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Nightmare Fuel / Modern Warfare

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Modern Warfare franchise | Call of Duty: Black Ops | Call of Duty: Black Ops II | Call of Duty: Black Ops III | Call of Duty: Ghosts | Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare | Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare | Call of Duty: WWII | Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) | Call of Duty: Zombies
In a world like this, the victim could easily be you.


  • The overarching theme of nuclear proliferation and the threat of the world simply ENDING at the whim of a few fanatics who have seized power...

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

  • "Shock and Awe" ends with one of the playable characters' entire unit being wiped out in a nuclear blast. If that weren't enough, you are forced to control that character and see through his eyes as he limps out of his crashed helicopter, struggles across the wasted landscape, and gasps his last ragged breath. It can be seen in all its horrific glory in this video.
    • The guy in the helicopter as it spirals out of control... the look of absolute fear on his face... then he's gone.
      • Oh, it's even worse in Remastered. Jackson tries to save the L.T., grabbing onto one of the seat supports as Volker scrambles to get a better handhold, only to vanish before Jackson's eyes as he slips into the explosion. Really, it's like if Price hadn't been able to save Soap in "Crew Expendable".
    • Worse still is the death of Captain Pelayo, the helicopter pilot you rescued just minutes ago. At the end of the previous mission, your team stops to rescue Pelayo after her helicopter crashes, even though the operator warned you that doing so would put all of you in danger close when the nuke goes off. After said nuke goes off and you crawl out of your crashed chopper, you see Pelayo on the ground, coughing and choking as she dies a slow, agonizing death. Sadly, you come to realize that the radio operator was right, and that saving Pelayo was completely pointless.
      • In Remastered, it gets even worse. Not only is Pelayo lying there, but now much of your unit is as well, slowly dying of their injuries and radiation or already dead. Lieutenant Vasquez tries to stand and walks for a few feet before collapsing while Pelayo can't do even that, lying motionless as she struggles to stay alive.
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    • If you walk into the playground near the end of that level/scene, there's the sound of happy children playing in the background, which is also used on All Gillied Up.
  • There's also plenty of instances where, unlike in most FPS games, wounded or dying enemy soldiers will still be moving around crawling, stumbling, and writhing on the ground as they slowly die - though in some cases, they fight back. Watching it is rather disturbing, and in this game you actually get an achievement for being cold-blooded enough to execute wounded enemy troops with your knife.
  • The first sign that the creators weren't screwing around is in the opening credits. Why? Because while the credits roll, you see through the eyes of the president of an unnamed Middle Eastern country as the victorious revolutionary troops drive him through a war-torn coastal city, showing civilians being gunned down by their rather menacing army without the driver even commenting to a courtyard, where you get to see the president's execution in first person.
  • Remember "Death from Above"? Fun, right? Not so much when you think about how it must've felt being the Ultranationalist troops on the ground as their comrades are suddenly disintegrated by the dozens. The application of Danger Deadpan, which implies that the player character and his fellow crewmembers actually enjoy this, does not help at all.
    • Watch some real AC-130 gunship footage sometimes. There is almost no difference between the game and the footage.
    • We see what happens on the ground during an AC-130 strike. The previous level ends with the heavily-armed plane performing a Gunship Rescue. The enemy come at the SAS with dozens of soldiers, a few tanks and vehicles and are prepared to destroy the heroes. What starts off as a Moment of Awesome becomes this if you look at the carnage too closely afterwards. Burning vehicles, corpses all over, and the survivors wandering around in an aimless haze, several of whom are on fire.
  • The Chernobyl levels All Gillied Up and One Shot, One Kill. Several parts of the levels were lifted straight from photographs of the actual site. Then there's the bits where you can faintly hear the laughter of children playing in the distance after you pass the lone dog....
    • The part where MacMillan gives that speech about what happened to Pripyat and the disaster.
    MacMillan:"Look at this place. Fifty thousand people used to live here. Now it's a ghost town. I've never seen anything like it."
  • In the first sniper mission, you have the choice to either avoid the lone wild dog or kill it. If you do kill it, you will hear a mournful howl as the Surrounded theme plays as over a dozen wild dogs come to attack you and Captain Macmillan, it is possible to kill all of them but you have to be quick.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

  • In "Team Player", try to beat the game and come back to this level, then realize that the Afghans see you exactly how you see the Russians later on.
  • The infamous airport terrorism mission "No Russian". Not only are you killing unarmed civilians, you slowly start to realize that the airport looks familiar, that it could just as easily be you.
    • Watching your "allies" during the mission is extremely disturbing. Right at the beginning when Makarov is walking through a security scanner, he effortlessly and mechanically mows down a group of security guards coming out of a room to stop you and your team. The man is no stranger to taking human lives.
    • A fan-made machinima named Inception makes No Russian even more horrifying. We get a lot of focus on the shooting itself, on the suffering and deaths of civilians and police officers as Makarov and his team mow through them mercilessly. The sound of a baby crying halfway through the massacre makes it that much more tragic and somber.
  • Taken to the next level with the Russian invasion. Imagine fighting in the Virginia suburbs, ducking in and out of Brand X versions of your favorite chain restaurants while BTRs roll down main street. And Washington gets invaded.
  • The next U.S. Invasion level Exodus gives a deeper insight of all the panic from upper middle-class suburbia. You can now enter houses and see little details such as dead bodies with a nearby suitcase, rooms with Televisions still on and set to news stations, the distant barking of dogs whose owners are probably now dead and suitcases half-stuffed with clothes. Really adds to the weight of Price's speech about The healthy human mind.
    • KILO FIVE ONE TO ALL FRIENDLY UNITS IN DC- HAMMER DOWN IS IN EFFECT, I REPEAT, HAMMER DOWN IS IN EFFECT. IF YOU RECEIVE THIS TRANSMISSION YOU ARE IN A HARDENED, HIGH-VALUE STRUCTURE. DEPLOY GREEN FLARES ON THE ROOF OF THIS STRUCTURE TO INDICATE YOU ARE STILL COMBAT-EFFECTIVE. WE WILL ABORT OUR MISSION ON DIRECT VISUAL CONTACT WITH THIS COUNTERSIGN. ...2 minutes to weapons release. The bit at the end is an Oh, Crap! moment as you realize you have less than two minutes to get to the roof of the White House before the fighters swoop in and destroy it, since it is hardened against an EMP and too valuable to fall into enemy hands.
    • Even more frightening is the fact that Hammer Down is pretty much the military's non-nuke Godzilla Threshold. That's the order when things have gotten so fucking bad that that the air force is going to level everything that could possibly be of use to the enemy, unless it can be definitively confirmed that those locations are still in friendly hands. For them to issue that kind of order, things must be going really, really bad up and down the East Coast...
  • "Loose Ends": The moment in the game, where Shepherd betrays Task Force 141 by shooting Roach in the chest, headshotting Ghost, and then tossing them both into a ditch - and Roach is still alive, mind you - , dousing them with gasoline, and setting them on fire, burning Roach alive. And you see all this through Roach's eyes. Gah!
    • The cherry on top of this is Captain Price's frantic voice on the radio shouting "Do not trust Shepherd!" — as Shepherd is lighting you on fire.
    • The Remastered takes it Up to Eleven when Roach, after being shot, grabs Shepherd's arm as the latter takes the DSM off him, only for Shepherd to callously shove him off, confirming that yes, Roach was still alive and conscious when he was set ablaze.
  • Also, seeing most of DC and Virginia in flames was incredibly shocking (particularly those who either live in the area AND serve in the military)
  • Not to mention the mission Of Their Own Accord, whose intro briefing is the Emergency Fucking Broadcast System, telling civilians to evacuate the area. It even throws in a dash of Fridge Horror with the last bit about "BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. REMAIN ALERT."
  • In the first of the DC missions, you begin in a tiny, bombed-out bunker with no normal mission start text to tell you where you are. As your squad walks out of the bunker, you see helicopters and soldiers everywhere, with the Capitol across the trenches from you. It's when you see the damaged Washington Monument that the opening text pops up: "Of Their Own Accord: Washington, D.C."
    • The emergency broadcast system advises civilians in the DC area to "Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Remain alert." It's when you think of why such advice would be necessary, and the many Russian soldiers swarming the area, that you realize the true horror in that broadcast.
    • In a small room near the entrance to the bunker, you can see a dead Russian paratrooper through a slit in the wall, with a bloodstain on the wall behind him. It's a stark indicator of just how desperate and merciless the US troops have become in response to the horrors that the Ultranationalists are inflicting on their homeland.
  • The mission "Wolverines!" qualifies big time. At first you may chuckle at the Red Dawn (1984) reference, but then you're instantly hit by the sight of a Virginia suburb that has become a war zone, with ruined houses, civilian cars and Captain Ersatz versions of familiar restaurants. It hits very close to home, especially if you happen to live in a suburb.
  • As if the broadcast system wasn't bad enough, the intro starts literally a second after the previous mission. The term Jump Scare doesn't even begin to do it justice.
    • It's specifically disturbing to us because, since it fills the entire screen and is made to resemble an actual Emergency Broadcast Message, it looks like it's actually a REAL Emergency Broadcast Message, as if they're warning you that the Russians really ARE coming to your homes to shoot you dead (If you're playing the game in America, anyway)
    • Then the mission begins and a few seconds later, you get to see Washington, D.C. reduced to a warzone. You thought the Twin Towers being destroyed was bad? How about the very capital of the United States?
    • They wanted 1000 dead Americans for every victim of the airport attack. They really don't give much of a damn whether they're armed or not. The civvies in that airport weren't.
  • After all the Tranquil Fury and general badassery by Price, in both games, General Shepherd hands him his ass in a fist fight. Seeing someone like that receive a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown is SCARY.
    • Hands him his ass in a fist fight after crawling out of a helicopter's flaming wreckage you just shot down!
      • Watching you (as Roach) and Ghost burn. The only consolation? Ghost dies instantly from his gunshot wound. Unfortunately, Roach didn't.
  • The climax part of the "Endgame" level. You're button-mashing to pull out a knife buried to the hilt in your chest, first with one hand, then with both. The screen starts to fade to an ever-darkening red and Soap is crying out in agony as he (this bears reiteration) IS PULLING A KNIFE FROM HIS CHEST. All while you're in first-person.
  • The multiplayer map "Vacant" from Modern Warfare 1 and 2 certainly qualifies; is an abandoned building with surreal graffiti paintings, a office-like room with lots of computers and some BEDS in the corridors, and can't figure what people did there.
  • The view from space as Price launches the missile at DC. You take control of an astronaut near the ISS. Over your radio you're instructed to look to your right. You get to watch as the missile flies towards the east coast of the United States. With the east coast being on the dark side of the planet, you get to watch as all the lights on the entire coast (with the exception of Florida and half of Georgia) go completely dark. Not enough? The shockwave from the missile causes the ISS to break apart and send pieces of it flying at the astronaut. He undoubtedly dies. Probably on impact if he was lucky.
  • When the Russian aircraft are advancing towards the United States and Overlord is not sure whether or not the radar is displaying them correctly. Then when Overlord asks Sierra Delta if anything is in the sky a terrified voice cries out and sirens are going off in the background.
  • This is one that was discovered several years after release. In the mission "Of Their Own Accord", the player is tasked with providing sniper support for the Washington Monument, which is being used for civilian evacuation. Someone dug through the files and found out that originally, if the player completely neglected their orders, they could've received a nightmarish Non Standard Game Over, where they're forced to listen as the radioman's professional status updates gradually devolve to him screaming his lungs out in anguish and terror as the Monument is raided and thousands of soldiers and civilians are shot to pieces by Russian soldiers before his very eyes. The situation culminates in the civilians being forced to take up arms and defend themselves against the professional Russians, as all remaining American troops are dead or wounded by then. Having to hear a grown man deteriorate to a blubbering mess, thousands of men, women, and children shrieking as they're being massacred, and all of this happening from within a beloved American landmark is probably one of the most absolutely haunting things in the entire Call of Duty franchise. Shame it was scrapped.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

  • Makarov's death scene in "Dust to Dust". Yeah, he had it coming to him, but was it really necessary to show him frantically flailing around before he died?
  • When the Russians launch the gas attack, even though you see what happens in the "Davis Family Vacation" bit, the full scope of the attack is not revealed until several missions in, when you first get to Paris. Dead civilians everywhere.
    • Something similar in Hunter Killer. You have to swim through a collapsed tunnel in New York, flooded, filled with cars, debris, and corpses. Playing through the level gave you the sight of a man floating in said tunnel.
  • Davis Family Vacation is terrifying. Worst Mood Whiplash ever. It's still frightening even if you know what's going to happen, and if you haven't had it spoiled for you, gamers will know that when we see a happy family vacation in a game like this, shit is about to go down. It's like the Sat1 sequence from 2, except much, much closer to home.
  • All of the American levels in Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3, just imagine if the Russian Invasion and the reasons for it were just a tad bit earlier, like a few years before the games events, looks like Occupy Wall street would have become run from wall street, and then there were the people in the tunnel, just floating there made me cringe at the thought.
  • The sandstorm that whips up during "Return to Sender" is terrible, especially if you have a fear of natural disasters.
  • In "Bag and Drag" as you make your way through Paris, you see the dead bodies of Paris citizens everywhere.
  • Prague's civilian population in "Eye of the Storm" goes from having just barely survived a gas attack to, once again, being occupied by Russian forces. What the Ultranationalist forces do to them throughout the level is horrific, as anyone regardless of gender, age, or occupation is herded and executed for being a suspected resistance member. It's no wonder that many of the civilians would rather resist the invaders than yield, as it's practically their best chance of survival.
  • Anyone who was alive at the time will realize that the events of the game are very similar to what happened within the seventy years prior to the game's story line: the gas attack in London, with its civilian casualties is reminiscent of the Blitz campaign, as well V-1 "Buzz-Bomb" and V-2 rocket strikes. Over in continental Europe, France once again has to fend off a numerically superior invading military force that has ravaged their capital city. Germany once again faces complete annihilation and occupation at the hands of the Russian war machine. And the Balkans already having gone through two World Wars, Soviet occupation, and ethnic cleansing campaigns, now have to face the wrath of the Ultranationalists.