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Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting

Ellis, Coach, Rochelle and Nick.


  Coach: Wait for official instructions. (laughs, tossing away instruction sheet dismissively) Wait, my ass.

Ellis: Kill all sons-a-bitches. *racks shotgun* That's my 'ficial instructions.


In 2009, a sequel to Left 4 Dead was confirmed less than a year after the original, introducing co-op and versus campaigns, all-new Survivors, boss zombies, weapons, and items, as well as melee combat. It was released in November that year. Unfortunately, Valve's claim at launch of the original game that they would update it following the model of Team Fortress 2 updates promptly backfired, as large numbers of people were outraged that they were expected to buy content they were under the impression they'd either get for free, or get as a mod rather than an entirely new game; this gave rise to the biggest outburst of Ruined FOREVER, uhhh, ever: a 40,000+ people boycott. A month before the sequel was due, the leaders of the boycott shut the group down after Valve's release of a new campaign for the original, "Crash Course".

This was followed by the Left 4 Dead 2 DLC "The Passing", which brings the original survivors and the new ones together (well, three of them anyway) and "The Sacrifice" for Left 4 Dead, which lets players choose who makes the ultimate sacrifice and was preceded by a free comic. The latter update also made "The Sacrifice" and "No Mercy" available in the sequel, complete with the original survivors as the playable characters. Cue rumors that Valve plan to make the entire first game available for free in the sequel and more cries of Ruined FOREVER. Recently, Valve has confirmed that they are doing just that with a future update.

Also introduced in the sequel is the new Scavenge mode, a eight-player mode similar to Versus where the point isn't to reach the safe room; it's to collect gas cans. Also introduced is Realism, where most auras are removed (including the ones around teammates), Witches instantly kill on any mode except Easy, there are no closets, and a few other things.

The game also received massive critical acclaim for its use of emergent narrative- the parts of the story that they don't tell you, and the interactions of the survivors.

Please take a look at the character sheet to learn more about the characters and the Shout-Out page for countless pop culture references.

Left 4 Dead 2 provides examples of:

General Media Tropes


  Nick: I have not... come this far... to die now!

  • Badass Normal: All of the Survivors.
    • Badass Abnormal: The main reason why they survived all the shit hurled at them is that they're immune.
  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: The military and CEDA respectively.
    • In the comics the military is merely useless instead.
  • Balcony Escape: In the first chapter of Dead Center.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Zombies and the Witch
  • Celebrity Survivor: The Midnight Riders. Averted by Jimmy Gibbs Junior.
  • Clown Car Base: Occasionally, you may see an entire horde (30 or so Infected) emerge from a closet or bathroom.
  • Cluster S-bomb: The survivors in both games say "shit" a lot.
    • Ellis has a whole line consisting of nothing but the word "shit".
  • Cool Car: The Jimmy Gibbs Jr., a Plymouth Superbird NASCAR race car that the Survivors use to escape the Dead Center and Passing campaign.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Ellis and Francis have little difficulty adjusting to the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Ellis apparently even got an appropriate tattoo in advance, if his dialogue is to be believed.
    • Turns out this is the fate of the three survivors of the original game: they make it to an island in Florida and ride it out.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The survivors, with NPCs taking it to extremes.
  • Dead Hand Shot: The box art.
  • Dedication: If you die during the finale you don't get to respawn, but as long as at least one character escapes, the credits will start with "In memory of [Player Name]"
  • Deep South: Left 4 Dead 2 starts in Savannah, Georgia and makes its way to New Orleans.
  • Determinator: Keith, if Ellis's stories are to be believed. The man has been infliced with almost every injury one could think of (half of which are essentially fatal), and he not only survived, but was one of the first people out on a rescue chopper.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In Dead Center, the opening of L4D2 when the survivors reach the elevator they use the brief lull to introduce themselves to each other. If somebody dies before this point, one of the other character's mentions the dead character's name.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The only way to distract a Tank from pummeling a downed survivor to death is to melee him, which otherwise serves absolutely no purpose at all. In fact, you may be better off not distracting the tank at all and just shooting the hell out of him while he's occupied with the poor shmuck on the ground; it takes a long time for a tank to pummel a downed survivor to death, and the tank will probably die from the gunfire before the survivor dies from the punches.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Guarding the doors and windows is all well and good, but sometimes more often than not the horde just crashes through a wall.
  • DVD Commentary: Like all Valve games, both Left 4 dead games have a commentary mode, where you can play a campaign that contain commentary nodes which will play commentary audio from the developers. You're locked in Easy difficulty and zombies will ignore you. Naturally, you can't earn achievements this way.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Not on the elevator itself, but on the fourth level of the first campaign requires holding off the horde while waiting for the elevator.
    • Subverted on the elevator ride; Any first time player will constantly give the missing elevator panel nervous glances.
      • The panel is intact in the this game's port, to counter Spitters getting a cheap shot.
    • There are a few elevators and lifts to take in the sequel much like this. The most prominent is the elevator in Dead Center's hotel, which breaks down when the building is set on fire, and forcing it open causes a crescendo event.
  • Elite Zombie: The special infected.
  • Epic Hail: Are you telling me that summoning a helicopter through a rock concert with fireworks isn't epic?
  • Escape Convenient Boat: A few in the series. The most famous being Virgil's.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The only non-zombies you hear from in the game are the playable survivors, the (sometimes) unseen pilots and drivers who rescue you at the end of each campaign, the occasional psycho/weirdo, and occasional gunfire off in the distance.
  • Film Posters: One for each campaign. You can see them here.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: What the survivors are.
  • Four Philosophy Ensemble: Nick as Cynic (pessimistic), Ellis as Optimist (naive), Coach as Realist (leader) and Rochelle as Apathetic (level-headed).
  • Game Mod: Countless ones, this being a Source Engine game and all.
  • Hammerspace: If you have a melee weapon and are incapped(or a chainsaw runs out of gas), this is where the pistol comes from.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The light chopper pilots were making repeat trips into the infection zone, getting infected for their trouble. They still kept the rotors spinning right up until the bitter end.
  • Hide Your Children: The Infected are invariably adults.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Valve uses a fog effect in some areas to mimic the Hollywood technique of "smoking the set", which conventionally uses a fog machine to help create atmosphere in "dark" areas. The fog catches the little light available, which makes everything slightly brighter, and allows viewers and players to see the silhouettes in the distance when they would otherwise be indistinguishable against the dark background.
  • Idiot Ball: The reason the Hard Rain campaign ends with you defending a fast food joint with a bright sign is that at the start of the campaign, while getting off the ferry, the survivors simply FORGOT the flares!
  • Idle Animation: The infected alternate between leaning on the wall, sitting in despair, barfing up their guts (literally) and killing one another. The survivors alternate between stretching, wiping their faces, or picking their noses.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Every Special Infected can attack you whilst on fire. Hunters will actually do more damage while aflame, and tanks become faster.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The characters and achievements are quite fond of these.
  • It Got Worse: Leading up from the first game, there is evidence that much of the urban parts of America are completely overrun and that the infected are changing even more; just a month after the first case.
  • Jerkass: Nick doesn't usually go out of his way to be nice.
  • Last Stand: Survival mode.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Done in the Sacrifice comic with Zoey and her dad.

 Wade: Remember those zombie movies I used to sneak you into when you were a kid, Zoey? ... Remember the part in all of 'em where they had to shoot the one guy before he turned?

Zoey: Heh. *sniff* Yeah. We always made fun of that part ... BANG

  • Leitmotif: Every Special Infected gets two of their own tunes, one that plays when they spawn, and another that plays while they're attacking a Survivor.
  • Left for Dead: A regular occurrence in the rush for the rescue vehicle. With an incoming Tank that must not enter the rescue vehicle, this choice must be made often.
  • Made of Plasticine: It's not uncommon for the basic infected to be graphically dismembered by a shotgun blast, a few stray bullets, or being bashed with a rifle butt.
  • Man Child: Ellis.
  • Message Board: Saferoom graffiti really acts like this, although people who leave the saferoom probably don't return. Ever.
  • Musical Spoiler: Musical warning is given for when a horde appears, a tank appears, or when a witch is nearby. It also plays softly whenever any special infected are nearby, making those who know each one's theme music able to know one's nearby even without hearing them or seeing them.
  • Near-Victory Fanfare: "Skin of our Teeth", a fast-paced, intense tune that plays when the rescue vehicle arrives.
  • The Nicknamer: The survivors will refer to each other and the Special Infected by various nicknames over the course of the first campaign (for instance, Rochelle calling Nick "Suit", Nick calling Ellis "Overalls", Coach calling the Charger "one-arm", Nick referring to the Hunter as a "scrawny little bitch I'm gonna kill", etc.). The Tank gets a nickname as well, though none of the survivors are in the right state of mind to think up one when they encounter the first one.
    • Nick's description of the Tank fits it best: "HOLY SHIT! BIG FREAKING ZOMBIE!"
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Pretty much shuffles the Horde's character models at random. Also gives so much variety of appearances for individual parts of the zombie that the chances of seeing the exact same zombie twice is maybe 1:1000.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Parodied, "X zombies were harmed in the making of this film."
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Zigzagged; while explosions from grenade launchers, pipe bombs, propane/oxygen tanks and barrels will deal lethal damage to any infected within range, they'll hurt survivors for maybe 5-10 damage at most on Expert.
  • Nostalgia Level: All of the first game's campaigns have been ported into the second.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Played straight and averted. The survivors call them zombies, but subtitles consistently refer to them as "infected" regardless of the dialogue.
  • Oh Crap: The first time the characters see a tank, they panic (every other time as well, but not to the same extent).

 Coach: Holy shit! What is that?! Some sorta... super-ass zombie!?

    • At one point, they climb out of a sewer to find... a car yard. Full of car alarms.

 Nick: Whoawhoawhoawhoa! Watch where you shoot!

  • Painting the Fourth Wall: The ending to the "Dark Carnival" has you activate the stage effects for a band that was originally going to play. The next two Tank cues then have a very distinct rock feel to them over the original orchestral.

  Nick: Hate to break it to you, Coach, but your heroes lip-sync. There's a tape back here labeled "Finale".

  • Power Glows: Witches inexplicably cast a red light in darker areas where you would otherwise have a hard time noticing them.
  • The Power of Friendship: Literally. Nothing will get you killed faster than leaving your fellow survivors behind and trying to Rambo your way through the next level alone.
  • Real Is Brown: Used for how a zombie would see the world. Players taking the role of the zombies in VS mode will see the world completely brown.
  • Running Gag: Ellis' stories, all the survivors berating to Nick for for shooting a zombified pilot.

  Ellis: True, but he was our only PILOT!


 "A little hand sanitizer and we wouldn't be in this mess."

"A germ just wiped out the world."


Meta (Community/Developer/Supplemental Material) Tropes

  • Art Evolution: The higher polygon count and upgraded lighting effects compared to the first.
  • Bag of Spilling: Played straight in the beginning of Hard Rain. After being dropped off to the Burger Tank by Virgil, the survivors realize that they left their bag of guns on the boat.

 Virgil: I'll drop the anchor just off shore, waitin' for ya. Signal at me when you get the gas.

Nick: What are we supposed to signal him with?

Ellis: Oh, there's flares in the gun bag.

Nick: What gun bag?

Ellis: You didn't grab the guns?

Nick: Hey, who died and made me gun monitor?

Ellis: Pretty much everybody.

  • Bite the Wax Tadpole: The zombie hand on the cover is holding up 2 fingers in the same manner as someone in the U.K. would when telling you to do something unpleasant... Apart from the UK version, where the hand is photographed from the other side, making a "victory" sign.
  • Body Horror: The Special Infected have undergone horrible and probably quite painful mutations from Left 4 Dead to Left 4 Dead 2--the Smoker especially. The new Special Infected haven't had it easier, either; just look at the Spitter.
  • Character Filibuster: The other survivors have to tell Ellis to shut up whenever he rambles on about Keith (and Zoey in the "The Passing" DLC).
  • Deliberately Monochrome: After being downed and revived twice, you see the entire world in black and white, complete with blurry peripheral vision and red item highlights. If you're not healed, you will die. The developers included this because playtesters were frustrated when inexperienced players were repeatedly going down and delaying the group.
  • Dirty Business: In order to halt the spread of the infection and save what ever non-infected people they can, the military in The Big Easy made it their policy to gun down carriers (people who don't turn but can spread The Virus) by the hundreds, maybe thousands. Whether this makes them Anti-Hero or Knights Templar is open to debate.
  • Dummied Out: The "fallen survivor" uncommon infected, which was brought back(albeit with a very different ability) in the Passing.
  • Easter Egg: And in The Parish, going up the stairs of the store-made-safehouse, you can find a door with an orange light outline.
  • Edge Gravity: If your character steps off a ledge, he or she will automatically dangle off the ledge, holding on with their hands for dear life for as long as they can until a teammate helps them.
  • Game Mod: The Mutation game modes that rotate every second week.
  • Gorn: The damage modeling borders this.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Mostly applies to newbies who keep making common mistakes, such as running ahead of everyone (which usually gets them killed and are too far away to be saved in time), angering a Witch without having the right gun for it (only shotguns can kill her instantly with a well placed headshot), or flinging Molotovs like a hot potato and setting other players on fire from it.
    • Oh, there's more. See the trope page itself for the huge list.
  • Let's Play: Both games have one on the Something Awful forums, with the first already archived and the second temporarily on hiatus.
  • Machinima: Profound Moments in Left 4 Dead 2.
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Ellis and Nick is the standardized pairing, truly.
  • Mythology Gag: "Still Alive" can play on jukeboxes, albeit very rarely.
  • Only Six Faces: averted with a better common infected random generation system.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Of the infected, easily-enraged sort much like in 28 Days Later and various types of Elite Zombies.
  • Player Preferred Pattern: Auto shotguns are being the most used weapon, despite the nerf it got in its ammo capacity, but AK-47s are another commonly used weapon due to its power. Its accuracy is mediocre but the gun becomes a powerhouse with a laser sight. Magnums and melee weapons becomes everyone's weapons of choice for realism mode since they're the only weapons that can still kill common infected in one hit.
  • Preorder Bonus: The baseball bat weapon, which spawned in the start of every single campaign and people who didn't preorder could still use the bat as long as a player on the team had preordered. When The Passing DLC was released, baseball bats now randomly spawn in the maps with other weapons instead of always being in the start.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This will literally be your game-ender online if you or the rest of your team fail to talk or at least call for help if being pinned by the infected, especially in Realism and Realism Versus modes where you can't spot each other with glows anymore. Lots of games have been lost due to people simply not speaking up.
  • Previous Player Character Cameo: The main draw of The Passing.
  • Self Fanservice: Go look at how the Hunter, Witch, and Smoker look in the game. Pretty hideous looking zombies, right? Now go look how they are drawn in a lot of fanart. Notice any differences?
  • Serious Business: Handfuls of people take the game very seriously and will scream at you or call a vote to get you booted if you do anything they don't like (not the Too Dumb to Live type player mind you). More noticeable in VS mode where people will yell at you for not saving them from the infected quick enough and/or yell at you if you don't do enough damage to survivors or just plain outright miss your attacks. [2]
  • Superpower Lottery: As far as zombies go, the Tank and Witch have won this.
  • Sure Why Not: During the development of Left 4 Dead 2, Valve noticed that the community loved making things explode and wanted more like it, so they tossed in the Grenade Launcher just for that.
  • Take That: In the 2nd map of The Passing, when approaching the stairwell leading into the sewers, there's a sign that says the rest of the underground tour will be finished in the year 2010. Rochelle or Coach may quip about how the first phase is nowhere near finished and wonder how there can be a phase 2 already. This is a jab at the fan base that cried out how Left 4 Dead wasn't finished when Left 4 Dead 2 was announced.
  • The Virus: If you're unlucky enough, you turn into a constantly crying, always-guilty Witch, a head humping horny midget, an acid spitting hag, a giant armed freak, an exploding fatass, get Gene Simmon's tongue, become a flying Parkour expert or turn into the Hulk.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: A rumor was immediately born after The Passing was released and was debunked just as quickly. [3]
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Crescendo Events are triggered by seemingly harmless everyday actions, such as calling an elevator, or opening a fire door. The problem is, every door and piece of machinery in Left 4 Dead's universe is ridiculously loud. While you wait for the slowest elevator in the history of creation, you must fight off wave after wave of Infected aggressors, who have declared war on you, and your noisy machines too!

Gameplay Tropes

  • Armor Is Useless: Averted by the riot cop zombies in, who can endure anything other than explosions or fire; so long as it strikes them in the front.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The Special Infected are quite smart and are very wary of the presence of the players. Hunters and Boomers will always try to hide around corners or behind thick shrubs so that they can ambush the players. The two may also tag team players if a player is caught by a Smoker. Smokers will attempt to run away if their attack fails and Hunters will escape by repeatedly jumping away if they are shot at from a distance. Tanks can try to avoid fire the player makes, assuming the player sets the fire off too early. While they can be quite stupid at times, it doesn't happen too often. Tanks are now much smarter in the sequel. When they down someone, they will usually go chase the other survivors instead of just pounding one till they're dead and become a sitting duck. Though pounding one of the survivors to death is actually a smart move and somewhat terrifying, there's a reason you were never encouraged to do that in versus.
    • The Common Infected themselves show signs of this - instead of running straight towards the Survivor, they tend to run around in circles, avoiding bullets while attacking the Survivors to the sides or even the back.
    • Spitters, Hunters, and Smokers will occasionally retreat if spotted, and try to get to places that the survivors can't reach easily before attacking.
    • A simple matter, but AI survivors will always pair up with them if two human players split up.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Although not too horrible, the Survivor AI has many infamous quirks. This is a great reason to play the game with actual people. See this YouTube video as a hilariously shameful example from around release.
  • Aura Vision: Used to find teammates as Survivors and used by Infected to find Survivors health and location.
    • Averted in Realism Mode.
  • Back Stab: Shoving an idle common from behind is a One-Hit Kill.
  • Bad Boss: The Director in Versus mode. Between showering the survivors with first aid kits and often not bothering to send a horde after a boomer attack, it clearly hates the Infected players even more than the Survivors.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Hard Rain and The Passing campaigns.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Stage two of Dead Center.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Played straight, to Your Head Asplode levels with common infected.
    • Mercilessly averted with the Tank, which receives the same damage from headshots as being shot anywhere else.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The players must reload, but they've endless ammunition for their sidearms and supply caches provide infinite replenishment for your main weapons.
    • Exaggerated in the Gib Fest Mutation gametype, which gives all four survivors an M60 with infinite ammo.
  • Breather Level: Although it's definitely not on your side, the AI director does tend to give you a breather in-between swarms of zombies or boss encounters, especially if you're just limping through. The period of time is increasingly brief on higher difficulties.
    • The raft in Swamp Fever and the elevator in Dead Center
  • Calling Your Attacks: Played straight by survivors throwing grenades, invoked with the special infected's vocalizations giving them away.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: The game is mostly played in first person view, but the camera will switch to third person view when the player is doing an action or is pinned by a special infected.
  • Cherry Tapping: It's possible to kill even the Special Infected[4] just with the secondary melee attack. Just don't try it on the Boomer.
  • Chiaroscuro: Actively exploited by the developers to guide the players, after they noticed playtesters' tendency to move toward the brightly lit areas.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted with the survivors. When seriously injured, you run slower, jump lower, while on pain pills or just brought up by teammate your health is constantly dropping, and at 1 HP you slow to a crawl. If your health runs out and you're not ready to die, you drop to the ground, only able to use pistols, and slowly bleed out until you die or are saved by an ally.
    • Played straight with the infected. Play long enough and you'll see a zombie run up to you that has had both of its arms shot off. (What does it plan to do then, bite you?)
  • Damage Sponge Boss: Tanks, full stop. Four Survivors starting a level have a group total of 400 HP. On Normal difficulty, the Tank has 4,000.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Dying does not mean you are forever gone from the game. You will just respawn in a closet, come back in the next map, or get revived on the spot from a defibrillator. Versus and Realism mode prevents you from coming back until the next map and dying during a finale on any mode gets you Killed Off for Real.
  • Death Is Cheap: You can be revived on the spot by a defibrillator, rescued from a closet in campaign mode, or just simply respawn in the saferoom in the next chapter.
    • The Ironman Mutation gametype attempts to avert this, but only removes saferoom respawns.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Cr0wning the Witch.
  • Difficulty Spike: The jump from Advanced difficulty to Expert is huge. On Advanced, a common infected will deal 5 points of damage if they hit you in the front whereas they do 2 damage on Normal and 1 on Easy. On Expert, common infected can cause 20 points of damage in the front. Hunters can slice you for up to 40 points of damage, dealing the most damage out of all of the infected on Expert except for the Tank, who can instantly bring you to incapacitation in a single strike. Not to mention that Witches, which previously incapacitated you in one hit as well, now just flat out kill you.
  • The Director Is A Cheating Bastard: Unusual, in that the Director is supposed to be continuously tweaking the challenge of the game up and down based on how well the players are doing. However, on Expert, it's moments of mercy are extremely brief.
    • This goes for the survivor bots too, as they have aimbot-like accuracy, and cannot directly cause friendly fire(being able to literally shoot through others). It works, as a half-decent human player is still more efficient overall (due to other factors like bots not being able to use grenades or any particular strategy beyond shooting things), yet a team isn't completely screwed if a player leaves mid-game.
    • Under certain conditions, survivor bots will grab items through walls. Players can't.
    • L4D2 has been accused of adding a degree of Fake Difficulty by multiple special infected spawns in campaign modes, but these are glitches... The Hard Eight Mutation notwithstanding.
    • AI Tank rocks, affectionately called "rofl rocks" can clip through some geometry in order to reach a player.
    • Any special infected (other than witches or tanks) can slash you with their claws if you manage to shove them. No "attacking while staggering" animation or anything, blood literally just pulls itself out of your chest.
    • In co-op and other modes where the special infected are AI-controlled, the specials can spawn inside the safe room at the end of the level, leading to fun times. In versus, where the specials are human-controlled, you cannot spawn in the ending safe room.
  • Escort Mission: The Streets chapter of Dead Center require the survivors carry a sixpack of cola, carrying the gnome to the helicopter in Dark Carnival gives players an achievement, and there have been a few Mutation gametypes requiring the gnome.
  • Everyone Chasing You: The horde.
  • Exploding Barrels: Gas cans, propane tanks, oxygen tanks, boxes of fireworks, and actual barrels in the Sacrifice campaign.
  • Falling Into the Cockpit: Versus mode, infected team. While a player can run through the campaign mode to build up their survivor skills before going in, infected players have to learn it all on the fly for their randomly assigned characters.
  • Fetch Quest: Going through waves of infected for some cola or gas.
  • Genre Savvy: Nick asks the group, after they reach the hotel elevator in Dead Center, if anyone has been bitten.

  Nick: Did anyone get bit? Isn't this how this works?

  • Goomba Stomp: Jumping on a common or uncommon infected's head is instantly fatal. Doesn't apply to special infected.
    • Physically being on top of a zombie counts as a stomp, thus an instant kill, which leads to a hilarious moment where you can literally walk over a zombie lying on the ground and kill it from just stepping on it.
  • Gravity Barrier: keeps you away from a zombie breeding ground and to keep you moving along to your safehouse.
  • Griefer: Per GIFT, you're guaranteed to come across them in public matches.
    • Playing as the infected is basically griefing the survivors as the goal of the game. The griefers are getting their kicks from the game itself most of the time!
    • The Room for One Mutation gametype defies the normal logic of the game by only allowing one survivor to escape and encouraging team killing.
  • Harder Than Hard: Expert mode is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Only experts can expect to survive.
    • Realism mode is EVEN harder than Expert, even on normal. This mode removes all the auras allowing you to locate other survivors, items, and infected which are pummeling other survivors. Commons take less damage when shot anywhere except the head, and survivors only respawn at Safe Rooms. It can also be set to Expert mode, and all you get is an achievement for it.
    • Apparently, Realism mode will be nothing compared to Ultra Realism Mode
  • Health Damage Asymmetry: Each of the survivors has up to 100 health. Besides The Boomer and The Spitter, all special infected have at least twice as much, with the tank starting out with at least 4,000, yet the survivors can pick off special infected with a few shots of the right gun, and special infected do damage slowly over time. Subverted on Expert mode, when it's just the damage that is symmetrical. They will happily kill you off if your team mates are distracted.
  • He's Just Hiding: Literally. Whenever one of the guys die, they're found later trapped in locked closets (or respawn in the next saferoom). It was meant to reflect how survivors get rescued in zombie films.
    • Averted in the final chapter of each campaign after the rescue vehicle has been summoned. Dying means you get Killed Off for Real.
  • Hit and Run Tactics: This is usually the best way to deal with the Tank, by setting it on fire with a molotov and/or pumping it full of lead while evading it. Just make sure that you're healthy enough that you can run fast, and that there's room to run.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Hitboxes for hunters and jockeys move in front of them when they pounce, which makes them extraordinarily difficult to knock out of the air with even the slightest bit of lag. Compounded further by how little time there is to stop a jockey pounce.
    • This game somehow just has inferior collision detection. It isn't common, but it certainly isn't rare to hear the impact and see blood fly from a zombie you just smacked in the face with a crowbar just ignore it and continue anyways...Even when playing offline where lag couldn't account for it.
  • Hold the Line: Occurs in all crescendos and finales(except a couple in the Parish) as well as survival mode.
  • Hyper Awareness: meta example. The best players exhibit this, being aware of all the directions from which infected could attack and keeping their eyes (and ears) open for incoming specials. In comparison, the AI bots (as mentioned above) are Lazy Backup with a horrific case of Selective Obliviousness.
  • Interface Screw: Your vision becomes monochrome with red halos for items if you're incapped twice without using a medkit.
  • Invisible Wall: Only the Infected in Versus mode will run into them, and if you get close enough they stop being invisible... instead they become labeled "wrong way!"
  • It Can Think: The Director is actually a rather well working AI system. Depending on the difficulty, it will decide when to place more zombies to hinder your efforts. On Expert difficulty, it just wants you dead and doesn't pull any punches.
  • Just for Pun: Every achievement.
  • Killer Game Master: The AI director. Particularly on Expert mode, when he stops even pretending he doesn't hate your guts.
    • In Left 4 Dead 2, there are some maps where the infected charge out of the safe room, or very close to it. However, the director will stop the attacks when all four players are in the room but with the door still open (but existing infected will still charge).
  • The Load: competely aside from the issue of bad players, any time you engage in an Escort Mission, the party is reduced to three members as the person carrying The Load cannot use their weapons. (Gnome Chompsky can be used as a lethal weapon, but it requires very opportune movement, or a lot of shoves.)
  • Luck-Based Mission: Depending on where enemies spawn and what types they are, along with what items you find, you can either have a smooth sailing game or a nightmare of just trying to survive.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Provided you don't live in Germany or Australia.
  • Made of Plasticine: Because of how melee weapons work, it's entirely possible, and really easy, to carve through a Zerg Rush with, let's say, a baton. Also, hitting a special infected with a frying pan will kill them in one hit, except for the Charger, who takes two hits, and the witch/tank, who are Made of Iron.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Capable of bringing players back from the dead.
  • Mini Game: "Dark Carnival" has 3 games for you to play, which are the Shooting Gallery, Test Your Strength, and Whack-A-Mole with the park's mascot! They each are tied to an achievement as well.
  • Mook Chivalry: The "Last Man on Earth" mutation makes it so that Special Infected (who's clutches you would normally need a teammate to escape) back off once they've taken off your first health bar. They're not as kind the second time around, however.
    • Jockeys and Hunters may sometimes decide to stay where they are and slash you the second you get up, which may cause death due to your health being so low after getting self revived.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: The Witch is a small girl with relatively thin limbs (apart from the vicious claws)... limbs with which she can knock you down/kill you outright faster than any other Infected. Including the muscle-mountain Tank.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: AI-controlled infected can spawn anywhere, melee while stumbling, climb things player-controlled infected cannot, and AI-controlled hunters even have a lunge move players cannot perform.
  • Never Split the Party: The game is built on this trope. Get separated or lose track of your teammates and You Are Already Dead.
    • Occasionally averted in Expert and Versus matches when one survivor staying in the saferoom with the door closed can be the difference between success or failure.
    • There are also a few jarring situations in which you have passed a Point of No Return and cannot go back and help your teammates. This just reinforces the original lesson, since you are forced to soldier on short-handed.
  • Nerf: In the original, players could "shiva stack" (wait in a corner or secluded room, all bunched up, and repeatedly melee). This made it nigh-on impossible to extricate them with anything other than a tank. Left 4 Dead 2 stopped stacking with the introduction of the Charger and the Spitter.
    • Melee weapon damage to Tanks has been nerfed. Damage is now 5% per hit instead of 10%, which means now that survivors will most likely have to resort to kiting now instead of everyone running up to a Tank and smashing him with four Frying Pans Of Doom.
    • And the shove motion itself has been nerfed with the addition of fatigue: do it too many times and there starts being a delay before you can do it again. This punishes the fact that you can get completely surrounded and need to shove your way out.
    • Also, auto-spawning in Versus finales being removed made it more enjoyable for the infected team and more difficult for the survivor team.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: A lot of the graffiti is this. It gets shot down by both the cast and other graffiti.
  • Nintendo Hard: Many Mutation gametypes.
    • Hard Eight causes eight special infected to spawn at once.
    • Special Delivery eliminates common infected but ensures a full set of TEN special infected at all times.
    • Lone Gunman takes it Up to Eleven by surpassing Expert damage even on Eas y(ANY damage at all is game over on Expert Lone Gunman), allowing only one survivor armed with only a magnum and grenades, and spawning Boomers constantly.
    • TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNK!!! plays it for fun, by removing AI-controlled special infected and having players only be survivors or Tanks.
    • Obtaining the "Strength In Numbers" achievement. To earn this, you have play Team VS or Team Scavenge with a group of your friends and beat the other team who are random players that are friends with each other. The catch? There will always be one team who will all Rage Quit and screw over the other team out of earning the achievement. On top of this, Team VS/Scavenge is hardly used at all since most people prefer public games where it is easier to set up and get a game going more quickly. With rage quitting and people not playing these game modes, the achievement is pretty much unobtainable without boosting.
  • No FEMA Response: CEDA tries to respond to the "Green Flu", but gets overwhelmed. Inevitably, every time the Survivors try to get to a CEDA evacuation point, it'll be destroyed with nothing but corpses to show for it, and they'll end up having to escape another way.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: VS mode's scoring was altered to be more close and fair between teams. Left 4 Dead had scoring be sorely based on who made it to the safe room plus a multiplier and if a team got killed beforehand, their score would be a lot lower. Left 4 Dead 2 has the score be purely on distance traveled so that you still had a chance of catching up if you didn't make it to the safe room.
    • Explosive ammo was removed from VS mode after some time due how easily survivors could stop attacks from the infected players with it. Defibrillators were also given a 25 point penalty for its use in VS mode so survivors are punished for having a teammate brought back to life in a way.
  • Parachute in a Tree: Corpses of paratroopers hanging from trees are frequently found. Upgraded weapons can be found on their bodies.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Headshots on witches remain effective but lack the gruesome aftermath and One-Hit Kill. [5]
    • Headshots with Tier One weapons leave the head intact.
  • Randomly Drops: Hazmat uncommons (Dead Center and the Sacrifice) with bile jars, riot cop uncommons (the Parish) with tonfas, and fallen survivors (the Passing) with random items.
    • During the holiday season, gift boxes were randomly dropped by special infected in VS mode, linked to an achievement and a Steam sale raffle.
  • Regenerating Health: Inverted trope. Pills, adrenaline and getting picked up from incapacitation add a temporary buffer of XX health to your HP (differs from action to action), which disappears as time goes on.
    • Played straight with the Healing Gnome mutation. All health related items are removed from the maps and the only way to heal is to hold a special gnome that regenerates health as long as you hold it. Of course, this also reduces the amount of firepower the team has.
  • Respawning Enemies: All infected except the witch.
  • Scripted Event: Generally not used, but there are a few such as the military bombing a bridge.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Several have achievements for them. No examples, please.
    • Lampshaded with the two Expert-related Achievements: What Are You Trying To Prove? and Still Something To Prove. Both you get for completing all of the Maps shipped with the game, on expert.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: 2 has many more spawn points for hordes, discourages camping, it's new special infected are even designed to punish survivors that stay too close to each other, rolling crescendos are much more challenging than the regular ones, and Realism adds another level of challenge even to the Expert difficulty.
    • Several Mutation gametypes take this Up to Eleven.
    • The Passing and The Sacrifice DLC campaigns are much harder than others in spite of being shorter.
    • And in most every campaign that has been ported over from 1 to 2, there are alterations to increase difficulty. In some cases this is simply to adjust for the new gameplay elements, but they overdo it in some instances.
      • Most notably in the Terminal of Dead Air, what was once a panic event was upgraded to a Rolling Crescendo. However, the developers did not remove the normal crescendo event at the beginning of the level, resulting in this one having two crescendos, with one being one of the hardest in the game (you have to cover a lot of ground unlike in Dark Carnival).
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Major gameplay-changing events(horde attacks and tanks or witches being startled) change the music. Special infected spawning are accompanied by their unique theme(except in Versus) and their vocalizations give them away; especially for players using surround sound.
  • Speed Run: How some players play Versus mode as survivors. Whether this is good or bad obviously depends on opinions and situations.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Pistols, magnums (albeit played much differently than normal), shotguns, assault rifles, mounted machine guns, sniper rifles, grenades, and melee weapons.
  • Stop Helping Me!: The survivor AI when it comes to healing. They will do their damn best to keep you going, but ignore anything else occurring at the moment.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Any map that has a river in it. Unlike the first game where being underwater too long would drain your health eventually, being submerged will instantly kill you.
    • The water in Left 4 Dead 2 is so fetid that it will kill an infected that's in ghost mode. Causing their corpse to pop out of thin air, natch!
  • Take Up My Sword: If a survivor dies, another can take their gun.
    • Or this might well be an actual katana.
    • During The Passing, you also find an assault rifle in the hands of a deceased Bill. You can pick it up and finish the job that they started.
  • Taking You with Me: At certain points, a well-aimed Charger can grab a survivor and bring them both careening to instant death.
  • Total Party Kill: "Hey guys! Check out my grenade launcher!"
    • A few specials can cause this singlehandedly: tanks (natch), chargers, and (if your team is spectacularly incompetent) hunters.
    • Averted with the Witch, who is programmed specifically to only be aggressive towards one Survivor. Not that things don't go Off the Rails anyway.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Lampshaded by Coach when he sees the Riot gear-wearing Zombies.

 Coach: "That zombie's got armor.." [[[Beat]]] "I want armor!!"

    • Inverted in that some uncommon do carry usable equipment, but (being zombies) never actually use it.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity: in the scavenge finale of The Passing, the AI Director can spawn boredom hordes and specials if you take too long before talking to the first game's Survivors. If you do, activating the elevator will make the AI director think you have lowered the bridge, and he will begin throwing the infinite tanks and hordes at you... Even though you haven't lowered the bridge or even collected one gas can. And the best part? This doesn't reset if (when) you game-over. The only way to avoid it is to 1) quit the campaign and start from the beginning, or 2) not take too long before talking to the other Survivors.
  • Unwinnable By Mistake: There's a bug in the collision detection of the rescue boat that ends Swamp Fever and Hard Rain; depending on where your character is standing, this can result in them drowning as it sails out from under them. It is both depressing and hilarious to be Boatmurdered in this way.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There is just something so fun about jumping on top of a lone survivor as a Hunter, laughing in delight as you tear them apart, knowing they're completely and utterly helpless.
    • The VS mode is based around being as cruel as possible, as it actively encourages you to take notes during your own Survivor playthrough and consider when is the worst possible time for your particular special infected to appear, and to use it when it's your turn to be the zombies.
  • Videogame Set Piece: The explosions in The Parish.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Downing a whole pack of pain pills at once would be fatal in real life, but somehow is a good idea if you're low on health.
    • In the zombie apocalypse, TRUE survivors don't even need to remove the cap to swallow a whole bottle of pills!
    • If you get mobbed by common infected, setting yourself on fire with molotovs or blowing yourself up with a grenade launcher will usually clear your space a LOT faster than to keep shoving them away or trying to hack at them all with melee weapons. You'll suffer self inflicted friendly fire damage, but that will be small compared to trying to clear out zombies invading your space without the said methods.
    • There are some cases where team killing is actually justified. If someone is about to die and there's nothing to heal with, players will usually kill the wounded survivor and then let them respawn in a closet or revive them with a defibrillator: both methods bring the Survivor back with 50 points of health. If no one speaks of this and do the deed, they could be mistaken for a Griefer.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You: If there are any bots on the team, you'll have to start the level over again if all the human players are dead, regardless of if there is a bot player alive. It becomes mind-boggling when playing against a team of bot Survivors in versus mode and they are capable of moving through the level on their own without the guidance of a human player.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Shoot one of your fellow survivors, and they'll call you out for it with scripted responses.
    • Or trigger a few car alarms in the impound lot in the Parish:


  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Special Infected which are stuck or otherwise unable to catch up to the Survivors will occasionally be killed off by the Director, with the death noise often being faintly audible to human players.
    • Infected players can manually trigger this when they are at a certain distance behind the survivors, allowing them to skip the respawn time that would happen if they jumped off a cliff instead.
  • Your Head Asplode: Shots to the head of regular zombies with primary weapons leave only their neck and a Pink Mist.
  • You All Look Familiar: The basic infected actually have a small number of basic models but are made to look different with various filters, like clothing and blood spatter. The Unique infected all look exactly the same since they wear uniforms and some of the Bosses have two models in the second game (the boomer has a female version, the Witch gets a one off version wearing a wedding dress in the final campaign), but only one in the first.
  • Zerg Rush: The AI director will send these at you at random, when a boomer vomits on you, in pre-programmed Crescendo Events where you're forced to make a ton of noise to continue moving, or if you accidently set off a car alarm, or whenever he's bored, which is all the time. The normal infected also like to rush pipe bombs because of the smoke detector alarms rigged to them, and Boomer bile (both regular and purified) for obvious reasons.

Weapons Tropes

  • Abnormal Ammo: Frag or incendiary ammo boxes, which provide one magazine of this before switching back to regular rounds.
  • AKA-47: As with the second game, though a few guns, both old and new, are now referred to by their real names.
  • An Axe to Grind: One of the most common melee weapons is, understandably, the ubiquitous fire axe.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The minigun and mounted M2 machine gun, which can shred oncoming hordes and tanks like no other, are never positioned so they can effectively cover more than two of the generally five or so directions that zombies can come from in official maps.
    • The M79 grenade launcher, which requires much practice to use effectively – that is, kill as many infected as possible without blowing your own team up in the process.
  • Batter Up: Among the melee weapons, there are baseball bats and cricket bats. Sometimes a survivor will say this when they grab one.
  • Bottomless Magazines: For gameplay reasons, sidearms have infinite ammunition. They don't do as much damage as primary weapons and they share a slot with melee weapons, which don't have any limit either with one exception. Also, they're the only weapons you can use while incapacitated[6].
    • Two mutations also employ this: "Chainsaw Massacre" gives the survivors infinite-fuel chainsaws, and "Gib Fest" gives them infinite-ammo M60s.
  • Chainsaw Good: The chainsaw has peerless damage dealing abilities, but has a fairly long starting time, only 60 seconds of "fuel", provides 50% damage resistance to common infected, and is replaced with a single pistol when it runs out of fuel or the user is incapped.
    • The Chainsaw Massacre mutation is all about chainsaws: the only weapons that spawn are four chainsaws in the saferooms. They happen to have unlimited fuel.
  • Did Not Do the Research: The Desert Rifle, a SCAR-L, has "Mk 17 Mod 3" written on the side of it. In real life, this would be indicative of the heavier SCAR-H version (said writing does also correctly identify it as a 5.56mm weapon, though). The survivors also always manually lock the charging handle back during a reload, which would be unnecessary for the real weapon.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: One of the weapons with the fastest swing rate.
  • Gatling Good: You get the odd mounted minigun here and there. It's set up so that the gunner will have to be covered by the other Survivors, though.
  • Grenade Launcher: The M79.
  • Guns Akimbo: All characters can find and dual wield a second 9mm pistol for extra ammunition in the magazines.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Generally averted, except for one peculiar instance. If a survivor drops their handgun for a melee weapon, they will produce another handgun when they are incapacitated, which disappears as soon as they are hauled back onto their feet.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: The pipe bomb is one, but with good reason - its red light and high-pitched squeal attracts the standard infected, making it less a question of where to throw them and more a question of when.
  • Instrument of Murder: Guitars as melee weapons.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: One of the melee weapons, with only slight advantages over other melee weapons.
    • The "Four Swordsmen" mutation is all about these, being the only weapon available.
  • Kill It with Fire: Molotov cocktails and gas cans. Also incendiary ammo packs. Very useful against Tanks, as fire appears to simply do about 12 damage per second, meaning that a burning Tank will eventually die even in the absence of other damage sources. (The same is true for the Witch, but her blindingly-fast counterattack lowers its utility.)
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Pipe bombs, the M60 and explosive ammo produce this from common infected in 2.
  • Machete Mayhem: Now go pretend you're Jason Voorhees fighting zombies.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Practically a staple of the series, and essential to block off an infected access route.
  • More Dakka: The M60.
  • The Musketeer: It's possible to have a melee weapon as reserve.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Pistols.
  • Rare Guns: The Desert "Cobra", SPAS-12 and SCAR-L in Left 4 Dead 2. The starting pistol, a SIG Sauer P220, is also stated in the commentary to be extensively customized, as is the Glock.
  • Shooting Gallery: In Left 4 Dead 2's "Dark Carnival" campaign, you can stop to participate in a shooting gallery whose prize is a lawn gnome; carrying the gnome through the end of the campaign nets you an achievement.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted. The shotgun's a viable weapon choice, even at a reasonable distance.
  • Sticks to the Back: Every weapon and inventory item except pistols (they get holsters), pills/adrenaline, and grenades, which all go on the survivor's belt.
  1. They all turn or can't stand the survivors
  2. In fact, in most Versus games, when someone becomes the Tank, all the infected players put all their hopes on the Tank player and expect him or her to to kill the Survivors in one go. What most people don't realize that the Tank alone cannot kill the Survivors unless the players are extremely stupid and the Tank needs support from the other infected. If you're the Tank and get caught on fire or die without killing at least one player, expect most people to call you a fail Tank.
  3. you could bring Bill back to life with the defibrillator, which was quickly proven false since his body does not have a red outline when you hold out the item and his body is propped up against the generator, which wouldn't play the defib animations correctly since all survivors that die always have a set pose for this. Valve caught on to this, though; a few patches after The Passing came out, they added a unique message for people trying to defib Bill.
  4. except tanks and witches
  5. Unless you cr0wn one with a shotgun.
  6. If you're holding any melee weapons, you'll get a temporary one until you're back up again