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Incompetent guards? In our video games?! It's more likely than you think.


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    General Examples 
  • It's a convention of MMORPG in general that the aggro radius of the mobs is much smaller than their line of sight. It always lead to egregious situations where the guard twiddle their thumbs while you slaughter their colleagues in front of their eyes, waiting for their turn to die.
    • World of Warcraft made a commendable effort to give the players the impression that they were really storming an enemy stronghold in the Shattered Halls instance, with constant reinforcements coming to face you and guards lining up in formation. Sadly, they still included a room where a bunch of guards kept training rather than facing you, and another where they managed to sleep through the whole ruckus.
    • And in another dungeon the boss greets you when you get close to him, but makes no attempt to stop you slaughtering his remaining guards, who all just stand there.
    • This is lampshaded by a boss in the aforesaid Shattered Halls dungeon, who will actually comment as you individually kill his henchmen. "Go ahead. I was going to kill him anyway." In fact, if you don't attack them, he will kill them, one by one, then attack you.
    • There is one CoH mission where you are given a temporary power that is a guard suit. You can walk past any guard and get the objectives of the mission completed without anyone being the wiser. This wouldn't be bad if it didn't work on any enemy NPC in the game. Including a faction that actively hates the faction you are dressing up as.
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    A 
  • Marines in Aliens vs. Predator (2010) are remarkably blasé about having all their mates disappear one-by-one only to show up again as scattered corpses lacking in skulls/spines, or with a rather telling hole in their head. They also decide to check out on strange distorted verbal taunts originating from nearby isolated corners alone, without bringing backup, and will stand around with their backs turned mumbling "I'm sure it came from over here..." for a good few minutes. Even if said isolated corner already contains three to four corpses of previously mentioned dead marines with their skulls missing.
  • The Assassin's Creed series has an explicit justification for its extensive use of this trope. Specifically, the Animus that the player character is using to relive his ancestors' Genetic Memory renders the whole thing as a VR simulation. To improve his ability to "synchronize" with said memories, it eschews certain aspects of realism in favor of simplicity. In the actual past that you're reliving, Altaïr and Ezio were masters of stealth and disguise. In the Animus simulation, not so much. Specific examples include:
    • Guards failing to spot or recognize a hooded, heavily-armed man walking around openly in the streets while numerous people have recently been murdered in broad daylight and their bodies left lying about. Similarly, the inability to spot said hooded, heavily-armed man in a crowd of people who look nothing like him.
    • Guards failing to look in obvious hiding spots for the Assassin whom they were recently chasing. However, in Assassin's Creed II and subsequent games, guards will search hiding spots near to your last location and will attack you if you're found there.
    • Guards failing to realize that the patrol they're in has mysteriously lost a few members, if they don't see the bodies.
    • Guards who lose sight of you in a chase and go back to their patrol spots will not recognize you if you walk right up to them a short while later.
    • The guards also engage in Mook Chivalry across all the games, waiting politely for their turn to attack you and get a Counter Kill to the face. This is so prevalent that the rare times when they do attack more rapidly are surprising and challenging. The games do a certain amount of Lampshade Hanging of this, in that the Enemy Chatter will occasionally reveal that they're carefully planning their attacks because they're scared shitless of you.
    • By contrast, there are also scenarios where the guards are absurdly and unrealistically alert. In Assassin's Creed I, galloping on your horse in sight of any Templar soldiers will make them recognize you almost immediately. High Profile actions such as running after killing someone will also alert them, in contrast to strolling casually away, even if all the civilians around you are screaming and panicking.

    B 
  • Beyond Good & Evil
    • The heroine can shoot a projectile into a guard's air tank — and unless she's in plain sight or really unlucky, the other guards present will just fix the tank, then declare "false alarm" and get back to their business. If she is seen, she can just run around a corner where they can't see her, and after a few seconds they'll do the same thing. Repeatedly. Perhaps the only (moderately) justified action they take is when Jade runs out of sight, they dispatch a droid to clear the area. They usually clear the area just out of sight and ignore any areas slightly farther out of sight.
    • In many areas, but particularly notable in one guard-riddled passage in Alpha Sections HQ (roughly 6 guards in a 50-foot stretch of open balcony, plus about 4 more immediately above and below it), the guards will look around everywhere except entrance points. In the referenced area, one guard faces in a direction no attack could possibly come from, and if he stayed in place but turned around the mission would be impossible.
    • Even if their suicidal lack of curiosity didn't earn them a Darwin Award, their general behavior would. They spend most of their guarding time walking or turning in slow circles or standing in one place facing a wall. And their commanders aren't any more intelligent. One happily reports to his superior that all intruders in the area have been captured... while one stands in the middle of an empty room in his direct line of view.
    • The implied explanation for these are that a) the tiny visors limit their vision, b) the helmets and respirators limit their hearing, c) they are part of a rigid and regimented command structure that discourages independent thought and initiative, and d) they're not actually in full control of their faculties due to Domz influence.
  • In Black Sigil, there's an instance where your party "acquires" some Empire soldiers' outfits to sneak onto an airship. As you're doing so, the guards stop Aurora and ask her a couple questions. They then have this following exchange after you've boarded the airship:
    Guard A: That slim guy sure had a girlish build...
    Guard B: And a girlish voice...
    Guard A: And a girlish face...
    Guard B: You thinking what I'm thinking?
    Guard A: The military will toughen him up.
    Guard B: Yeah...
  • The guards on The Bouncer always follow their job so loyally, in fact even if the place is gonna sink they'll stop at nothing to stop our heroes.
  • In a memorable early-game sequence in Breath of Fire III, your characters must sneak into a mansion guarded by a wide variety of inept guards. It's a puzzle sequence, so almost every single one of the types listed is played with, including a few who just don't care and will let you go by if you bribe them or even find their lost wallet. So hard to find good help these days. One egregious example is a guard who admits he would be completely unable to stop the party, then orders them to go kill a guard dog to cover him, or he wouldn't let them pass. Wait a minute, couldn't we just kill you? One of the guards justifies this, saying that their wages are too low to properly motivate most of them. Later, it's justified when it turns out the owner of the mansion is in with a criminal syndicate, and you'd have to be an idiot to even try to rob him due to the syndicate's reprisal. Oops.

    C 
  • Subverted in the first Call of Duty game. In one of the missions of the British campaign, Cpt. Price and Sgt. Evans (the player) are tasked with sabotaging the German battleship Tirpitz from inside, and in order to do that they have to kill two German seamen on shore and take their uniforms. Once they arrive, they're allowed onboard thanks to Cpt. Price's passable German, but when they get to the armory, one of the guards stationed outside is suspicious of them (likely due to Cpt. Price's lack of German accent) and calls the higher-ups to check the veracity of Price's fake ID. With his cover about to be blown, Price shoots the guard, instigating a firefight.
    • Played straight in the credits sequence of the second game, where a German sentry fails to notice a squad of American Rangers, just to his right, no less, about to enter the very compound he's guarding.
  • Cantr II: What often can happen when sleepers (players who barely wake up, thus don't really know what's going on around them), new characters or new players get promoted to leadership roles. Special mention must go to the man who chased a boat ... in a van. Needless to say, he didn't achieve very much, but became the butt of jokes for a long, long time.
  • Castle Wolfenstein
    • In the original game, you could steal a uniform and wear it; the regular guards would generally ignore you, but the SS would find you out.
    • Averted in Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. If the guards see you with a weapon out, they start shooting. In Beyond, you can sneak up behind them with a knife and stab them; if the other guards see the corpse before you drag it out of sight, they'll head for the alarm and set it off. They'll also ask you for a pass periodically.
  • At one point in Cave Story, Cutscene Incompetence results in you getting curbstomped and thrown into a jail cell. The guards don't bother to take anything away from you, so you still have all your weapons when you wake up in the cell.
  • Guardia Prison security in Chrono Trigger. They throw you into the dungeon... while letting you keep your sword. That doesn't turn out well for them. Also the guard for your cell will open up your cell to fight you if you rattle on the bars enough. Apparently the guard for your cell is exceptionally over sensative.
    • You can thank Yakra XIII for that oversight. He didn't think taking over as the modern Chancellor all the way through. It's possibly Justified in that it's implied he staffed Guardia Prison with his own minions, who are all rather stupid. The text explicitly refers to two of them as "Dumb" and "Dumber" at one point late in the game.
    • When your party is captured later in the game due to extreme Cutscene Incompetence on their part, the villain takes your weapons, inventory and money. At least he is a bit smarter about how to handle prisoners. It really helps if you have Ayla in your party at this point.
    • Even then, the guards on the Blackbird aren't much better. For one thing, they fall for the fake-being-sick-so-the-guards-come-into-the-cells-and-you-punch-them-out ploy, which is the oldest trick in the book. When you escape your cell, you can also run around the ship right past many of the guards, and they won't notice unless you get within sneezing distance of them. It's Justified later on by one of the guards you can talk to in the commons after you defeat Dalton, the guards' boss. The guard tells you that Dalton treated his employees badly and didn't pay them well, which means they probably weren't inclined to work very hard in the first place.
      • And at that point, it WASN'T the oldest trick in the book, what with it being 12,000 B.C.
  • In City of Heroes, mobs of enemies will usually ignore fights going on in plain sight halfway across the room with automatic weapons.
  • According to some playthroughs, the AI in Civilization IV will occasionally remove defending units from its capital city which you are currently besieging. You weren't actually going to attack, right?
  • In the first Commandos game some of the levels had prisons. If one of your men was spotted then he would be held at gunpoint, and as long as he didn't move or perform an offensive action then he would eventually be marched off to the jail where his buddies could later break him out (or, more likely, you could just reload). However, in maps with no jail the lone guards would never, ever fire on one of your men as long as he remained perfectly still, and only the arrival of a patrol would cause them to shoot. If there were no patrols nearby then you have a man crawl to a chosen spot and then suddenly stand up, ensuring that a guard spotted him and stood there with his cone of vision fixated on the one spot. Any other guards that could see the commando or another alerted guard would join in, potentially causing a chain reaction where dozens of enemies would converge and look towards one point. If your squad's brave volunteer was carefully positioned then it was fairly trivial for another squad member to then methodically stab everyone whilst they were distracted.
  • The human and robotic guards in Crusader are so determined to kill you that they won't let anything divert them from the task. As a result, they will sometimes kill each other and unlucky civilians that happen to be anywhere near their line of fire. They will also ignore environmental hazards, which can result in them killing themselves by walking right into open flames.

    D 
  • In Dark, there's some justification to the old "easily distracted" element of this trope — one of your vampire powers allows you to make guards think something suspicious or interesting is happening in empty space. Other than that, though, their vision seems to stop about three feet in front of them, and you can easily alert one guard, get shot by him several times, get away, and find the guards in the next room acting like nothing's happened.
  • In Dark Messiah lots of guards fall under this trope, they stand around near obvious hazards such as a wall about to collapse, when fighting the hero they stand close to spikes, pits, fires which they can easily be kicked into and they don't bother checking for traps infront of them when they spot the player, leading to a line of guards getting killed by the same trap. One notable area set on the side of a mountain includes guards with a fondness for standing looking out over a several thousand foot drop. Cue much kicking by the player.
  • As memorably demonstrated by Totalbiscuit, in Day One: Garry's Incident, there are random patrolling tribesmen who won't notice being stabbed several times.
  • Deus Ex
    • You can shoot someone in the face with a tranquilizing arrow (which usually takes two or three hits to knock them out) from a small pistol crossbow, and they will, if you're not in plain sight in front of them, briefly run around waving their arms... then go back to whatever they were doing. They can walk to the source of a noise, look straight at one of their colleagues' body lying dead on the floor and promptly declare it was "probably just a cat".
    • One of the worst situations is in the MJ12 facility underneath UNACTO. You are stripped of your entire inventory, but your captors don't even think about taking away your key ring or your ammo. Granted, the cell you were in would have been escape proof, if it wasn't for Daedalus.
    • The worst part in all of this is that the Majestic 12 armored troops will notice said colleagues' bodies... so it's not an engine limitation. Other guards are just that stupid.
    • UNATCO troops are on par with Metal Gear Solid's guards for not paying attention. It's entirely possible to walk several crates of TNT into the UNATCO complex for fun and profit. Granted, they're on your side, but they tell you to cut it out when you do random violent things or poke around in their stuff, so it's not like they don't notice what JC's doing.
    • The A.I. has improved significantly in the third game. The game still plays with the trope though with some guards being programmed to be incompetent. For example, there are a number of guards that are easy to sneak up on because they are talking, watching TV, smoking, napping, or engaging in some other activity that is distracting them.
  • Downplayed and defied compared to most games- to the point of bordering on Artificial Brilliance at times- but not completely averted in Dishonored. On the "crazy" side, Guards may notice if you take out one of their colleagues when they're not looking, but their only reaction will be to say something along the lines of, "Wasn't someone supposed to be patrolling here?", and if a sedated guard wakes up, he'll just return to his rounds as if nothing happened. note  If more than a couple guards disappear, however, they start to get suspicious and may vary their patrol patterns, spend less time idling, and alert to your presence more quickly note . In a few final touches straight from the Evil Overlord List, a single guard that becomes aware of your presence immediately runs while calling for backup and activates any nearby alarms before attempting to kill the teleporting guy in a metal skull mask by themselves, finding an unconscious or dead body is cause for a full blown site lockdown, and the overseers packing music boxes will start cranking away at the slightest hint of witchery.
  • Dragon Age
    • Near the end of the first game, the Warden and Alistair can be captured and thrown in prison. A persuasive Warden (of either sex) can ask the guard for company, and the guard will immediately lock himself in the cell with two prisoners accused of regicide, maybe even stripping down to his smallclothes if the Warden convinces him to. Then you can jump him and steal his keys. This is especially stupid if the Warden is a mage.
    • Dragon Age II's Mark of the Assassin DLC includes a Stealth-Based Mission in which Hawke must sneak past the guards of the Orlesian Chateau Haine. Fortunately, the guards are easily convinced by whatever ridiculous story Hawke can come up with, are highly susceptible to distraction by thrown pebbles, apparently have very poor night vision, and are remarkably unconcerned about waking up on the floor in the middle of their patrol after being tapped on the back of the head: "Damned blackouts..."
  • In Dragon Quest IX, Your character is imprisoned some time into the game. At first glance, you would think this was averted. However, press Y and open your equipment menu... This results in a few funny instances, such as guards bossing someone in full plate armor and carrying a sword that shoots fire.
  • At one point in Dragon Wars, the party gets captured and thrown into a jail cell (for the second time) and this trope comes into play, as the guards seemingly forget to lock your cell door! It turns out to be a subversion when you enter the next room, where the guards happen to be waiting for you. It seems these guards got into a lot of trouble for beating prisoners in their cells. But if the prisoners were trying to escape...
  • In Dubloon, a map important to finding a sea serpent is on an island tightly guarded by the Navi, so what does the player's crew do? Why, send in their Team Pet that guards don't even suspect for anything. One of them even tells him the location of where the key to the house is hidden.

    E 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series in general has some of most infamous City Guards in gaming, combining aspects of this trope along with The All-Seeing A.I. and Shoplift and Die. While not inherently superior to the Player Character in terms of strength, they are more numerous and typically attack in groups. They can be killed, though each one killed adds significantly to the bounty the character must pay off to avoid jail time. Unlike in most video games, the city guards will always remember who you are. If you are wanted, they will try to apprehend you on sight. Given how much of the series is spent in cities, it is usually a good idea to just accept the fines or jail-time they offer you rather than fight them. Further, they will attempt to arrest you rather than kill you immediately. You may choose to pay the fine or go to jail if arrested, though in either case, the guard will confiscate any stolen items you may have. You can also choose to resist arrest, which will make all guards in the area immediately hostile to you. The exception is if you have such a high bounty (usually 5000 gold, which is 5 murders worth fines or stealing one priceless item) that they mark you for death on sight. At that point, your only hope is to have the Thieves' Guild make your bounty go away. Specific examples and exceptions per game are below.
    • Morrowind has several different types of guards. Hlaalu, Redoran, and Telvanni guards each patrol the towns and villages under their faction's authority. Ordinators patrol Tribunal Temple holdings. Imperial Guards patrol the Imperial settlements. Mournhold is patrolled by High Ordinators and King Helseth's Royal Guards. The Skaal village has Skaal Honor Guards. Belonging to the same faction as the guards will increase their disposition and cause them to be more polite to you, but they'll still attempt to arrest you for committing a crime. However, it is very easy to abuse the AI of the guards if you have abounty, are carrying stolen goods, and do not want the guards to confiscate those goods. Simply drop your stolen items on the ground, pay your fine, pick them back up, and be on your way.
    • Oblivion:
      • The NPCs in have an amazing ability to mistake loud clanking sounds and arrows sticking out of their head for the wind, or their own imagination. The last words of many a bandit have been, "Damn rats, always sneaking about in the shadows, making me-ARGH!"
      • Also, guards will only ever react to a corpse by muttering to themselves about a killer being on the loose, and resume patrolling. They'll also not react much to seeing their buddies being assassinated right beside them other than blankly staring and said muttering. That said, kill someone out of the way with no witnesses outside of sneak mode, and every guard for miles around will rapidly converge on you with cries of "STOP RIGHT THERE CRIMINAL SCUM!" Another problem is that animals count as witnesses to crimes. Those chickens are ridiculously effective stool pigeons.
      • Even better is when two NPCs are talking, and you shoot one while sneaking. The other one turns and walks away, mid-conversation.
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim makes some significant improvements over previous installments in this regard, but some of the same problems still pop up. If you attack an enemy while sneaking, they will look for their attacker for a few seconds, then stop looking and go back to whatever it was they were doing. This may include sitting down to return to dinner...with an arrow in their head...that was poisoned...and on fire...
      • Skyrim lets you do crazy things with high skills and the right perks. It's quite possible to find two people talking, walk (not sneak) over to one, behead him/her with a battleaxe, and have the other just stare at you.
      • Likewise, when a guard was killed by a dragon, and you kill the dragon soon after, another guard who was nearby sometimes come up to the corpse and said "I am going to find whoever did this.", even though the reason for that is just 5 feet away!
      • There's also a quirk in the programming that means sometimes the character can see you even though the A.I. cannot. Successfully sneaking past a person while their head slowly swivels to follow your every move is... weird, to say the least.
      • Due to the way random events happen, you can be accosted by a guard for a petty crime while a dragon is burning down the town. A dragon that you had to stop fighting because said guard forced you into a dialogue tree. Worse still, if the dragon manages to kill the guard you're speaking to, it can sometimes count as you trying to run away or drawing your sword, causing all the guards in the immediate vicinity to stop attacking the giant dragon burning down their town and start attacking you. Oh and you will be charged a slightly higher fine too.
      • The famous "they can't see you if you put a bucket on their head" Good Bad Bug is another example.
  • In Emerald City Confidential, Tik Tok, one of the Emerald City palace guards, leaves the door to Petra's prison cell open when she calls him to clean up some rotting food on the cell wall. This allows Petra to sneak out of her cell.
  • Evil Genius
    • Played this absolutely straight and quite deliberately. Your Evil Minions will outright ignore any agent of the forces of justice unless they've been tagged for execution or capture. These include squads of heavily-armed soldiers, thieves in brightly-colored Spy Catsuits, Highly Visible Ninja, and musclebound supersoldiers Dual Wielding machineguns.
    • The infiltrating agents showcase an unusual variant of this. Locked doors are understandably much more interesting to them than an unlocked door. However, the end result is that if you lower the security level on the door an agent is trying to break through, they will usually lose interest immediately and wander off. It also leads to various distraction strategies, such as hallways lined with locked doors and nothing behind them.
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    F 
  • Fable
    • The series has quite a bit of this. In Fable I, should you break a window, someone nearby will tell the guards, which they will charge after you and proceed to hack you into little bits should you decide not to pay them. Same thing if you just committed total genocide on a village, but should you apologize to the guards, they immediately forgive you and continue on their merry way.
    • After being imprisoned in the Bargate Prison in Fable I, you find out the place holds a contest each year where the inmates partake in a race around the prison's courtyard only to "win" a reading of the head warden's ambitious poetry. The best part? The guard is doing it facing away from you while you're a meter away from the key to your cell.
    • In Fable II, should you accidentally or on purpose, murder ONE villager, the guards will then constantly say, "I won't let you murder anyone else!"
    • Spire guards will also proceed to be dumb as wood, never mind the fact that this guy (or girl) broke out of an unbreakable collar, probably killed about 50 of your mates with powerful spells, just hacked them to pieces or shot their balls off. Charge to certain death! Doubly so after the most powerful will user on the planet gets his powers back.
  • Can occur in Fallout: New Vegas. Put a few ranks into your character's Sneak skill, then get yourself a silenced weapon (incidentally, all melee weapons are treated as silent, including chainsaws). Then go to the nearest Legion/Powder Ganger/NCR camp and start killing. So long as your character is hidden when you kill, and your victim dies in one hit, no-one will ever make the connection between all those corpses with bullet holes in their skulls, and the courier who's sometimes seen sneaking around carrying a silenced sniper rifle. Oddly enough, animals will respond more aggressively than humans; if you snipe a Cazador, for example, the rest of the nearby Cazadores will go on alert and soon hunt you down.
    • This is actually an upgrade from the stealth system in Fallout 3. With a high enough sneak skill, you could shoot someone in the head with an unsilenced rifle in a very small room with another enemy less than a foot in front of them and they won't notice a thing.
    • Downplayed in Fallout 4, as enemies remain suspicious after you've previously alerted them and you successfully stayed hidden, though Raiders sometimes blame the drugs they're using for making them jittery.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Vaan has to infiltrate Rabanastre palace early on in Final Fantasy XII. In advance, it sounds like an annoying Stealth-Based Mission. Then you get there and the guards are apparently blind, as they never notice you unless you bump into them or yell at them. This is actually justified: Vayne wants to lure the Resistance into his palace in order to defeat them here and now, and certainly told the guards to let suspicious characters go inside the palace. It is not the incompetence from the guards, it is the Magnificent Bastard playing chess until Vaan jumped on the board, epic quest good old fashioned Ivalice-style politics and "Undying gods" being slayed ensue.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, one has to wonder why none of the guards on the Cargo Ship bothered to continue the search for the intruder (Sephiroth) after Cloud and co. defeated Jenova. There's no way they could have known that he was gone at that point, so why bother calling off the search? "Yeah, just ignore all the dead bodies and the undiscovered intruder. Just dock as planned!" Heidegger was in charge of ship security at the time, so he's just as much at fault as the rest of the incompetent guard. Rufus comments on the failings of command when the ship docks.
      Rufus: So Sephiroth was on board...
      Heidegger: Yes.
      Rufus: And it seems Cloud and his gang were on board, too.
      Heidegger: ...Yes.
      Rufus: They slipped through... you messed up big this time, Heidegger.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, you can stand in the way or in front of the guard in the imperial base, and he won't notice you unless you talk to him.
      • Another Final Fantasy VI example occurs when Locke is breaking Celes out of her prison in South Figaro. One of the soldiers guarding Celes orders his subordinate to keep an eye on her, and the subordinate boasts that he can go for days without sleep. The commanding officer leaves, and the subordinate almost immediately falls asleep. Locke is able to waltz right into the cell, free Celes, speak to her, and pick the guard's pocket without him even noticing. Otherwise, it's generally a subversion, as Locke avoids the commanding officer by hiding in the rafters or by saluting the commander if he's disguised as a soldier. Once Celes joins him and they have to make their way out of town through the underground passages, they'll be attacked by soldiers and guard dogs who are more on the ball than the soldier left to guard Celes.

    G 
  • Guards in GoldenEye must be extremely nearsighted, because a patrolling guard will not notice you until you're almost right in front of them. You can also shoot their hats off their heads without getting a response. Likewise, you can unload on the helmeted ones and they won't notice all the metallic clanking noises happening right at their head, nor feel the force of the gunshots. They also suffer from a genetic weakness which means that they can't see through glass or over waist-high railings.

    H 
  • Hitman:
    • The series has what can only be described as highly jittery bunch of guards, often resorting to gunfire at the slightly infraction or social gaff. While the series has steadily improved with each release (giving warnings, pushing you out when entering a restricted zone), it is still often the case that being seen entering the wrong room without the right outfit, playing with a light switch or running will cause all the guards to immedietly open fire on your shiny-bald self. Clearly, social niceties are Serious Business in the Hitman universe.
    • The Hitman guards are odd overall and tend to have an All Crimes Are Equal attitude to everything, i.e. they shoot on sight even if the room is full of screaming civilians. And, in one mission, if you alert the police (say by trying to enter a nightclub wearing the wrong costume) then they will proceed to gun you down as you flee through a crowded street during a parade (the civilians make nice bullet shields). But just to Hitman, case point being the last mission in Blood Money; sneak a gun in a briefcase yourself? The guards shoot you full of holes. Sneak the gun in in someone else's case? Said civilian is escorted for questioning and said case is conveniently left for your retrieval.
    • Oh and the general stupidity. Step one, flick the lights off. Step two, strangle the guard as he comes to switch them back on. Step three, wait for guard to find body. Repeat.
    • Also, in Blood Money they are fairly *ahem* unceremonious with the bodies of their dead buddies. The standard treatment is bag and tag in a black body bag and then *drag* said body bag across the floor, up stairs, through water, past civilians, sometimes leaving a blood trail on the carpet, and no one seems to care or be the slightest bit concerned.
    • And they drown upon contact with water. Even if they were just swimming in it earlier.
    • There's a reason why the developers wanted to upgrade guard A.I for the latest (2016) game. In the game, the guards now escort 47 outside if he is detected on a restricted area, but still get angry if he doesn't follow. In addition, if a gunshot is heard, they will investigate and will frisk 47 if he is near the origin of the sound, but if 47 has already ditched the gun, they leave him alone.

    J 
  • Jak and Daxter
    • The Krimzon Guard in Jak II: Renegade will forget about the Guard-slaughtering Phlebotinum Rebel the city's supreme ruler considers Public Enemy Number One if you enter a safehouse for two seconds. You can also walk down the street with gun raised, distinctive haircut and Team Pet sitting on your shoulder (almost impossible to fake, not that anyone wants to try), and they won't give a piece of crap. Rule of Fun applies, because being gunned down by KG every time you step out of a safe house would produce an even more frustrating game.
    • It's implied that many of the actual guards (as opposed to their commanders) are lazy and corrupt, so they probably just didn't care (and didn't want to get killed). Daxter lampshades this in the second mission after the first act, the heat from their direct assault on the palace dies off after one mission and he says in a shocked tone; "How hard is it to get noticed in this town?!"

    K 
  • The dog guards in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, instead of trying to overlook the hallway from one position, will patrol in pairs across the corridor, giving Alexander a chance to sneak behind their backs into the Blind Alley.
    • The guards also fail to properly search Alexander and remove his inventory before throwing him into the cell. This way, he can escape via Skeleton Key.
    • The guard at the entrance to the Land of Death drops an important key during the The Dead Can Dance scene.
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    L 
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • In the early stealth portion of the Forsaken Fortress in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Moblins patrol small areas of the fortress, and if they see you, it's into the prison with you. However, there are barrels that you can hide in. You can even move about as long as they're not looking, because the fact that a barrel is somewhere that it wasn't tells them absolutely nothing. This is possibly justified by their being explicitly stated to be really, really stupid. That said, they will notice if you're moving in front of them, so they're not completely incompetent.
      • However, they will continue to throw you into the same cell over and over again, despite the fact that you somehow keep getting caught outside of it. How do you do it? An easily accessible tunnel behind a vase that goes from inside the cell to right outside of it. That is clearly visible.
    • Speaking of Zelda, the guards in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time don't react unless you're several feet in front of them.
    • The smartest one in the game is an automated statue that spits lasers at you with alarming accuracy (well, alarming when you account for the fact that they're only about a second slow, and in real life, that would be close enough to scare the crap out of most anyone. Certainly a ten-year-old like Link).
    • It's established that also the guards of Hyrule castle are, well... dumb, without exception. No matter what time period the game in question plays in (not that we would know), the guards never seem to notice anyone walking by, if he's not right before their eyes. Even Princess Zelda has been mentioned to sneak out of the castle with no problems frequently. The only time the guards actually keep something from going in or outside is in Majora's Mask. And this almost ensured the Termian apocalypse. It is, however, a little weird that the only reason they let a child out of town is because he has a sword.
    • One of the most blatant examples is the Gerudo Fortress section in Ocarina of Time. For some reason, even after the 20th time you escape, they still can't be bothered to take away your hookshot... Although that might be because they can't figure out where he keeps it.
    • Or care to act when Link shoots one of the guards in the open. They just ignore the fallen body. Their pirate counterparts in Majora's Mask do the same plus will completely ignore Link if he's wearing a certain mask despite following him with their eyes/ Partially justified in that said mask's ability is to make Link as uninteresting as a stone. Except for a few Elite Mooks who even have special dialogue along the lines of "That mask won't work on me, boy", implying the mask won't work if one is particularly observant or intelligent.
    • Speaking of Majora's Mask, the guards are very diligent about keeping children from wandering out of town to the "dangerous" wilds, to the point that they will do nothing to stop a little old lady from getting robbed in plain sight, by a thief who makes no attempt to conceal his identity. Even assuming there was some pressing issue preventing them from stopping the robbery, there's no reason they wouldn't recognize him when he walks back into town the very next day to sell the stolen goods to the curio shop next door.
    • The Deku Palace guards in the same game are completely insane as well: Normally, the palace is only open to Deku Royalty, but you're allowed in because it's a special occasion (the king is punishing the monkey he thinks kidnapped his daughter). You're explicitly told not to go anywhere except the throne room. If you get caught in the Palace Garden instead, you get thrown out... at which point, the guards will immediately allow you to re-enter with nothing more than a tounge-lashing. And they'll keep letting you in no matter how many times you prove your willingness to ignore their instructions.
    • The Phantom Guardians, as cool as they might look, are not even the tiniest bit smarter than any other kind of guard in the series. They fail to realize that a kid just took refuge in the Safe Zones, even though they chased it right until it didnote . They fail to dodge any eventual trap that Link sets up for them. They fail to realize that one of the colleagues has just been possessed with what is quite obviously a female (and over-the-top girly) ghost.note 
    • Zigzagged by the former Lorule Soldiers who now guard the Dark Palace. On one hand they are very diligent and observant, leaving absolutely no unchecked areas and guarding every choke point, and the only reason you're able to get past is with wall merging. On the other hand, however, in true Legend Of Zelda guard fashion no matter how many times they catch you all they do is toss you in a cell and never once wonder how you keep escaping. Possibly zigzagged again when you learn that Princess Hilda has been playing you the entire time and that she needed you to rescue the sages as part of her plan to restore the kingdom: it's possible said "former" soldiers are in on her scheme and secretly letting you pass.
    • Breath of the Wild:
      • The Yiga guards can absolutely hear your footsteps and Voice Grunting, they tend to persist for a while if they hear you but don't catch you, they fight to kill rather than imprison if they see you, they're strong and tough enough that fighting them is a bad idea, they sound an alarm (causing you to be swarmed) if they see you or you deal any damage to them at all, and after the first room they patrol all the places you're likely to want to be... and if they see some bananas in their line of sight, they ignore everything until said bananas have been nabbed. They also fall for the same barrel trick as the Moblins from Wind Waker, though this stops you from tossing bananas around.
      • Moblins and Bokoblins can be duped into thinking you're one of them by wearing a crudely-constructed mask—they'll follow you around curiously, but won't attack unless you do. This is especially ridiculous with Moblins, since in this game they're several times taller than Link. There's also a Lynel mask; but unlike the weaker mooks, they will see through the trick after a short time, so the mask only allows you to run past them without getting attacked.
      • Enemy encampments that see one of their allies felled before their eyes will turn to look towards the attack that felled them, but if Link is out of sight by the time they come over to look (for example, hiding behind a rock before the fellow guards can turn the corner to look around, or hiding before setting off a bomb), they'll just have a question mark appear over their head that slowly fades to grey. If Link stays hidden until then, they go back to their routines, completely uncaring as to what felled their former colleague.
      • The aforementioned Lynels are a notable aversion of this - they stay in high alert if they can no longer see Link, and their hearing is good enough that they can and will launch a fusillade of arrows at Link from a remarkable distance with remarkable accuracy if he's nearby but not in sight.
    • All of the above examples pale in comparison to the Hyrule Castle guards in Four Swords Adventures, who will repeatedly throw the four Links into a cell without bothering to close and lock the door. They also don't make any attempts to relieve them of their weapons, or even take away whatever items they were carrying when they were captured. Let it be known that said items can include keys.

    M 
  • Machinarium: Donning an unconvincing approximation of a police-bot's costume is sufficient for the city sentry to allow you to pass into the city.
  • Mark of the Ninja: Mooks, especially at the beginning, have terrible vision, have short attention spans, and are easily distracted and spooked.
  • Mass Effect 2: On the Subject Zero recruitment mission, the corrupt warden and his guards, who are trying to kidnap Shepard, don't argue when Shepard and two companions simply refuse to give up their weapons. So they allow three of the most dangerous individuals in the galaxy to remain fully armed as they enter the prison. And then are somehow surprised when their ambush goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: You can "stealth" kill a patrolling uruk guard by running while crouched up to their face and stabbing them with violent, noisy knife guttings for about three seconds. Most uruks, even the ones two feet away from him, won't even realize their buddy just died. And if they do find a dead body, it takes about thirty seconds before they laugh it off as a douchebag uruk killing another douchebag uruk and forget about it. Also, they appear to be addicted to the smell of poison mixed with grog for some reason. The cheapest way to kill a captain? Get out of their line of sight for about five seconds, and you can perform a stealth attack on them! Repeat until dead. Does not work on some captains, though.
  • Zigzagged in the earlier Medal of Honor installments, especially Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. In that game, despite the protagonist, Lt. Mike Powell, doing things like using unsilenced weapons Behind Enemy Lines, the Germans don't bother to alert the entire base until it's too late. On the other hand, however, they have made certain precautions against saboteurs, like having alarm systems installed throughout facilities located Behind Enemy Lines, and sentries and high-ranking officers often requesting for identity papers in different parts of a base.
  • In Medieval Cop 6: Dregg Me to Hell during Dregg and Mel's escape attempt the insane asylum guards are easily distracted by Mel's ventriloquism despite the fact that he uses it on inanimate objects. Played for laughs when he makes a female statue "talk".
    Guard: Gloria, you're speaking to me again?
  • Played straight in Metal Gear Solid, where you can take out guards one by one and trigger alarms as often as you want, but after 90 seconds, everything is back to normal, with dead guards not being replaced. Also, you can beat guards unconcious or even shoot them in the back without an alarm being sounded if you hide fast enough. If the guard doesn't see who shot/beat them, they will just resume patrolling as if nothing had happened.
    • Starting with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, however, it gets averted. When guards notice something odd, they will call in immediately before going to investigate. If they don't report back in time, more guards will be dispatched to look for them. When everything is clear, guards are required to report in every few minutes, or a search team is dispatched to investigate. And when full alarm is triggered, it takes just a few seconds for reinforcements to arrive with riot shields, shotguns, and grenades. Unless there's an opportunity for an Air-Vent Passageway escape nearby, you can prepare to load an old save by that point.
    • Ironically, in spite of the improved AI, Sons Of Liberty also had one of the dumbest guard moments ever: they set up laser triplines that would trigger Semtex explosives to keep intruders out of certain hallways on the Tanker. Explosives which if detonated would scuttle the ship, kill all their allies on board, and sink the Metal Gear RAY unit they were there to achieve. Risking killing your entire team and rendering your objective unobtainable is a better way to keep intruders out than just locking a door or placing sentries, says Gurlukovich's Mercenaries.
    • But even in that game, as long as a search party doesn't find any dead bodies, they won't suspect anything is up. They'll wake up any unconscious people, sure, but if a guard has completely vanished, the search team will go back to HQ with no further action. Plus, alert mode can be lowered to evasion mode by simply killing all of the enemies present, which gives the impression that Colonel Gurlukovich is thinking, "Half of my men were killed by one soldier. He's probably gone by now."
    • And yet, throughout the first game of the series, all guards have tunnel-vision and are practically near-sighted and half-deaf, so even walking slowly from a little bit to the side will let you go unnoticed. It was even worse in the original Metal Gear on the MSX, where the guards' line of sight is just a straight line. They'll also never suspect something's up when they find their squadmates dozing off with a tranquilizer dart on their forehead, or reading Playboy magazines they found on the ground.
      • On the higher difficulty levels in Metal Gear Solid at least, the guards' vision range is dramatically greater, although the field of view is still narrow, making this an Acceptable Break from Reality on the normal difficulty.
    • Somewhat averted in later installments of the series, especially Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where some elite guards work in teams to cover each other while performing a through and efficient sweep against possible threats. However, it's still played straight with regular mooks, as you can take down a guard walking right behind another guard without alerting the other.
    • Speaking of Snake Eater, this is actually parodied at one part. You need to get inside a building, and the entrance is locked from the inside. Yes you can do it the old fashioned way and enter via an air vent, but if you're feeling cheeky you can just knock and take down the guard who answers. If you're feeling really cheeky just don the scientist disguise and be seen by the outdoor patrol, who will mistake you for an escaping scientist and take you inside to imprison you. Pride of the Soviet Union, they ain't.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes if you shoot a camera a guard will investigate. When he finds the shot-out camera, he just shrugs and walks away as if nothing happened. The fact that they don't post extra guards to compensate for it when there is obviously an intruder is pretty stupid though possibly justified as you hear on the radio a few times that they are short-handed and don't have the extra manpower, a fact which is often lampshaded by the poor guards who radioed for backup if you're close enough to overhear them.
    • For all of their advanced technology and professional squad tactics, the soldiers in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain have some SERIOUS genre-blind perception issues. They will be suckered by:
      • ANYTHING at medium-long range (if they do not have any binoculars or scopes, they will miss Snake in situations that would elicit suspicion). Even when they get suspicious they don't instantly call an alert.
      • Cardboard Boxes; we see just how important they are to Big Boss. You can place cartoon decals of soldiers and hot anime women that will utterly fool the guards.
      • Obviously fake decoy BALLOONS. AT CLOSE RANGE.
      • Saddled horses which stand in the middle of the road for no apparent reason.
    • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has such a moment that also manages to combine this trope with Moon Logic Puzzle. Snake finds an egg that is heavily guarded by lasers. He carries the egg around until it hatches into an owl. Some children he runs across in the base explain that at night, the guards will shut off the laser tripwires. So Snake takes his owl and goes to a laser tripwire, waits for the owl to hoot, and then the guard, thinking it's night, will shut off the laser tripwires. This points out two levels of ineptitude: this highly secure base does not keep its laser security system on at night, when it would be most vital, and the guard is too dumb to realize it's not night...
  • Averted to the best of the GBA's abilities with the Stealth-Based Mission in Metroid: Zero Mission. The space pirates aboard the mothership just sort of wander around... until one spots you. Even after you've ditched them, they never go back to their relaxed state, will continue to run around looking for you, and will even lay ambushes. It's actually so difficult to sneak through the entire thing without being seen that it's considered an Easter Egg and many players don't even realize you can do it at all.
  • The police and henchmen in Monaco tend to rely more on numbers, persistence, and being more heavily armed than your team more than they rely on intelligence. If any NPC is dead anywhere on the current floor, it'll alert someone to come revive them, but if they come across someone who's been knocked out either by the tranquilizer crossbow or The Cleaner (supposedly via chloroform), they won't bat an eye, even if they were sitting right next to the victim. The fact that you can hack a computer terminal directly next to an armed guard falls under No Peripheral Vision. The fact that you can grab and use a disguise in front of an armed guard's face while he's actively attacking you and have him suddenly stop and resume his patrol, however, is this.
  • Moshi Monsters: In the mission "Candy Catastrophe", the security guard lets you in with someone else's ID, despite rejecting you earlier and you looking a) nothing like the picture on the ID and b) exactly like the person who got rejected.
  • In MOTHER 3, at one point Lucas and his dog attempt to get into a nightclub, only to be informed by the bouncers that "No Dogs Allowed". The two slink away and seconds later, Lucas and his Dog (now wearing human clothes and walking upright) walk up and try to enter. The guards aren't fooled, and mention that Lucas was just here with his dog, and now walks up with a dude who looks suspiciously like a dog. They only get in due to one of the staff members vouching for them, and the guards seem suspicious. But after that they do admit that even if Lucas did just get lucky pulling a fast one on them, the dog is freaking awesome.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a Turn-Based Tactics game with some sneaking and ambushing:
    • If your characters are Hiding, then patrolling enemies will walk right past them without noticing. They can Hide behind, or in front of, almost anything.
    • Enemies will not react to glow sticks being thrown at them if none of your characters are in the guards' detection radius when the stick is thrown. This allows you to throw a stick, exit combat, and then start again with the enemies all lit up.

    N 
  • The guards in Ninth Rock are a bunch of Fat Idiots who can't be bothered to chase Spencer more than a few feet before mumbling, "Guess he got away!" They also tend to not see you hiding behind waist-high walls.
  • Averted by the goons in No One Lives Forever. If they spot a dead body (or you) they'll pursue you throughout the level. Losing them causes them to be permanently alert. If they see a dead body or hear a gunshot, they run off to sound the alarm. Broken security camera? Alarm's sounded. These mooks also enjoy taking cover, suppressing the player, and patrolling every corner of the map, especially obvious hiding spots.

    O 
  • In Ōkami, the Imp guards outside the main part of the Moon Cave dismiss Amaterasu as a normal wolf (perfectly reasonable though, in that only a few can see her markings), but when she comes back wearing a piece of paper over her face, they immediately let Ammy through, telling her to "Get back to [her] post!"
    • This is somewhat explained in Ōkamiden, as when the player goes to the demon market, an NPC says the Imps are dumb enough that they can't even remember three passwords, and these passwords are hidden around the market.

    P 
  • Zig-zagged with the guards in PAYDAY 2. They will raise the alarm over things like broken security cameras, broken windows, gunfire, panicking civilians, bodies and unidentified bags, yet will not give a damn when the valuables they've been hired to guard or the other guards go missing, the door to the security office is inexplicably open or when the walls are coated in blood. The Pager Guy, however, will buy any old excuse a guard might give over the pager, so long as it doesn't happen too often. He doesn't like being cut off, though...
  • The guards in Perfect Dark 64 are pretty smart. Blast a couple, the survivors will run for the alarm button. Snipe one, his buddy will run up and yell in despair (at which point you slay him also). But the good guy guards aren't always the smartest. You can tranq a stewardess for Air Force One (!) with a crossbow bolt (huge, works if it goes in her brain) and steal her uniform. Nobody checks your ID, even though your guard detail is long gone. In an earlier level, helicopter pilots will shoot through their (female) colleagues to get to you. Even funnier, if you shoot a guard who is not aware of you, they will occasionally say in a curious tone, "Was that a bullet?"
  • In Pirates Of The Caribbean Dead Mans Chest, the guards everywhere are very nice about only attacking you one at a time and not noticing what's going on around them.
  • Phantom Doctrine: Guards have a hard time noticing anything that isn't happening not too far in front of them. On the other hand, if you perform enough stealth kills, they will notice that people are going missing, and will perform extra patrols and destroy any loot that they find before you do.
  • Pokémon:
    • The games all have an evil team of some sort. You can infiltrate their base, but the guards will only see you if you walk in front of them. People only see you if you are directly in front of them... so groups of trainers are like a laser-wire maze.
    • Also, no-one in the Pokémon universe ever has any sort of weapon or armament except for a team of Pokémon. You can blatantly walk around the suspiciously Mafia-like organization's lair, and all the guards will do is challenge you to a trainer battle. Once your Pokémon beat theirs, they just kind of go "aw, shucks, well, the leader will beat you for sure" and then let you go on your way. Not only that, but the random guards usually have completely awful Pokémon. Whatever Mafia don decided it would be good security to give their patrol guards standard-issue Magikarp deserves to have his entire syndicate taken down by a single ten-year-old. At least this was lampshaded in Diamond/Pearl, where the grunts complain about how useless their issued Pokémon are after being beaten and before letting you continue.
    • To be fair, they don't use anything as blatantly useless as Magikarp. Though throwing Ratatta and Zubat at stuff like Charizard and Alakazam doesn't exactly accomplish much more than a Magikarp could.
    • The infamous Rocket Member who has the key to the elevator. After you beat him, he drops the key and makes no attempt to retrieve it.
    • Wes and Michael have it harder than the other protagonists by far due to Cipher being a competent team for once, but they still encounter some very questionable security decisions. In Colosseum, one of the admins mocks you for chasing her into Cipher's private subway to their lab, claiming to have outsmarted you... before immediately dropping the key on the ground when she flees again. The guards waiting on the other side recognize you and decide to blow up the entrance to keep you from getting in, but conveniently leave a key to the front door with you. After breaking into the lab, upon defeating one of the base's scientists, he walks right over to the control panel on the wall and turns on the alarm, alerting everyone to your presence. The only problem is that he's one of the very last Trainers in the entire base, so the only thing the alarm really does is cause a really annoying beeping sound to play anytime you're in there.
  • [PROTOTYPE]
    • The military takes this to ridiculous extremes. Random Marine jumping off a skyscraper, flying into the base, landing hard enough to make an impact crater, and proceeding to run up the walls? When it's well-known that your highest-priority target is a Voluntary Shapeshifter? Perfectly normal, apparently.
    • Need to get rid of a soldier, but he and a buddy have covering fields of vision so you can't stealth kill either of them? If you disguise yourself as a soldier and bump into one enough, he'll turn toward you and shove you away, then remain facing that direction. Even if there's just a wall right in front of his face.
    • You have a "patsy" power which allows you to accuse a random person of being you as long as you're in a military disguise. The soldiers will fall for this every single time.
    • You can also use a combination of the patsy power and the "stealth consume" to stealth-kill a combat base full of Marines and Blackwatch personnel. This causes much humor when you realize that a base full of heavily armed guards is slowly disappearing and nobody notices. Even if it's just you and another guard left. But whatever you do, don't try Patsy on him. Because only then will he think something is wrong.
  • [PROTOTYPE 2] makes the military slightly smarter. Things like gliding will now actually fill up the alert bar, although this still requires several seconds of flying in front of a trooper's face before he connects the dots. But the main difference is that the "bump into soldier to get him to look away from you" trick no longer works - anything that rouses suspicion will make every soldier around stare at you until the meter empties, at which point they'll resume their normal position.
    • The patsy is replaced with a bio-bomb ability, which will never, ever raise an alert. You don't even have to be unseen to pull this off - a group of soldiers can watch you put a man in a chokehold, inject him with a virus, and then have him explode and they won't get the least bit suspicious. And there's no cooldown on this so you can "stealthily" clear a base in about a minute by running up to each individual guard and bombing them.

    R 
  • Resident Evil 2: According to subsequent games, Raccoon City is under military quarantine at the time, but Leon and Claire both drive right into town with absolutely no clue of what's going on. Also, helicopters come and go with impunity.
  • In Riven, a Rivenese guard nicknamed "Cho" was assigned by Gehn to guard the Linking spot for the titular Age. Upon seeing you, he does a very poor job of asking you to give him one of your items, before just stealing it from you. Moments later, someone shoots him with a tranquilizer dart, drags him off-screen, and lets you out of the cage. This wasn't the first time, either, as the same thing happened when Catherine arrived earlier.
  • Averted by the guards in 1998's Robin Hood game by Red Ant. The guards were extremely clever. They even noticed if one of their partners was missing. The way it worked was that the guards would walk in a predetermined path, and if they did not meet up with their partner after a few laps, then they got frustrated and would go looking for their friends. If they did not find them, then they would curse loudly, and tell their immediate superior. If the Lieutenant got at least three "My mate's vanished!" reports, then a man would be sent to ring the alarm bell. On top of that, if a group of guards spotted you, some would stay while one or two ran off to set off the alarm. On top of that, these guards would often surround you and your men, and while one held you, the other would stab into you repeatedly, often resulting in death. They fought dirty, they played dirty, and if you were spotted just once, patrols would be sent out to find you. Pretty amazing for a game made in 1998, huh?
  • In RuneScape, This is acknowledged during a cut-scene in the "Garden of Tranquillity" Quest, where a "veteran" guard explains to a new recruit that the life expectancy for a Falador guard is about 30 seconds, which upon saying that a high-levelled "player" comes and slaughters both of them.

    S 
  • Subverted in Sanity: Aiken's Artifact. The main guard in the third level blocks you pretty well, until you read the guard's mind to find out the employee password.
  • Shinobido's guards are not really clever, but they're smart enough for some nasty (for you) actions, including:
    • Going on "Alert" mode if they spot a dead fellow.
    • Ring the alarm bells if they spot you.
    • Try to attack you in large numbers whenever it is possible.
    • Chase you around, even on roofs and inside buildings.
    • Call for help if they're alone.
  • Many guards in Sly Cooper carry flashlights. If you stand just outside their circle of light, they can not see you at all. There are similar guards with good hearing, which Sly automatically tries to sneak up on/past. Occasionally you run into both.
  • In Sniper Elite V2, the guards have very poor peripheral vision and in several cases can be caught asleep or taking a break. They also always fall for the "throw a rock to distract them" trick, though they actually canvass the area in search of the source of the noise afterwards, meaning if you aren't careful you can lead them right to you.
    • However, the enemies know there's a rogue sniper, so if alerted they move about almost constantly to keep you from getting a bead on them, and if at all possible they'll try to assault your position or flank you instead of lining up to get shot.
  • An aversion from Sierra: most of the Space Quest games.
    • In the third, the Scumsoft guards have their eyes locked on Roger, waiting for a screw-up. If Roger passes a wastebasket without cleaning it, the gig's up. The Puckoids in the 5th are trigger-happy and extremely nasty, and only screw up by leaving their engineering section under light guard — but justified as they weren't expecting anyone to break in through the hull. The Sequel Police in the 4th (or 10th and 12th) vary wildly between straight and aversion, as they leave a time pod unguarded at one point, but are very dogged in hunting Roger down, and shoot on sight, forcing Roger to get creative in dodging them. Another line-straddler is the opening scene of the first game. Roger needs to go a lot of dodging to get past the Sariens that have brutally massacred everyone else on the Arcada. Still, they do forget to check obvious hiding places.
    • Then you have the two thugs who capture Roger in Space Quest 6. Roger is able to quickly remove his handcuffs and neutralize the one who wasn't even watching him. Then you walk out into the other room, where the other thug is unconcerned with you roaming free, simply telling you not to bother him. Partly (with a stretch) justified in that the exit is blocked by a forcefield that can only be shut off by a remote on the second thug's belt.
    • Also, attempting to knock out one of the guards to the SCS DeepShip 86 shuttlebay results in the other one (a bigger one) punching Roger out and throwing him into the brig (which is also ridiculously easy to escape by building a likeness of Roger out of food and hiding under a food cart). No one also bats an eyelash at Roger stealing medical supplies at sickbay.
  • Splinter Cell
    • The guards are a pretty surprising aversion of this; they can be remarkably thorough, especially when they've detected the player, and if entering an area of low light, they'll often whip out flares or flashlights. Later in the series, enemy troops also start carrying night vision goggles, and in Chaos Theory Douglas Shetland's personal bodyguard are equipped with thermal goggles. They even notice broken lights, cameras, locks, or anything else you broken really. Speaking of cameras, the cameras will detect any dead body left in their vision, and some of them are bullet proof. Strangely though, whoever is watching the monitors of these cameras doesn't seem to notice them going out one by one through rooms that'd leave a very specific trail of which room Fisher is hiding in.
    • However, they still call a false alarm after searching for a while. Yep, definitely a false alarm. All those dead bodies, shattered lights and eye witness viewings of the mysterious commando running around? Guess it was the wind. To be fair though, they do spend a lot more time searching for the player than most other games do, and after the alarms are turned off, the guards still tend to be more alert.
    • Not in the later games. A guard who finds a dead body or sees Sam Fisher will not forget even when he returns to his post, and when confronted with a suspicious sight or sound, is more likely to investigate with bullets instead of a flashlight.
    • Also in the later games, any alarm raised on a level will cause all of the guards in the level to be more alert, jumpy, and trigger-happy. They'll also whip out the bullet-proof vests (who knows why they weren't wearing them in the first place?).
    • For the same reason real-life cops don't wear vests capable of stopping rifle rounds...they're uncomfortable as hell to wear for any length of time.
    • In Conviction the guards are better and worse in a sense. When they know Fisher is in the area they'll scout the area, but other times they'll wait in the same position facing the same direction. Usually this is when they have a chokepoint, but other times if you've been killing them they'll wait you out rather than run into close quarters. A smart move if they didn't leave their flanks unprotected.
    • They also have a bad habit of talking loudly as they search for Fisher, which the player can use to pick out their positions. Evidently, Black Arrow's goons forgot about a little thing called "noise discipline". It's implied they're trying to psych themselves up because they know who Fisher is, and know he's coming for them. By contrast, the new Splinter Cells, which Sam helped train, are entirely professional.
    • Splinter Cell: Double Agent has one glaring example of this. The final JBA HQ mission begins with Sam having the choice of shooting Jamie Washington or Lambert. If you shoot Jamie, the camera on the wall sees the whole thing and the mission begins with Sam's cover blown and the guards scrambling to find him. Except they immediately forget he was in the room where a camera should still be able to see him. Instead they blunder about the halls as if they have no clue where he is, giving Sam an ample opportunity to escape the room with only one way out.
    • Averted in Blacklist. The moment the enemies get suspicious, they will remain suspicious and once they have seen Fisher, they will never stop looking for him. They also remember which doors are supposed to be closed, and will come to investigate if a normally closed door is left open. While they might return to normal patrol after investigating, they usually don't. They don't bother to close the door, though. They also work in groups and try to flank Sam while others provide covering fire. Played straight with the enemies disregarding missing patrols, though.
  • Star Wars Legends, Knights of the Old Republic:
    • On Taris, the Sith troops have been specifically told to look out for a female Jedi with brown hair. Bastila can walk past them with her double-bladed lightsaber and nobody will give her a second glance. You can also fool a guard by wearing Sith trooper armour you put on while practically standing on his toes, since the conversation basically checks "are you wearing it" and then goes *ding* if you are.
    • Possibly invoked by the party when captured on the Leviathan. Several of the schemes floated to break your crew out of the ship's prison involve making the guards crazy, including Jolee's (which uses a Jedi Mind Trick on them) and Mission's (which involves good old-fashioned headgames). On the other hand, three of these plans involve the "it's probably nothing" ploy: you can convince the Sith to take a "dead" body, "disabled" droid, or perfectly functional but "harmless" astromech into their ship. Juhani's plan is the only one that doesn't count, because Jedi ninja catgirl response drills are probably few and far between.
  • In Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse in one of the first levels the player may gain control of a policeman by using the protagonist's arm. Other policemen won't notice the odd one unless he has a gun out, despite wearing a zombie arm as a hat.
  • While Styx: Master of Shadows has many of the standard problems, it adds a new one with a new mechanic: wall torches which can be snuffed out by the protagonists in order to increase the area covered by shadows. This can either be down manually when right next to a torch or remotely by throwing a wet ball of sand at a torch. Not only do patrolling guards not notice that previously lit areas are dark, the guards won't even notice if a torch in their field of vision is snuffed out by a ball of sand.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • Why Princess Peach still pays her guards is a source of continual mystification to videogame fans. She'd have better luck with a "Do not kidnap the Princess" sign than her usual group of Toads.
      • In the Nintendo Adventure Book series story "Leaping Lizards", it expands on the guards' stupidity when Peach catches her guards sleeping.
    • Also, the kings in Super Mario Bros. 3. They have, in the entirety of the royal castles, one guard for each king in each country, and being as that guard is a Toad, said guard gets instantly knocked out by a Koopaling just charging at it.
    • On the other side of the conflict, the Koopa guards in Paper Mario are also pretty pathetic. If they catch Peach sneaking around the castle, they'll usually just escort her back to her room and go back to whatever they were doing beforehand without ever questioning how she keeps getting out. At one point, they decide not to take her back, because they're about to hold a quiz show and still need one more contestant. And when she wins that show, they hand her a magic umbrella that lets her shapeshift. Just escorting her back to the room makes sense since the castle she's being held captive in is effectively in orbit. Where's she gonna go? They could probably at least tell Bowser that Peach keeps getting out of her room, but then again Bowser is also kind of an idiot in the RPG games.
  • The mooks you have to deal with in The Swindle mostly walk in predictable patterns and don't even respond to being hit in the head... because they're robots. Presumably pressure sensors and advanced programming are hard to fit inside a roughly human-sized machine using 1849 technology.

    T 
  • In the fourth chapter of Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush must escape from jail while awaiting trial by asking to speak to his lawyer (he's representing himself). When Guybrush is ready to stop conversing with his "client", the guard will let him out. Justified in that nobody really cares that much if Guybrush gets out of jail (the judge - pulling double duty as the town bartender - will even greet Guybrush and act completely unfazed that he's out of his cell,) because he (or anybody, for that matter) can't leave the island anyway, and the guard still won't let him leave town until the trial has concluded.
  • The Talos Principle: Sentry drones sense the player within a certain distance and give warning beeps, but don't attack unless the player gets significantly closer. They don't notice cubes being balanced atop them, or the player standing on these cubes, even though that puts them within sensor range. This is justified since the drones are there to test the player and not just to prevent anyone getting past. There's a puzzle named after this trope, because it requires several instances of exploiting these traits to sneak past the drones.
  • Tenchu:
    • The guards in the series are not the brightest folk in medieval Japan. While they will look around for you for a while if they spot your shadow or see you moving just out of clear sight, the sight of a dead guard causes no more than a few minutes searching, and no call for backup. Likewise, if you get into combat with a guard, then run away and then go back into hiding, he will just return to his patrol and forget he ever saw you. In the first game, guards usually would not react to the sight of dead bodies at all. It seems to indicate that broken necks and gaping sword wounds weren't considered too unusual in an average night's work. Although, to be fair, in the Tenchu universe, it's sort of implied that this happens all the time.
    • Most hilariously is the animal whistle. Throw an exploding shuriken at any enemy. They grunt in pain as it hits them. Then they explode. Then you blow the animal whistle. "Oh, it was just a chicken." The animal whistle also works to pacify a guard who has discovered a dead comrade. "Who killed Joey? Oh, just a dog." And on enemies who have already found you and are actively chasing you. Furthermore, in the original game the animal whistle makes a different sound on each mission, some of which are wildly inappropriate. On some levels enemies are put at ease by the sound of a growling bear, a howling wolf, or a screaming woman. The final level takes place in a lava-filled cavernous maze beneath a castle, and the enemies can be fooled into thinking you are an elephant.
    • The poisoned balls of rice. If you leave one on the floor eventually a guard will stumble past, pick it up and chow down, didn't their mothers ever tell them not to eat food off the floor? It doesn't have to be on the floor when they find it. In the original game especially, rice balls could be thrown from rooftops at such a trajectory that they would bounce when they hit the ground. The guards would not even wait for it to come to a complete stop before they began to approach it, their heads locking onto the ball and following it up and down as it sailed through the air. Try to throw a rice ball at a guard performing his yawn animation. Upon collision, it will immediately pop into the guard's hand, giving the illusion that he randomly, accidentally caught a rice ball while yawning, then decide to eat it.
    • In the original game, there's a sleeping guard with three or four dogs patrolling around him. One of the simpler ways to take care of him is to go up a nearby hill and throw a shuriken at one of his dogs. The dog will die, causing the other dogs to bark in alarm and the guard to wake up. Simply roll backwards, however, and none of them will see you. After a short while, the guard will go back to sleep. Even as his dogs are picked off, one by one, he still decides that this is a perfectly good time and place to take a nap.
  • In the various games of the Thief series, guards are notoriously brain-challenged. They carry obviously important items dangling from their belts, they take a remarkably short time to go from "I saw something" to "must've been a rat", and they ignore fires and candles that get doused by water arrows (that would presumably leave a mess all over the floor). Heck, they don't even try to relight them. At least they go into full-alert mode if they notice a dead mate lying on the floor, which is more that can be said for some other games. In some of the titles, all you have to do is hide out for a while, and they'll conclude that "The murderer must be long gone by now" and resume their patrol, without even calling for assistance.
    • Lampshaded in the first of level of Thief II: The Metal Age, where dousing one of the torches prompts a pair of nearby guards to argue about who should relight it, and then ultimately doing nothing as it transpires that they forgot their tinderbox.
    • And lampshaded in the Gold and Platinum releases of Thief: The Dark Project, where one of the added levels has you infiltrating a thieves' guild: you watch two people go up to the guard at the front door (you'll probably use the back) and be challenged for a password. One points out that they've known each other for years — no dice, the guard wants the password. The first visitor recites it exasperatedly, tries to enter, and is stopped, as the guard points to the other man (who is standing right there) and complains, "Well, now he hasn't given me the password!" And yes, the first man comments on this.
    • Occasionally, the game goes to the opposite direction with the guards, as they recognize the main character as a thief even when he's walking in public areas (such as city streets) and doing nothing suspicious.
    • An incomplete list of things the guards will take as suspicious if they find them: bodies (dead or just KO'ed), guards not being at their posts (probably because you blackjacked them), open doors, missing valuables, blood on the ground, broken glass... for video game guards, they're really quite observant.
    • There's also moments where it crosses over into insane hypervigilance. So much as breathe on anything made of metal in the vicinity of a guard? It doesn't matter if there's 3 other guards making the same patrol, they'll immediately suspect something. Let a guard even brush past you in a pitch black room? No double take, no "What the hell was that?"; they'll instantaneously know there's an intruder and go into full aggro mode.
  • In Tomb Raider III, Lara is captured and imprisoned. If she fiddles with the bars on her window, a guard will open her door, and come in to attack her. Since he leaves the door wide open, she can run past him and set free every other prisoner in the cell block (no keys required).

    V 
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4: The "Warehouse Supply Raid" mission in Chapter 12. If your troops are caught in a spotlight then the guards will call for reinforcements, and the whole mission will fail if they see the APC parked by the gate. Gun battles with automatic weapons and mortar bombs? Not a problem!

    W 
  • Zig-zagged with Corpus and Grineer mooks in Warframe. They investigate noises, sound the alarm when they spot the player, and usually order a lockdown if they spot the player running away. However, they pay absolutely no mind to their allies being cut to pieces right in front of them so long as the player kills them in one hit with a silent weapon. A particularly amusing Good Bad Bug with the Ogris rocket launcher causes it to be considered a "silent" weapon, allowing you to blow up half a room and nobody will care so long as the explosion kills everyone caught in its blast radius.
  • In The World is Not Enough for the Nintendo 64, the guards in the mission "Night Watch" will open fire on you as soon as they spot you even though they know you're just supposed to be in your room. You are meant to disable the cameras by hacking the controls in the various surveillance rooms, but you can instead shoots the cameras directly causing them to explode...It's a quiet night and none of the guards hear or see these cameras exploding (unless they are within a few feet of you)— not even the guards in the surveillance rooms who should plainly see the camera feeds going out.


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