Do you have any idea how long we've been waiting to kick ass?
The Evil Army
is about to overrun our stronghold
! Hold the Line
tactics worked just fine until The Dragon
showed up and smashed a bloody great hole in our defenses. It looks like the enemy has won
... but wait! The wizard
that spell he was working on! There's a horn
sounding over the horizon. Wait... why are all our fallen comrades in the courtyard stirring? Is that army coming over the hills... green
? Man, I sure am glad the Army of the Dead
is on our
side. They're tearing The Evil Army
right up. I sure hope we can keep these guys around! What do you mean "good for one battle only"? Oh well. They pulled our asses out of the fire when we needed it most. The rest is up to us
The essence of this trope is: Fallen allies, usually having died either in the very battle at hand or in a previous battle with the same enemy, rise temporarily from the dead en masse and contribute to the ongoing battle in some critical way. The undead in question are more likely to be spectral than physical, but both are possible. The important part is that the loyalty of the fallen is preserved. Also, the Army of the Dead
can help win the (usually climactic or highly significant) battle, but they can't then join the standing army - they tend, for one reson or another, only to last until the immediate threat is vanquished.
The Trope Namer
and possibly also modern Trope Codifier
is the Army of the Dead from Lord of the Rings
, its Older Than They Think
See Also: The Cavalry
, Big Damn Heroes
, Desperation Attack
. Contrast Animate Dead
, where the original loyalty of the raw materials isn't relevant.
ENDING TROPE! Unmarked Spoilers ahead.
- Lord of the Rings, as noted above, has the Army of the Dead, led by Aragorn, sweep in and save the day.
- In Age of Mythology, when you lose normal army units while playing as the Greeks worshiping Hades, you will receive weak "shade" units at your temple. They're weak and vulnerable, but they don't count toward your Arbitrary Headcount Limit, making them great for a Zerg Rush or as last-ditch Cannon Fodder.
- Um, there's an entire God Power, Ancestors, related to this trope. It summons a bunch of zombies to fight your enemies, but only for about a minute.
- The Order of the Stick does this during The Siege of Azure City here. Due to various circumstances, it doesn't end well.
- Spellforce 2 Paladins, on their deaths, turn into killable ghost warriors who fade over time. They're only slightly weaker than the original unit, so they're useful for pressing an attack or covering a retreat.
- In the climax of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the shades of the last several people Voldemort murdered come out of his wand and swarm him, giving Harry just enough time to escape.
- In the last book of His Dark Materials, Lyra and Will have to travel through the land of the dead and dead characters from the last several books decide to come along with them to help Lord Asriel's side in the fight against The Authority's angels.
- In Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell, Deathstalker is able to beat the evil overlord Troxartes with the help of an army of undead warriors.
- At the end of The Princess and the Bear, the animal magic brings all the dead soldiers on the protagonists' side back to fight.
- The Legion of the Damned from Warhammer 40,000 fluff: They're remnants of a Space Marine chapter that got lost in the Warp and were changed into ghostly beings. They still keep fighting for the Imperium, appearing from the Warp in where they are needed the most and vanishing without a trace after the battle.
This is an updated redux of Even In Death I Still Serve