->''"You are part of the Legion to die and the Legion will send you somewhere you can die."''\\
''[[TheSpartanWay "Marche ou crève."]]'' ''[[labelnote:translation]] "March or die."[[/labelnote]]''
-->-- '''Unofficial motto of the French Foreign Legion'''

The French Foreign Legion is one of the most mythologized military units in the world. Its most famous writer was P.C. Wren but it has had other writers and it has been occasionally spoofed, notably by [[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} Charles Schulz]]. It is legendary as a place where people with a MysteriousPast go to disappear, and of course [[HeartbrokenBadass bereaved lovers]], [[NobleFugitive political]] [[YouCantGoHomeAgain refugees]], and various rogues and scoundrels and the like can always be found there.

The actual Legion existed to provide a body of cannon fodder who can fight in dangerous and distant lands without risking the lives of (many) actual French citizens, though in recent years it took the role of a far smaller, elite infantry unit, completed with a light armor regiment.
French citizenship is often the reward for a Legionnaire who has completed five years of service.

The stereotypical Legionnaire in fiction is represented as a member of a North African campaign from approximately 1900-1950. They are always depicted wearing white khepis while standing guard at lonely outposts in the Sahara. In real life, the Legion operates in a variety of environments and conflicts (such as French Indochina) and wears camouflage as needed. One of their real-life current deployments is to serve as the security detail for the European Space Agency's space launch facility at Kourou, French Guyana. (the European Union's counterpart to Cape Canaveral).

For more details about ''La Grande Muette'', go to ''UsefulNotes/GaulsWithGrenades'', or CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys.

See also EagleSquadron, ArmyOfThievesAndWhores and TradingBarsForStripes.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* {{Area 88}} revolves around a unit that is essentially the French Foreign Legion with the serial numbers filed off: a [[{{Qurac}} Quraqi]] air force squadron of foreign pilots, some with dark pasts and some recruited unscrupulously.
* {{Crown}}: {{Badass}}es Ren and Jake are former members of the French Foreign Legion.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Instead of SpaceMarines, the ''Aquablue'' series has a [[InSpace Space Legion]], complete with [[MiniMecha battlesuits]] and white kepis.
* In Creator/GarthEnnis' ''Comicbook/FuryMyWarGoneBy'', Comicbook/NickFury is visiting a French outpost in Indochina staffed by the Foreign Legion and other units. The local SergeantRock is an AffablyEvil former SS Captain turned Sergeant who takes offense to accusations of perpetrating atrocities in concentration camps and says they merely made undesirables dig a ditch, lined them up and shot them.
* ComicBook/{{Asterix}}: Asterix and Obelix enlist in the Roman legion in the Sahara in ''Asterix The Legionary'', in what is definitely a parody of the French Foreign Legion.
* ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske: Lambik enlists himself in the French Foreign Legion in ''Het Zingende Nijlpaard'' (''The Singing Hippo'').
* Harvey Kurtzman parodied this setting in the third issue of ''Magazine/{{MAD}}''. Amid the usual motley assortment of FunnyForeigner stereotypes on the run from the law is a recruit who's run away from his hellish wife and kids in Brooklyn.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* The archetypal Foreign Legion film is ''Literature/BeauGeste'', based on the P.C. Wren novel. The first version was a 1926 silent with Creator/RonaldColman. The best known is probably the 1939 version with Creator/GaryCooper. The novel (and movie) were spoofed to a fare-thee-well in the 1977 film ''Film/TheLastRemakeOfBeauGeste''.
* Creator/{{Ouida}}'s blockbuster 1867 novel ''Literature/UnderTwoFlags'' has also been filmed many times. The best-known version was made in 1936 and has Ronald Colman and Claudette Colbert.
* ''Creator/AbbottAndCostello in the Foreign Legion'' has Bud and Lou somehow enlisting with the Legion in Algiers by accident. They proceed to save the day by accident, and are rewarded with medals and honorable discharges.
* Creator/LaurelAndHardy also joined the Foreign Legion in ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnLrLyPIWyE Beau Hunks]]'' and its feature-length remake, ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZPvuoG_su0 The Flying Deuces]]''.
* It was used to explain the [=McGann=] brothers' 40-year-long absence in ''Film/SecondhandLions'', and the older brother goes back to it after [[spoiler:his wife dies during childbirth (along with the baby)]].
* ''Legionnaire'', with the wonderful actor [[Creator/JeanClaudeVanDamme Jean-Claude Van Damme]]. He's also a legionnaire in ''Film/{{Lionheart}}'', who runs away to avenge his brother's death.
* ''Follow That Camel!'' with Phil Silvers essentially reprising the role of [[Series/ThePhilSilversShow Sgt. Bilko]] and a Beau Geste parody named BO. (Later renamed ''Franchise/CarryOn, Follow That Camel!'')
* In ''March or Die'' the French Foreign legion is pitted against [[UsefulNotes/WarriorsOfDesertWinds Abd El Krim's rebel army]] in Morocco.
* In ''Morocco'' Marlene Dietrich falls for a moody, American legionnaire played by Gary Cooper.
* In ''Film/TheMummyTrilogy'', Rick O'Connell and his buddy Beni start off as Legionnaires before the Medji either kill off most of the platoon or chase them back into the desert.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* Literature/{{Discworld}}, perhaps unsurprisingly, has its own version of this, the Klatchian Foreign Legion. In ''Discworld/SoulMusic'', Death signs up at one point, under the nom-de-guerre Beau Nidle. It parodies the notion that soldiers enroll to forget: they have forgetten their troubles... and their identities... and their orders... and pretty much everything, really. Except sand. You won't ever forget about sand.
* Robert Asprin's ''Literature/PhulesCompany'' series has the Space Legion, which is the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin French Foreign Legion]] [-[[RecycledInSpace RECYCLED IN SPACE]]-], complete with false names to avoid problems with the law (and in the case of the titular character- to avoid problems that occurred during his service in the Legion when [[NiceJobBreakingItHero he strafed the surrender talks]] because 'they dropped their shield')
* Also ''Legion of the Damned'' and sequels by William C. Dietz, which also gives the French Foreign Legion the [-[[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]]-] treatment, complete with (returned from the dead) cyborgs, aliens, rebellions, revolutions, and even the odd odd love story.

* The novel ''Beau Geste'' by P.C. Wren is the TropeMaker.
** MartyFeldman's 1977 {{parody}} ''Film/TheLastRemakeOfBeauGeste''.
* In Jerry Pournelle's science fiction stories, the Line troops of the CoDominium Marines were formed from the French Foreign Legion and maintained their BadassCreed and many of their customs, including accepting fugitives and criminals into their ranks.
* In Creator/PoulAnderson and GordonRDickson's ''Literature/{{Hoka}}'' series, some of the Hokas set up a French Foreign Legion. It includes not only Hokas that want to be Legionnaires, but those who are inspired by certain works of fiction but are unable to get other Hokas to join in.
* The ''Fifth Foreign Legion'' trilogy by Andrew Keith and William H. Keith. The French Foreign Legion, InSpace!
* The Free Corps from the ''Literature/{{Shannara}}'' series.
* In the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' books, starting with ''War of Honor'', The Protector's Own Squadron effectively operates this way, owing to its origins: [[spoiler:Many of its initial personnel were escaped prisoners from a Havenite prison, including [=POWs=] from conquered worlds and a significant number of Havenite political prisoners. The squadron's first vice-commander was a former [[HeelFaceTurn Havenite naval officer]] who had fought the heroes in an earlier book.]]
* In ''ASongOfIceAndFire'', the Night's Watch is one of these. Made up of men throughout the Seven Kingdoms, they swear an oath upon joining to guard the Wall against threats from the Far North. Once, in the dim and distant past, they were a proud and honored unit, with "taking the black" being seen as a worthy sacrifice. Now, with duty on the Wall being such a hardship against a threat [[{{Gotterdammerung}} few believe to exist]], it's become more of a punishment. Most of its members are [[ArmyOfThievesAndWhores criminals, lowborn outcasts and exiles]] who chose the wrong side of one political game or another. A common treatment of prisoners of war with no expectation of ransom is to allow them to take the black, as opposed to being held captive or executed.
* in ''Who Goes Here?'' by Bob Shaw, the future legion guarantees you'll forget. They wipe your mind!
* ''In Devil's Guard'' by George Robert Elford. It's the story of a nazi unit in the French Foreign Legion, in Vietnam. It's a perfect example of the none jew killing SS.
* ''Legionnaire'' is an autobiographical account of Englishman Simon Murray, who joined the Legion in 1960 (for extra badass points, he was in the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment) and fought in the Algerian War. Finishing first in the Corporal school, he turned down the opportunity to join either the prestigious Sergeant's school and Officer's school and left in 1965.
* HPLovecraft's ''The Silver Key'' mentions that [[BadassBookworm Randolph Carter]] served in the Legion from the beginning of WW I. He was nearly killed near Belloy-en-Santerre in 1916.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* There was an episode of ''Series/KeepingUpAppearances'' in which Hyacinth's (and Daisy, Rose and Violet's) father decided to join, and Hyacinth was trying to stop him... while, of course, admiring him for wanting so badly to join.
* In ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'', Oren Pierre Alfonzo / Armoured Rider Bravo is depicted as a former Legionnaire, which has the upshot of making him both one of the most skilled fighters in the cast, and occasionally making him a DrillSergeantNasty if the situation calls for it. Of course, he's also a CampGay pâtissier, which hardly fits the stereotypical image for a Legionnaire.

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[[folder: Music ]]

* Music/FrankSinatra's "French Foreign Legion" has the singer threatening to join if his lover rejects his marriage proposal one more time.
* Music/DschinghisKhan's "Die Fremdenlegion" is subtitled "Armee der verlorenen Seelen," or "Army of Lost Souls."
* "Mon Légionnaire," most famously sung by Creator/EdithPiaf, is about a woman's yearning for an unhappy legionnaire she knew for a short time.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* Snoopy in ''{{Peanuts}}'' sometimes imagined himself as leader of a Foreign Legion platoon, with a flock of birds as his troops.
** Also, multiple characters have considered joining the Legion when trying to [[TheRunaway run away from home]]. One of these characters was female, even though the Legion specifically forbids women recruits.
* ''Crock'' and ''Beau Peep'' are set entirely in the French Foreign Legion, with AnachronismStew in both.
* In ''ComicStrip/ModestyBlaise'', Willie Garvin's backstory includes a stint in the Foreign Legion; it's not depicted, but is occasionally referenced as background for his jungle-survival skills (he served in the First Indochina War, rather than the trope-standard North Africa campaign).
* ''{{Garfield}}'' [[http://www.garfield.com/comics/vault.html?yr=2009&addr=090426 ate a fish and tried to hide it by leaving a note at the fishbowl claiming the fish joined the French Foreign Legion.]]

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[[folder: Radio ]]

* ''Radio/TheGoonShow'' ran an episode parodying the film ''Film/BeauGeste'' where Ned, Eccles and Bluebottle were duped into running to Marsalis and joining the Legion.
* Their satire of ''Literature/UnderTwoFlags'' is called "Under Two Floorboards."

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[[folder: Theatre ]]

* ''TheDesertSong'' uses the French Foreign Legion's occupation of Morocco in the 1920s as a backdrop.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In ''VideoGame/MedievalIITotalWar'', late medieval Central European powers get Forlorn Hope Companies, who are composed extremely resilient (and probably suicidal) veterans armed with [[BigFreakingSword Zweihänders]], who make great material for head-on rushes.
* In ''Franchise/DragonAge'', the Dwarven "Legion of the Dead" is exactly this. Dwarves from any walk of life and any circumstance may join, including the worst criminals and Casteless, and upon joining a funeral is held for the new recruit and all their past sins are absolved. They are considered to "owe" the Dwarven people a death and usually set about earning it by going deep into the Deep Roads to fight the worst of the Darkspawn infestation there. In the ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOriginsAwakening'' expansion pack, there's a Legion of the Dead member whom you can recruit as a follower, ironically by saving her life after the rest of her squad gets wiped out.
** Grey Wardens are a milder version of this trope. They take in anyone, from the lowest commoner to the highest king, who has skills and desire to fight darkspawn. If a criminal joins their ranks, s/he will be pardoned, which is used a few times in the actual game, most notably during the prologue. However, not only are Grey Wardens expected to spend the rest of their lives fighting darkspawn, but since they take in the taint their [[YourDaysAreNumbered days are numbered anyway.]]
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', in a manner with the squads in multiplayer. They are ostensibly Systems Alliance units and operate under Alliance command, with most of their members being human soldiers and other military specialists, but they also include volunteers and mercenaries from a variety of other races, such as turians, asari, krogan, drell, and quarians. With the additional [=DLC=] packs, this lineup includes batarians, geth, vorcha, and volus.
** It even plays up the "3-years=Citizenship" angle, as a maxed out character can be imported into the single player story as a War Asset.
* In ''SwordOfTheStars'', the entire Liir military is this in that they are so pacifistic that anyone who joins the "Black Swimmers" is considered a sociopath. Most of them never leave the fleet though, they think of themselves as too broken to ever rejoin Liir civilian society.
* Squad 422 in ''ValkyriaChroniclesIII'' is more or less inspired by this trope. Amongst its members is a convicted murderer, a disgraced noble, an old soldier without a country to call home anymore, a con-man, a repeat arsonist, and people of the "unwanted race".
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[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Many White Russians went here. Quite a few Jews during the Holocaust (including the future commander during the [[ArabIsraeliConflict '48 Siege of Jerusalem]]) and ironically several former Nazis. All running away from some political disturbance or other, sometimes as in the last two cases from opposite sides. For most of the Legion's history it got recruits this way, from refugees fleeing to France.
** Which led to ANaziByAnyOtherName, since after WW2, possibly up to 35% of the Legion's members where ex-German military because they were readily available.
** This had one ironic result. One Jewish soldier killed a guard who had been at a [[HellholePrison camp]] and [[VigilanteExecution shot him]]. Then he deserted and ran to Israel where he received a pardon for having deserted from the Israeli Navy. Which he did in order to join the Legion to track down the guard, whom he knew had joined the Legion.
*** Some Jews joined specifically to hunt down ex-Nazis who were part of a secret organization known as ODESSA, Organisation Der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen (Organisation of former SS members)
** In more recent years, a lot of veterans from the Yugoslav wars (mainly Serbs) joined the Legion.
* During the First Gulf War, units of the French Foreign Legion had a certain amount of trouble liaising with American troops. 'Yes, I said Foreign Legion.' 'Yes, the guys with the kepis.' 'Yes, we are real.'
* For a time, Texas could serve this purpose in a way. Back when it was part of New Spain, and later when it was part of Mexico, Texas was a favored destination not only for folks hoping to strike out, [[CallToAdventure seek adventure]], and get their own land, but also folks hoping to escape the law, escape debts, or escape [[ShotgunWedding potential fathers-in-law]]. It was common to see the note "[[FunWithAcronyms GTT]]" pinned to someone's door, or written in a financial register, to denote that someone had '''G'''one '''T'''o '''T'''exas, and that you were unlikely to ever see them (or your money) again.

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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* The ''{{GURPS}}'' version has in canon a couple of units in obscure places that are distinctly patterned after the French Foreign Legion. One of these is the Vilani Legion of the Frontier in Gurps Traveller: Interstellar Wars.
* ''{{Traveller}}'' uses this as one of the ways a character trains up.
* The Deathwatch in ''Warhammer40000'' is a similar organization, they take volunteers from every Space Marine chapter, and many a Marine from a destroyed Chapter has lived out the remainder of his career amongst their ranks.
** The Imperial Guard's Penal Legions are composed of criminals sentenced to said Legions. The Penal Legions are always assigned to the most suicidal missions, as they are even more expendable than the already expendable Guardsmen. It is worth noting that "criminal" can mean failing to return a library book on time.
* Several ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' mercenary units are loose translations of the original unit into SpaceOpera HumongousMecha-setting versions of the Legion. The devs acknowledge where they drew the inspiration from, as a surprising number of mercenary units have 'Legion' in their name and their members are universally addressed as Legionnaires. As far as nations mirroring the French side of the equation, the Capellan Confederation seems to fall closest to the original system--they prefer to spend mercenaries instead of House troops if at all possible, but reward loyal and long serving mercenaries with Capellan citizenship (which must be earned by every individual, as is not granted from birth) and subsequently valuing them the same as House troops.

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'', Porky Pig was a Legionnaire in a couple of cartoons.
** Even Pepe [=LePew=] joins the Legion to forget.
** Characters/BugsBunny and Yosemite Sam also had a conflict as Legionnaires.
* ''WesternAnimation/DangerMouse'' once encountered a Legionnaire who can't remember what he wanted to forget when he joined.
** '''Penfold:''' "Well...nice to see it worked out for you."
* ''WesternAnimation/ExoSquad'': [[TheSmartGuy Alec DeLeon's]] {{backstory}} explains that he was a petty thief in Paris in his youth and joined Exofleet to escape the past, meaning that it plays the role of FFL in the setting.
* One ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyBravo'' cartoon has him join the Foreign Legion by accident, but he spends the entire time trying to "Find the Fort" in the desert with a [[TalkingAnimal talking camel]] before taking a DeusExMachina back home.
* One ''WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck'' short, "Donald's Diary", shows Donald marrying Daisy and leading a ''very'' miserable life when his new in-laws also move in. After waking up to see that it was all a dream, he frantically runs from her house and joins the Foreign Legion to escape his potential fate.
* In one ''ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'' episode, Popeye and Bluto are both in the French Foreign Legion.
* Two recurring characters in TheLegendOfTarzan are a pair of former legionnaires who fled to the jungle to escape their GeneralRipper commanding officer.

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