ChekhovsArmy is to ChekhovsGunman as ChekhovsArmoury is to ChekhovsGun.

A Chekhov's Gunman is a character introduced in a seemingly small role and brought back into the spotlight later with a much larger, and generally more important part to play.

Chekhov's Army is when the writer uses several (and in some cases, uses too many) Chekhov's Gunmen, not all of which are painfully obvious.

TheLawOfConservationOfDetail taken to its logical extreme.

Carefully written and/or MythArc-laden shows tend to have a Chekhov's Army. It also provides good potting soil for EpilepticTrees.

Compare with ChekhovsArmoury. Might overlap with GondorCallsForAid and ClimacticBattleResurrection.
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!!'''Examples''':

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[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': With an actual army! The Briggs soldiers help out Mustang during [[spoiler: the central riot/coup d'etat.]]
** [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist The 2003 anime version]]: Every single named character who doesn't die in his first appearance shows up later in the series.
* In MahouSenseiNegima, roughly half of class 3A (all of which are presented in the first chapter) eventually turn out to be [[FantasyKitchenSink a Vampire or a Ninja or a Half-demon Samurai or a Time-traveller or a Robot or a Ghost or a Nun/Wizardress or a Mercenary marksman]] [[spoiler:(who turns out to be a half demon)]] or [[spoiler: an amnesiac princess.]] All this is without counting all the side characters which inevitably become very important to the plot.
* ''MaiHiME'': Every ''single'' [=HiME=] that didn't show up in the first episode, Nao and [[spoiler: Shizuru]] being the most egregious examples.
** In ''MaiOtome'', several heads of state and their Otomes attend Mashiro's coronation. The final battle is between TheAlliance of nations trying to liberate Garderobe, and Nagi's minions and allies.
* ''Anime/{{Monster}}'' is very good at this.
* ''So'' many in ''Manga/OnePiece'', and some of them take a ''long'' time to come into play.
* Chances are, if you have a name and appear in ''PokemonSpecial'', you're going to be plot-important later on. If you happen to be nameless, however, you will ''still'' appear some chapters later as either an ally or a throwaway gag.
* ''HeartcatchPrecure'' spent its entire series building up its army! Almost every episode was the same - character A suffers from some predicament that draws them into despair, Desert Apostle turns them into a Desertian, Precure comes and revert the person to normal. With an exception of a few people, most of them don't show up again. [[spoiler:Until episode 44, revealing that, because they were rescued by the Precures, their hearts were strong enough to withstand BigBad Dune's assault on Earth and allowing the girls to save the day!]]
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' probably has the most extensive one ever, including [[ChekhovsGunman gunmen]] drafted from far earlier stories. Some notable examples:
** There is a lesbian character, Judy, killed via MoralEventHorizon in ''Preludes And Nocturnes''. Before she is killed, she tries to contact her girlfriend Donna, and one of the people she calls is her "token straight friend" Rose. Donna returns in ''A Game of You'', ''The High Cost of Living'', and ''The Time Of Your Life'' (the latter two outside ''Sandman'' proper). Rose appears as a main character in ''The Doll's House'', where we learn that she is the granddaughter of one of the victims of "sleeping sickness" back in issue one (and also the granddaughter of [[spoiler: Desire]]), and the sister of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jed_Walker Jed Walker]] of pre-Gaiman ''Sandman'' comics in the 1970s. Rose loses her heart in the climax of the arc, but then [[ChekhovsBoomerang boomerangs]] back many years later to tie up that specific loose end and a few others besides. (She also shows up at ''The Wake'', but then ''everyone'' is there. You're there too.) Oh, and in ''The Doll's House'' Rose also befriends the dream denizen Fiddler's Green, who later... It just goes on and on.
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[[folder:Film]]
* In the 2009 movie ''Film/{{Avatar}}'', there is a moment where [[spoiler: almost every single alien species that appears in the first part of the movie returns to beat the ever-loving crap out of the human military. Chekhov's Zoo, anyone?]]
* In the French film ''{{Amelie}}'', many characters are introduced extensively with seemingly no point. For instance, the air hostess that Amelie helps with pet sitting is the person who [[spoiler:takes Amelie's father's gnome to various places over the world]]. A seemingly unimportant blind man in the subway then returns later when Amelie helps him cross the street, and then she extravagantly [[spoiler:describes all of of the major sights along the route back to the subway]].
* Film/TheGame - This 1997 Michael Douglas film fits this trope to a T when every last extra whose face was shown during the course of the movie, as well as several incredibly minor, even unnamed characters [[spoiler: were all revealed to be a part of the Game as shown in the cafeteria scene.]]
* The first MissionImpossible movie, where every random extra in the background in the opening scene [[spoiler: shows up as a secret agent in the last scene?]]
* Taken literally with ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail''. In the 'extended version', in which 23 originally cut seconds were restored, one of the characters breaks the fourth wall and starts talking about if her scene should have been cut out. This triggers a chat between her and some past characters. After that, some '''future''' characters start yelling at her to get on with the scene, including an actual medieval army. Guess what? [[spoiler: The army conveniently appears at the end of the film, when Arthur needs them to attack an enemy castle.]]
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[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' loves this sort of thing; in particular, ''Grave Peril'' has quite a few characters show up at Bianca's party who turn out to be ''very'' important later.
** 10 books later and the fallout from that party still isn't done yet. There's one character that hasn't been seen since (a dragon) but the amount of pure speculation means he has to come back at some point.
* Literature/HarryPotter. Sirius Black, [[spoiler: Regulus Black, Kreacher,]] Mrs. Figg, and Cornelius Fudge are just a few examples of characters whose first appearances were rather innocuous, if not downright unimportant, but who would become much more relevant later on. Rowling's penchant for this sort of thing led to her publicly apologizing when a throwaway character had the same last name as Harry's mother; though he really was just a random character, the fandom had grown so used to innocuous characters becoming important, especially those with noteworthy names, that there was major speculation about what role he would play in the future books.
* TheWheelOfTime - Every named character in the series.
* The Red Army from Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' was fond of this. First, at the end of season three, [[spoiler:the entire graduating class, who'd been getting saved by Buffy for the last three years, bands together to form a literal army to fight off the BigBad.]] Two of the three BigBadWannabe 's of season six, conversely but similarly, started as one-off characters going as far back as season two, but joined up with each other in season six. The third was going to be as well, but the actor was unavailable so they made it his brother instead.
* In the first season of ''{{Chuck}}'', in [[IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming Chuck vs. the Alma Mater]], the titular character finds a disc of everyone at Stanford who is working for the CIA... and uses it (and a regular ChekhovsGun in the form of a code phrase about a toga party) to get a lot of reinforcements to bring in the episode's [[MonsterOfTheWeek Villain Of The Week]].
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The series 4 finale. Hello again, [[spoiler:Martha, Torchwood, Rose, Mickey, Jackie, Harriet Jones, Sarah Jane, the Shadow Proclamation, the missing bees and the stolen planets]]!
** A Good Man Goes to War: [[spoiler:members of pretty much every other faction or species the 11th Doctor has ever seen come back to help, plus a few that only the 10th Doctor met.]]
* In TheFamousJettJackson, on an episode of the ShowWithinAShow, Silverstone; the main character discovers that nearly everyone he met in the town [[ObfuscatingStupidity was actually a secret agent.]] Except of course for the sweet old lady, who [[TheDogWasTheMastermind was actually the villain of the episode.]]
* ''Series/TheGoodWife'' has turned this into something of an art form.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* Absolutely ''everyone'' in the first half of the first chapter of ''AlanWake'' plays an important role in the plot later. This actually [[FridgeBrilliance makes sense]], because [[spoiler:when Alan's forced to write a story about the town that [[RewritingReality becomes reality]], these are the only people he knows in the town.]]
* The second ''VideoGame/{{Assassins Creed|II}}'' features this, where [[spoiler:after TheReveal, the Hooker, thief, uncle, and various other minor characters end up being assassins instrumental in the endgame.]]
* The ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series, depending on your choices. [[spoiler:Spare the rachni queen in the first game? [[MercyRewarded They send a message promising to help you when you call]]. Chose not to kill Wrex in the first game and convinced Mordin to make use of his student's data of a Genophage cure? The krogan clans will fight alongside Shepard. Saved Tali from exile without getting her father implicated? Helps with getting the geth and quarians to make peace and fight the Reapers. With [[BadassArmy friends like these]], who needs the Council?]]
** Cerberus went from being villains of a few minor sidequests in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', to becoming extremely important to the main plot in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''. In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', they're part of a BigBadEnsemble with the [[EldritchAbomination Reapers.]]
* [[spoiler: The Aggron, Arbok, Magcargo, Magmortar, Mismagius, and Rhyperior]] seen during the BadFuture sequence from ''[[VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky]]''.
* In ''ClockTower'', Anne can save a flock of birds early in the game and they fly off. Much ''much'' later, [[spoiler: when Mary is about to throw Anne into the gears of the clock tower, the birds fly over and attack Mary, causing her to back up too much and fall to her death]]
* Similar to the above, in ''WorldOfWarcraft'', there is one quest chain where the player saves a bunch of baby wyverns who follow the player around for a bit. Later on in the chain, when you confront the person who had them trapped, the wyverns fly in, swarm him, lift him up, and then drop him off a cliff.
** Heck, it's actually ''all over'' the place in ''WorldOfWarcraft''.
*** The Twilight's Hammer. Minor antagonists very early on in Classic, show up much ''much'' later in Classic at Silithus, and then become TheOrganization in ''Cataclysm''.
*** The Cenarion Circle. Depending on where you go, they're a very minor faction who later on is the driving force behind several zones' storylines.
*** The Earthen Ring. Originally, the [[RecycledInSpace Cenarion Circle but with Shamans]]. Later on, they become one of the main driving forces for good in ''Cataclysm'', after having several pre-expansion storylines dedicated to them.
*** The Argent Circle. At the low level game in Classic, they appear to be just one of many other factions...and were one of the driving forces for good in ''Wrath of the Lich King''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* LookingForGroup does this with [[spoiler:the little village up the coast.]]
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* Every single named character who showed up at any time in the ''GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' would be back later to play a larger part in the story. Every single one.
** One exception: The cat burglar.
* SketchComedy ''Film/TheOnionMovie'' had just about everyone from the previous sketches appear in some manner in the climax.
* Literature/WhateleyUniverse example: all the devisors and gadgeteers from the Whateley Weapons Fair in "Ayla and the Tests". Knick-Knack turns out to be the incarnation of Hephaestus. Kew turns out to be the gadget girl for the Spy Kidz, and gives Phase an intro to said team. Mega-Death turns out to be a good guy who sells Phase the very thing Phase will need when the Weapons Fair 'goes Westworld'. Jericho has invented a new kind of first-aid kit which Phase wants to market. Hazmat turns out to be interested in the protagonist of another series of stories. The list just goes on and on and on...
** And then most of them come back for a BigDamnHeroes scene in "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy" when two devisors put Ayla and [[PersonOfMassDestruction Tennyo]] in the hospital and then try to get away with it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the mid-season finale of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', a lot of characters came back to fight on [[spoiler:the day of black sun]]. Characters from various old episodes and ones we'd forgotten about. It was epic. [[spoiler:Which makes it so stunning that they lost.]]
** The Kyoshi warriors are this on more than one occasion.
* ''JusticeLeagueUnlimited''. The Ultimen, the Question, LexLuthor, Brainiac, Amanda Waller, Huntress, Galatea, and CaptainAtom [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters (among others)]] all have larger roles in the season two myth arc and the four part finale than their initial appearances would suggest.
* Everyone in ''[[TheSpectacularSpiderMan The Spectacular Spider-Man]]''. '''Everyone.'''
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