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Video Game / Call of Duty

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No one fights alone.

There's a soldier in all of us.
Call of Duty: Black Ops tagline

Ramirez! Describe Call of Duty here!

Call of Duty (or CoD when abbreviated) is a series of First-Person Shooter games created as the Spiritual Successor to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault after the exodus of some 2015Inc. staff, who would go on to form Infinity Ward. The series is famed for its immersive storytelling techniques and engaging multiplayer mode. So far, the series has appeared on the PC and has also appeared on most major consoles and handhelds. A card game has also been announced.

The series' publisher Activision uses a development cycle for the series to ensure that one game can come out each year while still giving enough time to developers to make the game good. There are three developer companies: Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games. Other studios such as Raven Software also helped with the series.

Though the series earned early fame as one of the finest WWII shooters on the PC, it didn't really take off on consoles until the fourth installment, when it switched to a modern setting. Games following it have diverged into multiple sub-series. Most games in the series since then have consistently set their own record for the largest launch in entertainment history.

    Works in the Series (By Order of Release) 
  • Call of Duty (2003), Call of Duty 2 (2005), Call of Duty 3 (2006): The first three main installments, taking place during World War II, most notably the Western front, Eastern front and North African front. 3 is unique in that whilst other World War Two centered games have missions that take the player to different theaters over the course of the entire war, 3 focuses exclusively on the Normandy Breakout and the Falaise Gap.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007): Set in the modern day, the campaign focuses on a nuclear weapons plot intertwined between the US invasion of a rogue state in the Middle East, a civil war between Ultranationalists and Loyalists in Russia, and the efforts to hunt down the nuclear plot ringleaders by the British SAS.
  • Call of Duty: World at War (2008) Returning to World War II, the game features a more brutal take on the conflict. The single player includes an American campaign set in the Pacific, and a Russian campaign set in the Eastern Front. It would be the last World War II game in the series for almost a decade until 2017's WWII.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009): A continuation to the modern setting introduced in Call of Duty 4, the campaign focuses on a new conflict between the U.S. and Russia triggered by a Russian terrorist, and the efforts of Task Force 141 to uncover the truth.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010): Set in the Cold War, Black Ops centers on Alex Mason, a CIA operative who is probed on his exploits in Cuba, Vietnam, and other areas. The game is also a Stealth Sequel to World at War.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011): A conclusion to the Modern Warfare trilogy. The story has Russia starting World War III by invading Western Europe, while the disavowed remnants of Task Force 141 tries to survive and hunt down Makarov.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012): Primarily set in 2025 during a Second Cold War between NATO and China, with flashbacks from the final years of the original Cold War. The story revolves Alex Mason, his son David Mason, and their feud with Nicaraguan drug lord turned populist leader Raul Menendez.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013): Set in a near-future Alternate Timeline where a weakened United States is locked in a deadly war with a South American superpower known as The Federation. The plot revolves around the titular Ghosts, an elite special force unit composed of the remnants of US Special Forces.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (November 4, 2014): Set in the mid 21st century, where the world's most powerful military is not a country, but a corporation. The game stars Kevin Spacey as the main antagonist, Jonathan Irons. The setting features futuristic elements such as hoverbikes and powered exoskeletons.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III (November 6, 2015): Set in a bleak world forty years after the 2025 of Black Ops II, where the environment has collapsed but political conflicts continue. Technology meanwhile has advanced to such a point where they can combine with the mind and body of a human being, pushing the limits of humanity itself. Unlike both past and future games, the main campaign can be played in any order from the beginning in either solo or in co-op with a custom character that can be either male or female.
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (November 4, 2016): Set in the early 22nd century, the new story revolves around a conflict between the United Nations of Earth against its Mars colonies led by a genocidal Martian supremacist. The campaign features new space combat gameplay.
  • Call of Duty: WWII (November 3, 2017): A return to the WWII setting, the campaign follows 'Red' Daniels through the Western Front pushing the German forces back from Omaha Beach to Aachen and beyond.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (October 12, 2018): The first entry in the series to not feature a single-player campaign. Setting-wise, Black Ops 4 is set between Black Ops 2 and Black Ops 3. Black Ops 4 introduces the "Blackout" multiplayer mode, a Battle Royale mode similar to other popular games at the time such as Fortnite and Player Unknowns Battlegrounds.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (October 25, 2019): A reboot of the Modern Warfare series, with additions such as a Battlefield-esque 20 vs 20 Ground War and the return of the Spec Ops co-op mode. The story surrounds the fictional Russian-occupied country of Urzikstan, whose brutal occupation is creating waves of retaliatory terrorism around the world, and the protagonists' efforts to end both the terrorism and the occupation.
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (March 10, 2020): A free-to-play Battle Royale Game.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War (November 13, 2020): A return to the Cold War setting, this game serves as an Interquel between the first two Black Ops titles. Primarily set in the early 80s, the story centers on the CIA's efforts to track down a Russian agent codenamed "Perseus", whose presence could potentially shift the balance in the Cold War and threaten the free world.
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard (November 5, 2021): A World War II installment shown from the viewpoint of four protagonists across four fronts of the war, depicting the creation of the first special forces.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (October 28, 2022) A continuation to the rebooted Modern Warfare series, with its story focused on Task Force 141 and Mexican Special Forces unit Los Vaqueros attempting to track down a terrorist leader, who is in possession of American-made ballistic missiles. This is the game that undergoes under the Call of Duty HQ name, the front door for Call of Duty across all platforms.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (November 10, 2023) A continuation to the rebooted Modern Warfare series, with Task Force 141 attempting to prevent World War III.

Warning: This game series may make you want to apply to the actual American/British/Russian military. Further warning: If you do, there are no respawn points.

    open/close all folders 

Games Sorted by Developer:

    Infinity Ward 


    Sledgehammer Games 

  • Call of Duty: Finest Hour (Console-exclusive spinoff released in 2003 for all three major systems, developed by the now-defunct Sparks Unlimited)
  • Call of Duty: Roads to Victory (developed by Amaze Entertainment and released in 2007 for PlayStation Portable as a spin-off of Call of Duty 3)
  • Call of Duty: World at War: Final Fronts (developed by Rebellion and released in 2008 as a reimagining of Treyarch's World at War for the PlayStation 2)
  • Call of Duty: Zombies (A game mode/series, present in most games post 2008, primarily associated with Treyarch)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops – Zombies (developed by Ideaworks Game Studio)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (developed by nStigate Games and released as a companion game on the same day as Black Ops II)
  • Call of Duty: Strike Team (developed by Blast Furnace, set in the same universe as Black Ops II)
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered (developed by Raven Software, bundled with Infinite Warfare)
  • Call of Duty Online (free-to-play FPS developed by Activision Shanghai and Raven Software, for China only)
  • Call of Duty: Mobile (developed by Tencent Games' Timi development team)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered (March 2020, developed by Beenox)

Please add any examples relating to other sub-series works to their dedicated pages. Information on Call of Duty 3 is covered on this page and its subpages, along with series-wide info.

RAMIREZ! Provide some examples here!:

    # to E 
  • Actionized Sequel: The original Call of Duty campaigns had an emphasis on portraying war with a more realistic war-movie-esque tone where the lives of individual soldiers and the losses in war are explored more heavily, often placing the player in the role of a common soldier. Later games focused more and more on the spectacle side of a war, and often placed the player in the role of an action-movie-hero-like elite special force personnel.
  • Actor Allusion: It's hard not to see any crossover between this series and the Band of Brothers cast as a deliberate allusion. This is especially noteable in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One which includes Michael Cudlitz (Bull Randleman), Frank John Hughes (Bill Guarnere), Richard Speight Jr. (Skip Muck), James Madio (Frank Perconte), Ross McCall (Joseph Liebgott), and Rick Gomez (George Luz), which is practically a reunion tour.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted; most weapons appear with their real names.
    • Oddly played straight due to a possible bug in Call of Duty 2: the Gewehr 43 with a scope is referred to as the Springfield in single player.
    • Black Ops has odd examples with the handheld minigun and the M202 FLASH launcher. In multiplayer where they're Kill Streak rewards, the game is insistent they are the "Death Machine" and "Grim Reaper". In single player where they're regular weapons, however, the HUD still calls them such but characters will refer to them by their real names.
    • Starting with the 2019 Modern Warfare, the series has started playing this more straight, however.
  • The Alliance: The Allies of course. For the most part they're made of the Americans, the British and the Soviets but at some points, Canadians, Poles, French and Dutchmen appears to join the fight. Their counterpart are the Axis Nations. For 85-90% of the series they're made of Germans but other nations appears as well, In Big Red One Vichy French and Italians appears and in World at War the Japanese appear.
  • Alternate Continuity: Beside the World War II games, there are several independent continuities in the series. There's the Modern Warfare continuity focusing on an Ultranationalist Russia that caused World War III in the 2010s, the Black Ops continuity focusing on three different cold wars across almost 100 years (the 1960s during the real Cold War, one between America and China in 2025, and one between a "Winslow Accord" and a "Common Defense Pact" in the 2060s), the Ghosts continuity focusing on a fallen United States occupied by a South American superpower, and the Advanced Warfare continuity focusing on the N.G.O. Superpower PMC Atlas in 2050s. Infinite Warfare is implied to be a distant sequel to the continuity of Modern Warfare, but is so far disconnected it might as well as be independent.
  • America Saves the Day:
    • Subverted in the Modern Warfare series, where the British are responsible for killing Zakhaev, and at the end of Modern Warfare 2 the war with Russia is still ongoing despite Shepherd's death. Modern Warfare 3 plays it semi-straight: while the war officially ends with the rescue of the Russian President's daughter by US forces, they're assisted by Captain Price and Yuri, who go on to kill Makarov and what remains of his inner circle.
    • Ghosts shoots for the inversion. By the time the events of the game start, the US has already lost the war. Devastated by the surprise attack from South America, the country was left without a good enough military to ward off the subsequent invasion. The Ghost unit's ultimate goal is to hopefully reverse this and win back their country.
  • America Won World War II: Mostly averted, in that the WWII installments usually let you see the conflict from the British (except in World at War) and Soviet sides as well.
    • Also averted insofar they show all three major Allied nations' contribution to the war effort. Both the first game and World at War even end with the player leading a squad of Russian soldiers on the final assault on the Reichstag (German parliament) in Berlin.
    • Call of Duty: Big Red One, however, is this trope. You follow the Big Red One from the sands of North Africa to the borders of Germany, kicking the collective asses of the entire Vichy French, Italian, and German Armies with no mention of any of the other allied nations. With the game focusing entirely on the American 1st Infantry Division, this trope is probably justified.
    • Call of Duty 3 also had you play from some Polish and Canadian troops' perspectives.
    • World at War has you play as Americans in the Pacific (a unique aversion in and of itself, as most prior WWII games that included the Pacific theatre did so entirely at the expense of the European fronts, even ones involving other Americans), with no sign of British, Australian, Russian etc. allies helping out - but their segment ends with them going home before the war is over, with the final part of the game showing the Russians taking the Reichstag (though the Reichstag mission took place several weeks before the final Marine missions on Okinawa; the game also ends with footage of the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan, after which the war really did end).
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Crossing over with Weapons Understudies: Destroyed King Tigers can be found in "Vendetta" in World at War. They were never used in the Battle of Stalingrad, and didn't even exist until one year later.
    • Most of the games allow access to the final version of the StG 44 before it was even produced, much less issued. The first game probably has it the worst, where in the Soviet campaign the German army is making extensive use of it in November of 1942, months before even the earliest prototypes of what became the Sturmgewehr were in earnest production.
  • Anti-Rage Quitting: You won't receive your endgame XP bonus if you quit midmatch, and quitting will count as a loss for you. In addition, although this one isn't as bad, Black Ops 2 gives you a medal called "Strength and Honor" if you stick around through the end. In Black Ops 3, you're encouraged to at least finish a game you join midmatch, as joining an in-progress game and losing won't count toward your loss stat.
  • Anyone Can Die: It became official in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. As appropriate for a series centering around war, even playable characters in the Campaigns can die at any time when the plot demands it. Oddly enough, averted in Call of Duty 2, where none of your named allies die.
    • Killed NPCs include: CoD1's Price, possibly Elder, Sullivan, Chernov, Roebuck or Polonsky, Woods (except not), Bowman and Reznov.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Players can use grenade launchers starting from the fourth game. In most cases, the grenades have to travel a minimum distance before they'll explode, meaning that if someone is too close to you, the grenade will simply bounce harmlessly off the ground or wall next to them. Fortunately, you can usually still get a kill with a direct impact.
  • Arrange Mode: Completing Call Oof Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the first time unlocks Arcade Mode, which has the player replay the campaign's missions with Video-Game Lives and an in-depth scoring system.
  • Arrow Cam: The Kill Cam in the multiplayer, an anti-cheating feature which shows the POV of the player who just killed you. This feature has been around since the first game.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: World at War has Sgt. Sullivan until the end of the second mission, Cpl./Sgt. Roebuck, and Pvt. Polonsky. Roebuck and Polonsky are a special case in that one of them will die at Shuri Castle, although the only difference is an achievement/trophy if Roebuck lives, and the player getting a promotion if he doesn't.
    • Black Ops does this to Reznov, who was apparently made Captain near the end of the war, by the time you play as him in "Project Nova".
  • Autosave: Most games save between levels, and some save at checkpoints.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The MG 42 & FG 42 in most cases. Fun to use, but they run out of ammunition very quickly and it's rare to find replacement ammo. Especially impractical when most of the guns can kill an enemy in 1-4 shots anyway (or just one good one to the head). The former also slows you down.
    • Large capacity machine guns in general fall into this. While their firepower is nice, they generally have a really long reload time compared to regular assault rifles, to the point that you can be quite vulnerable in the time it takes you to reload said machine gun if caught out in the open with no cover to hide behind.
  • Bayonet Ya: One of the attachments for weapons in WaW is a bayonet. In WWII the Infantry class allows you to auto-equip a bayonet onto all rifles.
  • BFG:
    • Quite a few in the various games, though the biggest would be any time you're handed an anti-aircraft gun; Call of Duty had you handle a FlaK 37 (normal crew is 10) solo, and not from the side the elevation and traverse wheels are on, and a FlaK 30 quad with a normal crew of 8. The 25mm Type 96 triple in World at War would normally have a crew of nine.
    • The example in United Offensive was done to keep people with infinite ammo tanks from ruining the multiplayer.
    • World at War has crew-served machine guns such as the M1919 and MG 42 that you can fire from the hip, though you can use them closer to as intended by unlocking the bipod. Extra silliness point for including the PTRS 41 anti-tank rifle as a sniper riflenote  that you can carry as if it was nothing.
    • Black Ops introduces the Death Machine and Grim Reaper, respectively a man-portable gatling gun and a quad-barreled, incendiary rocket launcher. Both appear briefly in the single player and are obtainable from care packages in multiplayer.
    • Head into Nazi Zombies, and you will find a smorgasbord of these, ranging to the Wunderwaffe DG2, to the Thundergun and the Paralyzer, to name a few.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • You are bound to find several occasions in every game.
    • During the mission "Black Cats" in World at War after having spent the ammo of most of the Catalina's turrets, you are left to take as many Zeroes as you can with the nose gun, then several Zeroes appear and start to close in, you aim at them only to learn you've just run out of ammo... right when all seems lost, the Zeroes go up in flames and a flight of Corsairs fly over you, saving you and the rest of the ships.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While Modern Warfare has specifically one instance of gore, it was like this to the previous games in the "blood" department, bumping the rating up to an M. World at War cranked up the gore, including dismemberment. The Black Ops somewhat downplays this series, but still retains much of Wa W's gore system.
    • Black Ops has scenes which deliberately amp up the horrific mutilations, particularly in pre-scripted melee kills and sections such as the VC "Rat Hole". The latter sequence has Mason wielding a Colt Python in close quarters, and every shot fired grotesquely rends limbs and sends victims sprawling as they clutch at ruined stumps. The Python has no such effect outside of this situation, and without such sequences the game would have received a 16+ rating at most. The player can choose to dial back the gratuitous sections at the start of the game. Strangely enough, averted in the multiplayer, which has no gibs whatsoever (compare World at War).
  • Book Ends: World at War ends the exact same way the original Call of Duty did, with the Russian assault on the Reichstag and raising the Russian flag over the roof of the seat of German government.
    • From 3. At the beginning...
    Sgt. McCullin: I'm Sergeant McCullin, and I only got three rules. One, you're no good to me dead. Two... ah, what difference does it make? You'll all end up dead anyway.
    Pvt. Huxley: (sarcastically) Well that was sure inspiring...
    P1C. Dixon: You want inspiration, Hux? Read a poem. Sarge is ten times the soldier you'll ever be.
    • ...and at the end.
    Sgt. Guzzo: I'm Guzzo, and I only got one rule: you're no good to me dead.
    Unnamed Private: What the hell kind of a pep talk is that?
    P1C. Huxley: You want inspiration, private? Read a poem.
    • Also from 3, the introduction had German troops marching down the Arc de Triomphe with a German flag hanging down on it. The last custscene in the game has Allied troops walking to the Arc with a tattered French flag hanging after reclaiming France.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • UAVs (as well as their differently named counterparts) are among the least exciting killstreaks/scorestreaks in the entire series but also among the most widely used. They do not require many kills to earn and simply ping the minimap for enemy locations, which is incredibly useful for strategic purposes. In hardcore modes, UAVs also enable the minimap for the team they're active for.
    • The WWII games have plenty of gun options to choose from, from both Allies and Axis origins. But in all games, the Kar98k + MP40 combo is second to none, as they're both very reliable guns that cover both short- and long-ranged combat and, since nearly all the Jerries carry one of these two, they're super easy to obtain and ammo is a non-issue.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In most games, the mounted machineguns and vehicular weapons have infinite ammo, allowing the player to shoot forever, though the vehicular weapons can overheat. The flamethrower in World at War also never runs out of fuel, though it also overheats.
  • Broken Faceplate: One mission in Black Ops requires you to wear an NBC suit during a chemical attack. You're still fighting, though, and as you take damage, your faceshield will crack. While your regular health will regenerate normally, your faceshield won't, meaning that if you take too much damage in the entire sequence, you'll die from exposure to the chemical agent. You'll get an achievement/trophy for making it through the sequence without dying, however.
  • Call-Back: One of the soldiers in the first Call of Duty during the battle of the Reichstag can be called Private Petrenko. The main Russian character in World at War is Dimitiri Petrenko making a nice continuity.
    • There is also a Pvt. Petrenko in the "Blackout" mission of Modern Warfare.
    • The call back extends to Modern Warfare 3, where one of the generic FSO agents you can fight alongside in the first half of the mission "Turbulence" is named Dmitri Petrenko.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out:
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: The game end in one where after the protagonists manage to stop a nuclear missile strike, they have to escape the compound in a stolen truck with enemy forces hot on their tail.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2:
      • One mission ends with you and your partner having to use some snow mobiles to flee from an enemy compound. It wouldn't look too out of place in a James Bond film.
      • The finale takes place in a motor boat to catch the main villain. All the while having to dodge or shoot enemy forces.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3:
      • One mission in London has a task force close in on some Russian terrorists and try to stop them from moving chemical bombs. The fight goes from a construction area to on wheels through a subway transit system, with our heroes just barely avoiding crashing into oncoming trains.
      • Another mission in Paris has the protagonists have to track down a client for the main villain. He bolts just as you reach his hideout, forcing the heroes to jump into a van and chase him down. Enemy forces right on their tail trying to stop them. The fight even crashing through the Louvre of all places.
  • Cherry Tapping: It is possible to kill an opponent by hitting them with a grenade (not the explosion, but the grenade itself smacking into them) if their health is low enough.
    • It is also possible to kill an enemy with a flash grenade in the same manner. You can one-shot people if you hit them in the face in this manner.
      • Flash Grenades actually do around 10 damage against 100 HP people when they explode. You don't need a direct hit, just throw one at a sufficiently-injured person's foot and they might die.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The opening to World At War has your character witness his fellow private, who is amusingly named Private Pyle, being beaten with a bamboo cane and then burned in the eye with a cigarette. The torturer then cuts his throat with a knife, and goes to do the same to you, but you are then rescued.
    • Vorkuta... implied, at least.
    • Goes beyond mere implications for Hudson and Clarke in "Numbers", though; YOU, Mr. Player, get to give the good Dr. a nice piece of glass candy.
    • In Black Ops 2, Kravchenko gets this from Woods, before being killed by either a still-slightly-crazy Mason or Woods. In another mission, Menendez does this to Hudson and Woods later on, in Suffer With Me both of whom get kneecapped, and then Hudson's throat is slit, with an amulet on a necklace no less.
  • Cold Flames:
    • Fire is often present in small amounts (think burning wreckage) but entirely cosmetic. A player can stand next to or even in it and suffer no damage.
    • Averted in World at War. It is possible to take flame damage, especially if you are using a flamethrower.
  • Cold Sniper: Sergeant Reznov in World at War was a Cold Sniper until just before Pvt. Petrenko meets him; wounds to his right hand mean that he can't handle a sniper rifle anymore, so he gives it to you and takes up a PPSh-41 submachine gun. He manages to maintain the general attitude of one though, until you've gotten the solitary German sniper, then he drops it for Sergeant Rock once you're performing overwatch for the Soviet counterattack and especially when you down the high value target, especially if you did so with a pistol for the "Gunslinger" Achievement/Trophy.
    • Straight and subverted with the playable Russian character Sergeant Alexei Ivanovich Voronin in the first game. He is pretty much based on Vasily Zaitsev from Enemy at the Gates. Just like him, he is forced to cross the Volga river while some of his comrades are shot to death for retreating, has to attack machine guns with just some ammo clips, finds a rifle during an attack on German position around Red Square and with it, snipes some German officers. He later fights at Pavlov's house, in Stalingrad's sewers, transfers to the 2nd Guards Tank Division, take part in Battle of Warsaw and later Battle of Berlin. After the conquest of the Reichstag, he wrote a letter to his mother, telling her of Nazi Germany's defeat and how he met American soldiers. He finishes the letter with We crossed the Elbe River and I shook hands with an American soldier. Although I could not understand a word he said, I felt this man was my brother. And I think he felt the same.
  • Competence Porn: Many games set in modern times, such as the Modern Warfare trilogy and later 2019 remake usually place the player in the role of military elite, allowing them to fight alongside other competent and professional soldiers armed with high-tech equipment and reams of long-distance support.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: First Call of Duty: "Martin! Over here! Get in the car!"
    • "Sergeant Evans! Light up those bloody Stukas that aren't in bloody range yet with the bloody flak gun!"
    • Captain Price in Modern Warfare. "On your feet, soldier! We. Are. LEAVING!" during Crew Expendable and "You're still in one piece, get up!" during Hunted: both times after getting knocked out or stunned.
    • Just about everything Gaz says in the Modern Warfare level Heat. "Soap, we're falling back to the next phase line! Let's go! Let's go! You're gonna get left behind!" "FALL BACK! FALL BACK!!"
  • Controllable Helplessness: Used to the point of irritation in World at War. You start the game as an American POW watching the Japanese torture and execute your squadmate, and in every other level or so that follows, there's a point in which your character gets his ass kicked after then being pulled to safety by the sergeant. Even more so in the Soviet campaign. Finally, both campaign stories end with this: the U.S. Marine campaign ends with you having to choose whether it's Sgt. Roebuck or Pvt. Polonsky who survives right before fending off a humongous Japanese counterattack — your weapon was lowered before the choice had to be made, so you can't simply shoot the Japanese beforehand — and the Soviet campaign ends with Pvt. Petrenko being shot as he charges at the Reichstag flagpole, and having to be helped up to slowly make his way to it.
    • Sgt. Jackson can only slowly crawl forward and look around at the destruction caused by the nuclear explosion in the Middle East before he dies in Call of Duty 4
  • Critical Existence Failure: You've been shot twice? Hide and walk it off. You've been shot three times? Have a Nice Death!
    • This only applies to the player character - enemies do generally react about how you'd expect when they take a bullet that isn't instant death. Sometimes they even get back up after appearing to die, to either fire at you with their pistol or just try to crawl away.
  • Darker and Edgier: World at War goes into this from Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4 was in itself darker and edgier than the rest of the series, while World at War went down the Bloodier and Gorier route for World War II with the series' only look at the Pacific campaign, as well as a much more graphic take on the Eastern Front.
  • Dead Character Walking: The game has occasional glitches with corpses, from just silently talking faces to really strange animation and postures. This Cracked page explains it.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first games were fairly realistic historical shooters. Starting with Modern Warfare, the series became increasingly outlandish, culminating in both futuristic elements and Nazi Zombies.
  • Developer's Foresight: Here.
  • Distant Sequel: The first three games were set during World War II; the Modern Warfare series is set around The New '10s, around seventy years later.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • It can take several bullets to kill enemies in multi-player in some of the early games, which can be surprising to players used to the post-Modern Warfare gameplay of 3 to 4 shots being lethal. Conversely, however, Call of Duty 2 was infamous for its bolt-action rifles being one-shot kills, something which later games have generally only done when you nail a headshot.
    • Until Call of Duty 3, there were no cut-scenes in-between levels, only slide show briefings and journal entries, with the occasional bit of stock footage from the Military Channel. Speaking of which, the journal entries of some characters gave the heroic mimes of the game more characterization than future protagonists. For example, Private Martin in the first game had much more characterization than Derek "Frost" Westbrook from Modern Warfare 3, a game that came out 9 years after the original, because of it.
    • Call of Duty 4 was the first game in the series rated M for Mature; all previous entries were rated T for Teen.
  • Easy Logistics: Oh so averted by the Russians. As in every game in the series, the Russians are woefully undersupplied. The men fighting in the first game are clearly not well trained and are very afraid. Each man is given a gun or 5 bullets for one, then told to attack and not give a step or get shot. It's a bloodbath.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: A series staple, starting with the 101st airborne unit and the SAS from the first game.
  • Emergency Weapon: Call of Duty 1 and 2 allow you to club enemies with the butt of your rifle. World at War, in addition to keeping CoD4's one-button knife, added one step to this with the bayonet attachment, extending your melee attack reach when holding a rifle equipped with it. Banzai chargers are a regular source for these in single player, although they're usually Arisaka bolt action rifles.
  • Enemy Chatter: There's a lot of shouting from both sides, though the enemy's is in their own language.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Played straight with the German weapons, many of which are better, or at least easier to use. Generally averted with the Japanese weapons in "World at War", as the American weapons are easier to aim with or focuses on More Dakka. And played straight if you use them largely because as you kill enemy soldiers you probably won't have to worry about stocking up on ammo, unless you simply wait for your allies to get killed and take their weapons.
    • Later games avert this, as generally everything you get your hands on kills bad guys in one or two shots, the weapons you start with are usually given unique sets of attachments you can't find on enemy weapons (such as the player's gun getting a suppressor, grenade launcher and a sight of some kind, while enemy weapons only ever have one attachment that's usually a sight) and you can actually replenish what you start with if any of the enemy weapons use the same bullets. Call of Duty 4 makes this apparent from the beginning, where the weapons you start most missions with (the M4A1 and/or M21) have some of the fastest reload times in the game.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: To ridiculous extremes in some cases, such as a possible glitch in one Call of Duty 2 mission that lets you blow up a tank by bashing it a couple times with your weapon.

    F to N 
  • First-Person Shooter
  • Fission Mailed: In most of the games, if your characters is stunned by an explosion, or the area is being bombarded by an artillery barrage, the action will slow down and blur, sometimes playing the same sound heard when the player dies, which can lead to confusion and possibly a real death if the player is in the open.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Call of Duty ended with the Soviets storming the Reichstag and planting the flag on top. Guess how World at War ends.
    • They end differently. COD 1 had someone else wave a flag while you watched. COD 5 had you surviving a bullet wound and get a rousing speech... and then the last cutscene shows historical black-and-white footage of the actual flag.
    • While the WWII-era games in general are no strangers to retreading battles covered by previous titles, ''WWII'' in particular has a mission structure composed almost entirely of battles already seen earlier in the series.
  • Forces with Firepower: Mainstay factions of the series include the Yanks with Tanks and Brits with Battleships as the main protagonists across all eras, Reds with Rockets as a protagonist faction during the WWII era and as an enemy one in games set during the Cold War, their Russians with Rusting Rockets successors in the various Modern Warfare games, and the Nazis with Gnarly Weapons as an entirely antagonistic force in the WWII games. Various notable one-off factions include:
  • Friendly Fireproof: In multiplayer, unless you play on Hardcore mode. Averted for single-player, and causing too much friendly fire will grant you a Nonstandard Game Over.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Only for major characters, whereas New Meat dies just as easily as the protagonist.
    • Finest Hour averts this, where major characters are just as vulnerable as you are - however, the game also adds medkits that you can carry around and use on them if necessary.
    • Also occasionally averted for those major characters in the original, for example Private Elder from the American campaign can die in combat with no consequence at any point after the driving sequence.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Usually averted, since you almost always have allies with you, which provide another target for the enemies to shoot at as well. Played straight when you take too long to take out a machine gunner if attempting to snipe them. They will usually notice you aiming at them within a couple of seconds and proceed to start firing at you if you miss, or take too long to fire.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: In the games with selectable camouflages for weapons, golden camouflage is one of the harder unlocks to get. Starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops II, however, it is not top-tier since unlocking gold camouflage for all weapons in a category unlocks diamond camouflage for that particular category.
  • Grenade Spam: Be prepared to see upwards of three grenades tossed at you at any one time. Even worse in the original game, as there is no HUD indicator for nearby grenades.
    • In World at War, the game engine actually spawns grenades at your position to force the player to move forward!
  • Griefer: Hardcore is filled with team-killers, to the point it's often become standard practice to kill each other after a round is over for fun.
  • Harder Than Hard: One wonders if the developers are attempting to justify the Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels by making the Veteran mode give you Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • Best described by IW themselves.
      Veteran Mode: You will not survive.
    • Exaggerated with Black Ops III's Realistic difficulty. Hell, the name of the achievement/trophy for beating the campaign on Realistic is "No One Will Believe You"!
  • Have a Nice Death: Excluding World at War, dying in any of the games under normal circumstances shows you some form of quotation relating to war.
  • Hellish Copter: When the player enters a helicopter, there's about a 75% chance that something very bad is going to happen to said helicopter. Even the games based in World War 2 are not safe from this trope, though helicopters are replaced by airplanes, and it seems to happen to planes the player doesn't occupy. For example, in Big Red One you witness no less than eleven planes go down, and often you come across the wreckage of those downed planes later in your mission.
  • Heroic Mime: Applicable in all games, though Finest Hour and 3 avert this trope to some degree as player characters will speak during cutscenes.
    • Lampshaded in the mission on the Tirpitz in the first game, where Price specifically tells you to let him do the talking, "unless your German's improved". Likewise in the opening level for World at War, where a Japanese officer taunts the player character for thinking themselves strong because they say nothing.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Averted in Call of Duty 2; if you go to Mission Select, you can see the faces of all the characters you play, notably in a photographic format. Finest Hour averts this as well.
    • You can see a glimpse of Miller in the intro of World at War, though the "M.I.A." notice on his dossier manages to cover his eyes. He also shows up in the PS2 port, which is otherwise notorious for being very low quality.
    • Averted in Black Ops three times. The first time is with Alex Mason, the game's main character; before actual gameplay even starts, you can see his face on the monitors in the interrogation room. The second time is with Hudson, who you've already seen multiple times before you play as him in a few missions. The third example is when you play as Reznov in a flashback. Dimitri Petrenko, the Russian player character in World At War, is in your squad.
  • Hitscan: All bullets. This leads to Sniper Pistol. The shotguns are very exempt from this. Subverted from Modern Warfare (2019) onwards: all bullets in that game and onwards are projectiles and have their own bullet velocity.
  • Hold the Line: Played straight in defending Point Du Hoc and Hill 400 in Call of Duty 2. The game even had a level actually called "Holding the Line", which was all about this.
    • Call of Duty 1 had British paratrooopers defending Pegasus Bridge from a German counterattack.
    • The last segments of Hard Landing (you can use a wall-mounted MG, your personal weapons or even a captured Triple 25 anti-aircraft artillery three-barreled gun) and Breaking Point in World At War are also examples.
    • Black Ops has the defense of Khe Sanh in Vietnam. A tide of NVA troops rush at you throughout the mission.
    • The Modern Warfare series has several. The end of the Chernobyl mission involves you holding off waves of Russian infantry until the extraction helicopter arrived. Modern Warfare 2 had the Rangers defending Raptor while TF141 had to protect a DSM while it downloaded critical data.
  • Homage: To Enemy at the Gates in World At War. Think about it. Both scenes start with Nazis and tanks passing by a fountain, a Nazi randomly shooting the dead bodies, someone faking death and moving, being assisted by a sniper, having to take out henchmen from cover while using the sound of bombers overhead to mask your rifle shots' report, then killing an officer who tries to flee. Oh, and the Nazi who begins to nervously approach you. Also, the opening scene for the Soviet campaign in both the original game and Finest Hour bears a striking resemblance to Vasili's entry into Stalingrad, right down to "The first man in line gets the rifle, the second, ammunition!"
    • Two at the beginning of World at War: one of the captives is Private Pyle, and a little into the first mission a private will be grabbed by a burning Japanese soldier and Roebuck will yell for you to save him. The private's name? Ryan.
    • The first game and United Offensive's American campaigns take copious amounts of inspiration from Band of Brothers, most notably by having a mission set at Brecourt Manor in the first game and taking the Foy single player mission and multiplayer map in United Offensive straight from the show. The Italian segment of the British campaign in United Offensive also has been noted for its similarities to The Guns of Navarone.
    • One of Black Ops' Laos levels starts with a scene where two POWs use a game of Russian roulette to escape their captors.
      • Immediately after, you begin re-enacting First Blood - and right before that, the Russian Operator's presence commanding the Viet Cong is reminiscent of Rambo: First Blood Part II.
      • The level "Crash Site" ends with a shot mirroring the finale of Modern Warfare. Your squad is severely wounded, and you are flat on your back in the dazed state. You pull an M1911 as the Big Bad approaches, but this time he kicks it away and you and your CO are captured.
      • If you do pull the trigger before he gets to you, you realize the gun is out of ammo, not unlike that fellow who survived the helo crash in the ending of Modern Warfare 2 and tried to pull a pistol on you.
    • Black Ops cribs a good amount of plot from The Manchurian Candidate.
    • Dimitri's death is reminiscent of the poor bastard in The Rock, and NOVA-6 is very similar to the film's VX.
    • The assault on the final level brings up a very James Bond-esque theme.
  • Ho Yay: invoked Dimitri and Reznov. Well, not really, but that doesn't stop this video from joking that there is.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted, as you can only carry up to two weapons (three in the original game and its expansion), though inverted somewhat in that a pistol with a few spare mags is treated as being the same effective size as a rocket launcher in any game later than United Offensive. In single-player this can be two primary weapons, or a primary and a pistol; in multiplayer it's always a primary and a pistol unless you're using the Overkill perk to be able to carry two primary weapons, though there's nothing stopping you from dropping your pistol for someone else's gun. In both modes, though, you also have the knife.
    • This is played straight in Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer with the perk One-Man Army, that replaces your secondary weapon with a backpack that lets you switch out your current class for another you have set up, also replenishing grenades and ammo without having to die first. Add to that you have a total of five custom classes (and five pre-built ones) and that backpack must be getting pretty heavy.
      • Not to mention that any of those classes could also have One Man Army...
      • In the Campaign mode of Modern Warfare 2, this is averted, as you can actually see where all of the weapons are on the other NPCs. Further averted in multiplayer for that game and Black Ops, where the Overkill perk was removed, though it came back for their respective sequels.
    • Killstreaks that give the player a weapon or other object play this straight, though how ridiculous it gets depends on the game. Black Ops would let you pull an explosive remote-control car out of nowhere once you made enough kills for it, while requiring a helicopter to drop in things like miniguns (in either handheld form or as an automated sentry gun), SAM turrets, or incendiary rocket launchers; then Black Ops II would, once you made enough points for it, allow you to pull out that explosive RC car, a hunter-killer drone, a revolver-grenade launcher, a bigger variety of minigun, SAM turrets, and even a full setup of a dish that emits microwaves to deny access to an area from out of nowhere - multiple times in one life, even, if you could survive long enough to make the required points again.
  • I Call It "Vera": The cover art for Black Ops has Alex Mason holding a pistol with the name "Sally" etched into it.
    • Mustang and Sally in Nazi Zombies... and they spit out grenades. In full-auto.
    • Black Ops III allows players to name their weapons in multiplayer.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Greenhorn/Recruit, Regular, Hardened, and Veteran.
    • Black Ops III introduces Realistic.
  • Identical Grandson: The Captain Price of Modern Warfare looks just like Captain Price in Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2, right down to the righteous mustache.
    • It's even implied that Price is the same man in every game he appears in.
    • Also, Sgt. Reznov in World at War/Black Ops is an ancestor of Zakhaev from Modern Warfare, to the point that he uses a modified version of Zakhaev's model in-game. Zakhaev's own son even has the same first name as Reznov (though by way of a Retcon).
    • Also, Foley, who was present in the first game, makes a reappearance in Modern Warfare 2. However, the first Foley was white and a Captain while the Modern Warfare 2 version is black and a Sergeant. Similarly, there's an unseen Major Sheppard (spelled that way before you correct it) in the first game and a General Shepherd in Modern Warfare 2. Ramirez turned up in United Offensive as a Sergeant.
  • Instant Death Stab: Starting with Modern Warfare, the knife is usable in most situations as a quick melee weapon which kills enemies instantly with only one hit.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The series has quite a few unclimbable chest-high walls. Which is odd, seeing as there are also climbable head-high walls.
  • In the Back: You get more points for knifing enemies in multiplayer in the back. People using riot shields in Modern Warfare 2 and 3 are typically only vulnerable from this direction, as well.
  • It's Up to You: Many, many examples. Let's just say that unless the player moves their ass and gets across the room, the enemies will usually keep spawning at the far end indefinitely. Though, to be fair the NPCs, especially the unkillable ones, sometimes act useful to the plot, too. Fortunately, in some cases, it only looks infinite... particularly if you're just picking a really suboptimal approach to the objective.
    • It may be lampshaded in World at War, where Sergeant Reznov tells you that "As long as you live, the heart of this army will never be broken."
    • World at War has what is perhaps the silliest example: defending against a Japanese counterattack on Pelielu, there are two anti-air cannons and two fixed machine gun that the player can use against them. NPC allies are for some reason unable to make use of the additional firepower.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When Call of Duty 2 first came out, the Regenerating Health system was criticized, with critics claiming that it made the game too easy. Oh, how wrong they were...
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In the World at War mission "Little Resistance", the landing craft the player character is in gets caught on something. An NPC then shouts "It's the coral! We're stuck on the cor—" *Cue headshot*
    Clarke: "Ah, yes, the numbers! They're the key to-"*BOOM*
  • Kill It with Fire: The flamethrowers in United Offensive and World at War, used by both Allies and Axis soldiers. WaW also has a flamethrower mounted in a tank, and refreshing Molotov cocktails. Black Ops has a flamethrower attachment for assault rifles.
  • Large Ham: Sergeant Reznov in World at War starting with the level Their Land, Their Blood. He arguably manages to out-ham Commissar Markhov, who has No Indoor Voice and speaks half his lines through a megaphone.
    • Reznov hasn't lost his touch in Black Ops.
      Reznov: Never lose faith, friends... NEVER! MONTHS of planning, Mason. We will NOT pause. We will NOT falter. We will be FREE — OR DIE TRYING!
    • This guy could've written a best-selling book: "How to Escape From Prison in 8 Simple Steps." See Spy Speak below.
    • In Black Ops, hearing Reznov talk about Dmitri's death is downright depressing. Instead of his hilarious Hamvoice, he talks in a very downcast and softspoken way about how Dmitri should have died as a hero storming Berlin, instead of dying like a test animal.
    • The multiplayer announcer for the German side in World at War gives Reznov a good run for the money in terms of ham.
  • Limited Loadout: As noted above, in almost all games in the series the player is restricted to two main guns plus some accessories like grenades and whatever other shiny things you've brought along, usually attached to one or both of your guns.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Special editions existed for Call of Duty 2, Modern Warfare 2 and again for Black Ops.
  • Mad Scientist: Richtofen in Nazi Zombies. He invented the Wunderwaffen DG-2, and he's certainly a madman, what with the screaming in orgasmic joy of blowing off body parts. Also, may or may not be Edward, a scientist who murdered his business partner and said partner's daughter.
  • Master of Unlocking: Typically, only the ranking officer in a squad has had the years of training required to operate a door. Except Call of Duty 1, where the player can open some doors when required, and Call of Duty 2, where said ranking officer tends to make his second-in-command open doors instead. Of course, we mean that due to the games' heavy use of No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom, only NPCs can open doors and let you through after you've completed objectives in the area. Try as you might, few of the doors in the games will be interactable to you.
  • Military Alphabet: Military game. Natch.
  • Military Science Fiction: Has reliably shifted to this from Call of Duty: Black Ops II onwards, even in the more subtly speculative Call of Duty: Ghosts, drawing mixed reactions from old school fans of the series.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • InCall of Duty: World at War, the final American mission has the player call in an air strike on Shuri Castle, and in the last Russian mission you lay siege on the Reichstag.
    • In Modern Warfare, during the helicopter rail shooter sequence at the beginning of "Shock and Awe", you can topple a statue of Al-Asad.
    • Modern Warfare 2:
      • The level "Of Their Own Accord" starts in a damp basement assumed to be somewhere in the Washington D.C. area, filled with wounded and dead soldiers while artillery shells shake the ground above. When a Sergeant orders the player character to follow him outside into combat, the player emerges in a muddy trench and the first thing to be seen of the outside are the scorched remains of the Washington Monument, backlit by dark clouds that reflect the fires of Capitol Hill, which looks more like Berlin in 1945. The Washington Monument is still standing though, and the White House is later shown to be repaired. Half of the Capitol's dome has been destroyed as well, but it too is still standing.
      • Also in Modern Warfare 2, in a desperate attempt to give the American forces a fighting chance, a nuke is launched and detonated in the vicinity of the International Space Station to trigger a massive EMP over the fighting, which kills everyone up there. Thanks, Captain Price.
    • Modern Warfare 3:
      • The first mission prominently features a firefight on the Wall Street trading floor.
      • The first two missions of prominently feature the New York City skyline in flames, pounded by a constant barrage of artillery and cruise missiles, though both the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty are intact.
      • The second Paris mission sees the Eiffel Tower literally destroyed by a series of friendly airstrikes meant to destroy Russian positions at the tower's base. These examples pretty much overlap with Scenery Gorn, given how much detail is given to the destruction.
      • The church in "Blood Brothers" seems to be stand in for the St. Nicholas church in Prague, but it's not an actual recreation. It still gets blown up, with you inside.
      • The Siberian diamond mine from "Down the Rabbit Hole" does exist in real life, but it isn't a monument. It too collapses, on top of Team Metal and the remaining Ultranationalist forces.
    • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sees part of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge torn asunder by explosive drones taking out the cables of the bridge.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops III: In a post apocalyptic Singapore, several Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay gets obliterated by drone missiles and later on, the entire Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel gets toppled; all in the 54 Immortals attempts to kill the player(s) and his/her team.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • In the final mission of World at War's the American Campaign: Roebuck and Polonsky get themselves into hand-to-hand combat with two Japanese soldiers that pull an I Surrender, Suckers. The player is given the option to save Roebuck or Polonsky. After the final battle, the character you picked to survive will go up to the body of the other, remove his dogtags, and hand them to you, as Roebuck gives a final narration.
    • Before the final mission in World at War, Reznov will read a passage from Chernov's diary. If the player went and slaughtered helpless Germans during the Soviet Campaign, the passages will be critical, if the player spared them, the passages will praise the player. If the player did a mixture of both, the passages will paint the character as a moral question mark.
    • The entire premise of Black Ops II. There are multiple points during the story where you can affect the outcome, causing some story characters to die or get into a different situation.
  • More Dakka: Aside from all the vehicle-mounted and fixed machine guns, autocannons and grenade launchers in the games, the minigun in Black Ops.
  • Multi-Platform: Oddly enough, the side story games were multi-platform before the main series - Call of Duty 1 was a PC-exclusive until an Updated Re-release was put up on XBLA/PSN as a pre-order bonus with Modern Warfare 2, and its expansion United Offensive is still PC-only.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Makarov in MW2 is named after a gun.
    • Note: the gun in question was named after the designer, as are many Russian/Soviet weapons. Could simply be Famous-Named Foreigner.
  • New Meat:
    • CoD 2 plays this trope even straighter than MW - your character for the tutorial level is a newly drafted Russian Infantryman literally fresh off the truck, who's never fired a rifle in his life. The first level involves shooting bottles and plates on a nearby fence, throwing potatoes ("Grenades are worth a lot more than you are!") into a destroyed building for grenade practice, and destroying a German armored car that entered the area.
    • Played with in Modern Warfare 2. While there is a tutorial level at the beginning, your character goes through the tutorial not because they're new meat, but because they're showing a group of new-meat locals how to fight.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The unlockable Nazi Zombies bonus level after you beat World at War, where you fight, well...
  • Nazi Zombies
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Black Ops: The SAS raid on the Nova 6 ship unwittingly saves Reznov from being exposed to the chemical weapon.
  • Nominal Importance:
    • Every friendly soldier has a name. Members of the Red Shirt Army have randomly-selected ones. For obvious reasons, don't bother learning them.
    • The prisoners in Vorkuta don't even have names, only serial numbers.
  • Non-Combat EXP: In the multiplayer, players have levels. They must gain XP to level up, which allows them access to new weapons. You mainly get XP through kills, but the game liberally dishes out XP for getting kills in special ways, such as revenge kills ("Payback!") or killing an enemy immediately after they killed a teammate ("Avenged!"). You can also get lots of bonus XP for certain achievements/trophies, like getting a certain number of headshots with a weapon, or using a perk a certain number of times. In objective-based gamemodes you also will get XP for capturing objectives.
  • Nonstandard Game Over:
    • When you get blown up by a grenade ("Watch for the grenade danger indicator"), chewed up by a dog ("Press (melee key) to fight off the dog") or accidentally shoot one of your teammates ("You are a traitor to the motherland!" and/or "Friendly fire will not be tolerated!").
    • Black Ops also gives you a new one if you are exposed to Nova 6, and one if you failed basic safety and ran between the propellers of a cargo plane's engines.
    • In Hardcore Mode multiplayer games, killing too many teammates (usually 3) will get you kicked from the game while the announcer of your team says something to that effect (for example, Black Ops 3's Black Ops announcer will say "That's a six-six and a kick for that SOB").
  • Nostalgia Level: The Reichstag was the final level in the 1st Call of Duty. It appears as the final level of the 5th, but this time it's a LOT harder.
  • Notice This: Important stuff is often glowing. In the first game, so did medical items.

    O to Z 
  • Once an Episode: From Modern Warfare onward, almost every final level ends with the Player Character being W.I.A. The only exceptions are "Redemption" and "Judgement Day" (both Masons make it through unharmed) and "Life" and "Operation Blood Storm" (both the Player and Reyes are K.I.A.).
  • One Bullet Clips: Enforced - one of the most common tips repeated to you is to reload early and often, and if you fail to heed that advice your reloads take longer. The original game is essentially the Trope Codifier for the caveat of empty reloads taking longer than mid-mag ones.
  • One-Man Army: The original game was advertised with the tagline that "no one fights alone", which is reflected in the number of people in the missions - while you may be the only competent person on your side, with very rare exceptions you'll never be the only person period. Played straighter in Black Ops, where any section where Mason's teamed up with Reznov alone is actually him single-handedly going on a massacre.
  • Optional Stealth: In these games, the other characters hide against walls before entering rooms, and lots of the players do this. It's actually easier just to stand in the middle of the doorway and shoot as while you're trying to navigate around the edge of doors (massive pain), your enemies can get shots in. It's also far too hard to make your player drop to ground, but there is no additional penalty or chance of injury if you just stand up in the middle of the place. Being un-stealthy is, if anything, advantageous.
    • The Modern Warfare games have a few missions where your superior will encourage you to sneak past enemies or at least use silenced weapons on them. It's not required, though, and while you'll get mobbed it is possible to fight your way out. Said superior will chew you out, though. Plus, the missions "All Ghillied Up" and "Cliffhanger" have achievements/trophies for not being spotted.
  • Painting the Medium: The loading screen cutscenes in most games post Modern Warfare feature standard exposition dumps accompanied by video, but most of those videos are thematically related to the game. Examples include: Modern Warfare presents information relevant to the discussion on a GPS map with topic highlights, Black Ops presents everything as historical footage and classified files.
  • Personal Space Invader: Banzai chargers in World at War.
  • Playing Possum: Some enemies, when critically wounded and grounded, keep shooting you with their handguns. If this happens in the single-player campaign, you should be able to scoop up their pistol upon their death — while this is exactly how the Last Stand perk works in multiplayer, this occurs in at least Call of Duty 4 up to Call of Duty Black Ops 2. (Call of Duty 3 half-has this where enemies can still be critically wounded but they use their primary weapon instead of drawing a pistol.)
    • In World at War, Japanese enemies can and will lie in wait in the grass, nearly invisible until they're on top of you. Liberal application of flamethrowers and shooting at misshapen lumps evens the odds. What's more, in some instances Japanese units will literally play dead until you're right on top of them.
  • Press X to Not Die: The Modern Warfare series is notorious for this, in which you must press the melee button at the exact time to prevent an attack dog from ripping your throat out.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The majority of the playable characters and the squads they are in. Seems to be lessened slightly in the Modern games, as the groups tend to be more well trained and cold, though the Soldiers (the important ones, anyway) do still have a lot of loyalty and respect for each other. Probably the epitome being Soap, who has a thicker frame and rocks a mohawk, and Captain Price, who has an amazing mustache that stands for the freedom of the world, and the two are best friends.
  • Rated M for Manly: You get to shoot/blow up countless mooks and bosses, and on top of that, your team consists of beefed-up macho Navy SEAL elites and a tough-as-nails Marine in Black Ops 2. Need I say more?
  • Ray Gun:
    • A surprise appearance by name as one of the best weapons in World at War's Nazi Zombies mode.
    • It's possible to find it as an Easter Egg in the campaign.
  • Real Is Brown: Every game (except parts of "Modern Warfare 2", mostly in Brazil, and most Russian missions in the early games, which are covered in snow) has a basic color palette of brown. World at War, however, has a lot of gray as if everything is an old video tape of the war.
  • Recurring Location: Stalingrad in particular. Normandy in general is pretty common as well, though no one location within appears in more than one game.
  • Redshirt Army: Any ally you see who is not important to plot, unless you go out of your way to protect them, is going to die.
  • Regenerating Health:
    • Call of Duty 2 and thereafter.
    • Possibly lampshaded in World at War, where Reznov says he has seen you cheat death over and over again.
  • Reverse Grip: Every game past CoD3 has knives primarily used in this manner.
  • Sequel Escalation: United Offensive was the original game turned up to eleven. Gun turret sequence where you shoot a vaguely preposterous amount of tanks? Right, let's have a gun turret sequence where you shoot down half the Luftwaffe! Pavlov's House? Now it's a bigger house with even nastier attack waves! Big dramatic ending? Let's defend a railyard that's constantly being attacked by tanks, Stukas, and Germans who are apparently breeding frantically inside the signal box!
    • And unlike Modern Warfare 2, everyone agreed that it was awesome. Sure, the battles portrayed in United Offensive aren't as famous as the ones in the original, but the cool factor more than makes up for it.
  • Shared Universe: As of Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), Black Ops, and Sledgehammer's WWII entries share a universe.
  • Shooting Gallery: The opening levels of the first four games, as well as Modern Warfare 2.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The trend-setter. While the Trench Gun in the first two games had a reasonably-distant reach - it wasn't going to beat the one-hit-kill bolt-action or semi-auto rifles except in very close ranges, but you could at least still draw an enemy's attention and do some actual damage from further away - Call of Duty 4 introduced the maximum range of about seven paces, which has only barely been improved in the games since.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Call of Duty 2, many of the actors who worked on Band of Brothers had major voice acting roles in the game.
    • In Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, the Italian soldiers in Sicily repeatedly shout "Giù la testa!" ("Duck, you sucker!")
    • The mission "Vendetta" in World At War is full of shout-outs to the movie Enemy at the Gates, from the fountain scene at the beginning to the entire "Soviet sniper tracking down a wicked Nazi officer"-theme.
      • The first Call of Duty's Stalingrad mission basically was Enemy at the Gates, complete with a sergeant directing the first soldier in line to take a rifle and the following to take ammunition, so that the second can take the rifle once the first soldier is killed.
      • A couple of grunts named Zaitsev and Danilov accompany you at the start of the train station mission.
    • You get to see Privates Pyle and Ryan. Guess what happens to the first and what Jack Bauer wants you to do to the second.
    • The tank mission in World At War has a shout-out to Modern Warfare, during the loading cut-scene you can hear the woman's voice who warns people about the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare playing softly in the background.
    • In Finest Hour, Sgt. Starkey, voiced by Brian Johnson, has a few lines that shout out to lines from his songs.
    • The scene towards the end of Black Ops, where Steiner is in a chair and gets shot by Reznov/Mason looks oddly close to the climax of Fight Club, which makes sense, as they share a critical plot point.
    • In Black Ops, the name of the CIA analyst in all of the intel files is Ryan Jackson - an inversion of Jack Ryan.
    • Also in Black Ops's intel files, there's a reference to a voyage up the Nung river to eliminate a rogue SF colonel. The achievement/trophy for that level is "Never get off the boat".
    • According to United Offensive privates Linnell, Flansburgh, Gordon, and Freeman fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
    • A couple of missions in both World at War and Black Ops II have the player using mortar shells as improvised grenades.
  • Silliness Switch:
    • Nazi Zombies.
    • Goes farther with Shi no Numa. The four soldiers' backgrounds are Sociopathic Soldiers (Played for Laughs), and apparently, there is a zombie war going on.
    • InBlack Ops zombie mode, you can play as Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro in one of the most wildly implausible but hilarious Zombie Apocalypse scenarios ever.
    • Co-op campaign in World at War has some Death Cards that are also pretty silly - the Joker card arms you with nothing but a knife and rocks, Ace of Spades makes enemies look like the aforementioned Nazi Zombies, Six of Clubs gives you paintball guns, and Eight of Hearts causes enemies shot in the head to explode.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: Very minor amount in the original (which works pretty similar to the ACOG from the later Modern Warfare series, down to the rather short-ranged zoom. The games after the original have much more noticeable scope sway in return for a better zoom, and let you hold your breath to steady your aim for a few seconds, after which the sway will be even worse until you get your breath back. You can also use perks to extend how long you can hold your breath in multiplayer. The same is true of the thermal scope, while the ACOG scope has a lower zoom level and less sway, but you can't hold your breath outside of a small handful of games.
  • Sniper Pistol:
    • Pistols are hitscan and aiming down your sights makes every shot fire directly at where the sights are aiming at. This can let them go a very long way in good hands, though with damage fall-off starting from United Offensive it'll take a good chunk of the magazine even if you hit every shot to actually kill someone this way.
    • In World at War the Gunslinger achievement is attained by doing this to kill General Amsel. Note that Amsel is at least two blocks away, and you're supposed to make the shot with a sniper rifle.
  • Sociopathic Soldier:
    • Every character in the Shi No Numa and Der Riese maps.
    • Sergeant Reznov likes killing Germans a little... too much.
      Reznov: (If the player stops shooting or moving for more than a second during "Blood & Iron") WE COULD BE BURNING GERMANS RIGHT NOW!!
  • Spam Attack: The entire series frequently has the enemies constantly throwing grenades at you. It had a slightly more honest instance in World at War of a Japanese soldier programmed to be standing over a castle's balcony constantly throwing grenades at you until you get close enough for him to worry about you and just shoot at you.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: From World at War onwards, the Call of Duty supertitle stopped being numbered. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, for instance, is actually the eighth game in the series.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The subtext for the "Recruit" difficulty setting on the more recent games includes mention of "...content tourists".
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability:
    • The enemy mooks who kill Sergeant Sullivan, Private Chernov, and Polonsky or Roebuck in World at War are either invincible till after they deliver the killing blow to the above NPCs or circumstances simply prevent you from shooting in time.
    • In Modern Warfare: the final part of mission "One Shot, One Kill", when you picked up MacMillan to rush for the heli, the game will enable God Mode for you.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: "You look like hammered shit." Considering these quotes Book End one of the hardest missions in Black Ops, it can count as Breaking the Fourth Wall too.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In Reznov's flashback mission in Black Ops, Dimitri is revealed to have survived his wounds from the end of World At War - then he's horribly gassed to death in front of Reznov.
  • Suicide is Shameful: The "Last Stand" perk in Call of Duty 4, in which a player is merely knocked down rather than killed when taking fatal damage, gives players the option to kill themselves and immediately respawn rather than wait to bleed out or get shot by an enemy. This is labeled the "Coward's Way Out".
  • Technical Pacifist: The closest description of Pvt. Chernov in World At War, who is mostly okay with killing Nazis, but never more than is necessary and absolutely refuses to torture them like Reznov and the player might. He's no coward, and he tends to take point in the formation as well as fight.
  • Tank Goodness: Any level regarding driving a tank, of which there is at least one in every WWII installment.
  • The Stinger: Captain Price's rescue in Call of Duty 2, the Nazi Zombies in World at War, and Zombie Mode in Black Ops.
  • Unexplained Recovery: World at War's ending saw Dimitri Petrenko taking what seemed to be a lethal pistol shot. Black Ops reveals he recovered just fine, and in 6 months he was back in action kicking Nazi ass. Until he got gassed by his own commander.
  • Universal Driver's License:
    • Parodied in a sequence in Call of Duty 2 where Captain Price tries to teach his men how to drive. And when your Scottish comrade complains that the instructions to a German armored car are all written in... German.
    • Played straight in World at War's Blood and Iron mission, where Dmitri drives a tank. Somewhat justified by the fact that the Soviets designed the T-34 to be easy to drive with very little training, so they could get drivers for the tanks as fast as they could make 'em. This is opposed to the tank missions from the first two games, where the player was explicitly the commander of the tank (the controls implicitly being orders given to the actual crew), and in the second game they played as an entirely different character who had been specifically trained with tanks for the missions where you control one (compared to the first game pulling the player character from infantry to take command of a crew that didn't have a proper commander yet).
    • Played straight in Black Ops, where Mason is capable of driving not only cars, but boats and helicopters as well. Black Ops II continues this with Section, who is otherwise not shown to have any training in the use of aircraft, taking control of a VTOL-capable fighter jet at the end of one level.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • In the first game, you control a tank during the liberation of Poland. There's also The Tank Squadrons in Call of Duty 2; Liberators in Big Red One; Blood & Iron and Black Cats in World at War, and the bomber mission from United Offensive.
    • Many segments in the handheld version of World At War.
    • "WMD" in Black Ops has you briefly fly a plane and then command a squad on the ground RTS-style before going back to the shooting.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Mostly in the form of protecting your squadmates, though the later titles also offer the chance to put dying enemies out of their misery. World at War made this more blatant during the campaign.
    • There are Russian, German, and American soldiers who are set on fire during Black Ops. The Russians are set on fire when you shoot down Soyuz 2. Mason says "Poor bastards", but another one says that they should die because they're Nazis. You can still shoot the dying men if you want. There are also Americans who are set aflame by a Vietcong with a flamethrower, and Germans who suffer the same fate at the hands of your teammates in "Project Nova". All of these are a potential Mercy Kill.
    • Finest Hour for PlayStation 2 added the ability to heal teammates with medkits if they needed it, which is necessary because there's no Gameplay Ally Immortality.
    • Keeping your squadmates alive is particularly significant in the first Call of Duty game, as killed squadmates are not replaced by fresh respawns, unlike in later games. There are quite a few levels where you only have 1 or 2 squadmates that follow you all the way until they die; keeping them alive through the entire level can be something of a self-imposed challenge.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • In World at War, it can be a little unnerving playing co-op with friends in the Pacific Front missions who aren't shy about saying how much the like killing "the Japs."
    • This did not go unnoticed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as demonstrated in the South Park episode "The Ungroundable".
      Cartman: Aw dude, I wish I had a real flamethrower! It works awesome on Japs!
    • If you kill surrendering Germans in World at War, Chernov's entry of you is much more critical of you.
    • In the first two missions of the British Campaign in Finest Hour, you can use the No. 74 "Sticky Bomb" (which is a British Anti-Tank grenade). Not only can you use it on vehicles, but you can actually use it on infantry! As a bonus, they panic as the bomb is stuck on them.
  • Video Game Long-Runners: As of 2023 the series has been going for twenty years and shows no signs of slowing, with a game released for each one of those years.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: The ability to create your own emblems in Black Ops resulted in the creation of many penis emblems, along with Swastikas, and even swastikas made of penises.
  • War Is Hell: The feeling which they were going for in World at War, with watching many people being turned to Gorn in the game, and plenty of dog-kickery in the Eastern Front.
    • Series-wide, almost each installment has at least one level in which you go through a ruined city, witness the result of a battle or, more generally, are just shown that War Is Hell.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • Shooting your own teammates will give you a Nonstandard Game Over, giving you the message "Friendly fire will not be tolerated!" On the Soviet missions, you have a non-standard game over for the non-standard game over, where everything fades to black and it declares "You are a traitor to the Motherland!"
    • Except in CoD1, where you only get that message if you shoot a Commissar. You can shoot as many conscripts as you like and nobody cares.
    • In Black Ops, accidentally shooting your allies will cause them to yell at you, wondering what the hell you are doing or demanding you do a better job at aiming.
      Weaver: Your side, YOUR SIDE!!!
    • The game over is only triggered when you accidentally kill an important named character, but if you kill at least a few random Red Shirts nothing happens.
  • You All Look Familiar: This is especially prevalent in Roads to Victory, where ALL of the German soldiers look exactly the same. Ditto (albeit slightly subverted) for World at War, except for, strangely enough, the storming of the Reichstag.

Call of Duty 3 and Roads to Victory provide examples of:

    Call of Duty 3 
Call of Duty 3 is the third entry in the Call of Duty series, developed by Treyarch and released on November 7, 2006 for PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, the latter two notable for being launch titles. It is a loose sequel to the first two Call of Duty titles, sharing little beyond the basic premise of fighting the Nazis.

The story centers on the British, Canadian, American, Polish, and French Resistance forces pushing into the village of Chambois, France, also known as the Falaise Gap. Unlike the previous two games, Call of Duty 3 has a single combined campaign, with the player switching between four nations and their respective characters for each leg of the story. For the 29th Infantry Division of the American Army, you take control of Private Nichols. For the SAS-Maquis alliance, you take control of Sgt. James Doyle (returning from Call Of Duty: United Offense). For the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, you take control Pvt. Joe Cole. And for the Polish 1st Armoured Division, you take control of Cpl. Bohater Wojciech.

  • Action Girl: Isabelle DuFontaine of the Maquis is seen fighting on the front lines with everyone else, and is the second in command of the group alongside Pierre LaRoche.
  • America Won World War II: Averted. One of the campaign strands features Americans, but the others are an SAS team aiding the Maquis, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, and the tankies of the Polish 1st Armoured Division.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Canadians come to the Polish 1st Armoured Division aid at the last minute at The Mace.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After everything the four groups have done, they successfully defeat the Germans at Chambois and eventually, seal the Falaise Gap and liberate Paris. However, it came at the cost of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line.
  • The Bus Came Back: Other than Sgt. James Doyle, Major Gerald Ingram from Call of Duty and Call Of Duty: United Offense returns.
  • Darkest Hour: The last third of The Mace level has this feeling for the Polish 1st Armoured Division: you lost your tank, most of your comrades are dead, and the Canadians are no where in sight. All you have is you, two of your surviving teammates, and any weapon you can grab to fight off the final wave of Germans.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Near the end of the Saint-Lo level, it seems that everything has calmed down and the screen fades to black. Only for Dixon to yell, "Counterattack!", and bam, you have one more task to do.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: Call of Duty 3 gained the subtitle En marche vers Paris ("Road to Paris") in France.
  • Hold the Line: The Mace level features the Polish 1st Armoured Division defending the titular hill (known as Hill 262) from a full scale German counterattack until the Canadian Forces arrive. The beginning scene sets up the tone of the level is like:
    Stan "Papa" Jackowicz: "Taking the Mace is one thing. Now, now we have to hold it."
  • I Call It "Vera": The SAS deploys two jeeps to help Ingram and Doyle's group for their mission. On named Vera, and the other one named Lynn.
  • Parachute in a Tree: At the beginning of the the level Night Drop, Doyle's parachute is caught in a tree, but he falls down and is knocked out briefly from the fall.
  • Press X to Not Die: Some levels feature close quarter sequences where a German soldier attacks you and you must press the right buttons in order to win. On the Wii version, this is done through motion controls.
    Roads to Victory 
  • Action Girl: The Soviets have female combat infantry.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • "For Mother Russia, comrades!"
    • "For the Soviet Union, and for your Glorious Motherland! Get ready!!!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Call Of Duty 3


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

In the mission "Loose Ends", Roach and Ghost were rescued by Shadow Company reinforcements after losing most of their squad acquiring valuable data from Makarov's compound. But upon meeting with General Shepherd, both of them ended up getting killed as Shepherd enacts his plan to eliminate Task Force 141.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / CavalryBetrayal

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