Follow TV Tropes


Mook Chivalry

Go To

"Oh, put the guns down. Is this the first day on the job or something? Look, this is how it goes: you attack me, one at a time, and I knock you out with a single punch. Okay? Go."
Nigel Powers, Austin Powers in Goldmember

The life of the mook is a humble one, in which the poor cannon-fodder must look like everyone else, act like everyone else, and get their butt kicked by the hero like everyone else.

But becoming a mook is much harder than it looks. On TV (and in video games), humility is only the first step in a fighting code of mooks's honor, as complex and rigid as that of the medieval knight or the samurai. This is why most mooks fare about as well as a bunch of knights or samurai would when faced with a modern army. The principles of the code are:

  • Ganging up is unsporting and dishonorable. Mooks must always attack the hero one at a time; to gang up would be to destroy the principle of war.
  • Interrupting someone - even an enemy - is bad manners. If an enemy obviously needs a few moments to prepare before he can fight back, give it to him. If he starts talking to you while you are charging at him, you are supposed to stop and listen. If he exploits this to lay a punch on or drive a weapon through one of you and it's not you, you need to wait until he finishes with your comrade before you can launch a desperate attack at him. And you must always leave time for transformations.
  • A Mighty Man Fights Alone. Even if some common mooks disobey the rule above and attack in twos or threes occasionally, any Giant Mook present must always attack the hero one-on-one, preferably after all lesser mooks are down so that the Giant Mook can't call on them for help. A really big Giant Mook may attack a whole group of heroes alone, he's just that tough! And if The Dragon or the Big Bad joins the fight, any remaining mooks must simply stand by and watch. Forming a circle around the fight is encouraged.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat? The mooks aren't stupid: they know they could take the hero on all at once; however, the first one to attack will almost certainly be killed and/or maimed. As a result, a Bystander Syndrome occurs, with each mook taking the time to gather their courage or wait for someone else to go first, causing them to sally out one-by-one as a result.
  • Taking cover is for cowards. A true mook must charge straight forward; victory is meaningless if it is achieved by surprise. It is acceptable to attack the hero from different directions at once, as long as each attacker reaches the hero at a different moment (thus being neither surprised nor ganging up).
  • Masters may overcome any terrain. As a corollary to the previous two principles, tactics must be the same in all places and times, no matter what the terrain is. A mass rush works just as well in the open field as it does in a cramped cave where only one warrior at a time can physically get to the hero (Not that any true mook would ever get involved in a mass rush, see above).
  • The true warrior cares not what his enemies know. Minions must shout commands to each other where the hero can hear them, or communicate by radio when the hero can intercept. Who cares if the enemy knows all your plans? A true plan succeeds whether the enemy knows it or not.
  • Let the enemy know who is going to face him. Like the knights and samurai, mooks must shout out a formal challenge when the battle begins. Each group of cannon fodder has their own challenge - it might be shouting out their names, or baring claws and roaring, or just saying "you will die!" True, the pause does let the hero sucker-punch them. But victory is hollow if the defeated foe does not know who beat them...if the foe is ever defeated, which will surely happen someday. As a result, they may sneak With Catlike Tread, but the attack is nowhere near sneaky.
  • Attack as rarely as possible. A truly great warrior doesn't need to attack all-out. Try to do other things, like roaring, taunting the hero, jumping about, or just sitting back and watching the battle. When you do attack, make sure it is as slow and choreographed as possible.
  • Retreats are a sign of defeatism. Preparing for a retreat is disgraceful. It does not matter how many of you the hero has beaten — keep rushing. If fifteen out of sixteen orcs are down, the sixteenth orc must charge exactly like the first fifteen. Unfortunately, this principle is not as adhered to as the others - many mooks have decided to retreat, especially if they are the last mook standing after a grand battle (bonus points if the hero looks him in the eye tells him to run). Fortunately, they are never defeatist enough to prepare for a retreat, so they always wind up making suicide charges or panicked routs.
  • Tactical coordination is for losers. Real Life militaries make soldiers spend countless hours training together so they can function as a unit and help each other out, instead of running around getting in each others' way. Mooks don't need this, though. When it's crunch time, let every mook act according to his own discretion. Mooks bumble into each other, stand in each other's way, or end up accidentally firing at each other. They don't communicate sensibly to coordinate their attacks, form a battle plan, or warn each other of obvious pitfalls. That would be unfair.

Strangely enough, an army of Ninja — despite being dishonorable sneaks — will follow Mook Chivalry as if they were samurai. Due to Conservation of Ninjutsu, a small group of ninja will behave dishonorably, and actually attack from cover, retreat, and so on, but large ninja forces will be made up of Highly-Visible Ninja.

There are several reasons for this trope. Beyond giving the hero a fighting chance, one big one is to make fight scenes simpler and easy to follow - a huge rush with large numbers of enemies or a scene where mooks spend all their time carefully exploiting cover is hard to choreograph in a clearly-comprehensible fashion, while it's easy to understand the hero beating up mook after mook in succession. In videogames, this is often the result of technical limitations (when games can't display large numbers of enemies at once, or when AI for using cover properly isn't available) or for the sake of gameplay (when fighting large numbers of enemies at once wouldn't be fun, or when things like open communication or challenges are necessary to help the player understand what's going on). To accomplish this, they typically use a development trick known as "Unit Slotting" where the enemy AI has a limited number of "slots" for enemies to directly attack you, while the rest just stand around or pelt you with ranged attacks. This trick allows the player to be confronted with a large amount of enemies while still having the chance to win, and feel like a total Badass in the process.

See also No Sneak Attacks. If it suddenly comes into play with a pack of enemies who previously were winning because they attacked together, see also Monster Threat Expiration. Contrast Zerg Rush.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Inverted in Attack on Titan. Scout Regiment attacks the Female Titan three at a time and gets decimated. Then Eren attacks alone and loses.
  • Averted in Berserk, where mooks usually attack Guts in groups of four or five at a time. For all the good it does them. However, it can be considered that "rushing in all once" is Mook Chivalry in this case, as they're facing an opponent who uses a weapon that can blow down multiple people in one swing, but leaves him open during the (relatively) long time it takes him to make another swing. Serpico even points this out.
  • Bleach:
    • Anime episode 20 and 21. When Ichigo and his friends try to enter the Seireitei, they must fight the giant Soul Reaper Jidanbō. While Ichigo and Jidanbō are battling, Chad and Orihime try to help Ichigo. Jidanbō chastises them, telling them that in the Seireitei the rules are that all battles are one on one.
    • During the battle with Big Bad Aizen, the heroes adhere to mook chivalry at first, attacking one at a time, often charging in a blind rage straight at him, usually after announcing their attacks with predictable results. Finally, they get tired of this and dogpile him with 3 Captains and a Vizard/Captain all attacking him at the same time using 3 Shikai and 1 Bankai. Aizen says a bad word. Though that didn't really work anyway.
    • Anime episode #14. While Ichigo and Uryu are talking, the hollows surrounding them politely stand around, allowing them to finish their conversation. While there's no indication that the seemingly mindless ordinary hollows can work as a team, that isn't very sensible behavior.
    • Anime episode #156. While Uryu Ishida and Pesche Guatiche are fighting the Arrancar Cirucci Sanderwicci in Las Noches, she calmly stands there and waits for them to stop bickering, only attacking when they finish.
  • In one of the early episodes of the Tales of Symphonia OVA, a dozen or so Desians attack Lloyd in neatly-organized ones and twos.
  • In End of Evangelion, the mass-produced EVA units seem to mostly just stand around while Unit 02 goes ripping through them. However, when it runs out of batteries and they all recover from their injuries, then they decide to descend on it like vultures and stab the remains.
  • Averted in a Stock Footage scene first used in episode four of Kaiketsu Zorro, when four soldiers charge at Zorro at the same time... But, Zorro being Zorro, he blocks all their swords in a way their blades are all on his', and then pushes them back before disarming them.
  • Mazinger Z: In the anime adaptation, the Iron Masks were pretty pathetic. They always attacked Kouji Kabuto -or his friends- in the same way - nosily charging from the front-, never tried to overwhelm him with sheer numbers and stood quiet when he was making a pretty obvious attack. They wore weapons -swords and rifles- and helmets and Kouji fighting bare-hand still kicked their butts. Subverted in the manga, though, since sometimes they could be competent. In one of the first chapters Kouji nearly got murdered by only three of them that sneaked into his home overnight (and while two of them engaged Kouji, the third remained hidden to launch a surprise attack when The Hero was distracted). Kouji actually got to be rescued by a secondary character that pulled a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Monster Rancher: Zig-zagged during "Tiger Meets His Match". When the rest of the Searchers are fighting Jagd Hound, Lilim notices one of her Evil Hares is about to jump in and orders him to stand down. She considers this to be Pragmatic Villainy: Jagd Hound was Forced into Evil by blackmail, and she sees him as just a disposable pawn, so letting them wear each other down works in their favor. Yet when Genki challenges Jagd Hound to fight him one-on-one, she grows impatient and attacks herself, trying to blast the boy while he's distracted.
  • In Naruto, the titular character regularly duplicates himself by the dozen then takes on his enemies one or two at a time. This may simply be a function of the Inverse Ninja Law, however. Of course, he also has an attack that involves attack with one thousand of them at once.
    • Most of the time there's just isn't enough room to attack with any more at once, especially when you run the risk of them running into each others attack and dispersing anyway. When all his bunshins attacked Kakashi during his test, Kakashi just replaced himself with a Naruto bunshin and let them beat each other up in the confusion.
    • Eventually justified when he starts using the clones less as a blunt instrument and more as a way to gauge his enemy's strength.
    • Averted with Killer Bee much later, when Sasuke and his teammates attack him simultaneously. Not that it helps them.
  • The samurai and yakuza in Samurai Champloo have the same tactics — charge! Sometimes they attack from multiple directions at once, but they never actually manage to close ranks with Mugen or Jin all at once. Mugen even tells them "Forget all that formal crap 'bout comin' at me one at a time. I'll take all you bitches on!".
  • Averted in the anime version of Soul Eater, where Asura takes out Death the Kid while he's charging up for an attack.
  • Lampshaded in the Vagabond manga's two-volume fight between Miyamoto Musashi and the Yoshioka school, where he intends to get this trope ("instead of seventy against one, it should be one against one, seventy times"), while the leadership of the Yoshioka try to avert it (Ueda Ryohei, Fujiie, and Nanpo Yoichibe all having lines specifically encouraging mobbing). As a whole though the Yoshioka are not able to follow through due to a mix of Musashi's sheer skill (he usually manages to avoid getting mobbed by mentally "flowing" between enemies), physical advantage (his strength and physical toughness protecting him from being incapacitated by the few hits that manage to sneak through), and their own mentality being too used to this.
    • Completely averted in Musashi, the book it was based on.
  • Played with during the Baltic Sea War arc in Vinland Saga. Thorfinn is cornered by a group of Jomsvikings, the Elite Army of the series who are known for three things: loving battle, strict discipline, and a rigid code of conduct. The men are on a mission to kill Thorfinn, and seeing that he is unarmed, they toss him a weapon (since it would shame the Jomsvikings to gang up on and kill a warrior who is unarmed), and then they attack one at a time, each seeking to earn glory by being the one to kill Thorfinn. Thorfinn effortlessly beats the first attacker, and only has minor difficulty in beating the second. At that point the commander tells his remaining soldiers to forget honor and just gang up on and kill Thorfinn, causing Thorfinn to essentially quip "So much for the honor of the Jomsvikings."
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • The members of the Triad attack Yusuke and Kuwabara one at a time. This is nice of them since Tarukane is betting on the outcome and they don't seem to be Noble Demons.
    • In Yusuke's fight with Sensui, the former Spirit Detective shows a technique he developed for fighting while surrounded. In the dub, Sensui chides Yusuke, saying he was spoiled by all his one-on-one fights.
  • Lampshaded in Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune. When Unit K-321 attack their Drill Sergeant Nasty he thrashes the lot of them despite being outnumbered. He then says their individual skills weren't bad, but they are refusing to work together and that's what is holding them back, because they should have all attacked him at once. When they learn this lesson and attack him as a group, he informs them that they've completed their training.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: Endgame, the Brainwashed and Crazy Justice League attack Batman one at a time, allowing him to use his Justice Buster suit to take them out one by one, rather than fight him as a team. It's possibly justified since they've been infected with Joker Venom, turning them into raving homicidal maniacs, most likely incapable of working as a team.
  • Green Lantern: When Hal Jordan got driven insane by Parallax and decided to steal the Central Battery's energy, the Green Lantern Corps members decided to fight him one at a time, each one waiting for him at a different point of the road to Oa. No explanation was given as to why they didn't all tackle the strongest Green Lantern at once.
  • In Identity Crisis, the heroes suffer from this while fighting Deathstroke. They all attack him one at a time. Even then, it took a huge amount of handwaving to justify him lasting as long as he did against the group of heroes he was up against. In the end, they gain the upper hand by just deciding to Zerg Rush him.
  • Subverted by an issue of Iron Man that featured Shellhead being attacked by more than a dozen supervillains at once. One of the main reasons Iron Man won was because the villains got in each other's way and Iron Man was able to turn them against each other.
  • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strange Tales): In issue #157, Fury is confronted by a group of Hydra goons, who are instructed to use 'Plan K-11': "Attack him one at a time and exhaust him for the kill!" Sure enough, they each go at him one at a time, allowing him to beat them all up one at a time. This is also an excuse to have a nine-panel page where Fury defeats one mook each panel.
  • Sin City averts most of these. Mooks often attack at the same time and in the case of Dwight reloading during Big Fat Kill, are more than willing to blow him up while he's doing it.
  • Spider-Man: When the Sinister Six were first formed, instead of taking on Spider-Man together, they fought him one at a time in separate fights. After he's done defeating them all, Spidey points out how dumb it was of them to take that approach.
  • In the Transformers: Shattered Glass universe, the heroic Slugslinger has an overdeveloped sense of fair play, in contrast to this main universe counterpart, a vainglorious soldier who loves dominating his opponents. In any case, it's a personality quirk that directly lends itself to this kind of thing. For instance, when the bumbling evil Autobot Star Saber dropped his spear, Slugslinger thought it was the least he could do to let him pick it up before continuing the fight.
  • Wasp (2023): In issue #2, Fantasma has a bunch of goons attack Jan and Nadia. Much to her exasperation, they go at the two one at a time, rather than mobbing them all at once. Not that Fantasma takes part at any point, mind.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted in Metagaming? during the raid on Ahn'Qiraj. Not only do the Mooks rush the attacking force and try to overwhelm them with sheer numbers, but multiple times more than one boss attacks them at once as well. Knowing their opponent's propensity for this causes the Might of Kalimdor to have to pause for a time, letting part of their force take out an enemy hive in another chamber while the rest hold off any potential attacks from the main passageway.
  • Averting this is how, in The Rise of Darth Vulcan, Leo gets defeated. He's a dueling machine, sure, but when you're attacked from all directions in both melee and long ranges, it's hard to recover, as shown when Vulcan's mooks gank him good and make it impossible for his armor to reattach before he's downed. Ted openly defies the trope in a "The Reason You Suck" Speech after Leo's beaten.
  • Justified in Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light when Will O' the Wisp plans to gather a group of Spider-Woman's enemies to get revenge on her. Jack O' Lantern points out that having all the villains attack Spider-Woman at once is probably not a good idea. The villains won't have any experience fighting together and might end up hurting each other more than Spider-Woman. Jack also points out that most of Spider-Woman's enemies won't likely have the patience to train together to function as a unit.
  • Averted in Wizard Runemaster by basically everyone.
    • When an Alliance guild attacks Onyxia's lair, her Elite Mooks come running the moment they hear one of them engaged in a fight.
    • In both Stratholme and Scholomance, the heroes get spotted and have roughly half the forces present in the city/mansion attack them at once. In the latter case, the manor's necromancers stay out of sight and resurrect felled undead minions to further tire the heroes.
    • While dealing with the Scarlet Crusade, the heroes attack one wing of the monastery at a time by first having Harry Potter seal over the entrances. And when fighting them in Stratholme, the Crusaders have a phalanx of paladins use their magic to No-Sell their attacks while casters behind them attack the heroes.

    Film — Animation 
  • Catwoman: Hunted: Particularly noticeable in Catwoman and Batwoman's fight against the Leviathan crime bosses and their goons, with every villain or goon seemingly just standing still and waiting their turn to attack.
  • The Orcs in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings do a lot of very unsubtle jobbing, being repeatedly stopped in their tracks by a single hero making a threatening gesture and standing still when there's nothing to stop them from winning a fight or giving chase.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the end of 30 Days of Night Eben becomes a vampire and challenges Marlow, who accepts a one-on-one challenge despite having an entire pack. It's implied vampires follow a pack-mentality honor code, as Marlow refers to him as "the One Who Fights" and the rest of the vampires merely flee when Marlow is defeated.
  • Parodied in Austin Powers in Goldmember, where Nigel Powers tells Dr. Evil's henchmen:
    "Look, here's how it goes: you attack me one at a time and I knock you out with one punch, okay? Go."
  • Subverted in Batman Begins. The DVD commentary said that one of the hardest fight scenes to choreograph was the prison fight near the beginning because the director wanted everyone to rush Bruce at the same time, which served to show how badass he was. Towards the end, an entire crazed mob nearly ran Batman over. Oh and he fights four ninjas near the climax, all at once. Took a Level in Badass indeed.
    Alfred: I counted six, Mr. Wayne.
  • Averted in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, particularly in the now famous Elevator Action Sequence, where before attacking Rogers, about a dozen Mooks all get into the elevator first, hoping to take him by surprise...
    Captain America: Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?
...and all swarm him once the fight breaks out.
  • Constantine (2005): When the title character fights the half-breed demons in the hospital room, they come at him one at a time and allow him to kill each one with his shotgun instead of rushing him all at once and overwhelming him.
  • Somewhat justified in Cyrano De Bergerac And The Three Musketeers. Cyrano's father taught him a secret fencing combination, and Cyrano even warns the Mooks about it. Only with the result that each Mook wants to find out himself how it works, leading to a funny repeated "I know it! I know it!" "...OK, not." (dies)
  • Played straight in DOA: Dead or Alive, when Hayabusa is infiltrating Donovan's HQ, and when Helena is fighting off dozens of Donovan's security guards who are only armed with swords. Granted, there are times when Helena has to fight two at the same time, but it's never more than that at a time. Averted with the heroines who all gang up on Donovan at the end, seeing as how they can't beat him (his glasses, actually) on their own.
  • Gymkata: A particularly egregious example. In the pommel horse fight scene, all the mooks look somewhat menacing with their pitchforks and such, but they're not even making an effort to appear as if they're aching to jump Cabot if not for his combat skills. Most are quite literally just standing still until it's their turn.
  • Averted in High Noon, at least in some aspects. The bandits announce when they'll arrive, but that is for intimidation. When they do arrive when scheduled, they immediately find concealment and, even when discovered, continue to find cover, preferably on high ground, and take a highly defensive strategy. They still attack mostly one at a time, but this is because they are so scattered around the town that only a few at most can shoot at Kane at a time.
  • In Ip Man, the titular hero's fight against ten Japanese pugilists demonstrates this, seeing as none of them interrupt his Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs Finishing Move. However, in Master Liu's 3v1 fight immediately beforehand, the Japanese pugilists disobeyed this and worked to prevent Master Liu from finishing any one of them off. Although it may be a Justified Trope if you believe that martial artists can sense intent, as Ip Man's being on a Tranquil Fury Roaring Rampage of Revenge would have given him enough violent intent to make his opponents hesitant about bumrushing him.
  • In Karate a Muerte en Torremolinos, the ninjas wait patiently to fight Chuk, so that Chuk only has one enemy at a given time (and even then, they win). They are more polite than the two muggers that Chuk defeated just before that.
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 1, when The Bride is fighting the Crazy 88. Justified, though: the build-up to the fight makes it very clear that although they outnumber her by a ridiculous degree, every single one of them (with the possible exception of Johnny Mo) is scared to "go first" and die by her blade. Those who are not currently fighting her can be seen in the background, apparently fighting each other, possibly as some sort of warm-up exercise. In the early stages of the fight, O-Ren sends a single Mook out, and only unleashes the rest of her bodyguards after The Bride kills him.
  • In Kung Fury, the crowd of Nazi soldiers politely wait in the background while the soldiers in the foreground attack a few at a time, without making full use of firearms.
  • Averted in The Last Jedi, when Kylo Ren assassinates his master, Supreme Leader Snoke, Snoke's Praetorian Guard all immediately charge Kylo Ren and Rey all at once. Even when their eight-man squad is cut down to just four, one of them attacks Rey, while the other three all gang up on the more experienced Kylo Ren.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. About a dozen knights rides straight in the midst of a ten thousand strong-enemy horde. Naturally, they should've been immediately pierced by multiple bolts and spears, dragged off their horses and torn apart, and the horses themselves should've been hacked to pieces, but nope. They stumble around killing those orcs closest to them and at one point even stop to look at the arrived reinforcements, and none of the countless orcs around them bothers to shoot or hit them.
  • The Mask of Zorro demonstrates why the first part of the Mook Code of Conduct, while not necessarily smart, is still not an entirely stupid idea. At one point in the movie, several dozen mooks rush the new Zorro at once, and in the ensuing dogpiling confusion, Zorro gets away cleanly.
  • The Smiths battle in The Matrix Reloaded does a good job at averting this trope for the most part. In The Matrix Revolutions, however, they get so chivalrous that they deliberately do not gang up on Neo, leaving all of the fighting to that one Oracle-infused Smith. This is mostly because his new Oracle-powers included foresight, and he foresaw that his victory was a Foregone Conclusion ... sort of.
  • Justified in the hallway fight in Oldboy (2003). There are moments where the mooks are clearly hanging back and waiting for their cue, but on the other hand Dae-su takes more than a few hits (including a knife in the back) because mooks keep attacking him from behind and knocking him down and gang-stomping him. It's done a lot more realistically than most because the ones who do rush him and get knocked down don't stay down after the first punch, they stand back up and attack him again - the problem is that so does Dae-su, which leads to some of them naturally hanging back because they're not prepared to deal with this dude who is obviously crazy.
  • The ending scene of Jet Li's The One is a classic example, with mooks attacking one by one, getting knocked to the bottom of the ziggurat they're fighting on, then getting up and climbing back up without having learned a thing.
  • Revenge of the Sith: During the fight scene on the bridge of the Invisible Hand, Grievous' two Magna Guards are the only droids to make any real effort to stop the protagonists. Two of the battle droids do attempt to ineffectually haul Palpatine away while the others are distracted, but the rest just stand there until the Jedi hack them down. Even Grievous himself doesn't do anything until the Magna Guards are dead. Despite most of the baddies holding blasters, nobody fires a single shot.
  • During Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Lucas Lee's stunt team has absolutely no problem attacking Scott from multiple directions at once or sneaking up on him. But they mostly come from angles the camera can see, or just offscreen after the camera sees them. Because they're stunt doubles, and this is a movie.
  • In Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, three thugs confront Pedro, intending to beat him up and turn him over to the police because they believe he is Jack the Ripper. However, instead of jumping him all at once, they tackle him one at a time; with the others standing by and watching Pedro murder their mates without intervening.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
  • Ultraviolet (2006): Forming circles around the heroine, attacking one-by-one, charging forward with guns at ready - it has them all.
  • In Undercover Brother, while Sistah Girl and White She Devil are fighting the enemy Mooks in the island fortress Communications Room, each Mook attacks one at a time. While the fight is going on, the uninvolved Mooks are standing in line with their arms folded, waiting their turns.
  • Subverted in V for Vendetta. Weapons raised, Creedy's men form a circle to confront V just after Chancellor Sutler is killed. Creedy orders two of his men to forcibly unmask V. V kills them, after which all the men open fire at once, including Creedy. V survives due to a combination of being not quite human and makeshift body armour, although he is heavily wounded. He goes on to take out all of Creedy's men and Creedy himself before any of them can reload. Shortly after this, he dies.
  • Exploited in-universe during the fight against the Baseball Furies in The Warriors, when one of the Warriors sneaks up on and takes out one of the Furies who is inexplicably waiting off to the side and watching the battle unfold as if waiting his turn. Despite outnumbering the Warriors, and being armed while the Warriors are not, the Furies stand back and attack the Warriors one on one rather then rushing them: even when two Warriors are attacking a single Fury.
  • In Jackie Chan's Who Am I? (1998), as the two accountants turn out to be ridiculously sturdy and accomplished martial artists. At first they attack one at a time, timing each other before switching around, but when Jackie starts winning they fight two on one and whup some serious ass. Jackie is only saved because he notices they have very flashy clothing and are wearing earrings, so he targets those instead, using their clothes to bind or blind them, and tearing their piercings off. Even still, it looks like it's going to turn out bad for the hero, as while Jackie beats on the Korean accountant, the lanky British contortionist begins removing the clothing he sees Jackie use on his partner.

  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Beyond the Black River" Balthus wonders why their enemy sent only one leopard after them; in this case, it appears to be limitation in his ability to command animals.
  • Justified in Death or Glory when Cain engages an Ork Warboss in a duel while a group of Ork Nobs (lieutenants) just stand there and watch. However Cain's aide Jurgen, who is somewhat of an expert on Orks, explains that for them to interfere would mean to imply that their Boss is unable to deal with Cain on his own, and that is a gross transgression punishable by death. This is why when Cain asks for help, Jurgen doesn't intervene either; that would make it a free-for-all.
  • Played for pure horror in Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, when two armies meet in battle on a long narrow staircase, so it's a series of one-on-one battles — with a line of hundreds more waiting to kill the winner of each combat. As the narrator puts it: "They died and they died."
  • Averted in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Hank notes when he's charged by three knights simultaneously that there's none of this chivalrous one-against-one stuff. Not that he's any less pragmatic when it comes to combat.
  • The Executioner. Averted when Mack Bolan asks a gang if they're going to come at him one at a time or "banana style" (one big yellow bunch). They choose banana style.
  • Lampshaded by the dedication to the Discworld novel Guards! Guards!.
  • In Magic: The Gathering novel Planar Chaos Keldon fight like this. Justified, since they are an extreme Proud Warrior Race and their battle magic makes them much stronger if enemies manage to kill some of them and prove to be Worthy Opponents.
  • Justified in A.K. Dewdney's The Planiverse, in which all battles are one-on-one...because the combatants live on a two-dimensional planet, and fighting many-on-one would require flying.
  • Rhythm of War: The shannay-im Fused follow many of the above rules in their aerial battles with the Windrunner Radiants: when the Fused outnumber the humans they will fight one-on-one duels with the reserves hanging back instead of joining the fight, wounded and defeated Radiants will sometimes be allowed to disengage from battle, etc. The Windrunners play along because the Fused outnumber the Radiants and can replace their losses far more quickly (Fused can be brought Back from the Dead within a few days by sacrificing a common singer, while new Radiants must be trained), so making combat less lethal in general favors the Radiants.
  • This trope is lampshaded/justified in Starship Troopers; In the boot camp combat training, the instructor states that a trained combatant will always have the advantage against multiple attackers unless they have been specifically trained to fight as a group, because they'll get in each others' way. See the "Real Life" folder for more on this.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a Jedi named Ganner takes advantage of the Yuuzahn Vong's Mook Chivalry to stall them and buy time for Jacen. Eventually the highly honor bound Vong get fed up and try to swarm Ganner. He still holds them back until the Yuuzhan Vong finally decide to just shoot him with a giant cannon—and even then, he uses the Force to bring the building down on them...and himself. This results in Ganner being posthumously worshiped as a god by the Yuuzhan Vong.

    Live-Action TV 
Disappointingly, they then proceed to do exactly that, playing this trope straight.
  • Also lampshaded in "Bad Girls"
    Buffy: We're never gonna make it to the warehouse.
    Faith: If they keep coming one at a time, we got a shot.
  • Averted in the Dollhouse episode "Stop Loss", when the three soldiers sent after Victor attack in unison and one strikes while the other two's blows are being blocked. Apparently the only way to overcome this is to bind people's minds together into a single entity.
  • Midway through Genseishin Justiriser, Kaiser Hades summons his six elite Death Commandos and tasks them with defeating the Justirisers. So do they attack the Justirisers all at once? No, they each take turns going one-by-one to fight them.
  • Subverted in Hyperdrive. The Shiny Red Robots of Vortis attack Sandstrom one at a time and she is easily beating them. Henderson comments about this, the robots hear it- and the crew of HMS Camden Lock get captured.
  • The mooks of Power Rangers take this to an extreme: they actually form a circle around the heroes and attack at rates of one to each hero present at the time (perhaps as consideration to the absent hero). Strangely enough, each mook within a series is identical, so they could really be the same group every time.
    • There's a bizarre instance in Power Rangers RPM. When the military is shooting at the Grinders, the Grinders are ducking behind cars and firing their own weapons... and then the Rangers arrive. The Grinders pop out from behind cover, run in, and fight with the usual grunt tactics, and with the usual results.
  • Parodied in the Saturday Night Live sketch "The Plucky Ninjas", where action movie ninjas (after one of their many losses at the hands of just one guy) are berated by their leader for, no matter how many time he tells them, always attacking one at a time. Their spirits lifted by his inspirational speech, they proceed to... get their asses handed to them every time anyway.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of She Spies when the girls were attacked by ninja. One of them notes that ninja are terribly polite combatants, only ever attacking one at a time while the rest just stand back.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): The thugs, soldiers, and goons regularly followed this.
    • In "The Starships Are Coming", five thugs run up to Wonder Woman so they can be defeated individually. A sixth, armed with a gun, waits patiently for her to wipe the floor with the first crew before firing at her.
    • In "Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman", three Nazi goons in a row run up to Wonder Woman individually so she can throw each one of them into the same box. It's such an easy production line of beating thugs up that Fausta openly complains about it.
      Fausta: So far she shows nothing that I couldn't match
  • Goons in Xena: Warrior Princess love this. They will stand in a circle, attack one by one, and always go down in a few strikes as if they read the Austin Powers grunt handbook.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Not that P-dog and The Get Along Gang thought of themselves as "mooks", but only the former had any sort of status in Ring of Honor, making at least the other six he brought along this and despite outnumbering Moose seven to one at Supercard Of Honor X they decided to take him on one at a time. This actually had better results than when they all bum rushed him at once, as it forced Moose to consider the women in the group.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech the Clans' zellbrigen code of honor mandates one-on-one combat, up until one side is dishonorable enough to violate the rules and it degenerates into a free-for-all.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In early published adventures, goblins and orcs were famous for attacking in cramped cavern passages where only one goblin could face a hero at once — so one by one, they got killed. This has been dubbed the "Conga Line of Death."
    • Averted in D&D 4th edition, where many mooks had mechanical advantages to attack en masse and combat usually occurred in more open areas.
    • 5th edition also likes to encourage enemies to gang up on a single target, in open places, but of course it varies based on how merciful your DM is feeling.
  • An optional cinematic rule for GURPS, called Melee Etiquette, does this.
    If a PC chooses to fight unarmed or with melee weapons, his opponents always face him one-on-one, one at a time. Unengaged NPCs can dance around the fight uttering shrill cries of encouragement, but wait their turn to attack.
  • The One Ring: Combatants engage each other one-on-one when possible. They only gang up if one side has more combatants than the other, and even then, a maximum of three enemies can engage a human-sized combatant in close quarters.
  • Played with in The Riddle of Steel and its successors. Up to three mooks can attack a PC at a time (any more and they'd typically just get in one another's way), and avoiding blows from three enemies at once is appropriately realistic - but the PC can attempt to maneuver so that he only has to face one enemy in a given round at a small cost to combat prowess.

  • In Peter Pan and Wendy, the stageplay that was the first work to feature Peter Pan, this is played for laughs — Captain Hook sends two very nervous pirates into a cabin one at a time to separately fight the "Doodle-doo" demon (a not-so-disguised Pan) that haunts it.

    Video Games 
  • The 21st-century Ace Combat games (04, 5, Zero, X, and 6) seem to avert this; it's not uncommon to be chased by an entire five-plane group at once in 04 or having to dodge three or four missiles for every plane you down.
    • "Engage as a formation. No single-ship attacks." That's Yellow 13's one-finger salute to this trope, and even that doesn't save him in the end.
    • "Don't throw your life away, take them two on one." Again, doesn't save Grabacr or Ofnir from the Demons of Razgriz.
  • Most likely due to the limitations of their medium, American Laser Games' LaserDisc Full Motion Video Light Gun Games always had the mooks attack you one at a time, mostly popping out of cover to shoot you in pure shooting gallery fashion. Partly averted in the first game, Mad Dog McCree, in which taking the wrong turn traveling a path halfway through the game will cause a gang of bandits to ambush you and blow you away, costing you a life (which only raises the question of why they don't do it the rest of the time).
  • Early on in Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis, enemies will wait for you to finish combat with another before homing in on you. Enemies averting this in later stages is part of what makes the last few levels difficult.
  • Armageddon (MUD) averts this one hard. Not only will hostile NPC's gleefully gang up on their enemies, people fighting multiple adversaries get combat penalties because of being surrounded.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed, guards who are attacking Altair will attack individually every few seconds at the start of a brawl, but if the player is aggressive or good at countering, they will become a lot more hesitant to attack as they watch their comrades getting cut down. On the other hand, if the mooks are repeatedly hitting Altair, they become more aggressive, sometimes batting the player back and forth like a tennis ball.
      • Also, when an assassination target is attacked, any nearby mooks will rush to his aid and won't let him fight alone— in fact, when it is necessary for the hero to go one-on-one with a target, often it is because the nearby mooks were all slaughtered a few minutes previously.
    • In Brotherhood, guards are dirty fighters, not hesitating to attack Ezio in the middle of his killstreaks, throw dirt in his face, or grabbing and holding him to let their comrades get free hits in.
    • Assassin's Creed III seems to have the problem though, according to Penny Arcade.
    • Black Flag, Freedom Cry, Rogue, and Odyssey all have naval combat where you can board a weakened enemy ship and fight the crew directly for better loot. There's nothing preventing you from doing this in the middle of a multi-ship battle, where all the other enemy ships will politely hang back and let you do your thing, not even touching your temporarily empty ship.
  • Largely averted in Batman: Arkham Series, in which dealing with ten bad guys at once is not unheard of, but played straight in a few ways. For example, knife-wielding enemies in City and Origins attack solo because the knife-dodge works differently to a regular counter, and while the largest enemies will cheerfully smack the hell out of Batman while he's dealing with ten or twenty other crooks, nobody will interrupt during a mid-fight takedown (or if they prematurely do so, the takedown will give Batman invincibility anyway), allowing Batman the chance to disassemble an assault rifle without really needing to worry about being hit over the head with a baseball bat. Also, in Asylum at least, only one mook ever attacks at a time: even when there's a crowd surrounding you from all sides, only one at a time will swing their fist or pipe, with the rest just standing in place. Follow-up games increase that limit to three - but increase how many you can counter at a time to three as well. The henchmen themselves also acknowledge this fact: one of the random lines given to henchmen mid-fight in Arkham Origins is "Don't attack one at a time!"
  • Subverted and played straight at the same time in Battletoads and Double Dragon for NES, where mooks will gladly gang on you but, oddly, when you are busy piledriving one of them into the ground others just stand and watch in silence.
  • Bayonetta usually averts it, as the angels here will try to rush you and swarm you from multiple directions. However, this is played straight with the Grace and Glory angels (and their stronger counterparts, Gracious and Glorious) who really will only attack you one at a time. They were specifically programmed this way because it would be entirely unfair otherwise, as playtesters found them nigh impossible to beat if they were allowed to team up on you.
  • The Blind Swordsman has enemies only attack one at a time and choreograph their attacks with a grunt or shout, with all but the three sisters and the wolves remaining quiet when it's not their turn to attack. Even the archers only do single shots. This is done for the player's benefit, as the titular character's blindness is reflected by you not being able to see your attackers and thus having to rely on audio cues - if they did attack all at once, the game would be impossible.
  • Partially justified in the game of The Bourne Conspiracy. In the hand-to-hand combat segments, when you are fighting multiple mooks, when one of them tries to attack you from behind while you are preoccupied with his comrade. Bourne will hit him with a "Wait your turn" Offhand Backhand.
  • Curse of the Dead Gods can throw a whole pack of enemies for you to fight, but even when you're swarmed only one or two enemies will attack at a time, giving you time to parry or dodge all the attacks coming your way.
  • Part of what makes Dark Souls so Nintendo Hard is how hard it subverts this trope. Enemies have no compunctions ganging up on you, laying ambushes, and taking advantage of their surroundings to hole up in hard-to-reach places and pelt you with ranged attacks while you're trying to deal with enemies at close range.
    • Certain bosses can receive support from outside their arenas if you don't clean the level up first. The Gaping Dragon will receive buffs and fire support from the Channeler on an upper tier of the level if he's left alive, and one giant is capable of throwing bombs at you during the Iron Golem fight. Fortunately both of these intruders are non-respawning.
    • There are a few straight examples, though. For example, one room in the Flame Tower of Heide in Dark Souls II has three Old Knights in it, but if you run away, only the one with the greatsword will follow you at first, allowing you time to deal with him alone. (Then, admittedly, his two sword-and-board friends will come out and start attacking you together, but that's much easier than taking on three at once with two different movesets.)
    • Certain Duel Bosses, while technically subverting this, will readily separate to make it easier to single out one at a time. When you get the Belfry Gargoyle down in HP enough for the second one to join the fray, the second will focus on hanging back and using breath attacks, making it easier to finish off the first, more melee-oriented one, and Ornstein loves to rush out ahead of his slow-moving partner Smough, allowing you to get in a few hits before Smough catches up.
  • Usually, Dead Cells averts this as there can be an unlimited number of enemies all trying to chase and attack the player at the same time. However, there is one specific example of this trope applying for fairness. With the standard "single projectile" enemy, the Inquisitor, there can be multiple Inquisitors all shooting at the same time. However, the upgraded version, the Arbiter, instead has a Spread Shot. To avoid multiple spreadshots clogging the area with projectiles, only one Arbiter is allowed to attack at a time, with the rest simply waiting defensively if there's an attack in progress.
  • Due to a hilarious programmer's oversight, the zombies in Dead Rising 2 will patiently let you craft weapons. Let some zombies follow you into a maintenance room and craft a weapon just as they approach. During the cinematic of Chuck making the weapon the zombies will still be there, and will walk up and wait patiently behind him while he works. Their idle animation even makes it look like they're curiously trying to see what he's making.
  • In games of the Dead Space franchise, close enemies will eventually grapple, resulting in quick-time events of several seconds, during which remaining creatures will patiently wait for Isaac to complete his sequence before continuing their attack.
  • In Dead to Rights, enemies will fistfight Jack Slate one at a time as opposed to all at once. Averted in gunfights.
  • Demon's Souls: In the opening cutscene the literal army of mooks attack the heroes one at a time, even faithfully standing by while the heroes gang up on and kill a larger mook. Once you actually get in game however, everything will attack you at once and nearly everything can kill you in one or two hits. To further avert this, their attacks will avoid each other, even push them out of the way and hit you, and half of those attacks off balance and stun you.
  • Breached by the demons of Devil May Cry, who have no qualms about coordinated attacks (even the large ones), sliding offscreen while readying a ranged attack or doing so unannounced. Some specific examples: the Marionettes from the first game are known to have one paralyze Dante with a scream while another strikes, and the Arachne from the third game use the same tactic with their webbing ability. The Enigmas from the third love the retreat-and-fire tactic. In Devil May Cry 4 the Bianco Angelo and Alto Angelo enemies are not only adept at fighting in groups, but even gain new special attacks when doing so. However, in 4, mooks won't attack as aggressively if they're off-screen. Most of the enemies do perform a deliberate start up choreography before striking, to give the hero some time to get out of the way. This could count as an acceptable break from reality, as the game's hard enough without giving the player zero warning an attack is coming
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: When it's time for the first boss fight, you actually encounter all three game's bosses at once. However, despite there being no rush for them to evacuate, and despite being ruthless assassins with no honor to speak of, and despite the fact that together they would've torn you apart in a few seconds, two of them just exit for no apparent reason, leaving their comrade to fight you. Even after you kill him, the remaining two don't think to gang up on you, allowing you to fight and kill them one by one, again with little to no plot justification (apparently they oversee different parts of their operation, but you'd think that stopping the one guy who's systematically exposing and dismantling it would take precedence.)
  • In Dwarf Fortress this is averted during normal gameplay, where hordes of enemies will gleefully gang up on a lone adventurer or stray dwarf. However, when a world's history is being non-interactively generated, battles between armies are simulated as a series of one-on-one fights, so if one army has 500 soldiers and the other "army" only has one soldier, the army-of-one actually has a chance of winning. Later, battles during raids seem to use a similar system, and while a squad of ten (for example) still has its battle influenced by the hundred or so goblins, they will still whittle them down ten by ten rather than either getting dogpiled to death or killing them all in one bloody streak.
  • Occasionally, when attacking an officer in Dynasty Warriors 6, a duel will initiate where the cannon fodder will circle around the combatants. Enemy mooks will attempt to knock you back into the dueling ring should you try to escape through them (and can cause quite a bit of damage in the process). Sometimes the officer you're dueling with will also call in some of his Lieutenants to come help him out. Kinda defeats the purpose of a "duel," but heck, like they care.
  • In Earth Bound, the Onett police force, unlike most enemies, will not team up to attack Ness, even though they're all standing in the same room. Instead, each cop fights him one-on-one in succession, except for the one who just flees.
  • In Escape Velocity it's possible to conquer planets if you have a high combat rank. Due in part to engine limitations, they can only attack you a few at a time.
  • Etrian Odyssey has the "FOE" enemies, which move around on the field and will ambush you if you run into them. But they also move around during standard Random Encounters, and avert this trope: Should one enter the space you're on while you're in mid-battle, they will show up as enemy reinforcements. Unless you (can) make a run for it or are sufficiently leveled, prepare to die.
  • Averted in Fable, where multiple enemies can and will often gang up on you. However, it is intentionally featured in Fable II, because developer Peter Molyneux says he wants the game to feel "cinematic".
  • A rare firearm-based example in the Far Cry series, where the AI is actually coded so that only a few enemies are allowed to shoot at you at a time to make the firefights in open areas more manageable.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, there is a battle against all four of the Four Elemental Fiends, who prior to the battle say they've discovered The Power of Friendship and will fight you all at once this time. Only the actual fight turns out to be a Sequential Boss.
  • In Gears of War, when a player or computer player is chainsawing someone, your character must patiently wait with his chainsaw revved until the animation finishes, where you can subsequently avenge your fallen ally. Just shooting the chainsawing target will always work, however.
  • God Hand's Mooks follow this... but only at Level 1 of its Dynamic Difficulty curve. At Level 2 or higher, they can and will attack you even if they're not on-camera. At the highest difficulty level, Level DIE, they will gleefully attack you from the other side of the fighting arena without warning. They also follow this if a demon appears, because those are hard enough as is.
  • Gothic 3 is a particularly ludicrous example. Much of the gameplay involves liberating cities from whichever faction (orcs or humans) you side against. While you likely have a few AI allies, you'll do much of the fighting on your own. Cue the Nameless Hero being surrounded by twenty orcs... who form a neat circle and keep their distance while engaging him one at a time. This is an acceptable break from reality, considering the previous installment. Fighting more than one enemy in melee was an awful chore, courtesy of a targeting-system-from-HELL (Autotarget all the time, Can't select a different target at will, timing counterattacks against the enemy you didn't target becoming impossible, target automatically changing when the enemies cross paths even though you almost managed to kill the first bastard).
  • Averted in any Grand Theft Auto game. Multiple hostiles will gang up on you instead of taking turns, and you can use this to your advantage by tricking them to hit one another, and they will begin fighting amongst themselves.
  • In Harpoon, enemies tend to come one after the other even if they're in large groups. It is not uncommon for a ship or base to be attacked by a "conga line of missiles". These are quite a bit more threatening, being harder to hit.

  • Breached in inFAMOUS; Reapers will not hesitate to run away while shooting, attack from ambush positions, or triangulate their fire. The only way to keep from being rushed down is to take full advantage of Cole's several crowd-control options, or to do the same yourself. And don't get us started on the Conduits...
  • In Jade Empire, mooks will surround you in threatening ways, but they'll hold back and delay their attacks so you're almost never fighting more than one mook at a time. This is most noticeable when the enemies who have long range attacks are obviously holding back when you're in melee. Combat in Jade Empire is practically a homage to Hong Kong action movies, so this is fitting (if a little less spectacular than it could have been).
  • The Apple II game Karateka is one of the first video game examples, though only one opponent is ever seen at a time. An addition here to "chivalry": if before engaging you stand out of your combat stance and bow, they will reciprocate, and in fact will match you if you bow again. The 2012 remake carries on this tradition, even though, unlike the original, you sometimes meet more than one opponent before one of them attacks. (You can only fight the one who is attacking; the other guys must wait their turn.)
  • In KickBeat, the yellow- and blue-costumed enemies will attack you one at a time (the blue ones come at you in rapid succession), and the red ones (the only type to disobey this rule) never attack in groups larger than two or three. In-universe, it's unclear if this is actually enforced on attackers by your style of Supernatural Martial Arts or if it causes a perceptual shift letting you fight as if the action was choreographed to music.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
      • While the fight against the Blizzard Lord and Volcanic Lord is a Dual Boss, only one will attack you at a time. The Lord that's sitting out will focus on your party members.
      • Downplayed during the Battle of Hollow Bastion near the end, where Sora faces off alone against an army of 1000 Heartless. While around a dozen or so will attempt to attack Sora at once, the other few hundred will politely wait for them to die before stepping in to attack with another dozen or so. Then again, with Reaction Commands Sora will tear through dozens of them at a time with them unable to do jack about it. Perhaps not coincidentally, the majority of these Heartless are armored knights.
    • Since the battle system of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is based on playing cards and reminiscent of War (beating opposing cards by having higher values), only one foe can play an attack card at a time.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Some minibosses in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that are fought in pairs act like this, with the second one waiting in the background.note  However, the Iron Knuckles fought in the final dungeon don't follow the rule, but it's possible to lure one of them away from the other. Same applies to the similar Darknuts in Twilight Princess, except for the Bonus Dungeon, where 3 of them wait on the final floor with no means of separating them.
    • Zig-zagged in Hyrule Warriors. The lowest levels of mooks will practice this - in fact, the player can walk right in the middle of a horde of them and they'll just stare for a few seconds until one (maybe two, depending on the AI) will take a swing. However, if a commander, captain, or giant boss is nearby, it will go on offense once the player gets close enough, regardless of how many other foes might have also drawn aggro from the player. This is most easily seen in the Adventure Mode stages where you have to beat a number of giant bosses alongside Ghirahim (who will inevitably betray you) - you can have up to four major enemies actively attempting to pound you flat at the same time, and they won't take turns.
  • Live A Live: The Imperial China chapter plays with this trope. Ou Di Wan Lee, the leader of the Indomitable Fist sends his elite students in small groups of two or three (except for one at the end) rather than send all eight of them at the same time against the Shifu and the surviving student. However, this "honourable" display is all a ruse so that Ou Di Wan Lee can gradually weaken the Shifu so that he is too tired to confront Ou Di Wan Lee in a fair fight. Even with all that, Ou Di Wan Lee has hidden another pair of elite students to ambush the Shifu and surviving student on a 3 vs 2 fight anyway.
  • In Luminous Arc 2, even when the enemies outnumber you, they seem to prefer to rush you in waves - some of the mooks (and almost always the boss units) in the back will not even advance to attack you until either you've killed a number of mook units, or if you step in their attack range. This allows you to simply stay where you are and pick off the enemy with ease.
  • Although generally averted in Mass Effect 2, Liara lampshades this in her DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker when the enemy comes at you in waves:
    Liara: Their attacks are disorganized. They'd do better if they all attacked at once.
    Shepard: Please don't give the mercs ideas.
    Liara: The next wave looks like a big one!
    Shepard: You just had to give them tactical advice.
  • MadWorld: Played straight somewhat and subverted. Enemies will take their time to attack on at least the earlier levels during Normal mode (mainly area 1 and 2). Adverted with Hard mode as even simple enemies like the street punks will do huge damage and will actually coordinate their attacks. Sometimes they will let one of their own be killed so they can trap Jack and pummel the crap outta him. This is also played straight when in a power struggle with the levels' Mini-Boss (with the exception of Death Blade). It justified considering the mini bosses are huge guys and Jack is well...Jack.
  • Due to how fist fighting mechanics between individuals work, all enemies in Mafia II will always fight Vito/Joe/Jimmy one at a time, even if they are accompanied by 2-3 of their buddies and are perfectly content to watch the fight until they decide its their turn once the previous fighter goes down.
  • Mega Man:
    • Particularly noticeable in Mega Man (Classic). While it may make some sense for one Robot Master to control a given area, why is it that they later wait politely in eight individual rooms for their rematch? Averted in the stages themselves; every mobile enemy around will charge Mega Man on sight, even if he's fighting something else at the time.
    • Noticeably averted with Impact Man in Mega Man 11, who doesn't wait for Mega Man to reach his boss room and attacks him throughout the level via his component robots.
    • This is the standard behavior for the Mets in the Mega Man Battle Network series when there's two or more of them around. While they could give you a much rougher time by attacking you simultaneously, they instead take turns chasing after you and sending shockwaves down your row. The ones who aren't currently attacking stay still and hide under their Nigh-Invulnerable hard hats.
    • When Pandora and Prometheus team up to fight the player in the Mega Man ZX games, they typically alternate attacks instead of ganging up on you. It's only in the final phase of their fight in ZX Advent that they both appear on-screen at the same time and start utilizing Combination Attacks.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Performed masterfully in Metal Gear Solid, where four invisible mooks that are on the elevator with Snake, literally close enough to reach out and touch him from the moment he steps on, must sit and wait for our hero to riddle out what's going on in an absurd fashion over the radio despite the fact that all four of them have machine guns. Conforming to the mook code even further, one of the mooks announces their presence after the hero has already figured out what's going on with a hearty, "Too late, Snake. Now die!" Of course no, no he doesn't. This is almost a direct reference to the previous game Metal Gear 2, where four assassins announce their presence before attacking Snake in an elevator, and then only attack two at a time. How they managed to stay in business boggles the mind.
    • And used again with the mass-produced RAYs in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which only attack three at a time for no reason whatsoever, despite there being twenty-five of them.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots:
      • There's a beautiful/shameless example in one of the last cutscenes, where dozens of mooks decide to use their machetes against a sword-wielding Raiden, after not lifting a finger against Snake when he and Raiden explained how one of them would hold off the mooks while the other would complete the objective. Liquid Ocelot doesn't seem to be the type to explain The Plan to all his lackeys, but considering this behavior...
      • Towards the end of the game, the FROGs are trying to kill Meryl and Johnny, who have to Hold the Line. The FROGs have P90 PDWs, while our heroes have mostly handguns. So, naturally, the PMC troops tend to advance to close range before trying to shoot them. And they use a grand total of one flash grenade for the entire fight. Why they don't just hang back and shoot the lovebirds from a range where they have an advantage, or use their wall-clinging ability, is unclear.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Mooks are notorious repeat offenders; however, they will gang up on you, and they only grudgingly let Major Ocelot fight Snake one-on-one. When they break the code and attack Snake during the battle, Ocelot yells at them.
  • Metroid II: Return of Samus: Subverted. The manual says gawrons will only defend their colony from Samus one at a time, but that doesn't stop multiple gawrons from different colonies from ganging up on her. Ditto yumees.
  • A rare example of this done by the good guys happens in the new Mortal Kombat, as some of Earthrealm's greatest heroes attack Sindel one at a time without using their special abilities, only to be easily dispatched, many of them killed, just to prove how tough she is.
  • Generally averted in Mount & Blade, the enemy soldiers will happily surround you in a mob so thick you can't run and chop you into mush. However, in sieges this gets enforced by the simple fact the ladder/siege tower isn't big enough for them to do that, so if you pick up the biggest axe you can find and go to the front you can stay there for quite a while if you time your swings well.
  • Mastronic published a beat 'em up game for the Commodore 64, called Ninja. Eventually there's multiple enemies in one room, but only one will attack at a given time, others simply bowing their heads until they decide to enter combat (and are unattackable until then). The amiga port allows a second enemy to attack.
  • Ninja Gaiden Modern Series.... Hahahahahaha!!! AHAHAHAAHAAA!! AHAHAAAAAAHA!! No. Averted in the most brutal way possible, while the mooks might not always rush you en mass, they WILL punish you from all directions even off screen with jump attacks, Exploding Shuriken, bullets and anything else. Mook Chivalry doesn't exist in this game AT ALL, and on higher difficulties with the amount of enemies on screen on some of the levels it can be insane. Not to mention some of the Bosses have minions that spawn and are just as aggressive in attacking you while dealing with some of the most over the top bosses of gaming. GOD CAN'T HELP YOU NOW!! Indeed.
  • Zigzagged in One Finger Death Punch. While the game normally subverts this, happy to let enemies dogpile you from both sides, if you enter combat with a Brawler the game locks you into combat with them until one of you dies, and any other mooks (and even thrown enemy weapons) helpfully back up and wait their turn until you're done.
  • In Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, the superboss battle against the Velvet Room attendants has four phases. First, the twins attack, and they remain in the next three phases, accompanied by Margaret, then Theodore, then Elizabeth. Unlike in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, it doesn't occur them to fight all at once, possibly because it might be too difficult to take on all five attendants at the same time.
  • Pokémon: Teams Rocket, Aqua, Magma, Galactic, and Plasma. You're lucky if you see a double battle.
    • Played even straighter than normal at Dragonspiral Tower in Black and White. Four Plasma Mooks gang up and encircle you...then fight you one at a time anyway.
    • This happens within each battle, too; none of your opponents, no matter how evil, ever release multiple Mons to gang up on yours. Even though they let you send out two at once if you're fighting two trainers at the same time.
    • Finally gets some aversion in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire where, due of invention of Horde Battles, multiple Aqua or Magma Grunts can gang up on you for a 1v5. However, this is a hilarious Curb-Stomp Battle on their end, as their Mons are only level 15... and yours are likely by that point DOUBLE that at the lowest.
    • The Sun and Moon anime finally averts this with Team Skull frequently sending out ALL their Pokemon to attack. Luckily, Ash and his friends know how to perform Z-Moves that will wipe all of them out. However, Z-Moves require trainers and Pokemon to perform a specific body movement and Team Skull is perfectly willing to let them do this in front of them....
    • Averted by Cipher in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, with some of the Mooks ambushing you with a Ceiling Cling. One of them is more than willing to take an advantage of you just facing a boss.
    • Zigzagged in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. While it is entirely possible to get into a battle with multiple wild Pokémon at the same time, the ones you aren't actively targeting are often content to just sit back and pass their turns while the one you're targeting fights you. However, it's also entirely possible for three wild Pokémon to gang up on you and take out multiple of yours before you even get a turn.
  • Averted in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, where not only will enemies readily gang up on you, but they have no compunctions on moving in and hitting you while you're down, locking you into a Cycle of Hurting. Fortunately, the Prince is able to quickly attack in any direction and can vault over most enemies to escape from a mob (and sometimes, the enemies' overzealousness to mob you can lead to them accidentally hitting each other.)
  • In Puzzle Quest, it's actually impossible to have a fight with more than one person, so larger encounters are usually either consecutive fights or a single fight against a slightly more powerful enemy. However, this goes both ways, your companions only provide a specific bonus against some enemies rather than fighting alongside of you, even though some of them are capable fighters on their own.
  • In Quest for Glory I and Quest for Glory II you encounter this. In QFG 1, if you wander into the goblin camp, first one will attack you, the next time you wander in, 2 will attack you, and so on, and so on. They all stand in line maces at the ready until the goblin currently fighting you dies. The brigands at the end of the game also do this if you rush front the gate rather than sneaking in. In QFG 2, you encounter Jackalmen and bandits in the desert as random encounters, in groups of 2-5 which also fight in this style. In QFG 4, you fight flocks of bat-spiders who charge in one at a time and if you're faced with two necrotaurs or chernovy wizards, the second won't attack until you're done with the first. (since the 4th game's battle system doesn't support battles with two monsters at the same time). Averted in Fan Remake of QFG 2 on harder difficulty levels, where jackalmen and palace guards have no moral issues in ganging up on you. Likewise, in the fifth game, mooks will engage you in numbers.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Generally averted in Resident Evil 4, which was known for it's relatively intelligent AI at the time; sub-bosses generally appear with an entourage of mooks, and enemies will actively try and surround Leon and Ada, and will likely attack simultaneously and catch them in damage chains. One of the most dangerous, yet underestimated, attacks they have is grabbing the player from behind, dealing no damage but opening Leon up to as many attacks they can manage before he breaks free or dies.
      • On the other hand, the mooks aren't totally dishonorable - enemies behind you will announce their presence, such as screaming "Behind you, idiot!" (in Spanish) or laughing maniacally. J.J will also stop firing his Gatling gun when he scores a hit, and mooks with crossbows will give Leon time to return fire if he gets hit.
    • Played straight in Resident Evil 5: fall into Dying status, and enemies will stand around and watch as you resuscitate yourself, instead of, say, killing you.
    • The remake of Resident Evil 2 has the trope used against you when it comes to Mr. X chasing you around. If you get attacked by a zombie, Mr. X will be perfectly content to hold back and watch you get mauled by the zombie before resuming the chase. The zombies themselves can also sometimes avert the trope by having two of them attack you at the same time.
  • Though Saints Row games usually avert this, it gets played straight when a Warden shows up in Saints Row IV.
  • A gameplay mechanic to exploit in Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves, called Fear Factor. Enemies are normally perfectly will to attack you, while their Fear Factor level is greater or equal to yours and increases every second up to a maximum. Manipulating the numbers of the mechanic with potential boosts to increase your own (such as being by a lit Bonfire trap) or lowering theirs with the Shout ability or effectively damaging them can temporarily cause them to stalk by you and stare while they wait to gain the courage to attack and leave you free to act as you will, making this a necessity for the player to fight when outnumbered. However, staying too close to them or Enraging them randomly from damaging them will cause them to disregard the mechanic and attack you.
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours doesn't know what it wants to do. Facing off against Tony's armored, machine-gun mounted SUV while armed only with chainsaws? Okay, sure. But if the last guy does decide to run for it and steal a car and escape, Tony better get him or there will be reinforcements. And yet, when Tony is set upon in the abandoned Freedom Town, the mooks gracefully wait for him to defeat the Machete Man. -Then- it's time for a mass charge. Tony has to hunt down someone with a gun and chop them so he stands a ghost of a chance.
  • Lampshaded in the 2014 Halloween special event of The Simpsons: Tapped Out. When the Rigellians make their third attempt to invade (the two previous attempts consisted of a single flying saucer that was easily shot down by the same big laser, resulting in Kang and Kodos being stranded in Springfield). This time, dozens of small Rigellians periodically appear in Springfield to move around and jump on people's heads. They even resist early attempts by the player's finger to squish them... until the player develops the Board with a Nail superweapon. After that, they get squished en masse. Kang and Kodos are asked if they will bring in thousands more next time, and they explain that they will keep sending in easily-defeatable waves.
  • Largely averted in Spartan: Total Warrior. If your enemies are in a large horde they will gang up on you and stab you in the back while you're blocking their mates in front. They also have no qualms about attacking you while you're getting health (often the last time you actually want to be attacked). Though given that anything that comes in a horde will probably go down with a single hit, this is often the only way they can land a few of their own. Stronger enemies can block your attack, requiring an aerial attack to break their which point they'll probably just swat you out the air if you're playing on a higher difficulty because higher rank doesn't mean higher morals.
  • Played straight in all the games of the Star Control. Never mind how many enemies has the battle group you've to fight or how many ships you've at your side. You'll battle one ship each time.
  • Star Fox:
    • Zigzagged with the battles against Star Wolf in Star Fox 64. Though it seems like it would make tactical sense to work together to immediately take down at least one Arwing, everyone instead targets a specific one for some one-on-one dogfighting. However, if one of your party members is out for the fight or gets taken down, their corresponding Star Wolf member will come gunning for you whether you've dealt with Wolf already or not.
    • The enemies in Star Fox Adventures do the traditional "circle the hero, then attack one at a time" deal. Noted by the developers to be completely intentional, for a cinematic feel.
  • In the story mode of Them's Fightin' Herds, predators do this, as first shown in this tweet.
  • In Theta vs Pi 7, the Delta Guards will always wait until you've defeated the last one until the next one comes out.
  • Averted in Vietcong. The enemy AI can and will gang up on or ambush your team.
  • The early Virtua Cop games were like this; the sheer number of mooks the baddies had available to them would have made swiss cheese out of the players if they all attacked at once. Later games (along with similar games like Confidential Mission) have multiple enemies each with their own "danger sights" meaning you have to judge who to prioritize.
  • Way of the Samurai explicitly points this out in the tutorial (it's required by the game play style, as combat plays out like a 3D fighting game). Given how much the series works like a vintage Samurai film (even down to Bad "Bad Acting" for the English versions), it works out fine.
  • Thoroughly averted in Warframe - enemies will gladly gang up on you, with ranged troops opening fire upon enemies that their fellows are engaging in melee.
  • The Swordplay Showdown mode of Wii Sports Resort keeps this in effect. Although it's possible for you to hit multiple opposing Miis at once with a single swing of your sword, you stay locked on to one of them at a time, and whichever one you're locked onto is the only one that attacks you. However, the boss Mii(s) at the end of each level comes in with a few more mooks, rather than appearing alone.
  • Thoroughly averted in The Witcher 2, where even the most insignificant enemies will gang up on Geralt from all sides without hesitation, and beat him to death in seconds if the player doesn't take control of the situation.
  • While enemies generally do attack in groups in World of Warcraft, they attack in much smaller groups than they should do. At times this can be explained by them all having No Peripheral Vision and terrible eyesight so they fail to notice you slaughtering all their comrades. But on others they definitely know you're there, and are just not attacking to be sporting. At least one instance has the boss greet you when you enter the room, clearly demonstrating that everyone knows you're there. Then you kill your way through the room one group at a time while he waits patiently for you to finish, recover all your health and Mana, and attack him.
    • HILARIOUSLY lampshaded in a series of books written by someone who seems to be a Scourge Mook and is obviously MUCH more intelligent (or less arrogant) than ANY leader of ANY enemy faction in the game. Had this guy been given a position of some importance, the Scourge would already have dominated Azeroth a long time ago.
    • Zig-zagged in the Kael'thas encounter in Tempest Keep. In the early fight, he has you deal with his four advisors, one at a time, followed by several magical weapons. Once you're finished with the second phase, he declares that it would be unfair to pit you against all four advisors, but quips that "fair treatment was never shown to (his) people," and sics all four on you. Luckily, you have the various legendary weapons to use against him, but the encounter was still a fairly long and difficult fight.
  • While this is mostly averted in the Yakuza series, as opponents will tag-team you the with the first chance they get if fought in groups, Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5 all had setpiece fights where you would be given a relatively large space to fight in, with some of the Mooks tagging in to fight while the rest stand around you in a big circle.

  • In the world of Irritability, not only do monsters never retreat thanks to monster honor, but it's culturally insensitive to even ask them to no matter how doomed they are.
  • Subversion: In The Order of the Stick, a Death Knight orders his battalion of hobgoblins to charge to their deaths at an enemy's incredibly well defended wall so that their corpses would form an effective ramp for his horse. It worked!
  • Lampshaded in this strip of Penny Arcade.
  • Defied in Tales From Alderwood:
    Trish: Aren't you supposed to come at me one at a time?
    Mook 1: That's a hurtful stereotype.
    Mook 2: Hurtful for you.

    Web Original 
  • Throughout Haloid, the Covenant will cheerfully individually walk up to the Chief and Samus, despite both of them mowing Covvies down by the truckload. At one point, the Chief is standing in the middle of a circle with Covvie drop pods falling around him. Pods that contain Elites armed only with Plasma Swords, several of which can be seen running around doing nothing in the background.
  • Averted in The Knight of Hope, which sees over ten men fight the titular subject, and a number of them do actually surround and strike at him at the same time. His opponents do not succeed anyway, but they sure tried right.
  • Noob: La Quête Légendaire downplays this as mooks sometimes attack two at a time, but also justifies it as a Fictional Video Game Multi-Mook Melee that is intended to be difficult but winnable by a single sufficiently skilled player.
  • In one sequence in Red vs. Blue season 9, also worked on by Monty Oum, dozens of mooks seem reluctant to lay a finger on the two project-Freelancer operatives caught in their base. Or shoot at them. There is one, and precisely 'one, scene in the sequence where this is justified; when the mooks are ignoring the two so they can get to someplace where they can capture them with overwhelming firepower. Otherwise, they seem content to run up and get beaten down.
  • Parodied in the Whirlwind Action film Slug Street Scrappers, where one member of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad tells the others that they have to fight the main character one on one. they proceed to get there asses kicked while the others do random things
  • Suburban Knights:
    • In the climactic battle the reviewers attack Malecite one at a time, with the exception of Obscurus Lupa and Angry Joe who double-team with machine guns. Justified in that the reviewers are supposed to be ordinary people who have seen him punch a person into orbit and summon lightning to disintegrate others, and are therefore too scared to attempt a Zerg Rush.
    • Spoony's team also takes advantage of the Cloaks' thinking that the reviewers will have this. The reviewers instead run when they're distracted. Though two Cloaks did double-team The Cinema Snob at one point, they otherwise followed this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "The Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls," when Toshi saves Stan, Francine, and Roger from the serial killers, his enemies charge at him one at a time. Perhaps partially justified in that a) they may not have perceived him as a threat, and b) they might not work well together.
  • Arcane: A downplayed and justified example. The terrain of a narrow catwalk over a factory forces the Mooks to come one by one. They're also not taking the threat of a teenage girl too seriously at first. When Vi is attacked by two mooks at the same time, whether from behind or squeezing together in front, she noticeably struggles more.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Harley Quinn (2019) when Harley states that fighting one at a time is "standard goon operating procedure", then immediately sees a group of them gun down a lost old man looking for directions to which she happily remarks, "Oh, they're doing the 'all at once' way now."
  • In "Flash and Substance" of Justice League Unlimited, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, and the Trickster decide that the time has finally come to kill The Flash once and for all. To do so, they each concoct an elaborate Death Trap which they use one at a time to try and kill the Flash. However, once Boomerang's plan fails (and the Trickster unveils his own, which involves fake dog vomit and "everything [exploding]"), Captain Cold points out that taking turns is dumb, and they decide to jump him together, with the exception of the Trickster, who goes off in a sulk.
  • The Equalist Mooks from Season 1 of The Legend of Korra avert this; when Korra is walking home after Amon fails to show up for a duel, she's jumped by dozens of them who had been waiting in ambush for who knows how long.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Throughout the series, the Big Bad only sends one Monster of the Week to Earth at a time, though it's justified as he is trying to maintain control of Galaluna and doesn't have infinite resources to throw at one problem. Then, after a season's worth of monsters fail individually to get the job done, he gets fed up and sends four in short succession, the first of which is specifically tailored to kill the heroes's Robot Buddy who lets them transform into Titan.
  • Averted in the SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron episode "When Strikes Mutilor." When the SWAT Kats storm the control room of Mutilor's ship, Mutilor, a Combat Pragmatist, orders all of his guards to attack them, and they end up dogpiling (katpiling?) the SWAT Kats and defeating them rather easily.
    Mutilor: Attack! All of you!
  • Lampshaded on Titan Maximum:
    Palmer: You guys are doing this wrong! I can only punch one of you at a time!
  • The bad guys in W.I.T.C.H. frequently ambush the Magical Girls — and every time, they lose surprise by pausing to cackle, show their claws, shout "It's Guardians! Get them!", etc. In a rare breach of Mook Chivalry, their archers do attack all at once; fortunately for the heroines, the archers all studied at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

    Real Life 
  • Can be Truth in Television in hand-to-hand fighting. A common martial arts sparring activity is to allow a group of lower-ranked fighters to attack a smaller number (sometimes just one) of higher ranked practitioners. In theory, the best strategy to use in such a scenario, particularly against a skilled opponent, would be a Zerg Rush - even a master martial artist only has so many limbs with which to block and counter attack. In practice, however, the inexperienced martial artists will often either wait for a chance to attack the opponent in their individual terms, holding back until having the chance and space to do it, or wait for their opponent to come to them. In any case, this allows the higher-ranked practitioner to take them on one or two at a time and letting them give a much better accounting for themselves than the situation would imply.
    • This effect is psychologically explainable when the low-ranked fighters are afraid or at least wary of their opponent's skills. They will follow their instincts to individually keep themselves out of danger instead of reasoning they can overpower him through the aforementioned team strategy. Alternatively, most of the fighters can consciously retain themselves from intervening in order to avoid hampering the ones who are already facing him (this is in fact a strategy taught in Krav Maga, Judo and other self-defense fighting styles, which teach to "stack" the opponents, throw them against each other and keep moving in order to turn their numeric advantage against them).
    • Averted if the group is children, though hopefully in non-combat scenarios. There was a novelty soccer match in Brazil where three Brazilian superstars took on 50 of their grade-school fans. The superstars still won, but the little kids put up a better fight than the grown-ups expected: the kids fearlessly ran around in groups and would get into coordinated defensive formations to limit the adults' options, they would sometimes rush over with the ball in large numbers rapidly passing it to each other to remain unpredictable, and they swarmed around the goal if one of the adults got too close. Fear is what causes teenagers and adults in the above Real Life examples to attack one at a time (where the terrain allows them to) because that fear causes them to become apprehensive. Children have not yet learned this fear and will rush in with whatever ideas they've created.
  • This is the strategy known as defeat in detail
    • In the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg during World War I, a German army, facing two separated Russian armies that did not attack in unison. The Germans stopped the first, then turned to destroy the second. They were ably assisted by luck, skill, the German rail network, and the fact that the Russian generals hated each other's guts.
    • Erwin Rommel won a couple of battles this way, keeping his forces together while a British force which had several times as many tanks as he did split up and allowed him to defeat each group in turn, one at a time.
  • The unnamed Viking who held the narrow Stamford Bridge singlehandedly. He managed to mow down forty Saxons before they got him, because they had to fight one at a time. Legend says that the Saxons had to resort to floating beneath the bridge and stabbing up at him from below.
  • Horatius at the Bridge. "In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three; / Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?"
  • The Society for Creative Anachronism refers to this as "Conan syndrome", and for good reason.
  • Many LARP systems that have people who play the role of monsters will have guidelines for giving the players a fair chance, generally referred to as monster etiquette. The most common rule being that monsters do not Coup de Grâce players, so that the other players have a chance to rescue them. Despite being the most well known form of Mook Chivalry, everyone attacking a single player at once is generally not against the rules, because events are usually designed so that unless a player has done something stupid, the monsters won't have the chance to gang up on a single player like that.
  • Some of you may have heard of the Japanese hornet, a 2-inch-long flying insect that attacks beehives to capture the bee larvae to feed to their own young. They normally succeed because most bees (barring things like the Africanized species) practice Mook Chivalry. They're easily defeated by a Zerg Rush, as bees can survive temperatures 2 degrees hotter than the hornet, and will swarm it and heat it to death.
  • Polish hooligans known as git-men in the 1960s and 70s had a code of conduct which included strictly one-on-one brawls, regardless of a gang's headcount. Of course, this often played out as a gang of thugs waiting in line for their turn to beat up their mark.
  • A single Soviet KV-2 tank held for one day the entire 6th Panzer Division. Unlike the Tiger I above, it didn't succumb to the enemy but simply ran out of ammo, causing its crew to scuttle the tank and run.
  • When 3 fencing masters take on 50 novice fencers, the novices adhere to this trope. It appears that without training in group warfare, the natural inclination of a group of individual fighters is something of the Bystander Effect; they prefer to let someone else in the group go first. It's somewhat forced by the format since the only valid target is a small spot on the chest and the novices get in each other's way if they gang up.
  • The Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Ardennes/Battle of the Bulge during World War II ended up playing out this way. Though the Americans were badly outnumbered, outgunned, running low on ammunition, supplies and lacked sufficient winter gear, they were able to put up a stiff resistance since the Germans attacked one sector at a time, rather than ordering all of their units to assault the town from all sides simultaneously. This allowed the Americans to quickly shift their manpower to assist in the sectors that were being attacked long enough until The Cavalry arrived when General Patton's Third Army managed to break through into the town.
  • In robot combat (think Robot Wars and BattleBots), multibots have a tendency to be operated in this way, with each of the smaller units attacking their larger single-unit opponents one at a time. This allows their bigger opponents to easily overpower them. Sometimes, though, it pays to be apprehensive, as the alternative is Friendly Fire with the multiple units accidentally hitting each other with their weapons. The key to the success of Crash 'n' Burn in RoboGames is that they do not follow this trope, with both the Crash unit and the Burn unit keeping close with each other to attack opponents relentlessly while avoiding self-inflicted damage.


Video Example(s):


NCIS agents vs drug dealer

Jessica and Torres bust inside a suspected drug den. They later tore through the armed opposition with nothing but their fists, feet and using the phone and a shotgun to hit them hard. The goons can't shoot them for hitting Francis, who's used as a human shield.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MookChivalry

Media sources: