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"It's like they're being summoned by the autosave function!"

You've blasted your way through the hedge maze populated by unspeakable monstrosities, and after spending what seems like most of your ammo, you've finally cleared the place out. And look! Up there on the pedestal! It's the keycard you need to open that door you passed a while back! Looking behind you once more to make sure it's safe, you take the keycard...

...and immediately hear the footsteps of enemies running in to murder you. You could have sworn you cleared the area of zombie chainsaw maniacs beforehand. And the area before that, too, and the only other entrance to this area is locked. So how the hell did these guys get here? They must have teleported in the moment you grabbed the keycard.

And that's what this trope is all about. Whenever you take something important like a key (or sometimes a new gun or upgrade item), the game spawns in new enemies for you to deal with, regardless of whether or not there were any enemies left in the area. Sometimes they're teleported in, possibly around the corner where you can't see it so the game can pretend they were there already, and sometimes they come out of hidden rooms that open up and disgorge them (which is often called "Monster Closet" gameplay).

Anything useful tends to be Schmuck Bait, especially any Plot Coupon. You have to get it and the writers know it, so they might as well punish you for doing the only thing possible. This veers into Stupidity Is the Only Option if you get no chance for at least taking sensible precautions. Like planting proximity explosives that don't trigger because the enemies spawn with their jaws already sunken firmly into your buttcheeks.

If the game goes into a cutscene as you approach a Plot Coupon, it's almost guaranteed that this trope will come into effect.

Non Genre Savvy players beware: If that thirty-foot-tall dragon doesn't appear immediately when you take the keycard, he's probably waiting behind the door you entered the room from. Or maybe he's waiting for you at back at the local Save Point. Or the dungeon's entrance. Or maybe he is the keycard. Or, sometimes you actually can grab the keycard without having to fight something over it. Hope you don't lose any sleep over which one it is.

If the new enemies are dropped off by a dropship or similar it's probably a Videogame Set Piece or Scripted Event. Compare Clairvoyant Security Force. Also compare Villain Teleportation. Compare Suspicious Videogame Generosity, where taking the "keycard" doesn't trigger enemies, but the nature of the item lets you know they're coming all the same. See also Mobile Menace. He Was Right There All Along is a similar trope that applies to bosses. Drop in Nemesis is where an enemy appears and kills you without warning due to some stupid action by you.

Examples of Teleporting Keycard Squad include:


  • The Resident Evil series especially loves doing this, to the point where just grabbing a bit of shotgun ammo can be sufficient cause for a pack of betentacled wolves to leap out of the bushes and attempt to chew on your throat, which is appropriate as after a while, you start to fear success, adding to the atmosphere.
    • RE4 takes this to borderline-cheap levels, by throwing a Demonic Spider or two in the pre-acquisition squad that you have to beat just to get the item, like Dr. Salvador, JJ, or a Garrador, then throwing in a couple more of them in the Keycard Squad. Some of these encounters, though, such as the first one with Salvador in the village, are optional; ie he won't appear if you fight off the Ganados until they are called away by the bell before going in the shotgun house.
  • Bioshock is generally pretty good about having the characters already there (or more accurately everything is spawned by Scripted Events just before you get there.) There were a couple more blatant ones, though, the biggest one being when you grab the shotgun. The room is absolutely clear, but now you have to fight 8 Slasher Splicers with the lights out. Fortunately... you now have a shotgun.
    • Occasionally, they also play this for horror. In one area, you can walk down a flight of steps into a large, nearly empty room with only one exit. There's a cabinet in the far corner. You can walk over, search the cabinet...and then, when you turn around, you notice a number of statues in the room that weren't there before. And as soon as you get close to one of them...
      • Also, Little Sisters bringing rewards literally appear out of thin air if you are near a Gatherer's Garden when they are sent in.
    • The sequel is more obvious. Anytime you enter an 'optional' room, Splicers walk in behind you as soon as you start looking around.
  • Diablo II pulls this when activating the seals to reach Diablo. Twice they have the courtesy to run in from off-screen; once they just pop up out of thin air.
    • Earlier in the game is the quest for the Gidbinn. When you light up the fire in the village in the forest, a small groupe of enemies will come rushing at you, including the one that drops the aforementioned dagger.
  • And of course, you can't grab a keycard in Doom without unleashing demons from hell, hence the name of the trope.
    • MAP16: Suburbs in Doom II has the biggest squad in either game - grabbing the first key brings in a stream of imps and pinky demons, spawning once every second or two, for nearly a full minute.
    • This was one of the biggest complaints about Doom 3. It happens constantly throughout the game, though sometimes the enemies are just hiding behind doors that spring open whenever you grab the item(s); other times, waves of them literally teleport in.
  • Serious Sam revolves around this entirely, and manages to make it fun.
    • The sequel, on the other hand, goes severely overboard...
    • Sam arrives in a room at one point and hangs a lampshade, complaining about the enemies being slow to ambush him.
  • At least one of the Call of Duty games had a shed-load of enemy soldiers teleport in if the player took control of a machine gun.
    • Call of Duty is particularly egregious, in that enemies will constantly spawn out of view until the player advances to the spawn point or beyond. Meaning that endless streams of enemies were the norm rather than the exception.
      • In some cases the game actually complains about it in the console. The first game will note that it can't spawn because the 'player can see spawn point'.
  • Likewise, nearly every game in the Medal of Honor series pulls the same trick. Apparently half the SS is just waiting around for you to find an MG-42 before running out and getting mowed down.
  • Metal Gear Solid, for example, has a bit where you get on an elevator and the weight limit warning light goes off, even though Snake is by no means heavy enough (well, except maybe for the Hyperspace Arsenal he's carrying around in his pockets). When you tell Otacon about this, he mentions that some optic camouflage units have gone missing. Oh no! It's a trap! The enemy soldiers decloak (actually, they just become slightly more visible, Predator-style, and you can use the Infrared Goggles to see them clearly) and you have to kill them. However, on subsequent playthroughs you can't just clear the elevator beforehand with, say, grenades or C4, or see them wth the goggles, because as it turns out they technically aren't there until the game spawns them in specifically for the event. That's the very definition of Teleporting Keycard Squad, even though the game attempts to Hand Wave it with the aforementioned stealth unit business.
  • Dead Space does this quite a bit, but it's done a little more subtly than most games, because there's sometimes a certain amount of delay between the trigger and the appearance of the slavering hordes. This means the player can sometimes think grabbing or activating an important item didn't trigger a mass invasion of a previously cleared area when he actually is just about to get swarmed.
  • In Half-Life 2 there is one memorable annoyance in Ravenholm. New zombies are constantly generated from multiple points all around the map as you kill off their predecessors. They're not there, then poof into existence. The level is otherwise quiet, until you move about one building down the street, whereupon without warning you're damn near overwhelmed by a horde including a couple poison headcrab zombies. You're left wondering, "where was all this crap when I was about 60 yards off and couldn't hear it at all?"
    • There's also a scene earlier in the game where you clear through the interior part of a gate control room so you can open the gate to take your boat through. Turns out you just need to blow up some explosive barrels to set off the controls and open the lock. As soon as you do so, a troop carrier flies in near the entrance and deposits some Combine. Although they're not teleporting in, they arrive WAY too fast to have gone through all of the complex to attack you as soon as they do. Unfortunately, it's a scripted event, so the Combine will show up to attack you as soon as you enter the area with the mounted gun, regardless if you head there immediately upon opening the gate or take your sweet time.
    • Also, there's a scene in the underground freeway where you get to a room, clear out some zombies, then take the elevator out. As soon as you call the elevator, though, you're beset by hordes of zombies, as the elevator takes its own sweet time clanking down to you. Contrived, yes, but it's pretty damn scary.
      • In that same room you can be zombie-free, but if your flashlight goes out, the moans start. Guess they like to teleport into dark areas.
  • Metroid Prime has this when you grab the thermal visor in the bottom of a large tower. When you do this the power suddenly cuts out, releasing a handful of metroids from their storage tanks, and a bunch of pirates suddenly show up.
    • Then again, the power didn't go out by itself - you shut it off in order to kill the security fields around the visor. Presumably the Pirates came in to investigate who turned out the lights.
    • Prime 3 does this twice, but it's justified in that you can see the metroids caged up until you're forced to cut the power.
    • On the 2D side, Fusion has a nasty habit of spawning loads of X from absolutely nowhere whenever you grab an item or open a plot-locked door. Justified, though, in the cases of security-level doors, because you just opened up a lot of doors for other things to come in too.
    • And of course, let's not forget Super Metroid, which does this twice - with the same boss (Ridley) and the same Plot Coupon (baby metroid) both times.
    • Prime 2 has you get the Gravity Boost, allowing you to move normally underwater. Then you begin to head back, and the Alpha Blogg attacks you. Just in time.
  • Duke Nukem 3D does pretty much like Doom, with aliens instead of demons. Also, enemies spawn as punishment for killing humans.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Many a mission and quest is based on this in Final Fantasy XI - you're specifically expected to select a ??? spot on the floor to get some key item, and a mob just spawn there from thin air - only after you defeat it can you select the ??? again to get the item properly.
  • In the original Wild ARMs game, in the Photosphere, a certain NPC only shows up after you've emptied a certain treasure chest. If you've been cheating and have the max of the item (a stat apple), this person never shows up, and you'll be mystified at how to get further into the dungeon.
  • Happens quite often in the MMO City of Heroes when a player clicks on an objective such as a crate or computer terminal. Usually the incoming enemies spawn outside the room and run in, even shouting orders to one another so that you know that they are coming. Then there are the Rikti, which will simply teleport in around you during the final mission of the Lady Grey Task Force.
  • First-Person Shooter Area 51 is very fond of this trope. Clear out an area entirely, go to next room, activate switch, return to previous area, find it with more enemies than it had the first time.
  • Mass Effect is generally fair about cleaned areas staying clean, but set a timed scuttling charge or any equivalent thereof and see what happens.
    • Particularly blatant at the end of the Noveria mission. Once you've cleared out the Hot Labs, you can loiter around in them as long as you want without running into any enemies... but the moment you start the two-minute countdown for the neutron purge and try to get the hell out of dodge, the next room over is suddenly packed wall-to-wall with angry rachni.
      • This actually happens multiple times on Noveria. "Hmm, there's a storage locker, let me get it and leaOH SHIT RACHNI KILL IT!!" (The fact that rachni look like the mutated offspring of spiders and cockroaches doesn't help.) But those times never have more than one or two Soldiers; activating the neutron purge spawns about 10 Soldiers and 30 Workers. Luckily, you can just ignore them and run straight to the elevator.
    • After you wipe out Fist's men and get to him at the beginning of the game, the bar where you fought the first bunch is full again on your way out. Of course, otherwise having a three minute timer to walk twenty feet would be pretty stupid.
      • The three minute timer is completely pointless even with the enemies, you can't possibly need more than a minute to kill a bunch of pathetic Mooks in a small-ish room. Not that you even need to kill them, you could just run out.
    • One particular sidequest also plays with this: when you board the ship, the radar is completely clear of any contact, but one of your squadmates will tell you right away that "we're not alone". However, it is only after you activate one particular console that an enemy will suddenly appear behind you.
  • In level 4 of Prince of Persia 2, you get chased to the level exit by a bunch of sword-wielding skeletons, which were content to rest in peace when you ran over them on your way to unlock it.
  • Winback 64 has similar; if you are lucky, one of them will frag himself on the Deadly Laser Traps that are all over the damned place.
  • Goldeneye 64; despite clearing the facility of all enemy soldiers, unlimited ones will appear once you are done talking to 006. Don't stay and fight -- just set the damned charges, detonate them and run for it. Poor 006. Hope he doesn't hold a grudge.
    • Watch Alec closely when that sequence begins and you'll see him deliberately shooting at the wall below the door the guards come through. That specific point is where Alec implemented his plan to pull his Face Heel Turn.
    • Another infinite teleporting keycard squad attacks at the end of Bunker 1, as well as Control.
    • In Perfect Dark's second level, a couple of enemies spawn behind you while you're decoding the Locked Door to Sector 4. In the fourth level on Perfect Agent, one of the additional objectives is triggered this way.
  • World of Warcraft is prone to doing this during quests, to the point where you often actually see the enemies spawn in front of you once you grab the Plot Coupon or reach the appropriate trigger point. Only rarely is this justified by the creature being a ghost or having a teleport power. Also, in Escort Missions, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll be ambushed by magically spawning enemies at least once on the NPC's scripted path. It's such a standard element of the game that most players are used to it by the time they reach mid levels. Spawning Mooks are also a common feature of boss encounters, even when your group has completely cleared any part of the dungeon that they could reasonably have come from.
    • The Worgen starting zone prevents the visible spawns of Forsaken assassins by having several around three spawn points - no matter which way your camera faces, one of them is always just out of frame.
  • The Suffering has nice twists on this and many other tropes. Many times you can look through security cams, including at your own self. Sometimes you see things in the camera in that weren't there before you decided to take a look. Sometimes they are there after, sometimes they are only viewable in the camera and sometimes you spin around in horror only to see nothing whatsoever. Explainable by the enemies being supernatural. Well, most of them. Fortunately the evil CO waits until you get to the camera before executing prisoners.
  • A particular mission in Starcraft does this. After clearing your way to your target's base, you must escort him out, this time using his base to create units and deal with the hundred mooks that spawned on the way back.
  • In Blood, this happens very frequently.
  • The original Quake did this a lot, sometimes summoning Shamblers or Vores. A nasty case occurs on "The Door to Chthon", where, on all difficulties, a Shambler teleports in after you receive the Gold key, and you're in a dead end with no hiding spot. Then you reach what appears to be the exit door, but then the lights come on to reveal another Shambler.
    • The second game has drop-in bosses, such as the Supertank that teleports in after you shut down the security grid.
  • Even Civilization has a variant: every time a civilization moves into a new area of the technology tree, barbarians spawn somewhere on the map and attack whatever's nearby.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, after defeating the guards of a racket track, one of them will drop a sack of cash. If you pick it up in a part of NYC still controlled by an enemy family, mobsters will spawn and start chasing you. Usually they come in a car. You will also see these if you pick up a stolen shipment, and some raids on enemy fronts may have enemies pop up to attack you In the Back even if you made sure to clear the path beforehand.
  • Happens in spades in the Descent series. Certain Mook Makers or monster closets are set to activate when you cross a certain line or retrieve a key . One of the worst examples is at the red key in the first game's Level 6, which is practically impossible to beat without the cloaking device. Another monster closet is placed right at the beginning of Level 9 to ambush you when you respawn. The worst are the ones in rooms that contain nothing else significant, only set up as traps.
  • In Halo, extra enemies don't teleport or appear from nowhere, but are usually inserted from dropships or come out of locked doors, ie monster closets.
  • In Left 4 Dead, if you have to manipulate the environment in some way to advance it's a sure bet that a horde of zombies will attack as soon as you do. Justified in the case of noisy mechanical things like elevators, since the Infected are attracted to noise; how they know to attack as soon as the rescue ship sets sail is a bit harder to rationalise.
    • Before the rescue ship arrives. Justified in Dark Carnival, afterall, you are signalling with a rock concert. But why are they attacking when all you are doing is collecting gas cans?
      • Left 4 Dead even has a name for this. The "Director" feature tries to cue zombie mob events so the game stays interesting.
  • Happens quite often in Hexen.
    • Actually, basic mooks periodically spawn on every level bar the very first, just to keep you entertained.
  • This happens in a few quests in Dragon Fable when you're supposed to go in and retrieve something or someone.
  • Soldier of Fortune. Just Soldier of Fortune. They can even spawn in plain sight. In at least two levels of the series, an alarm will activate and summon Respawning Enemies after you complete the main objective.
  • In Sensory Overload, some levels have security cameras that trigger enemies to come out of locked rooms or compartments in the walls. The door leading to The Dragon's lair at the end of the game is equipped with a silent alarm that causes a dozen security droids to come out of the walls. "Warning! Intruder!"
  • Occasionally happens in Star Trek Online. Justified, however, in that the enemy can simply use the Transporters to beam in additional troops as needed. Conversely, there are a number of missions where it's possible for the player to beam out without fighting the reinforcements, making the Teleporting Keycard Squad optional in those cases.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has you grab a Gear which you need to put in a place at the clock tower. As soon as you take it, Legion appears in the room.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, every time you get a big key in the central dungeon, giant disembodied hands appear out of the floor. They will move towards the Phantom carrying the key on sight, can force the Phantom to drop the key in one hit (they will then return it to its original location), and are positioned in the most inconvenient places possible for the player. Kill them? They'll just respawn.
  • Parasite Eve 2 does this after a plot advancing cut scene or when you take an important key item. Unlike the previous game, this game uses Preexisting Encounters where there are enemies spawned in a set amount of rooms and stay gone when you clear them. When the game invokes this trope, the rooms you just cleared are now hot zones again. Not a bad thing if you plan to level grind or get more loot from monsters.
  • In God of War, every time the player acquires a new ability, he is ambushed by Mooks, of whom he can try out his new ability on. Justified as every enemy in this game arrives straight from hell, and come rushing at you from portals of dark smoke in the ground no matter what the situation.
  • Unlike its realistic predecessors, Rainbow Six Vegas uses this rather blatantly. On a few points, it's possible to see them pop into existence if you order your AI henchmen ahead or equip the thermal goggles. In most other cases, you'll notice it from the fact that there's nothing in the large room untill you move two paces forward, at which points a smoke bomb will be dropped in the middle of the room, or enemies appear from 6 different doors and 3 ropes from the ceiling. And let's not get into the few Hold the Line sequences.
    • Same for Rainbow Six 3 (at least the console versions) and Lockdown.
  • As Yahtzee noted, in Amnesia the Dark Descent, no matter how good a job you've done staying hidden, solving a puzzle usually means you'd better start running from Mr. Face and Mr. Tall.
  • Happens in Will Rock, though usually monsters will pop out of the sky or out of the ground with a distinctive sound.
  • One of quests in Gothic II involves opening the gates of a besieged castle. Cue a horde of orcs materializing at the gates, even though by that time you usually have slaughtered the whole orc army surrounding the castle.
  • In the original Ys, after grabbing a certain treasure in Darm Tower, the statues in the room spring to life as deadly Demonic Spiders. Also, some bosses are spawned by attempting to open the treasure chest in the room.
  • Happens in Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle. When you fight the goblin king and drop his health to a certain amount, a small army of goblins will appear and attack, even though you may have cleared out the rest of the village beforehand.
  • Fallout: New Vegas uses this on a few occasions. One NCR quest has you tracking down a missing squad carrying supplies. You eventually find the squad, slaughtered, and when you pick up the supplies, several legion soldiers appear out of thin air and attack you.
    • Vault 34 is very bad about this. It's filled with enemies that are all plainly visible (at least on radar) but are only released in scripted events. Head down a water-filled corridor, ghouls are there when you come back. Pop open a door, more ghouls behind you. Combine that with the annoying fact that companions only auto-heal when there are no enemies in sight, meaning they're ten times more likely to die than in a normal situation.
    • Lonesome Road has a particularly vile instance of this trope. If you walk into a certain RV, a Deathclaw spawns on top of it to block your escape. Mind you, DLC Deathclaws are even tougher than normal ones at higher levels, so this is practically a death sentence to the unprepared.
    • Old World Blues isn't even modest with how blatant or often it does this. Even if you're absolutely sure everything in a kilometer radius is dead, if you pick up one of the unique (and incredibly powerful) weapons in the overworld, you'll spawn at least three mooks literally ten feet away from you. Which weapons count is also pretty blatant, as they don't appear with the usual weight and value tags (mostly to keep NPC's from picking them up before you do).
  • In Syphon Filter, you can actually see mooks "teleport" in on your Enemy Detecting Radar. The Washington Park level is especially blatant with this. Once a CBDC agent begins disarming a bomb, the enemy is immediately all over you like flies on a carcass, and several more squads teleport in while you're Back Tracking from defusing the first few bombs. At least justified in the second game's first level with enemies parachuting in.
  • Cave Story drops minor Boss Battles on you when you get the Gum Base and, later, the Medicine. There's also a Skippable Boss battle that only happens if you open a conspicuous chest. Also, when you get the Infinity Plus One Gun, many more enemies are added to the area you have to backtrack through to give your new weapon a workout.
  • Enemy spawns in the Turok series are, not surprisingly, often triggered by grabbing a level key or other item.
  • Xenoblade does this with certain quest items, but it's less often mooks and more frequently a hideously overlevelled Bonus Boss you'll have to game back half the game later to stand a chance against.
  • Fatal Frame does this on occasion, though in this case it's Justified because 1. Ghosts are well-known for randomly appearing out of nowhere anyway, and 2. You don't actually kill enemy ghosts... just drain their energy until they can't manifest themselves, which they eventually recover from.
  • System Shock 2 does this unapologetically. In the first game, SHODAN warns you that if you activate one objective, she'll send mooks to tear you to pieces. You do, and she does.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution usually avoids this with one notable exception, the picus building. Even if you knock out /murder everyone in the building several guards will appear when you summon the Funicular. Before this you can block every door before the room 404 ambush and the guards still get in.
  • The mission "Vertical Bird" in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. If you don't blow up the other two Hydras before stealing the third, three of them will chase you. If you do blow up those two, a single one will chase you anyway. And if you are fast enough to get on the deck and destroy the Hydra that's taking flight at that moment (wich one would assume is the one that chases you later), at least one Hydra will appear out of nowhere and chase you anyway.
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