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Video Game / Plants vs. Zombies

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"Get ready to soil your plants!"
There's a zombie on your lawn,
There's a zombie on your lawn,
There's a zombie on your lawn,
We don't want zombies on the lawn.
Sunflower, "Zombies on Your Lawn"

Plants vs. Zombies is a Tower Defense game from PopCap Games. It's about plants fighting against a zombie invasion. The game had a free browser version that was accessible here.

Zombies have risen from their graves, and seek to eat your brains. However, you find a most unlikely but trusted ally in your own front lawn as you plant various organic defences against the undead legions, and are also given advice and supplies by your neighbor Crazy Dave.

However, the zombies won't go down easily, and are constantly thinking up new ways to breach your defenses, including screendoor shields, traffic cone helmets, microphones, pushing stuff, laser skulls of doom, pole vaulting and zombonis that pave the way for an undead bobsledding team.

The game was first released for the PC. Later, a port was made for the iPhone and iPad. Another version was later made for Xbox Live on the Xbox 360, adding a multiplayer mode. After that, it was ported to the Nintendo DS, with somewhat watered down graphics due to the DS's low-res screen. There's also an Android version, and it was the deal that catapulted the Amazon Appstore to a serious competitor to Google's Android Market (although as of December 14, 2011 the Android version is available on both of them). There are also versions for the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita purchasable through the PlayStation Network.


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  • Abnormal Ammo/Edible Ammunition:
    • The main attack you have is peas. Lots and lots of peas.
    • And later, cabbages. And corn. And watermelons.
    • And the butter from the Kernel-pults is abnormal even by the game's standards...
    • Cob Cannon, the upgrade to Kernel-pult, combines it with Punny Name, since it fires an ICBM — Intercontinental Ballistic Maize.
  • Acme Products: Everything you can buy in the game is made by the Bloom & Doom Seed Corporation.
  • Action Bomb:
    • Several of the plants, most notably Potato Mines, Doom-Shrooms, and the aptly-named Cherry Bombs.
    • On the enemy side, we also have the Jack-in-the-Box zombies, who are occasionally helpful by detonating too early.
    • In Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, Gas Can Zombie will only explode if you kill it. This can be prevented by using Snow Pea, Ice Queen Pea or Chilly Pepper.
  • Affably Evil: The zombies. They send you notes, although they turn up a little late. And when you win, they decide to make a music video with you instead. And then get back to invading your lawn.
  • Airborne Mook: Balloon Zombies, which can't be targeted by most plants fly over all your lawn defences except for Lawnmowers/Pool Cleaners/Roof Cleaners. In Plants Vs Zombies: The Last Stand, they also act as a fast airborne enemy.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Hypnotized zombies are flipped, causing any items they're holding to appear in the other hand. Or changing which arm they're missing if they've already taken enough damage.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: The Zen Garden unlocked after beating Adventure mode.
  • Anti-Air:
    • Blovers, which also serve to clear the literal Fog of War in some levels.
    • Cacti, who can both target ground forces and stretch into the air to hit Balloon Zombies.
    • Cattails are basically Cacti up to eleven, shooting out swarms of thorns that can still pop Balloons.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Downplayed with all of the plants. Technically, plants are animate in Real Life too, but these plants are animate to the point of being sapient.
  • Anti-Armor:
    • Magnet Shroom takes away any zombie's metal coverings and utilities, lowering their defence.
    • The Magic Cirrus from the Chinese version of Plants vs. Zombies Online deals increased damage against armored zombies.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature:
    • The game constantly gives you plants that make the next stage that would be normally hard be much, much easier. Although sometimes they make you feel the frustration first before giving you a plant that could handle it easily.
    • The pause menus (both the one after losing focus and the one pausing yourself) in-game can be dragged around the screen, so you can see all of your lawn paused.
    • In Survival, you get the additional option to view your lawn inbetween flags, so you can pick the plants that you haven't planted all you need yet instead of having to memorize them.
    • In the PS3 and Xbox 360 port, to use the shovel, you have to hold and then release Circle/B, instead of just tapping Circle/B on a plant you want to dig up. This way, if you accidentally press Circle/B while moving over plants, you're not screwed over.
    • If you inadvertently forget to select a certain plant (such as sun-producers, flowerpots on a roof level, aquatic plants on a pool level, etc.) during seed selection, once you hit "Let's Rock", the game will ask if you're sure you want to start the level without them. Ditto if you pick an upgrade plant without its prerequisite plant (e.g. you grab the Twin Sunflower but forget the Sunflower).
    • If you try to use a Squash to squish a pole-vaulting zombie, he will wait for the zombie to vault over him before activating his attack.
  • Anti-Structure: The Grave Buster can only be planted on Gravestones, and is the only way to remove them in the original game.
  • Anti-Vehicle: Spikeweed and Spikerocks deal Damage Over Time against most non-flying zombies, but are a One-Hit Kill against the Zomboni and Catapult Zombie.
  • April Fools' Day: The original trailer for the game, which was actually the post-game song after the player beat the game, was released on April 1. Most players and journalists assumed it was a joke by Popcap on the weirdest, most non-sequitur hypothetical game the developer could make. Little did they know, it was real.
    Garth Chouteau: We at PopCap would like to apologize profusely to anyone who was duped, and are now glad we didn't issue a bogus press release further confusing things! What better day to announce a game involving crazy plants battling the undead? Okay, maybe Halloween... Alright, Earth Day would have been better too. We're sorry, okay?!?
  • Aquatic Mook: Some zombies have tubes to help them cross the pool, another snorkels, and the last one is in a wetsuit riding a dolphin (which is also a zombie, by the way).
  • Arbitrary Mission Restriction: The New Game Plus, in which Crazy Dave will force the player to use 3 random plants on every normal level.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The sentient English-speaking Puff-shroom had trouble believing in zombies.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: The Scaredy-Shroom can fire at pretty far range compared to the normal mushrooms, but if a zombie gets too close, it'll hide into the ground and become useless as a weapon.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When a zombie is reduced to half of its max health (armor not included), its left arm is blown off.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The catapult plants, Fume-Shroom, and Gloom-Shroom can directly hit Newspaper, Screen Door, and Ladder Zombies without hitting their shields.
  • Arrange Mode: Many of the "minigames" play more like this trope than an actual Mini-Game. These include:
    • Zombotany plays like a normal round… Except the heads of all the zombies have been replaced with the likes of peashooters (that shoot peas) and Wall-Nuts. It has a sequel that adds in zombies with the heads of Gatling Peas, Tall-Nuts, Jalapenos, and Squash.
    • In Slot Machine, you need to spin a slot machine for 25 sun each in order to get more sun or plants. The goal is to get 2000 sun.
    • It's Raining Seeds is a fog level where… it's raining seeds. These are your only way of getting plants.
    • Beghouled is much like Bejeweled, except with plants. Matching 3 or more plants of the same type either gives 1 plant of a higher "tier" or clears the plants. There's a sequel called Beghouled Twist, which is much the same, but with the gameplay of Bejeweled Twist.
    • Invisi-Ghoul is a conveyor fog level (with no fog) that has invisible zombies. They can still be revealed with the Ice-Shroom.
    • Seeing Stars has the player construct a large Starfruit using Starfruit and Pumpkins.
    • Big Trouble Little Zombie is a conveyor pool level where zombies move and eat faster, and come in larger numbers, but are easier to kill.
    • Portal Combat is a conveyor level that features 2 pairs of portals that teleport plant projectiles and zombies to the other portal exit, and themselves switch positions periodically.
    • Column Like You See 'Em is a roof conveyor level where placing a plant also plants duplicates along the entire column, and zombies are much more numerous.
    • Bobsled Bonanza is a pool level with all 4 ground lanes immediately covered in ice, and waves of Zombonis and Bobsled Teams appear.
    • Zombie Nimble Zombie Quick doubles both plant fire rate and zombies movement speed in a pool level.
    • Last Stand has you prepare a defense with 5000 sun for 5 flags. Each wave completed gives you 250 more sun.
    • In Heat Wave, exclusive to the DS port, your only defenses are 4 Peashooters, 4 Lilypads, and 2 Wallnuts on the lawn, and you must move the plants around the lawn. Occasionally, the peashooters will get tired and stop shooting as fast. Speaking or blowing on the DS microphone will temporarily power up your peashooters, turning them orange and giving them an increased fire rate.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Imp not only knows zombie judo, zombie karate, and zombie bare-knuckle brawling, but he also plays the melodica.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The game includes mushrooms, which are technically not plants, but rather fungi, a different biological kingdom altogether (in fact, fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants).
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Just what are those Bungee Zombies hooked up to? In the final level, it's the Zombot's hand.
    • Various zombies, including the Zomboni, the Catapult Zombie's vehicle, the Gargantuar, and even the Zombot itself can stand on your roof without collapsing it. Hell, Dr. Zomboss can throw Winnebagos at your roof and it doesn't collapse. Seriously, what is that roof made out of anyway?!
    • The Magnet-shroom doesn't work anything like a real-world magnet. Apart from being unrealistically strong — it can disarm the Digger Zombie's pickax through several feet of solid earth — it loses its magnetism whenever it attracts a metal object. And for some reason it isn't attracted to other Magnet-shrooms.
  • Ash Face: The zombies after being blasted by an explosive plant — just before crumbling to dust (the head falling last). In the sequel, though, this only happens when they get zapped by Lightning Reed, hit by a Cherry Bomb or a Jalapeno, or eat a Plant Food-boosted Sun Bean.
  • Autosave: The game saves your progress every time you complete an action — be it completing a level, buying something from the store, or watering your garden.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Hypno-shroom. Hypnotizing a zombie to turn it into a powerful ally is cool and sounds extremely useful, but it's overall less efficient than other instant-kills — the hypnotized zombie will usually only affect one lane, and most of them deal less damage than you'd expect. It also declines in usefulness later in the game, as many of the most powerful zombies don't eat plants.
    • Most of the "upgraded" plants in any mode besides Survival, especially Cob Cannons, as the round will in all likelihood be almost over by the time you can afford a few (with the possible exceptions of Twin Sunflowers and Cattails). However, in Survival mode, many of them are not only useful, but vital. They come back around in the Endless modes, though, where their cost increases for every one you use, which catches up quickly.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Jack-in-the-Box Zombie, as his profile states.
  • Badass Adorable: Most of the plants: beady eyes, friendly, and capable of vanquishing wave upon wave of invading undead. You even get to grow baby versions of them in the Zen garden.
  • Bandit Mook: Bungee Zombies in the original game will steal your plants.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: The Beeshooter from Adventures fires bees at zombies.
  • Berserk Button: If you destroy Newspaper Zombie's newspaper, he'll get mad and start moving much faster. He was that close to finishing his Sudoku puzzle.
  • BFG: The Cob Cannon shoots out a gigantic ear of corn to blow up zombies.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Edgar Zomboss, the leader of the zombies who sent them to your house in the first place.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The Yeti Zombie that only appears in the New Game Plus for Level 4-10 and sometimes in Survival Mode.
  • Big Good: Crazy Dave.
  • Big "NO!": You scream it during the game over.
  • Black Magic: Plantern isn't gonna say that is the source of his unusual power.
  • Blackout Basement: The final fog level has no fog, instead the level is hidden by complete darkness save for when lightning flashes.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Before the Game of the Year Edition, the No Celebrities Were Harmed disclaimer in Dancing Zombie's bio.
    • The help screen suggests that you let the zombies in the house. Actually, this triggers a game over as if a zombie reaches the house or drops down into a chimney, the game over music and biting sound play, then the message "THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!" will display and "NOOOOO!!!" is heard, Following this, the "GAME OVER" dialog box is shown, leaving the player with an option to try the level again (which is shown as "TRY AGAIN") or exit the level (shown as "MAIN MENU", "MENU" just like when before losing, or "QUIT" depending on the version). Even the readme for the game states that if this situation happens, the player loses.
      • However, the help note is only true in I, Zombie levels where if the zombies are placed on all five lanes and all attacking plants were killed, they will do nothing but have to wait for them to eat all the brains to complete the level with the zombie reaching the house will not affect the gameplay even if before all the brains were eaten.
    • And the note that was supposedly sent by "Your Muther (not the zombies)" on completion of stage 4-9.
  • Blow You Away: Blover, but only to airborne zombies.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Sun producers don't do anything fancy and they don't kill the zombies; all they do is produce more sun so you can place more plants. At the same time, they're the backbone of every practical strategy, since without sun production you're probably not going to be able to build up a defense to fend off zombies nor be able to repair it quickly when they start chewing on your plants.
    • The Kernel-pults have a random chance to fling, not a bit of corn, but a butter patty that temporarily halts its victim. It can fling them several times in a row, effectively stun-locking said victim. It costs the same as the basic lobber, the Cabbage-pult, and all but obsoletes that plant. Its only weakness is that its corn pellets are the weakest attack in the game (it's as strong as a regular pea, but it's fired half as often), with the butter patty up to "Normal" dps levels.
    • Spikeweeds and Spikerocks — impossible to destroy for almost any zombie (only the Zombonis, Catapult Zombies, Gargantuar, Jack-in-the-Box Zombie, and (in the sequel) Barrel Zombie and Piano Zombie can, and it takes the Zomboni and Catapult Zombie with it)note , ignores shield protection a zombie might have (screen doors, ladders, and newspapers), combine with freeze attacks and blockers incredibly well, and are rather affordable. Sadly, they're useless and have no equivalents in the pool or on the roof, and since zombies that can't hurt them literally walk over them, they can't be used to stall zombies.
    • Puff Shrooms and Fume Shrooms are extremely cheap (the former costing literally nothing) with some decent damage. For free, the Puff Shroom is able to take down a zombie by itself while the Fume Shroom has piercing shots that hit all zombies in range. During night levels, they are almost a must. The Fume Shroom in particular is considered so good it is used in the most advanced Survival: Endless combination.
    • Garlic does no damage whatsoever, but what it does do is force Zombies to switch lanes. This allows you to corral the zombies into a more narrow killbox with a great deal of ease, simply by placing a Garlic at the top and bottom of the map. They're essential in Marigold-farming strategies.
    • Magnet-shrooms steal metal objects from zombies, and that's it. However, this is more useful than it sounds. Weaken strong zombies like Football Zombies? Check! Stop the Jack-in-the-box Zombies from exploding? Check! Stop the Ladder Zombies from bypassing your Tall-nuts? Check!
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Just before the final boss, Crazy Dave attempts to tell you the weakness of said final boss, suggesting you to "Hit him in the cojones" before realising it was a different guy. This was changed to "Hit him in the pancreas" in the Game of the Year edition.
    • The Dancing Zombie was changed from a caricature of Michael Jackson to an undead Disco Dan at the request of his family.
  • Brain Food: What the zombies want.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Hypno-shroom does this, though it seems to think of it as being More than Mind Control. If successful, the hypnotized zombies will move on to eat other zombies.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The cherry bombs.
    "I wanna explode," says Cherry #1.
    "No, let's detonate instead!" says his brother, Cherry #2.
    After intense consultation they agree to explodonate.
  • Bucket Helmet:
    • Some zombies wear buckets on their heads. And they're appropriately called Bucketheads.
    • Crazy Dave also wears a metal pot on his head. Why? Because he's CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY!!!
  • Bullet Seed: Well, technically peas, spines, fruits, and what-have-you.
  • Car Fu: Dr. Zomboss's Humongous Mecha gains That One Attack once his health drops below half — he drops a caravan onto six of your plants, instantly squashing them.
  • Cap: For anyone interested, the sunlight cap is 9990 (9900 in the sequel). Especially attainable in hard night survival modes! And the money cap is $999,990.
  • Catchphrase: Crazy Dave would like to remind you that he's CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY!!!
  • Character Select Forcing:
    • Pool and Fog levels will pretty much necessitate having Lily Pads so that you can set up a proper defense in the middle two lanes. Even when you get other aquatic plants, you'll still want Lily Pads for the backyard levels; Sea Shroom's usefulness drops off once you get sun production going, Tangle Kelp is a single-use target plant with a long cooldown, and Cattail can only be planted to upgrade Lily Pads.
    • Similarly, the Roof levels will pretty much force you to bring Flower Pots so that you can replace plants onto the tiles that zombies have eaten. It also discourages bringing non-catapult attacking plants, as the slope of the roof will block peashots and the like, though an achievement exists for avoiding the use of catapult plants anyway.
  • Clingy Aquatic Life: The zombies that arise from the bottom of the pool are covered in some sort of seaweed.
  • Close-Range Combatant:
    • Adventures has the Beet, which beets… um… beats nearby zombies hard for big damage.
    • In the same vein, we also have Puff-Shroom and Sea-Shroom (attacks a zombie starting from 3 squares away), Gloom-Shroom (which attacks in a 3x3 area around it), and Chomper (eats a zombie in front of it).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Crazy Dave. Well, he is CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY!!!
  • Clown-Car Grave: Averted and played straight. While night levels do have graves, each one only summons one zombie per level. Played straight in "Whack-a-Zombie".
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Magnetism is something which scares Magnet-Shroom in its power. Maybe it's because he doesn't know how they work.
  • Common Character Classes: both the first and the second games have plants that play specific roles. What they do may vary but they all boil down to:
    • Warrior: plants that cover the short-range, dealing high damage per second but are more at risk of being overrun by zombies (Bonk Choy, Chomper, Parsnip, etc.)
    • Ranger: Plants that shoot or lob things, dealing low to high damage per second at long range (Peashooter, Cabbage-pult, Bloomerang, etc.)
    • Rogue: Plants that have sneaky/unorthodox methods of attacking, usually trap-type (Spikeweed, Celery Stalker, etc). Those that deal massive damage but of single-use, overlap with Warrior (Squash, Tangle Kelp, etc)
    • Nuker: Single-use massive damage Area of Effect plants (Cherry Bomb, Doom-shroom, Jalapeño, etc). "Shooting" plants that have their own area of effect, whether shot automatically (Melon-pult, Fume-shroom, Laser Bean, etc) or with the player's input (Cob Cannon, Coconut Cannon, Banana Launcher, Missile Toe) overlap with Rangers.
    • Support: Plants that produce sun (Sunflower, Sun-shroom, Sun Bean, etc), plants that provide defense (Wall-nut, Tall-nut, Infi-nut, etc), plants that slow down zombies (Ice plants, Stunion, E.M.Peach, etc), and other diverse things (Magnet-shroom's Anti-Armor ability, Hypno-shroom's hypnosis ability, Power Lily giving you Plant Food, Intensive Carrot's reviving ability, etc).
  • Company Cross References: The minigames Beghouled and Zombiquarium are PvZ-themed versions of Bejeweled and Insaniquarium respectively.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Sunflowers being the pylon of choice.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Despite being right next to a Torchwood, most plants don't even burn up at all.
  • Cooldown:
    • Plants have cooldowns between each planting. Some plants have longer cooldowns than others, especially the single-use One-Hit Kill ones. Having Imitater can help you alleviate the cooldown time (by allowing you to have two of the same seed packet).
    • Some plants also have a cooldown after unleashing their attack, namely Chompers chewing and digesting a zombie whole and Cob Cannons reloading after firing.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: Downplayed with Imitater; its main function is to have 2 of the same plant in your plant slots so you can plant a certain plant more quickly, not directly interfering with the plant's actual cooldown but effectively halving your cooldown time.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Crazy Dave, with extra emphasis on "crazy". (And, of course, you, by the end of the game.)
  • Critical Existence Failure:
    • All of the plants, and almost every zombie. Inverted by the newspaper zombie, who will move faster once he is damaged enough — although, technically, he isn't hurt: the newspaper took the damage for him. Plants that can bypass the newspaper, like Fume-Shroom and the lobbies, can bypass that speed boost.
    • The zombies avert it slightly by shambling on a few steps further after they lose their head, possibly soaking a few more hits for zombies behind them.
  • Crosshair Aware: A dart and target on a piece of paper signals an attack from a Bungee Zombie on the targeted plant.
  • Crutch Character:
    • The Potato Mine's low cost makes it great for taking out the first couple of zombies on any level while you build up your Sunflowers. It's completely useless thereafter because the zombies come too fast for it to be deployed effectively.
    • In night levels, the Puff-Shroom and its aquatic counterpart, the Sea-Shroom — which have zero cost but have limited offensive range, meaning that they can't hurt faraway zombies.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: It's a good idea to follow Crazy Dave's advice, usually.
  • Cut Scene: Crazy Dave will often interject advice in the form of bad jokes at the beginning of a level. These are usually pretty short, but they repeat every time you restart the level, which can get annoying in the sequel when he and Penny (the time machine) repeat the same two or three lines of dialogue each time.

  • Damage Discrimination: Both plants and zombies are quite discriminating with what they hurt. Peas and other projectiles will ignore every plant, even the Tall-Nuts, to hurt zombies. Even exploding or incendiary plants will only target zombies, while the mighty Gargantuar will smash any plant but spare zombies in his path. A zombie controlled by the Hypno-Shroom will immediately be treated like a plant, though. The Almanac entry for the Doom-Shroom hints this is a conscious choice, with Doom-Shroom claiming it could destroy everything you hold dear if it wanted to and that he wouldn't have a hard time doing so.
    • Averted if the Doom-Shroom is planted on a Lily Pad or Flower Pot, which will be destroyed in the blast.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: There's really not much else you can do to Dr. Zomboss's Zombot but let whatever offensive plants you got whale on it until it explodes. If you have spare Ice-shrooms, though, you can prevent him from getting back up for a while, letting you finish the fight sooner, or gain a few more plants before the horde attacks again.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: In the first game, with a credit song.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Doom-Shrooms are on your side, even though the warning in the Almanac makes one doubt it.
    • The appearance of Grave Busters fits with their purpose, devouring tombstones. But Grave Buster wants you to know that "he loves kittens and spends his off hours volunteering at a local zombie rehabilitation center. 'It's just the right thing to do,' he says."
    • The Tangle Kelp is also a little creepy with its glowing squinty eyes... basically a less-goofy-looking version of Tangela, though its Flavor Text in the Suburban Almanac mitigates this with a spot of humor.
    • While we're at it: Spikerocks look kind of monstrous, but according to their almanac entry are art lovers and impressed with European museums.
  • Defog of War: Blover blows away the fog for a short of amount of time, and Plantern clears five lanes of fog as long as it's up. The Torchwood also clears a small amount of fog.
  • Death-Activated Superpower: In Plants vs. Zombies 3, the Actor Zombie's special ability comes into play upon his death, where he performs a long death monologue, acting as a temporary invulnerable meat shield that blocks attacks for 10 seconds before he bites the dust for good.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Armored zombies such as Conehead and Buckethead Zombies (and even Zombonis) can be killed if you have enough rows of shooting plants.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Imitater is black and white, and so are the plants that he imitates, although this is probably done more to indicate that you're using an Imitater plant as opposed to a normal one. This can be mildly frustrating if you're cloning, say, sunflowers, since the glow that's a prelude to sunlight is harder to spot. Averted in the sequel, though.
  • Demo Bonus: You can load your save from the demo in the full game and continue from where you left off.
  • De-power: Magnet-Shrooms can deactivate the special abilities/added defense of many zombie types by pulling metal objects away from them.
  • Determinator: The zombies will never give up, not even after you defeat Zomboss and listen to the sweet music video that you get for doing so. Crazy Dave even lampshades this:
    Crazy Dave: Those are some persistent zombies, dude.
  • Developer's Foresight: If you stubbornly refuse to use Sunflowers throughout Stage 1, then start the first nighttime level without Sunflowers, you get a unique warning message.
  • Digging to China: Scroll down on the achievement screen in the Game of the Year edition, and, after encountering a few Shout Outs to other Pop Cap games, you'll emerge on the other side of the Earth in China. Apparently, they have a zombie problem too...
  • Disco Dan: The Dancing Zombie and his backup crew, as of the Game of the Year Edition.
  • Disco Sucks: One of the many zombies that invade the player's lawn is a disco dancer dressed in a stereotypical white leisure suit and afro hairstyle—a Stealth Pun referring to the fact that disco is literally dead. Initially, he was a stand-in for Michael Jackson, but legal issues forced a change.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Doom-Shroom, which even explodes with a large DOOM!
  • Door Fu: The Screen Door Zombie carries a screen door to protect himself, which has high durability and shields him from most straight-shot attacks. The way to defeat the zombie easily is to either by using a Fume-shroom or Gloom-shroom, whose fume attacks can penetrate through the door; using catapult plants that can lob attacks over the door; or by snatching the door from the zombie using a Magnet-shroom.
  • Early Game Hell: In Endless Zone, it's possible for some of the Demonic Spiders in the first level, when your best offense is a Peashooter. And depending on the Random Number God, you may not get any of the "necessary" plants until well after you need them.
  • Eating the Enemy:
    • The standard attack most zombies have to directly fight the plants is progressively chewing on them until they eat them whole.
    • On the plants' side is the Chomper, which can instantly kill a zombie by devouring them. It then takes a while to chew and swallow the zombie, after which it is ready to eat another one (in contrast to most other instant kill plants, which are single-use). It can't eat a Gargantuar, though, and if one approaches it will instead bite the Gargantuar to do small amounts of damage.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors:
    • Plants with fire attacks are incompatible with those with freeze attacks, as they will thaw the zombies out and allow them to move at normal speed.
    • Also used in the final battle against the Zombot. Its main attack outside sending out zombies is firing giant balls of ice or fire, and you have Jalapeños and Ice-Shrooms to combat each type of ball respectively.
  • Emergency Weapon:
    • Puff-Shrooms. They have limited range and low damage output, but they don't cost anything and recharge fast. They're indispensable in night levels, as they allow you to keep zombies at bay while you gather enough sun-sources to bring out the bigger guns... erh, plants.
    • Sea-Shrooms are also another case of this, (0 costs, limited power, and range) but they're less useful because 1) They can only be placed on water. 2) Their recharge time is EXTREMELY slow.
    • Squash and Potato Mines. A long recharge time but low sun cost makes them ideal for dealing with zombies while you set up, or even in tight spots. Same goes for Tangle Kelp — even better in that they deal with fast-moving threats, like dolphin riders.
  • Everybody Do the Endless Loop: The dancing zombies during the final video clip. Though it's nowhere surprising for zombies to be... stiff.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: The zombies only need to get into your house once to eat your brains.note 
  • Evolving Title Screen: The earned trophies are put onto the title screen.
  • Exact Words:
    • There's an achievement for completing a night-time level without using Shrooms, which can be quite difficult. However, you can also earn it by completing any "I, Zombie" level, which are set at night and don't involve Shrooms. It should be noted, however, that the chance of ending up in a Shroom-less "I, Zombie" level is extremely low. Additionally, this exploit seems to have been corrected for the Steam release.
    • Another achievement, “Blind Faith,” requires you to beat an extremely foggy level (5 columns must be obscured to count as “extremely” foggy) without Blovers or Planterns. This does not exclude Torchwoods, which also shine through fog...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Plants are fighting zombies.
  • Excuse Plot: No explanation is given to what this zombie outbreak truly is, how it happened, or why plants are your only defense against it. The whole thing's just an excuse to play an awesome strategy Tower Defense game.
  • Extreme Doormat: The Lily Pad. As the almanac entry says:
    Lily Pad never complains. Lily Pad never wants to know what's going on. Put a plant on top of Lily Pad, he won't say a thing. Does he have startling opinions or shocking secrets? Nobody knows. Lily Pad keeps it all inside.
  • Face of a Thug: Grave Buster, but he's actually nice.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: From the Gatling Pea almanac entry:
    Gatling Pea's parents: "But honey, [joining the military] is dangerous!"
    Gatling Pea: "LIFE is dangerous."
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • Finishing a streak in I, Zombie Endless with less than 50 sun remaining will display the message "Good job! Current Streak: (number of streaks that the player completed)" indicating that a streak is won or completed but upon entering the next streak, they will end up losing where the losing dialog box "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/I, Zombie Endless (PC, DS, and console versions): You made it to a streak of (number of streaks completed)" will appear. The reason for this is because if the player has less than 50 sun in the next streak, they are unable to buy zombies necessary to complete a streak.
    • Endless levels (Vasebreaker Endless, I, Zombie Endless, Survival: Endless, and Last Stand: Endless) can continue how many streaks or flags as the player can until they get the condition or criteria for getting a game over on those levels (reaching the player's house in Vasebreaker Endless, Last Stand: Endless and Survival: Endless, with the first two not showing "THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!" losing cutscene but instead the losing dialog box appears immediately and due to that, only the game over music plays and the biting and losing scream sounds will not be played, and I, Zombie Endless if the player has less than 50 sun).
  • Fastball Special: Gargantuars will hurl small Imps at your plants. Thankfully, they're extremely weak and tend to be hurled into thick concentrations of peas.
  • Featureless Protagonist: You never see the homeowner because it's, well, you. At the very least, the scream you give off during a game over is male.
  • Final-Exam Boss: In the last level, you have to remember what plants do what kind of damage to fend off the final boss' attacks.
  • Fog of War: During the games 4th segment, named Fog, fog creeps into your garden.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: In the final music video, the bouncing ball is a Bouncing Brain.
  • Forged Message: The Zombies at one point send you (the home owner) a forged letter claiming to be your mother inviting you over for meatloaf, asking you to leave your front door open and your lawn unguarded. It is signed as "mom (not the zombies)".
  • Fragile Speedster: The Imp in the puzzle game "I, Zombie". It can only take three regular pea shots before being defeated, but is the fastest (and cheapest) unit you can deploy against the plants. You're required to Zerg Rush with them in one "I, Zombie" round.
  • Frozen Face: Perhaps for the pun, Ice-shroom has a non-dramatic version of this. It being the reason he is a Perpetual Frowner.
  • Fungi Are Plants: Various kinds of mushrooms are counted among the titular "plants" that players can grow on their lawns.
  • Gainax Ending: Played for laughs. In the end, the Zombies give up on trying to eat your brain and call a truce to make a music video with you instead.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The game has been known to corrupt one's save files numerous times in a row. You'll quit the game, load it later to play again, and find that the game forgets you've done anything. This can be circumvented for the PC version by finding the "userdata" folder and backing it up. Pop Cap claims they fixed it in the Game of the Year edition.
    • Certain updates render the Android version borderline unplayable and unable to start. All updates of it are prone to crashing, as well.
    • In the Portal Combat minigame, sometimes the portals will spawn right in front of the house door. If any zombie gets to that portal, game over.
  • Garlic Is Abhorrent: Even zombies are repelled by it.
  • Gatling Good: The "four at a time" Gatling Pea.
  • Giant Mook: The Gargantuar.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Chomper. It's able to devour a whole zombie, but it's also very vulnerable to attacks when chewing.
    • Just about any damage-dealing plant that isn't covered by a pumpkin has little health and can be eaten in just a few bites.
    • The one weakness of the Cob Cannon is that it can't be covered with a pumpkin, due to taking up two squares. This makes an ideal Survival: Endless strategy more complicated than just "Fill the entire screen with Cob Cannons and go to town", as poor placement can leave Cob Cannons vulnerable to underwater zombiesnote , Digger Zombies, and Imps.
  • Glowing Flora: Invoked with the Plantern, a plant shaped like a lantern that emits what looks like candlelight. Its main function is to help you see in foggy levels. Also, the Mushroom Garden is lit almost entirely by luminescent fungi.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: At the end of the first game, the zombies give up and just want to have a dance party, which is exactly what happens.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: The Newspaper Zombie wears pink heart-print boxers.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: One of the Gargantuar's possible weapons is another zombie.
  • Grave Humor: The graves can sometimes have funny inscriptions on them ("Bereft of Life", "Just Resting", "Expired"...)
  • Grumpy Old Man: Imitater says that all they had in the Zombie Wars were guts. Guts and a spoon.
    • The Newspaper Zombie is docile but then goes berserk when you destroy his newspaper.
  • Harmless Freezing: Downplayed with the Ice-Shroom. It temporarily freezes all enemies on the screen and slows them down when they thaw out, but it does one pea shot's worth of damage to all of them. They also allow you to temporarily see the location of the invisible zombies in the Invisighoul mini-game.
  • Heat Wave: There's a minigame in the DS version named exactly that. Guess what it involves.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Various, see those under Improvised Armor.
  • Helpful Mook: The Ladder Zombie's ladders can be used as the "Accidentally Assisting" sort to prevent the need of replacing Pumpkins, if used in conjunction with a Gloom-Shroom. Imps thrown to the back will not eat the Pumpkins and instead will walk over, getting killed by the Gloom-Shroom in the process, thus saving sun on planting Pumpkins.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Tangle Kelp thinks of himself as invisible. Not so much.
  • Hold the Line: Every level.
  • Humongous Mecha: The final level has a giant zombie mecha that shoots fire and ice balls. And it's awesome.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Incredibly Lame Puns — and plant-y of 'em!
  • Hypnotism Reversal: In Battle Extravagonzo, one of the match-ups is Mr. Stubbins versus a Hypno-shroom. Mr. Stubbins ends up using a mirror to reflect the mushroom's hypnosis against it, winning the fight.

  • An Ice Person: Or rather, Ice Plants. There are Snow Peas, Ice-Shrooms, and Winter Melons, which all slow down zombies — except the Zomboni and Bobsled Team.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • The Gargantuar flattens your plants with a lamppost, a street sign, a broken-off telephone pole, or another zombie.
    • Dr Zomboss' Humongous Mecha throws Winnebagos at the plants.
  • Improvised Armor: Zombies with bucket/road cone helmets and screen door shields among other things. The Fume-Shroom and Gloom-Shroom can bypass the latter.
  • Improvised Umbrella: The Umbrella Leaf.
  • Incendiary Exponent: The Torchwood plant, which sets fire to peas passing through it and thaws Snow Pea's projectiles into regular peas.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: Everything beyond the basic zombie is this. EVERYTHING.
  • Incorrect Animal Noise: Invoked by Cattail, who woofs instead of meows because she "hates being stereotyped".
  • I, Noun: The minigame mode "I, Zombie", which flips the script on the main gameplay, having you deploy zombies to tear through plant defenses.
  • Insane Proprietor: Crazy Dave, of course.
  • Instant Bandages: These progressively appear on the Gargantuar as he takes damage.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Most of the fog levels make 1/3 to 1/2 of the stage invisible, though you can sort of make out what's coming in the top and bottom rows. Downplayed when you consider that Blovers, Planterns, and Torchwood can clear the fog.
    • The final fog level takes place during a storm, with the screen being entirely black most of the time. The only time you can see is when lightning flashes.
  • Interspecies Romance: The Cactus has been seeing an armadillo for a while and it really seems to be working out.
  • Invisible Monsters: The minigame "Invisi-Ghoul". ALL the zombies in this mini-game are invisible, including the dreaded Zomboni that pulls One Hit Kills on your plants. You can't use spikerocks here as the mini-game is done in conveyor style.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Jack-in-the-Box zombie plods along, cranking a box that's playing "Pop Goes the Weasel"... and explodes.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: Inverted. Dr. Zomboss (in his Zombot, naturally) throws a winnebago onto six of your plants, instantly flattening them.
  • The Juggernaut: Being zombies, all zombies have shades of this, but Gargantuars take the cake, being able to instantly smash obstacles, trample down plants and being very durable, hulking monstrosities.
  • Keet: Coffee Bean and Umbrella Leaf sure do get excited.
  • Kill It with Fire: Among the methods are blazing peas (by using Torchwoods), chili peppers and exploding mushrooms.
  • Kill It with Ice:
    • Likewise, Snow Peas, the Ice-Shroom and Winter Melons freeze the zombies, making them slower (and in the case of the Ice-Shroom, completely immobile for a short period of time). You can kill weaker zombies with just Winter Melons.
    • Completely averted if you try to use Snow Peas with Torchwoods. You either freeze-unfreeze the zombies every second or your frozen peas are unfrozen before they hit the Zombie.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Dr. Zomboss. Most of the zombies are Too Dumb to Live, and pretty easy to take out. Zomboss, however, knows what he's doing. He does not waste time cracking jokes.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "Cabbage-pult is okay with launching cabbages at zombies. It's what he's paid for, after all, and he's good at it. He just doesn't understand how the zombies get up on the roof in the first place."
  • Lampshade Wearing: The traffic cone variant is used by some zombies.
  • Last Stand: The mini-game "Last Stand", where you have 5000 in resources and must spend it wisely to get to the next level.
  • Level of Tedious Enemies: Level 5-5 is considered this because the game constantly spams Bungee Zombies throughout the level. These enemies aren't particularly threatening and are easy to kill, but the level is meant to take a lot of time. Crazy Dave even lampshades the level's annoyance.
    Crazy Dave: You are going to hate this next level. Why? Because it's non-stop bungee zombie after bungee zombie.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Football Zombie. He moves twice as fast than regular zombies, eats your plants twice as fast, and he can take a lot of damage. The Giga-Football Zombie in the flash version's Survival: Endless Mode is even tougher — it can not only survive instant kill plants, but also about as much damage as the full PC version's Gargantuar.
    • Zombonis. They're fast, have a lot of health, cannot be slowed and their attack instantly crushes your plants! Plus they leave behind an ice trail and unless you Kill It with Fire, it paves the way for bobsled zombies that zip through the freshly created ice trail, creating a huge headache.
    • As for the plant's side, there's the Melon-pult, which lobs a watermelon, can damage a large group of zombies and packs a heavy punch on the one it intentionally lands on (meaning it can defeat the Newspaper, Screen Door, and Pole Vaulting Zombie with ease) and reloads quickly enough to keep delivering heavy blows. The upgrade for this plant can freeze groups of zombies, as opposed to the Snow Pea's single shots. Of course, it costs a total of 500 Sun to get...
  • Lily-Pad Platform: The Lily Pad for levels that have swimming pools. They must be planted first before any other non-aquatic plant can be placed on the swimming pool.
  • Long-Range Fighter:
    • The Aspearagus in Adventures, where your plants have a maximum range. This plant has a very long range and can snipe zombies from afar.
    • The Scaredy Shroom is also one, being able to shoot from far away unlike Puff Shrooms, but will cower down when a zombie comes too close.
  • Lore Codex: The Suburban Almanac (a reference to the real-life Farmer's Almanac) contains info about both the zombies and your own plants. In addition to useful information, each entry contains humorous Flavor Text that gives more characterization to a game otherwise short on it.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Any mission in which your plant seeds come down a conveyor belt.
      • They aren't actually too bad because the plants don't scroll off the end of the belt and you can keep them for when you need them. The real Luck-Based Missions are the few where you have to plant them immediately or very quickly lose them, such as "It's Raining Seeds" and "Vasebreaker".
    • Also, if you're playing the Steam version, no amount of skill will help you get the "China Shop" or "Better Off Dead" achievements (which involves beating a bunch of levels in a row) if the Random Number God hates you. Especially egregious for the latter, in which you have to play perfectly and be lucky.
    • Speaking about "Better Off Dead", the achievement in "I, Zombie", the Kernel-Pult can either be a minor annoyance or a major pain in the rear, due to its random nature of chucking butter that completely stuns your zombies. If you're unlucky enough it may decide to spam butter, and not even a Football Zombie may be able to survive that if it is constantly hammered with other weak attacks.
    • ANY story mission after you beat the game once. After that, you start at the beginning, but Crazy Dave forces three random plants into your setup. Now, this doesn't sound so bad at first, but it will completely ruin any strategy you've developed by the endgame, which typically uses all the available slots. What makes this worse is that simply going back to the menu and coming back to Story won't give you three more random plants, just the same three. So, to try your luck with the three random plants, you have to close the game, then launch it again. The DS version is even worse because closing the game won't work either — you have to shut the system off completely.
  • Mad Eye:
    • All the zombies have one eye bigger than the other. Especially noticeable with the Gargantuar.
    • And Crazy Dave, of course.
  • Magic Mushroom: The Hypno-Shroom.
  • Man-Eating Plant: No men, but Chompers chew up and swallow a fair bit of zombies. They look suspiciously like purple piranha plants from Super Mario Bros.. Or Audrey II, who the Chomper auditioned to play.
  • Manly Tears: The Tall-nut and Garlic also get them after being chewed on long enough.
  • Mercy Invincibility: If one of your lawnmowers/pool/roof cleaners gets used, no zombies will attack that row for the next minute or two, giving you time to set up your defenses again.
  • Meta Power-Up: The Twin Sunflower, and Coffee Bean.
  • Metal Slime: Yeti Zombie. He only appears after you beat the game once and only shows up on one level. When he takes significant damage, he'll try to flee, but will drop three diamonds if killed.
  • Mighty Glacier: Gargantuars are very, very slow but they can take and dish out some major damage.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Flower Pot being a plant in which you plant plants attempts to induce this in you with the flavor text.
      Flower Pot: I'm a pot for planting. Yet I'm also a plant. HAS YOUR MIND EXPLODED YET?!?!?!
    • Also could go for Cat-tail, although it's more of her not wanting to be pigeonholed more than anything.
  • Mini Mook:
    • The minigame "Big Trouble Little Zombie" features these.
      Crazy Dave: Defend your shins!
    • And the Imps, of course.
  • Mistaken for Undead: The almanac entry for Zomboni mentions that he isn't really a zombie, but some kind of a space-ogre.
  • Monogender Monsters: There are no female zombies in this game (or there might be some and it's just impossible to tell, when using the Zombatar feature many of the hair and clothing options appear feminine). This makes the Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game parody a straight example at the same time.
  • Monster Compendium: The Suburban Almanac (a reference to the real-life Farmer's Almanac), which includes information on both plants and zombies. In addition to in-game information, each entry contains humorous Flavor Text that gives more characterization to a game otherwise short on it.
  • Mook Chivalry:
    • The digger zombie can tunnel beneath all your defenses, but once it reaches the other side of the lawn... it turns around and starts eating the plants in your back row. Apparently it got confused while spinning like a top to emerge. Problematic, but not as much as if it'd just go directly for the house.
    • Also true for the Final Boss: why doesn't Dr. Zomboss just drop a zombie down your chimney?
  • Mook Maker:
    • The Dancing Zombie, a zombie that dances and spawns four others that follow it. If he eats a Hypno-Shroom, he becomes your Mook Maker.
    • Zombonis are always inevitably followed by a Zombie Bobsled Team.
    • Also, the Final Boss.
  • Moonwalk Dance: The Dancing Zombie moonwalks into your lawn before summoning four Backup Dancers.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Zomboss has a doctorate in Thanatology. (That's the study of death. Thanatos is Greek for death.)
  • More Dakka: A typical lawn once you get all your plants set up. The Gattling Pea in particular embodies this. Combine two Gattling Peas with a Torchwood and nothing will survive (except maybe a Giga-Gargantuar), although of course it's kind of expensive.
  • Multiple Head Case: Split Pea and Threepeater play with this trope. According to the Almanac, Split Pea's second "head" is actually a large, head-like growth on the back of his own; and Threepeater, despite having three heads, is implied to have only one brain, and has little if anything else in his nature to do with the number "3".
  • Multishot: The Threepeater can shoot three peas at once, and fittingly has three heads.
  • Nature vs. Technology: The natural plants fight against the technological tool-using zombies. It goes to an extreme in the Final Boss battle, where your army of plants are pitted against Dr. Zomboss' Humongous Mecha.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Snow Pea gets a lot of this.
  • Never Learned to Read: The Torchwood.
  • New Game Plus: Once you beat Dr. Zomboss, you can start all over again with the seeds you've gathered so far — only Crazy Dave gets to pick three of them, the second playthrough. You also unlock new mini-games, more items from Crazy Dave's shop, and the Yeti Zombie.
  • New Weapon Target Range: The game tends to give you a new plant right before a level where that plant would be really useful - whether because of environmental gimmick or new enemy type. For some of these, it ends up a situation of This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Every single enemy that your plants fight is a zombie. Well, except for the Zomboni's driver, who, according to its almanac entry, is a space ogre that often hangs out with zombies and is frequently confused with them. Also, robots aren't zombies, but the guy piloting it is definitely one.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The zombies have not only mastered many professions such as deep sea diving, pole vaulting, and football, but there's an actual giant zombie bot at the end. A zombie in a robot. With a doctorate in Thanatology, no less.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in the "I, Zombie" minigame, where you control what zombies to spawn against (paper cutout) plants in order to reach the delicious brains they're guarding. The Excuse Plot of the "I, Zombie" minigame is also a gold mine. Basically, Crazy Dave agreed to train the zombies on how to break into lawns and eat brains better, but he can't. So he gets you to train the zombies. You know, the zombies that are trying to eat your brains.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Dancing Zombie's almanac entry. He, by all accounts, looks like some Pop artist who made the Moonwalk Dance famous. Made more sense back before the change to his current Disco Dan design.
    Any resemblance between Dancing Zombie and persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
  • No Fair Cheating: If you use the hidden debug mode in Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, the next time you open up the game, you're permanently banned from the game. You might also have your alternate accounts unable to play either. You also get an achievement called "Cheater! Cheater!" because of it.
  • Nonsense Classification: The "suburban almanac" that describes all the different plants and zombies in the game. This encyclopedia, not taking itself very seriously, keeps mixing up the concept of "individual" with the concept of "species". As in, every plant is an individual character, with its own backstory, but there are several (a whole species worth) of them. We also have the Zomboni who is not a zombie but an space ogre who likes to hang out with zombies and the Zombie Yeti, who we don't know anything about... except for his name, birth date, social security number, educational history, past work experience and sandwich preference (roast beef and Swiss).
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • I, Zombie: When the player has less than 50 sun (since the Imp and Regular Zombie are the cheapest zombie types for the player to buy which both cost 50 sun) and there are no zombies present on the board, the game will display "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/{level name on PC, DS, and console versions}: You lost all your zombies!" losing dialog box.
    • I, Zombie Endless and Vasebreaker Endless: The losing dialog box "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/{level name on PC, DS, and console versions}: You made it into a streak of {number of streaks completed}." if the player starts a new streak and the zombie is killed but the player has less than 50 sun. This is also the same case for Vasebreaker Endless but it only happens when they let the zombies reach the house and no more seed packets present on the board or not enough number of them to complete a streak. If a zombie reaches the house in Vasebreaker Endless, the said message will appear without showing the cutscene of a zombie entering the house and "THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!" message.
    • Survival Mode: Same as adventure mode, some mini-games, and normal Vasebreaker levels, but after "THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!" message appears, the losing dialog box will say "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/Survival: {any of levels on PC, DS, and console versions of the game}: You survived for {number of flags completed} flag(s) before dying a GRUESOME ZOMBIE DEATH!!!" instead of simply "GAME OVER".
    • Zombiquarium: If there are no Snorkel Zombies present in the tank by any means such as all of them were died of hunger, being killed by plants like Cherry Bomb, and selecting a button that despawns all zombies on-screen through third party programs, the losing dialog box "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/Zombiquarium (PC, DS, and console versions): All your pet zombies have perished!" will display.
    • Last Stand (Puzzle Mode and Mini-game): Same as Vasebreaker Endless, but if a zombie reaches the house, the losing dialog box "GAME OVER (iOS/Android)/Last Stand (PC, DS, and console versions): You survived for {number of flags completed} flags!!" will display.
  • Not Completely Useless:
    • Several types of plant are only really useful in a certain situation — Split Peas can be helpful against Diggers and Imps, Cacti and Blovers take out balloon zombies (and, for the latter, fog), Coffee Beans are primarily used to wake up Magnet Shrooms (which are in turn only useful when zombies have metal objects with them) or Gloom Shrooms (so absurdly powerful that they totally justify the coffee bean entry fee), etc. — being less cost-effective than other plants most of the time.
    • Grave Busters are only useful in night levels.
    • Marigolds only give you coins every so often and nothing else, making them pointless in most levels as your Sun is better invested in short-term offence or defense. However, in the "Last Stand" minigame, you're given a lump sum of 5000 Sun to start with, and are given 200 more after every wave. This allows you to set up small, expensive, but efficient defenses from the get go that you wouldn't be able to on a normal level. If you're smart about your strategy, you can use the leftover Sun to fill half of your yard with Marigolds(and a couple of Gold Magnets if you're feeling lazy) for easy money farming.
    • Speaking of Gold Magnets, the only thing they can do is gather coins, which usually feels like a downgrade from the tactical advantage of the Magnet-Shroom. Apart from the aforementioned "Last Stand" money farming strategies, the only level that really churns out enough coins to justify the Gold Magnet is Survival: Endless, where not only will a lot of coins be dropped at once during the later waves, but you'll be more likely to be too preoccupied with shooting Cob Cannons at said waves to be able to pick any of the coins up yourself. Even then, some players might feel the squares a Gold Magnet uses might be better suited to more strategic plants like Cattails or Twin Sunflowers.
    • Puff-shroom is useless as an offensive plant in daytime levels, as it requires a Coffee Bean to wake up, ruining its gimmick of being free—might as well use that Coffee Bean on a Scaredy Shroom and get longer range for just 25 more Sun if you're that desperate to use a mushroom. However, it can still buy you a few seconds while zombies munch on it to set up something else. It also has a niche use in the ZomBotany minigame as it's short enough to dodge the Zombie Peashooters, meaning waking it up with Coffee Beans to attack is actually worth it.
  • Nuke 'em:
    • Doom-shrooms. These things literally define the term "Mushroom Cloud".
    • Cob Cannons are not in fact cannons but corn-missile launchers. And those missiles are VERY destructive.

  • Obvious Rule Patch: The very existence of the Giga-Gargantuar and requiring extra sun for every successive upgrade plant in Survival: Endless were due to players initially finding the mode too easy. George Fan claimed that people were getting to the 100th wave in 3 hours at first.
  • Off with His Head!: Zombies are decapitated when you bring their health down to zero, just before they drop dead.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Plenty of your plants, namely the Cherry Bomb, Potato Mine, Squash, Doom-Shroom, Tangle Kelp, Jalapeño, Chomper and Cob Cannon are capable of killing almost all types of zombies in one hit.
    • But mind you: some zombies, most notably the Zomboni, the Jack-in-the-Box Zombie, the Bungee Zombie, the Gargantuar and the Final Boss are also able to do this to your plants!
    • In terms of resistance, the Gargantuar takes two normal One-Hit Kill plants to die (or 4 for the Giga-Gargantuar, which appears only in Survival mode), and Spikerocks can take nine hits from a Gargantuar or vehicles.
    • Balloon Zombies specifically suffer this if a Blover is planted or if they are over water and there's a Cactus in their lane.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Fume-shroom and Gloom-shroom can hit all zombies in their range at once.
  • One Plant Army: In Plants Vs. Zombies: The Last Stand, you control a single peashooter to take down a few waves of zombies.
  • Our Imps Are Different: The Imp is the smallest and weakest zombie in the game, seen riding on the back of the massive Gargantuar, and being thrown by the latter into your defenses.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope:
    • The Dancing Zombie originally looked almost exactly like Michael Jackson in his Thriller music video (even including a joke about it in his Almanac entry), but was later redesigned to a generic Disco Dan in the GOTY Edition.
    • The Flavor Text of the Zomboni's Almanac article was originally a standard humorous snippet like the rest. For the GOTY Edition, it replaced the original description with a lengthy copyright article about how the Zomboni is in no way related to the Zamboni and that players interested in buying a Zamboni for themselves should visit the official website.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Cabbage-Pult. Once you have the Kernel-Pult you probably won't ever use them anymore, as the butter that Kernel-Pult sometimes throws is much more useful than the Cabbage-Pult's higher damage (it freezes zombies in their tracks). Kernel-Pults and Melon-Pults also have upgrades to more powerful forms (which you won't be able to afford outside of survival mode) while Cabbage-Pult does not.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word:
    • No, the Cherry Bombs will not explode, nor will they detonate. They decided to explodonate. Powie! ("CHA-BOOF" in the sequel.)
    • The Potato Mine goes "Spudow!" when it explodes.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Ice-shroom, although it is because of a childhood injury that left his facial nerves paralyzed.
  • Planimal: The Cattail.
  • Plant Mooks: Your plants are essentially this, as they're deployed against invading zombies.
  • Pińata Enemy: In literal terms: Typing in piñata in the first game, causes every killed zombie to drop candy.note 
  • Pop the Tires: You can pop the tires of the vehicle-based Zomboni and Catapult Zombie by planting a Spikeweed/Spikerock in their tracks. For some reason, this does not only pop the tires, but also make the entire vehicle blow up.
  • Portal Network: The minigame "Portal Combat" has you fighting zombies while a somewhat confusing system of portals (Zombies ready to stumble into the gateways are fired upon by plants in front of the corresponding portal, for example) shifts around the field.
  • Power Floats: It's more obvious in the zen garden, but the Coffee Bean floats above the soil.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Doom-Shroom would have no qualms about destroying your house instead. It wouldn't be hard, or so he claims.
  • Pun-Based Creature: Peashooters shoot peas. Sunflowers produce sun. Wall-nuts are used as walls. Starfruit shot stars in a star pattern.
  • Puzzle Pan: Before a level, the camera will pan and show you the zombie types you will encounter in the level.
  • Raising the Steaks: "The dolphin is also a zombie."
  • Rake Take: You can buy a rake for your lawn that kills the first zombie that it encounters; it lasts three levels, after which you can buy a new one. Can be a Game-Breaking Bug, though a mild one: make sure the rake upgrade isn't active when you play "Portal Combat". The rake spawns in a random row, and the first zombie to appear will appear in that row. "Portal Combat" won't spawn zombies in rows where they could immediately walk into a portal and appear in the back of your lawn... but the rake overrides that mercy.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Happens literally during the Final Boss — if his eyes glow red, you better hope you have an empty pot and an Ice-Shroom on hand...
    • Doom-Shroom also has these. Not surprising, considering what he does...
    • Giga-Gargantuars. As if the resident Mighty Glaciers couldn't get any worse, these guys can take a lot more damage than a regular Gargantuar.
    • The Newspaper Zombie's eyes will glow red when you push his Berserk Button.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Averted. Zombies can be destroyed independently of where the attacks hit them (in the torso for peas, in the feet for Spikeweeds or Spikerocks... only the catapult plants hit the head). Zombies get decapitated at zero "hit points", but don't instantly die; they either take a couple hits before falling apart, or step a few more times before falling down (essentially acting as a weak, temporary shield for intact zombies).
  • Required Party Member: In the New Game Plus, Crazy Dave will choose 3 random plants for you to use per level that you can't unselect.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: The Android version, in particular, was criticised for how much grinding it takes to unlock mini-games without paying extra.
  • Roboteching: The thorns fired by the Cattails do this.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The zombies attack with tools, vehicles and robots... and get taken down by plants.
  • Rule of Cool: You are a homeowner with an insane neighbor and all you have is vegetable-based ordnance to defend your home from waves of the walking dead. Why? Who cares?!
  • Rule of Cute: Applies to both the plants and the zombies.
  • Rule of Fun: Similarly, who cares where all these genetically modified war-plants came from? (Answer: Bloom & Doom Seed Co.) If it kills zombies, then all is well and good.
  • Sealed Good / Evil In A Vase: The Vasebreaker game.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Wisdom Tree will sometimes say, "That Cloud Looks Like... a vast aggregation of water droplets."
  • Shmuck Bait: In the help section:
    When the zombies come, just sit there and don't do anything. You win the game when the zombies get to your house.
    This help section brought to you by the zombies.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shows Damage:
    • On the plant side, the Wall-Nut, Tall-Nut, Pumpkin, Garlic, and Spikerocks show damage.
    • Most zombies show damage with their forms of defense being damaged and then destroyed, and then their arms falling off. The Zombonis will also show damage. More and more dents will also show up on Dr. Zomboss' Zombot as you whittle its health down.
  • The Siege: The zombies siege your home.
  • Smash Mook: The Gargantuar plays this straight and also subverts it. Played straight by the fact that it usually does nothing other than 1) advance forward 2) smash ANY of your plants flat with a sign, telephone pole, lamp-post, or another zombie. Subverted by the fact that it also has the ability to launch an Imp into your defenses once its health gets low.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: A few of the more potentially dangerous zombies give off a sound cue before they enter the screen, or when they are on the screen (Zombonis, Dolphin riders, Jack-in-the-box, Balloons, Diggers, Pogos).
  • Speaking Simlish: A variant; Crazy Dave is crazy enough that he's no longer actually speaking anything but gibberish, but you've known him long enough that you can translate. Also likely done deliberately to save on disk space; the whole game only takes up 25 MB.note  And ease up localization in other languages: the French version has every text dutifully translated, but the audio (mostly "Braaaains") and the final song stay in English.
  • Spikes of Doom: Spikeweeds/Spikerocks. On top of causing Damage Over Time against normal zombies, One-Hit Kill against vehicle enemies.
  • Splash Damage:
    • Melon-pult and Winter Melon.
    • Flaming peas too, but on a very short radius.
  • Spread Shot: Threepeaters and Starfruit are able to do this. It's also what makes a field full of Threepeaters and Starfruit particularly dangerous to zombies. Not to mention those two plants can easily screw up your zombies, especially Imps, in "I, Zombie".
  • Starting Units: Your very first plant is a Peashooter. Every level you'll be given a new plant to use.
  • Stealth Pun: The Lily Pad is a plant that basically acts as a water platform for plants that can't live in water. It's a support class.
  • The Stoic:
    • Lily Pad is described as this.
    • The Tall-nut is also this. Wall-nut starts out smiling, but it turns into a pained-looking frown as its "skull" is slowly chewed away. But the Tall-nut's stoic glower is marred, no matter the damage taken, by no more than a single tear.
  • Stone Wall:
    • The Wall-nut and Tall-nut serve no purpose other than defending your easily-killed attackers by taking damage for them. And they sure can take LOTS of it.
    • Pumpkins turn any plant into these. Including the Nuts.
    • While not a defensive plant per se, Spikerock deserves a mention as being the only plant that Zombonis and Gargantuars can't one-shot.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: Once you defeat Dr Zomboss, you get one final letter that says the zombies give up and just want to make a music video with you.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Cute little plants who happily defend your home and fight zombies, most of them eventually doomed to be munched on.
  • Summon Backup Dancers: The Dancing Zombie's power.
  • Super-Deformed: On the mobile and DS versions of the game, the zombies have bigger heads and smaller bodies, creating this look.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The Balloon Zombie, if it appears over the pool and there's a Cactus or Cattail nearby.
  • Super Spit: A large number of plants attack by spitting projectiles at the zombies.
  • Super-Strength: The Gargantuar uses telephone poles, animal crossing signs and other zombies to smash your plants with. Plus, he wields them with only one hand. When you fail to find any brains during a "Brain Ball" challenge, the newspaper clearly shows a Gargantuar holding a house up.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Dr. Zomboss would be invincible if he didn't lower his robot's head. There's a glitch that may occur in the minigame where he in fact doesn't.
  • Tagline: "Get ready to soil your plants!"
  • Temporary Online Content:
    • If you update the game regularly, this happened to the Dancing Zombie's old Michael Jackson look some time in late 2009. Understandably, some fans of both MJ and PvZ refuse to update their copy for this exact reason after learning that PopCap refused to cave in to the demand of MJ's estate to give them a cut of the game's profits and changed the Dancing Zombie's appearance to the current Disco Dan one.
    • Plants vs. Zombies Adventures on Facebook was closed down for good on October 12, 2014 due to not being very popular. This meant all your hard-earned stuff on that game was gone.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After a while, just about any lawn can turn into this.
  • This Banana is Armed: The game is based on the premise that you defend your home during a Zombie Apocalypse with assorted vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and other plants that can do massive damage to endless hordes of invading zombies.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The zombies do almost nothing that significantly aids in their quest for brains and a lot of the time, their ideas are downright stupid. Plus, they have horrible handwriting and grammar.
    • The final boss, Dr. Zomboss subverts this big time. Not only does he have perfect handwriting and grammar, he's also smart enough to build an extremely resilient Humongous Mecha for your fight with him. Also according to his Almanac entry, he earned his Doctorate in Thanatology in only two years.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted in the first game, as the Imitater can be eaten by zombies during its transformation sequence, making it often impractical to use to copy a one-hit-kill plant. In the second game, this is not such a problem.
  • Translated Cover Version: Laura Shigihara has written the original English theme tune and a Japanese version (with her father taking over as the zombie voices). There is also a Spanish version.
  • Turns Red: Destroying the Newspaper Zombie's, well, newspaper causes him to run and hit as fast as Football Zombies! Thankfully, he doesn't get as tough too.
  • Twitchy Eye:
    • Jack-in-the-box Zombie has quite a strong one and has the chills from his insanity.
    • Wall-Nut gets one when he's taken enough damage, poor guy. Even more notable in the sequel.
    • Crazy Dave, too.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: The franchise consists of edible plant projectiles being used to defeat zombies. Examples include Peashooters (shooting peas), Cob Cannon (launches explosive corn), Kernel-Pult (they lob kernel but sometimes lob butter that stuns their target), and Cherry Bomb (blows up an area of your choosing).
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: In the Nintendo DS version of the game, an exclusive minigame (and the final minigame overall in that version) involves guiding a Gatling Pea in a flying Flower Pot with your stylus for one last battle against Dr. Zomboss in the sky.
  • Unsound Effect:
    • When the Cherry Bomb explodes: POWIE!!
    • When a zombie meets a Potato Mine: SPUDOW!!
    • When the Doom-shroom explodes: DOOM!!
  • Updated Re-release: The 2010 "Game of the Year" edition to the original 2009 PC version, though for fans of Michael Jackson, it came with one problem...
  • Vague Hit Points: The series clearly uses hitpoints with plants dealing different amounts of damage to zombies of different health amounts. But besides visual wounds for Shows Damage, it is not clear how much health zombies have.
  • Variable Mix: During large waves, the music picks up more instruments. They go away once the wave dies down.
  • Versus Title: Plants Versus Zombies.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: The Bungee zombies.
  • War Has Never Been So Much Fun: Damn right!
  • Wham Line: Very late in the game, you get another note from the zombies. Except, unlike the previous notes which are crudely scrawled with poor grammar, this one is neatly written, with proper grammar and spelling, showing that the zombie sending it is much smarter than the rest.
    You have failed to submit to our rightful claim. Be advised that unless you comply, we will be forced to take extreme action. Please remit your home and brains to us forthwith.
    Sincerely, Dr. Edgar Zomboss
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Inverted in Crazy Dave's song "Wabby Wabbo", where... well, just watch.
  • World of Pun: As if the plant names weren't enough, Crazy Dave delivers plenty of cringe-inducing puns in the sequel.
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • The newer almanac entry on the Zomboni:
      Not to be mistaken for a Zamboni® brand ice resurfacing machine. Zamboni® and the image of the ice resurfacing machine are registerd trademarks of Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc., and "Zomboni" is used with permission. For all your non-zombie-related ice resurfacing needs, visit!
    • A more straight example: According to Word of God, the game was originally going to be called "Lawn of the Dead", but was deemed too close to the title it was parodying and nixed by the lawyers.invoked
  • You All Look Familiar: Pretty much all the zombies have similar face designs. However, realizing that this game only takes up 25 MB and was made to be available online, it's easier to take in than most examples.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Sun is the form of currency for your plants, dropped from the sky on day levels and produced by Sunflowers and Sun-shrooms. In Survival Endless, upgradable plants keep costing more and more Sun as you plant them. This makes those Game-Breaker plants prohibitively expensive. For whatever reason, Zombies in "I, Zombie" require sun to launch.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: Attempting to enter some of the secret codes from the Tree of Wisdom before it's tall enough to tell them to you produces the popup message "you don't have a tall enough Tree of Wisdom for that!". The other codes work fine before it tells you, though.
  • Zerg Rush: The main tactic of the zombies; especially true in Survival Mode.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Now in Jock, Salaryman, and Dolphin flavors!
  • Zombie Gait: Most of the zombies are slow, quite thankfully, or else you'd have no chance to build a proper defense. There are, however several notable exceptions, especially the Football Zombies (which are full-on Lightning Bruisers), the Pole Vaulter zombies and Dolphin Riders (before jumping), the Newspaper Zombies (after the newspaper is destroyed), the Imps and those goddamned Pogo Zombies.

The tropes ate your brains!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Plants Versus Zombies


There's a zombie on your lawn

PopCap presents: a music video starring some plants and some zombies

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / DancingMookCredits

Media sources: