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aka: Mook

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As brainless as they are servile.

"They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to."

A slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom The Hero mows down with utter impunity and complete disregard. Deadly, competent, loyal, abundant... pick any two.

Also called "baddies", "goons", "scrubs", "drones", "small fry", "flunkies", "pawns", "toadies", "grunts", "minions", "lackeys", "underlings", "swarmers", "henchpersons", "popcorn enemies", "foot soldiers" and "Cannon Fodder". In Japanese videogame jargon, they're known as "zako" or "small fry". The actual term "mook" presumably comes from Hong Kong Cinema, and takes its name from the mook jong, the wooden training dummies used in Wing Chun, whose only function is to get hit. In Hong Kong movie circles, they're often called "three-hit men," in reference to how many hits it takes to put them down, though the actual number of hits varies.


It's a thankless job, to be sure, but somebody's gotta do it. Enter the humble mook.

Mooks play an important role, as without someone to fight on a constant basis, an action movie/show/game would have a lot less action. If every single minion your hero ever runs into has a personality, then the pacing of the show would slow to a crawl and Quirky Miniboss Squad, The Dragon, and the Big Bad would not feel as unique in comparison. Thus, mooks serve as Filler and a backdrop to the truly climactic moments of an action franchise while also ensuring that in-between things are kept lively. In Video Games, they may also double as a ready source of Experience Points, gold, and recovery items for the player.

In addition to accentuating the real villains, mooks also help establish the heroes, especially their combat skills, as their lack of an identity allows them to be beaten, mauled, shot or otherwise disposed of in creative ways without guilt. The Hero might find it in his heart to Save the Villain, forgive him, even accept him into his inner circle, but the guys whose only crime is not finding a better employer will be shown no mercy (although exceptions apply). Next to Punch-Clock Villain, but usually more faceless, this is one of the tropes most liable to Just Following Orders, a fact that may be pointed up in order to reduce their disposability.


It's rarely explained just why they're willing to fight and die for villains who want to destroy the world, or what they get in return. Their life expectancy is on a level with that of the average mayfly, and you have to wonder why they took the job in the first place, especially if master is abusing them as much if not more than the heroes. Depending on just who/what they are fighting for, the plausibility of this can vary.

Being Acceptable Targets by definition, sometimes mooks serve as (or devolve into) outright comic relief rather than an actual menace by being dimwitted, ineffective, clumsy, a genuine danger to themselves or just plain unlucky. Despite all this, some may get their own moments in the spotlight or become genuine villains in their own right.

Except where noted in some of the subcategories, it is generally considered "bad form" for mooks to be given any sort of detailed backstory or personality (beyond broad strokes). Put another way, for the purposes of heroes continuing to be seen as heroes, and to avoid a major mood swing, mooks generally have no girl/boyfriends, children, parents, grandparents; they don't belong to church groups or non-profits that might miss them; they don't spend part of their day looking forward to what's on TV tonight (never to see the show because they're about to die), and they generally die quick, semi-painless deaths (blood and gore optional). Mooks are rarely female, and if they are, they generally don't fall into the "gorgeous" category because you don't want the viewer/reader to become attached to a character the hero is about to kill (The Spy Who Loved Me is a noted example where this rule is broken, and 35 years later James Bond fans still criticize the decision to have Bond murder Caroline Munro's helicopter-flying babe, though more in the They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character sense). There are, of course, exceptions, either to make a Mood Whiplash and ponder about the nature of violence, establish the protagonist as a ruthless Anti-Hero, or briefly acknowledge that the mooks have lives and personal affairs but they're so trite and cliche that they deserve no sympathy anyway.

Not to be mistaken with a portmanteau of "magazine" and "book" intended for a longer term of publication between editions, a certain racial slur, or the tentacled aliens from the Mother series (They technically qualify as this, but they’re more fitting as Degraded Boss instead, as they’re the "common" form of one of the preceding bosses encountered), or the purple bird-like creature from Princess Comet (although he is also a Mook in this sense).

This trope is the Evil Counterpart of the Redshirt Army, which are Mooks on the good side (and thus are where to go when searching for easily-killed good guys). Similar to but not to be confused with their non-combat brother Evil Minions (likewise the Redshirt Army with the Red Shirt). Occasionally, it turns out they were Not Always Evil. If a "character" who would otherwise qualify as a Mook is disqualified because he's apparently acting on his own, you have Bit Part Bad Guys.

Also Compare Meat Puppets when biological mooks are directly controlled via Demonic Possession, Mind Control, or similar.

In Video Games, mooks tend to be slightly more powerful, and able to at least hurt the hero, if not kill him a few times. However, 9 times out of 10, the hero has a Healing Factor (more often objects used to heal than spontaneous healing) while the mooks stay hurt forever. Also, while the hero can restart if he/she dies, the mooks (usually) only die once per level, and when the level is restarted, they usually do the exact same thing they did before.

If they're lucky, mooks may very occasionally get promoted to the status of a more major villain. The heroes may also be able to persuade them over to the good side, in which case they have performed a Mook–Face Turn. Humanizing mooks is a basic technique of Deconstruction. In some Video Games, certain kinds of mooks will have a special introduction when they appear for the first time.

Armies of mooks are not always but usually overwhelmingly male. Typically, killing or harming even one nameless female tends to twist an audience's sympathies differently than the effect of the same to a male. As your protagonist escapes the fortress of doom, you don't want the audience worrying about the mooks being taken out or hurt. In video games however, all-male mook armies are usually there for an entirely pragmatic reason, since including random female enemies would be requiring constructing entirely new character models for characters the player won't interact with outside of killing them.

If the mooks also provide romantic services, this may overlap with Paid Harem.

When supposedly elite fighters in large number are less competent together than a man alone, it's Conservation of Ninjutsu.

Go forth and vanquish the army of Mooks below:

Also see:
Specific variations

Related tropes


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    Card Games 
  • Vs. System has army characters that are generally mooks given they can get killed off quickly and lack uniqueness because you can only have 1 copy of non-Army characters like Spider-Man on the field; army characters are replaceable. Some examples are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Doom Bots, and Sentinels. Also, army characters do not have any restriction whatsoever in deck construction, whereas any other card is restricted to 4 copies (at most).
  • Magic: The Gathering has creature tokens, which are creatures who aren't even worth having their own card. By default, creature tokens' names are also their creature type, and if they leave play they simply cease to exist. They rarely have abilities, and those they do have are typically keyword abilities ("Flying," versus, "Any creature able to block this creature must do so."). They are also typically created in large numbers, either via a one shot deal creating two or more, or by a repeatable effect squeezing out one each turn. Creature tokens didn't have any sort of official representation until Magic Online needed some standardized way to represent them, and then they weren't printed in paper for years afterward.
    • Each Color has their own flavor of Mooks: Green has Saprolings (it used to be squirrels), Black has Zombies, Red has Goblins, White has Soldiers, while Blue has whatever is assigned as Blue creatures in the settings. Green is the biggest offender when it comes to spawning endless hordes of Mooks.
  • Tokens also exist in Yu Gi Oh with similar rules. They are mainly used as sacrifices for bringing out stronger monsters or occasionally as fodder for stalling the opponent. There also are a few cards that summon token under the opponent's control. Cards that summon them in large numbers usually have some restrictions on what they can be sacrificed for.
  • Super Munchkin has the "Wimpy Thugs", "More Wimpy Thugs" and "Still more Wimpy Thugs" monsters. "3,872 Orks" from the original game might count since they are the only monster going in hordes.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse features decks for the villains that summon mooks to help the villain do their dirty work. Depending on who the players are fighting against, the number of mooks in the deck vary from few in number to half of the deck. Villains who rely on theirs mooks as a part of their deck's strategy include Baron Blade, Citizen Dawn, Grand Warlord Voss, the Dreamer, Omnitron, La Captian, the Chairman, the Matriarch, and Gloomweaver.

    Comic Strips 
  • The members of the croc fraternity Zeeba Zeeba Eata from Pearls Before Swine are these, with the added twist that they kill themselves rather than others killing them.

    Fan Works 
  • The Decepticon Seekers from Transformers Meta.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: The Infestation, a swarm of cockroach-like Changelings, are introduced as just another Monster of the Week during the Magic Arc. When they return during the Loyalty Arc, however, the MotW format has mostly been dropped, at which point they're repurposed by Eskarrg to serve this role, due to their numbers. He actually refers to them as "cannon fodder" at one point.
  • Invoked in crossover A Change of Pace: Taylor starts referring to regular gangsters as this later on.
  • Hellsister Trilogy has Apokolips' infantry and shock troops. Darkseid can raise hundreds of them at any time, and they're beaten senseless by the main character and her allies just as fast. Exemplified with the opening of the eighth chapter of "The Apokolips Agenda", where three Kryptonians are enough to drive 1,000 Para-Demons back.
  • Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles: If not disposed of by Neck Snap or other methods, most of griffin soldiers taken out by the heroes are knocked from the sky and fall to their dooms, their injuries leaving them unable to recover flight.
  • Forward: The sheer number of thugs the crew fights at the beginning of "Business" is lampshaded with Mal commenting that "it was like someone had found a discount site on the Cortex for hired goons."
  • Dolphin Rider Koishi has the fishmen, who explode into fish when killed.


  • Gottlieb's Raven has an army of unnamed southeast Asian soldiers whose only purpose is to be gunned down.
  • America's Most Haunted has the Ghost Minions, an easily-defeated enemy geared towards casual players.
  • Avengers: Infinity Quest has the Outriders, the minions of the Big Bad. They primarily appear in multiball and wizard modes, where most of their screen time is spent being attacked by whichever Avenger stars in the mode.

  • The Scorpies in Sequinox are shadowy beings that serve Scorpius, but have almost no personality and only exist as cannon fodder for the Sequinox girls to attack before getting to the Stars themselves.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Dr. Cube's minions and Mung Wun, the Thai Fly's children in Kaiju Big Battel.
  • Most of the lower ranking members of Generalissmo Takada Monster Army in Fighting Opera HUSTLE.
  • The Age Of The Fall's last grasp at credibility involved Jimmy Jacobs leading a mass of anonymous masked men.
  • The Guardians of Truth were mooks for The House Of Truth in Ring of Honor.
  • The Latino Nation for LAX, The Latin American Exchange(Xchange), in TNA
  • The Flood of Chikara's main gimmick was being made up of numerous rudos throughout the promotion's history, but they still had masked mooks just to swell their numbers even further.
  • Any time someone has a "security team," they will invariably get run over by their protectee's nemesis.

  • Lots of the stuff that gets summoned in Destroy the Godmodder falls squarely into this category. Sometimes with entire armies getting wiped out in one shot by relatively weak entities. This is also the Godmodder's primary way of keeping the players from winning, as if the Godmodder has too many mooks they'll automatically nullify attacks against him, so keeping their numbers limited is why summons are important.

    Web Original 
  • The Meyer Security guards in Door Monster's The Guards Themselves.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the main characters get to leave their Super Hero School Whateley Academy and travel into Boston for the day... only to face The Necromancer and his homicidal Quirky Miniboss Squad, along with a couple hundred mooks who are nameless and somewhat faceless. The Necromancer has lived up to his name by animating hundreds of corpses, and Phase has to fight them in the sewers underneath Boston. Only she doesn't have a flashlight.
    • Clearly the writer had just played Doom 3.
    • Leading to one of the funnier but more horrific sequences. Phase is worried about getting zombie gunk over her/him, and is informed s/he's probably okay. Just... "make sure to get cremated when you die."
  • Junior's black-suited henchmen from RWBY. Debuting in the "Yellow" trailer, they acted like Junior's bodyguards and faced Yang after she barged into the place. Cue Curbstomp Battle with them in the stomping end. Later they reappeared this time working for Roman Torchwick in robbing a shop and faced Ruby. They didn't fare any better, too much to Roman's chagrin ("You were worth every cent, truly you were.") After Roman became an ally of White Fang, he began to employ the organization's goons as his muscle. They didn't prove to be an improvement over Roman's previous underlings.
  • DSBT InsaniT: The Darkness counterparts are Psycho Man's mooks.
  • Dreamscape: The Master of the Dammed's minotaurs patrol the Unworld, looking for anyone who is acting up.
  • Deviant: The various superpowered gangs have quite a few unpowered members between them.

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mook, Foot Soldier


Hiss Troopers

Troopers are meant to be the first agents to enter unknown AWEs, Thresholds, or any other paranaturally hazardous situation. They are heavily armored and heavily armed in preparation for the worst.

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