Created By: VampireBuddha on August 6, 2010

Army of Thieves and Whores

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This is what happens when you take the idea behind Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and scale it up to the size of an entire army. The army of thieves and whores is composed primarily of the dregs of society - criminals, prostitutes, outcasts, renegades, the poor, and in general everybody you wouldn't expect to see in a proper army.

Generally, these guys will be the heroes, because Underdogs Never Lose. In most cases, they're some sort of rebel army opposing their imperial oppressors, who will of course be well-ordered, disciplined, and often respectable.

There may also be a theme of uniting the downtrodden to stand against their oppressors.


  • The name comes from the rebel army raised against the tsar in Nikolai Dante, which does indeed consist mostly of robbers, prostitutes, pirates, and various people the tsars have trodden on.
  • The Lost and the Damned in the Warhammer 40,000 universe are a villainous (well, more villainous than usual) version - they make up various Chaos armies, and are composed of mutants, murderers, heretics, and assorted scum of the Empire.
  • Gaius Marius' legion in Emperor: The Gates of Rome is viewed by the more conservative Romans due to Marius abolishing the land requirement for entry, bringing in numerous poor citizens who otherwise would have had no means of supporting themselves. And they love him for it.
  • Temujin's (Genghis Khan's) forces in Wolf of the Plains starts out as one of these, as he initially builds up his forces by recruiting the various outcasts and nomads who would otherwise have nobody to stand with.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • August 6, 2010
    Is this restricted to criminals or just the lowest classes? Meaning if the honest but extremely poor rise up, or the slaves revolt?
  • August 6, 2010
    In Real Life the Duke of Wellington applied this trope to his own army, describing them as "The scum of the Earth."
  • August 6, 2010
    Come all you beggars of Paris town,
    You lousy rabble of low degree!
    We'll spare King Louis to keep his crown,
    And save our city from Burgundy.
    You and I
    Are good for nothing but to die.
    We can die for Liberty.
    --The Vagabond King, "Song of the Vagabonds"
  • August 6, 2010
    The Night's Watch in A Song Of Ice And Fire are like this; most of its members are criminals whose crimes were pardoned in return for joining, and many of the willing volunteers are misfits of some sort.
  • August 6, 2010
    the prisoners from the Impel Down escape in One Piece
  • August 7, 2010
    @Fanra: It's just the lowest classes. Yes, the honest poor or slaves rising up does count.
  • August 7, 2010
    Norm Macdonald's character from Dirty Work at the end has a crack team assembled of senior citizens, homeless dudes, and "my loyal army of prostitutes", the latter two of which counted as a Chekovs Gun each.

    Also, in Real Life, Andrew Jackson decisively won the Battle of New Orleans with and army of freed slaves, Indians, pirates, and all sorts of nasty characters.
  • August 7, 2010
    In one of the Spellsinger novels, the communist dragon Falameezar rallies the world's rats and mice to rise up against oppression.
  • August 7, 2010
    • Hedy Hedley Lamarr organizes one of these for the climactic battle in Blazing Saddles.
    • The French Foreign Legion is often characterized this way in fiction and nonfiction.
  • August 8, 2010
    ^ Hedley Lamarr organizes one of these for the climactic battle in Blazing Saddles.

    Page quote:

    Taggart: What do you want me to do, sir?
    Hedley Lamarr: I want you to round up every vicious criminal and gunslinger in the west. Take this down.
    [Taggart looks for a pen and paper while Hedley talks]
    Hedley Lamarr: I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.
    Taggart: [finding pen and paper] Could you repeat that, sir?

  • August 8, 2010
    In Un Lun Dun, Deeba's army of rebels starts with the... extreme shoppers, and works its way up from there.
  • August 8, 2010
    {{Spartacus}} certainly qualifies (both the movie and the Real Life story behind it). Note than in this case the ragtag army loses in the end. The Gaius Marius example is also taken from history, and plays a key role in the first volume of the Masters Of Rome series.
  • August 9, 2010
    • Michael Moorcock short story "To Rescue Tanelorn''. Narjhan raises an army of beggars from Nadsokor and leads them to attack the city of Tanelorn.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons adventure CM1 Test of the Warlords. The domain ruler Longtooth has "Longtooth's Legion", an army of 500 thieves armed with bows and swords.