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The Usual Adversaries

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Musty: It's Team Rockhead, of course! They show up EVERY episode!
Ass: Yes, but they usually show up six minutes into the show! This time, they didn't show up until six minutes and twenty seconds!
MAD, "Hokéycon"

The Usual Adversaries refers to the ubiquitous Always Chaotic Evil creatures that are always messing everything up for everyone in a setting, and the hatred towards said creatures held by the good forces who are always having to fight them off. Naturally, this varies by setting, though Orcs are among the most common in Fantasy works.

Related to Always Chaotic Evil, Scary Dogmatic Aliens, Hard-Coded Hostility, Villain by Default, and The Heartless. Compare the Goldfish Poop Gang, who keep harassing the protagonists but are generally played for more comedic purposes and are marked by incompetence. Similar to Goddamned Bats, but while Goddamned Bats is a gameplay trope, this is a narrative one.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In practically every Story Arc in Bleach, Hollows are involved in some way, shape or form. In the very first one, they're worked in a Monster of the Week format. In the second arc, they appeared as Elite Mooks in flashbacks, and in the very last act, a group of Giant Mooks showed up to transport the Big Bad to their dimension, Hueco Mundo. Following that, we're introduced to Hollow-Soul Reaper hybrids called Arrancar, who take over the scene as a War Arc erupts between them and the Soul Society. Hell, in the Deicide mini-arc, said Big Bad used the Hogyoku, the same device that created the Arrancar, on himself, but it gradually turned him more Hollow-esque with each transformation. Even in the Lost Agent arc, where the antagonists are essentially superhumans, said superhumans only gained their abilities because Hollows attacked their pregnant mothers in the first place.
  • The Skruggs of Heroman fill this role from the simple fact that they NEVER. EVER. Seem to stay beaten.
  • Japanese Delinquents in Codename: Sailor V are this and Butt Monkeys: whenever the plot needs Minako to be late for something, she'll notice delinquents bullying someone and will waste time transforming into Sailor V and mauling them.
  • While many adventurers in Goblin Slayer consider demons to be the primary threat to the world, for Goblin Slayer, his allies, and everyone the little bastards prey upon, the goblins are the more immediate threat.

    Comic Books 
  • Nazis in Hellboy. Of both the Steampunk and magical varieties. While the larger threat is always from Eldritch Abominations, the various Nazi factions have a bizarre habit of being involved with almost every story arc in one way or another, even if the arc had nothing to do with them. One chapter hung a lampshade on it when Roger and Abe find (an utterly inexplicable and with no plausible or possible reason for even being there) a Nazi submarine in the ancient tunnels of a lost civilization beneath the Himalayas. They aren't remotely surprised; the damn Nazis have shown up everywhere else.
  • The "stupid stupid rat creatures" from Jeff Smith's Bone.
  • The Tick really hates ninjas.
  • Averted with Marv of Sin City fame who enjoys fighting hitmen. When he goes up against hitmen, he becomes positively giddy since "no matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad."
  • The Romans in Asterix. Even a walk in the woods will typically lead to a run-in with a patrol. Also inverted, in that the Gauls welcome these run-ins, but the Romans are deeply annoyed (and mauled each and every time).
  • The Foot Clan in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. No matter the incarnation, the Turtles will always be bothered by hordes of Foot Ninjas trying to kill them.
  • The Punisher: Similar to his inspiration The Executioner below, the Punisher's main target is The Mafia, which killed his entire family as collateral damage in a drive-by shooting.
  • The Phantom has the Singh Brotherhood in particular and pirates in general. Inevitably, since the mantle of the Phantom was created in the first place with the goal of combating piracy by someone who had lost his entire family to them.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones makes his thoughts on this trope clear:
    Indy: Nazis. I hate these guys.
  • James Bond has SPECTRE, a private intelligence contractor and criminal organization. Bond comes up against their plots in all but one of the Sean Connery films, as well as Lazenby's one film. They disappear beginning in the Roger Moore years. No single organization takes their place after this, but the most common villain for the rest of the series are various forms of mad capitalists, either messing with global geopolitics to increase their profit margins or using their corporate empire to pursue some ideological goal. SPECTRE did return in the aptly named Spectre after an absence of forty-four years; it remains to be seen whether this was a one-off or whether their status as the usual villains will return.
  • Lampshaded in The Sum of All Fears, when Bill Cabot remarks how their nuclear emergency drills always include the Russians as the enemy.
    Cabot: We've also gotta choose someone else to face off against besides the Russians all the time.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has HYDRA, the rogue Nazi science division which branched off from the Third Reich after World War II. They have quickly become this trope for the universe as a whole, easily taking the crown of the most frequently occurring antagonistic force, yet only in two films are they the main antagonists. Hydra has appeared in a villainous role in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, and play a minor, but significant role in Captain America: Civil War, on top of consistent appearances in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The list of named characters who are members of the organization has gotten into the dozens, including the Red Skull, Arnim Zola, Heinz Kruger, Baron von Strucker, Daniel Whitehall, Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, Alexander Pierce, John Garrett/The Clairvoyant, Raina, Grant Ward, Senator Stern, Doctor List, Doctor Debbie, Jasper Sitwell, Marcus Scarlotti/Whiplash, Carl Creel/The Absorbing Man, Donald Gill/Blizzard, Jack Rollins, Sunil Bakshi, Johann Fennhoff/Doctor Faustus, Julien Beckers, Ian Quinn, Edison Po, Toshiro Mori, Vincent Beckers, Octavian Bloom, Mitchell Carson and Agent 33/Kara Lynn Palamas. Apparently their threat of "cut off one head and two shall take its place" is not to be taken lightly.

  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur and Ford haven't seen the last of the bloody Vogons after getting thrown out of an airlock by them. Vogons don't like leaving jobs unfinished.
  • The Orcs of Tolkien's Legendarium, who serve as the primary mooks from The Silmarillion to the way to The Lord of the Rings, are distressingly numerous and fertile, and they will not stop attacking humans, elves, and dwarves even when they aren't enslaved by the current Dark Lord.
  • Green Martians in general in John Carter of Mars (with the exception of the Thark horde, who are allies of the heroes from the end of the first book on). Not really Always Chaotic Evil (they're a brutal but honorable bunch), but with a culture where you win honor through successful raiding they'll jump at the chance to attack anyone passing through or near their territory, making them a perennial headache for any Barsoomian hero.
  • The various Shadowspawn in The Wheel of Time, but predominantly the Trollocs and Myrdraal. They do appear to be a serious challenge in massive forces, but seem to be little more than an annoyance for several of the major characters, especially The Chosen One, late in the series. In fact, the use of them can be seen as akin to a Zerg Rush.
  • Extremist Muslims in the Paladin of Shadows books, although the subtype varies; terrorists, Chechen paramilitaries and slavers have all shown up.
  • James Bond has SMERSH, an extremely powerful Soviet black ops organization that controls a number of assets in the West and whose operations Bond finds himself regularly fighting against. In the later books, SMERSH fades into the background and is replaced with SPECTRE, a private intelligence contractor and criminal organization. Bond's enmity with them is originally purely professional, but turns to It's Personal when their leader murders his wife.
  • From the Jack Ryan series:
    • Communists occupy roughly the same place in Jack Ryan's pantheon that Nazis do in Indiana Jones', at least during the original Tom Clancy novels. The end of the Cold War did force Clancy to branch out and find some new enemies, but thankfully, Chinese with Chopper Support were still around for him to write about.
      • Of particular note are the extreme-left terrorist underworld, usually funded by the USSR or some affiliated nation-state. They're effectively the Starter Villain for the series, as being threatened by one such group is what got Jack Ryan to go into the CIA full time, but they're also notable for how hated they are, even by their Soviet handlers and by the communities they're trying to "liberate." They stick around for a while after the end of the Cold War, in some cases ending up as Hired Guns for newer villains.
      • Even the stories that aren't ostensibly about the Cold War will often find a way to work this in. Patriot Games and The Sum of All Fears are set in The Troubles and the Arab–Israeli Conflict, respectively: however, the villains in both are an extreme-left terrorist cell with ties to the Soviet Bloc. In Clear and Present Danger, the heroes are facing the Medellin Cartel: however, the main antagonist is the Cartel's Dragon-in-Chief, a former Cuban intelligence officer, and their success in intelligence owes a lot to his training, knowledge, and experience.
    • A runner-up to Communists is drug dealers, appropriately for a series rooted in The '80s. Jack Ryan hates them on general principle, but for the other hero of the series, John Clark, It's Personal: one of his girlfriends in his younger years was a woman who'd been turned into an addict, then a prostitute, then a drug mule, by a Baltimore drug trafficking ring that ultimately murdered her when she tried to escape. It's rare for anti-drug operations to be the center of the story, but the practice still crops up frequently, especially on a villain's resume. The fact that parts of the IRA eventually deal drugs to fund themselves, and that the series' al-Qaeda expy is willing to partner with a Colombian drug cartel, despite both organizations claiming some religious roots, is a sign that they're not only wrong and dangerous but completely morally bankrupt.
  • The Executioner:
    • Initially, The Mafia serves this role. The series was kicked off when Mack Bolan's father went insane and killed himself and his family after the Mafia's Loan Sharks drove him to bankruptcy and his daughter to prostitution. This provoked Bolan's retaliatory crusade, not only against the Mafia family responsible for this, but the entire community.
    • As the series goes on and as Bolan is eventually recruited by the U.S. government, the villains become more diversified, bringing in everything from Soviets to international and domestic terrorists to Third World dictators, as well as different organized crime syndicates. The most notable of the new recurring villains is MERGE, an international crime syndicate formed by elements of The Mafia, the Corsican milieu, the Colombian drug cartels, and the Mexican Mafia.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Peacekeepers from Farscape fulfill this rather nicely. They hunt down the main protagonist for two seasons under one crazy commander after another for what amounts to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And then things get worse.
  • There's hardly a person in Andromeda who doesn't hate and fear the Magog. Being the followers of the living embodiment of a dead galaxy, those reactions are well earned.
  • In Babylon 5, the Raiders fulfill this for a while, until they are promptly defeated for good about halfway through the first season. Afterwards, it uses different adversaries.
  • Stargate SG-1, of course, has the Goa'uld. They're the main antagonists of the series for the first eight seasons, even after more powerful aliens like the Replicators appear. In the last two seasons, their empire has been torn down and a new alien race becomes the main threat: however, they remain as a lesser but still dangerous antagonist, and the final TV movie that closes the series revolves around putting down their last System Lord. They're also loathed throughout the galaxy by heroes and villains alike. Best summed up in season 3 when a bounty hunter coerces SG-1 into capturing one of them:
    Aris Boch: What's the big deal? It's a Goa'uld. I hate 'em. You hate 'em. Everybody hates Goa'uld!
  • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith occupy the same place in this series and in the Pegasus galaxy that the Goa'uld do in SG-1 and in the Milky Way.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Borg became this over the course of many years. Also, the Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, and multiple other races of Rubber-Forehead Aliens that seem to have more evil members running around than good.
    • The Romulans were closest to this trope in the series overall; the Borg made relatively few appearances, the Klingons weren't enemies anymore (though individual Klingons often were), the Ferengi were quickly pushed aside, and the Cardassians only showed up towards the end of the series.
    • By the time of late Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the defining bad guys were the Dominion and Cardassians, with an occasional side order of Breen. Amusingly, the actual Dominion soldiers, while feared, were also treated with respect and even given honourable burials; it was their bureaucrats, the Vorta, who tended to annoy and frustrate everyone, including people on the same side!
    • Star Trek: Voyager had an evolving menu of typical adversaries, owing to the quadrant-spanning journey of the Voyager bringing them close to different civilizations with different territories. The first regulars were the Kazon (particularly the Nistrim sect). The organ-stealing Viidians showed up shortly afterward, but they stopped being a threat after the Think Tank devised a solution to the problem of their continual biological degradation. The Hierarchy showed up every now and again, but never proved to be a persistent threat. The garbage-towing Malon were also an occasional problem. The last group of recurring enemies to encounter the Voyager were the Borg, who occupied the largest expanses of territory in the Delta Quadrant, and Species 8472, their strongest rivals and natives of fluidic space.
    • The Star Trek: Lower Decks, fittingly for its Denser and Wackier nature, makes this trope out of the Pakleds of all species. Despite their low intelligence, they seize a host of alien technology, destroy Starfleet vessels and the Cerritos on the ropes in the season 1 finale. They are only defeated thanks to a Big Damn Heroes moment from Captain Riker's ''Titan'', which takes the task of managing the threat in season 2.
  • On Person of Interest this role was fulfilled by the Dirty Cops of HR. They are the villains in the pilot episode and they end up being behind many of the life-or-death situations that the main characters are trying to resolve. From time to time the Russian mob or Elias's resurgent Italian mob show up, usually as the alies or enemies of HR. When HR is finally defeated, the role of the usual adversary is taken over by Vigillance, a group of pro-privacy Western Terrorists. The agents of the nefarious organization Decima start showing up more regularly as the third season progresses until the season finale reveals that Decima actually created Vigilance as an Unwitting Pawn in its master plan.
  • Daleks from Doctor Who. To put it simply, between the old series and the new series, a Time War was waged between Daleks and Time Lords where the Doctor himself was explicitly the only survivor. This was quickly proved wrong as Daleks started appearing across the universe, solidifying their Joker Immunity.
    • Cybermen, Sontarans and other Time Lords (especially The Master) are also common sights.
    • Catherine Tate claimed she was originally reluctant to join Doctor Who, as she believed it was literally always the Daleks.
    • The Third Doctor faced The Master in literally every one of the five stories in season 8.
  • While both major sides of the Alliance/Independent conflict in Firefly may see each other as this, no one likes the Reavers. Though in their case, it's more fear than true hatred. They turn out in the Big Damn Movie to have been created by the Alliance by mistake when they sought to experiment on a planet's population with a drug meant to curb aggression, but which led to nearly every one of them being so unmotivated to do anything that they simply lay down and died. The Reavers were those who had the opposite reaction to the drug in question, becoming psychopathically violent.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the most commonly recurring enemy type for our heroes is...Well, take a wild guess.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy has the Beastmen. While all villainous factions have low to mid level subfactions that take turns as the Monster of the Week in various campaigns, RPG scenarios, novels, and video games, there's still usually the idea that they can pose a significant threat to the major "good" powers when properly organized, and they've all had great victories worth speaking of (especially the Skaven, Warriors of Chaos, and Greenskins). Not the Beastmen. They're considered low-level cannon fodder both in and out of universe (even the Chaos Gods themselves consider Beastmen The Unfavorite compared to their human, elven, and dwarf followers), being basically equivalent to Iron Age human tribes with a handful of megafauna and magic users thrown in... in a setting where the base is more-or-less set by the protagonist faction being an early modern power with mass-produced plate armor, muskets, and cannons. The only reason they receive any focus at all is that they infest almost every forest in the world, especially the Empire's forests where Beastmen tribes harass every village and township, thus they're a constant low-level threat mostly combated by local militias. On the rare occasion that they do form armies, they tend to consist of 10 to 20 thousand poorly-disciplined and ill-equipped combatants and can usually be put to flight by the forces of a single mid-sized entity like a Bretonnian dukedom or Empire electoral province (each of those powers having more than ten of each). They're at their most significant as a threat whenever a Chaos Everchosen is out and about, as a disproportionate number of Beastmen flock to his banner, but even then they're considered the lowest-level troops and comprise the first line of the Chaos hordes (they do already exist inside the borders of Chaos's main enemies and can strike soft targets, which makes them moderately threatening).
    • Their 8e army book is instructive. Supposedly, these books list great feats of badassery for the army they're explaining/advertising, to make the player hyped about using them. For example, the Empire taking the lead in repulsing a continent-scale invasion in the Great War Against Chaos, or the Greenskins overwhelming the (weakened) former dwarf empire in the Goblin Wars. The best the Beastmen have to offer (on their own, without an Everchosen around) is Gorthor's campaign, when the greatest Beastlord ever almost managed to overwhelm two of the Empire's electoral provinces (because the bulk of their troops were busy elsewhere) before being defeated.
    • The goblins are also an example. Usually they're found as Cannon Fodder in the armies of the Orcs and Ogres, but independent goblins tribes do exist and are a recurring problem for civilized races in the countryside. Without their Orc and Ogre overlords to lend leadership and mass, their armies are even less of a threat than the Beastmen on both a quantitative and qualitative level (picture bands of cowardly sub-five-foot Iron Age tribesmen occasionally complemented by a weak magician and monstrous animals like giant spiders), but they're still more than numerous enough to cause problems for underdefended regions. In the novels, games, and campaign books, they either serve as Starter Villain types or serve as the main antagonists by virtue of the protagonist faction's real armies being busy elsewhere, leaving the heroes to fight them with scraps. In the RPG they're a generic weak enemy that you can throw in anywhere with basically no justification needed. They even come come in variants, including Common Goblins (as it sounds), Night Goblins (mountain dwellers), and Forest Goblins (forest dwellers, and rivals of the Beastmen).
  • Any faction in Warhammer 40,000 would count, though a few stand out because they're easy to write as a faceless, looming threat:
    • Orks, specifically because they reproduce by dying, and are the most numerous species in the galaxy. They're the former trope namer for a reason, able to fill in any role from "merciless big bads" to "comic relief starter villains" and everything in-between in equal measure. Orks especially fit this trope because they were the first Xenos race encountered by the Imperium - a probe sent out from Terra 14,000 years ago is still picking up transmissions from the howling brutes as it travels throughout the galaxy. It seems that wherever humans go in the cold, dark universe and whatever horrors they find, there will also be Orks out there waiting for them, looking for a scrap.
    • Chaos Cultists, because they're the most numerous faction of the biggest evil in the galaxy. Within that group, you're more likely to see Khorne cultists than any of the others simply because they don't usually have a plan more complex than "kill things" so they're easy to write.
    • Tyranids, because of sheer overwhelming numbers...
    • Necrons, who are very well hidden on numerous worlds across the galaxy, and wake to go on unstoppable rampages.
    • Individual armies have these too. For example, Cadians really hate Chaos as their planet is the first in line whenever a Black Crusade starts up, Crimson Fists and Valhallans had their homeworlds invaded by orks, Khornates hate Slaaneshi and vice versa... Asdrubael Vect, leader of the Dark Eldar, uses his profound knowledge of every race in the galaxy to apply The Usual Adversaries no matter who they're fighting.
    • The Imperium can be this from the perspective of everyone else. It supposedly has several dozen protectorates and potentially a few hundred allies and neutral xenos species, but they don't come up in the stories. Usually what the readers see is that anyone else exploring the galaxy is going to run into an awful lot of heavily armed, theocratic mass murderers who view their very existence as an insult to the God-Emperor.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The vast majority of D&D games take place at low levels and thus almost inevitably involve the party fight the same groups of low level enemies: bandits, Wolves, kobolds, goblins, Orcs, or even some combination of the lot. As noted below, Undead are also common.
    • Although it depends on the setting, undead are typically portrayed as the most hated creature type in the setting, even above actual demons and devils (probably because the average mortal is a lot more likely to encounter the former, to be fair). Basically any God that isn't explicitly associated with Necromancy probably hates the undead, and even Neutral deities may encourage their destruction. A quote from a cleric states that he fights dragons because he wants to. He fights undead because he has to.
      • It's also likely that undead show up in campaigns so often because they're one of the best fleshed out types of monsters in most editions of D&D. There is a laundry list of types, ranging from weak things like zombies and skeletons all the way up to Vampires and Liches. They all theme well together, allowing the DM to mix and match with basically any types of undead to appear together and can work as either hordes or individual enemies, and have a wide range of interesting powers and abilities.
  • The Coalition from Rifts.
    • Tolkeen was a peaceful, accepting, integrated kingdom in a mainly magic-based society. The Coalition States went to war with them, forcing them to leap off the Moral Event Horizon in an effort to survive. It ultimately failed. This is not the first time the Coalition has done this. Similarly, Free Quebec was actually a member of the Coalition, but felt they were getting sidelined, and quite possibly lied to, by the Coalition's leaders. All their suspicious were absolutely true, resulting in a costly war between what should have been natural allies. Even for those who think the Coalition might be right, they're hard to love.
    • At the same time, Chi-Town (founder and seat of power for the Coalition) was pretty tolerant and open until Nostrous Dunscon decided to declare war on them and fling hellish magical Nightmare Fuel at them. Kinda hard to blame them for thinking magic was evil after that.
  • Part Time Gods (from Third Eye Games) has Pucks. It doesn't help that not only are they one of the only Always Chaotic Evil Outsider races in existence, or that they're incredibly clever: It's that they also have the the ability to absorb Dominions, meaning that a sufficiently clever group can become a divine pantheon in it's own right.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse the Garou player characters often have to fight neverending hordes of banes (especially scrags), along with the heaps of fomori and Black Spiral Dancers.
  • In Exalted, some player character splats can be each others' Usual Adversaries. Notable are the Dragon-Blooded Dynasts and their Wyld Hunt, constantly trying to kill the Solar Exalted and their reincarnations over and over.
  • Homeline's Infinity and Centrum's Interworld Service serve as this for each other in GURPS Infinite Worlds, as their respective worlds are the only ones that have full access to parachronic tech. They are directly competing against one another to spread their influence and secure any potential "back doors" into their homeworlds.

    Video Games 
  • Outside of the usual Warhammer 40,000 punching bags such as Orks and cultists, Dawn of War somewhat bizarrely uses the Alpha Legion as generic Chaos enemies to fight. In canon, they are characterised as schemers with mysterious goals who specialise at infiltration, terrorism and subversion. Fans have come up with a few theories explaining this discrepancy in characterisation.
  • Packs of Mandalorian raiders often show up in the first Knights of the Old Republic.
    • Its sequel has Bounty Hunters antagonizing you at practically every location, largely due to the bounty on your head.
  • The Heartless from Kingdom Hearts, which are indirectly responsible for everything that happens in both this game and its sequel.
  • From Final Fantasy XI: While it can be applied to Beastmen as a whole, it's generally Quadav, Orcs, and Yagudo for Bastok, San d'Oria, and Windurst respectively.
    • And the Goblins fit this trope generally — they're just everywhere.
    • Meanwhile, Aht Urhgan is almost constantly Besieged by Mamool Ja, Trolls, Lamiae and their Undead Mooks. Yeah, those folks have a real talent for PR.
  • Tsukihime: Vampires. Except Arcueid. Mainly because all the vampires shown except Arc are completely fucking insane and very deadly. Arc, on the other hand, is a cheerful, huggable Cloudcuckoolander. Unless you're Ciel or have any connection with her at all.
  • The Noxians inside League of Legends have a general belief in Chaotic Evil and success by whatever means necessary, causing them to support and aid many clearly bad people to become champions inside the universe, or harm many others which then pisses them off enough to become champions also.
  • Halo has the Covenant as the one enemy faction that has appeared in almost every single game. In contrast, the Flood appear in the original trilogy, Halo Wars, and Halo Wars 2's DLC, but have been absent in every other game with the exception of the "Flood" multiplayer gametype and Halo: Spartan Assault's co-op mode, both of which are presented in-universe as nothing more than training simulations. Forerunner automatons have appeared more often, but are still completely absent in Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. While the Covenant are technically replaced by the Banished in Halo Wars 2 (with the latter actually originating as an anti-Covenant rebellion), it just so happens that both factions are made up of mostly the same species and have relatively similar technology.
  • The Green Beret from Commandos: Strike Force occasionally mutters "Damn Nazis!"
  • Cyborgs in The Dishwasher. By the time of the game, about the only people that like them are themselves and the people trying to use them. About the only sympathetic cyborg we see is Yuki, the Dishwasher's stepsister. And even then, only for a time.
  • Touhou has the Fairies. While sometimes justified in their actions when they're stated to be guarding a certain area, usually they by and large seem to have no aim in life other than to wear you down before you face the boss of the current stage. They are nowhere near the nastiness of other examples in this page, it's just the thing fairies do. Oh, and don't feel bad about shooting them down, they are effectively immortal and the combat is non-lethal anyway.
  • Just about every canon campaign in Battle for Wesnoth has the player fighting either Orcs or the undead at some point. Even the one in which the protagonist is a necromancer. And the campaign in which the protagonist is an Orcish warlord.
  • The varied and sundry species of Windbag in Bastion, which are all technically different stages in the lifecycle of the same lifeform. They used to live underground and not bother humanity much, but now there's no underground left and they're vaguely aware it's humanity's fault, so they're sort of pissed. Also, humans kind of use Windbag nurseries as power sources, which they're probably not thrilled about either.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the Fiends serve as this. The player can accept bounties on their leaders that will end up weakening them and lead to their defeat in the epilogue. Notable because, unlike the other raider tribes in the game such as the Vipers, Jackals, Powder Gangers, Khans, Scorpions, and White Legs, the Fiends have very little in the way of backstory and no real reason for being so numerous. They're also one of the few enemy factions to respawn continuously.
    • Fallout 3's generic "Raider" NPCs are the franchise's best example. There are literally thousands of them, but no interactions are possible other than killing. They're mindlessly hostile to every other entity in the game. There's no indication of how they sustain themselves, what they want, where they came from, or why they completely outnumber the inhabitants of all of the settlements, nor are they involved in the main story or even a single sidequest. They don't even get unique factional identities like the various gangs/tribes in New Vegas, 1, and 2. 3 also has, depending on your karma, Talon Company mercenaries or Regulator vigilantes, both of whom will try to hunt you down for doing good/doing bad (though the Talon Company are always present at some locations and hostile; the Regulators only start appearing if you have bad Karma.)
    • For the Fallout series as a whole, the Khans serve this purpose, having been enemies of the NCR since the very beginning and continually surviving despite being nearly purged by both the Vault Dweller and the Chosen One (though the Courier can potentially finish the job). The other contenders are Super Mutants, who were the main villains of the first game but lost all plot relevance after their defeat there, becoming basically Always Chaotic Evil Orcs (besides those at Broken Hills and Jacobstown) who seemingly pop out of nowhere to attack random people throughout the wastes with no central direction. By New Vegas, however, that the Super Mutants are for the most part trying to settle down away from humans, both peacefully (Jacobstown) and by way of shooting any humans who come nearby (Black Mountain). The exception being Davison's group, who act as antagonists early on.
    • Raiders, Gunners, and Super Mutants serve this role no matter what faction you pick in Fallout 4. The Institute and the Synths under their control serve as the main, plot-relevant enemy if you pick any faction but them, and certain sidequests have their own unique antagonistic factions, but you'll still spend the vast majority of the game fighting the former three groups instead. Like 3, it's never explained how the Raiders or Gunners became so numerous nor can you really interact with them, and Super Mutants have even less plot relevance here than in 3 as they're simply another Institute bioweapon project.
  • Orcs (duh!) in Orcs Must Die!.
  • Persona:
  • In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty, the Tal'darim fill this role, having little plot relevance and a Card-Carrying Villain personality. In some missions, the Taldarim make over the top threats ("We will pursue you to the end of the universe, James Raynor!"), to which Raynor reacts with merely annoyance. They're mainly there to pad out side missions and give you protoss enemies to fight, because Raynor is canonically allied with the main protoss faction at this point. Raynor spends most missions fighting the Zerg Swarm, and even fights the Terran Dominion more than the Tal'darim. In Heart of the Swarm, we learn that the Tal'darim and Narud were in league with each other.
  • The Diablo series, as one can probably guess, primarily has the demons of the Burning Hells in this role, though undead are also a big threat early on.
    • The Dark Coven led by Maghda causes a lot of your problems early on in Diablo III before the demons proper take over the role for the rest of the game.
    • Then in Reaper of Souls, the Reapers of Malthael become your number one enemy, abating only for a while when you go after Adria in the Blood Marsh to settle the score with her for the end of Act III.
  • A few races in World of Warcraft.
    • First, trolls. They have different subspecies present in every continent, all of which have a instance dedicated to destroy their empire. Every expansion has added new trolls to kill, to the point that players are now expecting a troll raid dungeon for every new content. Not too bad at first, it becomes especially noticeable in Burning Crusade, where the story stops being about fighting demons and other new enemies in an alien world to be about fighting the same old trolls back home, and in Cataclysm, where the players have to stop fighting a global war against the other faction as well as a world-endangering alliance of several independent factions working for the Old Gods to defeat two troll empires that they have already defeated in the past. After Mists, the game took a break with trolls for two expansions... only for them to come back with a bang in Battle for Azeroth, which has an entire continent full of trolls, and not one, but two troll raids.
    • Then, ogres. They don't have as many instances dedicated to kill them as trolls, but they make up for it by being everywhere, including in places where they couldn't possibly be (Gilneas and Kalimdor). They're also in practically every mercenary and criminal organization. Pretty good for a species that's not even from this world.
    • Murlocs, barely-sentient fish-men who lurk around beaches and rivers almost everywhere. They were the standard mooks of Warcraft III and this extended to World of Warcraft and even the Hearthstone card game.
    • Minions of the Old Gods, the residential Eldritch Abominations, are a more threatening variation of this trope. The Old Gods (so far) have never been the main villains of the entire expansion, yet their minions are always somewhere around, either helping/manipulating the actual main antagonist (Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria) or taking advantage of the chaos to further their own agenda (Wrath of the Lich King, Legion). So no matter the expansion, you will eventually have to deal with crazy cultists, Faceless, some Big Creepy-Crawlies and naga. Unless it takes place outside of Azeroth, that is, in which case you'll fight the servants of the Void (which created the Old Gods), who are also crazy and want to devour the universe, but are mostly Living Shadows rather than anything biological.
  • I Miss the Sunrise has Lessers, a highly aggressive and unintelligible subrace of the lacertians.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The series in general has bandits. Sometimes they're called a different name (smugglers, brigands, etc.) but they always fill the niche of low-end generic enemies with Hard-Coded Hostility that populate the games' many caves and ruins.
    • Morrowind has the many varieties of lesser Dagoth creatures who serve Dagoth Ur. Following the main quest means slaughtering them by the hundreds.
    • Oblivion has the Dremora, an intelligent race of lesser Daedra, who are the primary Mooks in the Legions of Hell of Big Bad Mehrunes Dagon. As you make your way through the main quest, you'll kill more than you can keep count.
    • Skyrim: Bandits are everywhere, outnumbering both sides of the Civil War and all of the game's civilians combined. They're also not too bright because, since you're the Dragonborn, the bandits are almost literally Bullying a Dragon. The game has plenty of undead as well (particularly Draugrs), who are more capital-E Evil, but at least they tend to stay in their crypts and don't bother anyone who doesn't go looking for trouble.
  • EverQuest is set up so that most individual cities have Usual Adversaries. Freeport has the Deathfist orcs, Qeynos and Halas have the Blackburrow gnolls, Kaladim has the kragplooms, Felwithe and Kelethin have the Crushbone orcs, Oggok has the Tae Ew lizardmen, Grobb has the frogloks of Guk, and Erudin and Ak'Anon have wild kobolds.
  • The Dawn of War series and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine have Space Marines, Orks, Chaos Space Marines, and Eldar duking it out on every world from here to Eye of Terror and back. Occasionally some combination of Tau, Imperial Guard, Necrons, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, and Sisters of Battle join the fray. Because of the Grimdark, most or all of them are working against each other at any and all times.
  • In Rift, it's...well, make a wild guess. And, by extension, invasions. (Additionally, each faction seems to view the other side as this.)
  • In BioShock, Atlas tells the player to grab a crowbar or something to defend himself; Johnny wasn't so lucky against the most common threat in Rapture.
    Atlas: Goddamn Splicers!
  • For PAYDAY 2, Gensec fills this role, being responsible for a lot of the security software and hardware that the Payday gang has to bypass. They begin to take a more traditional approach to this role when their private security forces show up to stop you.
  • Each of the games in the Dragon Age series has a different usual adversary to make your life miserable:
    • The Darkspawn in Dragon Age: Origins are the bogeymen of the setting, an embodiment of a magical curse upon Thedas. Fortunately, they don't show up on the surface often because they are too disorganized and chaotic unless they are united under an Archdemon who leads them on a Blight. Unfortunately, the game takes place during the beginning of the Fifth Blight. They are by far the most common adversary in this game.
    • Kirkwall in Dragon Age II is a hotbed of rising tensions between mages and templars, and it shows. Blood mages are the most frequently encountered source of trouble for poor Hawke, to the point that they lampshade it in the sequel when Blood Magic causes more problems.
    • A gigantic Breach in the Veil has opened up in the skies of Thedas in Dragon Age: Inquisition, spewing forth demons aplenty. Smaller Rifts also dot the landscape, and only the Inquisitor can seal them. After the first Act, the Elder One's forces take center stage. Whether or not he has more Venatori mages or Red Templars depends on a choice made in Act One.
    • Throughout the series, Tevinter mages are more often than not hostile encounters to our heroes, whether they are slavers or random thugs. Even in the third game, where you actually encounter good Tevinter mages, you still fight against Tevinters that allied themselves to the Big Bad.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2: the Collectors are the story's primary villains, with the geth also being relevant secondary villains connected to the plot, and some sidequests have their own unique antagonists. But for the vast majority of the game you're just fighting unrelated mercenaries who happen to be in the way of something a character wants or who are randomly kicking the dog near you in sidequests. They consist of the Blood Pack, Blue Suns, and Eclipse; some missions pit you against all three.
    • Mass Effect 3: Cerberus forces (who have been indoctrinated) are the most common enemy faction in the game from the player's perspective, despite In-Universe being tiny and insignificant. Shepard's team often come to blows with them in various missions that do not otherwise involve them from any logical plot standpoint, solely to throw in combat sequences; their involvement in the Tuchanka arc and Citadel coup are particularly notable since, unlike the other main missions involving them, their leader doesn't even give a reason as to why they were there. Shepard can't ask him, either.
  • Absolutely nobody in Spellforce III likes the Purity, and almost every mission past the first story chapter has them as the primary antagonists no matter which faction you choose to lead into battle.
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance has the Cumans, mercenaries and bandits that comprise the the invading army of King Sigismund of Hungary. Their seemingly endless numbers is explained as there being more of them hired and deployed as time goes on, which makes things all the more urgent for your side because those loyal to Wenceslaus have finite numbers.
  • Jedi Academy's regular missions aren't really a part of the plot, but most of them still involve the game's main enemies, the Disciples of Ragnos, or the Imperial Remnant that's allied with them, trying to do some generically adversarial stuff like terrorism or weapon smuggling.
  • Genshin Impact: Most enemy factions from launch have fallen Out of Focus and been replaced with ones that are more regional but significantly more dangerous as part of the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. Unsurprisingly, both halves of the Big Bad Ensemble are an exception to this, but one (the Abyss Order) rarely elicits any groans because ever since the prologue they've primarily posed a threat in stories that have to do with the Driving Question of what happened to the Traveler's sibling and why. Not the Fatui, who are of equal prominence in every nation and are often revealed to be involved in plots that seem to be that of another faction or individual. The fact that they show up in unexpected places has been pointed out at least once, and as they're instigators of so many conflicts, when the main characters encounter them they have a tendency to assume they're responsible for whatever problem they're trying to solve, even when they're not.
  • Escape Velocity: Space Pirates, no matter the game. Pirates (under different names depending on game/group) are hostile to everyone other than themselves and tend to be the enemy for cargo missions and secondary storylines. You can join pirate factions in Overridenote , but of the three main pirate factions, one (the South Tip Renegades) remains hostile and even serves as the main enemy of one of the pirate storylines.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Ian from The Descendants absolutely hates anything that comes from Faerie.
  • In RWBY, no matter how many human (and other) adversaries come and go, there's always the Grimm.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Goddamn Orks