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Let's be honest: People don't play CoD:WaW to play CoD:WaW; they play it to play Nazi Zombies.
Nervous Nick, ScrewAttack.com
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Four batshit insane grunts take on the undead hordes of the Axis. Or replace the grunts with four historical figures from the 1960s, four horror-genre celebrities, four oddball civilians, four gangsters from the 1930s, four alternate universe, somewhat less batshit insane versions of the grunts, or four murderers from the 1940s who somehow managed to survive the apocalypse, possibly less insane but still pretty Crazy Awesome.

Originally a bonus mode in Call of Duty: World at War and a standalone iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad game where you originally play as one of four silent US marines holed up in a wrecked base near an airfield in Nacht der Untoten, Treyarch's Zombies quickly became the true focus of their Downloadable Content seasons. Originally titled Nazi Zombies, the game mode was retitled as simply Zombies (as the characters were no longer fighting just Nazi zombies). Treyarch's Zombies appears in the aforementioned World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The game mode functions as an Endless Game in which the game ends whenever you finally fall to the zombies, gathering points from your survival efforts to spend on new weapons, perks, Pack-a-Punch upgrades and the Mystery Box to help you hold out for longer, or hunt for Easter Eggs to discover more about the mode's Mind Screw narrative.

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Following the surprise success of Nacht der Untoten, Treyarch committed to releasing a Zombies map in every DLC from then on. The second map of World at War featured Corporal "Tank" Dempsey and his squadron of Marines fighting to escape a Nazi sanatorium in Verrückt, before Dempsey gets captured and forced to join up with the equally crazy Nikolai Belinski, Takeo Masaki and Dr. Edward Richtofen to survive a Japanese swamp house in Shi No Numa, and finally a massive Nazi laboratory in Der Riese, where the zombies were created.

2010's Black Ops saw the debut of Kino der Toten, a map in which Richtofen, Dempsey, Nikolai, and Takeo battle the undead in an abandoned Nazi theater. Other on-disc content included "Five", a map in which you play as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and Robert McNamara as they fend off a zombie outbreak in the Pentagon during the Cold War. The DLC season began with Ascension, featuring Richtofen's crew exploring an overrun Soviet cosmodrome and also featuring the first serious hints towards the larger Myth Arc at play. The second map is Call of the Dead, depicting Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, Robert Englund, and Michael Rooker as themselves fighting off legions of zombies commanded by an undead George A. Romero on the set of the director's latest movie. Richtofen's group later starred in Shangri-La, set in a Himalayan jungle, and Moon, which brought the Black Ops story arc to a dramatic season finale.

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The formula got a bit of a shake-up for Black Ops II, released in 2012. Now almost every map had smaller game modes within it, with one game mode advancing the storyline. The first map, Green Run, featured a main story mode in TranZit, and introduced a new crew of characters who would become the main focus of Black Ops II and also starred in the first DLC map, Die Rise, set in a pair of crumbling skyscrapers in China. Side stories included the pre-order bonus Nuketown Zombies, and the acclaimed Mob of the Dead, a mystery revolving around four 1940's gangsters trying to escape an overrun Alcatraz Island. The Green Run group returned for Buried, set in an underground western town in Africa, as they seek answers about the mysterious forces at play. Black Ops II came to a conclusion with Origins, an Alternate Universe story depicting Richtofen, Nikolai, Dempsey, and Takeo as World War I soldiers.

Black Ops III, released in 2015, continued to expand the game mode with even larger maps, mechanics, and a much stronger focus on the Story Arc. The first map, Shadows of Evil, starred four survivors battling zombies and Lovecraftian horrors in Morg City, lured in by the words of an even more shady figure. The main story of Black Ops III began with the pre-order bonus map The Giant, a re-master of fan-favorite Der Riese, which starred the alternate Richtofen and crew as they began a quest to save the universe from unspeakable evil. The crew ventured through the DLC maps Der Eisendrache, a Group 935 castle in the Alps; Zetsubou No Shima, a Japanese island on which horrific biological experiments took place; and Gorod Krovi, featuring a war-torn Stalingrad besieged by giant robots and dragons. The Story Arc came to its' conclusion with the final map, Revelations.

In an unprecedented move, in May 2017, Treyarch would release a fifth DLC pack for Black Ops III known as Zombies Chronicles, which contains remastered versions of 8 classic maps: Nacht der Untoten, Verruckt, Shi No Numa, Kino der Toten, Ascension, Shangri-La, Moon and Origins. A tie-in Zombies comic debuted in October 2016 by Dark Horse Comics, revolving around the main cast of Black Ops II, last seen in Buried.

Zombies makes a return in 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, once again on multiple fronts. A new Story Arc takes place across IX and Voyage of Despair, featuring a new cast battling zombies in a coliseum and aboard the Titanic, respectively. A third map, Blood of the Dead, is a follow-up and expansion of much-beloved classic Mob of the Dead from Black Ops II, continuing from the end of Dark Horse's comic series, with the Primis cast returning as the playable characters. Classified, a fourth map, serves as the pre-order bonus, and is a quasi-prequel to Black Ops map “Five”, with the Ultimis cast returning. The Chaos story continues in the season pass maps Dead of the Night, a prequel to the Chaos story featuring new characters fighting zombies and other creatures of the night in a mansion; and Ancient Evil, a return to the present in which the Chaos crew heads for Delphi, Greece.

New iterations of Zombies, developed by Sledgehammer Games and Infinity Ward, debuted in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: WWII. They are unrelated to the Treyarch series, and thus their tropes should go on their respective pages.

The Nazi Zombies story is very complex; it involves practically everything from the Illuminati to the Third Reich to aliens to the works of George A. Romero. Each map contains tons of little Easter eggs only the most observant of players will find and these little clues often play a bigger role later on. The ongoing Story Arc is also mostly played out through increasingly complex Easter eggs while the backstory is told through audio logs. Word of God is mostly averted as Treyarch almost never has anything to say about the story, leaving fans to try to put the pieces together by themselves. The general synopsis can be found here, put together through said audio logs and Easter eggs. And after the conclusion of the series with Revelations, Treyarch made another unprecedented move and released the full timeline with pretty much every question about the lore answered.

Despite the fact it was originally called Nazi Zombie Army, the Zombie Army Trilogy is no relation to this game, being spun out of a Sniper Elite V2 expansion series instead of a Call of Duty one.


Tropes for this game:

  • After the End: The setting of Zombies in Black Ops II takes place ten years after Richtofen and Maxis' actions in Moon. The world has been a crumbling wasteland with very few human survivors remaining, the oceans are reduced to a primordial, lava-filled state, and the Sun has been blotted out by fallout from the missiles for the past decade. You can even find the Pack-A-Punch machines throughout the Victis maps powered by a massive battery, since no one has been alive to maintain them for untold years.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: Revelations is incredibly fragmented due to the proceeding events, resulting in a number of previous maps "bleeding" into it. This includes Kino Der Toten, Nacht Der Untoten, Mob of The Dead, Shangri-La, Origins, Der Eisendrache, and Verruckt.
  • All There in the Manual: The Game. While the pre-level cutscenes and the mid-mission dialogue (only in the later maps) can give a vague idea of what's going on, the vast majority of the story is only revealed through the (optional) major easter eggs, audio logs, and various supplementary material. It's not at all unrealistic for a casual player to play each map from the very first to the very last, ignore the easter eggs and simply play for the endless survival gameplay, and understand next-to-nothing about what's going on.
  • All Your Powers Combined:
    • On a musical level, the three singers of the Easter egg songs, Elena Siegeman, Clark S. Nova, and Malukah all collaborate with Kevin Sherwood for "Archangel".
      • And then turned Up to Eleven for "The Gift", the song for Revelations. Every singer returns, and the track incorporates elements from multiple songs throughout the franchise's run.
  • Abandoned Hospital: "Verrückt". Actually an asylum, though. Mob of the Dead and it's remake in BO 4, Blood of the Dead, have one as well. In both maps, player characters will actually comment on the creepiness.
  • An Ice Person:
    • Anyone who gets the Winter's Howl gun (which, as the name suggests, freezes zombies), in both Five and its remake Classified.
    • The Ice Staff and its upgraded form in Origins.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Generally in effect when a new cast is introduced, or new features.
    • "Five" replaces the original four with real-life figures JFK, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, and Robert McNamara. A map later, Call of the Dead features the tale of Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker, Robert Englund, and Sarah Michelle Gellar squaring off with a zombified George A. Romero on a movie set.
    • Black Ops II introduces a system where you can build various tools, devices, and weapons, and introduces a new main cast consisting of Action Girl Misty, Insufferable Genius Marlton, Conspiracy Theorist Samuel Stuhlinger, and Russman. Also, Clark S. Nova and Malukah take over music duties from Elena Siegeman until Origins, where they collaborate.
    • Mob of the Dead is a dark, sombre story of four murderous mobsters fighting to escape an overrun Alcatraz in Purgatory.
    • Shadows of Evil is a map based in the 40s, where four people with dark and gruesome pasts end up fighting off the hordes of the Greater-Scope Villain of the series in the doomed Dimension 63. It also notably does not feature the traditional original Easter egg song (while there is "Snakeskin Boots", its definitely not the same as the story-based songs to date).
    • Black Ops 4 has the most extreme example by introducing an entirely new plot, with an entirely new cast of characters, known as the "Chaos" storyline (to contrast with the ongoing "Aether" storyline.) It's been clearly and repeatedly establishing that the two storylines will NOT be connected. Probably.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Origins crew gets erased from existence by Dr. Monty at the end of Revelations, only to change his mind the last minute and have them sent back in time as the legendary "Primis" heroes, thus "closing the loop" and ensuring the rest of the series can happen.
    • And now turned on its head with the very next map in the series, Blood of the Dead in Black Ops 4. With the death of Pre-Gorod Krovi Richtofen, that very same loop is broken; while the adventure will definitely continue, where things will go from here is anyone's guess.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • Radio transmissions in Shi no Numa, experiment records in Der Riese and film reels in Kino Der Toten. When you play by yourself in Kino der Toten, you hear Richtofen making one last note before they're transported to the theatre during the loading screen.
    • This occurs even more so in, Die Rise. Hidden televisions allow you to hear what just has been going on outside the world... and it is not pretty.
    • More logs in Classified elaborate on the fate of the Ultimis crew post-Moon. So far, we know that Richtofen got his body and soul back, the crew was kept by the Groom Lake Broken Arrow group to be used as 115 guinea pigs again, and we get a snippet from an (apparently) alone Ultimis Dempsey who has gone batshit insane after being apparently abandoned and forgotten.
  • Anachronism Stew: It's probably safe to Hand Wave the anachronisms as a side effect of time travel, multiverse theory and various other shenanigans regarding the space-time continuum, especially in IX in which an ancient Roman colosseum that inexplicably has statues of Danu, Ra, Zeus and Odin are supplemented with guns and explosives.
  • Artifact Title: By Black Ops, it's safe to say that the zombies aren't Nazis anymore. By Black Ops 2 the title has just been changed to Call of Duty Zombies.
  • Arc Number: 115, the number of the chief periodical element that appears throughout the series. 935, for Group 935, also recurs frequently as well. Mob of the Dead and Blood of the Dead also have 666, fittingly since they both take place in, essentially, Hell.
  • Arc Welding:
    • Black Ops III in particular devotes significant effort to weld together the lore from across the previous games, with numerous obscure characters returning, as well as the timeline that shows each map's place in the grand scheme of things. And then ''Blood of the Dead'' went and broke all of it.
    • One of the main goals that went into producing Classified was to properly establish the place of "Five" in the mythos, since the map was originally intended to be a one-off novelty. Classified ends up tying together stories from Moon (showing the fate of Ultimis), Buried (bringing back Ultimis Richtofen to his body), and the Primis storyline.
  • Arc Words:
    • "You must ascend from darkness." First seen scrawled on the wall in Nacht der Untoten, later heard as part of Viktor Reznov's escape plan in Black Ops, then reprised for the Easter egg of Origins. It becomes relevant as the final battle of Revelations is against the forces of the Apothicons.
    • "Beware the Doc" and "Teddy is a liar" for Richtofen's arc, since he's been manipulating the other characters all so that he can take control of the zombies.
    • "Letting go" first shows up in Mob of the Dead and remains a theme for not just the final two maps of Black Ops II, but the entirety of Black Ops III in which the Story Arc reaches its endgame. A savvy fan decoded a cypher on the lyric video of "Where Are We Going" that further points to this phrase: "Let go and the beginning will become the end."
    • A new one has cropped up in Black Ops 4, presumably to hint at the new directions the story is taking: "Salvation comes once Agartha burns"
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Dr. Maxis was always a critical character in the lore, but he was originally only heard in certain radios and audio logs. Starting with Moon, he becomes a major, active character.
    • Dr. Groph similarly was only featured in the radios for Moon as one of Richtofen's Co-Dragons alongside Dr. Schuster. In Der Eisendrache, Groph stars as the main antagonist of the map. Schuster later is included in a major supporting role in the audio logs of Classified.
    • Sophia was only mentioned in letters and audio logs in World at War. She becomes a major character in the endgame of Black Ops III.
  • Ascended Fanfic:
    "It's a little gun, but it has a long barrel, like my college roommate."
    • A possible (VERY) spoiler-y example between Black Ops 3 and Black Ops 4: When Doctor Monty was introduced as the Big Good Giant Space Flea from Nowhere for the Revelations finale in 3, he wasn't received very well, and drew a lot of theories that he might actually be just as evil as the Shadow Man, or possibly even the true villain behind everything. Well, come 4's Blood of the Dead and...
  • Arc Villain:
    • Ultimis Richtofen and Maxis in a Big-Bad Ensemble for the Ultimis timeline, though the latter is not revealed to be an antagonist until the end of Buried in Black Ops II. During the events of Black Ops III, they are either killed or wiped from existence by Primis Richtofen and Monty.
    • The Shadow Man for Black Ops III, with his masters the Apothicons serving as the Greater Scope Villains of the entire Aether story.
    • Black Ops 4 sets up the Order as the villains for the new Chaos storyline, while the returning Aether story hints that the new antagonist will be Doctor Monty.
  • Arm Cannon: The Russian Mangler in Gorod Krovi has this as a primary weapon. Shooting and breaking it will cause it to go ballistic and sprint after whoever was responsible.
  • Ascended Extra: Several characters who were either throwaway references or minor supporting characters later took on major roles in the story.
    • Maxis was a prominent supporting character who appeared via audio logs, but Moon properly introduces him as a major force and Black Ops II features him as a full-blown major character.
    • Sophia, Maxis' lover and assistant, was originally only briefly mentioned a few times in ciphers and radio messages. In the endgame of Black Ops III, she becomes critical to the final battle.
    • Dr. Groph and Dr. Schuster, Richtofen's Co-Dragons who were originally only heard in Moon, both later played major roles in Der Eisendrache and Classified, respectively.
  • The Atoner:
    • In the original timeline (and the canon ending of the split Easter Eggs), Dr. Maxis took control of the Aether and destroyed the Earth all to reunite with Samantha; however, she saw he had been corrupted by the Apothicons and fled to the Primis timeline, with him now having destroyed Earth for nothing. To help create a better future for the universe, the new incarnation of Maxis helps the Origins crew and directs them along their quest in Black Ops III.
    • The entire Origins arc of the Aether storyline can considered to be one for Richtofen. Considering the look of pure loathing he gave his Ultimis counterpart before wordlessly putting a bullet in his brain, it's safe to say he did NOT approve of the atrocities his Ultimis counterpart carried out. It's also safe to say that by the end of Revelations, he's succeeded...at least until Blood of the Dead turned things on its head.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara in Five.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Explosive weapons. While they are powerful and can kill clusters of zombies, they also can hurt and disorientate the player who doesn't have the [Ph D=] Flopper perk. Given how Zombies takes place in close quarters, this would happen a lot and more often than not result in players getting killed by their own explosives. Then later games dropped Ph D Flopper, alongside most explosive weapons getting a serious firepower boost, and they basically became a suicide gun.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Richtofen is a crazed scientist who relishes the blood and gore of his battles with the zombies. His Origins self lacks the "crazed" part, but he's still pretty bloodthirsty, judging by some of his quotes.
    • Samantha, too, as she's not right in the head after spending who knows how long in the hellish Aether controlling zombies that have killed countless people, and presumably meeting entities like the Apothicons.
    • Billy Handsome is a trained killer who is the most eager for blood out of the Mob crew.
  • Back for the Finale:
    • In Black Ops II, Dempsey, Nikolai, Takeo, and Samantha all appear in the final map, Origins, for the first time since Black Ops, albeit in their Primis incarnations.
    • Several characters from the deeper lore of the series, such as Harvey Yena, Gersh, Peter McCain, and Sophia all reappear or are referenced in the penultimate map of Black Ops III.
    • In the more traditional series-wide examples of this trope, Robert McNamara makes an appearance via an audio log in Revelations. In terms of weapons, the Thunder Gun, a fan-favorite weapon from Black Ops, returns as part of your armory in Revelations as well.
    • Also, Revelations has an equipment variant of this. Many wonder weapons from the franchise's past shows up in the Mystery Box, meaning you can have players using the Apothicon Servant, Ragnarok DG-4, and Thundergun all side-by-side.
  • Badass Boast: More or less all of the characters do this in-game.
    • Richtofen, especially, has one in his theme song for Tranzit, Carrion.
      Lyrics: I was spawned from eternal night, by infernal right, and I need your carrion. Neurons fire when I violate, pupils dilate, and I feel your carrion. I bring doom and defile light, your entire life, will now cease to carry on! I've returned and I'm not alone, never to atone, and forever carry on.
    • Primis Richtofen gets another one in the finale of the Blood of the Dead Easter Egg. Too bad it sets up his Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Richtofen, an accomplished scientist in his own right who's arguably the central character of the series.
    • Robert McNamara, who often makes accounting jokes while slaughtering zombies.
    • Marlton in Black Ops II, seeing as he's a bespectacled nerd who still manages to slay zombies with the best of them.
    • Shaw in Black Ops 4, in the new Chaos storyline. He's a talented alchemist and arguably the most knowledgeable about the supernatural horrors the new crew is facing. Too bad he's also blitzed out of his mind most of the time.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: A variation in an early trailer advertising Nacht der Untoten, it ended with four nameless American soldiers putting their backs together to cover all angles from the approaching zombies. It gets a callback with the Zombies Chronicles trailer for Black Ops III, this time with the incarnations of the charactes from all eight maps in rapid succession.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Voyage of Despair stars four robbers seeking an artifact on a cruise ship that unfortunately turns everyone into zombies. That ship? The RMS Titanic just as it hits the infamous iceburg.
  • BFG: Excluding the already massive machine guns that you can hip-fire:
    • The Wunderwaffe and the Thundergun.
    • The Jet Gun may not function as well as the Wunderwaffe and Thundergun, but good lord is it big.
    • Introduced first as a power-up in 'FIVE' is the Death Machine, which is the crown jewel of BFGs as it is a fricking minigun!
      • And you can upgrade it too! It becomes the Meat Grinder and holds 550 rounds per 'magazine'... More Dakka anyone?
    • The Paralyser. A gun so big, you can't aim down sights with it (The Thundergun and Jet Gun also cannot aim down sights.) And it is very useful. (Not quite a gun, but who cares?)
    • In Origins, we now have the water cooled MG08. The fact that is is meant to used by two people, in a static position...
    • In Black Ops III, the Gorgon and the SVG-100 are the biggest weapons you can get out of the Mystery Box and both fire massive .50 caliber rounds.
    • The Kraken, a three-barreled cannon.
      Kennedy: As Teddy Roosevelt once said: walk lightly and carry a BFG!
  • BFK:
    • The Bowie Knife, which kills most zombies with one strike before round 10.
    • Danny Trejo wields machetes in the Call of the Dead opening cutscene, but not in-game, unfortunately.
    • The Apothicon Swords in Shadows of Evil definitely count.
    • Takeo also has his katana, the Path of Sorrows. It's not usable in-game, unfortunately... unless you've finished all the main easter eggs in Black Ops III, after which you can unlock it as a secret wall-buy in the Shangri-La section of Revelations. It makes the Bowie Knife look like a toothpick. It becomes a special weapon in IV, and is as devastating as the cutscenes show it off to be.
  • Big Bad:
    • It at first appears to be Samantha, the little girl in control of the zombies throughout the first and second games. However...
    • It's actually Richtofen. Samantha only ended up in control because he tried to kill her, and she's only siccing the zombies on him and his associates because it was her father's dying wish...right before Richtofen had him killed. His "Grand Scheme" is to usurp control of the zombies from her and turn humanity into his own personal playthings...and in Moon, he succeeds.
    • If you support Dr. Maxis in Buried, the final map of Black Ops II, he steals control from Richtofen, but reneges on his agreement to save the survivors and becomes the new Big Bad. If you support Richtofen, however, Richtofen remains just as evil as before.
    • Mob of the Dead appears to lack a proper Big Bad, primarily focusing solely on its Villain Protagonists' attempts to survive. When it becomes apparent that this "Alcatraz" is basically hell, it can probably be assumed that Satan is the (unseen) Big Bad. As of Blood of the Dead, Old Scratch doesn't make an appearance, but rather the hell dimension is run by the sadistic Warden, Brutus. And he's got plans for Primis...
    • Shadows of Evil has the unseen Apothicons as its Big Bad, with the mysterious Shadow Man as the apparent Big Good counterpart. Except that the Shadow Man is actually their dragon and the Morg City survivors played right into his hands. Oh, and those Apothicons mentioned above? They are most definitely not unseen.
    • And then, as Revelations makes clear, the Apothicons have been the Greater-Scope Villain the entire time. They created the MPD, and it was their whispers that drove Ultimis Richtofen mad and led him to carry out his Grand Scheme, then corrupted Maxis when he turned the tables on Richtofen. The entirety of the "Alternate Timeline" arc has been about finding a way to defeat them, and in Revelations, you finally get to do so once and for all.
    • And now we have Blood of the Dead, which implies that the true Big Bad of the Aether storyline will end up being Doctor Monty. Time will tell how this plays out.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The soldiers in the "Zetsubou No Shima" intro speak only untranslated Japanese.
  • Blood Bath: Richtofen longs to bathe naked... IN YOUR BLOOD!!!
    • Mob of the Dead requires this to get the Golden Spork. It returns in Blood of the Dead, and the character who does the final step will even comment on it.
  • The Bluebeard: Nikolai, as the source of much of his humor. The rest is his alcoholism. Subverted in Gorod Krovi, where it's revealed that Nikolai had only one wife, she died during the war, and he became an alcoholic to forget about her...leading him to imagine his other wives.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • Not necessary, but gains you the most points (other than knifing - and since zombies will kill you in one or two hits, and knifing zombies can take up to five swings, this isn't recommended) and uses less ammo. However, on the later rounds, people care less about headshots and more on staying alive. Headshots still help with that last bit, however...and by the VERY late rounds, non-headshots even on Pack-A-Punched guns will be about as effective as spitballs.
    • Characters will often brag aloud about their headshots.
    • One of the Perk-A-Cola machines (Deadshot Daiquiri) gives you a perk that adjusts your quick aim to the head instead of the chest.
    • As of Tranzit, it is possible to gain a 'persistent perk' that increases the power of headshots.
    • Ritchtofen does this to his older self in the cutscene of The Giant.
    • Nikolai also does this to his older self in the end of the Easter Egg for Gorod Krovi...this time with a shotgun.
  • Bond One-Liner: Everybody, all the time. Nikolai tries, at least, but he usually botches them, or gets confused about the part where it's supposed to come after the dramatic kill.
    "You are dead now! But, you were dead before! Ah, fuck you!"
    Nikolai again, in Black Ops: "Do you know how to say 'own' in Russian? OWNT!
    Nikolai also seems fairly adept at rhyming: "Nikolai cannot die! Hey, that rhymes!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In Kino der Toten, one of Dempsey's "Out of Ammo" quotes is:
      Hey, player! Drop the chips and get me some ammo!
    • And then at the start of Ascension, Dempsey may say:
      Hey, Treyarch, can we get a new objective!?
    • Dempsey has more such "Out of Ammo" lines in Shangri-La, right down to outright mentioning when he'll be saying another "Out of Ammo Line".
    • Again with Dempsey.
      Dempsey: Hey, Player. If you looked at your score, you'd see we weren't doin' so well. And it's YOUR FAULT!
    • Also, Richtofen has this to say after activating a musical easter egg:
      I'VE BEEN RECOGNIZED BY TREYAR- I mean the Illuminati!
    • In the Zombies Chronicles remaster of Verruckt, Monty quotes the mission briefing for the map and reveals that he was the one who wrote it, and by extension all of the levels' mission briefings.
  • Breather Episode:
    • "Five" does not advance the Aether Story Arc in any significant way, as it was originally meant to be a one-off novelty map. The timeline and Black Ops IV ended up explaining more of how the map related to the overall storyline.
    • Call of the Dead is largely a love-letter to horror fans with an all-star cast and an original song written for the game by Avenged Sevenfold, and only advances the main plot minimally through the Easter egg.
    • Nuketown is this for Black Ops II, being the only one that doesn't feature an Easter egg, though you get to listen to Richtofen carrying out his scheme on the Moon.
    • Mob of the Dead takes a break from the Maxis/Richtofen arc and doesn't advance the main plot, but it is in no means Lighter and Softer than the other maps. Subverted as it later turns out to be an Innocuously Important Episode with ramifications for the entire series, but taken on its' own in Black Ops II, it still remains unrelated to the rest of the story. Then Blood of the Dead happens, and it doesn't so much as advance the plot as send it does send it flying off the tracks.
    • The Giant, the first proper map for Black Ops III, doesn't contain the tragedy found in every other map of the game and is a trip down memory lane with a remaster of Der Riese, fan-favorite map from World At War. It also opens with the very cathartic death of Richtofen 1.0 at his 2.0 counterpart's hands.
    • Classified is a remake of Five with Ultimis at the forefront, more or less making this map the least sad of the bunch in IV, and the funniest of them all.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The Apothicons' defeat comes at the cost of Maxis and Sophia's souls. And in Blood of the Dead, Richtofen's blood saves the day...at the cost of his life.
  • Buffy Speak: Nikolai does this in Shangri-La when low on ammo.
    ''I need one of those floaty green ammo container thingys."
    • And again in Classified.
    Running low on ammo! Where is floaty green thing?
    Doggy is very combusti-...combustav-...combustivable-, bah, fuck it, doggy is very explodey, alright?
  • Butt-Monkey: Robert Englund gets hit in the face by George A. Romero, thumped on the back of the head by Danny Trejo and karate-kicked onto his back by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
    • 1.0 Nikolai gets this as well, as compared to the others who are various shades of hardcore badass, Nikolai is played up as a drunken, penniless loser, with most of his badassitude emerging as a consequence of his drunkenness. His 2.0 counterpart drops this and is a straight-up, legitimate badass. Nikolai 1.0 is also the only one of the original 4 who actually gets a chance to put up a fight before dying in the altered timeline, as well.
  • Call-Back: Revelations 's intro has one to The Giant 's: someone from the "Original Timeline" stands before a teleporter from which the younger Richtofen emerges, before standing in front of them. Similar angles and shots are also used, and Primis Richtofen has the same stern expression, but whereas young Richtofen reacted to his older self by unceremoniously shooting him in the head, he and Maxis hug it out instead.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Takeo and Dempsey on Moon. Pokemon style, no less.
  • Can't Move While Being Watched: The basic gist of the GobbleGum Fear In The Headlights.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Call of the Dead features four celebrities as zombie-killers — Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Michael Rooker, and Danny Trejo. And George A. Romero, but he's a boss zombie.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • One of the funniest Running Gag's of the series has been Nikolai mentioning his love for vodka and his many, many wives. Gorod Krovi reveals that he only ever had one wife, and after she was killed in an air raid, he became a drunk to forget the pain of losing her.
    • Blood of the Dead reveals that Al never actually broke the cycle, and remained in the hell of Alcatraz for who knows how long with his murderers until Primis arrived.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The intel in Black Ops reveals that Dempsey and company were guinea pigs for the virus, but instead of turning into zombies, they got stronger and healthier, but were inflicted with Laser-Guided Amnesia. Word of God confirmed that Richtofen is Edward from the messages and he lacks the aforementioned amnesia, and he's the one who infected them.
    • In general, the series suffered from this hard as the franchise went on. The first couple maps were plotless fun with nameless, swear-happy generic soldiers. When the named characters were first introduced, they were introduced in their Ultimis incarnations, essentially walking stereotypes played strictly for laughs, and the zombie plot was mostly implied to be a version of Stupid Jetpack Hitler. As time as passed, the story has gotten more complex and serious, the humor has been toned back, and the scale of the threat has escalated to omniversal levels.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
  • Combat Resuscitation: Players who take two hits (four if they have Jugger-nog) fall down and need to be picked back up by a teammate. They can still crawl around slowly and attack with pistols, magically gaining a M1911 if they don't.
  • Cool, But Inefficient:
    • Most of the weapons get straight upgrades that are required. However, the MG42, Browning M1919 and the Wunderwaffe get lackluster upgrades. Of course, machine guns are cool in their own way... not to mention the Wunderwaffe. And not to mention necessary - a low rate of fire will kill you on rounds nearing or past 20.
    • Even a friggin' pistol that shoots grenades, an alien Ray Gun, and a bazooka are worse than the machine guns and the Wunderwaffe.
    • Rebalanced in Black Ops, where the machine guns do less damage, allowing SMGs and assault rifles to compete, even at higher rounds.
    • Shows up in Tranzit, where you build a massive Jet Engine that can suck up zombies and rip them to shreds... however is notably weak compared to other Wonder Weapons and lacks their efficiency.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: After the revelation that the Shadow Man in Shadows of Evil is a servant of an eldritch entity bent on destroying our dimension, the story of the series becomes a race to change history and save the Earth from this otherworldly evil. Revelations reveals that the Apothicons, masters of the Shadow Man, are evil entities from the Dark Aether who seek to bring about destruction to all dimensions by planting Divinium in each dimension. Planting it in the original timeline led to its' discovery at Shi No Numa, and eventually Black Ops II in which both Richtofen and Maxis destroyed the Earth after being guided by the Shadow Man. Now, the heroes are tasked with defeating the Shadow Man and the Apothicons and saving the universe from annihilation.
  • Creepy Child: Samantha. Good god, Samantha. She's spent years killing countless people with the zombie hordes and encountering hellish entities from other dimensions, so she's not put together that well once we get to meet her properly. Averted as of Revelations though, where she's finally back to normal and getting to live as a regular child.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • All the zombies end up dying in cruel ways due to the way some wonder weapons and traps work. Of course, it's not like many people care, they're brain-munching zombies!
    • The Electro-Shock Defenses have been a staple since Verruckt, appearing again in all WAW maps and in some Black Ops maps. They return in two maps during Black Ops III.
    • The flogger is as deadly as it is hilarious - zombies who run into it get ragdolled a great distance away.
    • The fire pit in Kino Der Toten is crucial to certain strategies to reach high rounds.
    • In Mob Of The Dead, one trap put in the way towards the Warden's office consists of two fans that gib any zombie that passes through them. The other trap is located in the Cafeteria and rains pure acid onto the zombies.
    • Traps return in Shadows Of Evil as chains hidden in the walls that launch and shred zombies into bits.
    • In Zetsubou No Shima, one trap consists of two precariously held B-17 engines, which lower down and decapitate any zombie that passes through it when activated. The second trap is a turbofan embedded in a wall that sucks zombies in and gibs them on its rotors.
    • In Gorod Krovi, flinger traps appear in three locations and, well... fling zombies.
    • Most of the Wonder Weapons cause this, as they usually fire things that no one would want to get hit by.
    • The Wunderwaffe electrocutes zombies and chains lightning towards any other zombie in the vicinity.
    • The 31-79JGb215 is a gun that shoots a ray that shrink zombies into rat-sized bobbleheads. Which you can stomp on or just kick away (which is a lot funnier).
    • The Wave Gun causes a zombie's insides to expand and it to float away and eventually explode on a shower of gore.
    • The Sliquifier shoots a liquid that pops zombies into bits and chains similarly to the Wunderwaffe. If shot in the floor, it causes the zombies to slip in hilarious manners.
    • The Apothicon Servant is an organic Eldritch Abomination weapon that shoots black holes that suck in the zombies and crush them.
    • Taken to a new level with the Bows in Der Eisendrache.
      • The Lava bow traps zombies inside small lava graves, which them erupt like a volcano and burn the zombies into a crisp.
      • And then there's the Void Bow. Shooting a charged shot causes a rip in dimensions to open and mini Keeper demons to appear. They then proceed to EAT THE ZOMBIES ALIVE. Lampshaded by Dempsey.
        Dempsey: Owww! That's a BAD way to go!
      • The Storm Bow creates an electrical tornado that grabs and electrocutes zombies. It has enough force to lift them with the electrical charge!
      • The KT-4 in Zetsubou No Shima shoots a liquid that causes spores to grow in the zombies and make them pop.
        Dempsey: GET PLANTED, FLESHSORE!
      • The new Ray Gun in Gorod Krovi has two guns: One that shoots a Paralyzer-like ball, and a Ray Gun Mark III. Firing the Ray Gun into the ball causes it to create a black hole that disintegrates the zombies.
    • And yet none of this can compare to how Primis Richtofen goes out in Blood of the Dead. Having all of your blood painfully drained out via multiple giant needles to the arms and neck, watching everything you've worked for fall apart as your allies turn their backs on you and walk away, leaving you to die alone and afraid in a dead, empty dimension...yeah.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Black Ops II is not as lighthearted as the previous games. There are still some wonderful one liners, but in general, many of the situations in the game are not Played for Laughs. Black Ops III goes even darker, as the series becomes an all out Cosmic Horror Story as the heroes race to kill their original counterparts and save the universe from the ancient evil known as the Apothicons.
    • And topping off this trope is Mob of the Dead, the darkest map in the series, with very, very few lines Played for Laughs. In this map, we also have straight up criminals instead of jerkasses and soldiers as protagonists, including Billy Handsome and Sal DeLuca. Then it turns out the whole thing is taking place in hell, and the mobsters are suffering for their crimes. Best case scenario, one of them gets off easy, worst case they all continue suffering. And Sal, Finn, and Billy are damned no matter what.
    • Buried is incredibly dreary and solemn. It's clear the crew has gone through hell to get here and they spend the entirety of the map in dark, tight spaces, following the orders of unseen people in the hopes of saving the world. You even get to see the hypothetical "Round Infinity" where the survivors encounter their own corpses after they are inevitably overwhelmed. Even the Easter egg song, "Always Running" is far and away the saddest song. It also canonically has a Downer Ending as Maxis successfully assumes control of the Aether and eventually destroys the Earth. Thankfully, Doctor Monty is able to undo this series of events, and Misty's group are able to escape the apocalypse.
    • Origins has the original four back, but not the crazy schizophrenic Richtofen, Comically Serious Takeo, crass drunk Nikolai, or Blood Knight Dempsey. Instead, we have a very solemn battle to save Samantha from Agartha.
    • If Shi No Numa wasn't dark enough, Zetsubou No Shima in Black Ops III takes it to new levels. The map's atmosphere is dreary, the only sounds are crickets and what seem to be screams or moans of pain, and everyone that managed to survive the zombies was killed by giant spiders. That's not mentioning the dreadful experiments that took place on the island, that Takeo 1.0 was a victim of those experiments, or that, if you survive to Round 50, you can hear/spot what appears to be an Eldritch Abomination living far out in the swamp...
    • Gorod Krovi takes the four to a destroyed Stalingrad taken over by undead and dragons controlled by Group 935. All that can be seen in the distance is Russian aircraft desesperately trying to kill the dragons and artillery fire all around, alongside moans of pain all over.
    • Revelations was mostly an upbeat finale to the season, but Blood of the Dead more than makes up for it. The dark, oppressive atmosphere of Mob of the Dead remade for next-gen graphics, the implications for the story the map sets up (especially knowing that the heroes we've been following are now trapped in essentially Hell with no apparent way out), and the ending...good god, the ending.
  • Daylight Horror: Gorod Krovi, Buried and Shangri-la take place in broad daylight. Kino Der Toten might count, but the action is restricted to the interior of said cinema. Other maps take place either with a heavy fog or a grey sky (Die Rise, Tran Zit, Origins, Ascencion, Nuketown, Call Of The Dead) or during the night (the rest).
  • Deadly Doctor:
    • Dr. Richtofen, who lost his sanity years ago and goes so far as to enter the Aether to turn the world into his own personal plaything.
    • Dr. Maxis starts out benevolent, if not pleasant, but loses his own sanity to the Dark Aether, helps cause the apocalypse, and does it again when he successfully destroys the Earth, laughing maniacally all the way.
    • And now, we can add Doctor Monty to the list. Planning to reward the heroes for saving the timeline by wiping them from it was probably a big tip-off, but if Blood of the Dead is anything to go by, we've not even begun to see what his true purpose is.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The main Easter egg of Revelations ends with the four killing the Shadow Man and banishing his masters back to their dimension with no hope of ever returning, although Maxis and Sophia sadly have to give their lives to help them achieve it however.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Richtofen in Black Ops III is a lot more sarcastic than his... older counterpart.
  • Death by Irony: Each of the original four's death in Black Ops III. Monty also lampshades it in Revelations.
    • The Giant: Edward, who was central to the storyline, manipulated all the characters to further his plans and was the Big Bad of the main timeline, get uncermoniously headshotted by his Origins self as part of a plan he had no idea about in the intro of the map, meaning he is the only one to not have an Easter Egg about his death.
    • Der Eisendrache: Tank, the stereotypical angry gung-ho Marine, who was always ready to fight another day, is barely clinging to life in his stasis pod and die peacefully by his other self merely turning the life support systems off.
    • Zetsubou No Shima: Takeo, who always went about honor and serving the Emperor, got betrayed by the very same Emperor he was following with Undying Loyalty, was the subject of horrible experiments by Division 9 and dies by seppuku, the only way for a samurai to die with some honor.
    • Gorod Krovi: Nikolai, who always joked about killing his numerous wives in violent ways and was always drunk, goes ballistic when his Origins self mention the death of their first and only wife in an air raid, something that they couldn't prevent and wracked them with guilt, tries to kill his Origins self before getting a shotgun to the face.
    • Blood of the Dead: Primis Richtofen was established throughout the Black Ops III season as always being the one with a plan, the one in control. He also resolves following the events of Zetsubou No Shima, immediately prior to this, to save his companions at any cost. As soon as things go off the rails in Blood, Richtofen starts to lose control, looking for any way out of the situation. Ultimately, he's forced to, out of sheer desperation, wire himself into the Dark Mechanism...resulting in it draining his blood dry while he's powerless to stop it. Worst of all? Since the Kronorium had changed, and judging by his reaction when it did, he knew this would happen and still wasn't able to prevent it. In the end, he dies painfully, slow, and alone, completely helpless as the "allies" he had promised to save (whose trust he had not yet earned, due to the changed timeline) wordlessly leave him behind to face their new, unknown fates without him.
  • Defcon Five: Played straight. Handwaved with DEFCON ONE locking down critical access to a few rooms, and FIVE releasing enough security to get you some new toys.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • Ascension begins this way. The color only returns when you turn on the power. Lampshaded at the start, right before Gersch requests your assistance. Also, shown at the end of the side quest/easter egg where Samantha lets out a howl that disorients the players and brings back the monochrome coloring for a few seconds.
    • In the endgame of the Mob of the Dead Easter egg, the screen turns black and white as you listen to audio logs from prison guard Stanley Ferguson as he explains the true fate of the mobsters. As a callback to this, Blood of the Dead has the color slowly fade out as the map ends after the easter egg, which also serves as a metaphor for Primis Richtofen's life fading away.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The fans suspect Richtofen 1.0 of being this. Quotes from his appearance in Call of the Dead pretty much prove this, with special mentions to him probing Dempsey's anus with a finger and asking if anyone wanted to play a game in the dark... Although at that point, it may have been Pandering To The Audience, or the developers making Ascended Fanon.
  • Diesel Punk:
    • Very much so. Much of the Nazi tech in the game just echoes this.
    • Origins, the last map of Black Ops II, is built on this trope.
    • Shadows of Evil has an explicitly 1940's-style retrofuturistic setting.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Crosses over with Double Entendre, many of the characters are prone to this.
    Nikolai "Taste my Russian steel!"
  • Double Entendre: Nikolai is full of these. Both good and terrible. For some reason they tend to involve Dempsey.
    (on Moon) "Such explosive power in my hands! No dirty thoughts, Dempsey."
    (getting a Shotgun) "Hey! Who wants to try out my new boom-dick!?"
    • And then we have this little gem from Call of the Dead's easter egg:
    Dempsey (to Richtofen after getting the last item): "Kinda sick of me to ask this, but Richtofen, is that a rod in your pocket?"
    • Later maps don't lack those even through the characters are supposed to be more serious.
    Dempsey: "Time to whip out my... little light!"
    Nikolai: "Who wants to play with my monkey? Anyone?"
  • Downer Ending/The Bad Guy Wins: At the end of Buried, which is the last map before Origins, players have the choice of either siding with Maxis or Richtofen. In the canonical ending, Maxis wins, and he banishes Richtofen from the Aether and uses his powers to open a rift to Agartha, which eventually destroys Earth in the process. In the non-canon ending, Richtofen wins, and he destroys Maxis' soul, possesses one of the characters, gains full control over the Aether, and uses it to turn the Earth into his personal playground. Thankfully, this chain of events is undone when their Origins counterparts change this timeline by killing the original Richtofen.
    • Blood of the Dead, which may serve as a Bittersweet Ending heavy on the "bitter." Primis is able to escape the hellish Alcatraz dimension and free the souls imprisoned there...but Primis Richtofen is left behind to die alone in a particularly cruel way, and his death means the cycle of Primis is broken. Gorod Krovi and Revelations don't happen, and it's all-but-stated that the assumed Big Good is actually the true Big Bad. Things end on an uncertain, and very depressing, note.
  • Drop the Hammer:
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Nikolai would love to be doing this. He can't.
    • What he can't drown, he shoots. Like his first wife. She was bitch.
    • And there's no bloody Vodka in these Perk-A-Cola dispensers.
    • After Call of the Dead, Nikolai finally gets his vodka and makes references to being able to drink from it.
    • Gets a much sadder tone once you complete the Easter Egg in Gorod Krovi. The reason he drowns his sorrows is because his only wife was killed by artillery fire.
  • Eagleland: Tank Dempsey, a cross between type one and two, being an ultra-violent, ultra-patriotic psycho, who nonetheless sticks up for his un-American comrades.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: It can always be weird for players to return to the oldest maps of the series from the newer maps, which are much bigger in scope, for starters.
    • The first map, which was originally just a bonus easter egg anyway, lacked any perks or Pack-A-Punch. The Black Ops edition of it does get the Mule Kick put into it, and the Black Ops III version adds the Wunder Fizz machine, allowing access to all of the game's Perks. Furthermore, the playable characters of it and Verruckt are nameless soldiers without any personality. Richtofen and the crew weren't introduced until Shi No Numa.
    • Pack-A-Punch wasn't even introduced until Der Riese, the final map of World at War.
    • The maps of World at War and Black Ops can feel incredibly barren and simple compared to the much more story-driven Black Ops II and III. It wasn't until Ascension that the main plot began to really take shape, and it wasn't until Black Ops II that the plot began to take center stage in the games.
    • Black Ops II and III also feature far more gameplay elements such as the Buildables, bows, and staves, whereas World at War and Black Ops were pretty straightforward with their guns and Wunder Weapons.
  • Earworm: The Pack-A-Punch jingle:
    "Friends, neighbors, ladies, gentlemen, if you're feelin' underpowered, I'll help you make amends.
    Just stick your weapon in the slot, and let it change your luck.
    Few things in life are guaranteed, but I promise this won't suck
    Punch your fists into the air and raise a rebel yell!
    There's lots of bad 'uns out there you need to send to hell!
    With Pack-A-Punch, I have a hunch, all your problems will be gone, but if you end up on the ground, sing a country western song.
    Pack-A-Punch (Everybody)! Pack-A-Punch (Yee-haa)! Pack-A-Punch! Pack-A-Punch! Pack-A-Punch (Everybody)! Pack-A-Punch! Pack-A-Punch(YEE-HAA!!!)Pack-A-Punch (WAA-HHAAAW)!"
    • Most of the Perk-A-Cola machines account for this, too.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Two. One in Moon where you blow up the Earth and another in Der Eisendrache, where you return the favor. Though technically that last one counts as an example of Detonation Moon.
  • Easter Egg: There are three types of Easter Eggs - Radios that serve as the backstory of Group 935, Dr. Maxis, or other important characters; ones that activate original music created exclusively for the map; or major Easter Eggs that directly affect gameplay and the storyline.
    • Black Ops II splits the story Easter Egg into two, as during the maps you can choose to complete an Easter Egg for either Richtofen or Maxis. The culmination of the main Black Ops II storyline has two different endings: Richtofen's side, where Richtofen causes Dr. Maxis to simply cease to exist, and then joins a character in their body, or Dr. Maxis' side, where Maxis throws Richtofen out of his spot as the "Demonic Announcer" and then starts to destroy the Earth to get his daughter Samantha back. The official timeline would later confirm that the Maxis ending is the canonical end of the original timeline.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After eight years of maps and a battle across time and space, Richtofen, Dempsey, Nikolai, and Takeo are save the universe from the Apothicons and kill the Shadow Man. Despite initially wishing to destroy them, Monty agrees to send them back in time to become Primis, four revered warriors who led the first battle between humanity and the Apothicons. The crew lives out the rest of their days as heroes, saving the Earth from the Apothicons again, and ultimately, completing the cycle so that one day, they will save the universe in Revelations again. The cycle is complete, with the heroes achieving their destiny and true place in the universe. Then ''Blood of the Dead'' goes and flips that happy ending on its head, starting with Primis Richtofen's death.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In easy mode of Black Ops II, all Easter Eggs are disabled, save for the musical ones. These things can only be done on Original difficulty.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Der Riese, though parts of it are on the surface.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Apothicons. They are the true main antagonists of the series, bringing destruction and chaos to all dimensions, and are utterly alien in appearance and power. The Keepers as well, althrough they happen to be creatures hellbent in keeping the balance of the dimensions and aiding in the purge of the Apothicons.
  • Enemy Mine:
  • Endless Game: If this mode DOES have an ending, it's most likely not what you would expect.
    • Which turns into Canon Discontinuity which each new map. Just when you think they're all dead, the teleporter overuse takes them to a new place. Except, maybe, for Five.
      • And then in Call Of The Dead the original cast shows up trapped, and you can help free them.
      • Subverted in Mob of the Dead, if you carry out the Easter Egg to completion.
      • And again in Origins. Since then, every map has had an Easter Egg that wraps up that map's story conclusively, and leads into the next one.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Well, except for Shi no Numa and Five, which are Japanese zombies and zombified White House/CIA/American zombies. It's now simply Zombies Mode in Black Ops, subsequent games, and the iOS ports, due to the fact you don't fight just Nazis anymore.
  • Everything's Worse With Space Monkeys: In Ascension, you are attacked by cosmonaut undead monkeys.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Applied to Nikolai and Richtofen, in that their respective factions are scared shitless of them. Especially Nikolai, who scared Stalin.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Dempsey does this occasionally, but Richtofen indulges in this very often.
    • Expect to hear the announcer do this a lot when the Mystery Box is moved.
      Dempsey: 'Oh just when I thought we were getting along, box!'
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Averted with Dr. Richtofen, who has a high-pitched voice in spite of being a Nazi Mad Scientist.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • Mob of the Dead, where four, blatantly obvious criminals fight against hoards of the undead, led by an evil guard in Alcatraz.
    • Maxis vs. Richtofen, where the former wants to destroy the Earth, and free Samantha, and the latter wants to heal the Earth, and make it his own plaything, making the lives of whoever is still alive, complete hell. Either way, the result is crappy.
    • Blood of the Dead suggests that the Monty vs. Apothicons conflict was this.
  • Face Death with Dignity: WW2!Takeo at the end of Zetsubou No Shima 's Easter Egg accept his fate and commit seppuku, with Takeo being the one actually killing him, contrasting with WW2 Dempsey who die while in stasis in Der Eisendrache and WW2 Richtofen who is summarily executed in The Giant 's intro.
    • Averted in Blood of the Dead. Primis Richtofen goes from angrily demanding he be saved, to pathetically begging for his life, to lamenting his own death with his final breath. Doesn't make the scene any less tragic.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Richtofen in Moon, not that he was good to begin with, what with attempting to kill his partner, Dr. Maxis, and his daughter, Samantha Maxis, before the events in Der Riese, and brainwashing the other characters and using them as experiments, among other things.
    • At the end of the Easter egg of Mob of the Dead, Sal, Billy, and Finn turn on Al and try to kill him, blaming him for their imprisonment in Purgatory.
    • Dr. Maxis pulls one in the Buried easter egg, by becoming the announcer and planning to destroy the world.
  • Feed It a Bomb: The Margwa in Shadows of Evil is only vulnerable when it has a mouth open, at which point you need to feed it bullets until the head explodes. Do this three times and it will die.
  • Feel No Pain: Zombies, being zombies, do not react in pain to the weaponry that hit or dismember them - they keep coming unless they die. They'll even generally crawl after you if you've knocked their legs off.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: The Gauntlet of Siegfried in Gorod Krovi can allow you to pull one of these, crossing over into Megaton Punch territory as you hit your targets with enough force to both reduce them to Ludicrous Gibs as well as send them flying.
    • The Path of Sorrows in Black Ops 4 can also do this once it reaches level 2.
  • Film Noir: "Shadows of Evil", is explicitly going for this. Its characters are all Film Noir archetypes like "the Femme Fatale", "the Cop", "the Magician", and "the Boxer".
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Well, not friends, but as they are under increasingly serious attack (read, with each new map), the characters will act more like a team. (At least they say they will. Whether they do or not is up to the players.)
    • Averted in Blood of the Dead, since it takes place at a point in the timeline before Primis truly established this status; as a result, mistrust and tensions are high. As a direct result, Primis Richtofen is left to die at the map's end, with the other members of Primis not uttering so much as a word on his fate.
  • Flaming Sword: The Keeper Sword in Shadows of Evil is wreathed in flame, similar to the Keepers.
    • "Dragon" of the "Dragon and Fury" special weapon in the Chaos storyline gains a fiery aura as it levels up.
  • Foreshadowing: Everywhere. It needed its' own page.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: Nikolai sometimes says this in Kino der Toten.
    "Who didn't pay electric bill?"
    • Gets a bit ridiculous in Classified.
    "Did America forget to pay electric bill?!"
  • Four Is Death: Takeo when finding a nesting doll on Ascension:
    "One becomes two becomes three becomes... Death?"
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • If a gun fired bullets before you upgraded it in the Pack-a-Punch, chances are, it'll now fire lasers.
    • The Ray Gun technically counts, but it's more like O-shaped beams of death.
    • The Mark II variant plays straight as, well, a laser.
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • Richtofen used the group to help him find Samantha so he could switch bodies with her and gain control of the zombies.
    • Dr. Maxis had a counter plan. Now existing as a digital entity, he had recordings instructing the party how to weaken Rictofen. That was the destruction of the Earth's atmosphere, essentially loosening Rictofen's control over the zombies on Earth.
  • Gatling Good: On the map Five, you can find a power-up which gives you the Death Machine, a portable minigun with unlimited ammo, for a limited time.
    • The Death Machine serves as a power-up for the rest of the Black Ops maps. As of Der Eisendrache in Black Ops III, it is also avaliable in all Black Ops III maps and can also be summoned with a specific Gobblegum.
    • It becomes a special weapon in IIII, appropriately named Overkill. It's apparently Dempsey's signature special weapon. Leveling adds a grenade launcher and a tactical nuke to it.
  • Giant Mook: Most of the "Boss Zombies" fall into this category, including George A. Romero, Brutus (aka the Warden), the Panzer Soldat, the Margwa, the Trasher and the Russian Mangler.
  • Ghost Town: The western town underneath Angola in Buried, having been temporally transported there. It's understandably void of all life, partially due to the setting being ten years after the missiles hit in 2025 and humanity largely extinct by now thanks to the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The timeline references an entity known only as "The First One", implied to be an all-powerful Keeper whose power even outranks Doctor Monty. This entity has never been seen in the games, or even referenced outside of the timeline.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Throughout the series it's been hinted that there's a larger evil force behind the zombie mayhem, greater than Richtofen or the Maxis family. The final Revelations DLC map from Black Ops III confirms that the Shadow Man and the other Apothicons were behind it all from the beginning.
  • Groin Attack: This happens to Nikolai.
    "Oh No! Its biting area is closer to my fun fun area!"
  • Griefer: Actually encouraged in a game mode called Grief, where two teams must compete to win, despite being technically co-operative. You have actively sabotage the other team to survive, as you can't directly attack the opponents.
    • 1. Using an EMP Grenade while you're using the Mystery Box. It cancels the spin and you don't get your points back!
    • 2. Using said EMP, however now on the Pack-A-Punch not only powers it off, but will get rid of whatever gun was in it. Massive trolling.
    • 3. Blocking you from using the Bus by blocking the doors. Good luck running through the fog with no idea where to go with those bloody denizins coming after you...
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Important to the Mob of the Dead map's storyline. The four mobsters intended to escape Alcatraz using a plane constructed by Weasel, but infighting caused Sal, Billy and Finn to turn on the former and kill him on the prison roof; a crime for which they would be exectued via electric chair. They ended up in the Afterlife, where they attempt to recreate their escape while fighting zombies. Save for Weasel, the mobsters cannot recall what exactly happened, but regain their memories (if the map's Easter Egg is performed), in which case, they kill Weasel and die once more, repeating the cycle. The cycle can be broken if Weasel successfully defeats the others, at which point he is freed from his repeated deaths.
  • Guns Akimbo: When you upgrade your pistol, you'll gain two of them. They both spit out grenades. Nixon also wields two shotguns in the intro to the first Black Ops map.
    • Again in Moon, where the Wonder Weapon Wave Gun can be taken apart on a whim to become a dual wield shock gun.
    Richtofen: "Double the pleasure, double the pain, double the DAMAGE!"
    • In Zetsubou No Shima, the Marshall 16 Dual Wield is avaliable from the mistery Box.
    • In Gorod Krovi, the GKZ-45 Mk. III are basically two experimental weapons: one that fires clouds that slow down zombies, similar to the Paralyzer, and a Ray Gun Mark III in the other hand. Firing the Ray Gun into the cloud of the GKZ turns the cloud into a Gersch Device-like black hole. The NX Shadowclaw semi-automatic crossbow is also avaliable in Dual Wield version.
    • The Saug 9mm SMG can be upgraded to be Dual Wielded in Black Ops 4. It's a starting weapon.
  • Ghostapo: This is what happens when you expose alien metals to undead Axis soldiers.
  • Healing Shiv:
    • A literal example in the form of the Pack-A-Punched Ballistic Knife, the Krauss Refibrillator. You can revive downed players by stabbing or shooting the blade at them.
    • In Gorod Krovi, the NX Shadowclaw Dual Wield crossbow does this once upgraded.
    • The Staff of Ra in the Chaos storyline can revive downed players at a distance. It and the Ragnarok DG 5 can also drop a revive aura with their level 3 upgrade.
  • The Heavy: Richtofen is the most prominent antagonist for Black Ops and Black Ops II. However, in Black Ops III, the Shadow Man takes this position as he's the most prominent antagonist representing the true antagonists of the franchise, the Apothicons.
  • Hellhole Prison: Mob of the Dead's Alcatraz is portrayed as this, showing massive amounts of decay, shoddy repair, and overrun with zombies covered in razor wire, and impaled with chunks of wood. Though considering that this is while the group is in purgatory, it's understandable.
  • Heroic Mime: The soldiers in Nacht der Untoten. Thankfully, the other levels avert this completely.
  • Herr Doktor: Richtofen.
  • Honor Before Reason: Takeo Masaki. To the point he has a proverb related to honor tattooed on the insides of his eyelids.
    Takeo: Argh! Your foul odor dishonors my sinuses.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • Nikolai is fond of these.
      Nikolai: And the limbs go flying! How's that for an ARM-y?! Get it? With the arms?...(no one answers) ...fuck you.
    • Richtofen also does this... In a more funny, sinister way.
      Richtofen: He can't fight now... He's being... DISARMED! Ahahahaha!
    • Lots of them in newer maps.
      Dempsey, upon seeing a Trasher: "He's like a boar! A... vegetaboar!"
      Dempsey, when turning on the Giant Eye Laser: "He's got his eye on you, maggot addicts!"
      Ritchtofen after turning on the Electric Trap: The extreme voltage I conduct will amplify my resistance to the current hellspawn circuit, ehehe... That's enough electricity puns, moving on.
      Nikolai: It crawls like baby... Hellpiglet! Hehe, see what I did there?
  • Infinity +1 Sword: All the way back to the very first map, Nacht der Untoten, the Random Weapon Box would occasionally give you a Ray Gun, which could usually kill zombies in 1 hit, even on higher rounds. Shi No Numa gave us the Wunderwaffe which took out multiple zombies with one shot. The last World At War map, Der Riese, gave us the Pack-A-Punch machine, which upgraded your weapons into super-enhanced death machines. Even the weakest weapon, the M1911, turned into an automatic grenade launcher when put into the machine.
    • Slowly gets subverted the higher the round number due to the zombies getting more health every round. The subversion is why the Bowie Knife was introduced in Der Riese, and THAT gets subverted after a while.
    • And then the Thundergun in Kino der Toten, which is always a one hit kill. And then the Winter's Howl on Five, and they get subverted eventually, too! But that's only due to ammunition reasons.
    • Then there's the Wave Gun in Moon, which follows the Thundergun in being a one hit kill. But not only that, but it can be taken apart to make a dual wield version that is also a one hit kill!
    • The pistol inside the bus in Tranzit, usually one hit kills zombies with its three round bursts, costs less than most other weapons, and is available right from the start.
    • Probably the king of all these weapons is the Sliquifier from Die Rise. Originally thought by the fans as an absolutely terrible new Wonder Weapon, the Sliquifier has proven that it is the greatest Wonder Weapon yet. There's a video in which a player kills 91 zombies in a single shot.
    • In Tranzit, the superweapon was a Jet Gun that worked on a cooldown and shredded zombies to bits. It wasn't that great. With the release of Buried, we receive the Paralyzer. Insanely quick cooldown, slows zombies to a halt and kills them in seconds, massive range, and you can fly in the air with it? Sign me up!
    • In Shadows of Evil, you make some sort of Eldritch Abomination gun that shoots black holes. It's like having ten Gersch Devices!
    • In Der Eisendrache, it is possible to obtain a bow by feeding three dragons. The bows can be upgraded to bows that draw in power from elements: the Storm Bow, the Void Bow, the Wolf Bow and the Lava bow.
    • In Zetsubou No Shima, the KT-4 and it shoots a liquid that makes spores grow in zombies and makes them explode, similar to the Sliquifier.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Mob of the Dead is a self-contained story depicting four mobsters trying to escape from an overrun Alcatraz, dealing with their own demons and whether or not they deserve redemption for their crimes. Only in Black Ops III does it become apparent that this standalone map is actually perhaps the key to everything. The map revolves around breaking the "cycle" of the mobsters' tenure in Purgatory. Furthermore, the pocket dimension of Mob of the Dead has been sealed off due to the influence of the Apothicons, the main antagonists of the series. The Origins crew ventures here to take blood samples from the mobsters to combine their Aetheric energy with their own and modify their body chemistry as something that doesn't exist in the main timelines. This creates a paradox that saves them from Dr. Monty's reset button upon the final defeat of the Apothicons. This visit to Alcatraz not only saves the heroes lives, but saves the entire universe, as Monty is convinced to send the crew back in time to the first battle with the Apothicons on ancient Earth, which will one day lead to Monty seeking out the same four men again in the present. The Origins crew takes their true place in the entire universe, and complete the cycle, allowing Monty and the rest of reality to move forward from the evil of the Apothicons.
    • And then turned on its head with the remake in Black Ops 4, Blood of the Dead. Primis Richtofen's cycle-mandated plot to get in, get the blood, and get out quickly fails, trapping Primis there; this sets off a chain of events that results in Primis Richtofen being Killed Off for Real, Nikolai inheriting the Kronorium, and the breaking of the Aether cycle established by the series beforehand; everything that came before has been thrown into flux, the story has changed, and time will only tell where the plot will go from here. So in the end, Mob ended up not only being an Innocuously Important Episode, it arguably ended up being the most important episode in the Aether story thus far.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Maxis's plan to save the world from zombies: blow it up, at least at first glance. He was actually out to destroy the Earth's atmosphere and strike a critical blow to Richtofen's power over the Aether.
  • Interactive Narrator: All the player characters can hear the Demonic Announcer. Leading to these lovely exchanges:
    Demonic Announcer: FETCH ME THEIR SOULS!
    Nikolai: "Oh, no! They're going to fetch our souls again!"
    Dempsey: Fetch my grenade, Devil-voice!
  • Jungle Japes: Shangri-La and Zetsubou No Shima.
  • Kill It with Fire: Flamethrower + Nazi Zombies = Good times, but Flamethrowers are useless unless someone's got the Insta-Kill power-up.
    • Flamethrowers are useful if you have the Double Tap perk, because the increased fire rate means that the zombies burn up a lot quicker. Pack-A-Punching it adds nitrogen cooling to your flamethrower, making this much more practical.
    • Black Ops III allows a second pack-a-punch for all bullet-firing guns, and one of the secondary bullet types is Blast Furnace. Once triggered, it sets all zombies in the vicinity on fire.
    • Black Ops 4 adds the Hellfire for the Aether maps, a homemade flamethrower serving as Nikolai's signature weapon. Though somewhat weak on release, it's since been buffed and is a VERY powerful zombie-killing implement.
  • Knife Nut:
    • Everyone in Der Riese once they get their hands on a Bowie Knife, which looks more like a short sword.
    • Misty from Tranzit is a self admitted knife nut, and was a six-time knife fighting champion.
    • The Origins characters in the newer maps once they buy a Bowie Knife.
      Demspey: Welcome to the one-stop maggot spillin' brain muncher chop shop. Proprietor: Tank Dempsey!
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Some of the characters will comment on the finding of the musical Easter Eggs being just that. They'll also get pissed off every time the Mystery Box chucks up a Teddy Bear instead of a weapon, and later remark how during a Fire Sale, the Mystery Box will give them a crappy pistol or a sniper rifle.
    • After an explosive caused by Nikolai leaves a zombie alive, but legless, he will make a remark on how players do this to be free to run around the map and do whatever:
      Look, I just made a new pet. I'll take it for a walk for about five minutes while the rest of you dick around.
      Dempsey, when out of ammo: Hey, player! Drop the chips and get me some ammo!
      • It gets more and more explicit as the DLC maps come in, with the last one hanging these after almost every power-up pickup.
    Dempsey, after picking up a nuke: "Gotta love how that doesn't hurt us. Wait, is my hair falling out?!"
    • The Call of Duty games brought in "quick scoping", that is, use a sniper rifle scope for a millisecond for a kill. Get one to Sarah in Call of the Dead and she will bring this up.
    • In the "Zombies Chronicles" radio for the map, Monty comments on how simple Nacht der Untoten is compared to the latter maps of the series.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much everyone after a kill.
    Dempsey: I'm gonna do a jig on your insides, maggotsack!
    Nikolai: "No, it's my Vodka! MINE! MY OWN!"
    Richtofen: "The Doctor prescribes you... PAIN!"
    Takeo: "Your blood will rain on me!"
    Kennedy: "Forgive your enemies, but NEVER, EVER, forget their names!"
    McNamara: "Consider yourself, ITEMIZED!"
    Castro: "Only I can punish crimes of such MAGNITUDE!"
    Nixon: "Get your hands off me, HIPPIE!"
    Misty: "Oh ho, you're done, BITCH!"
    Richoften: "I DRINK YOUR PAIN!" *slurping sounds*
    Dempsey: "I WILL CUT YOU BAD! REAL BAD!"
    Ritchtofen, when knifing a zombie: "SILENCE!!!"
    Nikolai: "YOU DID NOT FINISH JOB, BIG MISTAKE!"
    Takeo: "You? Kill me? NOO! I KILL YOU!"
    Dempsey: "DO I NEED TO SPELL IT OUT? You're D-E-A-D, MAGGOT ADDICTS!"
    Nikolai: "YOU DARE INSULT ME? ON MY HOMELAND??"
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • Even if you didn't complete the Easter egg of Moon, you can't play Black Ops II without learning that Richtofen has taken control of the zombies.
    • Revelations features an audio log from the Shadow Man's reporter friend that spoils the ending of Mob of the Dead, that the mobsters were Dead All Along and never escaped Alcatraz.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Whereas the Ultimis crew outright broke the fourth wall, Doctor Monty does the tango with it. He serves as an In-Universe explanation for the supernatural phenomena of the series like the power-ups and why there's always Perk Machines and Mystery Boxes wherever you go. In the "Zombies Chronicles" radios, Monty also reveals that he wrote the Mission Briefs for each map, quoting the brief for Verruckt verbatim. He also lampshades how Nacht der Untoten is pretty "barebones" by today's standards.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The Golden Spork in Mob of the Dead. As ridiculous as this sounds, it's more lethal than the Galvaknuckles. Yes, a spork is more deadly than electric brass knuckles! Holy crap! To specify, the Golden Spork is five times more deadly than the Galvaknuckles. Getting it requires using the acid infused Blundergat in the laundry room after mixing the spoon in the bathtub of blood. A laugh later, and go back to bathtub. Have fun using it to Curbstomp zombies. It returns in Blood of the Dead with more or less the same method of creation, bringing some much-needed levity to the otherwise-morose map.
  • MacGuffin: Each maps has one or several of those, necessaries to complete its Easter Egg. The Summoning Key can be considered as one of to the entire Black Ops III storyline.
    • Blood of the Dead revolves around the titular blood from the Alcatraz dimension. Unfortunately for Primis, in this incarnation of the cycle, it's not the mobster's blood that's needed, but theirs.
  • Mad Scientist: Richtofen. Maxis gets there in Buried, and Blood implies Monty might be one, too.
  • Magic Music: In Origins, gramophones and records can apparently open up entire tombs, and open portals to another dimension.
  • Magikarp Power: That Pack-A-Punch machine can turn your somewhat useless weapon, into a slaughtering machine, save for a few exceptions.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "verrückt" means "crazy" in German.
    • Nacht der Untoten, which means Night of the Undead in German, and Shi no Numa, which is Japanese for Zombie Swamp or Marsh of Death... and you fight Japanese Zombies in it.
    • Kino der Toten in Black Ops roughly translates to Theater of the Dead, which is appropriate considering it's a Shout-Out to Inglourious Basterds.
    • Ascension is a Soviet rocket launch facility, complete with cosmonaut training device and zombie astro-monkeys.
    • Call of the Dead, combining Call of Duty and Night of the Living Dead (1968) (the latter of which was directed by George A. Romero, who shows up as the final boss of the level).
    • Mob of the Dead has 'Icarus'. A plane that is supposed to fly the Mobsters out of Alcatraz, crashes on the Golden Gate Bridge.
    • Buried is named for the character's situation - they have to decide to follow either Richtofen or Maxis, but they overall don't have the best of hopes anyway. Even though they canonically help Maxis, he turns on them and destroys the Earth, and they narrowly escape dying with it.
    • Der Eisendrache is German for "The Iron Dragon", named after the dragons you have to feed, and that it is the motif of the long gone king.
    • Zetsubou No Shima translates from Japanese to "Island of Despair". Considering what happens in the island...
    • Gorod Krovi translates directly from Russian to "City of Blood."
    • Revelations is the Grand Finale of the Black Ops 3 Aether season and offers a number of revelations on the plot.
    • Blood of the Dead refers to the titular MacGuffin blood of the Mob of the Dead mobsters, essential to the conclusion of Revelations. Upon release of the game, however, it becomes clear that the title actually refers to the blood of Primis; more specifically Primis Richtofen, who is Killed Off for Real at the end of the map's easter egg.
  • Me's a Crowd:
    • The main four characters of the Aether story - Richtofen, Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai - have two major incarnations each; their Ultimis counterparts (the playable characters of most of World at War and Black Ops), and their Primis counterparts (introduced in the final map of Black Ops II, and playable throughout most of Black Ops III).
    • There are also Ultimis and Primis counterparts of supporting characters Ludvig Maxis, Samantha Maxis, Groph, and Sophia, as well as several minor characters.
    • Black Ops IV steps up the game by introducing even more counterparts of the characters. As of Blood of the Dead, we now have a second Primis Richtofen who is our playable character alongside a Richtofen who has lived through the events of Revelations. Then Classified introduces a third Primis Richtofen in its' cutscene in a map that features two different versions of Ultimis (one that just came off of Shangri-La, one that has just came off of Moon, and Buried in Richtofen's case).
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • A lot of the musical easter eggs by Elena Siegman. Often, they change from normal singing to furious screaming in the blink of an eye. For example, in "Beauty of Annihilation":
    Bring me down... WITH 7.62 AND HIGH VELOCITY!!!
    Bring you down... WITH 7.92 AND NO IMPUNITYYYYY!
    • The songs themselves can do this; having a playlist of all the songs on random and you can go from a quiet solemn song ("Always Running") to a screamo ("Paredolia" + "Coming Home") and back to a 'soft' grunge song ("Lullaby for a Dead Man") within a ten minute span.
  • More Dakka:
    • Pack-a-Punching your guns in Der Riese onwards often includes a gigantic increase in firing rate. It even turns some semi-auto weapons into full-auto weapons. However, trying to compensate for a lack of accuracy in this manner will just cause your ammunition reserves to run dry. (although the lack of accuracy becomes a problem because headshots in the later rounds are the only way to quickly kill a zombie.)
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar is wearing tight leather pants and a crop top that bares her midriff, which was originally her costume for the movie she was filming with Romero and the others.
    • Misty wears a plaid shirt tied into a note leaving most of her belly exposed, and wears short-shorts as well.
    • Jessica in Shadows of Evil was purposely trying to emulate this since she was performing in a burlesque show before she was abducted and cast into the apocalypse of Morg City.
    • Diego in the new Chaos storyline is a Mr. Fanservice Brainless Beauty. Scarlett averts it; she dresses sensibly and is more of a pissed-off Blood Knight than anything.
  • Multiple Head Case: The Margwa in Black Ops III has three heads. All three have to be destroyed to kill it.
  • The Multiverse: The Black Ops III zombies arc is the original crew's attempts to erase the zombies from all realities, and save it all from the Apothicons, ancient evils that seek to destroy all realities.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In Origins, the steps to the Easter egg are the steps of Reznov's plan during the Black Ops campaign.
    • "Gag" might not be the right word, considering the mood of the scene, but WW2!Takeo's fate is eerily similar to Reznov's.
    • In Revelations, the license plate of the truck in the spawn area reads "M 45 ON", which is L33t L1ng0 for "Mason", the protagonist of the first Black Ops.
    • The title of Dead of the Night, the first major DLC map of Black Ops IV, is a nod to the first map Nacht der Untoten. Both maps are technically the earliest chronologically in their respective storylines, and as the latter translates to "night of the undead", "dead of the night" is basically a flipped version of it.
  • Multiple Endings: Keeping with this trope being used for the campaign, the storyline of the Black Ops II season employs this. Both Richtofen and Maxis are asking the main characters to aid in their quest to take firm control of the world or heal it, respectively. The canon ending is the Maxis ending, in which he reveals he was Evil All Along and used you to attain ultimate power to destroy the Earth. The (now confirmed as of 2017) non-canon ending is the Richtofen ending, where Richtofen assumes ultimate power over the Aether, kills Maxis, and Earth is now his personal plaything. Samuel also becomes the unwilling mortal host for Richtofen's soul whenever he likes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • All the upgraded weapons sound scary. Well, except for the PTRS-41, which is called The Penetrator.
    • The Dingo becomes the Dire Wolf once pack-a-punched.
    • The SVG-100 turns into the Ikken Hissatsu. Which is Japanese for "To annihilate in one blow".
  • Nazi Nobleman: Averted in Richtofen's biography, which makes reference to this trope, saying he gained influence amongst German's high-class, but disagreed with the Nazi Party (though mostly because he considered them not evil enough). He did join the army to fulfill his sadism, however. And also Averted with Group 935 as a whole, as Maxis joined with the Nazi party to further their agenda, but Maxis is strongly implied to have stalled as much as possible so as to not hand their advanced weaponry over to the Third Reich.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The Call of the Dead cast, unbeknownst to them. They gave the Vrill Device to Richtofen, who would use it to take control of the zombies in the Aether, and this would lead to the Earth's destruction.
    • No matter who Victis helps, they only make things worse. If Richtofen succeeds, the Earth remains as is, and Richtofen ends up trapped in Samuel's body and seems doomed to die with the other three. If Maxis succeeds (which by the way is the canonical ending), he destroys the Earth and everyone still on it. The worst part? He still fails to find Agartha..
    • Richtofen and the crew all manage to save their Ultimis versions and create the perfect world... Then Maxis fiddles with the Summoning Key and gets tricked by the Shadow Man. Who then proceeds to unleash his overlords on the perfect world that Richtofen worked so hard for. Dr. Monty admits it's not really Maxis' fault, as he doesn't actually have a soul since he only had his brain to work with.
  • Nazi Zombies: Trope Namer. It was originally titled "Nazi Zombies", and involved the players surviving hordes of Nazi zombies; but the Nazis stopped featuring as the default enemy starting in Call of Duty: Black Ops, and the game mode was renamed "Zombie Mode".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • Japanese Zombies!
    • Flaming exploding zombie dogs!
    • Russian Cosmonaut Zombies!
    • Mutant Jumping Space Monkeys!!
    • Now all lead by ELECTRIFIED, STAGELIGHT-WIELDING, NEARLY INVINCIBLE ZOMBIE GEORGE ROMERO!
    • Now completely and utterly crushed by not one, not two, but THREE 1000ft tall giant robots in Origins!
    • Now summoned by the spawn of the Apothicons, complete with turning into tentacle monsters and making living guns that shoot black holes!
    • GIANT SPIDERS AND PLAYER-EATING ZOMBIES!
    • AND SET AFIRE BY GIANT DRAGONS AND ELECTRIFIED BY NAZI ROBOT DRONES!
    • And now including zombies and tidbits from ALL maps in one single place alongside Eldritch Abominations you couldn't imagine in your worst nightmares!
  • No Name Given: "Tank" Dempsey's true first name has not been revealed as of the end of Black Ops III. Not even Doctor Monty and the Shadow Man, two eldritch beings from the beginning of time with quasi-omnipotence, seem to know what his first name is.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game is a lot harder to play solo, especially if you aren't intimately familiar with the maps and zombie behavior. There's a huge emphasis on headshots and all the players are Two-Hitpoint Wonders. Black Ops takes things a step further by making it much harder to hold up in one spot, introducing ankle-biting gas zombies, and nerfing the machine guns. If you know how to properly lead the zombies, though, it's a lot easier to get high scores playing alone than it is with groups. In later games, there is a way to lower the difficulty, at the cost of being able to do the Easter egg.
  • No-Sell:
    • The Panzer Soldats were originally featured in Origins, a map that lacked any traps for you to kill them with. When they return in Der Eisendrache and Revelations, you think it's a great idea to try to use the trap on them, right? Wrong - if they're chasing you and you end up on the other side of an activated trap, they simply stop, punch the trap's activation button to shut it down, and resume their pursuit.
    • Similarly, Margwas are immune to the Lil' Arnies and Apothicon Servant blasts you throw at them. They will actively fight to destroy your Lil' Arnie before its' use cycle has ended, and they simply stand their ground in place until the Apothicon Servant's blast has ended.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The ending of Moon completely changes the series, since the Earth is destroyed and the Zombie Apocalypse finally begins, and the main plot became more serialized, the tone becomes Darker and Edgier, and hints towards the true villains of the series began to emerge.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You:
    • Done in Mob of the Dead, where the mobsters end up crashing into the Golden Gate Bridge support beam with their makeshift airplane and fall to the ground below, they just merely get dazed as a result. Justified, they are not in the real world, they are in purgatory.
    • A little purge from the giant robot and the player falls a great height in Origins, 1000 ft. They survive of course. Handwaved somewhat with this quote.
    Richtofen: The initial test subjects did not survive the purge sequence, hence the addition of the velocity compensator.
  • Powered Armor: What the Panzer Soldat technically wears.
  • Once a Season: Every game of the series features some playable version of Nacht der Untoten, the very first map of the series, via rerelease, remaster, or incorporating it into the map. Nacht is included in the "Rezurrection" map pack of Black Ops; a partial replica is accessible in TranZit in Black Ops II; and a Nacht-based area is the main hub of Revelations in Black Ops III, and the map is also remastered for the "Zombies Chronicles" pack.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Nikolai in Der Riese, albeit for one line:
    Nikolai: His head is waist high, Dempsey, (suddenly losing Russian accent) don't get too excited!
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: The Chaos storyline's answer to the monkey bomb is a homunculus, which is apparently so angry that he'll attack any zombie that comes near it, and they think he's easy prey. It's a very effective way to kill a hoard too.
Bruno:: If that little shit were full sized, he would conquer the world.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're made via "Element 115" or repeated teleportation, and don't need headshots. Their eyes glow and move faster over time, and they're somewhat controllable.
    • In fact, later zombies can survive for short times without their heads. At a late enough round, you could have an armless, legless, headless zombie still making its way towards you.
    • With the right application of 115, they can be turned back into regular humans. This includes George Romero, but only for a short time.
  • Pet the Dog: Richtofen is noticeably empathetic towards the Hellhounds when they come knocking at the door. Considering Nazi Germany had a surprisingly humane policy on animals... That, and the fact that he helped create the first Hellhound, which he used to kill Maxis and Samantha by locking them into the room it had appeared in. At least, that's what everyone, including Rictofen thought. Turns out, they were teleported to the Group 935 base on the Moon.
  • The Power of Rock: Well, technically, Rock was far from invented yet in 1918, but a Gramophone and some records are needed in Origins to open up specific areas, all which are very important to creating the map's wonder weapons.
  • Precision F-Strike: The end of "Archangel".
    I am the end
    a fucking archangel
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Both sides in the original timeline have variations. If you follow Maxis (which is the canonical ending), Richtofen's threat is no more, but Maxis is arguably worse, with him destroying Earth outright. If you follow Richtofen, he will be excited, but he will soon realize how dangerous the battlefield is again, how he gets bored, and how there is a stench.
  • Poison Mushroom: The Tombstone perk cola in Black Ops II, which gives you a quick suicide if downed.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation
    Dempsey: "Gotta link up this terra... er, tele... bah... machine."
  • Power-Up:
  • Power Up Letdown:
    • The Death Machine in some Black Ops maps can be this on later rounds when you realize that it doesn't do that much damage and makes you unable to run. And then you realize you can't buy things or revive people when you have it. Averted with the Black Ops III onward version of the Death Machine (known in IV as the Overkill), which tears through crowds regardless of round.
    • The Nuke powerup instantly kills every zombie on the field and awards all players 400 points each. The problem with this is that the number killed are usually worth more than the points the powerup gives you, it makes attempts to activate secrets on the map harder by possibly ending the round (leaving one or two zombies alive is often used to extend a round indefinitely for this purpose) or killing zombies that players need to directly kill for certain reasons, and in the early rounds you can grab it by accident simply because it's cheaper and earns more points to knife zombies than shoot them.
  • Psycho Electro: Dempsey's more... fond of the Wunderwaffe than the other characters, as well as the Storm Bow in Der Eisendrache.
  • Rasputinian Death: Nikolai notes the ability for a zombie to keep coming at you with arms, legs, and even a head blown off in one of his quotes.
    Nikolai: "What are you? Fucking RASPUTIN?! Just die already!"
  • Recycled INSPACE: The Rezurrection map pack features a new map on the moon.
    • Also in that map is an achievement called 'Perks in Spaaaaace', which is unlocked once you've had all 8 perks at some point in the game (not necessarily all at the same time)
  • The Reveal:
    • Moon reveals that Richtofen has been using the other three to help him enter the Aether and take control of the zombies.
    • The endgame of Mob of the Dead reveals that Sal, Billy, and Finn are actually all dead, having been executed for murdering the Weasel when they realized his plan to build a plane was a farce. The four are actually trapped in an eternal, hellish purgatory as punishment for their sins.
    • Buried reveals that Maxis has been plotting to use the survivors of Earth to help him take Richtofen's place in the Aether, only to destroy the Earth so he may reach Agartha and find Samantha.
    • The Giant sets forth the new direction for the story, and that the Origins crew is from an alternate dimension from the one up to Buried. They are also systematically killing their original timeline selves to prevent the original timeline from happening.
    • Gorod Krovi reveals that Dr. Monty is an omnipotent being who has tried to keep the universe in balance, and is going to help the gang save it.
    • Revelations has already set forth a ton of reveals just in the pre-release material, unsurprising given the title of the map. The ending of Origins was actually set in a reality inside the Aether, created by Dr. Monty as a safe haven for new incarnations of the original four and the Maxis' after all the horrors they've faced. Furthermore, the Apothicons are unveiled as the true main antagonists of the series, as they are beings of pure evil who seek to destroy the universe by sending Element 115 to all realities - and the element corrupts any who come into contact with it, and in the original timeline's case, led Richtofen and Maxis to destroy the Earth. The Shadow Man is properly identified as the chief enforcer of the Apothicons, who now are about to conquer the Aether and destroy the entire universe.
    • Blood of the Dead confirms that the Shadow Man and the Apothicons rule the Alcatraz purgatory dimension; the deaths of the mobsters were to lay a trap for Primis Richtofen who would one day come for their blood vials. It also confirms that the mobsters never escaped their eternal torment, and that Monty is an antagonist.
  • Retcon:
    • Blood of the Dead reveals that the execution of Sal, Finn, and Billy was not just punishment for killing Al; the Shadow Man instructed the Warden of Alcatraz to kill them to use them as bait in the purgatory dimension for Primis Richtofen.
    • Classified reveals that the meeting between Kennedy and Castro was arranged by McNamara with the true intention of forming a global alliance against the threat of Samantha.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better:
    • Played straight, and subverted. The revolver is a good weapon and a good choice for early rounds... but later on, its low rate of fire and the zombies' increased health is a crippling weakness.
    • Completely played straight in TranZit onwards, where the revolver Executioner is massively more powerful than most of the weapons in the box, even the Ray Gun!
    • And in Buried, we get a new revolver by the name of the Remington New Model Army. Its damage against the body is above average, and it has a decent reload time. However, it gets massive damage multipliers with headshots. Said multipliers rise even higher when the weapon is upgraded.
  • Rule of Cool: Why are you fighting as a crazed Nazi, a drunken Russian, an honor-obsessed Japanese soldier, and an even crazier American? Why are there miniature grenade launchers and electric guns? Who cares?
    • Alternatively, why are you fighting zombies as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara and Fidel Castro in the Pentagon? I think you know exactly why.
      • Gets better when celebrities are thrown into the mix.
      • And why is Sarah Michelle wearing a sleeveless cut off shirt in the middle of Siberia?
      • And eventually, mobsters fighting zombies in Alcatraz.
    • The weapons themselves. Started from the Ray Gun and now we got cluster grenades disguised as a Russian nesting toy and a miniature black hole generating bomb along with elemental based weapons.
  • Running Gag: When attempting to purchase something he doesn't have enough points for, Nikolai will make references to a stripper who took his money:
    Nikolai on Kino der Toten: What?! That stripper must have stolen my money!
    Nikolai on Ascension: That stripper DID take all my money!...bitch....
    Nikolai on Shangri-La: Where does all my money go? Vodka, she is cruel mistress. (which, in itself, is a Running Gag)
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Richtofen's goal in the Black Ops III storyline is stopping himself from accessing the MPD in all realities.
  • Scenery Gorn: Nuketown Zombies is pretty much Nuketown from the first Black Ops...given a very destructive makeover.
  • Screams Like Alittle Girl: Nikolai does this in Shangri-La.
    Aah! It almost made me woman!
    • Nikolai actually does this a lot, particularly when something comes close to hurting, um... his "Little Nikolai".
  • Semper Fi: Tank Dempsey. Oo-fuckin'-rah.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike:
    • Black Ops II 's zombie mode is a few orders of magnitude harder than the one in the original Black Ops, especially on Solo. Zombies get stronger and faster much earlier on, and the smaller levels and narrower corridors make it much more difficult to form zombie trains. Black Ops 's zombie mode was already more difficult than World at War 's, as each weapon had been nerfed, and machine guns were less viable.
    • Played straight with Black Ops III. The zombies run faster and are able to attack MUCH faster than in previous games - to the point that being trapped is basically a death sentence, and one running zombie is a HUGE threat. To not make it downright impossible, players can now take three hits without Juggernog. Not that it helps...
  • Sequel Escalation: Each of the DLCs' settings and atmospheres become progressively more over-the-top.
    • Black Ops' first Zombie Mode map features John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara and Fidel Castro fighting zombies in the Pentagon during JFK's presidency days/weeks after the Cuban Crisis.
    • Ascension brings the group from a Nazi theater to a Russian rocket base.
    • And as for Call of the Dead, well........
    • And now the final Zombies map being produced for Black Ops has Tank, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen fight zombies on a base on the surface of Earth's moon. If that isn't absurdly over the top then I don't know what is. About as over the top as the Earth blowing up.
    • Black Ops II has TranZit, one of the biggest Zombie Mode maps to date, featuring interconnected areas that also serve as smaller maps. The premise behind said map counts as it shows the very destructive aftermath of Richtofen's antics in Moon.
    • Now we have Die Rise, which is also an incredibly large map, and expands greatly on the after affects of Moon and the conflict between Doctor Maxis and Richtofen's plans.
    • And after that, "Mob of the Dead." This is the largest zombies map to date, with a boss who can shut down perks and the box.
    • The final map, "Origins:, takes place during World War I, in a Dieselpunk France, is the largest map to date, features a tank you can ride on, and a skyscraper-sized robot.
    • Black Ops III starts relatively tamely with ''Shadows of Evil, where you fight zombies in a 40s city. And then the aliens shows up. And then you fight a servant of the ancient evil the maps have been foreshadowing since the beginning.
      • The Giant: Did Richtofen just got killed by his Origins self, saying it's to "secure a better tomorrow"?!
      • Der Eisendrache: Well, there goes the Moon remake.
      • Zetsubou No Shima: Zombie-eating plants, player-eating zombie-plant hybrids, and gigantic spiders. Have fun sleeping!
      • Gorod Krovi: Dragons! Nazi flying drones! Ultra-advanced German AI! More giant robots! Giant Russian zombies with arm cannons!
      • Revelations: Now we combine all maps in one huge frankendrabble in a fight to save the ENTIRE universe and all of existence as it is known from an abominable, tentacle-wielding ancient evil.
  • Serial Escalation: This secret on Ascension. It requires a LOT of time and is extremely difficult to do on a regular room unless you know exactly what you're doing.
    • Every subsequent Zombies map has even more elaborate Easter Eggs, culminating in the destruction of the Earth.
      • As of Black Ops III, the Origins characters are in a mission to destroy all of their WW2 counterparts to avoid the collapse of dimensions, and creating a perfect world for them to live away from all the fighting.
  • Silliness Switch: The main campaign of World at War is serious. As you might have guessed, this isn't. Well, eventually.
    • And then it becomes progressively darker.
    • The trailers and teasers for Nazi Zombie maps and Dead Ops Arcade are pretty serious.
    • At the end of Black Ops after hearing a solemn quote from JFK, the game cuts away to JFK joking about said quote with Castro, Nixon, and McNamara just before the zombies attack.
    • Dead Ops Arcade takes the cake though. If the bleeptune music and the helicopter and tank power-ups weren't a big enough clue, maybe the spacesuit gorilla will tip you off.
    • With the Earth blowing up in ''Moon'', it's safe to say that the tables have turned.
    • Extremely averted in Die Rise, where the beginning of a new 115-related plague and the absolute rule of Richtofen are shown.
    • Averted again in Buried, if you listen to Maxis, he becomes the Demonic Announcer, and tells you that he plans on destroying the Earth to be with Samantha. Listen to Richtofen, and he jumps into Stuhlinger's body.
    • Black Ops III moves the story firmly into that of a Cosmic Horror Story, as it becomes a desperate battle against the Apothicons, who are trying to destroy the universe.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better:
    • The Executioner. A shotgun revolver that has a lot of spare ammo. Even better upgraded.
    • The KSG in Origins. It still fires slugs, which gives it massive range for the weapon, and when upgraded, you have more ammo than the rest of the shotguns. Add a reflex sight, fast mag, and massive stopping power (Even better with Double Tap II) and you've got the one weapon you can use for the rest of the game.
    • The 205 Brecci and the Haymaker 12 in Black Ops III. Pack-a-punched, both have around 120 plus shells available and utterly annihilate anything in its way - to the point that most zombies simply become red mist. Hell, even the KRM-262 pump shotgun is amazing once it's pack-a-punched.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: "Call of the Dead", taking place in an icebreaker stuck in, uhm, ice.
    "I really didn't dress for the cold."
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Buffy addresses this upon picking up a Death Machine.
    Sarah: Huh, this gun's bigger than me.
  • Smurfette Principle: Lampshaded/invoked in Black Ops by Dempsey.
    "Maann, I wish we could trade Richoften for a hot chick. I'm getting lonely here..."
    • However, it's played straight in Call of The Dead, with Sarah Michelle Gellar being the only female.
      • And after completing Richtofen's Grand Scheme on Moon, Samantha Maxis becomes the the second female character playable in Zombies via a soul transfer with Richtofen.
      • Played straight again with Black Ops II's Zombies mode, wherein Misty is the sole female character.
      • Also played straight in Black Ops III's Zombies, where Jessica Rose is the token female.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: All of the speaking soldiers enjoy the slaughter far too much.
  • Soul Jar: The Summoning Key can be used as this, catching and preserving the soul of the recently deceased.
  • Soviet Super Science: In the first Black Ops DLC map, Ascension.
    • Also in Gorod Krovi, where it shows they became advanced enough to create mechs and arm cannon prosthesis in masse.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Fidel Castro. He lampshades it.
  • Standard FPS Guns: In addition to the standard Call of Duty weapons, the Wunderwaffe fills the role of the electricity gun.
  • The Starscream: Richtofen to Maxis during their time in Group 935. Maxis refuses to allow Richtofen's experiments with the teleporters to continue, convincing Richtofen to work behind his back. Eventually Richtofen decides Maxis is unfit to lead 935, especially after declining to mass-produce his prized invention, the Wunderwaffe. Maxis had his reasons, as he truly had no intentions of giving such powerful weapons to the Third Reich, who were funding them at the time. Things probably would not have gotten so bad if Maxis had bothered to explain this to Richtofen...
  • Story Arc: As of Black Ops IV, there are two main Story Arcs that the series is comprised of.
    • The Aether story - This entails all maps from World at War to the end of Black Ops III. Though Revelations appeared to be the end of the Aether story, Black Ops IV continues where it left off.
    • The Chaos story - This is the new narrative that begins in Voyage of Despair, the first on-disc map of Black Ops IV. It stars a new cast of characters and a new demonic entity behind the creation of the zombies.
  • Time Travel: First seen when Element 115 overloaded the teleporter in Der Riese to send our heroes to the future.
    • The basis of the entire storyline. Includes Temporal Paradoxes, Alternate Timelines, and more.
    • And again in Call of the Dead, when they managed to reach modern times.
    • The time bomb does the exact opposite in Buried, it send players back in time, to the point when it was set down. If you lost your entire team, *click* they're back with all of their weapons back.
  • Third-Person Person: Nikolai seems fond of this.
    "Nikolai will put their brains on the outside!"
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The upgraded M1911 pistol is called the C-3000 b1atch35.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Subverted with Richtofen and Maxis. Despite Richtofen wearing the uniform, Group 935 predated the Nazi party, but were forced to make a secret deal with them to provide weapons in exchange for funding. Maxis is also strongly implied to have stalled production of the fantastical weapons Group 935 created as long as possible because he didn't want the Nazis to have such power at their disposal (which inadvertently contributed to Richtofen's Face–Heel Turn since he was angry his technology wouldn't be mass-produced). Richtofen, when learning of the deal, also expresses hesitation since 935 is a worldwide organization and an alliance with the Nazi party would likely cause mass defections.
  • Uniqueness Decay: Played With in Black Ops III. The Apothicon Servant and the Ragnarok DG-4 were the Wonder Weapons of Shadows of Evil and Der Eisendrache, respectively, and required parts from around the map to be built. The Apothicon Servant in particular was difficult to build since it required you to get a part from, among other places, a dead Margwa. However, in Revelations, the final map of the game, both weapons are easily available from the Mystery Box. While the Ragnarok can be wielded by multiple players, the Apothicon Servant is coded to usually be only wielded by one player in the game.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If you can avoid getting knocked down, get headshots consistently, and Pack-A-Punch your weapons to stay in the game, you'll rack up a nice buffer of points and the zombies can be very easy to kill even in rounds 20-30. Conversely, getting downed forced you to rebuy perks while being chased by zombies, and dying in a round forces that plus the Pack-A-Punch, which will cost a lot of points that are harder to earn without those features. Combine that with the cost of reloads and the ever-increasing strengths of the zombies, and it can become borderline impossible to keep playing.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Nikolai uses a couple of these in Shangri-La.
    "Aah! That was too close to my hammer and sickles."
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Dempsey, Nikolai, and Takeo as of the events during Moon.
    • Both Richtofen and Maxis are this for the Apothicons, as they are both corrupted by the Dark Aether and are deadset on bringing about the destruction of Earth on their behalf.
    • Canonically, the Victis group is this to Maxis, who uses them to take control of the Aether just so he can destroy the Earth for the Apothicons.
    • The ''Origins' group is this for a while until Richtofen reveals his plans of killing their Ultimis counterparts to avoid the collapse of the dimensions.
  • Villain Song: "Not Ready To Die" appears to be Dr. Richtofen's. A number of the series' songs seem to apply to Samantha, but "115" appears to be the main one and the one the fits the trope most.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Everyone insults everyone, but they'll help them, anyway. In fact, the characters themselves are programmed with different reactions to their teammates. They each have one teammate who they are friendly and hostile to, as well as one who they do not react to at all. For example, Dempsey likes Takeo, does not react to Nikolai and hates Richtofen.
    Kennedy: "Fidel's down. EVERYONE POINT AND LAUGH!"
  • Verbal Tic: Tank Dempsey says "Oorah" more times than the combined "Hooahs" of Modern Warfare 2!
    • He also calls ammo "gun juice", which happens a lot when you run out of ammo or get max ammo, resulting in-
    Dempsey: JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIIIICCCEE!!!
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Nikolai, obviously. Lampshaded.
    Nikolai: Nothing is more dangerous than a drunk Russian with an MG!
  • Wham Episode:
    • Moon: Also qualifying as perhaps the Wham Episode of the entire series. Richtofen takes control of the zombies, and Maxis reveals himself to be alive and helps you nuke the Earth, beginning the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Buried. In the canonical ending, lighting the towers for Maxis makes everything worse, as he reveals he has been Evil All Along and announces his plans for the complete destruction of Earth.
    • Der Eisendrache. Richtofen reveals that he is hunting the gang's Ultimis counterparts to hopefully save all dimensions from the zombies.
    • Gorod Krovi. Doctor Monty finally shows himself and reveals some future plans.
    • Blood of the Dead. The cycle of Primis is broken and Primis Richtofen is Killed Off for Real, Primis Nikolai is given the Kronorium, and the true antagonist is set up to be Doctor Monty.
    • Classified. Primus and Ultimis meet up to join forces for the Great War.
  • Wham Line:
    • Midway through the Easter egg of Moon, Richtofen is trying to access the systems of Griffin Station when he's met with this:
    • In the endgame of Mob of the Dead, after you've flown the Icarus plane to the Golden Gate bridge a few times and repeated a cycle for the duration of the game, you get to listen to audio logs recorded by Stanley Ferguson. While you could imagine they take place before his death in the intro cutscene, one line changes everything:
    Ferguson: What IS known, is that no such plane was ever built.
    • By the canonical end of Buried, this quote makes it painfully clear that you've been duped.
    Maxis: Ya! The towers are all under my control! It is time to begin the purge!
    • In Shadows of Evil, you've been following the orders of the Shadow Man. Sure he seems shifty, but he has been genuinely helping you and providing useful information, right? Well, after the fifth ritual, he has this to say:
    The Shadow Man: Your services to the overlords is appreciated. Our complete assimilation of this dimension will now... proceed.
    • Towards the end of Blood of the Dead, post-Revelations Richtofen outlines the next major antagonist of the story:
    Richtofen: You must keep your soul, dear Nikolai. It will be needed to defeat Doctor Monty.
  • Where It All Began: Happens in each season.
    • The World at War season concludes in Der Riese, the original base of Group 935 where the zombies were first created by humans.
    • The Black Ops season concludes in Moon, which is where Richtofen first used the teleporter years ago, and where he learned of the Aether and first came into contact with it.
    • Black Ops II concludes with Origins, which details how the Origins incarnations of the characters met - though it's also literally the jumping off point for a new timeline of the story.
    • Black Ops III and the entire Aether cycle concludes with Revelations, which takes place not just in a map partially made of an amalgamation of Nacht, the first ever map, but also centers around "The House", a perfect dimension created by Monty to restart the universe from. In a way, the series begins in a house, and ends with The House.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In Call of the Dead, George A. Romero tells a real zombie to get back to hair and make up because they "don't look dead enough". Said zombie is missing his lower jaw and is very decayed.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Moon's description makes it seem like it's the last map... Then Richtofen's Grand Scheme kicks in....
  • Your Head Asplode: Headshotting zombies with most guns will cause their head to explode into a mess of rotten gunk. Although if the zombie is strong enough, it'll likely just piss them off, but given that they don't survive for long without their heads and can be killed with a single shot from anything in such a state it isn't too much of a problem.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Implied via radio messages.
    • It's reached the Pentagon during JFK's term as President.
    • Outright shown in Black Ops II. The main storyline is about surviving one.

Alternative Title(s): Nazi Zombies

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