Video Game / Wolfenstein
Pumping Those Wacky Nazis full of lead since 1981.

Wolfenstein is a long-running series of videogames created first by Muse Software, then followed by id Software, Gray Matter Interactive, Raven Software, and later by MachineGames. This series is often regarded as the series which launched the First-Person Shooter genre with Wolfenstein 3D, alongside the later Doom, also by id. So far, the games in the series are the following:

Most of the series follows the adventures of the soldier William "B.J." Blazkowicz in his war against Those Wacky Nazis. Although 3D had a comical side in some aspects, what with a Secret Level featuring the Pac-Man ghosts, later Turn of the Millennium entries have a more "serious" thematic, with heavy emphasis on the supernatural and occult and experimental weapons development projects regarding Nazi Germany.

Common tropes found across the series include:

  • America Won World War II: The saga is all about B.J. taking on the Nazis all by himself.
    • Subverted in The New Order, though, where America loses the war, as does everyone else except Germany, leaving it up to a multinational resistance to bring down the Reich.
  • Artifact Title: The series is named after a place (Castle Wolfenstein) which appears in about half of the series (Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein 3D, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood), and even then only for portions of most of them (first episode of Wolf3D, first few levels of RtCW, first half of The Old Blood).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Bad Boss/Fat Bastard: At least one of them per game, and you get the chance to kick their ass in some way.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • This is how later games in the series seem to treat Wolfenstein 3D. It's implied the events of the first game sort of happened, but B.J. never killed Hitler (who still seems to be alive as of The New Order; a note that can be found in The Old Blood, however, suggests that he did kill Hitler, they simply resurrected him afterwards).
    • The Old Blood is itself sort of a broad-strokes retelling of the first chapter of Return to Castle Wolfenstein - it has the same basic plot of B.J. and an Agent One being captured in the eponymous castle, B.J. escaping into the nearby town of Wulfburg via cable car after Agent One's demise to meet a local resistance member named Kessler, then taking out a supernatural threat (which is preceded by a random Zombie Apocalypse) brought back by the SS Paranormal Division, whose activities in the area are headed by a woman named Helga. The aforementioned supernatural threat even ends up being a creation of Otto I, the son of the warlord the Nazis were spending the entirety of Return trying to resurrect.
  • Elite Mooks: Every game has some form of them. RtCW and the 2009 one make them female.
  • Gatling Good: Mostly a Chaingun-like weapon.
  • Ghostapo: Although considered highly important to the series, historically, it actually has less of a presence than one might expect; most of the various mutants and monster B.J kills are created by Super Science (bio-engineering and cybernetics, specifically) rather than Sorcery — the zombie-esque "Mutants" of Beyond Castle Wolfenstein are created by a chemical substance and are upgraded with implanted guns, for example. Magic appears in only three Wolfenstein games so far:
    • The Spear of Destiny: The Nazis are searching for the titular magical relic. An angel of some description is the game's final boss.
    • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Helga von Bulow and the rest of the SS Paranormal Division are investigating reports of magic in an ancient crypt, and when B.J pursues her there, he fights against first a Zombie Apocalypse, then later an undead monstrosity from centuries past. He is then sent after other elements of the Paranormal Division who are trying to resurrect Heinrich I/Henry the Fowler to lead them.
    • The Old Blood: The iffiest of the three, since lore scattered throughout the game makes it clear that the Zombie Apocalypse and the Eldritch Abomination are the creation of alchemical experiments rather than sorcery. It depends on whether one views alchemy as retro-themed Super Science or a form of magic.
  • Gratuitous German: As it's a World War II-based game, it wastes no chance to spew gratuitous German phrases.
  • 100% Completion: Across the games (mostly prevalent in the FPSes) there are many secrets and treasures scattered across the levels which serve for a major objective.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Ranging on four, commonly called: "Can I play, Daddy?", "Don't hurt me!", "Bring 'em on!" and "I am Death incarnate!"
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Iconic to the series as a whole since it first became a 3d FPS series. Wolfenstein 3D famously involves cybernetically augmented, zombie-like "mutants" in the second episode and Adolf Hitler in a mecha suit as the final boss. Return to Castle Wolfenstein features actual jetpack-equipped Nazi troopers, bio-engineered monsters and the Ubersoldaten, who could be either Elite Mooks in Power Armor, cyborgs or robots. The 2009 game and The New Order go full-fledged Diesel Punk.
  • Large and in Charge: Most of the bosses. The character sheet lists them.
  • More Dakka: As WW2-based games, this is to be expected.
  • Nazi Gold: A common bonus to collect across the games.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: Thanks to long periods between most releases and almost every one accompanied by a different development team, the games tend to have next to nothing in common except for a protagonist named B.J. Blazkowicz, a castle somewhere named Wolfenstein, and Nazis for him to cut swathes through. The only other element from a post-Id release to stick around for ones beyond that is Deathshead, who's gone on to be the series' Hitler-analogue as the Big Bad and/or Greater-Scope Villain.
  • No Swastikas: For some releases, the game replaces the Nazi imagery with something else.
  • One-Man Army: Most of the time, the player will be facing the Nazis by his or herself.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The series has been all over the place tonally. The original Castle Wolfenstein and its sequel were fairly straight-laced and serious in tone. Wolfenstein 3D went far over to the silly side with Stupid Jetpack Hitler and Ghostapo elements right out of cheesy pulp comics. Then the series got somewhat more serious with Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein 2009, though the pulp elements are very much still present. And with The New Order and The Old Blood, the series got significantly more serious and darker, with the pulp elements being scaled down and treated more realistically.
  • Those Wacky Nazis