Sledgehammer Games to finish development of the title. Famously, one of the disgruntled employees leaked the complete plot of the single player campaign almost a year before release, which was widely published by the gaming press. This, on top of a lot of Infinity Ward leaving during the LAST game...
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The first game is a stand-alone story about Imran Zakhaev's attempted rise to power in Russia. The second and third games are a two-parter (the second ending with a cliffhanger) about Zakhaev's former Dragon, Makarov, waging a terrorist campaign to orchestrate World War III.
  • The Unfettered: Price comes back from the gulag a little crazy. He flat-out confronts Shepherd on if he's willing to do whatever it takes to win. Then he launches a nuke at the country he was sprung to save, wreaking God knows how much hell to eventually turn the tide of the war. He goes straight from that into becoming the world's most wanted man and embarking on a one-way trip to kill the Big Bad. Shepherd might have had a blank check, but Price forgot his First Bank of Badass balance years ago and is ignoring all the calls from collections.
    -"The healthy human mind doesn't wake up in the morning thinking this is its last day on Earth. But I think that's a luxury. Not a curse."
  • Universal Driver's License: Averted, in that you can either fire weapons from a vehicle but not drive it (both games) or the vehicles you can control are relatively simple to do so in real life (MW2, using a snowmobile and a small boat; in both cases, you can only fire a small machine pistol).
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: All Ghillied Up and Death from Above in Call of Duty 4. Some of the levels in Modern Warfare 2 also qualify. More than a few instances in the third installment, including switching point-of-view from an AC-130 to Team Metal (who you were covering a moment ago) and Yuri switching the UGV interface.
  • Unflinching Walk: Subverted. After shooting down a Russian helicopter, Mac Millan calmly walks away and quips "G'night, ye bastards..." like a Badass... then promptly breaks out running when he realizes that it's spinning out and headed towards HIM.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: An inevitability in multiplayer. Whoever wracks up several kills gets their choice of Killstreak to possibly keep that killing spree going and get even more Killstreaks. Mitigated a bit by Deathstreaks, which provide a little extra oomph to let losing players have a fighting chance.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Everyone but Price in Modern Warfare 2 is factored in Shepherd's Batman Gambit.
  • Up to Eleven: Seems to be the line of thought behind development of Modern Warfare 2: "how can we take everything from the first Modern Warfare and make it AWESOME?" Whether the results are indeed awesome is in the eye of the beholder.
    • Also lampshaded in the achievements: getting one star in eleven different Special Ops missions unlocks one called "It Goes Up To Eleven".
  • Urban Legend of Zelda - "Sniper Frog" is a running meme within the MW2 community, after an unsourced GameFAQs post claimed that spfg.exe was a program running in the background which essentially doled out luck to players who weren't doing well and handicapped those who were.
  • Urban Warfare - Most of the game, for better or for worse.
  • Verbal Tic - Let's get this page edited, hooah?
    • HOOAH!
      • According to the other wiki, hooah is Army talk for "anything other than no." Which both explains why it's only the Army Rangers who say it, and why they say it constantly. The Marines' version heard in CoD4 is "Oorah", which makes sense as the American campaign has you as a member of Force Recon.note 
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Modern Warfare 2's level, "No Russian". If you choose to play the level, what you do with the civilians is entirely up to you — the game never gives you a single prompt to open fire.
  • Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Killing civilians (in any mission other than "No Russian") results in a instant Nonstandard Game Over. Modern Warfare 2 takes a somewhat realistic approach to this; if you shoot a civilian that's been in your line-of-sight for more than a couple seconds, the game assumes you did it deliberately and thus are a cold-blooded sociopath, and immediately fails you. However, if some dumb-ass civilian runs out in front of you from out of nowhere in the middle of a firefight and you gun him down reflexively before having time to confirm whether or not he's armed, the game will rule the shooting as "excusable" and let you carry on the mission.
    • Of course, even "No Russian" ends with Your character being shot dead by Makarov, so in a meta way, the trope still holds.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Arguably subverted with Captain MacMillan - he may be a man with a heavy Scottish accent in a military force, but his appearance in the game is of that of a sniper who tells you to stay cool and maintain stealth. Also subverted in Modern Warfare 2 with Soap MacTavish ("let's get the 'ell outta hayah!"), who in addition to commanding you during the campaign is your supervisor on the Stealth-Based Mission "Acceptable Losses" on Spec Ops, and who will berate you should you fail to maintain the element of surprise in the mission.
    • Except with knives. Almost any time Soap uses a knife, it gets creepy.
  • Visual Pun: Killing a player that killed you in multiplayer gives you bonus XP, the words "Payback!" appearing on the screen, and dollar bills flying out of the target.
    • Possibly untentional one that crosses over with Stealth Pun: at the end of the second game, Soap pulls a knife out from his chest (covered with his blood, obviously) and throws it into Shepherd's eye. What's the matter, General? SOAP get in your eye?
  • Victory Pose: The very first thing Price does after having killed Makarov, in his own Bad Ass fashion. Without saying a word, he sits up, pulls out a cigar, and lights it.
  • Walk It Off: Both games have a now-standard regenerating health model.
  • The War Room: the penultimate level in Modern Warfare.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Makarov and his men, even going so far to incite a war between Russia and the US.
  • Watching Troy Burn: A variant for the American audience and the characters, witnessing Washington D.C. get turned into a hellish warzone is poignant.
  • Weaponized Animal: In Survival Mode in MW3, on harder maps, attack dogs may have C4 strapped to them.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Shepherd's monologue about America growing lazy and indifferent towards their global standing provides the page quote.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shepherd's end goal is to snap average American citizens out of what he sees as willful ignorance towards how much sacrifice is necessary to maintain everything they take for granted, giving him a near-endless supply of volunteers and the funds to load them out for bear with. To say he does some extreme things to achieve this, crossing the Moral Event Horizon multiple times in hindsight, is an understatement.
  • We Have Reserves:
    "Since when does Shepherd care about danger close?" - Captain Price
  • Wham Episode: All games have at least one. Call of Duty 4 has "Shock and Awe" and the nuke and Jackson's death, the first indication that the game really means business. Modern Warfare 2 ups the ante with a seemingly endless string of these, but the biggest is probably Shepherd's betrayal at the conclusion of "Loose Ends."
    • Modern Warfare 3 has "Blood Brothers." Makarov's still one step ahead of you, and Soap dies after it looked like he was going to make it. Also, there's the little girl and her family dying in a terrorist attack.
  • Wham Line: Of Their Own Accord: Washington, D.C.
    • Two from "Blood Brothers": "Captain Price, Hell awaits you" and "Yuri, my friend. You never should have come here."
    • Another two from "Contingency", each with different reasons for Wham: "Price, do you copy?! The silo doors are open! I repeat, the SILO DOORS ARE OPEN!" " Good."
    • And probably the biggest one from 2: "Good. One less loose end."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What exactly was in that briefcase in the panic room in Modern Warfare 2, and who was the man there?
    • Frost disappears without any explanation after "Scorched Earth". His spot in the squad is filled by Red Shirt McCoy, who makes it about five seconds into the penultimate mission.
    • Ramirez, Dunn, Foley, and Marshall are a borderline case. They were all still alive in MW2, but are not mentioned in MW3.
    • Archer and Toad, the sniper team providing cover fire in Loose Ends, it's never revealed what happened to them. Shadow Company can be heard saying "Watch for snipers on thermal" and "All targets destroyed", but they may have meant Makarov's men.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Throughout the entire series.
    Gaz: Rules of engagement, sir?
  • What the Hell, Player?: Shooting your own teammates will give you a Nonstandard Game Over, giving you the message I"Friendly fire will not be tolerated!"
    • Also, in Modern Warfare 1, if you instigate a fire fight during the first sniper mission and survive, MacMillan will chew you out with comments like, "The word stealth doesn't mean much to you does it?"
      • In some cases his beratement comes off as praise, such as "You lead a charmed life, Price."
    • Going out of your way to shoot down a helicopter during a covert sniping mission will cause MacMillan to berate you for "showing off."
    • Crouching down in the back of the jeep for too long in the first game's final level causes Gaz to shout at you: "Get off your bloody arses and FIRE ON THAT TRUCK!"
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Price gets two of these in the final two levels of MW2.
  • World War III: The trailer for MW3 explicitly states this is where the series is headed, with scenes depicting the destruction of New York, fighting in the London Underground, guerrilla warfare in France, and urban warfare in Germany.
  • Worst Aid: No, Soap, the proper response to a knife embedded several inches into a torso is NOT to pull it out and use it as a weapon. Especially if it's YOUR chest!
  • Wretched Hive: The favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where hundreds of armed men are mobilized to hunt you down within minutes, rather reminiscent of Black Hawk Down. This is actually Truth in Television to some extent: the Brazilian police rarely (if ever) enter the neighborhoods with anything less than fully armored SWAT teams because the gangs are so well equipped.
    • And the SWAT teams that do get there have a skull/dagger/pistol emblem that pretty much symbolizes how much of a Badass Army you need to be to pull it off. One of the favelas was recently occupied - with the handy assistance of the Navy.
  • Written by the Winners: The main topic of Price's final monologues in MW2.
    • And ends with An Aesop about why committing so much force against a foe backed into a corner with access to nuclear weapons is a bad thing.
  • Yanks with Tanks: Many of the missions involving the U.S.M.C. or U.S. Army feature this heavily. Particularly, the mission "War Pig" from the first game is all about this.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Despite being an militia presumably without a uniform, the Brazilian enemies in the sequel have very few variations in clothing and faces. Other enemies in the game are similar, but there are some which are just hard to tell, due to wearing face, mouth or eye covering clothing.
    • Same goes for the African militias in 3, no matter what country they're from (for the record, Sierra Leone and Somalia are at opposite ends of the continent - the former at the Atlantic Ocean coast, the latter bordered by the Indian Ocean).
  • You Have Failed Me: No Russian gives you a Non-Standard Game Over for harming the terrorists or failing to keep up with them.
    Makarov: I have no patience for cowards.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Modern Warfare 2 is a rare example of this being done not to minions, but to Unwitting Pawns. In the third game, Yuri becomes this when Makarov shoots him in the "Blood Brothers" flashback. Surprisingly, though, Yuri survives his injuries.
  • You Can Barely Stand: In all three games:
    • The first game ends with a seemingly mortally wounded Captain Price tossing his sidearm to a likewise nearly dead Soap to deliver the final shots against Big Bad Zakhaev and his two bodyguards.
    • The final battle in Modern Warfare 2 has a seriously injured Price and Soap taking on General Shepherd in a brutal hand-to-hand beatdown.
    • The last level in Modern Warfare 3 has a severely injured Yuri telling Price to go on, and then (after Price crashes the escape helicopter) Makarov having the injured Price at his mercy, before the wounded Yuri returns to distract Makarov (and give Price the opening he needs to kill him).
  • You Have Researched Breathing: The "Tactical Knife" addon is merely a different pistol stance, with your left hand primed for quick stabs. Your character can only do this when holding a gun with this "addon," once they pick up another handgun they will also ditch the associated knife, even though there is no reason to do this. Also, the benefits of some multiplayer Perks like Scavenger or Commando.
    • The "Breath" proficiency in 3 is a literal version of this: it let's you hold your breath while aiming down the sights of weapons that normally don't allow you to hold your breath (eg. anything that isn't a Sniper Rifle).
    • Grenade launchers in Call of Duty 4 multiplayer require you to go without a Tier 1 perk. And no, you can't grab a gun with an attached launcher off of a dead player and use that - unless your own gun had the launcher, any other launchers will be totally unusable.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: One of the storytelling issues with "No Russian."
    • Thank god for video editing programs.
    • And they couldn't thwart the first/main stage of Shepherd's plot, although they killed him.
    • Or Makarov's chemical attacks in Europe.
    • Properly finishing off Zakhaev during the flashback mission instead of blowing his arm off would have saved a lot of grief throughout the entire franchise, including preventing the creation of the subsequent 2 Big Bads. Alas, you can't.
      • No matter where you hit Zakhaev, his arm flies off. Gut shot? Arm flies off. Hit his leg? His arm flies off. Hit him right square in the face? Arm.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Griggs has a more colorful version when the door in the nuclear facility opens very slowly.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Price clearly feels this way about Yuri after Soap dies in "Blood Brothers", even if he doesn't outright say it.
    • And he winds up eating those silent words in "Dust to Dust".
  • Zerg Rush: The main strategy of the Russians in the invasion of the USA.
    • The ending of the Brazil missions in MW2 has you rushed by a very angry crowd of gang members.
    • It also happens if you shoot the wild dog in "All Ghillied Up". Should you survive, MacMillan is very understandably annoyed with you.
    • What the Ultranationalist Inner Circle faction does in Modern Warfare 3.

RAMIREZ! Use your laser designator and index this article!

Godzilla (1998)Creator/Glenn MorshowerPearl Harbor
Call of DutyCreator/Square EnixCall of Duty: Black Ops
Call of DutyThe EpicCall of Duty: Black Ops
Call of DutyUsefulNotes/The Seventh Generation of Console Video GamesCall of Duty: Black Ops
Video GamesImageSource/Video GamesRanger
Call of DutyXbox 360 Call of Duty
Call of DutyApple MacintoshCave Story
Call of DutyTurnOfTheMillennium/Video GamesNazi Zombies
Battlefield Play 4 FreeThe New TensPersona 4
Call of DutySteamCall of Duty: Black Ops
Call of DutyFirst-Person ShooterCall of Duty: Black Ops

alternative title(s): Call Of Duty4; Modern Warfare2; Modern Warfare3; Modern Warfare; Call Of Duty 4 Modern Warfare; Modern Warfare2; Modern Warfare3; Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2
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