Created By: lalalei2001March 6, 2010
Troped

Spontaneous Crowd Formation

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Lalalei2001 is launching this on March 7!

The hero and/or villain are about to face off. There's been a massive explosion. Something dramatic is going on. Suddenly, a crowd shows up out of nowhere to watch. Sometimes they serve to keep others from running, in a sort of human Ring Of Fire, but more often they've simply Come To Gawk.

For some reason, even if the thing they're watching is dangerous, like a Mexican Standoff, they usually don't think of running unless it directly affects them. If they do think of running, they'll Clear The Room. When the interesting event is over they go about their business like nothing happened.

They are often Apathetic Citizens, but they don't have to be. Sometimes the crowd provides assistance to the heroes or villains; however, such assistance is usually minor and may be only moral support. Compare and contrast Angry Mob, where the crowd that forms is out for blood (sometimes with Torches And Pitchforks).

Examples:

Comic Books
  • This tends to happen a lot in the Marvel Universe, particularly to Spider Man. Usually the crowd being there will result in the villain threatening them so he/she can get away. At other times, they witness the wrong thing at the wrong time and blame the heroes for whatever happened.
  • Happens a lot in the DC Universe, too.

Film
  • The Spider Man movies had this happen. In the first film, they help Spidey by throwing insults and rocks at the Green Goblin.
  • Streets Of Fire had the villain summon about 200 bikers out of nowhere. A bit later, a bunch of citizens with guns showed up to stare them down. They then proceeded to do nothing until the hero beat the villain in a street fight, at which point the guys with guns chased off the bikers.
    • Earlier, when Ellen Aim was returned safely, a bunch of people crowded the police station.
  • This is a staple of karate movies, even parodies of them. The Kentucky Fried Movie's parody 'A Fistful of Yen' had this occur when the hero and villain were facing off, with the crowd made up of other karate students.
  • In Star Wars, when Darth Vader and Obi-Wan face off, the Stormtroopers stop shooting at our heroes to watch. When the duel ends they go back to shooting.
  • In The Film Of The Book of V For Vendetta, after that cop shoots the little girl, a crowd gathers around, looking for blood.

Live Action TV
  • There was a Ray Bradbury TV episode about crowds showing up whenever there was an accident. I don't remember all the details, but it was creepy.
    • The Ray Bradbury short story (upon which the TV episode was based) was "The Crowd". The episode can be viewed here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Literature

  • This is an established rule in Discworld's Ankh-Morpork -- no matter what the citizenry are doing, if something interesting is going on, they WILL stop to watch it. Can work for or against people.
    • This is often called the official pastime of Ankh-Morpork.
  • In the Larry Niven short story "Flash Crowd", this sort of thing is one of the unexpected side-effects of the development of easy teleportation technology.
  • As mentioned above, Ray Bradbury wrote a short story entitled "The Crowd" that examined this phenomenon.

Music
  • The Protomen have crowds forming a lot in their songs. Dr. Light lampshades it a couple times in Act II.
    • They tended to be an Angry Mob when not being Apathetic Citizens. In Act II, they attempted to lynch Dr. Light, believing him to have killed Emily. They gathered around Joe and Light after the former's death. In Act I, after idly watching Protoman fight for them, they did nothing as he died. Later, a crowd formed around Megaman as he resolved to fight for the people. But when Protoman was revealed to be alive, and he called them out for doing nothing, they ordered Megaman to kill Protoman. After Megaman left, they were then slaughtered by robots.
  • The Megas have a crowd watching Megaman and Quickman's Showdown At High Noon.

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons And Dragons adventure WG 5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure. When the P Cs fight the iron golem, the viewing stands will be filled with an illusion of a crowd. Some of them will cheer the P Cs and some will encourage the golem.

Video Games
  • In the second Paper Mario game, when you enter a battle the scene with switch to a theatre with a cheering crowd. The size of the crowd increases as the game continues, and sometimes they can provide you with items or a power-up.
  • Most Open World Games do this, starting with Grand Theft Auto III. Black And White had people gathering to cheer fights between giant monsters.

Western Animation
  • This happened a couple times in Trollz, as a crowd gathered to watch a Mexican Standoff. However, some of the spells hit the crowd.

Real Life
  • Flash mobs are an inversion, as the crowd causes the interesting thing to happen.
  • This is prevalent in real life, especially at the scene of a crime or accident.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • February 26, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Although it's probably not an example, I'm reminded a lot of the Paper Mario Thousand Year Door enemy/boss battles with this, where as soon as the fight begins, the scene switches to a theatre stage with cheering crowd.
  • February 26, 2010
    Idraena
    This is an established rule in Discworld's Ankh-Morpork -- no matter what the citizenry are doing, if something interesting is going on, they WILL stop to watch it. Can work for or against people.
  • February 27, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    In the Larry Niven short story "Flash Crowd", this sort of thing is one of the unexpected side-effects of the development of easy teleportation technology.
  • February 27, 2010
    Arivne
    The Ray Bradbury short story (upon which the TV episode was based) was "The Crowd". The episode can be viewed here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons adventure WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure. When the PC's fight the iron golem, the viewing stands will be filled with an illusion of a crowd. Some of them will cheer the PC's and some will encourage the golem.
  • February 28, 2010
    Ronka87
    I like this title because it reminds me think of Cloud Formation, so it's kind of like a pun.
  • March 1, 2010
    lalalei2001
    That was the idea :)
  • March 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Film example - Little Nicky, in the final battle with his brother. There's an entire crowd lined up to watch, even though they could easily die at any time.
  • March 2, 2010
    lalalei2001
    Ummm...Is something wrong? Stuff is being erased and cuts off in the middle of sentences.
  • March 2, 2010
    lalalei2001
    Real Life
    • Flash mobs are an inversion, as the crowd causes the interesting thing to happen.
    • This is prevalent in real life at scenes of accidents or crimes.
  • March 2, 2010
    Generality
    Should be noted for the Discworld: this is often called the official pastime of Ankh-Morpork.
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
    Western Animation
    • This happens a few times in {Trollz}}, as a crowd gathered during a Mexican standoff. Unfortunately, some of the spells cast hit the crowd.
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
    Fix'd
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
    Never mind, I fixed it! :)
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
    .
  • March 3, 2010
    lalalei2001
    You think we can launch the page?
  • March 4, 2010
    lalalei2001
    The Streets Of Fire example inspired the trope, incidentally.
  • March 4, 2010
    GoatBoy
    In The Film Of The Book of V For Vendetta, after that cop shoots the little girl, a crowd gathers around, looking for blood.
  • March 4, 2010
    lalalei2001
    ykttw bump
  • March 5, 2010
    KnownUnknown
    In a few of those examples, the crowd didn't show up, the hero and villain started their battle and the crowd was already there (like Little Nicky and Spiderman 2, especially Spiderman 2, where they couldn't help but be there, given that they were on a train and their lives were threatened)
  • March 5, 2010
    berr
    Shorten it to Crowd Formation, please, so people can find it? I can't remember the longer name.

    This is the opposite of the Clear The Room / Empty Hallway trope where the crowd abruptly flees the big battle in an otherwise crowded area so the hero and villain can duke it out in an empty hallway.

    What's The Name Of That Trope? I'm racking my brains trying to find it.
  • March 6, 2010
    JAF1970
  • March 6, 2010
    Unknown%2525252520Troper
    I'm not sure it's true that such crowds don't ever think about running. Often they'll gawp but then Clear The Room e.g. "He's gone mad", "Run for your lives", "They'll kill us all" etc. This is part of the broader phenomenon of the citizenry having a collective consciousness.
  • March 6, 2010
    HawktureShorts155
    This barely qualifies as a battle (it's more of a "beatdown"), but in the episode of ThePowerpuffGirls where Mr. Mime sucked all the color and sound out of Townsville and turned Blossom and Buttercup into frozen black-and-white dummies, Bubbles saves the day by playing rock-'n'-roll music on her guitar. Immediately, Blossom and Buttercup regain their color and come back to life, joining Bubbles in playing and singing the song. A huge crowd suddenly appears from out of nowhere to cheer them on. Mr. Mime scowls and tries to crash the celebration, but the power of the music drives away his evil side and turns him back into Rainbow the Clown. The girls then beat up Rainbow and send him to jail.

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