Follow TV Tropes


Artifact Mook

Go To

When you encounter a new type of enemy in cinematic video games, it is often introduced in some sort of context that justifies its existence. After that point however, designers may continue to use that type of enemy in regular rotation even once you've entered places where its presence doesn't make sense, or you may continue to encounter that enemy in quantities far beyond what its origin story would seem to explain.

Compare Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, which is when they come from nowhere with no context from the get-go. This is the enemy equivalent of a Voodoo Shark, where the explanation doesn't serve to explain how there are so many of them all over the place. Contrast Underground Monkey for when enemies are recycled, but come in a slight variation for a given environment.

Sub-trope of The Artifact. Boss Rush and Degraded Boss are often cases of this. Very common in Bonus Dungeons.

Games that do not attempt to provide fictional justification for their enemy designs are immune to this trope.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 

    Action Game 
  • Hyrule Warriors has an adventure through several eras in the Zelda universe. The enemies are appropriate to each: Bokoblins in the present and Skyward Sword, Bulblins in the Twilight Princess era, Stalchildren in the Ocarina of Time era, and Blins in the Wind Waker era. Also, Gorons on Death Mountain. There are also appropriate bosses: the Twilight Princess era has Argorok, while the Skyward Sword era has The Imprisoned, who was hounding the Sacred Grounds at the time. Adventure mode throws this out the window, making you side with any of the enemies while fighting against any other, in any of the settings, and fight any of the bosses, sometimes more than one of the same one which is odd for The Imprisoned especially as The Imprisoned is one singular creature. A similar thing is the player's default army in Adventure Mode is always made out of Hylians and Gorons. This can lead to stuff like the villainous Ghirahim commanding an army of Gorons to fight against Goron King Darunia who is leading an army of Bokoblins, Ghirahim's main henchmen in Skyward Sword.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Any of the Nobody Elite Mooks from Kingdom Hearts II eventually becomes this once their respective Organization XIII leaders are defeated. While it makes sense for them to show up in the final dungeon by themselves (as it is supposed to be their homeworld), they can still show up in the regular worlds for no particular reason, usually in the area you first find them.
    • Olympus Coliseum from the first game and II allows Sora to fight almost all types of Heartless in the game, which can sometimes lead to very random opponents, like the individual pieces of the Guard Armor from Traverse Town.
    • In a franchise-wide example, in the first game, the Powerwilds and Bouncywilds are the local mooks of Deep Jungle. Since that world was axed due to copyright, they show up in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as the local mooks of Olympus Coliseum instead. Downplayed in Kingdom Hearts III, where they show up as the local mooks of the Caribbean, although it makes more sense since they appear in the jungles of the islands the party explores.

    Arcade Game 
  • In the first level of Ninja Gaiden on Xbox, Murai sends his own, novice mooks at you in normal mode. From hard mode on, though, the same level makes you fight Black Spider Ninja... which are supposed to be enemies of Murai and have no reason to obey him whatsoever. Similarly, in hard mode you will often fight fiends and Black Spider Ninja altogether, even though these fiends are supposed to fight the Ninja, not help them.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In Final Fantasy VI, there's the Veldt, which contains every enemy you previously encountered (to allow obtaining their skills in a specific form of Power Copying done by the character Gau). This includes soldiers, elite soldiers, and enemies said by the story to be already extinct. Some bosses also appear in the Veldt, such as the Senior Behemoth and the White/Holy Dragon.
  • EarthBound (1994):
    • The Mole Playing Rough. They first appear in the Lilliput Steps, an underground cave, where they're a decent foe (oh, and the boss there is a giant mole, so there's a mole theme in that cave). However, for same reason, the designers put some specific points (to be exact, in the Dusty Dunes Desert, Summers Beach and the Deep Darkness) around the game where one of them always spawns if you walk around there. Not only are they incredibly weak by that point, but those are places you wouldn't expect to find a mole. It has been suggested that these three moles were intentionally put there by the developers in order to ensure that overworld status effects are enabled again after earlier being disabled.
    • Another famous example is the Mad Ducks (an enemy encountered back in Winters) behind the store in Saturn Valley. Even stranger is the fact that they are in an area that you can't reach unless you exploit a glitch.
    • Mad Ducks also appear in the underground tunnels in Dusty Dunes Desert. They're incredibly weak enemies at that point (to the point that, to be able to provide a bit of challenge, they spawn there in absurdly high numbers), and it also makes one wonder what a duck is doing in a desert cave.
    • Talah Rama's cave in Dusty Dunes Desert is for some reason populated by enemies by found back in the Milky Well Cave. Not only are they weak at that point, they'll also run away from you if you've already defeated Trillionage Sprout (which most likely you'll have done by that point).
    • The area between Threed and Dusty Dunes Desert will sometimes have New Age Retro Hippies, enemies encountered back in Twoson. They're also on a high ledge, which your party cannot reach. note 
    • The Dungeon Man is full of these. His first floor contains enemies that were in the Fourside Department Store. The dead ends on his second floor contains enemies from Moonside, an area you can only enter once. His third floor contains a "monster zoo," which invokes this trope.
  • Super Robot Wars does this for some Monster of the Week series: Formerly one-off enemies suddenly appear in droves. Can be jarring for series such as GaoGaiGar where the monsters were transformed humans and their looks were based on their personality and their environment.
  • Sailor Moon: Another Story uses as Random Encounters monsters that were originally monsters of the week in the show. The monsters in the show were either transformed people or transformed objects, so like in the Super Robot Wars example it doesn't make sense that there would be armies of them.
  • Subverted in the Rainbow Shell quest in Chrono Trigger. It seems really strange to be fighting Naga-ettes and Gnashers, enemies that appeared in the 600 A.D. Cathedral at the very beginning of the game. That is until you fight the boss, Yakra XIII, who is the descendant of the boss of the Cathedral. There's also the enemies on the way to the Rainbow Shell. The area is filled with stronger palette-swapped versions of enemies you fought in the prehistoric era. Like above, this is justified by the area, Giant's Claw, actually being the millions years old ruins of the prehistoric Tyrano Lair.
  • Can happen sometimes in the Monster Hunter series, despite the usual consistency and realism of the in-universe ecology and lore:
    • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: Each area has their own monsters, and variants made to fit other areas, and otherwise the areas they appear in fit their habitat. Later in the game however, almost every enemy can appear on the tropical Deserted Island though free hunting at night, even if it doesn't make sense. One example would be Brachydios, a Brute Wyvern (usually favoring volcanic areas and snowy landscapes) who typically avoids water since it dilutes its blast slime walking around near the beach, which makes it easy to get rid of Blastblight by rolling around in water, something that normally can't be done in the areas you normally fight him in.
    • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Though most large monsters inhabit the areas that make the most sense for them, the Everwood (which is tailored for free hunting) tends to ignore this, as monsters like Berserk Tetsucabra (which inhabits underground and volcanic areas), Shrouded Nerscylla (which inhabits deserts) and Tidal Najarala (which inhabits icy lakes) appear in the lush, temperate and open-air forest.
  • In Dark Souls II, you encounter a lone, moss-covered Ironclad in the Forest of Fallen Giants, which isn't even on the same path as their home in the Iron Keep. Item descriptions indicate that some Ironclads just happened to wander into Drangleic and get involved in the giant war.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The electricity-shooting skeletons in Niel Manke's Half-Life mod They Hunger. The first one is encountered in a laboratory where it is brought to life by being electrocuted, which does much to explain why it attacks by zapping you with bolts of lightning. But then you continue to encounter electric skeletons for the rest of the game, all over the place, even though it's impossible to think that every instance of this enemy could have been created in the same way.
  • In Half-Life 2, Headcrabs (and the Zombies they create) appear to be a case of this, as at first they're found mostly in places where the Combine have specifically used them as a biological weapon, launching them via artillery shells into Resistance settlements, but after Ravenholm, they often appear in the absence of these shells, becoming more or less just goombas ready to pop out of any vaguely abandoned area. It's not out of the question, however, that these are actually leftovers of the portal storms caused by the Black Mesa incident; Half-Life: Alyx corroborates this by showing that entire districts of City 17 are swarming with Headcrabs and other creatures from the Xen borderworld against the Combine's wishes.
  • When you add up all the bodies, the extensive bloodstains, the skeletons, the zombies and the Lost Souls you fight in Doom 3, they seem to outnumber the human population in an area quite a bit.
  • Averted in Metro 2033. Librarians remain in the Lenin Library, Demons are exclusive to open spaces, (with an exception where one appears inside the library, but only because it comes in through windows or holes in the building) Nosalises don't leave the tunnels, Watchmen are only seen on the surface, Lurkers are always seen near their burrows, and Dark Ones aren't encountered as normal gameplay enemies at all. Metro: Last Light mixes things up a bit, giving us Watchmen in the tunnels and Nosalises on the surface, but there's a good reason for each: the Watchmen only enter the tunnels in an area where the ceiling is breached, and the Nosalises inhabit a railway bridge that's connected to the Metro and is a largely enclosed space not unlike the tunnels. The trend continues into Metro Exodus but is bent slightly more than in Last Light, namely that you'll still encounter watchmen on the surface and spiderbugs in lightless areas, but they're far away from the Moscow Metro, making it slightly less believable that they could be there almost exactly as they were in the previous games, but Miller at least remarks on nosalises in a different metro as looking like they could be distant relatives of the familiar Muscovite ones.
  • Some Killing Floor maps evoke this, notably Suburbia, which takes place in a small American town thousands of miles from the Horzine labs. Since the specimens aren't plague-type zombies and have no way of infecting others, this means that hundreds of them somehow crossed the Atlantic Ocean. This becomes even more confusing when the Patriarch appears, since it essentially means that all of the specimens somehow crossed the ocean.
  • In Borderlands, mutant bandits came about when they were exposed to the Vault Key (or where it was found) in Headstone Mine (Sledge's base). They soon end up everywhere.
  • This is actually a plot point in Coded Arms Contagion, which is set in a VR simulation. Grant realizes there's something wrong with AIDA when he starts seeing insectoids enemies in the industrial zone.
  • In Unreal, the Tentacles are found quite frequently throughout the world. They appear on the ceilings of huts, temples, Skaarj facilities and more.
  • The Mites in Area 51 (FPS) are this. You first encounter a large swarm of them. After that, you'll often come across them in ventilation shafts and otherwise isolated areas, feasting on corpses.
  • Vermintide II:
    • Beastmen are retroactively placed in the Helmgart, Ussingen, Bogenhafen, and even Ubersreik maps after the Winds of Magic DLC is purchased, even though the mission "Dark Omens" in Maisberg is chronologically the first time they're encountered and the characters treat their presence there as a shock.
    • You can fight Bile Trolls in the Chaos Wastes, even though those were explicitly a recent creation being mutated on the spot in Reikland by the Rotbloods and Clan Fester, and you destroyed their production facility in the mission "Hunger in the Dark."

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game 
  • World of Warcraft: Rockflayers are creatures natives of Draenor, but somehow, they can also be found in Deepholm, the Elemental Plane of another world. In a bizarre reversal of this trope, they can't be found on past/alternate timeline Draenor players can visit, only on the present-day/main timeline world of Outland. The game even pokes fun at this discrepancy with a Garrison Mission to Rockflayer Island. All your followers find is a rock.
  • While not location-specific, something similar to this arises in Star Wars: The Old Republic as an element of Gameplay and Story Segregation. In several situations, your character can make peace or even ally with the leaders of a previously hostile group, only for the mooks belonging to that group to continue attacking you on sight.

  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin: The Nest Of Evil has both unique enemies and enemies that appeared elsewhere in the game. They're not exactly out of place however. This trope comes into play with one of the final rooms, which contains two of The Creature, which is also known as Frankenstein's Monster. Earlier on he's a boss with an introductory cutscene of his body getting activated in a mad scientist's laboratory, now he's a Dual Degraded Boss with no explanation of what he's doing there and how there could possibly be two of him.
  • Metroid Fusion: Inverted — seemingly misplaced cold-based X start showing up before you reach the icy area they're native to... because Samus is now part-Metroid and the X are migrating in an attempt to exploit her vulnerability to freezing. Their behaviour changes shortly after Samus acquires temperature shielding and is able to absorb them safely.
  • Hollow Knight: All enemies live in specific areas that they're thematically associated with, with explanations for their presence. However, the Colosseum of Fools is a series of three survival challenges where the player has to fight waves of enemies from various areas, and who don't fit alongside each other.

    Platform Game 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Viruses in the entire series. In their first appearance, they were enemies in Dr. Mario, which makes sense. In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, they appear in an abandoned university laboratory, which makes sense. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team? They appear everywhere. Deserts, the beach, caves, in town, on an icy mountain... And in groups of 16 at a time to boot (now granted, viruses are technically omnipresent in nature, but still).
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels randomly places enemies from the original game in unlikely locations like Bloopers (squid-like monsters) on the ground and earth mooks underwater. Later games avert this.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 revolves around Mario dreaming of Subcon. The enemies he and his friends face there are part of the "8 bits", a club of monsters based on evil dreams; subsequently, they're described in relation to the dream's nature (Ninjis are devils that haunt the dreams of NES players, Snifits shoot projectiles that have concentrated nightmarish energy, Pidgits are bringers of evil dreams); yet many of them appeared in later Mario games (in fact, Shy Guys and Snifits can be found in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which chronologically takes place before all other games in the Mario series, including SMB2).
  • Mega Man (Classic):
    • The infamous Mettools. In the original game, the little hard hat guys appeared only on Guts Man's stage, which had the look of a quarry/construction site, and Guts Man himself appears to wear a hard hat. However, they broke out to Mascot Mook status, and now appear in every Mega Man game on multiple levels, in massive numbers, and even throughout most sequel series, to the point that they are the most common enemy encountered. That said, there are a handful of variants who conform to the theme of a boss's stage. Plus, there's usually at least one boss for whom the Mets at least make some sense (typically a construction or demolition-based Robot Master).
    • Wily's Castle in Mega Man 10, in particular, brings back enemies from every previous stage, regardless of how much or how little sense they make in the context of the stage. Exploding American footballs in the sports-themed stage? Sure. Exploding American footballs in a castle? Not quite as logical.
    • Wily's Gear Fortress from Mega Man 11 reuses many enemies from the previous levels, although most are series mainstays (Sniper Joes and the aforementioned Mettools) or generic enough (the Drones from Fuse Man's stage) to not look out of place there. However, you still get to occasionally face the cooking pot tanks from Torch Man's stage and the exploding Sentai bots from Blast Man's stages, who are all goofily misplaced.
  • Mega Man X has the Dig Labour/Degraver, miner mavericks who attack with pick-axes and wear hard-hats. It makes perfect sense for them to appear in the stage of Armored Armadillo who runs a mining operation, but not in Flame Mammoth's stage, which is primarily a disposal site. It also has the abovementioned Metool from the Classic series, who appears in the same situations as the Degraver, and more, making it even more of an example of this trope.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon has the octopus enemies you found in Seashell Shore showing up later in Crystal Islands, a place where every other Mook is made of crystal.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze features Screaming Pillar enemies in the third world, which is a savannah island. Said enemies were clearly part of the Tiki Tak Tribe, the antagonist group from the previous game, which acted exclusively within DK Island and, as far as we know, had no reason to go any further (as they were only interested in DK's banana hoard), let alone the immobile Pillars.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape has a Mini Jano (or two in the PS1 version) appear in The Sanctuary of Stone and Fire, even though it is nowhere near The Cave of Bad Dreams (where you first encountered them and it made sense, as the place was guarded by their normal-sized counterpart).

  • Super Mario Kart has Monty Moles leaping out of the water in the Special Cup's first track. They probably didn't have enough processing power to use a more fitting enemy like a Cheep Cheep, so they had to reuse the Monty Moles you already find on-road.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In most strategy games, upgrading a unit will cause all units of that type to instantly improve. In Age of Empires I, outposts not visited in thousands of in-game years can suddenly replace their clubs with swords and their loincloths for suits of plate armour.
  • Warcraft III:
    • In one mission, Malfurion and Tyrande discover spiders that have grown to gigantic size when they came into contact with demonic corruption. However, there are many more giant spiders in the world, both in this game and in WoW, spiders that have never met any demons.
    • Several of the Northrend stages feature blue dragons. But the backstory establishes that Deathwing killed all of the blue dragons, with the Aspect Malygos being the only one left. However, The War of the Ancients trilogy has the red dragon Krasus preserving a few blue dragon eggs after traveling back in time to the era they were originally wiped out in, providing a retroactive explanation for anyone who needs one.
  • In Brütal Legend, it's possible to miss two Side Quests available during the campaign against General Lionwhyte and his glamed-up army. Since these quests assume you're still fighting him, coming back to complete them has you fighting Hair Metal units past a point in the story that they've all been wiped out.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead Rising famously gives you the Zombie Genocider achievement for killing a number of zombies equal to the entire population of Wilamette. Even accounting for out-of-town visitors and the infection spreading, it seems rather unlikely that that many zombies would wind up in the mall. And they still keep coming.
  • Silent Hill 2
    • Pyramid Head is explicitly made from part of James' damaged psyche. Doesn't stop enemies with a similar design and purpose from appearing in other games across the series to menace different characters:
      • Homecoming has the very similarly appearing Bogeyman, with just a few minor design differences between the two. In this case, Bogeyman is instead a manifestation of Adam's guilt.
      • Also, in Origins we have the Butcher, who is visually somewhat similar to ol' Pyramid but has different symbolism. Whereas Pyramid Head is about the guilt of James, the Butcher is either the cruelty and sacrifice of the Order, or is some manifestation of Travis' psyche, possibly fear and anger.
    • Subverted in one case. The Abstract Daddy is sprung from Angela's psyche. When it reappears as a Degraded Boss, Angela is initially nowhere to be found, but is nearby preparing to kill herself via Self-Immolation.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • The babies in Dead Space. You first encounter them in a prosthetics lab with babies growing in tubes all over the walls. Nice and creepy. But even though this lab is only a single room with maybe 50 baby tubes total, from that point on zombie babies are ubiquitous all over the ship and you fight at least a hundred of them in the game.
  • Used as an actual plot point in Kid Icarus: Uprising, where enemies of various factions get copied in later chapters to fight alongside one another, despite them originally being hostile to each other.
    Pit: So the Chaos Kin is copying Aurum enemies that are copies of the Forces of Nature.
    Viridi: It makes you think, doesn't it?
    Pit: No, not really. It's just weird.

    Western RPG 
  • Husks in Mass Effect can fall into this, especially when you start wondering how many people there had to be on this single scientific expedition or spaceship in order for there to be so many husks.
    • Becomes particularly Egregious on a side quest on planet Aequilus where miners Dug Too Deep, uncovered a Reaper artifact and became husks. Husks will come at you indefinitely until you destroy the artifact and complete the level.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda has the Outlaws, one of the three main enemy factions along with the Remnant and Kett. While the latter two factions having nigh-infinite numbers is more than justified, the Outlaws (an umbrella term for a bunch of different criminal gangs) really have no excuse for appearing so frequently. To wit, there were only 20,000 people on the Nexus, many of whom died during the Nexus Uprising and the subsequent Kett attacks; a small minority of the survivors then fanned out to become the Outlaws. So, presumably, there can't be more than a few thousand of them at the absolute most. These numbers make sense just sticking to the main story and bigger side missions, as you and your team only kill a few hundred there and this is implied to be significant, but thanks to infinite spawn points in the overworld single player and the Zerg Rush of repeatable multiplayer games, the player can easily kill more Outlaws than ever should have existed before they're even finished with the first playthrough.
  • Fallout 3:
    • Super Mutants appear far more numerous than their origins would suggest. Likewise, Raiders often seem to outnumber townspeople and wastelanders, with there being gangs of them in every single vaguely abandoned area that's not already infested by another enemy type. Enclave Soldiers can also be encountered before they officially enter the plot, and after their bases are wiped out in Broken Steel. Aliens sometimes respawn on Mothership Zeta if you return, even though you cleared out the ship.
    • Feral Ghouls, basically zombies created by the degenerative effects of FEV and radiation on prewar humans, are unusually common in the subway tunnels. You kill about 30 in one specific sidequest (Tenpenny Towers) alone, and the antagonist of that sidequest still has a small army of them to unleash if you side with him at the end instead of killing him and his two (sapient) followers. How so many people in the subways ended up infested with FEV, and how exactly they've been surviving for the past 200 years in an area with no food, is never explained.
    • Radscorpions were brought over from the 2D games, which took place on the West Coast, and exist in relatively high numbers, with the in-universe explanation being that the Capitol Wateland radscorpions are descended from pet store scorpions, which raises further questions about how they escaped and bred so prolifically after the war when so many other species went extinct.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Fiends and Powder Gangers continue to randomly spawn after you have killed their leaders and exterminated their strongholds. This could be justified as splinter groups; it's not like you got all of them. And even if you've killed Caesar, Vulpes, and the rest of his fort, and driven the Legion from their strongholds on the west side of the Colorado, leaving only the Legate's camp on the opposite end of Hoover Dam, Legionary Assassins keep spawning throughout the Wasteland every few days.
  • In Fallout 4, Brotherhood of Steel Vertibirds still occasionally appear if you have destroyed the Prydwen airship.
  • Might and Magic: In games set on Enroth, defeating the leader of a specific faction and storming their base without keeping anyone alive will not prevent the indefinite respawning their members. Killing the Final Boss inVI or Xenofex in VII won't stop Kreegans from reappearing again and again, pirates in VIII will still keep appearing on Dagger Wound Islands even after destroying their fleet on Regna, the list goes on.
  • In Undertale most areas are said to have a much larger population of monsters than the actual variety of enemies present there and because of that, if you opt for killing every encounters, you will kill the same enemy a multitude of times even when said enemy is supposed to be an unique individual.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • This applies to a lot of the gangs in the Grand Theft Auto series. The story missions could have you killing hundreds of their members, murdering all of their bosses and destroying all of their businesses, but they'll still be walking around the map ready to come after you if you cross their paths. The exceptions to this are the Ballas and Vagos in San Andreas, who will stop spawning if you take over all of their territories, and the Purple Nines in III, who through a glitch are hit so hard that they stop spawning even in a new save file if you don't take the right precautions. A big mention goes to the altruist cult of V, who are only found in the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness.

Non-Video Game Examples:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: From Season 3 onwards, the Big Bads of each season ceased to be vampire related; however, since the show had "Vampire Slayer" in the title, vampires kept showing up as mooks.

Alternative Title(s): Mook Recycling