Civilians are unplayable characters found throughout the main House of the Dead video game series. They award players extra lives if rescued from creatures, but will also deduct one life when accidentally shot.
In the first two games, the survival or death of a civilian may alter the player's route through a chapter. Saving enough civilians at the end of a chapter grants life bonuses; if all are rescued, a secret room filled with life and point bonuses is entered prior to the final boss.
With humanity's collapse in The House of the Dead III, 4, and Special, civilians are absent. Instead, III features "Rescue Events" where a player must save his or her partner from zombies. Doing so grants a life bonus; successfully completing all "Rescue Events" opens a secret room with collectibles in the final stage. Civilians return in House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, but are less frequent and are handled differently.
In the original game, civilians are DBR Corporation researchers who worked for Dr. Roy Curien. Many left him because of his inhumane experiments and obsession with curing his terminally-ill son. Curien went mad, unleashing his test subjects upon remaining team members.
Researchers in peril are found throughout the first three chapters. If rescued, some give security cards to unlock different areas of Curien's mansion and laboratory.
The sequel involves the residents of a large, unnamed city who are trapped in Caleb Goldman's outbreak. Children, adults, and the elderly are encountered in the first five chapters.
The residents of Bayou City, Louisiana serve as civilians in Overkill.
The civilian mechanic returns in Scarlet Dawn, but is handled differently. Civilians are party guests who are being attacked by creatures in Scarecrow Manor. They appear in the prologue chapter, as well as Chariot and Hangedman's levels. Saving civilians is worth bonus points and helps improve the player's ranking, but no lives can be earned, and there is no penalty when shooting them.
The spin-off features only one civilian: Yoko, a girl who can be rescued from zombies in the first chapter. Her boyfriend was killed by the undead. Regardless if she lives or dies, Yoko yields a collectible fIoppy disc; if saved, she explains that it was given to her by "a man with golden eyes".
Yoko's fate determines the game's ending. If rescued, she is shown in the same warehouse she was found in, waiting impatiently for ZED to pay her. If killed, Yoko is depicted feeding on something - presumably as a zombie - and the screen cuts to black as she turns her head toward the camera.
- In SEGA Superstars Tennis, a House of the Dead-themed minigame involves killing zombies with tennis balls to clear the path for civilians.
- The House of the Dead 2 is currently the only game in the franchise to include children as civilians.