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"Hu... well... it's never 'a kobold'.... It's invariably — lots of kobolds."
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Defeating a strong opponent with a very large number of disposable combatants. Usually used by the evil side, since their definition of "disposable" will stretch a lot farther.

As an Evil Overlord, it is important to choose your Evil Minions so that this does not apply to your troops, since it usually doesn't work against heroes.

The Trope Namer is the popular real-time strategy game StarCraft; the original meaning of the term was more a form of Sequence Breaking where the Zerg race "rushed" to an attacking unit technology and invaded to take out all the Worker Units of their opponents. It evolved into the current definition by Memetic Mutation.

See also Death of a Thousand Cuts and We Have Reserves. May lead to The War Sequence. Often a component of Hollywood Tactics. Contrast the Elite Army. Sub-Trope of Quantity vs. Quality.

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Examples with their own pages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Knightfall involved Bane throwing villain after villain for Batman to defeat in order to wear him down both physically and mentally. This results in Batman being easy pickings for Bane who proceeds to deliver a No Holds Barred Beat Down to Bats, breaking his back.
    • Krypton No More: Superman and Supergirl fight a warrior alien race called the J'ai whose favorite strategy is multiplying until they overwhelm their enemy by sheer force of numbers.
    • Death & the Family: Insect Queen protects her hive-like lair by overwhelming hostile forces with huge swarms of giant insects.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Villainy Inc. is able to capture Queen Hippolyte by setting a bunch of the inmates of Reformation Island to ambush her.
  • Dungeon Twilight The Big Bad simply throw a billion of conscripted soldiers at his enemies who can breath without his magic. Even though the heroes have a Badass Army of their own and fire power in an age of sword, they have to surrender after the first wave.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Captain America: In the Civil War (2006) issues, Steve mentions that most HYDRA mooks have no hand-to-hand combat training, and their strategy of choice is to overwhelm the opponent by sheer strength of numbers and weaponry. He also points out that this generally translates to no regard for human life.
    • Immortal Iron Fist: Part of Bride of Nine Spiders' combat style. Hydra under Xao's leadership operates in a similar matter, simply throwing endless bodies at the heroes which proves rather effective if wasteful.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: The final battle is the remaining Wreckers Zerg Rushing Overlord in a desperate last ditch attempt to take him down, not because they couldn't come up with a better strategy but simply because that was the only way they could hope to beat him. It still takes Ironfist blowing him apart from the inside and Impactor giving one last beatdown to finally put him down for good. Even then by the end of the fight Impactor, Verity Carlo, Ironfist, Kup, and Perceptor are the only Wreckers who aren't dead or horrifically wounded.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One strip shows an amoeba army with the strategy "divide and conquer". Another uses the same joke with multi level marketing, "Just keep dividing and selling!"

    Religion and Mythology 
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    Pinball 
  • Zen Pinball: Several tables have a mode where small figures of enemies will pop up directly on the playfield and begin advancing relentlessly towards the flippers. Whether it be xenomorphs in Aliens, vikings in Castle Storm, zombies in Plants vs. Zombies Pinball or Walkers from The Walking Dead, you'll be scrambling to knock down all the enemies with the ball while hoping it doesn't bounce straight down the middle.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Vampire Lord can send out a swarm of bats from his cape to attack.
  • DSBT InsaniT: This is the main means of attack by the Biting Blue Fish.
  • RWBY: The general strategy of the Grimm. While even novice huntsmen can cleave through packs of younger Grimm with ease, the sheer number of Grimm means that they will eventually overwhelm a defender if they prolong the assault. They launch continuous, relentless attacks, with each subsequent attack being worse and worse as the negative emotions caused by the previous attacks attract more Grimm to the area. And that's just the little ones...
  • Table Top: Nika Harper's strategy in the Stone Age episode is to prioritise using the breeder to create more meeples without developing her tribe's agriculture or tool-making, a tactic which she explicitly calls "zerging".
  • Put into action in this simulation of twenty Tyrannosaurus rex against ten thousand angry chickens.

    Webcomics 
  • Charby the Vampirate: King Rodericke's subjects stream out of the caves in which the Vampire Kingdom resides in waves to take on Zerlocke. Unfortunately for them he is functionally immortal, luckily for Rodericke he's not actually trying to defeat the Kingdom.
  • Debugging Destiny: Ignacia triggers one by sending all the people she has dominated with her Hypnotic Eyes to stop King from escaping her lair.
  • Endstone: At one point, the main characters are five of the greatest fighters in the world, but the toads are legion enough to wear them down through numbers.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Among its many, many other defenses, Castle Heterodyne can resort to unleashing every clank and construct abomination in its bowels at an aggressor.
    • Agatha's Dingbots tend to use this when making repairs or otherwise assisting her. They are individually tiny and only have one or two tools each but there are a lot of them and they seem to have a Hive Mind of sorts so they can work together to solve quite complex problems.
  • Homestuck:
    • The primary tactic of Felt members Eggs and Biscuits is to use their respective time-traveling implements in tandem to swarm enemies. With themselves.
    • Vriska and Meenah raise up a ghost army to bring down the Big Bad, who happens to also be a Physical God, by swarming him with every ghost they can find in the afterlife.
  • The Noob: The people the characters are fighting in one strip are a merger of many anti-PvP guilds, whose players inevitably suck, but there are many of them.
  • The Order of the Stick: Redcloak's main tactic in his assault on Azure City is to drown the human defenders, who have better training and equipment, under an endless tide of hobgoblins, until he is on the receiving end of a Diving Save Taking the Bullet and realizes that he is sacrificing actual lives to fulfill a grudge. Later on, some of the city's survivors decide to try to slow down the horde at a choke point (seen in the trope picture to the right). The enemy just rushes the hole and tramples them before they can so much as raise their swords.
  • Outsider: The Umiak's primary strategy during wartime. In one battle, Umiak warships outnumbered the Loroi fleet nearly three to one. Later on, the Umiak begin to invade Loroi space with enormous numbers of ships of all types, which is referred to as a "gate-crasher" attack.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The resurrected ancient oafans have enough warships that they were able to find a top-secret battlefleet by using a brute-force search pattern on the entire galaxy.
    Descension Fleetarch: If it makes you feel any better, you were in the last place we looked.
  • Second Empire: The First Empire's invasion of Ziragalen. When first seen from afar, there are so many Daleks massed in the first strike, they are mistaken for a storm.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The Maraudites of Stick Figure use this, but combined with acid blood, this makes for an unforeseen disadvantage.
    • In the "Aylee" chapter, this seemed to be the only tactic the "ghouls" in an alternative dimension had against the humans. The humans had high-tech weapons, but were still somehow driven into exile in orbit by the sheer numbers which the unarmed ghouls could muster to rush at them in. They also used this tactic in the decisive final battle when attacking a critical point.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The crew has to deal with a horde made of ghosts and trolls in Chapter 13. The trolls are individually easy to kill, but only about half the crew of six is available to do so, and more just keep coming. Lalli has to deal with a stronger ghost that Reynir's new protection runes are unable to keep away, while Reynir himself has to stay hidden along with Tuuri because being around trolls is much more dangerous for them than for everyone else.

    Web Original 
  • Destroy the Godmodder: Frequently used, It's worth noting that the actual Zerg were summoned in both 1 and 2.
  • GameFAQs: The contests at times face this when dealing with outside rallies, that at times only fail when instead of sheer numbers the "invaders" resort to vote stuffing. Twice it favored Blizzard — StarCraft had a great run in a games contest before bowing down to Super Smash Bros. Melee, Diablo reached the semifinals of Got Villains before Ganondorf proved too much - and the 2013 contest reached Hostile Show Takeover by a Reddit swarm interested in getting a title for League of Legends character Draven (on a lesser note, another games contest was won by Undertale due to the game's fans rallying for it, while also featuring Smash Bros fans rallying for Melee and making it beat Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII). By the next contest in 2018, the site's own made sure to show Draven was nothing without his legion of trolls by anti-voting him to oblivion in his only match.
  • Hamster's Paradise: The Harmsters would evolve with this strategy in mind as they frequently reproduce in large numbers and mature quickly as a way of coping with a high mortality rate. This led to them placing no value on the lives of their fellows or even developing medicine since they could be easily replaced. One of their civilizations, the Bruteriders, would also use this as their primary military strategy when they begin their goal of global conquest, just overwhelm the enemy with swarms of soldiers, projectiles and Brutes once their rakatusks bring down the fortress walls. This served them well until they go against the calculating and technologically advanced Rockcookers, these Harmsters eschewed mindless horde tactics in favor of complex plans and strategies and quickly learn to target the rakatusks with artillery before they get close enough to do any damage, completely foiling the Bruteriders who had become reliant on this method and fall apart when one artillery strike fatally injures their leader.
  • Open Blue: This is the primary tactic of the Yamani Empire. The Zerg Rush, combined with bushido.
  • The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: Whiro's minions are a swarm of mosquitos and sand flies that use this technique.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: In several episodes, Zapp Brannigan reminisces about winning one of his many "victories" using this tactic with human troops.
    • In one occasion, he dealt with an attack by "Killbots" by just sending waves and waves of his own men against them until they filled their pre-set "kill limit" and stopped.
    • In one episode, he plans to send wave after wave of ships to clog the enemy's weapons with ship wreckage. In the resulting battle, he ends up losing half his fleet when they mistakenly attack the Hubble Space Telescope instead of the real enemy.
      Zapp: Now, like all great plans, my strategy is so simple an idiot could've devised it. On my command, all ships will line up and fly directly into the alien death cannons, clogging them with wreckage.
  • Generator Rex: This is the primary strategy of the villain No-Face, who telepathically directs all of the EVOs at strategic points to overwhelm opponents who are attempting to escape.
  • The Legend of Korra: Often pulled by the chi-blockers. An individual chi blocker is a competent and dangerous opponent even for main characters. They're skilled enough to actually win in one-on-one fights against the series' main character. A highly coordinated rush on top of that is basically overkill for most enemies.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Although individual changelings aren't particularly effective or dangerous enemies, they win their invasion of Canterlot by overwhelming the city's defenders and the main characters with an endless wave of bodies.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In "Twisted Sister", the girls get rushed by a mob of prisoners that Bunny inadvertently set free, and they're powerless to do anything about it until Bunny swoops in to save the day.
  • Richie Rich: Irona faces a group of inferior impostors all charging at her at once and she simply converts her lower body into a large roller and flattens all her attackers at once.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • A Zerg Rush gives the Monarch's Mooks a rare and costly victory over Brock Samson. It's possible because they're in the middle of partying and getting tattoos, which increases their morale enough to just dog pile him while he's distracted.
    • They later use the same tactic to bring down Guild Wasps; fighter jets piloted by Guild of Calamitous Intent Elite Mooks. They just pile on to force the Wasps to crash, and, in at least one instance, suicide dive into the engines.
  • Wakfu: The Rush is the favorite pastime of the Shushus, those who invoke it are pitted against 666 low-level Shushus until they fall. When the heroes face it, they also have the added challenge of fighting Anathar.
  • Winx Club: The Trix's strategy when laying a massive invasion then siege on Magix using the Army of Decay at the end of season one after they manage to steal the Dragon's Flame. This is possible due to the Army of Decay's sheer numbers and made worse by the fact that any injury brought upon the monsters of Decay will be in their favor — they can regenerate from mere cuts to whole limbs and, if cut in half, they would disintegrate in order to reform themselves into two monsters. Plus, there were so many of them at the start that the Army is shown to overwhelm the entirety alumni of Alfea, Cloud Tower, and Red Fountain. The only way to get rid of them is by injuring them so many times they end up unable to reform. Alternatively, you can set them on fire, arguably magical fire only, which is kind of a bluff since the only known fairy with fire powers is Bloom and she, well, is the last of her kind. Is it even necessary to say that at that point she had lost those very same fire powers?

 
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