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Video Game / Call of Duty: Zombies

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...And I know you will never give up and die.

Four Sociopathic Soldiers take on the undead hordes of the Axis. Or replace said soldiers with four historical figures from the 1960s, four horror-genre celebrities, four oddball civilians, four gangsters from the 1930s, four murderers from the 1940s who somehow managed to survive the apocalypse, or four adventurers from the 1910s trying to bring down an ancient cult, possibly less Sociopathic, but still pretty awesome.

Treyarch's Zombiesnote  was originally a bonus mode in Call of Duty: World at War and a standalone iOS 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, but it quickly became the true focus of their Downloadable Content seasons. The game mode revolves around you fighting off zombie hordes while 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 hunting for Easter Eggs to discover more about the mode's Mind Screw narrative), and only ends whenever you finally fall to the zombies.

Zombies appears in the aforementioned World at War, Black Ops, Black Ops II, Black Ops III, Black Ops 4, Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard, and Modern Warfare III.note 

Following the surprise success of Nacht der Untoten, Treyarch committed to releasing a Zombies map in every DLC from then on. The World at War DLC season introduced the main cast, known as Ultimis — Dr. Edward Richtofen, "Tank" Dempsey, Nikolai Belinski, and Takeo Masaki, who would go on to star in most of the maps released for World at War and Black Ops. Other maps featured other playable characters, such as "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; and 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.

Black Ops II introduced a new crew of characters called Victis who would become the main focus of most of the season, before the focus shifted to new incarnations of Ultimis known as Primis. A side-story, Mob of the Dead, also released during the lifetime of Black Ops II. The third and fourth Black Ops games continued to expand the series, the latter also introducing a new "Chaos" Story Arc that ran parallel to the original Story Arc, now known as the "Aether" story. The Aether story concluded at the end of Black Ops 4, with a soft reboot beginning with the release of Black Ops Cold War. The Dark Aether Saga continues into both Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, making it the first Modern Warfare title to feature the mode.

A tie-in Zombies comic debuted in October 2016 by Dark Horse Comics, with the first volume revolving around Victis, while the second volume acted as a prequel to the new Chaos Story Arc.

New iterations of Zombies, developed by Sledgehammer Games and Infinity Ward, debuted in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Infinite Warfare, WWII, and Call of Duty: Mobile. With the exception of the latter's Zombies and Undead Siege modes, which links the mode to every COD timeline and more, they are unrelated to the Treyarch series, and thus their tropes should go on their respective pages.

The Zombies story is very complex; it involves practically everything from the Illuminati to the Third Reich to aliens. Each map contains tons of Easter eggs only the most observant of players will find, and these clues often play a bigger role later on. The ongoing Story Arc is also mostly played out through increasingly complex clues, 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.

After the conclusion of the Black Ops III season with Revelations, in an unprecedented move, Treyarch released the full Zombies timeline with pretty much every question about the lore up to that point being answered.

Despite the fact that 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.

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  • 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.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • It's eventually revealed the source of the zombies originate from another dimension, the Dark Aether. Not only does this connect several worlds, it also assimilates ones completely destroyed by zombies. It also seems to reflect the "real world", as in Cold War, Task Force Requiem occasionally get sucked into Dark Aether with areas that match that where they came from.
    • It's implied this is why Task Force Requiem can not only have the same operators on the same team, but also how Adler and sworn enemies like Stitch can join, even after their deaths. We are also shown Requiem getting put into custody, presumably for a long while.
  • 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".
    • Exaggerated 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 its remake in BO4, 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.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • At the end of Mob of the Dead, players can either choose to kill Al and apparently continue the cycle of the purgatory dimension, or Al can overcome them and kill them all, supposedly breaking the cycle. No canon ending for the map has been given, not even in the 2017 timeline, but Blood of the Dead shows Al still stuck in purgatory, albeit in a different form as Icarus the seagull. It's unknown whether canonically, Al never broke the cycle of Mob and was repeatedly killed by the others, or if Al did break the cycle but he still didn't escape even after killing the other three. Whether an answer or canonical ending to Mob will ever be provided, all four inmates are now free as of the end of Blood.
    • With Richtofen being replaced twice, it's not known which version of him is in Undead Siege. He acts like his more normal and professional Primis version in normal gameplay (save contempt if a player is downed or the turrets are repeatedly broken, wherein he claims he knew that the players would be useless), but in the Rewards screen, he acts exactly like his unhinged Ultimis self, with pointless and sadistic experiments given to the player (setting zombies on fire, running them over, etc etc)
    • Ultimis Richtofen does show up in Mobile's version of Shi No Numa, but even he has flashes of Primis-like sanity before devolving into his typical Mad Scientist ranting and raving.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The settings of Moon/Nuketown Zombies and TranZit. Moon is a Black Ops map and accordingly has the weapons and aesthetic to compliment the 1960s setting. Nuketown Zombies, which takes place at the same time, uses the '60s version of Nuketown also seen in Black Ops. Finally, TranZit has a very retro aesthetic to it that wouldn't be out of place in the '50s-'60s. However, according to the official Zombies timeline released during Black Ops III, Moon and Nuketown Zombies take place in 2025 (befitting Black Ops II, the source of the latter two maps) and TranZit takes place ten years later. Die Rise similarly has a much more modern look to it complete with zombies in SDC uniforms seen in the 2025 sections of Black Ops II's campaign.
    • Both zombie modes in Call of Duty: Mobile make it ambiguous as to where in the timeline they take place. You meet both Primis and Ultimis Richthofen, and in Undead Siege, Primis appear, searching for a way home after picking up an alternate version of Dempsey to replace the one who died in the comics.
  • 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.
    • Classified is the first main map since Nuketown Zombies to not feature a main storyline Easter egg. The ending cutscene is also not unlocked until the player reaches round 150, a first in terms of cutscene prerequisites.
    • The final map of the Aether story does not feature either Ultimis or Primis as the playable characters; instead, Victis returns as the final set of playable Aether characters in a remaster/expansion of Call of the Dead.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Cold War introduces a few.
    • Max Ammo now tops off your magazine(s), so you don't have to scramble to reload before grabbing one.
    • The new movement and parkour system gives you much better chances at escaping hordes, averting most cases of Insurmountable Waist-High Fence that would get you killed in previous games.
    • Der Wunderfizz not only allows you to choose the specific perks you want, but it is instantaneous (though you still have to experience one drinking animation; you can still mash to grab all the other perks as you drink).
    • When activating a cinematic in an easter egg, zombies will stay conveniently off-screen until it's done.
    • Perk-a-Colas can now be purchased at a "scaling" price, allowing more freedom to strategically buy them (your first perk will be 2500, the next will be 3000, so on and so forth).
      • The player character now drinks Perk-a-Colas with one hand, allowing you to shoot at zombies with your free hand in a pinch.
      • You can also buy every perk at once instead of being restricted to the arbitrary limit of four in previous games.
    • Pack-a-Punching your weapons is also instantaneous; you no longer have to wait for the PaP machine to take its sweet time upgrading your weapon. As opposed to relying on RNG for picking your desired Weapon Module/Ammo Mod like in Black Ops III and Black Ops 4, you can simply choose it at the PaP machine for 2000 points (with or without your weapon already being Packed beforehand), too.
    • If Die Maschine and Firebase Z are any indication, the overall map design is considerably more spacious and thus more beginner-friendly than in previous games (particular examples include Verruckt and "Five"/Classified, which were considered to be some of the hardest maps because of their cramped layouts) - with the spawn areas actually being considerably more viable than in previous games for survival. Die Maschine in particular even has an achievement for surviving 15 rounds without ever leaving the Yard (spawn area).
    • The Russian Manglers seen in Firebase Z no longer track the player with their cannon shots like they could in Gorod Krovi, and can even be stunned before they fire, at the trade-off of being tankier. Considering Mangler shots could literally track the player around corners and could still perfectly follow the player in no-clip, this is a nice change.
    • Unlike its multiplayer Cold War's solo zombies gives you progression and exp as well as a free self revive when you start and adjusting certain events to be easier on single player, mostly summoning fewer zombies/bosses but not always. Overall its pretty easy to reach certain weapon challenges or level benchmarks solo if you're careful.
  • 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. Ultimis Dempsey later turns up just fine, though, in the ending cutscene
  • 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. In Undead Siege, it's explicitly stated Aether infections have thrown together many universes, which justifies things like WW2-era soldiers fighting alongside Black Ops III's killer robots.
  • 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, while simultaneously firmly establishing that Mob of the Dead wasn't a one-off map, but perhaps the most important map in the entire series.
    • 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.
    • Alpha Omega, being the penultimate map of the Aether Story Arc, also devoted significant effort to tie together much of the series's history. It pays off on plot threads from TranZit (revealing the true identity of Avogadro and why he was at Green Run), Die Rise (featuring the return of Charles Barkley), Buried (revealing some of Russman's mysterious past with Broken Arrow), "Five", Ascension (revealing the final fate of Yuri/the Pentagon Thief), Shi No Numa, Der Riese (reviving the deceased Peter McCain and finally succeeding where Maxis failed with reviving the dead), Moon (referencing Samantha's future plans to attack), and the main Agartha storyline.
    • To top it off, Tag der Toten reveals the true story of the mysterious Pablo Marinus, as well as the true origins of Buried, the Pack-A-Punch machine, and the ghost women; more backstory on the Ascension group, heard-but-not-seen character Harvey Yena, and even more insight on what helped lead to Ultimis Richtofen's betrayal of Maxis.
    • Mixed with Canon Welding, the Undead Siege mode of Mobile links in Mobile's version of Tank Dempsey's death with the group's attempt to travel multiverses.
  • 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"
  • 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 has 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.
    • Brutus, the Warden of Alcatraz, originally only featured as the tough boss zombie of the map (whose evil was arguably outdone by the borderline Villain Protagonists of the map anyway). Blood of the Dead gives him a backstory and very strong ties to the main Aether Story Arc.
    • Dr. Cornelius Pernell was originally the unidentified voice making the ominous radio message in the starting room of Shi No Numa and was usually only casually referenced here or there. Black Ops IV gives him a prominent supporting role as it reveals his true significance to the timeline and even reveals that he was the Avogadro from TranZit.
  • 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 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 PhD 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 PhD 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.
    • Cold War introduces the wakizashi, which is a medium-length Japanese sword (between a tanto and a katana), and Vanguard introduces an actual katana. Other than that, you can use all types of blades in both games, including a machete, a battle axe, sai, a hammer and sickle, a scythe, and a sawtooth blade.
  • 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.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Abigail "Misty" Briarton is a self admitted knife nut, and was a six-time knife fighting champion. Samantha Maxis also has this to say if she gets enough knife (or any melee weapon equipped) kills.
    "I am extremely good with knives!"
  • Blood Bath: Richtofen longs to bathe naked... IN YOUR BLOOD!!!
  • 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.
  • Book Ends:
    • Three-in-one. One of the chalk messages in Nacht der Untoten (German for "Night of the Undead"), the first Zombies map, reads "Salvation lies above" (also being Arc Words), while another is "You must ascend from darkness". Tag der Toten ("Day of the Dead") has an Easter Egg titled "Salvation Lies Above", and its paraphrased objective is to "ascend from darkness".
    • Additionally, the first (chronological; the one for the Black Ops version of Nacht der Untoten, at least) Easter egg song, "Undone", is a somber and downbeat instrumental track. Fittingly enough, the final track for the Aether story, "A Light From The Shore", is also an instrumental ballad. It also plays in-game during the final step in the Easter egg, when Victis are surrounded by Zombies and are making one last push as the circle is closing in on them.
  • 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!"
  • Boring, but Practical: The Stake Knife in Dead of the Night is one of the most mundane Wonder Weapons in the series, being quite literally just a wooden stake. It is nevertheless a One-Hit Kill and terribly effective on a map which happens to feature vampires.
  • 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!
    • When Black Ops II launched, players could read notes from Maxis in which he noted that he was responsible for the new ranking mechanic, giving it an In-Universe explanation, as well as the new customization settings like difficulties.
    • 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 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 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.
  • Canon Welding:
    • Undead Siege off of Mobile explicitly links in Nazi Zombies to every single COD timeline and then some - not only does it justify different operators and soldiers fighting alongside Dempsey and friends, the tie-in comic shows Richtofen and his team have been through many different iterations of the main games.
    • Vanguard actually implies that the Dark Aether is canon to the main universe. Task Force Vanguard discovers plans for Projekt Endstation alongside Nova-6 research, and Modern Warfare II subtly implies through Roze's bio that the zombie outbreak in Verdansk was canonical too.
  • 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, and that he becomes VIOLENTLY angry if he's reminded of this - leading directly to his death.
    • 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.
    • It's heavily implied the celebrities in Call of the Dead were all slain by George A. Romero, according to Revelations.
  • 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... but 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.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Aleksandra Valentina causing the Berlin outbreak in Cold War becomes this when it’s revealed that William Peck got suspicious of her… and said nothing about for a whole year. Kravchenko is quite naturally annoyed at this fact.
  • 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. Until Black Ops IIII, where this trope returns in a more tragic fashion after she witnesses her father die horribly at the hands of Monty.
  • Crossover Cosmology: The Chaos story in Black Ops IIII takes major elements from Celtic, Norse, Greek and Egyptian mythology, as well as minor elements from Chinese and Indian mythology.
  • 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! Also they're trying to kill you in equally cruel fashions, which sort of warrants doing unto them before they do unto you.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Zig-Zagged. In the opening cutscenes for the levels that have them, main characters arm themselves with powerful weapons, display abilities you can't use in game, and cause all sorts of mayhem without taking a scratch...and as soon as the game starts, you have exactly none of that. But if you survive long enough, you (albeit limited by the mechanics of the in-game world) get to imitate the cutscenes and chop through the ranks of the undead with similar ease.
    • One particular example would be Origins. Tank kills three zombies in a row with a knife, one hit each. The knife is incapable of doing this past round one. Takeo swings around his katana and easily slices through the horde, and he cannot use the weapon at all in gameplay. Nikolai gets to use a hatchet to take down multiple zombies in close quarters and at range, and he doesn't get to use it either. And to make it even more ludicrous, Nikolai and Takeo use the starting pistol to rack up a number of One-Hit Kill moments, something the gun is completely incapable of doing at all.
  • 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.
  • 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 Alpha Omega reveals the only reason he keeps the cycle going is because he wants to remain in power of everything. However, there are implications that Monty seems to geniunely believe it's the only way to mainain the multiverse balance.
  • 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. Justified because he is from a different timeline.
  • 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 with another Richtofen in his place.
  • Defcon 5: 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 Base, 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:
    • The official timeline has confirmed that the events of Nacht Der Untoten had none of the marines make it out alive.
    • Verruckt is also revealed to have ended with the crew of four different marines discovering that McCain escaped on his own and then getting overwhelmed by zombies. Only one soldier manages to escape, with the other one turning into a zombie and then killing one of his companions, and the last soldier (Dempsey) is captured by the Group 935.
    • Call Of The Dead ultimately ends with the cast's fate unknown, implying that there were no survivors of the 2011 incident.
    • Moon has Maxis's attempt at thwarting Richtofen go horribly wrong, resulting most of the Earth being obliterated with the Element 115 missiles.
    • Nuketown Zombies ultimately ends with one Element 115-infused rocket destroying the whole site and killing everyone present from both CIA and CDC, sparing only Marlton Johnson who hid in the nuclear bunker.
    • 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.
    • Shadows Of Evil has the group of four deceived by the Shadow Man into letting the Apothicons into their realm, and for all their efforts, they end up cheated out of their happy ending by Primis Richtofen. The following day, the whole Dimension 63 is destroyed along with its inhabitants.
    • 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.
    • IX seemingly ends with the whole Chaos crew being executed by the High Priest when they try to defy him at the end. Ancient Evil reveals that they barely managed to escape death.
    • Dead Of the Night has Godfrey turn on his companions and kill all of them before being shot by Scarlett. She is unable to prevent her father from being abducted, but she does get a list of his friends she could ask for help - who turn out to be her main Chaos companions.
    • Ancient Evil itself ends on a very crushing note that will most likely never be resolved due to the story being shelved aside in favor of Dark Aether. The Oracle is revealed to be Medusa Gorgon and turns out to have petrified Alistair and his captors. After absorbing the knowledge of technology from Scarlet, she goes off in her world conquest scheme. Worse still, the Order possessed Bruno kills Shaw and converts him as well. Diego and Scarlet manage to escape, but the latter is unconscious while the former is left with no way to interfere with Medusa's plans.
  • 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.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery:
    • Maxis notes on the menu for Black Ops II that only players who play TranZit can actually advance the story of the series and access the Easter Egg. He says this is so he can choose survivors actually worthy to help him.
    • Black Ops IV similarly only allows access to the Easter Egg if the player plays standard difficulty.
  • 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, Nacht Der Untoten, 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. The map itself also noticeably differs from later maps in that its layout is almost entirely made up of reused assets from other modes, the entire playable area being set inside a building copied over from the campaign level "Little Resistance" and the multiplayer map "Airfield". There are also no traps unless you count the explosive barrels scattered around outside the map, which are themselves an oddity that would be later be eschewed in favor of the more fantastical and multi-use traps. 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.
    • The early maps take on much more of a Survival Horror angle. Verruckt, for instance, plays its setting in a Bedlam House completely straight, with plenty of Ominous Fog and tight corridors to limit your ability to outrun zombies, and its central gimmick of separating every individual player until they can turn the power on is designed to induce a feeling of isolation. Later maps would shift towards the now-familiar Denser and Wackier tone, with map layouts designed to encourage movement and completing objectives instead of simply camping in one spot and shooting zombies until they overwhelm you.
    • Pack-A-Punch wasn't even introduced until Der Riese, the final map of World at War.
    • The Quick Revive Perk-a-Cola speeds up the rate at which you help up downed teammates. This is obviously useless when playing solo, but nevertheless it wasn't until Black Ops that Quick Revive would be given the secondary ability of auto-reviving the user one time when playing solo.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • And again in Black Ops 4. Minor Easter Eggs can be completed on Casual, but story-relevant major Easter Eggs are Normal or above only. Also applies to Custom Mutations, for obvious reasons.
  • 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:
    • One bloodthirsty American Marine and one always drunk Red Army soldier fight zombies alongside a mad Waffen-SS doctor and one fanatical Imperial Japanese officer. Cool.
    • In the trailers Dempsey and Takeo team up, despite them being direct enemies. Same goes for Richtofen and Nikolai.
    • Task Force Requiem features both NATO & Warsaw Pact soldiers joining forces, even sworn enemies like Adler and Stitch, to fight Soviet officer Lev Kravchenko's Omega Group programme to unleash zombies as a Soviet super weapon. In kind, Kravchenko works with an American scientist to bring his plan to fruition.
    • Its modern-day incarnation, Operation Deadbolt, similarly features both Task Force 141 (itself a multinational force), Mexican cartel, Konni Group, Russian military, and Shadow Company united against Zhakaev, Terminus Outcomes and the interdimensional alien-demon-eldritch incursion that'll wipe out the Earth.
    • During Firebase Z, a Soviet soldier defects to Requiem to try and stop Omega Group's plans. Said soldier later becomes instrumental to the modern-day version of Task Force Requiem fighting against a zombie breach in Urzikstan.
    • The ending of Firebase Z and the start of Mauer der Totem has Kravchenko force Task Force Requiem into stopping a rogue Omega Group agent from leveling Berlin and taking over the world.
  • 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.
  • Energy Weapon:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Eviler than Thou: The Japanese-based Division 9 are this to their international counterpart and ally Group 935. Whilst the latter could be qualified as Well Intentioned Extremists in their worst moments and are dedicated to improving the human condition, the former happily engage in horrific human experimentation as well as reckless pollution of the environment.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion:
    • A great deal of the original plot's Richtofen vs. Maxis vs. Monty melees hinged on this: do you trust the demented, mustache-twirling Nazi, or do you trust the Eldritch precursors trying to take over every single universe?
    • For the events of Cold War, it's implied the Warsaw Pact agents, ESPECIALLY the Perseus Agents, are teaming with Task Force Requiem to ensure the world doesn't get demolished by the Dark Aether.
    • Similarly, this is implied to be ther rationale for even Konni Group, Shadow Company, and Mexican cartel goons and captains teaming up with Task Force 141 to fight Zhakaev and Terminus Outcomes' meddling with the Dark Aether.
  • 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?"

    Tropes G-L 
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: A notable example is revealed to have occurred offscreen during Mob of the Dead by its' sequel, Blood of the Dead. Cyphers can be found around the map that are revealed to be confession letters written by some of the mobsters, which Sal put them up to in order to try to beg for leniency for their sins if not forgiveness. This means that during the events of Mob, the group covered for each other while they wrote their letters, even though the player themselves obviously never did this while playing the map.
  • 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 along with deposits of Element 115, 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.
  • Genre Shift: Overall, the gameplay is shifted from the linear, cinematic, event driven PVE Call of Duty game into a wave-based PVE horde defense and there are more blatant videogamey elements such as powerups and floating weapons. Currency, gained from killing zombies and building barricade, is required to unlock new parts of the map as well as purchasing stuff. Within the Zombies mode itself, each game and season of Treyarch Zombies takes a slightly different approach to the concept.
    • World At War was mostly straightforward WWII horror, with elements of Nazi experimentation and a touch of the supernatural. The only lightheartedness to be found was with the Ultimis crew themselves, and the story was as minimal and ambiguous as it ever would be.
    • Black Ops took inspiration from Raygun Gothic Spy Fiction pulp comics from the 50s and 60s, with zany Wonder Weapons such as microwave guns and shrink rays, Cold-War tension and secret government projects, comic-book style intro-screens and a finale that literally takes place on a Moon base.
    • Black Ops II is a dreary post-apocalyptic story. Even Mob of the Dead and Origins, which themselves were massive departures that lacked the quirkiness of previous maps, carried on themes of desolation and hopelessness. This is also where the supernatural elements started to take centre stage, and where Zombies started down a more cinematic path with greater emphasis on story.
    • Black Ops III is a Science Fantasy dimension-hopping epic with elements of Cosmic Horror. Ancient dragons are placed alongside Humongous Mecha, futuristic assault-rifles alongside elemental bows, and a race of witch-like wraiths do battle against tentacled monstrosities that originate outside our reality.
    • The Aether story in Black Ops IV is mostly similar in tone to Black Ops III (albeit on a smaller scale). On the other hand, the Chaos story takes elements from early 20th century adventure books as well as various ancient mythologies and ancient conspiracy.
    • Black Ops Cold War, which serves as a Soft Reboot for the Aether story as a whole, scales things back a notch and returns to a setting more reminisent of Black Ops I. In addition, it is canon to the new Call Of Duty Ultimate Universe, which also incorporates Modern Warfare (2019) and Cold War's campaign.
  • 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 Thrasher, the Russian Mangler and the Megaton. The Chaos story features the Blightfather, Destroyer/Marauder, the Werewolf and the Gegenes.
  • 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. Blood of the Dead reveals that, canonically, Weasel never broke the cycle, meaning that he either never managed to triumph over the others or it simply didn’t matter whether or not he did.
  • 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 Mystery 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 DG5 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 B23R 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.
    • The AN-94 assault rifle. One of the best wall weapons in Die Rise and Buried with its generous reserve ammo and in Die Rise, is next to one of the map's two kiting areas.
    • 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!
  • Jack of All Stats: Several weapons remain viable even on higher rounds, with or without Pack-a-Punch versions, though these still can't catch up to the Wonder Weapons.
    • Thompson from World at War is a notable example - it can be bought from a wall relatively early, has good damage, high rate of fire, quick enough reload and is lightweight enough to run around with little detriment to the player's speed. Its Pack-a-Punch version amps up the stats alot and makes the SMG useful even for high rounds.
    • In Black Ops, AK-74u takes up the mantle, being just as good at everything plus gaining a Red Dot Sight. Rezurrection DLC also adds back Thompson to World at War maps.
    • Black Ops II, aside from adding back the aforementioned AK-74u, has PDW-57 on Die Rise, Mob of the Dead, Buried and Origins. It can be bought from a wall (only on Die Rise and Buried), has amazing hip fire accuracy, big clip size and devastating headshot damage. The Pack-a-Punched form makes the gun even better, but its ammo runs out quicker (not much of a problem on the maps where PDW-57 is a wall-buy gun).
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In Alpha Omega, Maxis wistfully remembers how simple things used to be, in a clear nod to just how wacky and out-of-this-world Zombies has gotten by the end of Black Ops IV.
  • 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!!!"
    Takeo: "You? Kill me? NOO! I KILL YOU!"
  • 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.
  • Looter Shooter:
    • Outbreak mode in Black Ops: Cold War plays out like a mini-MMO - a mostly Wide-Open Sandbox where you and your team tackle objectives and scope out places for loot.
    • Modern Warfare III's iteration plays much like an extraction shooter, being more or less a reskin of MWII's DMZ mode with the PvP elements removed. Like DMZ, you're going into a big open world, completing contracts for cash and acquiring items to make your survival in further rounds easier; and like Zombies, those items include perk-a-colas and other upgrades to your weapons, the contracts include destroying spores and dismantling rockets rival mercenaries are using to extract aether from the area, and that big open world's most constant threat are the legion of zombies.
    • Undead Siege for Mobile uses the game's large Battle Royale maps to have players loot like they do in BR, with a catch — they only have about five minutes to loot to either buy or find new weapons, get perks, and materials for turrets before they're warped back to the Primis heroes' mobile lab and must engage in a Tower Defense mode against increasingly tougher zombies until Richtofen can send them all home.

    Tropes M-P 
  • MacGuffin:
    • Each map has one or several of those, necessary 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 others across the series include Yuri, Pernell, and Groph.
  • 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.
    • The starter M1911 handgun is fairly weak and impractical on high rounds, unless you Pack-a-Punch it into a gun (or, from Black Ops onward, two guns) firing explosive grenades.
    • The crossbow from the first Black Ops starts out mediocre and even self-detrimental at times, but upon upgrading it starts shooting bolts with Monkey Bomb effects, drawing zombies to the impact and ensuring they all perish with a loud "boom".
    • The War Machine from Black Ops II is flat out awful: despite being a multi-chambered grenade launcher, its projectiles are very weak, bounce off any surface in unpredictable directions and do not even explode upon impact. The Pack-a-Punched form, while still risky to use, increases the explosion damage and finally allows the grenades to explode upon contact with the zombies.
    • The M16 from the first two Black Ops games is a burst-fire rifle with lower damage, something that is guaranteed to get you downed on high rounds. When you Pack-a-Punch it, it becomes The Skullcrusher, a fully-automatic rifle with an additional grenade launcher slung under the barrel.
  • Maniac Monkeys: In Ascension, you are attacked by cosmonaut undead monkeys.
  • 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).
    • 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 III 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 knot leaving most of her belly exposed and showing off her bust and bra. Subverted in her appearance in Black Ops 4, where her shirt is partially tucked in and buttoned up, and her bra is replaced with a tattered undershirt.
    • 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.
    • As of Cold War, you have several options: Helen Park, Yirina Portnova, Freya "Wraith" Helvig, Zeyna Ossou, and even Sam herself.
  • 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 Ultimis Takeo's fate is eerily similar to Reznov's.
    • In Revelations, the license plate of the truck in the spawn area reads "M45ON", which is Leet Lingo 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 storylines of the Black Ops II season employs this twice.
    • In Mob of the Dead, Sal, Finn, and Billy turn on Al and attack him, and the story of the map ends with either the three successfully killing him (the "THE CYCLE CONTINUES" ending), or Al is able to triumph and kill them all (THE CYCLE IS BROKEN).
    • During the Victis maps, 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.
  • 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".
  • 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. Doctor 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Sometimes, Mimics may grab the player when they're surrounded by zombies, giving them a chance to flee.
  • 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.
    • Black Ops III takes the difficulty to unimaginable levels by having the zombies attack twice as fast in any previous map. They also run moderately faster and spawn a LOT quicker.
    • Downplayed and somewhat subverted in Cold War. Make no mistake: Zombies is still as hard as you'd expect it to be (especially when Megatons and Plaguehounds exist), but with all of the Anti-Frustration Features mentioned above that Cold War introduced (on top of all of your progress from Multiplayer carrying over to Zombies and vice-versa), it's arguably the most accessible iteration of Zombies yet.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • Japanese Zombies!
    • Flaming exploding zombie dogs!
    • Russian Cosmonaut Zombies!
    • Mutant Jumping Space Monkeys!!
    • 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!
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Not Afraid of Hell: Sal, Finn, and Billy Handsome all claim to be this trope. When they begin to realize the futility of their actions and that they're damned no matter what, they begin crowing about how they're not afraid to die. However, Sal and Finn's nerves begin to fail as the weight of their sentence really begins to settle in, and as Black Ops IV later revealed, the former led the group in writing confession letters to try to buy some leniency if not a remote chance of forgiveness to end their suffering. However, by the end of the Alcatraz arc, Billy is the only one who truly embodies this trope as he is bored writing his confession letter and is not seen among the spirits trying to help bring down Brutus at the end of Blood of the Dead, suggesting he doesn't mind where he's going.
  • 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…: 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.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Zig-zagged. Pretty much every character has their own name for the zombies, but still use the word and the mode itself is named after it. Played straight in Mob of the Dead, Shadows of Evil, Origins, and Vanguard where the word "zombie" isn't used at all, making it consistent with the 1910s-1940s timeframe, long before Night of the Living Dead (1968). Earlier examples of the Ultimis crew using "zombie" (or the Primis crew catching on) could be chalked up to Rule of Funny for the former, or time travel shenanigans for both.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In "Moon"", no one in the original gang takes the fact that Richtofen's ultimate plan was to explode the Earth very well.
    Dempsey: (upon seeing missiles strike the Earth's surface) "Oh, Hell... I hope we didn't screw that up..."
    Dobbs: Dobbs here, there's something wrong with the drone feeds. They're back online and- ...oh. Oh, no.
    Roop: Roop here, the lads are reporting that all the vehicles [at base] have turned on by themselves ... all of them.
  • 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!
  • Order vs. Chaos: The battle between the Apothicons and Keepers seems to boil down to this as you get closer to the end of the Doctor Monty storyline. Especially when you look over a lot of his lines complaining about things being in chaos and 'your bloody free will.' Monty comes off as a bit of a control freak who is willing to allow the cycle to continue forever if it means he keeps control over the Aether... but the Apothicons want to destroy everything which is even worse.
  • 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. They have Super-Strength and can leap to rooftops, but can't take what they dish out. 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.
  • Power Outage Plot: Almost every map on all the editions centers on fighting your way to the power switch so that you can activate the perks around the map that help you survive.
  • Powered Armor: What the Panzer Soldat technically wears.
  • Precision F-Strike: The end of "Archangel".
    I am the end
    a fucking archangel
  • 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:
    • Comes in six flavors: Nuke, Carpenter, Insta-Kill, Double Points, Fire Sale, Max Ammo, usually dropped after Hellhound rounds.
    • Five also introduced Bonfire Sale, which opens the Pack-A-Punch room and cuts the price in half.
      • And with Ascension comes the Random Perk Bottle. Pretty nifty.
      • And now in Call of the Dead, completing the trapped characters Easter Egg will reward you with the lightning bolt power-up that grants the player a Wunderwaffe-DG2. Just don't expect to be able to buy anything until you use all of the ammo up.
      • Moon introduces "Bonus Points", which is only dropped when the QED is used. It gives a random amount of points to either the player who picked it up or all players. Some of the later maps dropped it when doing a specific task, but now it affects all players. Black Ops 4 reworked it into a normal power-up, and in Cold War onwards, it gives a fixed amount of 500 points.
    • Origins features "Zombie Blood", which makes the player invisible to zombies for an alloted time.
    • Black Ops IV introduces "Full Power", which fully recharges your specialist weapon.
  • 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. Call of the Dead acknowledges it, replacing The Death Machine with a Wunderwaffe-DG2 upon completing the Easter Egg. 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 (except in Nacht der Untoten). 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.
      • In the more open ended modes of Cold War, especially the outbreak modes, as points aren't as limited and the game will throw you more zombies, as well as kills being worth generally less in outbreaks, it can be the opposite giving players breathing room and a free 400 points to the party while rarely depriving them of enemies they would need.
    • The Carpenter restores all barricades on the map, which could've been a nice bonus... except that it doesn't take long for zombies to burst through the boarded-up windows on higher rounds and it only buys 30 seconds of time at max. And it only grants you 200 points in comparison to The Nuke's 400.
  • Promoted to Playable: Samantha. Initially the Demonic Announcer and a central character in World at War and Black Ops (before being Demoted to Extra for the entirety of Black Ops II and most of Black Ops III, only to return to the fold in Black Ops 4 once more), she becomes somewhat playable in Moon after the completion of Richtofen's Grand Scheme, where her and Richtofen switch bodies as the latter takes control of the Zombies from Sam. Played straight in Cold War as of Firebase Z, however, where She's All Grown Up and working with Requiem and Weaver (who returns from the Black Ops campaign). She can also be played in Cold War's Multiplayer and Warzone as well.
  • Psycho Electro: Dempsey's more... fond of the Wunderwaffe than the other characters, as well as the Storm Bow in Der Eisendrache.
  • 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.

    Tropes R-Z 
  • 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!"
  • Raygun: One of the most iconic weapons in Zombies is this, simply called a Raygun. It was very powerful in the earlier maps but has since been overshadowed with the introduction of several wonder weapons over the years. It can still make for a very powerful sidearm in higher rounds, however.
  • Raygun Gothic: The aforementioned Raygun has this aesthetic in spades, alongside a number of other wonder weapons introduced in later maps like the Raygun Mark II and the Wavegun/Dual wield zapguns.
    Nikolai, upon getting a Raygun: This must come from outer space, no?
  • Recycled In Space: 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Alpha Omega reveals that Monty is well aware of the Aether story's cycle and actually does not intend to fix it and truly save the universe from all the damage caused by 115, even if it was caused by the Apothicons. The only true way to fix everything is to destroy Agartha, which would likely kill Monty and at the least strip him of his omnipotent power.
  • 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)
  • Scenery Gorn: With a few exceptions, the many maps throughout the series look like they've been put through the wringer by the time matches begin, with lots of debris lying around, bloodstains, wreckage, and more. And that's before zombies actually appear.
    • "Five" and Moon play with this trope. The former takes place in the Pentagon, where the halls are oddly clean, at least until you get to the labs that reveal the human experimentation hiding downstairs. The latter starts in a dilapidated version of Area 51, but taking the teleporter to Griffon Station reveals that the moon base is also fairly okay-looking, even though it's been who knows how long before any living persons arrived.
      • Classified, being a version of "Five" with the Ultimis crew, plays it straight with the Pentagon looking like a riot had gone through it before Ultimis came.
    • Nuketown Zombies is essentially the classic Nuketown map in the aftermath of the post-match nuke detonation. Naturally, there's a lot of destruction all around, and you can even see the mushroom cloud in the background.
    • The Black Ops II season, having a focus on an outright Zombie Apocalypse, goes ham with the carnage. TranZit has it the worst, since it's at the very beginning of the aftermath of the rocket impacts from Moon, with lots of dark fog obscurring the environment and necessitating a battered but still functional bus to travel through safely. Mob of the Dead and Origins may not be related to the Victis storyline but they still have environments that look like they were totally wrecked.
    • Zetsubou No Shima is basically Shi No Numa played to exaggerated levels. It's a large, swampy area full of overgrown nature, and the Division 9 facility is practically choked by all the vines and moss crawling around it.
    • Gorod Krovi takes place in a Russian city decimated by air raids and dragons, with quite a lot of rubble strewn about. It's honestly a wonder how the remaining buildings the players go through are still standing amidst the shelling.
    • Revelations is set in a vast, dark dimensional void; it takes chunks of previous maps and connects them to others in distorted, chaotic ways. For example, Verruckt seems to have been merged with Shi No Numa, resulting in the already decrepit asylum suddenly shifting over to a dark swamp environment.
  • Scenery Porn: Some maps look absolutely gorgeous even with the undead menace.
    • Shangri-La is a standout example. Whereas the previous maps were enclosed and destroyed areas around civilization, this map takes place around a seemingly-untouched jungle temple in the Himalayas. Even with the 115 mines underneath, it's still very pretty to look at. The Zombies Chronicles version makes it even better with the HD graphics.
    • Shadows of Evil is set in Morg City, and the Film Noir aesthetic makes for a very memorable experience while battling the undead.
    • Der Eisendrache has bits of this trope and Scenery Gorn. While it is also ruined and abandoned, it's also very beautiful and oddly serene, being a castle in snowy mountains, with the moon shining in the sky.
  • 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. The Ultimis version, anyway. It's unclear if the Primis version is an example, as he's not as hammy as Ultimis, and while he does record his observations during solo matches, it's fairly clinical and straight-laced like you'd expect a professional to be in a dangerous situation.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each of the Downloadable Contents' 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 get 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better:
    • The SPAS-12 in Black Ops and M1216 in Black Ops II. When Pack-a-punched, both are automatic shotguns that have 24 rounds in a magazine (the M1216 does retain its rechambering but it's extended to 6 shots from 4) and for the SPAS, all 24 shells are reloaded with just one shell.
    • 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.
    • The Gallo SA-12 is considered by many to be the absolute best regular weapon in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War that is only beat by the Wunderwaffen present in the game.
      • Taken to new levels with the Marshal 16 Dual Wield in Zetsubou No Shima, with each one being powerful enough to kill zombies in one shot all the way to round 31!
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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. The entire map of "Five" is goofy, almost Futurama-esque joking.
    • 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.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: "Call of the Dead", taking place in an icebreaker stuck in, uhm, ice. Returns for Tag der Toten.
    Sarah: "I really didn't dress for the cold."
  • Skewed Priorities: In Mobile's version of Shi No Numa, Ultimis Richtofen will take a moment to literally Squee over the balls of Hellfire being generated by the lab's experiments, before remembering that they explode and that you're in pretty grave danger.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Buffy addresses this upon picking up a Death Machine.
    Sarah: Huh, this gun's bigger than me.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Fidel Castro. He lampshades it.
  • 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 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.
      • Also also played straight in "Dead of the Night", where Phony Psychic Christina Fowler is the only female.
      • Also also also played straight in the following Chaos storyline, where Alistair’s daughter Scarlett is the only female among 3 of her father’s close (male) friends. It’s practically series tradition at this point.
      • This continues through with the trailers for the Black Ops Cold War zombies maps, which has NATO operator Song as the only female member of the team, which consists of herself, Hunter, Vargas, and Garcia.
  • 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.
    • Omega Group in Black Ops Cold War is made up of Soviet scientists trying to use the power of the Dark Aether against the West, even recreating the Manglers from Gorod Krovi.
  • 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.
  • Timed Mission: Due to the existence of the Reset, Zombies maps in several games have a hard limit on how long they can be played for; typically around the 70 hour mark on most maps. At high levels, this turns Zombies into a game of seeing how many rounds you can survive before the game boots you into a loading screen.
  • Time Stands Still: The Sentinel Artifact in the Chaos story initiates a Downplayed version of this upon being activated; whilst the world itself won't be frozen in place, no major changes in the environment that would disrupt the Trial will be allowed to occur. The Titanic in Voyage of Despair doesn't sink until the end of the Trial is completed, and the city of Delphi remains in a relatively pristine state over the course of centuries in Ancient Evil. This is an Enforced Trope on the part of developers, as it allows them to set Chaos Zombie maps in any major time or location without having to deal with any world-altering results.
  • 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.
  • Truth Serums: A reconstructed example in Firebase Z. After restoring power to the facility, Peck refuses to cooperate, but Ravenov has a solution - putting together chemicals scattered around the area to form a serum that will make him talk. The reconstruction comes in both the delivery method and its effects - instead of trying to force feed him the stuff, it's filtered through the ventilation leading into his safe room. Once he starts breathing it in, it ends up making him hallucinate and lose his composure, making it vastly easier to persuade him to tell the team what to do to find Samantha. In this case, the serum doesn't strictly compel him to tell the truth, it's more designed to make him far more agreeable and willing to help. Ravenov justifies the serum's existence as being a way to make sense of the insane ramblings that soldiers coming back from the Dark Aether were prone to, so that actual information could be gleaned from their Word Salad.
  • Tower Defense: Call of Duty Mobile has Undead Siege, which mashes up the Looter Shooter elements of Mobile's version of Battle Royale and the main series' Warzone and Outbreak modes with Tower Defense: for about five minutes, you're free to loot and gather materials for turrets that you'll need to defend Richtofen's lab as he tries to find a way back to everyone's respective universes.
  • Underground City: The setting of Ancient Evil, an underground version of the Ancient Greek city of Delphi.
  • 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.
  • Variable Mix: Starting with Mob of the Dead, the game mode gets a more expansive soundtrack with each map having its' own dedicated score. Themes will play whenever a player enters a specific area, either for the first time or just whenever they revisit them (such as each time a player goes to the Warden's office in Mob). In Revelations, whenever you first go to a location based on an old map, you will hear a distinctive track from that map's soundtrack that will only play once, such as the intro theme of Mob for entering the section of the map based on it. Additionally, the round change music changes depending on where you are in Revelations at the time, though some sections of the map based on maps that didn't have original round change music (which only became a thing with Mob) either recycle other maps who don't appear (like Kino using some of the Buried theme) or come up with something original (the section based on Verruckt and Shi No Numa).
  • 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-
  • 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.
    • Alpha Omega. Primis and Ultimis are too late in retrieving the Elemental Shard to prevent Doctor Monty - who is revealed to have no intention of actually fixing the universe since it would cost him his control of the Aether - from catching wind of their plan. Maxis teleports Eddie and Samantha to Camp Edward with the crew, before being killed by Monty. Samantha (seemingly having regained some measure of the power of the Aether) recalls her deranged Ultimis timeline self by furiously telling the crew that they're going to get revenge for Monty's betrayal, and that their next goal is to fight the Great War itself.)
    • Forsaken. Kazimir Zykov, the brave Soviet soldier who closed the dimensional breach in Poland at the cost of being trapped in the Dark Aether, became The Forsaken, and has feigned still being human in order to exploit Requiem's kindness or Omega's greed and invade the real world, Samantha sacrifies herself to stay in the Dark Aether indefinitely to seal The Forsaken away for good, the Requiem executives are all arrested, and the mysterious Director of Requiem is finally revealed; it's Edward Richtofen, previously known as Eddie, his child reincarnation who left the Dark Aether for the perfect universe with Samantha.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
  • When Trees Attack: The Bonus Boss of Mobile Zombies is the Jubokko, a gigantic, humanoid tree powered by the experiments of Group 935 on plants. Like the youkai it's based on, it's a predatory creature appearing on a battlefield and hungering for human flesh.
  • 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. From a gameplay perspective, much returns from the first map of the game, Shadows of Evil, since the Shadow Man and the Apothicons star as the main antagonists, such as the Lil' Arnies, the Apothicon Servant, the Margwas, and the final boss fight is basically the same one from Shadows as well.
    • The Aether story finally reaches its' true conclusion with Tag der Toten in Black Ops IV, set at the Siberian Group 935 outpost that was built around where the first meteor of 115/Divinium impacted Earth. This meteor would later be uncovered and lead to Group 935's research, the schism between Richtofen and Maxis that destroyed the Earth, and the Cosmic Retcon that leads to the conclusion and thus perpetuation of the cycle. It's here that the final key to destroying the entire universe is found, and so the Aether story ends where it all began.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Newer incarnations of Zombies usually include at least one MMO-styled game mode based around exploring an area, taking up objectives, murdering zombies and demons, and driving vehicles at their leisure:
    • Outbreak mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which links large-scale versions of various multiplayer maps via portals and justified in-universe as Task Force Requiem investigating, patrolling, and containing Dark Aether outbreak hot zones.
    • "Operation Deadbolt" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III takes the above and uses the Urzikstan battle royale map as its basis, and is also justified as fireteams running expeditions into the outbreak zone to collect data and intercept Terminus Outcome mercenaries working for Irman Zhakaev before they can use Aetherium as a Fantastic Nuke.
    • Undead Siege in Call of Duty: Mobile is a more limited version — the players can explore to their heart's content, but can only do this for bursts of five minutes before they're transported back to home base by Richtofen, lest the Aether Storm that eats up infected worlds consume them, too. It reuses the Battle Royale map for CODM.
  • Written-In Absence: Takeo is stated to be seriously injured in the Undead Siege game mode of Call of Duty: Mobile. His voice actor retired due to a stroke in 2020.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A key theme of the final games of the Aether story:
    • Despite all Richtofen does to bring about the defeat of the Apothicons and save his group of friends, Monty nearly wipes them out of existence anyway, since as long as they exist, the universe can never truly be saved from 115's corruption. Monty tries to pacify things by sending Primis back as the heroes from the Middle Ages, but Richtofen ultimately realizes that even Monty cannot fight fate since the universe literally needs to be destroyed from the ground up, including him.
    • In Blood of the Dead, the Kronorium's pages have changed and now demands Richtofen's blood. Despite everything, Primis Richtofen is forced to sacrifice himself to help the others escape and defeat Brutus, and engineer the breaking of the cycle.
    • And as Tag der Toten reaffirms, as long as Ultimis and Primis live, the universe would never truly be safe, so Primis Nikolai has everyone killed along with the rest of the universe, despite promising an epic battle to save them all.
  • 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: In the original maps, it was implied the zombie plague had begun to spread through the world. Black Ops II's Zombies storyline was about four survivors fighting their way through a worldwide apocalypse in the modern day. In lore, Element 115 and the Dark Aether have condemned countless universes to annihilation by zombie hordes, then swallowed up by the Dark Aether. There, endless zombies crawl in dead universes, searching for unfortunate wanderers who wind up in the ruin.


Alternative Title(s): Nazi Zombies