Follow TV Tropes


This Index Is Expendable

Go To

Commander: Okay, let's see if I've got this right.... The kid's about to attack, and when he does, you want me to....
Mook: Surrender, sir.
Commander: Why would I do that?
Mook: Cuz sir, if we fight him, we're all gonna die.
Commander: What gave you that crazy idea?
Mook: Sir, I've checked around and no one aboard this ship has a name.
Commander: So what?
Mook: So it means we're goons! Faceless cannon fodder!
Commander: Bah! You have no proof of that!
Mook: Sir, in case you haven't noticed.... EVERYBODY ABOARD THIS SHIP IS WEARING A RED SHIRT!
Commander: Bah! Sheer coincidence!
Commander: Bah! you're just cracking under the pressure, lad. Just relax. Here, let me show you something. It's a picture of my wife and kids! Ain't they something? They're the reason I'm here. I'm fighting for them. I ain't going to let them down.
Mook: Well, nice knowing you captain.
Episode 345 of Captain SNES: The Game Masta

Sometimes a story will have loads and loads of generic characters; they could be soldiers, warriors, monsters, anything. They either exist as enemies for the hero to blow through on his way to the Big Bad or as his friends (but never actually of the True Companions) to die to show how serious matters have become. Either way, the deal is they're expendable.

See also Sorting Algorithm of Mortality.


  • Anyone Can Die: Everyone is expendable, and not even the main characters are completely or permanently protected by Plot Armor.
    • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The story ends with (almost) everyone dying, which is common for works of horror and tragedy.
    • The Hero Dies: When even the story's main protagonist fails to survive.
    • Sacrificial Lamb: A fairly important (yet otherwise minor) character is killed off to advance the plot.
    • Sacrificial Lion: A very important, major character gets killed in order to prove there's a mortal threat to the rest of the main cast.
  • Asshole Victim: A loathsome jerkass or villain gets killed off, just so that we can see someone die without feeling too sorry for them.
  • Cannon Fodder: Generic minor characters, typically footsoldiers of some sort given little or no unique characteristics, who exist primarily to be exposed to terrible dangers instead of the major characters.
  • Com Mons: Weak, expendable mons found early in a game, intended to serve as generic enemies or be used by beginners.
  • C-List Fodder: One-shot or minor recurring characters are killed off on the grounds that it's unlikely many people will be upset about their deaths.
  • Deadline News: A journalist falls victim to whatever dangerous situation they're reporting on.
  • Disposable Intern: The Intern or other low-ranking employee is sent off to do a dangerous job.
  • Disposable Pilot: A vehicle's driver is killed or otherwise incapacitated while transporting people.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Not many people will notice or care about what happens to prostitutes, which makes it easy for them to be killed or disappeared.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Not many people will notice or care what happens to homeless people, which makes it easy for them to be killed or disappeared.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: An Alternate Timeline/Universe undergoes an apocalyptic catastrophe, to give us an idea of what could happen to the story's "main" universe without destroying that one.
  • Expendable Clone: It's not considered a big deal when a clone dies because more can always be made.
  • Human Shield: Grabbing a hostage and threatening to kill them to dissuade enemies from attacking you.
    • Bulletproof Human Shield: Someone gets used as a live meat shield to suffer the brunt of gunfire or damage, protecting their captor from such harm.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: A character is unable to (permanently) die, which others use as an excuse to not care about doing anything to them that could cause serious harm.
  • Joggers Find Death: Someone going out for a run or walk either stumbles upon a dead body, or become one themselves.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Male death and suffering isn't considered as bad as female death and suffering.
  • Monster of the Week: A one-shot antagonist who is typically killed, captured, incapacitated, or otherwise defeated after their first appearance. If they reappear to cause more trouble, then they get to join the Rogues Gallery of recurring villains.
  • Mooks: Generic Evil Minions serving under the Big Bad, who are usually much less likely to make it through the story unscathed than their boss.
    • Faceless Goons: If they're wearing face-concealing masks or helmets, then they'll have even less of a unique identity to spare them from death.
    • Mook Horror Show: A One-Man Army slaughters their way through a large group of enemy mooks.
  • Nominal Importance: Nameless extras tend to have a higher mortality rate than even minor characters who do have a known name.
  • Red Shirt: Similar to Mooks but on the good guys' side, they often find themselves dying in place of the main protagonists.
    • Mauve Shirt: A character who seems like they're in danger of becoming another expendable underling is developed enough that they're somewhat safer from being killed off.
    • Red Shirt Army: An entire group of nameless troops get wiped out by the enemy.
  • Rental Car Abuse: Someone rents a car and acts as if the car being a rental means that it's not their problem if the car gets damaged.
  • Sacrificial Planet: An entire planet or other astronomic body is destroyed, in order to prove there's a world-ending threat which could do the same to Earth if they wanted to.
    • Pluto Is Expendable: Since Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet rather than a true planet, Pluto can be blown up in lieu of any of the larger bodies of the Solar System.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Someone's loved one is killed off in order to motivate them to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Victim of the Week: An Innocent Bystander (or Asshole Victim) gets attacked (and killed) by the Villain of the Week to prove the threat they pose.
  • We Have Reserves: As long as the underlings can be quickly and easily replaced, the boss doesn't care if any of them die.
  • You Have Failed Me: An Evil Minion will find out that their life is forfeit if they disappoint their boss through severe incompetence.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A villain's henchman learns that their services (and life) are no longer needed after they've (successfully) completed their final task.

Alternative Title(s): Mook Tropes, Red Shirt Tropes