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Video Game / Serious Sam

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"Turok? Duke? Freeman? Quakeguy? All amateurs. I'm the only serious action hero around here!"

Serious Sam is a series of video games (mostly first person shooters but later branching onto other video game genres) originally developed by Croteam.

The main game series was praised for being a well-made throwback to old-school shooters where the emphasis is on massacring enemy hordes instead of dueling small, smart squads. And when we say hordes, we mean hordes, especially in those nice open expanses where you truly get to appreciate how much opposition Sam's up against - and, consequently, how much of a Badass he is.

See also The Talos Principle, a game unrelated to the Serious Sam games beyond a similar premise of visiting ancient civilizations (albeit via simulations rather than Time Travel with alien technology) and, with the release of the "Serious" DLC, the ability to play as Sam.


Main games


  • Serious Sam: Next Encounter (2004, PS2/GC, developed by Climax Solent)
  • Serious Sam Advance (2004, GBA, developed by Climax London)
  • Serious Sam Double D (2011, PC/X360, developed by Mommy's Best Games), which reimagines Serious Sam as an Abuse-like 2D side-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up. Released to promote BFE.
    • Serious Sam Double D XXL (2013, X360/XBLA, developed by Mommy's Best Games). An Updated Re-release of the above.
  • Serious Sam Kamikaze Attack! (2011, PC/iOS/Android, developed by Be-Rad Entertainment), a Perspective Flip where you control a Headless Kamikaze trying to kill Sam. Released to promote BFE.
  • Serious Sam: The Random Encounter (2011, PC, developed by Vlambeer), which reimagines Serious Sam as a Role-Playing Game. Released to promote BFE.
  • Serious Sam: The Greek Encounter (2012, developed by Eric Ruth Games), which reimagines Serious Sam as a top-down Shoot 'Em Up.
  • Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope (2017, PC), a VR first-person wave shooter.
  • Serious Sam's Bogus Detour (2017, developed by CrackShell), another top-down shooter.
  • I Hate Running Backwards (2018, PC/Switch/Xbox One/PS4, developed by Binx Interactive)
  • Serious Sam: Tormental (2022, developed by Gungrounds), a Roguelike top-down shooter.

See also

Tropes found across the entire series include:

  • Adjustable Censorship: The different games have options to change enemy carnage from bloody red chunks of meat to floral blood with mushroom giblets. The HD remakes also allows for enemies to erupt giant pieces of candy whilst bleeding glitter.
  • Affectionate Parody: Mainly of Duke Nukem and other macho first-person shooters from the 90's such as Doom.
  • Alien Blood: Depending on the game, monsters can bleed green, purple, yellow, or even "hippie" (enemies bleed fruit and flowers) or "kids" (enemies bleed candy canes and lollipops) in the settings menu. Green blood turns everything's blood bright green, even creatures that don't bleed red blood, and doesn't feature the same level of gib detail as Red.
  • Alien Invasion: Relegated until BFE and 4 (which put Sam right in the middle of it) to the backstory, where Sam is traveling more than three thousand years in the past trying to stop the invasion from ever happening.
  • Alliterative Name: About all the player characters available to choose for cooperative or competitive multiplayer modes.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: The games do this for some weapons, too: text on the laser gun, for example, reads "XL-2" on the left side and "S-˩X" on the right.
  • Anachronism Stew: In all the games, Sam's arsenal gets a heavy dose of this. On one hand, he has laser cannons and super-accurate miniguns, but on the other, in the first game he still totes around a Tommy Gun rechambered in 5.56mm, a pair of Smith & Wesson revolvers from 1875, and a giant technomagical cannon that looks straight out of the Age of Sail and fires huge explosive depleted uranium cannonballs at speeds defined by how long the fire button is held.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Sirians. Most evident in BFE, where you find their hidden facilities beneath ancient landmarks, like the Great Pyramid and the ruined cities of Karnak and Luxor. The way their stuff looks would seem to imply that the Egyptians adopted their aesthetic.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: All over the place. It's made clear in the intro videos alone that Earth is only holding out against Mental thanks to caches of Sirian technology scattered across the world. No fewer than four ancient cultures (Pre-Helenistic Egypt, proto-Babylon, pre-Columbian Aztec, and (oddly) Harold of Saxony-era England) had access to working Sirian ships, teleporters, and radios, though only the Egyptians and English managed to maintain them. The Egyptians even had a working time machine, which still functioned in the year 2260. Sirian tech wound up being the only way the UN could successfully send explorer ships out amongst other star systems, too, though that may have been what attracted Mental's attention in the first place.
  • Arm Cannon: The Biomechanoids come in two varieties: blue ones with laser cannons in place of their hands, and bigger ones in red, carrying rocket launchers.
  • Art Evolution: Goes from looking like a Duke Nukem clone to a cartoony buff dude. In III, he retakes the realistic path, though still significantly distanced from Duke.
  • Artistic License Engineering: Flavor text from NETRICSA says that the Laser Gun is made of titanium so as to not overheat. Titanium actually has very low thermal conductivity - a titanium laser gun would in fact overheat faster than one made of, say, steel or aluminium alloy. Not that it matters for a game firmly on the "Classic" end of the Fackler Scale of FPS Realism, mind you.
  • A Wizard Did It: Some of the more ridiculous weapons in Sam's arsenal, like the infinite ammo handguns and the SBC cannon are casually handwaved with "techno-magic".
  • Bag of Spilling: Sam loses all his items save for the basic pistol every time he finishes an episode.
  • Battle Theme Music: The games have several different songs for every area, from a calm variant (no enemies) to tense battle themes which Fade In and out depending on whether there are enemies nearby.
  • BFG: Really, almost all of Sam's guns besides the pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles / submachine guns count. Most of them would be more likely to be carried by an IFV than a man.
    • The XPML21 rocket launcher is automatic, never needs to be reloaded, and fires 150mm HEAT rockets at 85 missiles per minute. For some real-world context, the Javelin fires a single 123mm missile and is considered a very heavy armament that needs a team to operate (the M72 LAW, operated by a single man, fires a single 66mm rocket instead). A competent pair of operators could maybe manage two Javelin missiles a minute.
    • The minigun, of course; 1,200 rounds per minute from a 500 round belt. Especially BFE's version, which unlike the previous versions (that shared 5.56x45mm ammo with the machine gun) fires .50 BMG rounds according to the text on the ammo pick-up.
    • The semi-automatic sniper rifle fires 16mm rounds.
    • The XL2 lasergun rivals the minigun in size, and has four barrels.
    • The grenade launcher fires 40mm HEDP grenades at a sustained 120 rounds per minute, basically making it at a man-portable Mark 19; the classic version never needs to be reloaded, while BFE's (called the Devastator) uses a twenty round drum magazine.
    • The Cannon. Not a Hand Cannon, a "technomagical" Cannon Cannon, that fires uranium-filled cannonballs well over a meter in diameter.
  • Black Blood:
    • The games allow you to change the blood from red to either green or "hippie", which replaces blood smears with images of flowers and the gibs with watermelons and other fruits. You can also disable the blood (and/or gibs) entirely.
    • The "kids" option in the HD makeovers has the blood replaced with sparkley stars, and gibs are now candy.
  • Blackout Basement: The games use this for some challenges, such as you fighting waves of monsters while a wall of darkness sweeps up and down the hall, a path of light to walk along across an otherwise dark room (straying off the path results in vicious attack by monsters waiting in the shadow), and the room going dark, needing to be lit by shooting a button.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Where does all the ammo and weaponry come from? After all, the games do take place in ancient Egypt, ancient Mesoamerica, and alien planets, so finding things like Tommy Guns and boxes of rockets on pedestals is a wee bit nonsensical. A brief note suggests that they are transported in by the same time travel that Sam used. Despite the name, Serious Sam is really not meant to be taken that seriously. Rather obvious since you're running around ancient Egypt shooting headless aliens with giant uranium filled cannonballs.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Starting from the HD remakes of both TFE and TSE, the series has a lot more hemoglobin to spare thanks to the newer engines. Parodied in one the trailers for BFE showing off one of the alternate blood types, put to "Sunshine and Lollipops".
  • Booby Trap: Many items spawn enemies. Most notably, optional pills and small armor shards. Of all the secret areas in the games, at least a third of them are traps which spawn hordes of nasties right next to you.
  • Bonsai Forest: Trees had a poor tree growth. Serious Sam II somewhat improves it (Magnor doesn't count since it's a Macro Zone).
  • Bottomless Magazines: Many of Sam's weapons never require reloading; despite some of them having actual reload animations, these weapons have limitless reserve ammo. There's even a server setting for co-op that removes reloading from the weapons that require it. NETRICSA's descriptions for enemies that attack with non-magical projectiles usually give an explanation for why they can launch them forever - such as Rocketeers' weapons having the same techno-magical ammunition replenishers the player's pistols do, and Bombers having "a large supply of inflatable bombs in [their] pockets".
  • Bowdlerization: Parodied, and intentionally invokable; while you can use the standard types of blood and gore, most games in the franchise allow the ability to turn the gore into candy or vegetables.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: So far three games fell to this: TFE and TSE got HDnote , VR and Fusionnote  versions, while BFE got VR and Fusion versions.
  • Cartoon Bomb: The Serious Bomb.
  • Chainsaw Good: Many games give Sam either the real thing as a pickup, or a gauntlet-like version as a starter melee weapon. Some of Sam's enemies such as Cucurbito the Pumpkin also carry one.
  • Charged Attack: The Grenade Launcher, SBC Cannon, and II's Zap Gun.
  • Compilation Rerelease:
    • Serious Sam Classics: Revolution (2017), which combines the Classic versions of First and Second Encounter into one game (along with a third campaign called Bright Island), developed by an indie team of Serious Sam fans with help from Croteam.
    • Serious Sam Fusion 2017, which combines the HD versions of First and Second Encounter, their VR versions, and BFE, including the ability for the VR and "flat" versions of any one game to be able to play together.
    • Serious Sam HD Gold Collection, a Steam pack that includes the HD versions of TFE and TSE (including the Legend of the Beast and Serious 8 Downloadable Content for the latter) and Revolution.
    • Serious Sam Complete Collection, a Steam pack comprising the content of HD Gold plus Serious Sam 2, BFE (with the Jewel of the Nile and a behind-the-scenes DLC), Serious Sam Double D XXL, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Serious Sam Tormental and Serious Sam 4.
  • Destructible Projectiles: Missiles both from Sam and from monsters can be shot down in all games. Homing attacks can be destroyed for the most part, but non-guided ones tend to be immune to counter-fire.
  • Disco Dan: Dancing Denzell and Groovy Gregory, both multiplayer characters.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Sam's sister Sammy in the multiplayer mode.
  • Dual Wielding: In general, after finding another pistol, Sam can dual wield them as an option. Other games have another weapon which is dual-wielded such as II's Uzi guns or everything in the VR games.
  • Easier Than Easy: Tourist difficulty. It even comes with a graphic of Sam in a pink baby-bonnet and sucking on a pacifier when selecting it.
  • Emergency Weapon: The games always make sure that Sam starts with one melee weapon and one ranged weapon. Later games add extra melee weapons for his arsenal.
  • Empty Room Until the Trap: All over the damn place.
  • Excuse Plot: Can be read here. Tries to justify the action going on. BFE involved more story and retconned some of this, moving Sam to somewhere in the near(?) future and being a Special Forces soldier trying to stem the tide of angry monsters.
  • Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: One of the series that established the Classic type. BFE has shades of Semi-Classic in the first few levels, but discards most of it in favor of Classic gameplay as the game goes on.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The First Encounter and The Second Encounter have a floating-point imprecision issue that causes several weapons to become 50% slower for no apparent reason during approximately the second hour and hours 18-36 of a given save file, and utterly wrecks the gameplay at about 300 hours in.note  While almost nobody is actually going to reach that third time range by accident, the first is very common and the second is just close enough that a first-time campaign playthrough might hit it. The Revolutions remake fixes this issue.
  • Gatling Good: The Minigun and the Laser Gun. Some games also introduce minigun-wielding enemies and turrets as well.
  • Genre Throwback: To the old-school first-person shooters.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • Almost all of Sam's various handguns can be used two at a time. Some of his other weapons are always used two at the same time.
    • The VR games up the ante by letting the player dual-wield any gun - yes, including the Miniguns and Rocket Launchers! If that wasn't enough, every VR game also lets you dual-wield different guns in each hand, so you could hold a minigun and a rocket launcher at the same time.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Hordes of enemies (especially Kleers) will mess you up, but the bosses are often easier due to the fact they are big, easy to hit, and have slow, easy to dodge attacks.
  • Harder Than Hard: Serious difficulty gives more enemies than hard. Mental difficulty is identical to hard except that enemies become invisible. Revolutions introduces I Am Ugh-Zan, which uses Serious difficulty's enemy placement, boosts their combat stats, and randomly gives enemies a special modifier.
  • Healing Factor: Sam on Tourist mode, albeit slowly. Some bosses also feature it, and they're frequently a Puzzle Boss, so another mechanism is used to deal lethal damage to them.
  • Hearts Are Health: The ♥ symbol is used for Sam's health bar, as well as the symbol used for Ultra Health pickup.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Playing in third-person mode in some of the games show Sam pulling all his weapons out of his back pocket. Including the "longer than Sam is tall" Serious Minigun. The official explanation for how Sam is able to carry around 30 five-foot cannonballs on his person is "his pockets".
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In the earlier games, every weapon (except the shotguns) is 100% pixel perfect accurate. Even the Schofield revolvers and the Thompson. Sam can easily nail anything he can see from any distance, never even suffering from recoil or needing to look down the sights. In BFE, he does need to look down the sights for the pistol and assault rifle, which slows down his movement, but while doing so his accuracy is again 100% perfect, and the same applies for weapons (Devastator, Rocket Launcher, etc.) without sights, even with the addition of a scope to the former with the Deluxe edition of the game. It's possible to pull off really ridiculous feats of accuracy this way.
  • Inescapable Ambush: Arena-type fights.
  • Invisible Monsters: Mental difficulty makes every monster constantly flash between invisible and visible.
  • Kill Enemies to Open: Many areas close behind Sam when he enters and only open the doors once the enemies are killed. In the First and the Second Encounter, NETRICSA sometimes tells Sam to kill enemies after analyzing the shut door during combat.
  • Last Lousy Point: Among other things, the game tracks and tells you your body count compared to the total of each level. Each level can easily have several hundred of them. Go nuts.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: While the entire series, ever since the earliest installments, have plenty of red goo and bodily carnage to go around, starting from the HD versions, Sam's playing with the bodies of his fallen enemies took this to ridiculous heights. You can carve up bodies with your Knife if you want and, in BFE, you can split Werebulls in half with the cannon and blow Scrapjacks apart with a well-placed hunk of C4. Not to mention all the nasty bits the Sirian Mutilator leaves behind...
  • Midair Bobbing: Items in Serious Sam 1 and 2 float while moving up and down.
  • Missing Secret: In some of the games, due to bad counting, it's impossible to get all of the kills and/or secrets in a level. Basically, when the game calculates how many enemies are in a level, it counts all of the pre-placed enemies and all of the spawners. The problem here is that some spawners only spawn their enemies on certain difficulties, meaning that the game counts enemies that you can't kill due to playing on a difficulty where they never appear. In addition, some spawners aren't even connected to anything that activates them, but these spawners are also counted.
  • More Dakka:
    • Thompson/Uzis, Laser Gun, and the Minigun.
    • The VR games take this up to potentially game-breaking levels by letting you go Guns Akimbo with any pair of weapons, automatically getting two of each weapon, and the reload animations are completely removed, raising the fire rate considerably for your starting Revolvers and Shotguns.
  • Mythology Gag: In the first level of every main Serious Sam game, there is a secret Rocket Launcher hidden somewhere in the stage, with the exception of the original release of BFE. A secret Rocket Launcher was restored for the first level of BFE in the Serious Sam Fusion remake.
  • New Weapon Target Range: When Sam obtains a new weapon, he's usually located in an area with enemies the weapon is useful against. For an example, kleer skeletons usually spawn when picking up a double shotgun or far-away enemies appear when sniper rifle is picked up.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Any of the games.
  • One-Hit Polykill: A properly-aimed cannonball against weaker enemies can murder them with contemptuous ease. Some other weapons also have crowd-control properties as well.
  • Oxygen Meter: Appears when starting to run out of air. Unlike other FPS, Sam starts losing health once this bar is emptied, not before.
  • Pinball Projectile: The ammo from the cannon and grenade launcher qualify for this.
  • Pinball Scoring: Most of the games in the series have the potential for scoring in the millions.
  • The Power of Rock: Quite a good part of the game's soundtracks.
  • Point of No Return: Aside from level transitions, some parts of a given level will close the door behind the player, and don't give a return option. These are usually arena sections. In co-operative play, a teleporter is provided to allow slower players to enter the arena without opening the route back.
  • Puzzle Boss: A lot of bosses could technically be chip damaged to death with normal weapons, but typically require some kind of trick to deal any significant damage. Other bosses can heal themselves, thus requiring a way to circumvent that.
  • Red Shirt: Some of the headless gunmen wear shirts in a variety of colors, with one class of them wearing red.
  • Regenerating Health: A feature of the games' Tourist difficulty. Inverted in some games where Sam's health and/or armor would drop if it exceed 100.
  • Retro Upgrade: The Cannon in all games are actual cannons... that fire cannonballs filled with depleted uranium that explode after a set amount of time.
  • Rocket Jump: Though it never worked in the original games, it can result in excessive Sequence Breaking.
  • Save Scumming: In the Hard, Serious, and Mental difficulties, be prepared to use quicksave and quickload VERY frequently.
  • Scoring Points: Uncommon for an FPS post-2000.
  • Serial Escalation: This is done with the amount of bad guys onscreen at once. Each game gets more ridiculous, the developers stated in trailers for 4 that they aim at surpassing the 10.000 shown monsters at the same time, all the way onto the millions with even dedicated levels for that.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: With the sole exception of II and its friendly NPCs and manageable turrets and vehicles, how else are you expected to save the universe?
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Double Shotgun, which is basically a melee weapon.
  • Silliness Switch
  • Slow Laser: Laserguns across the entire series fire laser beams that are not much faster than a car.
  • Spikes of Doom: There are spikes everywhere across the series scattered around the game.
    Sam: Spikes? I hate spikes!
  • Splash Damage: Comes from explosive weapons, as well as from the Kamikazes. Notably, playing below Normal difficulty makes the player immune to their own splash damage.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Parodied. A common ocurrence in the games is spawning enemies from just collecting a +1HP pill.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Picking up key items tends to spawn new enemies.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: To be expected in an Affectionate Parody of Duke Nukem, Doom and other macho first-person shooters.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Late game guns found through a secret. Especially the Cannon, as its weapon pickup only gives Sam a single cannonball.
    • The Serious Bombs, which clear the entire screen of enemies (albeit, within a limited radius, as NETRICSA's description implies).
  • Variable Mix:
    • Generally, music becomes more intense when there are many enemies nearby.
    • For the final level of all games, the music starts getting more fast-paced with more instruments the further you proceed against Mental's massive hordes.
  • The War Sequence: Many, many examples. Hell, you might as well rename the series "The War Sequence: First-Person Shooter edition". Major battles are often punctuated with a voice aptly screaming "WAAAAAAAAR!!!" right before the heavy metal music starts.
  • Your Size May Vary: The SBC Cannon's cannonballs. On the ammo pickup they're about the size of a basketball, when fired they're big enough for Sam to fit inside one while standing, and Word of God says Sam keeps them in his pocket. Then again, it's all technomagical.
  • Zerg Rush: One of the most iconic elements of the game is the huge hordes of enemies the game can throw out at once.

Tropes from other games of the series include:

  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Double D has you escape a pit this way, throwing wave after wave of Gnaars at you until you can build a mountain of corpses tall enough to climb out.
  • Blatant Item Placement: In Advance, this is used in one of your weapons where, when you press a trigger, a safe, bathtub or piano will be dropped on an enemy.
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • They count as guns in Double D, meaning there's nothing stopping you from making a stack of 6 chainsaws and running headlong into the enemy, common sense be damned.
    • Also available as the only strictly-melee weapon for purchase in VR: The Last Hope. However, unlike the chainsaws of the previous titles, this chainsaw requires fuel for continuous use.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • The Gun Stacker Connectors in Double D take this to ridiculous levels, allowing you to simultaneously wield more guns than you have arms if you get enough of them.
    • Any and all weapons in The Last Hope. Yes, this includes the Chainsaw, Shotgun, Minigun, Rocket Launcher, and any other weapon you can think of. The cherry on top of all that? You can mix and match in every VR title, too!
  • Gangsta Style: Nothing's stopping you from doing this in the VR games if you feel like it.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Bogus Detour, feature them, the explanation being they're mutated Zorg, having taken on orc-like features as a side effect of a substance they created to regrow their skin.


Video Example(s):


Headless Kamikazes

They explode, they swarm you in large groups, and they never stop screaming. Truly a bad combination

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActionBomb

Media sources: