The passive non-player characters (NPCs) in Duke Nukem 3D are people, animals, and robots who provide neither support nor danger to the player. Many of them are static or deceased, but a few allow for limited interaction.
- 1 Alien hallucination
- 2 Animatronic guard dog
- 3 Animatronic mouse
- 4 Animatronic pirates
- 5 Animatronic prisoner
- 6 Animatronic slaves
- 7 Captive women
- 8 Cheerleaders
- 9 Doomguy
- 10 Duke Burger employee
- 11 Geisha
- 12 Hanging dolphin
- 13 Hanging monk
- 14 Hanging Luke Skywalker
- 15 Hung jury
- 16 Impaled Indiana Jones
- 17 Rats
- 18 Scrappy Due
- 19 Serious Sam
- 20 Sex workers
- 21 Shaman
- 22 Snake Plissken
- 23 Terminator
Shortly after inhaling cannabis smoke on High Times, Duke will repeatedly encounter a cartoon alien with a menacing face on various walls and textures. At first, the hallucination is only a mouth and eyes, but it later appears as a whole head and eventually a full body. The alien follows Duke through a back office and around a non-Euclidean courtyard. It is occasionally heard laughing hysterically as if to mock Duke's attempts to escape.
Animatronic guard dog
On the level Babe Land, an animatronic guard dog is seen wagging its tail and holding a set of keys in its mouth.
A nearby animatronic prisoner is trying to coax the dog near his jail cell.
Two identical copies of an animatronic, humanoid mouse can be found bobbing up and down near the entrance of Babe Land, as if to convey excitement. Unlike other animatronics on the level, the mouse does not sit in one location but instead wanders the park aimlessly. In a very high-pitched, giddy tone, it can randomly recite any of the following lines:
- Come on in!
- So glad you’re here!
- Oh! We’re going to have a wonderful day!
- Hi! You want to take your picture with me?
The mouse is a parody of greeters at Disney theme parks who dress in Mickey Mouse costumes and try to create excitement among the visitors. If the player destroys the mouse, Duke will say, “Damn, that was annoying.”
The level “Babe Land” gets its name from the fact that it is centered on a theme park in which animatronic female pirates are shown fighting each other and taking men as slaves. Some of these animatronic pirates are shown fighting each other with sabers or waving a pair of pistols at the player. One lone pirate captain is also found waving her saber in the air.
On a patio near the end of the level, there is also a broken animatronic pirate that has been set aside for repairs. It consists only of a head and bust, with frayed wires showing.
On the level Babe Land, an animatronic prisoner, who seems to be a male pirate, is found standing inside a prison cell.
He appears to have severed an arm from a corpse and is waving the severed arm at an animatronic guard dog outside his cell. The guard dog is holding a set of keys in its mouth, and the prisoner is trying to lure it closer.
Two muscular, white-skinned men in chains can be found in a remote area beneath an “Auction” sign on Babe Land. The slaves are merely animatronics in keeping with the park’s theme: a world overtaken by pirate “babes.” An animatronic female pirate is standing beside them, waving two guns at the player.
Throughout most levels of the game, captive women can be found inside alien slime pods or entangled in slimy alien vines. The women inside alien slime pods will moan, “Kill me…” in an anguished tone when approached. It is not possible to interact with them.
The fact that the player cannot rescue the trapped women is an unexplained fact that has been revisited in two later games of the Duke Nukem franchise. In Duke Nukem 64, the same women can be rescued, and the level-end screen indicates whether all of the captive women on a given level were freed. In Duke Nukem Forever, Duke responds to the captive Holsom twins not by immediately jumping into action but instead by telling the twins, "Looks like you're... F***ed." This is meant as a joke in reference to Duke’s unexplained apathy in Duke Nukem 3D. (In The Doctor Who Cloned Me, it is revealed that Duke was actually upset by the twins’ deaths.)
A row of cheerleaders is found on the sidelines, waving their pom-poms on Stadium.
The main protagonist from the Doom series can be found in a secret area in the chapel on Death Row.
Upon discovering his corpse, Duke will say, “That’s one doomed space marine.”
In Duke Nukem 64, his location is moved to a dungeon on L.A. Rumble.
Duke Burger employee
Interacting with the drive-thru microphone on Duke-Burger will cause a voice to say, “Go away. We’re, like, closed.” The actual Duke Burger employee is never seen.
This is a reference to the Beavis & Butt-Head episode "Customers Suck," in which Butt-Head tells off a customer at Burger World.
Based on their placement and the fact that they shatter like glass, it is likely that the geisha were originally meant to be decorative ornaments, rather than interactive NPCs. However, interacting with the geisha will cause them to reveal their breasts, making them seem human.
The geisha are found on Raw Meat and High Times. On both levels, they are placed only in decorative positions, where human NPCs would not likely be found.
On Shop-N-Bag, a hanging dolphin can be found behind the counter of the “Meat Market.” It has part of its body cut open, but it is still alive. Hitting the dolphin will cause it to squeak in pain
A monk from Rise of the Triad can be found hanging from the rafters of the chapel on Death Row.
Although the monk itself is not a secret, it can be reached by shooting a switch near the ceiling and riding a hidden elevator into the rafters.
Shooting the corpse will cause an Atomic Health to drop to the ground.
Hanging Luke Skywalker
A dismembered Luke Skywalker can be found hanging upside-down from the ceiling of an outdoor cave on Lunar Reactor.
When the corpse is discovered, Duke will say, “Now this is a force to be reckoned with!”
In the jury deliberation room on Pigsty, a group of jurors can be found hanging from the ceiling. This is a pun on “hung jury,” a common expression used to describe a jury that cannot reach a verdict.
Impaled Indiana Jones
In a secret, booby-trapped temple on Hotel Hell, Indiana Jones can be found impaled on the wall.
Upon discovering his corpse, Duke will say, “We meet again, Doctor Jones!”
At certain points in the game, rats can be seen briefly scurrying across the floor before they vanish. This sometimes happens because the player entered a new area or because the player destroyed a trash can or other object. It is not possible to interact with the rats or to shoot them.
In the dog kennel on Duke-Burger, one of the cages has a dog inside. The dog sits in place, wagging its tail and panting with its tongue out. On the outside of the cage, it reads, “Scrappy Due.” This is a reference to Scrappy-Doo, a canine character from the Scooby-Doo cartoon series.
On Mirage Barrage, the corpse of Serious Sam can be found in a hidden area of the desert. Upon discovering him, Duke will say, "Why so serious... Sam?"
In Serious Sam 2 (2005), the skeleton of Duke Nukem is found in a tree in a hidden swamp area. The skeleton has a platinum-blond wig, sunglasses, and a rocket in its pelvic bone. This may be why Serious Sam was added as a cameo in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour (2016).
Sex workers appear frequently in Duke Nukem 3D. Notably, they are depicted as the only people on Earth who have any power over the aliens. Whereas all the other people on Earth have either been killed or taken captive, the sex workers exploit the aliens for money, as evidenced by the dollar bills lining their lingerie. Wherever sex workers are encountered in the game, the nearby aliens and Pig Cops are found blankly staring at the women in a trance. The aliens do not attack the sex workers; in fact, attacking the sex workers will cause more aliens to appear at the scene, as if summoned.
Interacting with the sex workers will cause Duke to hand them money and to say either, “You wanna dance?" or, "Shake it, baby!" Interacting with certain strippers will also cause them to show their breasts.
The shaman is a woman who dances in tribal garb near a fit pit. She is only found in a secret cave on The Abyss. Her fire pit is surrounded by Atomic Healths, the most powerful health items in the game.
The player cannot interact with her, but Duke will say, “Holy shit!” upon entering the cave, apparently reacting to the surreal discovery.
The dismembered corpse of Snake Plissken, the protagonist from the film Escape from L.A., can be found in a secret torture chamber on Shop-N-Bag.
Upon entering the room, Duke will say, “I guess he didn't escape from L.A.!”
On the level Freeway, the crushed mechanical body of the Terminator can be found at one end of a conveyor belt.
If the player approaches the flattened robot, Duke will say, “Terminated!”