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This creature normally doesn't look or act like an enemy, and unlike everything else, it's not interested in your blood. It's simply there to provide flavor. However, if you attack it or otherwise provoke it, it will turn on you and dish out the hurt.
Most commonly this is programmed as a form of Video Game Cruelty Punishment. Video games are rather infamous for having player characters who can still be considered "the good guys" no matter how much petty rampaging they engage in, so even to this day a harmless creature that suddenly turns vicious can catch gamers off-guard, forcing them to question whether engaging in your inner Jerkass is really worth having to start the level over from scratch.
Compare Helpful Mook.
- Multiple franchise installments have the Cuccos, vicious birds who many old-school gamers can recognize by name as being this trope. In every game they appear in and are attackable they'll gang up on Link and viciously destroy him should he poke them with his sword one too many times.
- The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker replaces them with pigs. If you return to the first island you'll find that the pig you caught at the beginning of the game is now HUGE. It can be provoked just like the other pigs. It does more damage than any other enemy in the game when it attacks- including the Final Boss!
- In The Legend of Zelda, if you attack NPCs with your sword they'll start flinging fireballs at you.
- Super Metroid has a turtle-like creature and its adorable babies in certain areas of Zebes. While they're normally utterly harmless, I'm sure you can guess what happens if you attack the little ones.
- The Game Boy Advance RPG Dokapon had the Shopkeepers. While they would never pick a fight with you, you could pick a fight with them... Ouch.
- Kirby has the Scarfies, adorable little floating cat-head things... which abruptly transform into cyclopean, razor-toothed monstrosities should you attempt to inhale them, or when you do minor damage. In some games they perform the more traditional mook role of only attacking when the player character is facing away.
- In the jungle stage of Contra Hard Corps, there's an apatosaurus whose back you land on after defeating one of the stage's minibosses. You have to walk up his neck and over his head to move on, but if you shoot his face, he'll unleash a stream of white-hot plasma DEATH out of his nose. In the Japanese version where you could take up to 3 hits before dying, this is the only attack in the game that kills you instantly.
- A not-really-an-enemy example: Earthworm Jim's Peter The Puppy. Just Peter The Pup-- *falls into the pit and becomes a flying buffed-up monster*
- In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, you can occasionally find shops in dungeons. Attempt to shoplift, and you'll face an army of extremely high-level Kecleon with max stats. Even if you're prepared, they'll probably wipe the floor with you. The worst part is that this is the only way to recruit a Kecleon for your Rescue Team.
- The shopkeeper can also go ballistic on you or the enemies if accidentally struck by an attack. His behavior is rather unpredictable in that regard, so fighting around him is generally a bad idea.
- The shopkeepers in the Chocobo Mystery Dungeon series look like the Grim Reaper and are ungodly powerful. Naturally you need to kill one to achieve Hundred-Percent Completion.
- In Left 4 Dead, the Witch does nothing besides moan and cue creepy music. If you attack her, get too close to her, or in some case look at her too long or shine your flashlight at her, she'll run at you and kill you in seconds. In some versions she'll rampage against the the other party members too out of sheer spite.
- Most cashiers in the Grand Theft Auto games can be robbed at gunpoint, but those in the gun shops and high-class nightclubs carry shotguns and will bust a cap if you try anything funny. Oddly, this can work to your advantage as if you're trying to kill some annoying gang members and can't quite get the police to aggro them. Gunshots will attract the police, who'll kill the cashiers, which will cause cashiers to become more aggressive in their behavior, and probably shoot or beat to death the wandering gangers. Good for when your objective is to kill one of their number and they're mulling about near both the target and the gun store/nightclub. Just aim your gun at the cashier and duck behind someone else.
- In Temple of Elemental Evil, there are several locations which automatically spawn groups of giant rats (such as the Moathouse entry hall). Unlike most rats you'll meet, these are not hostile. You can attack them, but if your party is low level (which is usually the case) you could end up with a couple of diseased characters. The rats mostly serve the purpose of indicating that a location is not healthy for sleeping.
- In Age of Empires I, elephants (except for King Elephants) only attack if you hurt them first. While they're dangerous to hunt as a result, you can safely ignore them. This is a big contrast to lions and crocodiles.
- Also, wild boars in Age of Empires II. Attempting to hunt one for food will likely end up with a few dead villagers (and boar) as a result.
- The Big Daddies basically fill this role in Bioshock. They'll lumber past ignoring you all day long, but if you take a shot at them (or their Little Sister) they won't stop until one of you is dead. But if you do kill them, you can capture the Little Sister and loot their bodies for money and weapons.
- The Zombie Pigman from Minecraft will even walk right up to you and look at you without attacking. When you attack him, not only does he attack full-on with his sword, but any other Pigmen in range come in swinging, and on the normal difficulty, they can take off a quarter of your maximum health with one hit. The game actually encourages you to attack them by making them drop gold nuggets, which is more fun than mining for gold and arguably faster. Wolves behave with a similar pack instinct, except you can also tame them so that they'll gang up on monsters that attack you. Spiders are hostile at night, but turn into this in the sunlight, albeit without the group attack. However, due to how the AI works, you can kill them without fear of reprisal by maneuvering them into harmful obstacles like cacti, nudging them off cliffs, or starting a fire under their feet.
- The Shopkeepers in Spelunky are like this. Even worse, killing one directly would cause all the other shopkeepers for the rest of the game to be hostile as well.
- In Final Fantasy XII, you may see a large T-Rex-esque creature wandering around a very early area of the game. It's harmless as long as you leave it alone. If you're foolish enough to run up and smack it, don't expect to live for much longer...
- Similarly, the Long Guis and Shaolong Guis in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 ignore you completely unless you deliberately pick a fight with them. They don't show up nearly as early as the FFXII example, but they are very powerful for when you first encounter them. By the postgame of XIII, however, you'll be farming them if you want to achieve One Hundred Percent Completion.
- World of Warcraft has a neutral NPC named Gamon in the Horde capital. He used to be the general beating doll, then apparently Took a Level In Badass and can now deal enough damage to one-hit players attacking him.