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Artificial Atmospheric Actions

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In some games, Non Player Characters do various window-dressing activities in order to make the world seem more alive. However, if the actions are used in inappropriate contexts, or if they are used too frequently, it just highlights their artificiality. At best it's distracting, it's often funny, but at worst it's scary.

This trope is a less-discussed function of Video Game A.I.. Frequently has to do with inappropriate Enemy Chatter, and occasionally News Travels Fast or Gang Up on the Human. Occasionally, this can become So Bad, It's Good, although it is likely to be annoying.

Related to Welcome to Corneria and Going Through the Motions, and a successor of sorts to Hyperactive Sprite. Nothing to do with oddly-shaped clouds. The player character may occasionally perform atmospheric NPC actions as part of Blending-In Stealth Gameplay.


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    Bethesda Softworks 
Bethesda, most famous for The Elder Scrolls series and the Fallout series starting with Fallout 3, has the Radiant AI system which is commendably ambitious. However, it falls flat very frequently and very visibly; so much, their games earned their own folder.

  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
    • The various NPC greetings change based on your reputation and relationship with the NPC. Unfortunately, the greetings are all randomly selected based on race, which has some odd effects if the NPC has an actual personality (such as the elitist, thankless leader of the Mages Guild greeting you with "Welcome, friend, the day is yours!").
    • If you are sick, even people who are friendly to you say "Yuck, get away from me!" like you are some kind of leper. And the funny thing is, you talk to them, especially Caius, and they seem to forget that you have the equivalent of Leprosy when you ask about certain things.
    • Factions in The Elder Scrolls games, particularly Morrowind, have a bizarre hive mind with them, wherein people who you've never even met will somehow know you are a part of their faction or an enemy of their faction. As one YouTuber put it, joining most factions is like plastering your armour with political bumper stickers.
    • 99.999% of the citizens of Morrowind are above the law. If someone is attacking you, they'll just act like nothing's wrong when, if you did that, they'd run right over and try to arrest you. And if you're attacked by an Ash Zombie after sleeping when someone's in the room, they'll just stand there and ignore them, as well as the corpse you left in their room.
    • At the start of the game, take all your clothes off. Now walk around Seyda Neen and Balmora and marvel at how any individual NPC's walk-by reaction will switch between Naked People Are Funny and Please Put Some Clothes On on a dime. (Some of them are a little more consistent than others, though; Dunmer in particular seem to be universally disgusted with you.) This can even be useful. For example, there are situations where you want to kill someone, but their standard greeting drops you out of the conversation with an automatic "Goodbye," keeping you from taunting them into attacking you first. However, if you strip naked, their scripted "naked" response may supersede their automatic "goodbye," allowing you to then taunt them.
    • Some NPCs are programmed to "wander." Rather than stay in one place, they'll just sort of mosey around a set area. Unfortunately, they sometimes get struck trying to walk through each other or get stuck in places they aren't programmed to get out of. (It isn't uncommon, for example, after quite a few hours of gameplay, for half of the wandering NPCs in Balmora to end up in the river that runs through town.)
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
    • There are the ridiculous conversations between NPCs consisting of them throwing random banter lines back and forth.
    • Oblivion NPCs also have daily schedules, complete with eating and sleeping animations. Taverns at dinner time, for instance, usually have at least half a dozen NPCs sitting down and eating. Okay, and having ridiculous conversations with each other.
    • One early demo for Oblivion showed that the much-touted Radiant AI is capable of organic problem solving, even if its solutions are a little... non-traditional. An NPC was awoken by the barking of her dog. Her response was to get up, fireball the poor pooch to death, then return to bed. There was a similar problem with a pair of NPCs each given commands to perform tasks that the other was equipped for (hoeing and raking). Cue the epic battle to the death to get the rake or the hoe, instead of, y'know, swapping.
    • The bug where they hadn't prevented guards being arrested by other guards, so that a guard committing a crime in the course of pursuing a criminal was attacked by another guard, who was then flagged for attacking the guard, whereupon the townspeople attacked the crazy guy attacking a guard... except they all got flagged as having attacked the guard... you can see where this ends.
    • There was the dear lady raking her carpet.
    • Although certain characters are scripted to be jerks, that is to respond to NPC conversation with mean or uncaring responses, other characters will not respond appropriately. The result was dialog along the lines of...
      NPC 1: I saw a mudcrab the other day.
      NPC 2: Get out of my face!
      NPC 1: Have a nice day.
      NPC 2: You too.
    • NPCs also fail to realize who they are talking to. Resulting in some... weird exchanges:
      Champion of the Fighters Guild: I've heard the Fighters Guild is a good place to go to look for work.
      Grandmaster of the Fighters Guild: I've thought about joining them once or twice.
      Altmer mage, to his beloved wife: Greetings, fellow Altmer.
    • After turning in the evidence for the corrupt guard quest in Cheydinhal
      NPC runs up to the count: I need to speak to the count!
    • The script also often does not let them know who they are, resulting in them talking about themselves in the third person. There's one bug where people start talking about how Amantius Allectus was killed in a burglary, even if Amantius is still alive. This becomes absurd when the one saying this is Amantius Allectus. He got better, apparently.
    • There's a glitch in Cheydinhal that results in the Captain of the Guard saying "I don't know you, and I don't care to know you" over and over and over. Thing is, he only does this to one of his own guardsmen.
    • Guards will automatically attack and kill NPCs who are attacking the player, but they also have a script for when they find dead bodies in the street. This can result in them cutting a person down, turning to walk away, turning back around, and gasping at the corpse, "Oh my goodness! Are you all right?" Even better: if the townspeople aid you (often with... just their fists...) in fighting off an attacker revealed in (or led into) town, a guardsman might accidentally hit one with an arrow. Said towner will interpret this as a hostile attack and retaliate by fighting the guard. The guard is inevitably stronger, and cuts her down. And since she was an innocent... the guard will lean down, check her neck for a pulse: "... the body is still warm... there's a MURDERER on the loose!"... and proceed to walk away without even deigning to hide the body.
    • After a certain point in the Fighter's Guild questline, the Master of the Guild becomes very angry with you after you get involved in a mistake that led to the death of her son. During quest updates, she is furious with you and commands you to never speak to her again. But if she isn't part of any of your current quests, she's perfectly friendly with you.
    • Quill-Weave (yes, that one) becomes furious at you and will insult you every time you try to speak to her if you take one option in a quest she's involved with. She will, however, still train you in Acrobatics without further mark-up or hesitation.
    • Animals in Oblivion seem to have it in for you, very rarely they can be seen going after actual prey. This gets pretty immersion breaking when you get to a high level and just want to walk down the road, but your walking armored death machine has to stop and swat away pathetically weak lone wolfs and mountain lions every 40-50 feet. Or bandits that demand you give them "100 gold or your life", despite carrying around weapons and armor worth roughly 10,000-30,000 gold.
    • If you complete the main questline, new conversation topics will activate, including one of a guy (badly) singing part of an epic about your character. This becomes amusing if you happen to overhear a bandit singing your praises, who will nevertheless attack you with murderous intent on sight.
    • One of the biggest flaws in the AI of Oblivion NPCs is that most of them don't react to seeing a dead body in any way, and those that do will simply lean down and check the pulse, rarely comment on it, and then go back to ignoring it completely. This can lead to some surreal experiences if you have a high sneak skill or invisibility spell, such as cutting down a bandit with a backstab, then backstabbing the next bandit that calmly walks over and leans down to check the corpse, and then the next bandit after that, etc ... until every bandit in the room is lying dead in a pile.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • In general, Skyirm is better than the previous Elder Scrolls games for this, making the citizens seem more alive than the rest of the series. However, you can still do some funny things, such as placing a bucket over peoples' heads and robbing them blind (They won't report you for crimes if they can't actually see you!) or jumping up on peoples' tables and kicking all their food, plates, and goblets to the floor. Even at a fancy party, people will merely say "Watch what you're doing" when you jump on the table and kick sweet rolls and platters across the room. Just don't actually take them - unless you put a bucket over their heads, first.
    • Skyrim introduced invisible "interaction nodes" that various NPCs will "use" based on their schedule and role such as the owner of a store leaning on their own counter or various townsfolk sweeping the streets. The failings start to appear when you bring along Serana, who is programmed to not only interact with the various tools available to the player, but also the numerous interaction nodes present throughout the game. While normally only the NPC assigned to a specific node will use it, if left idle long enough Serana's AI will look for something to do, leading to amusing scenes such as her silently delivering a sermon in place of Heimskr or performing the Black Sacrament on Aventus' effigy.
    • In Skyrim, CHICKENS used to report you for committing crimes.
    • Followers are scripted to marvel at landmarks you walk past, even when you're exiting them. This leads to instances of your companion wondering what mysteries lie inside a cave that the two of you just finished clearing of bandits.
    • This can happen with both major and minor NPCs with regards to your status. You deal with a member of the Thieves Guild a couple of times while trying to assassinate the emperor. After you return to him to help you set up your guild quarters he's clearly respectful of you but after business is completed he'll immediately ask you why you haven't finished whatever buglary job he assigned you.
    • Seemingly every guard in Skyrim retired from adventuring due to taking an arrow in the knee. Worse, sometimes the dialogue glitches mid-sentence resulting in guards that have retired from adventuring after taking an arrow in the wife and kids.
    • When you complete a sidequest for an NPC, who then gives you praise of the highest order... and you accidentally pick up a bit of his stock. Never mind that you're now his BFF, never mind that you put it back where you got it, shopkeep will still try to kill you for it. Fortunately this only happens if you stuff it into your pocket. This is somewhat mitigated due to a little bit of price programming. If you are friends, stuff under a certain price is OK to take. It seems to be somewhere around the 50s that it changes, since some potions are okay, but not all. However, there's still a major immersion breaker: all the food and silverware is far below the limit. You can walk into a friend's house, steal all their silverware and food and they won't even be a bit surprised. Even so, there are issues: Low valued items includes gold. You can rob your friend of all their gold (potentially thousands of septims worth), but they won't care since no individual piece was worth more than 1 septim.
    • If you're completing a quest in someone's house or other private property and nightfall comes while you're talking to the NPC, then as soon as he's finished praising/rewarding you he'll scream at you for how you're trespassing and tell you to leave.
    • People will often come up to your character and make random commentary, which is not only repetitive as they generally say the same thing over and over again, but also a bit odd depending on who you are. You can be the Thane of whatever keep you're at and the guards will still insist, "I have my eye on you orc/lizard/cat/etc", and you can be a female Nord and women will still come up to you saying "Bet you've never seen a strong Nord woman before". One thing that ups the immersion is having people comment on changes that your character undertakes, such as being sick. This also leads to unfortunate glitches such as people commenting on your being a werewolf long after you've cured it.
    • Skyrim does handle the "Factional hive mind" a little better than Morrowind. For example, you can talk with Stormcloak aligned Jarls while part of the Legion provided you're not too far into the questline (ie, when they are deposed), and vice versa. Guards won't outright scoff at you for being part of the other opposing faction unless you walk in in full legion or stormcloak apparel. Guards also might have heard you joined a faction such as the Companions or the Mage's college in Winterhold, but not know that you're now in charge of it. That said, it does become quite immersion breaking when they act like you're at the lowest "rank" of said faction despite how long ago you've become the Archmage. While not knowing at first does make it seem more organic, it seems weird that the guards never seem to learn.
    • There's also the fairly unique case of Mjoll the Lioness, also known as the biggest chatterbox in Tamriel. When you take her with you as a follower she has a pool of about seven different generic conversation options available wherever she goes, and every few minutes she'll fire off with one of them. While interesting at first, you'll quickly grow tired of hearing her talking about her mother's swordfighting techniques or hunting cliff racers in Morrowind for the twentieth time. She also has no problem talking right over other characters, even if they're plot-critical.
    • Skyrim continues the tradition of odd reactions to dead people. Even better a glitch in the Civil War campaign can cause the leaders of their faction to never have their corpses removed. Consequently everyone in the room will continuously walk up to the corpse, despair over the murder, and then immediately go on with their lives. This makes it possible to, say, dump Ulfric Stormcloak's dead body on the throne and his housecarl's body on the table, then watch as people spawn and go about their day without taking into consideration that there's a dead body on the table.
    • Some NPCs spout random quips even when you're passing by with no attempt to talk to or even look at them, acting as though you initiated the talk. Maven Black-Briar will ask "I assume you're bothering me for a reason?" even when it's clear that you're halfway across town by the time she's finished her sentence. Plus, outside of one thief quest and the possibility of her becoming Jarl, you have absolutely no reason to talk to her, nor is she particularly pleasant to spend time with. She may just be that conceited.
  • Fallout 3:
    • Thankfully upgraded Oblivion's through the simple process of writing extra lines for specific NPC combinations within areas. While the traditional 'schedules' of Oblivion remain, it's not uncommon for NPCs to actually recognize specifically who they are talking to and therefore for slightly more organic conversations to occur. Due to engine limitations, however, they're still clunky as hell.
      NPC 1: I need to talk to you.
      NPC 2: I'm listening.
      NPC 1: Goodbye.
    • Also in Fallout 3 Charon tends to spout the line "I don't like the look of this place", regardless of whether he's in a run-down school infested with raiders or in the middle of the PC's house.
    • Cross: "I remember this place..." In Raven Rock.
    • It would seem that the greatest improvement Fallout 3 has over Oblivion is this particular field wasn't some sort of engine modification or superior scripting, but rather simply having less towns, less NPCs per town, and more recorded lines per NPC. Being a post apocalyptic wasteland it has smaller and less dense populace than Oblivion's thriving empire.
    • Fallout 3 also has its failings in this department. NPCs attempt to sleep periodically to seem more real. However setting off explosives while in stealth and in a barracks with many people not only fails to wake any of them up but no one seems alarmed either. Furthermore NPCs then continue to lay down and sleep with the dismembered bodies of the victims of said explosion on the same bed.
    • Also of interest in Fallout 3 is the inexplicably short temper of any citizen looking at locked doors or at any of their wares. Walk by a locked door with someone watching and they'll likely tell you it's locked for a reason. Given the way that most people play Fallout 3, this is entirely understandable.
  • Fallout 4:
    • Fallout 4 also features the interaction node system Skyrim has, memetically in the player character's hometown of Sanctuary where the central house features several nodes where an NPC will start banging on the walls with hammers. Very loudly. Thankfully so long as an NPC has anything else to do in a settlement they'll stick to their jobs over doing anything annoying, and it is possible to delete the more annoying interaction nodes with console commands and/or mods, some of which even allow you to place your own interaction nodes to add more life to a settlement so its more than just your heavily fortified plantation.

  • In Mirror's Edge, there's one point where you can knock an enemy off a building. If you look down to where his body is lying in the middle of the street, you'll see cars and pedestrians going right past - or even right over - the corpse. It's eerie, but somehow it kind of fits with the Dystopian Post Cyber Punk setting.

    Action Adventure 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Assassin's Creed:
      • The game has side-missions that require you to save civilians from harassment by guards. The citizens will watch you kill the guards, then thank you. They may then spot the guards' bodies and ask "Who could have done such a thing?" There's also the horde of beggars, ignoring the rich noblemen to pester the angry-looking swordsman like a cloud of blackflies, buzzing "Just a few coins, that's all I ask..." "No, YOU don't understand, I have NOTHING!" It's even funnier when they sound like they're having a conversation with each other. "I'm poor, I'm sick..." "Who did this!"
      • The guards themselves can get into this. You can hop out from behind a corner and trigger a "There he is!" and then immediately hop back behind and hear a "Where is he?!".
    • This improves in the Ezio Trilogy. You now have people doing more than just wander about, carrying things to and fro. People can be seen sweeping and cleaning, performing day to day maintenance on buildings and various other things such as fences, farmers are tilling the fields, etc. By Brotherhood and Revelations, you will occasionally see people standing in front of shops, as if they're about to purchase things, holding scripted conversations with the shop owners. You even come across picnickers and revelers out in the countryside in Rome, and you'll come across street performers in Constantinople.
    • Things improved steadily in the next games, but then sent back to square one in Assassin's Creed III. In the Brazil mission, citizens don't let things like gunfire coming from a VIP box and a hooded criminal fighting security officers distract them from their routine of walking in circles and idly chatting up their buddies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask defies this by giving several Non Player Characters schedules to follow, which tie into the side quests you can do with them (it helps that the game takes place in a three-day "Groundhog Day" Loop). As a result, there are 3 kinds of Non Player Characters: Those that do the same thing for all 3 days (though they may have a second thing after you do stuff, such as talking to them or clearing a dungeon, those that follow a schedule (again, some may change with player interaction), and monsters that are just there to attack you. No friendly Non-Player Character is random.
  • Psychonauts is usually good at avoiding this, but the infamous Milkman Conspiracy level outright parodies it with the G-Men, who attempt to pass as various NPCs by picking up associated items and having no idea what to do with them.

  • Thanks to the fact that the bar was pushed so ahead after this game, the NPCs in Beneath a Steel Sky come off as this. One of the most impressive things about the game when it came out was the fact that the game engine enables multiple NPCs onscreen at the same time - not just standing there Going Through the Motions, but actually moving around and acting out some kind of a routine. These days, it comes off as incredibly bizarre, since some NPCs will walk back and forth aimlessly, while some other NPCs who you don't speak to may sometimes enter and exit, or even stand there in place. This actually becomes a bit of Fridge Horror - Pushing Up Roses, in her review of the game, pointed out one particular instance in which it looked like an NPC was standing there listening to the player characters' conversation. Considering that one of the characters the player character was talking to ends up dead later on...
  • A similar thing with NPCs wandering around aimlessly happens in Dreamfall Chapters. Fortunately, you can on occasion see them enter buildings, but sometimes you'll see them just seemingly walk one way then decide to take a left turn for no apparent reason.

    Educational Games 
  • In the memetic "Hungry Pumkin" game, the same red car can be seen passing by the window every ten seconds or so, leading people to joke that the player is being stalked. There's also the fact that the Pumpkin just dumps all the food in his mouth and chews it up, even things like a pepper shaker, a glass of water and a jar of jam. And when the game's completed, the Pumpkin leaves without even paying for his food. Suffice to say, it's not a very well made game.

    Driving Games 
  • The pedestrians in Driver 2 would scream and run if you came close. Understandable when you're driving a car at them. Strange in the missions where you're on foot. Some players speculate that Tanner's model is holding a gun, which is why carjacking is so easy and why pedestrians run screaming. The model is too undetailed for a definite interpretation, though.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In Game of Thrones (Telltale), the reactions of characters oftentimes don't quite align with the current situation or what's being said.
    Crowd: Fucking traitor! Murderer! Kill her!
    Mira: [to her executioner] Let's get this over with.
    Crowd: A noble death! What a brave woman! Have mercy on her!
  • The long-ago text-based game of The Hobbit already incorporated this sort of action, resulting activities ranging from game-ending (the butler who unlocks the door in the elves' prison is already dead when you're caught, trapping you in jail) to fridge brilliant (orcs and elves capture each other and put each other in their prisons, despite not being intended to).
  • Losing at this interactive Winnie the Pooh story results in Eeyore saying, "Sorry you couldn't help. At least you had time to say hello", even if he wasn't nearby when you did the thing that made you lose.

  • City of Heroes:
    • The game occasionally has office missions with dozens of terrified people running about. They're not headed for anywhere, and can push you around if you get in the way of their path, and can distract you if you have actual hostages to rescue. Better still, civilian NPCs aren't programmed to jump; thus, anything that's raised even slightly and not an incline is an Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. It's pretty hilarious to see an office lady panicking between two boxes and a wall, or in a fountain, or behind a potted plant... you get the idea.
    • This also happens in the Villainous Mayhem Missions, so as you're attempting to fight your way through the cops, you'll be swarmed by NPCs who can't die, offer no rewards, con as hostile, and do nothing but run around flailing and screaming. Meaning that auto-targeting before or during fights is likely to take several minutes as you try to either click on or tab through the massive hordes of red garbage to actually click on the person you're trying to fight. Targeting binds make this less of an issue, but it's still really, really annoying.
    • The villain groups get in on this as well. Certain bits of dialogue are triggered by proximity, making it very easy to make two henchmen say their lines out of order just by entering through the wrong door. Due to the limited selection of idle stances, odds are good that said henchmen are threatening a wall/some crates/empty air while having this conversation. Also, some enemy groups feature radically different members. The Vahzilok consist of mad scientists and their zombie creations, but that doesn't stop the zombies going on rants, or the scientists shouting "Brains!". Similarly, several varieties of battle drones can be quite eloquent at times when all they're supposed to do is beep.
    • A bug pops up time to time in hostage escort missions that involve multiple hostages. If you escorted them to the door, a single hostage will exit through it just fine. But if there is more than one hostage and you try taking them to the door one at a time, you will see them exit but when you go back for the others you might suddenly find that previous hostage following you around still even though the game considers them to have been "rescued".
    • The civilian Non Player Characters in the cityscape are much worse off. One of the programmed scripts involves gang members attempting a break-in to one of the generic warehouses. For some reason, the script occasionally triggers on 'trees' raising questions as to the street value of sap.
    • Another programmed cityscape event involves a civilian NPC getting mugged. The NPC is random. While it looks unusual when a businessman is struggling over his purse, it is downright embarrassing when it is a SWAT team member.
  • EVE Online has Non-Player Character haulers entering and exiting stations to give the impression of a busy market hub.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has NPC/s milling about the major hub cities and other settlements, at times with speech bubbles overhead (typically the same ones at regular intervals). In areas where weather effects are present, they also will stand right in the rain and snow and not react. In addition, when an area becomes crowded with players, Audience Murmurs can be heard.
  • In Guild Wars, sometimes you will see different factions of mobs fighting others. However, if you step by, they will immediately turn around and start attacking you.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online, though mostly populated by NPCs rooted in place, crafting area NPCs will hammer away at bits of metal forever and ever...
  • Star Trek Online typically has nameless Non Player Characters wandering around social zones doing various tasks. The Foundry Level Editor even includes programming options to make these happen.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • Enemy mobs are generally programmed to do something in their spare time — mime talking, mess around with their weapons, lounge on the furniture, whatever. These actions are usually individually set, so most of the time they play out pretty appropriately. However, it's possible under certain circumstances (for instance, engage a group of three enemies, kill one, and be killed by the others) to have an NPC holding an argument with a corpse and not even realize it.
    • Even the Player Character him/herself falls victim to this with his spoken lines. While quest-relevant conversations may be unique and show off some pretty good voice acting, generic lines tend to be repeated, particularly during side quests.
  • Warhammer Online: The atmospheric actions can sometimes come across as phony, with characters crying completely at random or wandering around aimlessly.
  • Quite annoying with the predator mobs in World of Warcraft.
    • If a critter (rabbit, deer, etc.) strays too close to a predator (lion, tiger, etc.), the predator will rush over and kill them in one blow. Or sometimes they'll stalk them for a while before killing them. But then the predator just turns around and continues walking lazily along. This switches the predators from natural hunters who eat what they kill to psychopathic murderers intent on the eradication of all lesser lifeforms. It would be far better if the predator just dropped onto his chest and started chowing down on the body (bloodlessly, of course).
    • The game has instances of random chatter. Some NPCs even talk about a random character near them if they meet a specific criteria. And the human starting zone had the worker unit from Warcraft 3 walking around, complete with the original voiceset. So did the orc/troll starting zone, but those were involved in a quest.
    • There was subtle, albeit noticeable improvement in creature interactions in the "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion and following: wolves actually go through eating motions near carcasses, bears fish in the rivers and emerge with actual fish in their mouths, rams head-butting each other, tickbirds ride on rhinos' horns, and most remarkably, drakes in Storm Peaks that kill rhinos and carry them in their talons up to the nests where their hatchlings are.

    Platform Games 
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, shooting a GUN soldier will occasionally cause another nearby GUN soldier to yell, "They got Bob!" It's an apparent attempt to avert What Measure Is a Mook? and make you feel bad, but it loses all effect after you hear it the second or third time and realise it's just generic chatter.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Starcraft:
    • Your zealots will shout "We cannot hold!" at you when a horde of 20 of them is fired on by a single marine (this was fixed in the Protoss-centric Legacy Of The Void where it was changed to "We meet the enemy in GLORIOUS BATTLE!"). The marines too, who might say "We're screwed!" when attacked by a zergling.
    • The Terran Battle Cruiser captain outdoes all by yelling out "Abandon ship!" if the enemy so much as looks at it scary.
  • Warcraft III has a standard set of lines a given unit will utter whenever you order it to attack, regardless of circumstances. Thus, we have Arthas, a Paladin, shouting "You are past redemption!" as he charges into battle to slay an ordinary sheep. Must have been an uncommonly sinful barnyard animal. ...on the other hand, let's not think too much about that.
  • Both Warcraft III and Starcraft II feature a "pause" function for cutscenes, allowing the game to effectively ignore everything that wasn't part of the script. Unfortunately, it doesn't always account for what it's pausing — it's possible in some cases to have soldiers on opposite sides of a fight staring at each other while the cutscene plays out, or even have missiles hanging in flight for the duration. One of the most egregious examples is "In Utter Darkness": if the Dark Voice starts his Evil Gloating during a wave, Zeratul's reply will be given while the protoss and zerg troops stand around, idle animations playing, not five feet from each other.

    Rhythm Games 
  • The Guitar Hero series has only about four models for the crowd: guys in striped shirts who hop, guys in solid shirts who pump their arms, etc, and they're all perfectly in sync, perfectly identical, staring in exactly the same direction, doing their one move no matter how fast or slow the song. It's fun to go to concerts IRL and impersonate a Guitar Hero NPC. This is taken to its logical conclusion in Guitar Hero 2, where in the hipster venue, EVERYONE is wearing a striped shirt. Then there's the crowd surfer in Guitar Hero 3 that appears to climb up to the stage, shake his hand a couple times, and jump off. Some might call him a loyal fan, but he's in at least a dozen scripted sequences in the various songs.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • All over the place in Cyberpunk 2077, with crowds that sometimes walk in circles (Thanks to pathfinding glitches), people staying out at all hours of the day, police standing in place, people in wheelchairs getting up and running if the player drives too close....
  • In .hack//G.U., whenever you run around Root Towns or run into NPCs in areas, they have speech bubbles above their heads with random things about other people they've met, or things they need to do, or something like that. Their bubbles change whenever Haseo walks near them ranging from, "Oh, Haseo!" to, "It's the Emperor!" if you've beaten that volume's tournament, to, "Are you ready yet?" if you meet one of your party members.
  • In Baldur's Gate and the other Infinity engine games:
    • Certain NPCs are programmed to leave the area after conversing with the PC. This is typically done by having them walk to the nearest area transition and zone out — even if this is a locked door or somebody else's house. When there isn't an exit close enough, the NPC will simply dematerialize.
    • There's also a problem with Anomen - his battle cry is an impassioned 'For the Order!'... even if in your game, he failed his test, renounced the Order and blames them for everything bad that happened in his life. The things people say when you click on them can have this effect too - Solaufein's generic Drow 'Do not question the Matron Mothers' starts to sound very sarcastic by the end of that storyline.
    • Planescape: Torment (which uses the same Game Engine) has a quest to retrieve an item from a shop the quest giver has been barred from. Because the door closest to him is said shop, he tends to walk into the shop he can't go in!
  • The random "Glory is mine", "I'll yield to none!", or "Greet the reaper for me!" lines uttered by the characters in Divinity: Original Sin II... as they do things like feign death or cast random buffs.
  • In Fable II:
    • Walk into a town where multiple people love you. They will ALL walk up to you and announce their intent to marry you. The game will add a caption telling you can marry someone by presenting a ring. This happens even if you're married... and your spouse is with you... and you don't have any rings to offer in the first place.
    • When you take a job, someone will comment on your performance. Sadly they only have about 5 quotes, and you do a lot of work, so it gets repetitive quickly.
  • Fallout 2 had loads of it. Made you want to use the ball gag you got from failing an arm wrestling mission on Cassidy the 69,105th time he says that his father named him after a character in a book while walking across a street. The fact that he seemed to speak by materializing text that would interfere with your ability to click on things, or read what other people were saying didn't help...
  • Final Fantasy VIII lampshaded this a couple of times. One of the more amusing involved a shopkeeper panicking about how the enemy would take over his store. He gives a moving speech about the fate of his family, and ends with a perky, '...So what will it be?'
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 attempts to populate inhabited areas as you move about them with generic "filler" townsfolk. Though this ensures that parts of cities aren't empty, it's particularly notable in Academia, where the same four children can be seen running around (and one invariably tripping and falling, to the others' concern) no matter where in the city you are. Likewise, in Bresha Ruins 5 AF, once you've completed the tasks there, you'll perpetually be followed around by soldiers who recite the same pair of lines regarding your successes in missions they gave you.
  • Final Fantasy XV does the same as XIII-2, but they handle it a lot better. That said, it still comes off as quite artificial when a player goes into a town in the middle of the night to find a bunch of townsfolk still loitering around, shopping, and the stores are all open. At that time of night, they don't have much of a reason to be out. The shopkeepers and Quest NPCs are still around, but that is excusable in order to make a less frustrating game.
  • The PC action-RPG Gothic has not only Non Player Characters who engage in such mundane activities as cooking food, eating, sleeping, and urinating, but also an entire ecosystem among the various monsters. For example, if the main character kills a mole rat, leaves the area, and comes back, he might witness a pack of wolves devouring the carcass.
  • The mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is typically pretty good about averting this, in that it's a point and click game and you can only talk to characters if they're highlighted, so movement and dialogue are minimal. That said, exiting and re-opening the app can often lead to all background NPCs doing their normally-syncopated background movements in perfect synchronization.
  • In the roguelike IVAN, the choice of words and the topic of conversations of characters is selected at random, often for humorous purposes, e.g. hunters discussing trapping wild housewives or skinning tax collectors.
  • In Jade Empire, sometimes your character will shout battle cries as they... kick open chests and drawers. "Your end is near!"
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, NPCs just walk around randomly. Back and forth, forth and back. This gets a little funny when they walk through your vibrosword as you talk to someone.
  • The Last Story allows you to knock over baskets of onions, which then knock over the other NPCs when they step on them. Two of them border a plot-important cutscene of Zael discovering Lisa hiding in a wagon. As Zael and Lisa gaze fondly into each other's eyes, oblivious to the rest of the world, the randomly-generated passersby hurtle over with comedy 'thunk' sounds.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you can hear the chatter of carnival goers in the Murderworld level. Discerning listeners can make out what's being said ("You're too tall for this ride" and so on), but one must wonder where it's coming from, considering that the entire park is designed to kill you. It's entirely in character to have those sounds in Murderworld for the creator of the place, Arcade.
  • Mass Effect:
    • If you stick around long enough you will eventually realize that NPCs you pass by don't really have a destination in mind. Notably, right outside of the human embassy, there is an asari walking back and forth, forth and back.
    • Enemies only have three possible lines, all of which they will repeat endlessly in combat. "Hold the line!" and "I will destroy you!" start to sound a little idiotic when they're being yelled by a lone sniper in a room full of crates. "Enemies everywhere!" Uh... No. That's just three people hidden behind one crate. It gets even better if both of your squadmates are dead. Even more insane, they recorded those exact same lines in several different voices. Fortunately, most of the enemies in the main storyline can't speak.
    • Not even Shepard escapes this, due to the random shouts she or he will give out. This leads to... perplexing situations where Shepard will have a lengthy discussion cutscene with an opponent, only to shout out "We've been spotted!" when the actual fight starts. Shepard is also known to say "we've been spotted" while alone (as in Arrival).
    • Everyone you can talk to (who isn't volus, elcor, or hanar) uses the same set of gestures (notably the "point at you" and "raise both hands parallel to the floor" gestures) and always walks off-screen to your left, leading with his/her head. The only unique gesture is Anderson's silly-looking "need-to-know basis" hand shaking before the first mission.
    • There was also a common problem with the background NPC chatter. In an effort to avoid Welcome to Corneria, they recorded several (generally six to eight) "stages" for each one, so a pair of characters would toss off the first four or so lines of their conversation the first time you walked by, and then the next couple when you came back, and so on. Unfortunately, if you're around unusually often, they run out and start over from the beginning. Sometimes (like the two krogan on Tuchanka who keep taunting each other), it works. Other times (like, say, the asari and salarian involved in "something that'll last") it doesn't.
  • The first Mega Man Battle Network game had cars continuously driving down the street of ACDC town - and Lan could literally run into the street and stand in front of them, they'll pause and wait for Lan to get out of the way. A similar thing could also be done in Den city - whenever Lan crossed the street, the lights wouldn't turn as long as Lan stays in it. He can do this indefinitely with no consequences.
  • In Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2:
    • The characters shout things like "Perish, as you should!" when you have them bash open a door or chest.
    • "We both won't walk away from this!"
    • There are two peasants in part 1 of the original NWN who walk around in circles having the same conversation every time they bump into each other. EVERY TIME.
    • Mook Holding A Club: "AH CARVE YOU UP!"
    • Ordering your followers to attack while using the "Innocent Idealist" voice set results in a very quickly grating cry of "You have to fight! Come on!" every single time...
  • In Pokémon Black and White, in Castelia City, there are at least two streets that have several rows of NPC Clerk Trainers walking up and down the street. Various phrases from them are shown in text, like "Sorry!" "I'm hungry." "Oh, no!" et cetera. They usually all avoid the player character, although it is possible to talk to a few of them if they bump into you. All of them disappear when you enter the area with the fountain, reappear again in the last street of the city, then disappear again when you travel through the gate. In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the same thing happens with visitors to your Join Avenue.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince will let out a battle cry with every hit, which includes hitting scenery for some extra Sand.
  • Radiata Stories manages to avert this much the same way Majora's Mask did: every NPC in the game has a set schedule and interactions. Also, the majority of them are recruitable party members, giving you reason to stalk them.
  • Even playable characters in your own party aren't immune to this. Rogue Galaxy is a notorious offender via the "Active Chat" feature. As you run around, your party members will bleat out short bursts of spoken dialogue which rarely have any relevance on what's actually going on, and in the worst cases, are downright stupid/lame/just plain wrong. The absolute WORST is Jaster's oft-repeated "Hope it all goes well." Just as annoying is Lilika's stock phrase: "Be careful. I sense something strange." And then there's the crap they spew when you're standing around idle (usually because you are in a moving elevator and can't really do anything else...) You can turn this shit off, but somehow it detracts from the game's atmosphere.
  • Many NPC townsfolk in Ultima V have a daily routine programmed in, with the potential for slight variation if someone (you) gets in their way. On the one hand, this means characters move around in a vaguely realistic manner; on the other hand, they're still following the exact same schedule, day in, day out, down to each individual step.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is pretty good about this, having NPCs not only stroll along, but also go to different locations, answer cell phone calls, and urinate in the street. Furthermore, on first entering Chinatown, you can even stumble upon a hooker "helping out" a policeman. They can't actually enter another room, however— a woman walks down the hall to the bathroom, kicks open the door and stares warily inside for a moment, then turns and walks off again.
  • In The Witcher, an NPC can be seen using a hammer on a brick wall... complete with woodknocking noise.

  • ARMA 2 has squaddie chatter dynamically generated out of individual words; the words are never the same inflection and oftentimes it sounds like lines are being strung together by more than one voice actor. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising dynamically generates squaddie chatter with phrases instead, and hits a level of artificiality that just makes it sound more like realistic military chatter. There are also three different entire sets of intonations that chatter will switch to depending on context.
  • Both friendly NPCs and enemies in Borderlands and Borderlands 2 will often patrol around, but will sometimes do more than just walk, to seem a bit more lively—guards will get lazy and sit down on railings or boxes, while civilians will pick through trash and drunkenly swap stories. It sometimes gets hilarious, such as when a large skag decides to roll on its back in the dirt...with a rider still on his saddle on its back.
  • In Call of Duty 3, Treyarch implemented the vaunted "Battle Chatter" system, in which your squad mates would shout warnings or advice to you, such as telling you where the enemy was or advising you to get behind something. Most of the time it sounded pretty natural. Occasionally your squad mates would start yelling "Use that cover for cover!"
  • The Frigate mission of GoldenEye (1997) features several hostages that must be freed. Generally, they simply run away and disappear offscreen (with the message "Hostage Escaped"). If you follow them, however, they never disappear, and you can see that they simply run aimlessly about the ship at top speed. It's probably best not to think about these guys, since there's nowhere for them to escape to anyway (the only possible way to leave the ship would be via Bond's tiny one-man motorboat, unless they wanted to try swimming it). In fact, quite a few of the noncombatants in that game did odd things, from the scientists in the Facility level who would go sprinting for the bathroom once you left them alone (where, strangely enough, they would simply dematerialize without explanation) to the civilians in the Street level who would simply run around in little circles... through minefields.
  • Half-Life:
    • The game is famous for its bizarre, probably batshit insane NPCs that could seemingly only say things that were massively inappropriate for the situation. Half-Life 2 mostly averts this by virtue of simply having them not talk most of the time, but will occasionally still provide some real gems. NPC conversations were generated by having one NPC randomly pick from the list of "generic comments" and then another NPC randomly picking from the list of "generic replies", with no relationship between the two. There were a fair amount of both initial comments and replies, and sometimes it seemed like a pretty natural conversation. Other times, you ended up with "Sometimes... I dream of cheese." "Man, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that..." This is not helped by the relatively small size of the voice cast; a good fifty percent of the time you wind up hearing John Patrick Lowrie talking to himself.
    • During scenes in which the NPCs are apparently talking to Gordon Freeman, no matter what the player decides to have him do, they continue to talk to him as if he's standing right there. This gets rather weird or amusing when the player decides to have Gordon run around the room, check out the walls, or try to write words in the wall with bulletholes and then they're just talking about what Freeman should do next.
  • In Homer The Flanders Killer, there are several problems (despite it being Out of Character for Homer Simpson to be a killer in the first place). Firstly, the Flanderses just stand around while their neighbour is trying to kill them without so much as wondering what's gotten into him or calling the cops. They also walk on the roof sometimes. Additionally, sometimes other characters like Moe and Apu show up, also oblivious to both Homer's and the Flanderses' out-of-character behaviour.
  • This is justified in games where you are attempting to save people. House of the Dead, for example, has civilians being chased by zombies. You generally earn a bonus if you kill their pursuers.
  • Perfect Dark:
    • Characters will sometimes randomly hold their crotch and squat like they have to use the bathroom. After this they will go on like nothing happened.
    • While exploring Carrington Institute, random coworkers will often spout random lines when you approach them. Sometimes they will tell you that they're very busy, and then sit stock-still and stare at their desk.
  • In Postal 2, NPCs when they encounter each other often enter into non sequitur-filled conversations ("It's a beautiful day." "If it was up your ass, you'd know."). They can also be seen doing not-very-hygienic things like picking pills up off the ground and eating them. And if the player pulls out a weapon and starts shooting, they're as likely to stand still and stare at the player than attack or run away. The Postal Dude (and the player) can use this for shits and giggles; drop a donut on the ground, piss on it, and wait. Watch as a citizen or even better, a cop, walk up and eat it. They begin to gag and belch and soon vomit. Cut off their heads as they vomit and the stump will continue to spew like a garden hose.
  • Splinter Cell:
  • Numerous lightgun FPS arcade games such as Virtua Cop penalize you for shooting civilians. Sure, it makes some degree of sense that a world would be populated by people other than terrorists and aliens and whatnot, but civilians intentionally leaping out in front of you and startling you, in places like restricted military bases and terrorist encampments, really stretches belief. Parodied by xkcd.

    Simulation Games 
  • In Animal Crossing, characters can randomly go up and talk to each other and may end up being happy, sad, or angry afterwards. Annoyingly, if they end up sad or angry you can't talk to them, delaying your progress in a Fetch Quest. Starting with Doubutsu no Mori e+ (and internationally with Animal Crossing: Wild World), you can listen in on the conversations.
  • The merchants in the market booths (let us never speak of them again) in Anno 1503 will loudly advertise their wares.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Inverted with Adventure Mode in the original version. Wars and other historical events are simulated during world generation, but the world becomes almost completely static once you join as an adventurer.
    • Played straight in later versions as the world has started to advance on its own after character creation. Now, stilted conversations, bizarre logic and random acts of violence are as common as one would expect from such a large and complex game.
  • The Loud House licensed games:
    • "Welcome to the Loud House" is generally well-constructed, but there is one oddity regarding Lily. Sometimes, a stink cloud will show up around her as though she needs a diaper change, only to go away without intervention.
    • In "Lights Out", some characters will speak in third person (because the AI thinks it's Lincoln talking).
    • In "Summer School", you can change the time to make it day or night, which leads to characters spending several nights at the same place in a row.
    • In "Clean-o-Clock", when the timer runs out, the parents come home and immediately enter the room you're in. This applies even if you're in the basement, upstairs, or the attic.
  • Moshi Monsters:
    • The mission "Gustbusters" involves evil clouds putting everyone to sleep except you (who is limber enough to avoid them) and Sprinkles (who is explicitly immune). Trouble is, only Tamara and the three most prominent shopkeepers (Dewey, Raarghly, and Mizz Snoots) are seen conked out on the ground. The six shopkeepers of the marketplace are nowhere to be seen and the background characters Chomper, Stomper, Billy Bob Baitman, Tiddles, and Max Volume are all seen doing their usual and they're inexplicably wide awake.
    • When the monsters drink, they use the same animation as when they're eating.
    • Quests:
      • Some locations have a character who lives there and is thus always (or nearly always) there when you go to that place. This becomes problematic when a quest is generated, since the characters who send you on quests are completely random, possibly resulting in two of the same character in the character's home base. And no one comments about the doppelganger.
      • Dialogue is coded like a game of Mad Libs. This can result in phrasing like "in backstage", a singular "they" despite knowing the gender of the subject, "is" or "was" when talking about two characters, and "I have a problem" even when they're the one solving the problem.
      • Sometimes, characters will say, "I lost my Moshling" even when they are Moshlings. For reference, Moshlings are pets, so it's a bit like a talking dog saying, "I lost my pet".
      • Characters sometimes claim their ship needs cleaning—- but it's always the Cloudy Cloth Clipper, so unless it's Buck speaking, that's not true.
  • In My House, if your bladder meter is low, characters can somehow sense this and tell you to go to the toilet, even though you're giving no indication of it.
  • Neopets:
    • Sometimes, your pets randomly talk. This can lead to them saying, "Know anyone who's up for a fight?" or similar even if you've programmed them to be friendly, "Today doesn't seem to be a very good day" even if they're at full happiness, and "I'm hungry" even when they're not.
    • During the plot where Queen Fyora was injured, there was a glitch where she'd still appear, uninjured, if you visited Faerie City.
    • Sometimes when you feed your pets, they will say something like, "I can't eat another bite" even if they're still hungry after being fed. They also refuse to eat certain foods, but gulp down gross foods despite complaining. Additionally, pets can say that they're thirsty, but if you make them drink, they'll treat it like food.
    • In dialogue, pets sometimes use the word "a" when "an" or "some" would be grammatically correct.
    • When a pet is turned into a baby, it behaves just like an adult pet.
    • Pets only wear their sad faces when they are hungry, and will still smile even if actually sad. Similarly, diseases allegedly have symptoms, but sick pets will never show these symptoms, pulling their "sick face" instead.
    • During the "Faeries' Ruin" plot, sometimes faeries would still send out quests despite being meant to be turned into stone. The Neopets Team eventually remedied this, jokingly claiming that they were going to remind them to stay stone.
  • Done in Rune Factory 3 - characters will frequently do or carry things related to their occupation, so it's not uncommon to see Carlos and Carmen fishing, one of the witches at their cauldron, Daria painting, or just a group of people chatting with each other. Characters will also sometimes go to the "date spots" in the dungeons, or just randomly go to the beach (with swimsuits) during summer. They even come into your house on occasion if you're friends.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims, non-playable sims will try to swim in your pool even if they don't know you.
    • In The Sims 2, townies are notorious for randomly grabbing babies and trying to feed them. Also, sims will always do things in apartments - while this does keep the apartment from looking dead, it becomes really weird when you see your neighbours return home from work and immediately start swinging. They always go for the swings. OR they go upstairs and play music. Or they go to the bar (if it's in there) and try to drink something that may have been out there for hours.
    • The Sims 3 has a few odd AI quirks, depending on how far you patch and/or mod your game. One that stands out in particular is the way non-controlled Sims seem to flock to public lots if you're on them. This at least prevents, say, the city park from looking too empty. The problem comes when your nocturnal Sim decides to visit the ghosts in the graveyard, and lickity-split a businessman, a housewife, and a schoolgirl show up — at 2AM on a Tuesday. They have no reason for showing up, and proceed to mill about aimlessly until you leave, or until their schedule finally kicks in, causing them to run top-speed off the lot.
    • SimCity 4:
      • The sims often have bizarre driving habits. This normally didn't matter, but on driving missions it became annoying.
      • It is a known fact that all auto manufacturers install a bolt that keeps the accelerator at 50 miles an hour, no matter where the car is going. In general, when an emergency vehicle goes down the road, the cars just careen out of the way on to the side walk like a giant laser beam was heading down the road.
      • Coupled with Artificial Stupidity, the Sims you can place to live in the city just have odd habits and things that make you go "why would you do that?". The most jarring show cases the problem of the default path-finding algorithm, where a Sim can't find his/her place of work... when it's across the intersection.
      • In the previous game, Sim City 3000, the freight trains would actually stop and wait for the automobile traffic.
    • Even more amusing when the neighbors do something funny like take a BATH in your house or freeload in your pool. In The Sims, visiting sims would almost always take a dip in your pool no matter how rude it was to take a dip in the new neighbors' pool.
    • The Sims Medieval:
      • People who are carrying swords, when they're not the active Sim, sometimes sharpen their swords, wait a few minutes, and then sharpen them again. In the "Pirates and Nobles" expansion, there's the addition of pet parrots and hawks, which inactive Sims seem to like calling, dismissing and recalling repetitively.
      • The Monarch can hold court and hear petitions from his/her people. The problem is that there is that the petition are picked at random, not taking into account the sims' actual background leading to things like characters who are already parents asking permission to have children and leaders from foreign territories asking for money to save their farms.
    • In all the games, characters occasionally think (with thought bubbles), and some of their thoughts are bizarre, such as randomly thinking of a teddy bear.
    • In order for a Sim to realise they've been cheated on, they need to actually catch the cheater in the act. This applies even if they're a lesbian couple and the cheater got pregnant.
  • Stardew Valley:
    • This is generally averted during conversation, with characters' dialogue changing based on your relationship with them and with other characters, the time of year, the weather, upcoming festivals, what items you've sold to the shop, and more. However, most characters only have one line of dialogue for each festival, which is usually friendly towards you. This means that characters that take a while to warm up to you like Shane, Haley, Sebastian and Linus suddenly act like you're their best friend for that day only. The same applies when giving gifts, as characters will always respond enthusiastically to a loved or liked gift regardless of whether they know or like you.
    • Each character has a schedule which dictates where they have to be at different times. However, if you study these schedules, what the characters are doing doesn't seem to make an awful lot of sense. For example, on Fridays in Spring, Mayor Lewis will spend seven and a half consecutive hours standing by a fountain. Suddenly the decay of the community centre seems to make a lot more sense... It's especially infuriating if the character runs a shop, as there's really no reason for Marnie to refuse to sell you animal feed because she's too busy staring at a microwave for hours.
    • The player's first encounter with Krobus is meant to be during a quest that triggers in Winter. In this quest, he will be afraid and run away from the player. It's possible to befriend Krobus before Winter even starts, yet he will still act as if the player is a stranger during the quest.
  • The educational kids' website Study Ladder has a virtual house where you can spend the in-game currency on furniture and pets. The weirdness comes in when you can sometimes hear the pets before they're there. So, for instance, if you click on the window, you'll still hear a "Neigh!" even if you haven't bought a horse.
  • This is an important part of the World Neverland franchise. The other characters in the kingdom will do their jobs, go about their lives, and form their own relationships at the same time you do.

    Space Simulator 
  • Freelancer subverts this with scripted NPC dialogue and ships. The subversion comes when the player notices that the NPCs actually do haul what they declare they are hauling and head towards where they say they are heading. For instance, a freighter carrying ship hull panels to a neighbouring system will really be carrying ship hull panels when the player scans their ship, and they will take the fastest patrol route to the jump gate or jump hole that gets them there, docking with said jump gate or jump hole at the end. They do not show up in the system they travelled to due to the game's non-persistent nature, however. In addition, the scripted dialogue also includes lines for special scenarios, such as when multiple ships are queuing up to enter a jump gate or jump hole, as well as lines that are spoken at random, such as "I hear you can buy anything on a Junker base.", "Keep it icy, man, I don't want to end up a corpse before my time because YOU were daydreaming.", "Ughhh, that last deal nearly killed me.", and so on.
  • The scientists and engineers wandering around the Vehicle Assembly Building and Spaceplane Hangar in Kerbal Space Program. Among other enhancements, 0.20 update added fuel tankers, apparently driven by complete lunatics. Oh, and the Spaceplane Hangar also stands out for containing a large group of Kerbals wearing high-vis vests, holding lighted batons and doing... well, it's not actually all that clear what they're doing, but it's either some sort of semaphore training or a yoga routine.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Guards in Dishonored frequently mumble to themselves about elixirs and the plague, or ask the other guard if they want to gather for whiskeys and cigars at night or how their sister's doing. It only gets weird when the responses get mixed up, like when a guard gets asked how his sister's doing and replies "It seems likely." These became so popular with fans that additional voice lines where a guard complains about another only talking about whiskey and cigars, among others, were added for the DLCs and sequel.
  • NPCs and Guards in Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 have the same routines and dialog every time you play a specific map. It's varied enough to not be too obvious, but repeated playthroughs of a map will make this clear as day. Oftentimes, their routine will only start when you go near them (Dexy Barat in 2016 for example, will not start her spiel of who's allowed on the top floor until you get near her).
  • The NPC dialogue in Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine is constantly recycled across levels, so that nearly every level will include characters bragging about having just bought a fifth car or asking another character what they think of their new handbag. Fair enough when the levels involve heists at casinos and nightclubs, downright bizarre when they involve breaking out of prison.
  • In Thief: Deadly Shadows, characters respond appropriately to bodies or bloodstains, either running away if they're non-combatants, or getting angry and looking for the player if they're fighters. This makes less sense (and can cause the player a lot of trouble) if they were the ones to put the corpse there, or saw some other NPC do it.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Civilization V has a ton of leaders, and when talking to any of them, they will say a generic line in their own tongue with unrelated subtitles. This works well the first dozen times, until you realize each leader has about 6 different lines to introduce themselves, propose a deal, say hello in a happy or angry way, start a war and lose a war, which gets repetitive really fast - and hilarious when you understand the language.
  • Sometimes, the AI in the Space Empires games will send you a random message saying a predefined phrase like "We have found many rich deposits in the nearby asteroid fields". Another thing they'll say is "Your growth is astonishing!" even though you haven't grown at all and are still stuck on your home planet. And the classic "Mineral planets are the best!" is repeated by all the races... even the ones with organic technology who don't rely on minerals so much! (Some mods change the speech files for the organic races so they say "Organic planets are the best!" And then there's the Space Viking custom race, which says "Beer planets are the best!")
  • The civilians in the ADVENT city centers in XCOM 2 are coded to run away and take cover if XCOM soldiers get too close after being revealed. However sometimes the running animation doesn't kick in for some reason, so you'll instead see them casually strolling away from your soldiers at a leisurely pace before suddenly cowering down behind some cover looking absolutely terrified.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Build a City, a Licensed Game of Me Too, when your city goes dark at night, all the NPC's disappear, except, inexplicably, for one little boy, who's still animated sliding down the slide at nighttime.
  • In Bully:
    • Sometimes you can hear citizens talk about rather strange stuff, or see a prep suddenly wander right into the autoshop and then start fighting the Greasers. Sometimes you'll see prefects completely ignore when someone gets knocked out or pushed into a trash can, and it becomes even more hilarious if you stuff a Prefect into a trash can, hide in a locker, and then come back to watch a prefect walk past their fellow prefect struggling to get out of the trash can.
    • The "Kick Me" signs have this; although it's one of the more amusing examples. The way they're programmed, almost anyone will run over and kick the student with the sign on their back. Girls and kids who don't normally attack will kick them. Even the prefects and the gym teacher might go over and kick the target!
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • In Grand Theft Auto III, the pedestrians would run screaming if someone nearby was shot; once they were a few yards away, they would resume their nonchalant strolling.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, you can acquire goons for your very own gang. They all look identical and stand outside of your base swapping a few lines at random. The frequent, "So I said to myself, Mario..." earned the gang the fandom nickname The Marios.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, ambulances will speed to the scene of a casualty. And we do mean "speed" — they're liable to plough straight into/through any pedestrians standing near the body (with a seemingly greater-than-chance likelihood of hitting the PC, but that might be an attempt at Laser-Guided Karma...)
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV pedestrians would convincingly walk around with shopping bags, bags of groceries, answer their cellphone when it rang an so on, but if Niko so much as lightly brushed their arm by walking by, or they were distracted by a nearby incident such as a car hitting a pedestrian, they would drop everything they were carrying, observe for a moment then walk on. One can see how the average resident could go through several phones in a day and end up with a grocery bill in the thousands by the end of the week, not counting how many cars they need to replace or fix when Niko steals or rams them off the road.
    • In all incarnations of GTA, citizens will jump and dive out of the way if a car is speeding. About half the time, this means they jump off the sidewalk and into your path, causing you to run them over.
    • Another GTA staple, if you steal an emergency vehicle and drive with the sirens on, other drivers will appropriately pull off to the side of the road to let you pass. However, they'll do this even if they're on a bridge and veering to the side results in falling to their deaths. On the other hand, if they're in a tunnel or other location where they can't veer to the side, they'll just stop in the middle of the road and block your way.
    • Enemies in Grand Theft Auto V will shout commands and encouragement to each other, but with a few exceptions, such as cops, none of them will respawn once they've been cleared from a particular area. It's rather amusing to watch a lone gang member who's surrounded by dead bodies run around in circles and yell "Come on, men!" at no one in particular until he's killed.
  • In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the civilians have some random dialogue they can say; some are programmed to only happen when they see a specific character (e.g. you won't hear "It's what's-his-name, the metal man!" unless your player character is, in fact, Iron Man). Some are, however, not. Combined with an epic aversion of No Campaign for the Wicked and the fact that some villains are the only or most obvious choice for solving certain puzzles, and you may well hear "Look Timmy, it's that hero you like" or even receive congratulations for saving the world...when you're Magneto, Doom or Loki.
  • Mafia freeride shows that the only concern for the Lost Heaven Police Department is Tommy. He can anger mafia goons and use a police car as a bullet sponge. The cops wont do anything untill Tommy defends himself.
  • Minecraft:
    • Villagers, when another villager is dying, don't try to help him/her/it. Somewhat justified if the villager is being attacked, because villagers aren't programmed to use violence, but this applies even if the villager is in danger from something natural, such as fire.
    • Bats occasionally set themselves on fire with the lava and continue to fly nonchalantly.
    • Parrots are programmed to dance to all music... only trouble is, the AI counts all records as "music", including Tracks 11, 13, and 5, which aren't music at all, but rather a recording of someone being chased by a creature, so it can be rather disquieting to see the parrots dancing to that.
  • Mount & Blade:
    • The game has moments where you're allowed to enter villages and towns. There are villagers wandering around, but none of them ever do anything other than wander, and all you can talk to any of them about is the town you're in, which all of them have the exact same knowledge and opinion on. They never talk to eachother, but it sort of works as long as you're not in the villages for too long. You can also see travelling villagers moving between towns on the world map, and you can even attack them.
    • Mods can compound the silliness. For example, there is a star wars mod for the original mount and blade. Said mod adds bounty hunters to towns who will randomly attack you which works pretty well, except that nobody else on the map responds to it on the slightest. Including the guards. Even if you own that planet. It also adds bar fights, which are still very amusing as the bartender cannot jump over the bar to actually join the fight (but will keep trying) and the fact that an unarmed rodian will decide to try to take on a wookie or fully armored bounty hunter.
  • Operation Youth Club:
    • Sometimes, you will be informed that you're waking the neighbours, even if it's the middle of the day.
    • Characters will claim that the smoke from the barbecue is getting in their eyes and the only way to stop is to get rid of the barbecue. They never consider, y'know, not standing right next to it.
    • This one guy is always jumping on the trampoline 24/7 and when there's no trampoline, he'll be jumping up and down on the lawn.
  • Numerous examples with the NPC dialog in the Saints Row series. The best: A civilian in the second game says something along the lines of "Well, the Brotherhood is done for. You going to bring Carlos back next?" while Carlos's zombified corpse beats the guy next to him with a nightstick. In the same game your character will actually 'join in'' e.g. cheerleading or use background items (weightlifting in the prison).
  • Avoided in Shenmue where each character has a predefined schedule. They start appearing around morning (with only a few drunks around early morning) they go shopping, then later they may go to bars and then later make their way home. Why they didn't react to somebody walking directly behind them all day and asking them questions like "Do you remember the day the snow turned to rain?" is another matter.
  • Spore has a lot of them. In creature stage, you'll occasionally see other species fighting each other, but it's most visible in tribal stage; if your tribe members are just hanging out in the village not doing anything, they'll often interact with each other, "saying" things (with pictures in speech bubbles), and occasionally even punching each other.
  • Starbound:
    • NPCs have specific interactions with certain objects, but they will perform these regardless of context. For example, they will warm their hands at a campfire, even if they're on a scorching hot volcanic planet. They also treat every object in a category the same way, so they might go to sleep on a torture bed or use the toilet in full view of everyone (since they are functionally chairs).
    • Villagers will tell you off and summon the guards if you steal too many things from their village. However, this only includes placed objects and blocks, so you're free to ransack their cupboards and steal all their money and weapons without them caring at all.
    • Taking any block within a certain radius of a village counts as "stealing". This includes basic blocks like dirt as well as objects you've placed yourself. So, NPCs will call the guards if you pick up some mud next to their house or put down a crafting station for five seconds, but not if you run off with all their diamonds.
    • Villagers also don't care if you add blocks to their village, only if you take them away. You can seal up all the doors, tip buckets of poison everywhere and cover the town in piles of poop (yes, that's a real item), and they won't bat an eyelid.
    • Volcanic planets occasionally rain fire or meteors which inevitably destroys most structures on them. NPCs don't care in the slightest about this, and will carry on chatting while their houses burn down around their ears. Worse, if you happen to pick up any of the broken blocks afterwards they will accuse you of stealing them, even though you clearly weren't responsible for the damage in any way.
    • Procedurally-generated quests can also have this problem. NPCs may ask you to deliver messages to people standing right next to them, or trade away an object, only to trade for another copy of the same object later in the questline. They also don't take account of context, so an Avian about to be sacrificed may ask you to make them a banana cream doughnut.
    • When gifting an item to someone, NPCs will say "Please give this [item] to [person]. I hope they don't already have one!". This makes sense if the item is a piece of furniture, but not so much if it's an ice cream. NPCs might also give each other some very odd things like sewage barrels.
    • Some quests involve escort missions, where you have to find a lost NPC at a specific landmark and take them home. In rare cases the landmark can generate in sight of the lost person's home village, meaning that they somehow managed to get lost in sight of their village.
    • Doing a lot of quests on one planet can cause too many people to generate at the same landmark. For example, you can get ten merchants all gathered at an abandoned prison. Can't be good for business.
    • Only NPCs of the seven playable races can generate quests but others can be involved in quests. This isn't really intended so they don't have any racial quest dialogue and use the default Human dialogue instead. This can result in some weird interactions, such as one of the mute and nameless Shadow people suddenly being called Dave and speaking in perfect English.
    • NPCs have greeting dialogue, which they say automatically as you approach, and conversation dialogue, which they only say when you talk to them. These are randomly chosen from a pool and don't always match up. For example, a guard may warn you to behave or else, but then gush about how wonderful it is to meet you straight afterwards.
    • Mercenaries use generic dialogue from the same pool as villagers, which can result in a tough guy in armour worriedly asking if you're going to eat him or telling you about the bad dream he had last night.
    • NPCs have specific quotes for when they're attacked, but they don't distinguish between being attacked by a hostile NPC and a monster. A Floran villager might say "Floran will tell greenfinger on you!" when attacked by a monster, which is the equivalent of threatening to tell the teacher on a wild animal. NPCs might also ask "What did I do?" which doesn't make sense for most encounters. You don't need to "do" anything for bandits to try and rob you.

Non-Video Game Examples:

  • In the live-action 101 Dalmatians (1996) the same set of barking sound effects is used whenever the crowd of 99 puppies goes anywhere.
  • Glitches in The Matrix can cause that to happen. Notably, in the first film, Neo sees a black cat walking past, turns away, looks back and sees the same black cat walking past, making the same movements. Déjà vu in The Matrix usually happens when the Machines change something; therefore, when Neo mentions it, Trinity has an Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones has a scene in Coruscant where background traffic behind a window repeats five times over.
  • Quantum of Solace had a hilarious (and heavily parodied) example, where a man standing directy behind Mr. Bond had apparently forgotten how to use a broom. Here, at about 25 seconds in.
  • In The Truman Show, Truman notices "A lady on a red bike, followed by a man with flowers, and a Volkswagen beetle with a dented fender. [...] They're on a loop. They go around the block, they come back, they go around again!"
  • An in-universe bit of foreshadowing occurs in The World's End, where the background extras in Newton Haven all do the same activities over and over. This mindless repetition is an extremely subtle hint that the entire population has been replaced by alien robots.
  • In lots of movies and television shows background extras just mill about not doing anything in particular, or doing only one thing in particular. This can get amusing if you pay attention to it.
    • Especially amusing for people who can read lips. In an article on soap operas, a deaf friend of the writer said that one extra on Coronation Street was telling another about his time on Eastenders. (Not that the other actor was likely to have heard it, since extras are explicitly instructed to move their lips without actually making any sound, so as to maintain the atmosphere without drowning out the plot-important dialogue.)
    • Patton Oswalt once stood completely still for several minutes appearing in a party scene on The King of Queens.

  • In Memories Of The Future Wil Wheaton recalls a scene from Encounter at Farpoint where they're in a market. Wil and Gates McFadden thought that the audience would notice the people looping behind them background. The director patiently noted that if the audience did notice, then they weren't doing their job in the foreground.
  • The Thursday Next series mentions this occasionally as a typical glitch in the Bookworld. A normal town-setting usually only contains five different cars, one of them is bound to be a van from Spongg's Footcare.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Thea is tipped off to Genesis's nature by the looping background noises of bird chirps and dog barks.
    Malcolm: I know. The predictability was a terrible flaw in the design.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Deep Breath": The restaurant wherein the Doctor and Clara are lured into a trap is full of patrons, but the Doctor's suspicion is piqued when he notices from the lack of air currents in the room that none of them are breathing. A closer look shows that they're all repeating simple motions, like raising a spoon from a bowl and putting it down again, because they're automata intended to fool unwary guests.
    • In "Father's Day", one of the first signs that something is wrong, and the clue that lets Rose's father figure out exactly what, is seeing the same yellow car keep driving past.
  • WandaVision:
    • As Vision investigates the edges of Westview, he finds that outside of Wanda's immediate vincinity, people just repeat the same motions over and over again. At the very edge, they're frozen still, waiting for their cue. All the while, the residents are fully conscious of what's happening to them.
    • Darcy notes that it never rains in Westview.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, this sort of thing is a sign that Mockery Insects are about. The Mockery Monarch looks like a giant bug, but if it can consume a humanoid creature, it can convert it into a Mockery Drone identical to the victim. These Drones have just enough intelligence to try to mimic normal behavior, but not enough to do so well, leading to infected villages full of farmers tilling the same patch of earth over and over, people carrying empty buckets to and from the well, or merchants smiling and repeating "Here's your change!" while standing behind their counters. If they're discovered, the Drones will keep parroting these words even as a human-faced centipede bursts out of their false flesh and attacks.

    Web Animation 
  • The early episodes of RWBY have all background characters rendered as black shadows, which takes a while to get used to, to say the least. It also means that the ones that look weird (one shambling along like a zombie, or another in highly impractical high heels) stand out a lot more. This improved with the second volume, where background characters are fully rendered and the animations have been improved.

    Western Animation 
  • In many cartoons, especially cheaper ones, the extras are actually painted onto the background plates, so they're (a) completely motionless, and (b) probably not colored correctly. They may also be drawn in a different, often simpler, art style.
  • Background characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender are always doing something. Sometimes they're conversing with poles, but the point is they're not just standing around like lumps. This often leads to a Funny Background Event or two, like a man arguing with a pole and then apparently losing the argument, only to curl up into a fetal position.
  • In one episode of Code Lyoko, Odd, Ulrick, and Yumi are trapped in a simulation of the real world with several obvious errors in it such as people repeating actions on a loop, due to Xana's incomplete knowledge of the real world.
  • Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • Disney used Cel Shading to create the huge crowds. They're mostly used for wide shots in which you can't get a good look at the individual people, but sometimes you get a close enough shot to see they have simple, computerized movements.
    • In an interview, one of the animators noted that in early versions of the crowd scenes, characters' randomly-distributed stock actions tended to clump in odd ways — for example, a whole swath of people shading their eyes in unison.
  • The vast majority of background characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are simply copies of a small set of body styles, with mixed and matched colors, hairstyles, and cutie marks (the symbols on their flanks). This is fine until you wind up seeing several of the exact same character in the same crowd scene. Additionally, per the show's mythos, a cutie mark is supposed to be a unique, magically acquired representation of a particular pony's special talent and no two are the same; so when things like an hourglass cutie mark show up on several clearly different ponies over the course of several seasons, the immediate fan reaction is that he must be a Time Lord. And then canon assigned it to one particularly brown pony, who pals around with Rose and sometimes has been seen wearing 3D glasses for no reason. And that's not even getting into the official comics.
  • Invoked deliberately in the Steven Universe episode "Rose's Room", where everyone in Beach City is acting oddly - the town is sparsely populated, Lars and Sadie talk in perfect unison, Connie repeats the same phrase over and over, and Greg dispenses random sentences unconnected to what Steven is talking to him about. It's actually because Rose's Room is simulating the whole town, and lacks the computing power to recreate the entire town and all its inhabitants convincingly.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "M. Night Shaym-Aliens!" the titular protagonists realize they're trapped in an alien dream machine because the backgrounds are looping, townsfolk are repeating phrases, and houses are being repeated. During their escape, they learn Morty's father Jerry is also stuck in the machine, and went through an entire day at "work" without noticing.


Video Example(s):


"You humans are all racist!"

A turian repeatedly accuses a human C-Sec transportation security officer of being racist against turians because she won't let him bring a 15-centimeter serrated knife on a public transport.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / EverythingIsRacist

Media sources: