Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Saints Row IV

Go To

All spoilers from Saints Row to Saints Row: The Third will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
It's the American Dream, baby.
"Zinyak fucked with Biz Markie!"
The Boss (male voice 1)

Saints Row IV is a Wide-Open Sandbox game developed by Volition, first released on August 2013. Due to THQ's bankruptcy, Deep Silver took up publishing duties for the game.

Five years after Saints Row: The Third, the Boss has been elected leader of the number one gang in the world: the United States of America. Unfortunately, this is followed by an Alien Invasion. Captured and trapped in a bizarre Lotus-Eater Machine world, the Saints must escape their virtual prison and save the human race, in the most insane ways possible.

The game's first trailer can be seen here. The second one here. The third one is here. The fourth one here. A demo was released in August 2013 in the form of The Inauguration Station, which is the character creation function for the game. Players may design their Boss and import their Saints Row: The Third characters via it, or just upload characters for when the full game came out.

Also, due to the vast amount of references from the trailers and character-builder demo alone, please find the Shout Out examples on the respective subpage.

The game has two announced pieces of story DLC, the first, "Enter the Dominatrix", was released on Oct 24th, 2013 and entails the Saints retelling the story of the failed DLC for the third game that would later be expanded upon to become IV. The second DLC is "How the Saints Saved Christmas", a Christmas Episode where the President must save Santa Claus from his evil half, Santa Clawz. It was released on December 10th, 2013.

Has a stand-alone Expansion Pack with Johnny and Kinzie fighting The Legions of Hell, titled Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell. The game was remastered for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch and is bundled with Gat Out of Hell in the form of Saints Row 4: Re-Elected. Said remaster was released on December 8, 2022 on PC via Steam, GOG and Epic Games Store with cross-play support. Those who own the original game on Steam and GOG will get the remaster as a free update.

Saints Row IV provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • 0% Approval Rating: While his/her approval ratings aren't quite that low, the President's ratings are getting there...
    Pierce: Here's the latest approval poll.
    The President: We lost twenty points, we can get 'em back.
    Pierce: They're at twenty points.
  • 100% Completion: Made much more enjoyable than normal, because your homies give you specific tasks to complete in the game world, and doing groups of them give you new weapons or superpowers. And after clearing Matt's second sidequest, you get a collectable tracker that makes true 100% more of a go to point A and B than flailing around looking for that Last Lousy Point.
  • Achievement Mockery: There's a scene where Zinyak asks you to surrender and be executed, and promises if you do so he'll restore the Earth. Doing so will get you a Non Standard Game Over and the "You Chose... Poorly" achievement.
  • Action Bomb: During the last fight against Zinyak he'll summon exploding C.I.D.s to swarm you once he's at half health. You have to grab them with Telekinesis and throw them back at him to damage him through his force field until they stop spawning.
  • Action Girl: The female versions of the Boss, Asha, Shaundi (plus Fun Shaundi) and Kinzie. If they are female and have a name, it's likely they are one in this game. The female gang members in the simulation might count as well.
    • After certain missions are completed, the girls start to look the part as well, adopting superhero costumes and personas in certain circumstances.
    • Future Shaundi in the How the Saints Save Christmas DLC.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In the "Gat Is Back" Trailer, Gat says "You thinking I wanted to go to Hawaii or something?", a reference to Daniel Dae Kim's role in Hawaii Five-0, Lost, his current residence, and to the rumor that Gat "died" in the previous game because Kim was too occupied with Hawaii Five 0 to provide more lines, which he later commented as wrong.
    • The line Female Voice 1 says while doing the "Quarter Circle Forward + A" taunt is "Spinning Bird Punch!". Laura Bailey also voices Street Fighter's Chun-Li, who possesses a Spinning Bird attack—albeit, one that's a kick.
    • If you pick the Nolan North voice, then you'll get plenty of these, since Nolan North is apparently playing himself.
    • Keith David has a few of these.
      • During one of the cutscenes, Kinzie talks with him about how he looks and sounds a lot like Julius Little, the original leader of the Saints. Keith quickly denies this. This becomes a Running Gag throughout the game.
      • His loyalty mission involves him fighting Rowdy Roddy Piper.
      • Immediately prior to said mission, there's another one where supporters of Keith David show up to a rally with "I <3 Goliath" signs.
    • In the previous game, it was stated that Michael Clarke Duncan (who originally voiced Benjamin King) would play the lead role in the movie based on King's autobiography. In this game, Roddy Piper tells King (now voiced by Terry Crews after Duncan's death) that he liked the movie, but "the guy who played you sounds nothing like you."
  • Adam Westing:
    • Keith David plays himself, who in this world is the Vice President Keith David. He also played Julius, bringing Boss being his underling, Boss getting revenge when he tried to kill her/him for being too dangerous and Boss taking over the Saints and then being President full circle. This is lampshaded by Kinzie, who notes that it's really weird for the Boss to choose someone who sounds exactly like Julius as his second-in-command.
    • The new gimmick voice for the Boss is Nolan North as Nolan North.
    • Later on in the game, Roddy Piper appears as himself, fighting Keith David.
  • Acrofatic: The Boss, if you're so inclined to make them overweight, stays no slower than they were before. It comes to a head in Ben King's loyalty mission when the boss has to dress up in a tacky costume and dance on a stripper-pole to Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible", much to Matt's dismay.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Somehow, Earth art and literature became regarded by many alien species all over the universe as some of the greatest to ever be created, despite Earth totally lacking in intergalactic travel as well as not even being aware of alien life in the first place.
  • Alien Invasion: The plot of IV involves aliens with a leader named Zinyak conquering Earth. The motherfucker has to learn the hard way who he's dealing with...
  • Alternate Continuity: Enter the Dominatrix is a fourth wall breaking example. Even the Saints seemed shocked by how crazy the plot is.
  • Always Night: The simulation is perpetually locked at moonrise until the very late game.
  • Anachronic Order: How the Saints Save Christmas is set after the events of the game, since its cutscenes involve all the rescuable homies inside the ship, while the whole thing is narrated by a Jane Austen who appears to be free. In game, the mission pack becomes playable immediately after completing the mission in which you hire CID (at which point, half of the team is still held prisoner by Zinyak).
  • Anal Probing: The game features an alien anal probe as a weapon to be wielded by the player. The player can approach a target from behind and thrust the weapon between the victim's legs, before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending credits feature drawings of the Saints engaging in shenanigans throughout human history.
  • And This Is for...: The President goes through a list of grievances against the aliens while blowing their ships out of the sky:
    The President: This is for Lady Liberty! This one's for Uncle Sam! And this one's... just because I want to!!
    • Which becomes especially hilarious if using the Nolan North voice as he has a similar rant in the Deadpool game while slapping Wolverine.
  • Animated Actors: The main conceit of Enter the Dominatrix - the Saints provide commentary on various scenes from the original "script."
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When in the vicinity of a Golden CID (a sort of fast-moving notoriety off-switch), sprinting will not use any stamina.
    • Towers have warp points, so you don't have to climb all the way back up every time you fall off.
    • Some energy-based weapons, such as the Dubstep Gun and Disintegrator (both easy to obtain early in the game), don't use ammo and instead have recharging energy, which is important when they act as required weapons in certain missions.
    • Grabbing a cluster that requires using one of your superpowers will instantly recharge your superpowers, which makes grabbing groups of these clusters less tedious.
    • Assassination and Vehicle Theft missions are now activities that contribute to map control and revenue. The former no longer requires specific requisites to bring out the target, and the latter always spawns the target car to bring back (and in some cases, is a static target that is never used by NPCs on the road) and its payout is never hampered by vehicle damage.
    • Achieving a gold score on a mission ends it immediately, negating the need to wait for the timer to end before then.
    • There are co-op activities, but these aren't necessary to control the map.
    • The phone clearly shows which Homies are available to help you out, and which ones aren't, which is always determined by what role they play in an active mission. Cooldowns are now instantaneous as well, which means one can dismiss a Homie and get them back as soon as they drop out of the map.
    • Homies will also teleport to your location if you run far enough away, rather than abandoning you.
  • Arbitrary Mission Restriction: In Mayhem missions, the player must inflict a certain amount of property destruction in dollars by using a specified weapon, superpower, or vehicle.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "The Zin Decree" as seen on the "The Zin" tab on this page:
      • Adhere to no one's law but Zinyak's.
      • Destroy anyone who dares stand in your way of complete and total domination.
      • Always take time to appreciate the finer things in life.
    • A commercial for the game features the following voiceover:
      "The alien invasion has taken our planet. They have taken our presidents. They have taken our clothes."
  • The Artifact: Has a lot of driveable vehicles, just like the last three games, as befitting a former GTA clone - but since you have Super-Speed and jumping, you'll probably only use them if the game forces you to or if you've had your powers taken away again. Hell, even a lot of missions that require you to take a vehicle and drive it somewhere can be beaten more quickly by picking up the vehicle and carrying it.
  • Artifact Title: Subverted; you get to revisit the Row and the Church where the Saints first started in Ben King's rescue mission.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: At the start of the second mission, the Boss feeds an apple to Angel De La Muerte's tiger, which they appear to have adopted as the White House's pet. Real tigers can't eat apples.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Nuclear missiles capable of reaching the US from the Middle East would have a flight time of about half an hour, rather than two minutes, and the warhead detaches from the rocket somewhere around the highest point in the trajectory, rather than continuously burning until impact. At the point the Boss sabotaged the missile in the beginning, it would have still been somewhere over Central Asia, not the White House. Justified by Rule of Cool.
  • Ascended Fanboy: After a particular loyalty mission The Boss uses their authority as the sole living world leader to grant Matt all official rights to the NyteBlayde property.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The second (and last) mission DLC for the game is "How The Saints Saved Christmas" and not only contains enough insanity to make most other examples of this trope look tame by comparison, it establishes Boss as a character (hero seems like too much of a stretch, despite how heartwarming s/he is here) the likes of which we may never see again.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership:
    • The Boss has been elected the President of the United States of America after saving the country from a missile attack by climbing the missile and ripping out wires along the way.
    • Zinyak became the ruler of the Zin Empire by conquering planets and offing his superiors.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Marauder enemy, a rolling ball that unfolds to form an explosive-shooting tripod robot that can only be damaged by shooting the back of its "head". It of course swivels to track your movement, and can swivel as fast as you can run around it without assistance.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Have fun fighting a giant demonic can of energy drink.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!:
    • Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" plays at the climax of the first mission, when the Boss saves America from a nuclear missile.
    • If flying a spaceship isn't cool enough for you, you get to do so while listening to "What is Love?" by Haddaway.
    • Speaking of Autobots, Stan Bush's "The Touch" is in the game, complete with an almost word for word quoting of a scene from the original The Transformers: The Movie.
    • You and Gat are running through Genkibowl, killing everything in sight to "The Boys are Back in Town".
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Sprint-Tornado power. While very fun to use, it is not very effective for combat or activities (except certain types of Mayhem). It also makes it very difficult to speed-jack vehicles, and tends to blow up cars and gas stations at the most inconvenient time (such as during Blazing). Most importantly, once you get this power, you cannot switch it off. There's one major exception where Sprint-Tornado is supremely useful. By constantly sprinting along sidewalks and wrecking everything you pass by, it becomes trivially easy to earn Gold medals during on-foot Mayhem assignments. You can completely ignore the weapon or power you're told to use to rack up points just by sprinting around.
    • An even more extreme example is the nuclear attack upgrade to Death From Above. While it can nuke an entire section of the city, you have to get so high up to use it that you rarely have an opportunity; and the few things worth using it on have shields that you have to use your other superpowers to get through anyway. Plus, by the time you can get it, you can easily purchase unlimited ammo upgrades for any of your other weapons, making them far more efficient at clearing areas.
    • In-game vehicles are an example of this, too. You can find a wide assortment of vehicles from blistering street bikes to sexy super cars, and they can be modified and tarted up in a variety of ways. Despite this, they'll never be nearly as convenient or practical as the Boss' super running speed, obstacle-destroying shockwave, and the ability to leap several blocks with each jump.
    • The Inflato Ray. While it's certainly fun to watch enemies heads grow to ridiculous sizes before popping, the fact is that you have to focus it on a single target for a couple of seconds to get a kill. Furthermore if you aim away for more than a second or two, their head will shrink back down to normal size. The final nail in the coffin is that you can only kill one enemy at a time with it.
    • The Tiny Pistol is a hitscan Hand Cannon that can found as soon as the player enters The Simulation in the secret room in Let's Pretend. What prevents the gun from becoming a Disc-One Nuke are massive knockback, low charge capacity (you can only get four shots off before the gun's charge is depleted), and an insanely long recharge time.
    • The 'Merica gun from the "Commander-in-Chief" DLC pack is More Dakka personified, but it eats rifle ammo for breakfast, produces copious muzzle flash that obscures your aim, and you have to combat constant muzzle climb due to its high rate of fire.
  • Back from the Dead:
  • Background Music Override:
    • Any background music playing is replaced with the Warden's theme whenever it comes into play. However, even the Warden's theme is forced to give way to the music fired from the Dubstep Gun.
    • The 'Merica weapon also replaces background music, this time with music that is considerably more patriotic.
    • Many missions disable the in-game radio so that they can play either appropriately atmospheric music or a specific song for the characters to listen to (and occasionally sing along with).
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Jane Valderama invokes this when she's brought in to help Zinyak read a selection from Romeo and Juliet on the classical station. She reads it no different than she reads grisly news reports.
  • Bad Santa: Clawz, the Big Bad of the How the Saints Saved Christmas DLC.
  • Badass Boast:
  • Bathos- The heart of the franchise, this outing especially. Heavy themes like defining morality in an Grey Versus Gray world, the struggle of staying true to yourself while striving to grow as a person, and the value of friendship and loyalty weighed against the needs of the many are stealthily interwoven with jumping ultracompact cars with nitros over small buildings while dressed as a panda and wielding a gun that shoots toilet plungers.
    • One scene in Johnny Gat's loyalty mission is a particularly strong example, as he and the boss have a heartfelt discussion on accepting change and finding happiness in the moment... while participating in a recreation of one Professor Genki's Super Ethical Challenges.
    Gat: (responding to the boss lampshading the absurdity) Hey, do ya' mind? I'm trying to have a moment here.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The simulations the Zin have put The Boss and their homies in revolve around their own personal fears and baggage, forcing you to rescue them from their own nightmares.
  • Beard of Evil: At one point, you face an evil version of the Boss, who has a goatee. Even if the Boss is female.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Upon discovering that the Zin have time travel, the Saints proceed to go on wacky misadventures throughout human history.
  • Berserk Button:
    • After you rescue Kinzie, she's in a bad mood and she wants to take it out on Cyrus Temple. Unfortunately, the protagonist makes it worse by commenting on her poodle skirt, causing Kinzie to sock him/her in the face. Oww.
    • It was bad enough when Zinyak blew up the Earth. But the Boss and Pierce REALLY lost their shit when Zinyak messed with Biz Markie.
    • Matt Miller is maybe a scrawny nerd and a total wimp, but screw with his Nyteblayde fanfiction or Nyteblayde in general and he'll go postal.
  • Beyond the Impossible / Recursive Reality: It's made pretty clear from the start that the computer virus-like Dominatrix in Enter the Dominatrix is a very powerful opponent within the simulation, but it doesn't become fully clear just how powerful until near the end of the DLC when she resets the DLC. Remember: the Framing Device for the DLC is that it's a flashback about the Dominatrix, part of which isn't even set in the simulation. Try not to think too hard about this one.
  • Big Bad: Zinyak. He's an alien. He's kidnapped the Saints and numerous other people and trapped them in a simulation. He's at least 10 feet tall. He sings opera. He's the main bad guy for the entire game.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Toward the end of the final boss fight, Zinyak has safely shielded himself behind an impenetrable forcefield. The forcefield generators are guarded by infinitely respawning Zin, which make disabling them quite difficult. After a while, the rest of the Saints burst into the throne room on hoverbikes, distracting the Zin and making finishing off the generators easier.
  • Big First Choice: Parodied. You're almost immediately thrust into the role of President and asked if you want to sign either a bill for curing cancer ("Fuck Cancer") or a bill for ending world hunger ("Let Them Eat Cake"). In a game that has absolutely nothing to do with either issue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the normal ending. The Earth has been destroyed, but the Saints are now in control of one of the most powerful races in the galaxy. The good ending, however, is a more straight up Happy Ending.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Early in the game, the Boss's approval ratings drop to 20 when they say that the text of the Pledge of Allegiance should be changed to "One nation, under me"context for non-US readers 
  • Blemished Beauty: It's possible to give the player character facial scars through Character Customization, potentially making them fall under this trope, depending on how the player decides to model them.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: In addition to the many new weapon "costumes" several different weapon textures have been added, many of which are simply a solid gold plating for the weapon in question.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Super Sprint and Super Speed powers are pretty mundane in comparison to the other powers you get, but they're immensely useful for getting around nonetheless. In fact, one of the first few things The Boss comments when he/she first gets them is "So you're saying we don't need cars anymore?" It becomes even more true when you unlock infinite sprint. You can travel faster than the fastest vehicle in the game by super sprint... really, who needs a car?
    • The armed helicopters, VTOLs and alien air vehicles remain useful throughout the game providing heavy weaponry when fighting larger alien mobs. Especially when they attack from multiple buildings. Being able to summon them in midair now, helps too.
      • VTOLs are also good for systematically combing areas for collectables. note 
    • The game throws a whole lot of cool and fun weapons at you, but if you're going to sink cache into upgrades, the basic weapons will be available the most often. When all your powers and weapons are taken away, these are the ones you're usually left with, and their upgrades will be applied to them even outside your own simulation.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Zin weapons work on the same principle as STAG weapons in the third game: They don't need to be reloaded, but they still have finite ammo and will overheat if you hold down the trigger too long.
  • Boxed Crook: The Zin Wardens were all prisoners guilty of crimes against the Zin Empire who were allowed into the simulation by Zinyak with one goal: break the Boss completely.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • During the assassination missions, you will be required to kill old default versions of the Player/Boss from the first two Saints Row games, and your player character will pretty much refer to them as that. There are even multiple defaults for all the different races that somehow all count as the Boss's past self. Furthermore, the wall is demolished when you have to fight two at once and Kinzie screams "It's the co-op player!"
    • Shortly afterwards in that same mission, the Boss insists on standing and fighting a Warden... because they still have an empty power slot in their menu which they need to fill up by absorbing it.
    • A quote from the Boss after completing one of the many missions: "Aww man, it's just like being in a video game! Wink!"
    • After the mission where Kinzie is captured by Zinyak, the very next mission has the description "We're stretching out gameplay."
    • During the mission where the President returns to the simulation of The '50s to rescue Kinzie, they can open the weapons menu to find nothing but the unarmed option due to the story. Male and Female Voice 1 remark "That's the saddest radial menu I've ever seen".
    • Some error messages on the debug screen shown when crashing Simulation 31 do this:
      ERROR: Load_Exe_SaintsRowIV
      ERROR: Load_CityMap_StilWater FILE NOT FOUND
      ERROR: DeadIsland_X_SaintsRow COMING 2015
      ERROR: PubFinder_TeeAichCue OUT OF MONEY
      Later: "release fs3" is answered with "NOT GOING TO HAPPEN"
    • The "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC throws out the fourth wall altogether and presents itself as a series of "deleted scenes," complete with confession-cam reminiscences and running commentary from the characters about "making" the missions.
    • The Boss will complain directly to the player if he/she is left standing in one place for too long.
    • When Boss enters King's Stillwater reproduction, Kinzie remarks she thought it would look worse. Boss replies the improvement is 'mostly graphical'.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the game, Kinzie asked the Boss to shoot her in the head if she ever wore an outfit like the one the Boss was forced to wear in their Ironic Hell. Guess what happens when Kinzie is captured and thrown into her own Ironic Hell!
    • The robot versus power armor argument lasts until the final mission.
    • A seeming throwaway joke about the Boss loving Jane Austen in Keith David's Presidential speech turns out to be relevant after the credits.
      • Which in turn is a brick joke to the previous game, where in the penultimate mission the Male Voice 1 reveals that he's read Jane Eyre 13 times.
    • During Pierce's loyalty mission brief, Fun Shaundi tries to butt in and give the brief herself. Pierce then says "Dammit girl! My mission, my briefing!" This is a callback to the second game, when all Shaundi would do was steal Pierce's ideas and take all the credit.
    • Here's one that doubles as a Call-Back to the third game. In the beginning of the game, when the Boss first makes it into the virtual Steelport, s/he tries to get Kinzie to sing "Opposites Attract" with him/her. She immediately declines. Later in the game, we get Pierce's loyalty mission. Guess which song they start singing together.
    • Whenever you have Johnny Gat in your crew, he may randomly comment about the Boss's hair; something that many characters (including Gat himself) had done in the second game in response to the player character being Suddenly Voiced (in addition to suddenly be able to play as a female character).
  • Broad Strokes: "King Me", Ben King's rescue mission, is supposed to a recreation of Saints Row's opening cutscene. However, the layout of Harrowgate is completely different, the roads are dirtier and have car wrecks strewn around, the storefronts are reused from Steelport instead of Stilwater, and none of the character models match the original (the prostitute is far fatter, the bootleg watch seller wears a different jacket, and the Vice Kings members look entirely different). In addition, the Vice Kings are shown driving Eiswolfs and Hammers, which weren't driven by them in the first game. Justified in that its a simulation created by Zinyak.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Almost every main story and loyalty mission strips the Boss of their super powers and removes access to the best alien weapons (basically, any device that qualifies for the Experimental Tech achievement). They still manage to be a One-Man Army.
  • Buffy Speak: When Kinzie is suddenly unable to give you advice on how to disable an alien vessel.
    Gat: Come on, let's just blow up the biggest shiningest thing on this ship.
    two minutes later
    >Objective: Find the biggest, shiningest thing.
  • Call-Back:
    • SR3 Shaundi, meet SR2 Shaundi.
      "This is getting weird."
      • Their loyalty mission has the pause screen music from Saints Row 2 playing throughout.
    • The tiger from the third game becomes a pet in the White House. When lamenting that being a gang leader was more fun Boss will say s/he wants a septic truck, referencing one of the diversions in the second game.
      • The White House is full of mementos of the Boss's past victories: Maero's minigun, Mr. Sunshine's voodoo doll, Killbane's mask, Jyunichi's swords, a scale model of the Daedalus, and the trophy for winning Genkibowl VII.
    • Ben King's rescue mission takes place in Stilwater, on the very same block where the first game began, complete with the man on his stoop selling counterfeit watches, the street walker propositioning you, and Vice Kings waiting to pounce the future Boss. The camera is even reoriented to match how it looked in the first game (looking from directly behind and above your character rather than Always Over the Shoulder).
      • The Boss also finds a bag of Freckle Bitch's food on Julius' desk while exploring the church, commenting that they're surprised one never opened in Steelport and blaming a Councilman Phillips for not having a sense of humor.
    • When the Boss and King are fighting Tanya Winters, the Boss warns King not to get splashed with Tanya's blood, because "she's got the hep!" In the first game, en route to confronting Tanya, Johnny declared that he was going to "skull-fuck" her, and the Boss (then the Playa) broke their silence to jibe "Hope you don't mind hepatitis."
    • In one of the missions, you go through all of Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax stages from SR3 in sequence. The best part? You've got Johnny Gat with you, having fun like old times.
      • Playing a Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax game with Gat doubles as a Call-Back to one of the SERC's animators' lines in SR3, who says that Gat would have been a very good candidate.
    • After crashing the simulation, you end up on the main menu of the first Saints Row.
    • Shaundi's loyalty mission has her and the Boss smoke a Fantastic Drug out of a broken light bulb, just like an early Sons of Samedi mission in the second game.
    • The simulation Pierce is trapped in resembles Steelport's skyline, starting in the Saints' old Penthouse.
    • Pierce's loyalty mission will once again have you and Pierce singing to a song. Basically "Opposites Attract" this time. But when you and Pierce try to sing "Just A Friend," OH SNAP, Zinyak had to go ruin it.
    • A homie conversation between Benjamin King and Johnny Gat references a cutscene from "Best Laid Plans", a mission from the first Saints Row game, in which Johnny gets shot in the leg by Tony.
      • Many homie conversations are full of this, especially after you unlock the old rival gang leaders as homies. They also provide plenty of background for the series as a whole.
    • After first being dumped into the Steelport simulation, the Boss asks Kinzie about whether the White House was destroyed, because if it was, they would build a newer, better one... replete with stripper poles. Which, as it turns out, had already been added to the White House.
    • The gateway in Loren Square is located exactly where the Boss and Shaundi land after escaping Loren's plane at the beginning of SR3.
    • The simulation of Steelport is one big callback for players of the third game as its layout is virtually identical, including the placement of most stores (looking for Leather & Lace, the fetish clothing shop? It's right where you left it, south of the airport). The only major thing that's different is that Arapice Island is no longer overrun with zombies.
    • The '50s-era simulation starts off with the simulated Shaundi giving few namedrops of previous characters, with appropriate references to what happened to them. "Mr. King" (i.e. Benjamin King), who left Stilwater at the end of the first game and never returned in the next two, is noted as having "left town for a few weeks". Pierce, a still-active Saint, is treated as an old friend who's probably going to get into some hijinx with the Boss. Dex, who left the Saints after the first game and never met the real Shaundi, wasn't recognized by the simulated one.
  • Cast from Money: The Blast and Stomp powers granted by the Bling Bling Pack DLC. Inverted with Telekinesis and Buff, as they are very reliable sources of Cache.
  • Character Blog: Zinyak has one.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Briefly discussed during a mission, when the Boss says something will be easy.
    CID: It is Chekhov's Gun. Saying it is too easy now means something must go wrong later, or else there was no point to this conversation.
    Boss: Well, shit...
    • The rest of the mission plays with this, with everyone involved blaming the Boss for "jinxing" them when things do start getting more difficult.
  • Civvie Spandex: The President has access to superpowers in the simulation regardless of what he's wearing - T-shirt and blue jeans, tuxedo, spandex, full nude, et cetera.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: Posters and voice cast listings reveal the return of Killed Off for Real characters, including Maero, DJ Veteran Child, and Johnny Gat.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: The President's swears end up being filtered while trapped in a '50s-style simulation.
    Civilian: Oh my stars, it's the president!
    The President: Hi, how are... (notices the civilian is glitching) What the f***?!
    • When you go to rescue Kinzie from the 50s, it shows back up. Seriously, *CENSORED* this *CENSORED* up piece of *CENSORED* 50s. Each Boss voice gets a massive line of bleeped swears, but Nolan North's line pushes this trope to the utmost limit.
    ''*BEEP* you, you piece of *BEEP* dirtbag *BEEP*ing *BEEP*-sucking mother-*BEEP*ing *BEEP*-eating *BEEP*!
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Kinzie delivers this to digital Cyrus Temple after gaining her superpowers and beating the snot out of the late STAG leader. Talk about a vulgar overkill.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Tentacle Bat implies Naughty Tentacles with the label "Violator". Default flavor text: "Available in fine Hentai bookstores everywhere."
  • Comical Overreacting: The Boss and Pierce don't take Zinyak's interrupting their sing-along with Biz Markie very well.
    Boss (Male Voice 2): Zinyak stepped on Biz Markie!
    Pierce: Man, I can't wait to kill that bitch!
  • The Comically Serious: Future Shaundi, when it comes bringing back Christmas cheer and good tidings of the season, acts like it's a matter of saving the entire world and forces the Boss to do more and more ridiculous stunts in order to save Santa and Christmas. It's even funnier when compared to the Boss being a total Grinch and worse yet everyone agreeing with her over the Boss.
  • Compressed Hair: In the third "Enter the Dominatrix" mission the Boss infiltrates a sex club dressed as a gimp. Not a bit of their hair is visible even if you're using a female Boss with a voluminous hairstyle.
  • Continuity Porn: With the old Shaundi, Benjamin King, Keith David (Julius' VA), and a whole mess of SR2's cars, it's likely Volition is thanking fans who've stuck with the series from the start.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • The vehicle system has been greatly expanded, adding several new and unique vehicles including tri-wheel motorcycles, retro 50s trucks and sedans, and freakin' monster trucks. You also don't have to lug cars to a specific spot to save them, you just get in and hit the reload button and it's yours forever. A great expansion all around... made almost entirely pointless the moment you gain the Super Sprint power, which without upgrades still lets you run faster than any car without risk of crashing or other bodily harm. Once you fully upgrade your speed you can outrun any vehicle at all, even jets, and with the addition of Super Jump, Super Glide and Wall Sprint, helicopters become the least convenient option for ascending tall buildings. Even travelling long distances cross-town becomes trivial once more gateway/portal locations are unlocked.
    • Certain missions strip you of your superpowers, leaving vehicles as the only efficient way to get around. Unfortunately you usually have to use a specific vehicle, or at least are cut off from grabbing ones from your personal garage.
    • Also, a number of missions require driving, so it can't completely be avoided. That said, many missions requiring you to drive a car to a specific place can instead be completed by picking up the car with Super-Strength, carrying it to your destination, and then getting back in.
  • Cool Car: Monster trucks and retro cars from the second game return as available rides.
  • Covers Always Lie: You won't get to see a giant Saints Flow can attacking Washington D.C. In fact, you don't even get to play in Washington. The entire game, save for a brief section at the beginning in the White House, is set in a virtual Steelport.
  • Crutch Character: The Eviscerator from the Knifethrower DLC is this. Its unique upgrade is infinite ammo, otherwise it's just a decent ranged weapon. Early game this can be quite useful as you don't have access to all the ammo upgrades yet, but once you do its lack of a gimmick outside of ammo and the fact you can purchase infinite ammo for every other weapon will see it lose use quickly.
  • Curtain Call: After the final story scene and before the credits roll. It consists of Boss, Shaundi, Matt, Gat, Asha, Pierce, CID, Ben, Kinzie, Keith David, and finally Zinyak taking turns dancing to the entirety of Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" Also doubles as a Dance Party Ending.
  • Cue the Sun: Virtual Steelport is Always Night, but throughout the game the time slowly changes to reflect the mood, becoming daytime near the end of the game.
  • Cultured Badass: Zinyak. He's an intergalactic conqueror with an appreciation for classic Earth literature.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the simulation, the Boss from almost the very start has insanely powerful attacks, including punches that make cars fly across the street. There's still challenge from cops and aliens, but if the player decides to attack pedestrians, there's no match at all.
    • Once the Boss gets a tank for their vehicle inventory, most ground-level "flashpoint" battles can be concluded with one shot. (This isn't the case if there's a Warden boss fight afterwards as the Boss has to be on foot for those.)
  • Cutting Off the Branches: "Save Shaundi" is the canon ending from Saints Row: The Third. One developer in particular mentioned he couldn't live with a continuity where Burt Reynolds was dead. The first mission involves hunting down and killing Cyrus Temple, having gone terrorist.
    • The Enter the Dominatrix DLC reveals that the game was originally going to use a variant of the "Kill Killbane" ending as canon instead, with Pierce serving as Mayor of Steelport. However, Shaundi was somehow alive in this version, despite being supposedly blown up. Shaundi herself is bothered by it and says it's best not to think about it too much.
  • Cyborg: Future Shaundi, who came from a Bad Future... where Christmas has been ruined by Zinyak and Claws!
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Minimal compared to the previous game, but still present.
    • The "fast hijack" key combination has been changed from using the "hold sprint" key to the "toggle sprint" key, and is not remappable. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it doesn't come up much since hijacking vehicles quickly becomes pointless.
    • Radio tuning is now mapped to completely different buttons, rather than using the same buttons used for taunts and compliments. Unfortunate but necessary, since you can listen to the radio when on foot.
    • The plane controls in SR2 and 3 used the forward key for up and back for down. This game applies the usual flight simulator controls: push forward on the control stick to dive, pull back to climb.
  • Darker and Edgier: While this game definitely ups the insanity compared to the last game, it also raises the stakes since you're fighting to save humanity from an alien invasion. The destruction of Earth is where things really turn serious.
  • Death from Above: The Death From Above power.
  • Death Is Cheap: One of the promotional images proudly proclaims Johnny Gat is Back!
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Matt Miller, one of the main villains from Saints Row: The Third, ends up becoming an ally in the game.
    • Benjamin King, as well: he was forced to drop his flags by the Saints in the first game, and is now the President's chief of staff.
    • Additionally, when you defeat the simulation of a previous antagonist, you generally get to reprogram them and have them on your side... although based on some of their comments if you have them hanging around, they view it as less than this and more a Fate Worse than Death or a Teeth-Clenched Teamwork at best.
  • Denser and Wackier: Forget rails. Forget sharks. The series is on its way to becoming a metaphor of its own.
    • It's even lampshaded in the final mission name, "Punch The Shark".
    • Also lampshaded by Pierce and Shaundi if you call both of them.
      Pierce: So...we went from Stillwater to Steelport to the White House, and now we're on an alien ship, floating in space, hooking our minds into some computer-generated virtual simulation.
      Shaundi: That about sums it up, yeah!
      Pierce: Huh... right.
      Shaundi: You think you've gone crazy, don't you?
      Pierce: Yeah, pretty much.
  • Determinator: Johnny Gat could be considered one as it's said that he was stuck in his Ironic Hell simulation for years yet still never cracked. Additionally, though he could never save Aisha by himself, that didn't stop him from trying every time he got to that point.
    • The Boss is also one, and even gives a speech on the point to their crew towards the end of the game.
  • Developer's Room: There is a hidden room in Let's Pretend that contains cut-outs of the development team's faces, as well as a secret weapon that is otherwise unobtainable: the Loud Locust.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Abduction Gun. It is obtained very early as it's unlocked as soon as any challenge is completed and can One-Hit Kill practically all on-foot enemies, short of Wardens.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Zinyak's punishment for underlings referring to Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" as "the Dracula song"? Death.
  • Documentary Episode: "Enter the Dominatrix" features interviews with the characters between missions, which are treated like deleted scenes in a movie, complete with in-character commentary.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many players can expect some nostalgia when one of the first missions puts the Boss in a simulation based on an idyllic '50s sitcom with sinister undertones, much like the acclaimed "Tranquility Lane" quest from Fallout 3.
  • Dreamville:
    • After being captured by Zinyak, the Boss wakes up in a luridly colourful suburb reminiscent of 1950s-era sitcoms, complete with bouncy music, enthusiastically overpolite townsfolk and even canned laughter. Violence is initially out of the question, dangerous driving is impossible, swearing is censored, and the Boss is initially brainwashed into enjoying every minute of it - to the point that Male Voice 3 goes from gravelly Cockney to chirruping Received Pronunciation the moment he arrives. Eventually, the brainwashing breaks down and townsfolk begin randomly dissolving into pixels, revealing that the Boss has been trapped in a Zin Mind Prison specifically designed to torture them. The only way to break out is to cause enough chaos to break the scenario, resulting in the music winding down and glitches creeping into the program.
    • Following Kinzie's capture late in the game, the Boss is forced to return to the old Mind Prison to rescue her: here, he finds that the scenario has been remodelled into a suburban dystopia under the reign of Cyrus Temple, with Kinzie brainwashed into becoming his meek, submissive powerless sidekick. This time, the only way to break out is to play enough rebellious music to empower Kinzie to escape from her brainwashing, unlock her simulation powers and allow her to kick Cyrus' ass.
  • Drive-In Theater: One can be found inside the 50s version of Steelport if the player takes the time to look around between missions. It actually has pretty impressive detail even though it isn't used for any storyline or side mission content and even has a short movie listing on a nearby sign.
    • It eventually was used in the first mission of the ''How the Saints Saved Christmas" DLC.
  • Dubstep: Leave it to the Saints to find a way to weaponize dubstep.
  • Dump Stat: Stamina. You get Unlimited Sprint as a reward for completing Keith David's second side quest and can buy Unlimited Gliding at Level 13. Basically, the only reason to buy additional Stamina is to get the achievement for unlocking all upgrades (or if the player wants the additional mobility when "grinding" out cluster pick-ups and side missions early in the game).
  • Dungeon Bypass: You can capture all five towers just by grabbing a helicopter or flying saucer and flying straight to the top. Doing so means that you'll miss all the data clusters, though.
  • Dynamic Entry: What better way to enter your future seat in the White House than by crashing in through the roof after destroying a nuclear missile?
  • Eagleland: Of the "America, Fuck Yeah!" type - just check out the "Commander In Chief" preorder bonus: Wear the red, white and blue suit of Uncle Sam! Wield the just-keep-adding-guns BFG "'Merica Weapon"! Fly the Freedom/Bald Eagle "Screaming Eagle" Jet!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: How could things possibly be upbeat after Earth is destroyed? Simple: Not only is there a dance party ending, not only do the Saints go on a wacky roadtrip through time, but they're also able to revive thousands of people Zinyak abducted including the story's narrator... Jane FUCKING Austen.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Zinyak threatens to do this if the Boss escapes. He makes good on his promise. Poor Oleg and Josh...
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Spoofed in the Enter the Dominatrix DLC. Zinyak is presented as the final boss, but despite having two screen-wide health bars, goes down with one shot and a lengthy QTE... with only three commands (it's the utter flashiness of the thing that make it seem near-pointless). Zinyak is outraged not because of such an easy defeat, but because the scene was that poorly scripted.
  • Easy Level Trick: Marauders are noted as being an annoying enemy due to needing to be shot in the back of the "head" to get damaged as it turns to look at you constantly with only a small amount of pause as it tries to shoot you. If it's not under a roof you can also use the abduct-o-matic and take it out no matter what its doing. Same for other vehicles, it will render them driverless, but they usually aren't as annoying.
  • Elemental Powers: Powers can be mixed-and-matched with various elements, each with its own effects:
    • Fire sets victims aflame.
    • Ice freezes victims, making them take more damage and shatter when killed.
    • Electricity causes victims to ragdoll and fall over.
    • Glitch causes victims to...well, glitch. Change colors, become pixilated, fall victim to Body Horror...
    • Gravity causes victims to temporarily float in the air, regardless of gravity.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Toward the end of the final mission, you get power armor, which allows you to use your superpowers in the real world.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Wardens. Hit max notoriety and face-off with aliens that have the same superpowers you do.
    • Murderbots—slow, lumbering, Terminator-like robots that are incredibly hardy, carry heavy machine guns and bomb launchers, and could crawl towards you in an attempt to kill you if you don't blow off their heads first.
    • Marauders, mechanical pillbugs with giant lasers that can only be successfully attacked in one specific point on their backs.
    • Zinyak's personal guard, Zin with heavy weapons and super powers.
  • Empty Levels: Some character levels past 30 or so won't unlock any new powers or upgrades, rendering reaching them slightly anticlimactic.
  • Enemy Mine: In what initially seems like a case of Defeat Means Friendship, you can unlock antagonists from the previous games as homies note . Such characters include Tanya, Maero, Veteran Child, and even Julius. However, they retain their personalities and memories, and several conversations make it clear that they're not exactly thrilled to be working with the Saints, and vice versa.
  • Everyone Is Bi: All romance options are available to both genders. Averted with Keith David, who rejects the Boss either way, and, amusingly, with Pierce, who says he "usually doesn't swing that way" regardless of the gender you use for the Boss.
  • Exact Words:
    • Boss did promise to rip Zinyak's head off. He should have taken the Boss more seriously.
    • The Epic Jump Quest achievement requires you to jump from the Three Count Casino to the nuclear plant without landing on the ground or the rooftops between them. It didn't say anything about running up the sides, however. Nor did it say anything about summoning an aircraft right after the first jump.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Keith David, of all people. He makes a deal with Zinyak to kill you off in exchange for restoring Earth.
  • Failure Knight: Shaundi, continued from her stoner-to-soldier transformation in the previous game, made worse after being forced to relive (in her mind) her failure to save Johnny.
  • False Reassurance: Kinzie gets a hard lesson in this:
    Zinyak: Today, the best and brightest among you will find salvation within the Zin Empire.
    Kinzie: I'm smarter than all these people!
    Zinyak: Delightful! [abducts Kinzie]
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Zinyak put his face even in the Technically Legal and Titties and Gritties sings in the simulation.
    • During Ben King's loyalty mission, the Boss does a sexy dance in a skimpy cowboy costume in a strip club due to being under the influence of a virus. In a meta sense, this can be either fan disservice or outright fanservice depending on how you created your character and your personal tastes. In-universe, Matt Miller (who was watching the simulation) will see it as the former regardless.
    Matt Miller: Please don't make me watch that again.
  • Fan Fic: One loyalty mission takes place in a NyteBlayde simulation Matt Miller created based on fan fiction that he wrote.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: When the Saints go inside Paul's brain, a giant monster in the shape of a soda can.
  • Faux Affably Evil : Emperor Zinyak is the nicest galactic overlord you'll ever meet. Charming, polite, likely to kill everyone you have ever known.
  • Flat "What": The Boss gives one of these when Asha tells them just who they'll be fighting in her simulation.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: A giant fifty-foot can of Saints Flow named Paul.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: A powered-up character will be able to do this by running at super speed. This includes civilians, enemies and vehicles.
  • Foreshadowing: If you pick up a certain Keith David Audio Log (where he tells he would do better than the Boss if he was in charge), what that character does later in the game (betraying the Saints to Zinyak) won't be as out of left field as had you missed out on it.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Boss, having gone from a nobody on the streets of Stillwater to the freakin' President of the United States... to the ruler of an entire alien empire.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Everyone when they're liberated from the Lotus-Eater Machine. The Boss seems to be unfazed in the slightest, possibly because of their previous experiences (such as having fought their way through a SM club filled with heavily armed enemies while naked and drugged in the previous game, or optional streaking activities.)
  • Funny Background Event: In Pierce's rescue mission, the TV shows "Zinyak promises bi-partisan dictatorship".

  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • If you have more than nine characters queued then the game will crash when trying to download them at Image As Designed.
    • The Genki Holiday Special activities from the "How the Saints Save Christmas" DLC will sometimes prevent you from picking up the Christmas trees and and occasionally crash the game as well.
    • Similar to the previous game, there's a point, specifically near the end of "The Real World", that players with sub-optimal rigs will be unable to pass due to their framerate being too low. This can be remedied by lowering the resolution of your game window.
      • You can also experience problems in co-op if you or a friend have a less-than-ideal rig or connection. Cars driven by the NPC's or another player will appear well off course to the other player (making missions like NyteFell impossible to do together), missions with The Ship will have them flying outside the boundaries to the guest player, and you may find yourself landing on the blast door with your head in the last mission if it closes for you before it does your friend.
    • If the National Treasure Edition is installed, the "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC will unlock upon completing "The Real World," an early mission. There are 5 missions in the DLC; the third mission can only be completed if the Boss has gained the power of telekinesis. This occurs at a point sometime after the events of "The Real World." Without this ability the third mission becomes impossible. This is not so much a bug as a case of poor planning, but either way the player pretty much has to go back to a save point prior to launching Enter the Dominatrix if they launch the DLC prematurely.
  • Game Within a Game: The Boss is trapped in a Wide-Open Sandbox where you can do even crazier things than the Boss is normally able to do. That's right: Saints Row IV is about the Saints playing their own video game. Very meta. Additionally, one of the new collectible items are text adventure games that you can play while you play.
  • Genre Shift:
    • At the beginning of the series, your character was a gangbanger fighting turf wars in your 'hood. By the second, Scarface, the third, a celebrity sell-out bank-robber. Then it got silly. Now it gets sillier: now, you are the President of the United States, donning enough super powers to put DC Comics to shame, fighting off an alien invasion.
    • Likewise, gameplay mechanics have slowly shifted. The original game was a dyed-in-the-wool Grand Theft Auto clone with a focus on gang warfare (including 4 different notoriety meters, instead of GTA's lone "stars" meter). Over time the games have shifted slowly into the action RPG genre, with the fourth game even using RPG terminology like "Quests" and "XP," having a concrete level system and providing perks based on character level. The extra notoriety meters have also been removed, though in IVs case it might be because unlike other installments, there is only one opposing faction.
    • Certain missions take this up to eleven, completely changing the genre yet again. For example, Johnny Gat's personal simulation is a 2D, sidescrolling Beat 'em Up with three levels and two boss fights.
  • Girl's Night Out Episode: Shaundi's loyalty mission is set up like this with the main focus being her and her past self learning to get along and work together. Boss (even if he is a guy) tags along too, but mostly just serves as a referee to make sure they don't kill each other.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The area around Rifts cause passersby to glitch, causing pedestrians to appear upside-down, have big heads, become heavily pixiliated, or appear all kinds of twisted and screwed up. The President can also use the "glitch" element with his powers to invoke this on their victims.
    • Aside from the Rifts, there are little tells in the simulation that reveal its artificiality, such as pedestrians and cars occasionally fizzing, or the bricks on buildings shimmering. It is, in fact, a random person fizzing in the 50's-style simulation that causes the Boss to finally realize that all is not as it seems.
  • A God Am I:
    • The Boss, as the President.
      "I'm the patron saint of America, we should probably look into changing the Pledge of Allegiance to 'One nation, under me'."
    • Zinyak. In the simulation he can mess with you in a variety of ways, and he lets you know it. It's pretty much to the point that he complains about not being as godlike in the Enter the Dominatrix DLC... at all.
      "I am the architect of your reality. I build what I want. I destroy what I want. And your bravado means nothing."
    • The virtual version of Maero has delusions of godhood, determined to take over the Steelport simulation.
  • Golden Snitch: There's no Forgive and Forget, and no hopping into stores to lose your notoriety. Notoriety will eventually decay to nothing, but to make it end instantly (especially at higher levels where all manner of alien and cop is after you), you must chase down a golden orb using super speed; catching and destroying it instantly removes all your notoriety. It's almost certainly a reference to the Trope Namer. This reference is lampshaded by a few voices after Kinzie explains the orb's purpose, with British Male Voice 3 asking if he needs a broomstick, Male Voice 1 and Nolan North asking if they gets points for catching it, and Female Voice 3 asking if she'll also be getting on a red train and wearing a jaunty hat. The game provides an achievement award for catching 100 of the things, which becomes more difficult if the player installs notoriety-decay speed upgrades.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Invoked Trope (see the YMMV page for unintentional ones). The environment and simulated populace's models sometimes undergo glitches like being reduced to pixels, body parts growing to ridiculous proportions, or twisting strangely. Walls shimmer, and sign text can change in front of your eyes. This usually happens around virus areas, or as a result of events during the main storyline, as well as happening in areas taken over by the Saints. The "glitch" element available for some super powers is a surefire way to bring them about.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors:
    • Areas of the simulation liberated from alien control sport blue Tron Lines instead of red. The sky follows suit, gradually going from an oppressive red Alien Sky to a more "familiar" moonlit blue one as you progress
    • The Energy Sword can be customized to blue ("The hero's choice") or red ("Zinyak's favorite color".)
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: In Asha's rescue mission, you fight a cartoonishly evil version of the Boss. After their defeat, Asha pulls a pack of smokes off their body and offers one to the player's Boss, who declines.
  • Grand Finale: The official website calls it the climactic chapter of the series, and interviews with the developers have leaned towards this being the final installment of the Saints Row series in its current continuity. Then again, perhaps the galaxy isn't enough for the Saints.
  • Grass Is Greener: The leader of the Saints is now the leader of the free world. In the game's opening, though, s/he laments how much more fun they had as a crime boss.
  • Groin Attack: Choosing "The Low Road" in the pre-guns part of the White Crib involves punching an obnoxious legislator in the nuts. As per, using a melee attack against a non-combative NPC will see the boss rack their jewels.
  • Ground Punch: The Death From Above superpower, which you activate from the air, and after choosing where you want to strike, fly towards the ground fist-first. With a certain upgrade, if you do it from high enough you cause a nuclear explosion.
    • The Stomp ability also has a ground punch-like effect.
    • You can also ground punch to a limited degree as the mech suit's default melee attack.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • If you've done the Loyalty Missions and sidequests but still haven't gotten the "do everything for your Homies" Achievements to unlock, well, you need to Romance them too.
    • The How The Saints Saved Christmas DLC has multiple collection sidequests, but the game expects you to not only get them during the mission, but to get them with no map. Thanks. To clarify, they will show up on your minimap if you have the Collectible Finder upgrade, but that only helps if you already know where to look in general.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Some of the most action-packed moments of the game are accompanied by songs like Opposites Attract. And the characters sing along. And they are fully aware of how enjoyably cheesy these songs are.
    • The DJ for "The Mix" station says "What is Love" should not be a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure.
  • Hacking Minigame: This is how you gain control of stores in this game, instead of buying them like in previous games.
  • Hand Wave: How is your English/French/Russian/Nolan version of the Boss eligible for the presidency? Because the 31st Amendment allows for foreign-born Presidents.
    Boss: Some of you may ask, am I even a legal candidate? To those people: fuck yourself, just go with it.
  • Happy Dance: The President does one after winning many minigames, such as Mayhem, Mind Over Murder and Fight Club.
  • He's Back!: Johnny Gat.
  • Heel Realization: Keith betrays you late-game, but he eventually realizes the error of his ways and breaks his deal with Zinyak.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Many of your more badass costumes, including some of your Civvie Spandex, are leather.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Boss thinks Matt's Nyteblayde simulation is a invokedMary Sue fanfic, but Matt insists it's not. Whether it actually is remains unknown, as Zinyak hacks the program and changes the ending, forcing Matt and Boss to kill the virtual Nyteblayde, and Matt takes over the role.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Played with when after the nuke is launched at the beginning Boss leaps on it to stop it from destroying Washington, and the everyone believes Boss will die. In spite of that, s/he disarms the nuke, jumps off mid flight and, courtesy of nothing but body armor, guts and Rule of Cool, survives crashing through the White House and into the President's chair.
  • Hide Your Children: Lampshaded in the female American voice's idle dialogue.
    "You know, I don't think I've seen a kid in Steelport. It's kinda weird, isn't it?"
  • High-Class Glass:
    • Now that the Boss has become president they can wear a monocle on either their left or right eye.
    • Cirrano, the leader of the Raptors, wears one as well.
  • High-Five Left Hanging: At the beginning of the game, one of the people you run into asks for a high five and you're given the options of following through or leaving them hanging.
  • Historical Domain Character: Jane Austen of all people appears in the game as the unnamed narrator.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: Guess what the first clothing unlock of the How The Saints Saved Christmas DLC is?
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Zinyak at the beginning of the game; it's all QTEs but he eventually gets the best of you regardless.
  • How We Got Here: The first cutscene depicts a person in face-concealing armor sitting on a throne. That person is the Boss after defeating Zinyak, sitting on their throne near the end of the game proper.
  • Hub Under Attack: After escaping the simulation, you and the rest of the Saints set up shop aboard a stolen Zin ship and repurpose it as a base in your attempts to stop the Alien Invasion. It's usually a safe place to chat, read files, romance fellow gangsters, and waste time until your next foray into the simulation... up until "All Hands On Deck." Here, the Zin finally track you down thanks to Vice President Keith David and board the ship in an effort to recapture you, forcing you to fight them off; worse still, it's a real-world mission, so you don't have any of your superpowers.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Now subverted. After you escalate to six bars, you have to fight a Warden... and winning that cleans your slate, at least until you start killing people again.
  • I Hate Past Me: Shaundi doesn't much like her old self. Also, several assassination missions are against targets that resemble what the Boss/Playa used to look like by default; the instruction is "shoot your old self." (Toilet and wireframe-Boss are also targets).
    Present-day Shaundi: My problem? My problem is that I used to be you.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Bizarre weapons include black hole launchers, alien guns that make targets have giant heads, and a gun that shoots dubstep. Some weapon skins are like this too, like the guitar case rocket launcher, rubber band gun SMG, and water gun assault rifle.
  • Indy Ploy: Discussed.
    Benjamin King: You got a plan?
    The President: We're getting the band back together, then we're gonna kill Zinyak.
    Benjamin King: That's not a plan; that's a goal!
  • Infodump: In 'Enter the Dominatrix', when Kinzie begins explaining her plan and the brilliance of it, Pierce interrupts by fast forwarding. From the amount of activity going on around her, it must've been a long infodump.
  • Informed Attribute: Invoked with Nyteblayde. Both the Boss and Oleg get convinced that the show is deep and allegorical. Everything from the show that the player gets to see or hear about has it come across as a horribly acted cliche storm.
  • Insistent Terminology: Kinzie insists that the mech suit is power armor, not a robot. She turns out to be wrong: power armor is literally armor that gives you superpowers.
    • The boss calls it a robot. Everyone else calls it power armor. Nobody budges, until the final mission. Then EVERYONE is in agreement on what the boss finds.
    • The Boss prefers to be called a "puckish rogue" as opposed to a psychopath.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Does the Boss really need to hijack 12-foot tall Zin robot suits if he has superpowers? Who cares, as long as it's awesome enough. Though it makes a lot more sense when Boss uses it in the real world, where he or she does not have powers.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Utterly averted for the most part, given the jumping superpower the boss gets early on. Some jumps require the power to be upgraded, however.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The page for the Anime Pack DLC is intentionally written like it was badly translated from Japanese.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • Lampshaded in "A Game of Clones", when Kinzie tries to pull the Boss out of the simulation when a Warden appears:
      Boss: No, wait! I still have an empty slot in my power menu! I wanna fill it with something!
    • The achievement for completing the mission "All Hands On Deck" is titled "Betrayed". No points for guessing what happens in that mission.
  • Ironic Hell: Zinyak place the Saints in virtual simulations of these at the start of the game where they're killed over and over again till The Boss and Kinzie break them free. They are as follows:
    • The Boss is first trapped in a violence-free 50s-style sitcom, and later stuck in a Zin-controlled Steelport where the Saints have been wiped out and all their safehouses have been either destroyed, emptied, or replaced with Zin buildings.
    • Matt is stuck in a text-based adventure where he is forced to fight Killbane, guarded by a digital construct similar to that he built in the previous game that isn't under his control.
    • Shaundi is forced to relive both the death of Johnny Gat (which she considered My Greatest Failure because she didn't go back for him) and the time Veteran Child kidnapped her (when she felt like The Load).
    • Pierce is forced to fight waves of hostile Saints Flow mascots, as well as a giant sentient can of Saints Flow named Paul, which according to Pierce represents the pain of having something you love turn on you.
    • Ben King is forced to relive Tanya and Warren's takeover of the Vice Kings, except Ben doesn't get the chance to turn the tables on them.
    • Asha is forced to relive failing a mission where the Boss's Evil Twin kills Matt and eventually overwhelms her with a deluge of Murderbots. The Boss is rather offended at being cast as the Big Bad here.
    • Gat is stuck in a 2D Beat 'em Up where he is forced to relive Aisha's death.
    • Keith is forced to spout insanity about alien invasions to an ignorant public while Rowdy Roddy Piper tries to beat sense into him.
    • Kinzie is forced into the same 50's style simulation the Boss was stuck in, wearing a poodle skirt (she asked the Boss to shoot her in the head if she was ever forced to wear any such article of clothing).
    • And just off of the minor character roster, Jane Valderama is the DJ of K12. She was forcibly entered into a contract by Zinyak to operate the radio station. Listen for any length of time and she'll mourn the fact she can't report any real news.
    • Bobby and Zack are forced to present a new TV game show co-created by Zinyak and Genki, all while endlessly praising Zinyak. Bobby manages to hold himself together, but Zack breaks down in tears twice in the middle of the shows. He pretends it's due to a nightmare the second time because the first time, the Zin "punished" them for the outburst.
  • It's for a Book: The premise of all the side missions that King sends the President on.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: When we first met Cyrus Temple in Saints Row: The Third, he was the gung-ho leader of a special military unit that fought against the Saints. After the Boss saved Steelport's mayor and some homies from a STAG plot to frame the Saints for bombing a monument, thus becoming even more popular while disgracing Temple, what's a man to do but form a terrorist cell in the Middle East and plot to destroy Washington with a nuke?
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Everything on Earth.
    • At the end of the previous game, Cyrus Temple runs off like a dog with his tail tucked between its legs. At the beginning of this game, you deliver this to the leader of STAG.
    • And after all you went through, you finally deliver this to Emperor Zinyak. After what he did to the Earth, he was pretty much asking for it.
    • Given that the game ends with the Saints gaining access to the Zin's time travel technology, this trope might be subverted.
  • Killer Robot: The Murderbots and Marauders.
  • Klingon Promotion: The Boss takes over the Zin empire after killing Zinyak.
  • Lag Cancel: Strangely, unlike in previous games, switching weapons automatically reloads the magazine fed guns. This is counterbalanced by the fact that half the game's guns instead use overheating mechanics, and those with magazines usually don't have long reloads anyways.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • The illogical inconsistencies regarding the simulation and how Zinyak can't impose perfect order within it despite having complete control over it are duly noted by the Boss, which results in Kinzie requesting him/her to "just go with it".
    • The Boss also decides to let go the fact that Zinyak just happened to have a virtual Steelport available should he/she escape from their 1950's prison.
    • One of the late game missions, "Talkie Talkie", has Matt Miller saying "We're stretching out gameplay. Come see me!"
    • In a more meta example, while rescuing Ben King from his simulation, there's a lampshade hung on the fact that the Freckle Bitch's restaurant, and the ability to heal faster by eating, didn't come back after the second game. Apparently a humorless councilman outright banned Freckle Bitch's from opening any locations in Steelport.
  • Large and in Charge: Zinyak is noticeably larger than the other Zin, to the point that the goblet he's seen drinking from toward the end of the game is nearly as big as his assistant's torso.
  • Laser Blade: Present and accounted for, for when other Jedi powers like telekinesis aren't enough for your galaxy saving needs. By default, it glows purple, although you can change that.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: During the ending of Enter the Dominatrix, as their rewards, Pierce wants a dinosaur with guns, Kinzie wants vengeance, Shaundi wants to be Queen of the Dinosaurs and The Boss wants to go bowling.
  • Last of Their Kind: The President, Shaundi, Pierce, Gat, Keith, Ben King, Kinzie, Matt Miller, and Asha are the last surviving members of the Saints after Zinyak destroyed Earth. Subverted when the Saints travel back in time to restore Earth at the end.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
  • Leitmotif: The Zin Empire has a distinctive one that plays whenever something involving them happens. It's appropriately alien and sinister-sounding.
  • Lemony Narrator:
    • "Deep Silver and Volition present the climactic chapter of the saga that changed all the rules and blew the minds of a generation: S A I N T S R W... Hold up. I think we might've missed a letter there. (Sorry): SAINTS ROW IV."
    • The one in the game proper is Jane Austen.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Your common street Homies now aren't as effective, not being able to pick up weapons off the ground and are otherwise stuck with whatever weapons they have (excepting "normal" unique Homies who do pick up enemy weapons). They are also capable of destroying those Marauder ball-tanks without resorting to Attack Its Weak Point. Even better, put them into the turret of a vehicle (The alien turreted cars, but especially the Alien Tank), and watch them turn into a relentless killing machine.
    • On that note, Unique normal Homies can pick up weapons up until the dreaded Alien RPG. Unlike previous games, where giving them explosive weapons is a recipe for disaster, the AI in this game has been tweaked so that they only fire when the player is not close to either them or the target. Suddenly they become very, very practical.
    • Although, if you complete enough challenges, you get to call in Saints with superpowers.
  • Lethal Joke Item: In addition to the "serious" weapon skins the game includes many "joke" skins that are surprisingly effective. Why use a standard SMG when you have access to a high velocity rubber band launcher? Why blast aliens with rifles when you have a super soaker that shoots lasers? Why not kick some ass using a gun made entirely out of blocks? The devs even put in a dubstep gun equipped with explosive wubs! The basement at Let's Pretend also has its own special little easter egg for the players to find...
  • Level Grinding: Several of the challenges require a certain number of kills with certain weapons or powers. One of the Virus Insertion activities conveniently has a hundred Genkis attacking you. Quit before killing all of them, and you can start over, grinding as much as you like (although delaying it will prevent you from completing Pierce's side missions).
  • Lighter and Softer: The series' shift in tone from the earlier games is acknowledged by the Opening Monologue as the Saints stepping away from their gang roots to have, "more fun, [and] less mercy killing[s]," which in turn revitalized them as pop culture icons. In this game the actual body counts are reduced to bunch of terrorists including Cyrus Temple, and a lot of aliens. However after the first real act of the game, Earth getting blown up. Doesn't stop the Saints from fighting and the story from getting too dark (except few parts like Shaundi's nightmare) though...
    • Taken up to eleven with How The Saints Save Christmas storyline in which The Boss decides to be a good person to celebrate Christmas.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: the Freeze Blast power leaves enemies vulnerable to One Hit Kills. A follow-up Stomp can do that in about as wide an area.
  • Living Memory: Several dead characters from the previous games appear here due to each of the main characters' nightmares bringing them to life in their own personal simulations. Defeating them has them reprogrammed to fight alongside you and if you listen to their conversations with other homies, they may sometimes point out how it sucks that they're dead now
  • Lotus-Eater Machine:
    • The bizarro future version of Steelport is a computer simulation made by the invading aliens to imprison the Boss and crew.
    • Zinyak started by trying to trap you in a cheesy fifties style simulation. But you eventually break free of it, so he sends you to a more "chaotic environment".

  • Magical Profanity Filter: One of the first indications to the Boss that something is wrong when they awaken in a 50s-styled Steelport is when they see a glitch in the Simulation and utter an explicative only for it to be bleeped out (as in the word is literally replaced with BLEEP), which causes the simulated people to turn on the Boss. Later on, when the Boss has to return to the same scenario to rescue Kinzie, they know they've successfully broken her free when they can swear again.
    Boss: What the *BLEEP*...
    Cop: We don't use that kind of language here in Steelport.

    Boss: Kinzie, let's get the fuck out of here!
    Matt Miller: Hey, you swore!
  • Magic Skirt: For all the running, jumping, and acrobatic fight moves you can do, even the skimpiest skirts will remain modestly around the President's hips and thighs. The view during gliding is straight between the President's spread thighs, but the skirt somehow folds to completely mask the crotch.
  • Magikarp Power: Most of the guns just plain suck...until you upgrade them at the store. Unupgraded mundane weapons only plink the enemy, but become devastating and have cool new tricks when fully modded. The aliens weapons also suck until you improve their charging time and other features, like making the bounce rifle hit five or six targets at once.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: Cyrus Temple, one of the villains of Saints Row: The Third makes a return... for all of five minutes before being unceremoniously killed off.
  • Manly Tears: Pierce can't stop from choking up when he thinks the Boss is about to die to stop the nuke.
  • Martial Arts Headband: One of the new headgear options.
  • Mary Sue: Although generally a YMMV trope, in Matt Miller's loyalty mission it is directly invoked as a storytelling trope when the Boss discovers the mission is nothing more than a big piece of Mary Sue fanfic, with the trope mentioned by name.
  • Medium Awareness: The Boss is well aware he is in a game in "A Game of Clones", when a pale, mute man with a black shirt and blue jeans warps into the mission.
    Boss: It's the Stilwater default player!
    • Then, when two bald, goatee'd black men in tank tops and track pants pop out ("It's the other Stilwater default player!"), the President asks why there are two of them this time. Kinzie explains that the second is the "co-op player".
    • If the player doesn't touch the controls for a period of time, the Boss will start saying things like "pick up the controller, pick up the controller..." Possibly due to a glitch, the Boss may even say this when coming out of a mission.
  • Metal Slime: Like in Saints Row: The Third Professor Genki randomly appears on the streets murdering NPCs. Instead of a rocket launcher, he now has Telekinesis and Stomp, has less health and drops $70k when defeated down from $400k as a result of IV having less of a focus on wealth.
  • Mind Prison: The main body of the game takes place in one of these, with almost the entirety of the main cast being imprisoned in a virtual reality scenario based on their worst nightmares, with a concourse based on Steelport. For good measure, Zinyak indicates that he's imprisoned numerous criminals and dissidents from other worlds in the simulation for the crimes, and even allows a few of them a "work release program" by giving them leave to torment the Boss as Wardens.
  • Mini-Mecha: The aliens have 12-foot high power loader suits that you can commandeer, and even take it on Mayhem activities! The Mini-Mecha's status of straddling the line between "power armor" and "giant robot" make all the Saints continually bicker over which it is. Keith thinks it's power armor as he points out that "robot" implies that the machine is autonomous, which it is not.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Shouldn't surprise anyone, considering the game was originally intended to partiallynote  be a DLC for Saints Row: The Third; as such, the engine and lot of assets are reused and much of the city layout hasn't changed. Fortunately, the gameplay innovations, outrageous premise and new customization options in addition to the old ones seem to have most critics agreed that it's a full fledged game in its own right. Averted, now that Enter the Dominatrix is DLC for the game as well as How the Saints Saved Christmas.
  • Money for Nothing: Largely averted, with one exception.
    • Like in Saints Row: The Third, completely averted in terms of money. Even by the time you get to the endgame, you will still have a bunch of weapon and characters upgrades to buy. Somewhere between five and ten times as much money is required to fully upgrade everything compared to the previous game, which already avoided the problem.
    • Played straight with super power upgrades, as you will have way more Data Clusters than skills to upgrade by endgame.
  • Mood Whiplash: As always the Saints Row games have great humor before subjecting you with something horrifying. Case in point, when you escape into the real world with "What Is Love?" blasted on the radio, you try to contact Oleg from space and he doesn't take the call because he doesn't recognize the area code and assumes it's a telemarketer. It's filled with all the fun and humor in a Saints Row game... and then a few moments later, Zinyak blows up Earth entirely without remorse.
  • Mrs. Claus: Mary Claus in the Christmas missions, who kicks butt in a flowing, mid-length Happy Holidays Dress, and becomes a homie after a few missions.
  • Multiple Endings: If you finished all the loyalty missions and unlocked super powers for your homies you get the Golden Ending, in which the Saints defeat Zinyak as usual, but also discover the Zin's Time Travel technology, allowing them to take a fun road trip through time and save the Earth before Zinyak blows it up. If you didn't, you instead get the bittersweet Bad Ending, where after beating Zinyak, the Saints don't discover the time travel technology and instead simply take over the Empire.
  • My Greatest Failure: Various conversations with former antagonists turned virtual Homies suggest they never were able to get past ultimately losing to the Saints. Julius and Maero are particularly bitter. Also, Shaundi's change in personality is explained as never-ending guilt over feeling responsible for Gat's presumed death and feeling useless when she was a nymphomaniac stoner (even though said nymphomania actually made her enormously useful, as the Saints almost certainly would not have become as powerful as they did without the nigh-omniscience of the Shaundi Ex-Boyfriend Intelligence Network).
  • Nail 'Em: Comes in 3 different types with the Flavor Text on the default one even being the trope name itself.
  • Nerf:
    • The Boss himself is somewhat less powerful than he was in The Third. Some of the more powerful upgrades have been removed, most notably complete immunity to specific damage types (the only one still remaining is fire immunity) and no reloads. This is made up for by the extremely strong super powers you can unlock, but since you don't have them outside of the simulation, the few missions that take place in the real world are somewhat more difficult (though there is the Mech suit to make up for this at one point).
    • To make up for health pickups, health no longer regenerates during a combat situation. This adds up to a major nerf because trading damage and jumping into a vehicle to regenerate is no longer an option.
    • The Heavy Pistol (.45 Shepherd in the previous game) is far weaker than it was in The Third at first, literally doing 2/3rds the damage, requiring several upgrades to reach the same damage output that the Shepherd could reach with just one upgrade. When Dual Wielding, the Heavy Pistol also has a lower fire rate, even when fully upgraded. Despite that, the Heavy Pistol actually has a higher per-damage shot than the Shepherd once fully upgraded, though its overall damage rate is lower.
    • Speaking of pistols, the Quickshot Pistol, a replacement for the previous game's KA-1 Kobra, has been hit pretty hard with the Nerf hammer: it also does about 2/3rds the damage of the previous game's weapon, and further upgrades to damage won't bring anywhere near what a fully upgraded KA-1 can do. In fact, it barely gets up to what a non-upgraded KA-1 is capable of.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The pre-release videos seem to indicate that the plot will hinge on driving the aliens from Earth, and the presidency bit is played up for all it's worth. In the game proper, the Earth is blown to smithereens not too long in, making the presidential status irrelevant aside from a few moments, and the tale becomes one of avenging the planet instead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After destroying the Earth, Zinyak puts full blame on the Boss' lifestyle and actions for leading to that event.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Zinyak with destroying the Earth. The narrator says how Zinyak would have eventually won due to the Saint's pragmatism, but by blowing up the Earth, Zinyak gave the Saints enough determination to defeat him.
  • Nightmare of Normality: After being captured by the Zin in Saints Row IV, Kinzie is plunged into another one of Zinyak's Mind Prisons - namely The '50s-era suburban paradise that the Boss escaped from earlier in the game: here, she's reduced from a badass hacker with borderline administrator-level control over the simulation to a passive, subservient and completely oblivious sidekick to Cyrus Temple - wearing a poodle skirt, no less.
  • No Fourth Wall: Enter The Dominatrix. Right from the start the fourth wall gets decimated under the craziness.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Even saving the country from a nuclear missile and his past fame as a merch driven gangster, the Boss was losing the election until Benjamin King helped him with the poll. Keith's side mission mentioned he used to run away after starting riot in rally and what not.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Boss receives one from Zinyak's soldiers when she tries to stop Keith David's coup. It's so horrifyingly brutal and relentless to the point that the Boss actually ends up begging for Keith's help—and that Keith actually ends up coming back to the Boss's side once more.
  • Non Standard Game Over: At a certain point in the game, Zinyak gives the President the option to surrender himself for execution in exchange for the all of the remaining humans being spared. Taking the option results in the credits rolling, followed by a mission failure screen informing you that Zinyak lied. You also get an achievement for it.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Most of the Boss' campaigning, since there's a five-year Time Skip between the opening mission and the invasion. We get small snippets of info, such as their apparently being... "caught" with a reporter. It's also suggested they only won the election because of their team of Hypercompetent Sidekicks.
    • What exactly did the Boss do to cause their approval rating to drop to twenty points?
    • Whatever reason Kinzie has for rescuing Keith David first. All she says is that he was "on the way" and cuts Keith off when he tries to protest.
    • A weird example in that we actually get to see the incident, but have no idea why C.I.D. shocks the Boss in the crotch just before going off to rescue Benjamin King.
  • Nostalgia Level: There are plenty of these:
    • Shaundi's rescue mission has you running through Philippe Loren's plane in reverse. Then you get warped to the On Track nightclub for a rematch with Veteran Child.
    • Ben King's rescue mission takes place where you started the very first Saints Row.
    • The rescue of Johnny Gat has you reliving events from SR1 and SR2.
    • Johnny's loyalty mission has you playing through all the stages of Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax from The Third, one after another, while the Boss gives Johnny a crash course on everything that happened from his "death" to his rescue.
  • Not the Intended Use: In TK Mayhem you're supposed to use telekinesis to pick up and throw balls to do damage, but with the no ragdolls, fire immunity and health upgrades, you can just sprint around letting the ball smash into stuff ahead of you.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In his autobiographical text adventures, Zinyak completely glosses over his actually becoming Emperor.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • The Disintegrator rifle kills most on-foot enemies in one hit. The Disintegrator can also destroy small obstructions such as shields.
    • The Abduction Gun sucks up most on-foot enemies other than Wardens. Even if enemies don't get sucked up completely, they can still die from extreme fall damage.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Many of the major characters from the previous game note  don't even appear in this one, and only a few are even offhandedly mentioned. None of the DLC characters (or events, other than Genkibowl VII) are even mentioned, and Jane Valderama also only exists now as the DJ for the K12 radio station and no longer gives any news reports. In addition, the generic Red Shirt Saints you can find walking around are sort of just... there. They don't contribute or play any role in the plot (no matter how minor) like in previous games, and seem to exist only to shoot any cops that wander by and help you out if you recruit them as Homies. It's never even explained how they got into the simulation in the first place. They just suddenly start spawning after completion of an early mission.
    • Several members of the main cast are noticeably absent for the entire "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC and don't even appear as part of the background. Justified since the DLC was originally meant for Saints Row: The Third where these characters weren't introduced (or reintroduced) yet. In fact, many older characters like Zimos, Josh and even Donnie make a return after being absent from the main story for a while.
    • In-game radio is much reduced, with fewer stations, no commercials, and frequent Background Music Overrides.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The first mission is a seriously-taken pastiche of Modern Warfare-style modern military shooters, unlike the more comedic tone of the rest of the game, down to the breaching scene and using a knife for melee attacks rather than Groin Attacks or pro-wrestling moves.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Boss may have beaten countless numbers of gangsters, policemen, even a State Sec with futuristic weapons, but nothing prepares them for a massive alien overlord with superpowers. The Boss tries, oh do they put up a fight, but once Zinyak decides to stop playing around and use his powers the first fight quickly becomes a Curb-Stomp Battle in the villain's favor.
  • Outside Ride: You can still get around the city surfing on top of cars.
  • People Jars: What the Zin initially use to hold the Boss and his crew inside the simulation. There are even a few parts in the game where the Boss passes through entire hallways filled with these. Once Earth is destroyed, it's all that is left of the human race besides the main characters.
  • Phallic Weapon: The Penetrator dildo bat returns from Saints Row: The Third, now in Saint's Purple, Dr. Manhattan Blue, and Candy Cane with the Christmas Episode DLC installed. The Dominatrix's Gimp carry these as their main weapons
  • Planet of Steves: Every name in the Zin Empire starts with "Zin".
  • Planet Spaceship: The Zin Mothership. It's so big that the Saints are able to hide their stolen battleship inside it for days (perhaps weeks), during which they spend most of their time trying to track down the location of Zinyak's throne room.
  • Plot Hole: Lampshaded. In Enter the Dominatrix, Pierce is mayor of Steelport, but Shaundi is still alive, which Shaundi points out doesn't make any sense (at least, if one assumes that one and only one of the endings of Saint's Row 3 is canon).
  • Politically Correct History: The Lotus-Eater Machine that The Boss is trapped in at the beginning is set in The '50s. Regardless of the Boss' race or gender, they'll still be married to Shaundi and have people swooning to meet the President before they break it.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: The Inflato-Ray fires a beam of energy that expands the target until they explode and serves as a One-Hit Kill on both normal humans and Zin troops unless it's quickly interrupted. To balance this out it has zero effect on both robots and vehicles.
  • The Power of Rock: The Dubstep Gun. The DLC version even has a "Dethmettal" setting.
  • Powered Armor: Besides the Mini-Mecha, the game has a more compact set of this that you don in the last mission. It lets you to use your superpowers in the real world in order to take on Zinyak on equal terms, and it also packs a Hand Blast weapon. You may also use it in the sandbox mode proper once you beat the game, albeit without the hand blast; it's referred to as the Iron Saint outfit.
  • Powers as Programs: Well, because your powers are programs.
  • Power Glows: The President glows when using Super Speed and Super Jump, and you can't see the effect of Telekinesis unless his hand and the object he's lifting with it glows. The data clusters that grant the powers glow like a beacon, making them easier to spot from the air.
  • Pre-Character Customization Gameplay: The game starts out with a a mission where the Boss infiltrates a military facility to kill Cyrus Temple from the previous game, dressed in full-body combat armor with helmet and being unable to say anything due to a broken radio. You are first allowed to customize the Boss after defeating Temple. And even before this is a cutscene showing The Boss sitting on a massive ornate throne wearing a suit of Powered Armor that they acquired just before the Final Boss battle.
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Depending on where you pre-order your game, you can get outfits based on various presidents, superhero costumes, or USA-themed items. PC owners who pre-ordered the game on Steam gained access to three Team Fortress 2 weapons: the Soldier's Rocket Launcher, the Pyro's Flamethrower, and the Rainblower.
  • President Evil: The Boss, criminal leader of the Third Street Saints gang, has been elected President of the US, even if they might not even be an American. (One of the male voice options in SR2 and SR3 has a distinct British accent; one of the female voice options in SR3 is a Russian accent and one of the new female voices has a French one.) Perhaps saving Washington D.C. from a nuclear missile buys a lot of political capital...
    • One of the journal covers showcasing character presets explains the ability to choose a Latino-American woman with a constitutional amendment (31st, to be specific).
  • Press X to Die: You are given an option at one point to continue in defiance of the villain, which will lead to the destruction of all you hold dear, or you can turn yourself in and save everyone. No prizes for guessing which option leads to your Non Standard Game Over death.
  • Promoted Fanboy: In universe example. Matt Miller's loyalty quest ends with the Boss using their authority as last surviving world leader to give him all legal rights to the Nyte Blayde franchise.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Volition was unwilling or unable to get two different sets of lines for referring to the President in the third person, so they are almost always referred to with the gender-neutral "them" instead of "him" or "her."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Kill somebody and/or cause general havoc while playing as Male Voice 1 or Nolan North Voice and he will sometimes spout this line:
  • Punctuated Pounding: It's played with the first time Zinyak and The Boss fight. The Boss does it while being slammed against the wall.
  • Puzzle Boss: Several
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking:
    • The presidency carries with it a great amount of power, such as weapons in every nook and cranny of the White House and the freedom to cold-cock uppity politicians.
    • Zinyak himself is no slouch. He commands an entire empire, has awesome psychic powers, and has physical strength in line with his size; his head is about the size of your chest.
  • Really Gets Around: The game spoofs the trend towards games featuring romance and sexual activity by making it dead easy for the Boss, regardless of gender, to have sex with (almost) every major character (even CID the beach ball-shaped robot) at any time, as many times as he or she wants, when visiting the spaceship safehouse.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Zin's technology is typically black with red Tron Lines. Opposing this, when The Boss takes control of an area it turns blue, while the Saints' vehicles are purple and white.
  • Red Herring:
    • Shaundi's rescue mission is introduced as being Johnny Gat's, since it's Philippe Loren's airplane in which Johnny Gat was believed to have been shot and killed. The intro recap cutscene is also about Johnny Gat. The mission is even titled "Back By Popular Demand." But then you open the cockpit door... It's not lying, though. A lot of people did complain about Shaundi in 3, saying they preferred the Saints Row 2 incarnation. And who do you get as a homie after the mission?...
    • All those choices you made in "The Saints Wing". You'd expect something to come of them, even as a small Brick Joke... but nothing of the sort happens.
  • Refuge in Audacity: ENTER THE DOMINATRIX, with plenty of Refuge in Vulgarity on the side. The Dominatrix's mooks are dressed in gimp suits and use Penetrators as their default weapon, and one quest involves racing in the pony carts from Saints Row: The Third.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Due to the lack of parachutes and the addition of the Super Jump and quick recovery when knocked down, there is no such thing as fall damage when within the simulation (i.e. for the vast majority of the game).
  • Retcon: In Saints Row 2, the key to defeating Veteran Child is hitting him with flashbang grenades. During Shaundi's rescue mission, the Veteran Child boss fight is recreated, but as there are no grenades in this game, the method is changed to shocking him with a stun gun instead. Boss also helps Shaundi home in the second game, where the intro to this mission suggests Gat did instead.
    • Additionally, Gat's presumed death from The Third was retconned in IV, and the absurdity of the explanation is lampshaded.
  • Retirony: One of the (virtual) mooks in Asha's simulation was two (virtual) weeks from (virtual) retirement when you (virtually) stab him to (virtual) death.
  • Retraux: A late game mission features a retro style beat-em-up, complete with pixellated graphics and badly-digitized voices.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Clawz from the Christmas DLC.
  • Rigged Spectacle Fight: The climactic fight takes place within the confines of Zinyak's lair, and he's broadcasting the battle to every corner of his empire so that his subjects can see him kill The Boss, and destroy the last remnants of humanity, as well as any possibility of anyone else wanting to rebel against his rule. During the fight, The Boss is wearing Powered Armor with the capability of emitting the super powers gained in the Simulated Steelport. Zinyak, however, is riding around in a heavily armed and armored mech suit, and has dozens of Zin Empire foot soldiers and Murderbots teleport into the battle to fire at The Boss from every direction.
  • RoboSexual: The game has almost all characters open to romance, including CID the spherical AI drone.
  • Romance Sidequest: Parodied. You may "romance" all your teammates at the touch of a single button. This includes CID the spherical AI drone, although Keith David wants to keep things professional, and you're much more interested in King's autograph.
  • Roof Hopping: With the Super Speed and Super Jump powers you get early in the game, plus the fact that most of the Clusters (which you need to upgrade your powers) are located in rooftops and the like, you will be doing this a lot. And let's face it, it's much more awesome to traverse the city like this than by car.
  • Rousing Speech: Near the end of the game, ala Mass Effect:
    Boss: "I know over the years you've heard this speech a bunch of times..."
    Ben King: "Heard it? Bitch, I wrote it."
    Boss: ...but we need to remember why we do what we do. And today the stakes are even higher. Earth is gone. It's not coming back and nothing we do today is going to change that. But one thing we can do is get revenge. And you better believe we're showing this motherfucker humanity isn't dead because we're still alive. This isn't about hope, or faith, or even about winning. Kinzie's right, those things died on Earth. This is about will. This is about saying I don't give a shit how many times you knock me down, I'm still breathing I'm standing right back up and ya know what? You can hit as hard as you want 'cause when I hit back I'm gonna lay your ass out, bitch! It's our time now, let's get this shit started!
    Keith David: "My fellow fellow Saints...Today is a day unlike any other day that has come before it, for on this day, we must administer the biggest smackdown in the history of mankind, and take our independence back from the Anal Probing overlords that oppress us. We will fight them in the sky! We will fight them in the streets! We will fight them in text-based roleplaying adventures! On this day, we free our homies! We free our inhibitions! We free America! And we free the whole fucking planet!
  • Rule of Three: Discussed and mocked during a later mission.
  • Running Gag: As soon as the Boss discovers the Mech Suit, (s)he calls it a robot, and then the other characters correct them on this. This joke continues to appear until the end of the game.

  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Zinyak tries to pull one on you while you're on your way to rescue Matt, by choosing to either rescue Matt but endure more of Zinyak's wrath, or let yourself die but save the others. It's Shmuck Bait however, as choosing the second option reveals it to be a trap.
    • Defied in Shaundi's loyalty mission, when virtual Veteran Child splits into two clones and grabs present Shaundi and SR2 Shaundi, he barely gets enough time to say "make your choice" before both Shaundis say "fuck that", grab his gun, and shoot the clone holding the other one hostage in perfect sync.
  • Saving Christmas: How the Saints Saved Christmas. It begins with Boss acting Scrooge and a robotic Shaundi from the future trying to save the world from an evil Santa. Think Futurama. Except with the heartwarming to make A Charlie Brown Christmas blush.
  • Second Hour Superpower: Not too far into the game, you gain the super speed and super jump abilities. They're really useful, and remain so for the entire game.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • If you have Matt Miller as a Homie he will sometimes say "A virtual Steelport? Couldn't they think of something new..."
      • CID also takes a shot at the game's tendency to have the exact same interiors for the stores and general lack of variety and new locations in the city compared to the third game:
        "Zinyak's big on reuse."
    • The Flavor Text for the Candy Cane skin on the Penetrator dildo bat mocks the crazier weapon designs of the fourth game.
      Our weapon designers need professional help...
    • The game makes a crack at the series abandoning the storyline with Dex.
      50's!Shaundi: And someone named Dex stopped by earlier. I didn't recognize him so I just sent him away.
      • At one point in Enter The Dominatrix, Donnie expresses disappointment that he was cut from the story entirely, and says that now he knows how Dex feels.
    • Zinyak at one point tires of the character's constant use of profanity:
      "Ugh, always with the VULGARITY..."
    • The previous game gave the player a choice between one of two outcomes at the end of each strand of missions. This mechanic was widely panned for having no effect on the story (with the exception of the last choice) and very little on the gameplay. "The Saints Wing" mocks its predecessor by offering the player three totally innocuous choices that have no effect whatsoever on the game.
    • In one of his audio logs, Keith David takes special note (apropos of very little) that video games are not widely known for great storytelling.
    • One of Serious Shaundi's idle comments is, "I don't understand why I'm so polarizing."
  • Sequel Escalation: Last time you were a national sensation, fighting world-spanning criminal syndicates and army task forces with mollusk guns and digital tanks. Now you're the President of the USA fighting an Alien Invasion with super powers and even crazier weapons. Oh, and your actions indirectly lead to the destruction of Earth.
  • Sequel Hook: Both the normal and good endings provide a possible sequel hook.
    • In the good ending, once Zinyak is defeated, the Saints find out that he was dabbling in time travel, a prospect that intrigues them. Time for a temporal road trip!
    • In the normal ending, the Saints take control of Zinyak's galactic empire, much like they took control of a corporate empire at the end of the second game.
  • Sequence Breaking: The tower climbing puzzles have one intended solution where you jump from platform to platform and scale walls to eventually reach the top. If you have enough Super Jump upgrades, it's possible to beat the towers way faster by just jumping to the highest platform your jump height allows. There's also nothing to stop you from flying a Thompson helicopter straight to the top and bypassing the platforming altogethernote . The game discourages this by spreading Data Clusters around on the platforms - you can finish the tower in record time, but you will deprive yourself of quite a few upgrade points if you do so.
  • Serious Business: "Zinyak stepped on Biz Markie!"
  • Sexophone: Plays during most of the romancing cut scenes.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: One variety of Zin enemy carries a large shield, which blocks gunfire from the front.
  • Shout-Out / Reference Overdosed: See ShoutOut.Saints Row IV for details.
  • Simulated Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic Reality: Following the invasion of Earth, Emperor Zinyak abducts the Boss and their lieutenants, imprisoning them in a colossal virtual reality prison aboard his flagship while his men go about the business of hammering Earth into submission. Soon after the Boss manages to escape, Zinyak destroys Earth itself out of spite; as such, the rest of the game is spent waging a post-apocalyptic rebellion against the Zin Empire from within the simulation... and in the meantime, given that this is a wide-open sandbox game, it's very common for the Boss and the rest of the gang to use the parts of the simulation they control for nothing more than personal amusement.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Kinzie and the President share a tender moment in the game...
    The President: Hey Kinzie, you wanna fuck?
    Kinzie: Let's go. (socks the prez in the face, then leaps into their arms and makes out)
    • Asha's Romance option also invokes this, or more implies it, as well as referencing the interaction with Kinzie.
      Asha: What do you want?
      Protagonist: I'm looking for rough sex and Kinzie scares the shit outta me.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Awful events like the deaths of 7 billion people on Earth along with Josh and Oleg are balanced by the Saint's absolute refusal to give up. This eventually pays off as the nine-member crew successfully defeats the Zin Empire against all odds and rescue those captured on Zinyak's flagship.
  • Slow Laser: All of the alien weapons fire projectiles of light that don't travel nearly as fast as light.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The cover art.
  • Smug Snake: Zinyak consistently behaves like the exasperatingly arrogant villain he is and always seems to be one step ahead of the Saints. He keeps this act until the very end during the final battle when your allies start giving support to you by distracting his goons while you attempt to shut off the generators that power the shield enshrouding him.
  • Sorrowful Stutter: Johnny Gat's second data log has him talk about the Saints' losses over the years, but the only one that audibly hurts him to recall is his girlfriend Aisha — he spends good four seconds silent before bringing himself to say her name, even a decade after her death.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The radio has "Swimming Pools" on it, because nothing says over the top action with superpowers like a song about alcoholism and peer pressure. It does not help that the song is a victim of having a Misaimed Fandom.
    • Piloting an alien spaceship escaping from pursuit while Haddaway's "What Is Love?" plays on the radio. Additionally, the ability to use the radio outside of cars can lead to this organically.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The Dubstep Gun forces all civilians to stop where they stand and dance while the gun fires. Not only that: people hit by the gun will fall in time to the music, cars will stop and pop their hydraulics, and street lamps will blink in time to the music.
  • Squee: Matt Miller gives a rather earsplitting one when meeting Nyteblayde in the (digital) flesh. Even though Matt programmed the scenario as part of his fanfiction fantasy and knew that (virtual) Nyteblayde was coming.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: Downplayed the endgame, which subtly imitates the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 and occurs in three phases (delivering the Key, opening the portals, storming the alien ship). At each stage, you must choose one of three pairs of homies (Pierce and Shaundi, Matt and Asha, and King and Gat) to go with you, leaving whoever was with you before to Hold the Line. While all of them basically do the same things, their reactions and dialogue is unique to each pair-mission combo, and in the second phase, the AI allies you summon depend on who is with you at the time.
  • Stealth Pun: The title of one mission? "The Very Next Day". What happens in it? The Gat Came Back.
  • The Stinger:
    • If you got the good ending, the post-credits sequence has The Boss shown people frozen in Zinyak's personal collection. He sets about freeing them, the first of which turns out to be the narrator of the story, Jane Austen.
    • After the credits of the "How the Saints Save Christmas" DLC, Santa is released from the simulation and calls out for anyone as he looks around puzzlingly.
  • Stock Scream: In this trailer, a mook is shot god-knows-how-high into the sky with telekinesis. The last thing he utters before becoming A Twinkle in the Sky is the Wilhelm Scream.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The Saints of Rage segment from Johnny Gat's recruitment mission features heavily pixelated "sprites" of characters with choppy animation, along with stilted, low-quality voice acting.
    • Also, (Virtual) Nyteblayde's "acting" in Matt's loyalty mission.
    • The cutscene after "Pop His Top" is live-action footage of a Volition employee playing with a toy of Paul and the ship you were driving while making noises with his mouth.
    • The cutscene in "Save the Planet" is rendered like a traditionally-drawn storyboard animation.
    • It should be noted, however, that the above example and the "Pop His Top" example are both (well, moreso for "Save the Planet") justified in the sense that the Enter the Dominatrix DLC was never actually completed, since it was scrapped as Saints Row 3 DLC in favor of just making an entirely new sequel, that sequel being Saints Row IV.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The game starts off with the Saints tracking Cyrus Temple down to the Middle East and killing him, after which the Boss destroys his nuke to prevent it from reaching Washington.
  • Swiss-Army Gun: The 'Merica weapon. It's a machine-gun, rocket launcher, and flamethrower.
  • Take That!: "The Game Australia Doesn't Want You To Play"note 
    • When the Boss encounters the cloning cylinders in Asha's recruitment mission, Asha will describe them as "replications of a highly functional sociopathic paradigm". The English male voice will immediately ask, "Like Thatcher?"
  • Take That Us: If you have Keith David and Ben King as homies at the same time, they'll lampshade how crazy their situation isnote , and Keith will remark that if that were the plot of a book, nobody in the world would want to read that shit.
  • A Taste of Power: Just like The Third, the first mission gives you fully-upgraded guns with Bottomless Magazines. Then Zinyak happens, and in the simulation you have to restart from scratch. What, did you really think Zinyak would just give you great guns?
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Several simulated versions of the Saints' former enemies are reprogrammed to fight on their side, but they aren't programmed to like it.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Discussed alongside Chekhov's Gun in a late game mission, which causes Fun Shaundi and CID to refuse to help you because they believe you caused their job to get harder.
    • Many of the drivers' lines seem to be baiting a carjacking:
      • "That fresh new car smell!"
      • "If this gets jacked again..!"
      • "I wish my wife would let me buy a new car..."
    • When chasing a Golden CID, it may discount the possibility of you catching it.
  • Terminator Impersonator: Murderbots are blatant Shout Outs to the Terminator, being humanoid machines with names that basically describe their function. In the game's source code, their animation set literally uses the name "terminator".
  • Text Adventure: Taking a page from the popular example of the third game, you have to go through one to get to Matt. There are bonus ones where Zinyak and Future!Shaundi explain how they came to power and destroyed Christmas respectively, with the former snarking and mocking while the latter takes the silliness in her stride and shows incredible patience. Mostly.
    Ha! No, Pierce did not snap and turn against the Saints, but that would so totally be Pierce wouldn't it?
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Female Voice 1 destroying Zinyak Statues: "Dust to dust, BITCH." The delivery of the line is just perfect for the trope.
  • Time Travel:
    • Simulated. The virtual reality puts you into The '50s at several points in the game.
    • At the end of the game, Zinjai confirms that the Zin have actual time travel, which Zinyak used to make copies of many of Earth's most notable residents.
  • Timed Mission: Parodied in the mission "Ghost in the Machine". At one point, Kinzie will tell you to defend a location while she uploads some data. When the Boss asks how long it will take, she replies with 55 minutes. The game goes as far as to display a timer counting down from 55:00 and have the Boss comment that "these things usually take three to five minutes, tops." Don't worry, the time gets decreased to a more reasonable amount later.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: In the DLC How the Saints Saved Christmas, in reference to the Trope Codifier, the Boss has to place their tongue on a pole in order to cause lightning to strike (just roll with it). Initially, this leads to an inversion of But Thou Must!, as there are only two "Refuse" options at the beginning, but refusing enough times will play the trope straight and solidify the Shout-Out as C.I.D triple dog-dares the Boss to do it, leading to two "Accept" options.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Compared to her portrayal in The Third, Kinzie is considerably more sarcastic and condescending towards the Boss. Her audio logs suggest this is due to a combination of grief over Oleg's death and bitterness over Matt being Easily Forgiven.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: By contrast to the above, Shaundi is far less spiteful and rude then she was in The Third, especially once her Loyalty Mission is completed.
    • The Boss gets another one, going from a "Fun & Lovable" homicidal maniac in The Third to just plain Fun & Lovable outside the simulation, saving the actual homicidal rampages strictly for the evil Zin Empire.
  • Troll: Zinyak will go out of his way just to annoy the President, including singing over songs that the President and his homies are enjoying in the car. One of his better stunts is changing Planet Saints into his empire's brand, with both models of Earth exploding on display and the planet's destruction constantly replaying on the store's monitors.
  • Tron Lines:
    • Much of the Zin technology and vehicles, even outside the simulation though the effect is more pronounced inside.
    • In addition, the Tron-inspired bike from Saints Row: The Third seems to make a return; it has glowing blue lines running along its wheels and chassis.
  • Troperiffic: This game revels in playing with tropes, as its myriad Shout Outs can attest to.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After getting abducted, The Playa then wakes up alone and naked in a tank on the Zin mothership. They go on a Full-Frontal Assault for the rest of the mission as they escape. The stripping seems to have happened to all the other crew that got abducted too, as they're also naked.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • During Matt's rescue mission, the game briefly switches to a top-down tank battle game a-la Combat.
    • A late-game mission has you playing a 2D beat-'em-up.
    • The various text adventures you encounter.
    • There are a few platforming sequences before the Platform Rifts make it a minigame.
    • Speed Rifts play a lot like Audiosurf.
  • Updated Re Release: Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, released for next-gen consoles.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: The upgrades that allow you to steal cache from people by bumping into them and increase the amount of cache dropped when you kill someone. In both cases, the boost is so minor that it really never pays for itself, and in any event the vast majority of cache you'll receive is earned as rewards for missions or the hourly cache transfers.
  • Variable Mix: When you aren't listening to the radio, the background music changes when you sprint and super-jump.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • Suprisingly Averted or at least downplayed. The Boss is still a crazy sociopath but they spend the whole game actually doing heroic things and saving their teammates rather than heinous deeds.
    • At the start of the game, The Boss and the Saints actually save the USA from a terrorist attack. After the alien invasion, The Boss saves their teammates from the simulation world and at the same time leads humanity's war against the alien invaders. Gameplay wise, even when the player is killing civilians and causing mayhem, this is only in the simulation world so they technically aren't even committing crimes.
    • According to developer interviews, this premise instantly made the test players much more likely to commit violence towards bystanders.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The simulation has this. At the start of the game, there are signs all over Steelport which say things like "Zin is Law Above All", "This Is Your New Home" and "All Hail Zinyak". As you progress through the game, these signs change to reflect how you're overpowering it, with messages now reading "Madman Loose in City", "Simulation Reboot Imminent" and We Wl*&LOYL JH FA stop[" (yes, the simulation takes your resistance so badly it glitches by itself).
  • Virtual Paper Doll: There are dozens of costume options for your character, from nice suits to superhero outfits to giant white gorilla costumes.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In addition to giving your character voices for a character of the opposite gender, you can also adjust your character's voice's pitch anywhere from sounding like a parakeet on helium to a demonic-sounding baritone.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Most often Kinzie, but everyone speaks to you remotely when you take a quest from them. Even if their avatar is standing next to yours in the simulation, even if you're physically in nudging distance in reality.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Boss hurls a couple times after first leaving the simulation aboard the Zin's mothership.
  • Wham Episode: "The Real World". It's fairly lighthearted for most of its duration, with an amusing sequence in which you escape the Zin Mothership while "What Is Love?" plays. Then the mission ends with Zinyak destroying the Earth, reducing almost every side character, cool location, and everything you owned in the first three games to dust.
  • What Could Have Been: Everything in the Trivia tab examples and more are also In-Universe examples throughout the Fourth Wall Breaking "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC. One example unique to the DLC is a fight scene shown in rough storyboards in which Nyteblade sacrifices himself slaying a giant cyclops, and is touchingly mourned by Shaundi and Kinzie.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Just how human the residents of Simulation 31 are meant to be seems variable. The player is invited to go on rampages against simulated pedestrians without guilt, but simulated versions of named characters like Fun Shaundi are treated as though they were fully sapient individuals.
    • This may be partially explained in the first 1950s simulation mission, as the pedestrians begin emitting nonsensical zombie-like moans once the President stops going along with the simulation, presumably because their programming is too simple to cope. Truly sentient AI seems few and far between in the simulation; in other words, shooting a random simulation NPC may be no worse than assaulting a particularly complex toaster.
    • There's also some deliberate ambiguity with Roddy Piper, as conversations between him and two other homies reveals that nobody is sure if he's the real person or just a sentient AI from Keith David's simulation.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • CID calls out the Boss on their treatment of Pierce. The Boss tries to explain to him that it's all in good fun. Notably, the Boss does treat Pierce with respect for the rest of the game.
    • Kinzie gives probably the most damning in the series after the Boss gives Matt a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for not wanting to risk exposing their location to Zinyak in order to save Johnny.
      Kinzie: You're asking Matt and I to paint a target on humanity's last chance so YOU can go and rescue someone we've never even met! And what's stupider is that we're going along with it! That guy you just beat the shit out of is risking everything to save your friend. And you wanna know why? Because we can't save ours anymore! Oleg is dead! Viola is dead! EARTH... is dead! So how about you stop being a fucking asshole and say 'thank you' for giving us the hope he'll never have?
    • Asha gives one during her rescue mission. The Boss assumes Asha's greatest fear was them. Asha calls them out on their self-centeredness, and states what her real fear is.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. More specifically... a when are they now ending, as the crew goes on several centuries worth of time travel joyriding. The complete list can be found on the Awesome page.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: The Explosion element for your powers if you get one of the Downloadable Content packs. Turns any human, alien, or vehicle you use it on into a bomb. With the infectious upgrade for the Blast power, it will also turn everything that your first bomb blows up into a bomb. And everything they blow up...
  • Wicked Cultured: Zinyak, the evil alien overlord, is quite intelligent and cultured. He also DJs the classical music radio station in the virtual Steelport.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: As per usual for the Saints Row franchise.
  • Womb Level: Mission 4 of the Enter the Dominatrix DLC takes place inside Paul, of all things! You even get an achievement for destroying all the green thingies floating about.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Cyrus manages to launch a nuke at Washington DC just as he dies. Zinyak also successfully invades and conquers Earth and even blows it up.
  • You Monster!: The President tells Zinyak that he's "a fucking monster" after he blows up the Earth.
  • You All Look Familiar: Most minor characters, such as Warren Williams are simply re-used pedestrians. Exaggerated with the Zin who all have the same class-specific skin.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Zinyak in "Enter the Dominatrix". He even complains about how easily this version of himself goes down.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Saints Row 4


Emperor Zinyak

Imprisoning his defeated enemies in virtual prisons based on their worst nightmares, Zinyak has the power to alter them at will in any way he pleases. Consequently, fighting him is even more suicidal than usual in the virtual world.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / VirtualRealityWarper

Media sources: