->'''Eastwood:''' You're saying it's our team's ''uniqueness'' that makes us so effective.\\
'''Simmons:''' No, I'm saying you have a seemingly ''endless'' reserve of sheer ''dumb luck'', and I want to capitalise on it.
-->-- ''Webcomic/ExterminatusNow'', [[http://exterminatusnow.co.uk/2007-01-19/comic/shades-of-black-and-white/despite-appearances/ "Despite Appearances"]]

A close relative of ReassignmentBackfire, except this turns out rather well for the superiors. This is when your RagtagBunchOfMisfits are a bunch of assholes or at least out of favour with high command, and [[UriahGambit their superiors are clearly deliberate in sending them off to their certain demises]]. The problem is that, through sheer luck, ruthlessness, or [[LetsGetDangerous actual competence and skill,]] they keep returning, sometimes even accomplishing the [[ImpossibleTask impossible missions.]]

However, rather than get worried for their jobs, the superiors are actually quite pleased. Now they've got CannonFodder who are actually likely to get the job done, but whom no one is going to miss if they don't come back! Often the mark of very cunning superiors. See WeDoTheImpossible for the SuperTrope.

Contrast EliteMooks, who are actually intended to be elite, as well as OneRiotOneRanger where the superiors send out someone who is meant to be elite from the start.


[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
* The Organization in ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' has a standard practice of sending the warriors they deem unreliable ([[spoiler:actually, all who come close to Awakening]]) on {{Suicide Mission}}s, yet some like Miria and Clare manage to survive against all odds, resulting in a win-win for the Organization. This did eventually end in the Battle of Pieta, where all current undesirables are rounded up in one place and massacred to hold off an army of Awakened Beings until they could scramble to deploy their real weapon, which they did. Pieta, however, backfired again: seven Claymores survived and deserted, but until that point it had been quite nice for them.
* ''Manga/{{Area 88}}'' has many examples of this. The Area 88 mercenaries are meant to fly highly dangerous missions to take pressure off regular Asran forces, as Bowman observes in the OVA. Since many of the mercenaries are veteran soldiers, they're very good at warfare.
* In ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'', the Band of the Hawk fills this role for the Kingdom of Midland. When the nobles in the army object to Griffith's proposal to recapture Doldrey with only his own tiny band of misfits despite the number of elite troops Midland has already lost, Sir Laban points out that they have nothing to lose if Griffith bears the risk alone, and that the country will benefit if he pulls another miracle.
** In a flashback to Gut's childhood in volume 37, Gambino is shown tricking [[CannonFodder fresh recruits]] in his mercenary army into going on a suicidal charge in order to bait enemy archers into firing and revealing their positions. [[AbusiveParents His adopted son, Guts, was no different]], except that he made it back. Not missing a beat, [[EvilMentor he turns it into]] AnAesop about not trusting anybody.
* PlayedForDrama in ''Anime/DeadmanWonderland''. Yoh sends [[BadassAdorable Shiro]] to attack the operations center as a distraction while he sneaks in through the sewers, [[KickTheDog fully expecting her to die]]. Then the operations center ''explodes''. And bodies start raining from the sky. And he sees [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Shiro]] standing there, [[SlasherSmile grinning]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The main premise of ''ComicBook/SuicideSquad''. The entire group are expendable criminals sent on missions which are... well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin suicidal]].
* The basic set-up for "Hunter's Hellcts" in ''Our Fighting Forces'' from Creator/DCComics. The Hellcats were a group of convicted felons sent on dangerous missions behind enemy lines during WWII.
* Creator/MarvelComics had ''Combat Kelly and His Deadly Dozen'', which was heavily inspired by ''Film/TheDirtyDozen''.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheDirtyDozen'': The basic premise was taking a group of twelve prisoners, training them for a mission and sending them to certain death to infiltrate a Nazi hideout. Winning gives the Army a big war victory; losing just saves them execution costs.
* After attempting to blackmail a general, military PR flack William Cage in ''Film/EdgeOfTomorrow'' is reassigned to the front lines in a war against StarfishAliens that humanity is losing, badly. In the process he's unwittingly exposed to their SaveScumming RippleEffectProofMemory tactics through a GroundhogDayLoop and with the help of another soldier who previously had the power he [[TookALevelInBadass becomes an unstoppable killing machine]].
* ''Film/XXx'': Xander has been chosen by the NSA to be their agent to infiltrated Anarchy 99, because he's a GeniusBruiser, he blends well with the people in it, and is considered expendable. But he later gets the job done, and stops them from initiating their plan.
* In the backstory to ''Film/StarTrekNemesis'', the Romulans create a clone of Picard for infiltration purposes, but abandon the project when a new government takes power. The clone is left to die amongst [[FantasticRacism Remans]], whom the Romulans used as cannon fodder during the Dominion War. This human clone led over a dozen ''successful'' engagements.

* Odd example in ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' in that the superiors may be completely innocent, but Colonel Mostrue often seems a bit too quick to call in artillery strikes close to where Cain is stationed during Cain's time with the artillery unit, and also frequently gets Cain sent off into dangerous situations. Cain suspects that Mostrue is aware of the fact that his first great triumph was really just a desperate attempt to get to safety and abandon the battery to its fate, but whatever Mostrue's intentions, Cain's repeated survival of adverse circumstances only adds to the double-edged sword which is his reputation.
* Played completely straight in the ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novels, however. Colonel-Commissar Gaunt has made his fair share of enemies in the higher echelons of Imperial command, and many go out of their way to find ways to kill him and his Ghosts off.
* This is the entire point of the [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} 13th Penal Legion]]. In the first book, Colonel Schaefer starts with a legion of four-thousand troopers, the scum of the Imperial Guard. Two years later, he's got a 'legion' of 8 soldiers and they can do things even a Space Marine cannot.
* One last ''Warhammer 40000'' example: subverted horribly in ''Fire Caste''. The Arkhan Confederates succeed where countless other Guard battalions have failed, routing legions of turncoats and aliens, eventually pushing the Tau back to their base of operations, "The Diadem". [[spoiler:This is the exact opposite of what the [[DefectorFromDecadence Sky Marshal]] wanted; the Arkhans turning out to be Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder does not benefit the Marshal at ''all''.]]
* In the ''Literature/TheShahnameh'', Rostam frequently becomes this. Despite outliving generations upon generations of royalty and proving himself the most powerful warrior in the East, he still carries out missions or new kings well into his four hundredth year, right up until the day of his death. Admittedly, he is more frequently tasked with mentoring kings' offspring after a few hundred years, but the fact remains that he dies in combat.
* [[Literature/{{Discworld}} Rincewind]] gains this status in ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', when Archchancellor Ridcully notes that while he is constantly getting into life-threatening situations, he has quite the knack for ''surviving'' them.
* Klaus Hauptman knowingly invoked this trope in ''[[Literature/HonorHarrington Honor Among Enemies]]''. He convinced the Royal Manticoran Navy to offer Honor Harrington, a major thorn in his side, a return to RMN service as senior captain of a Q-ship squadron in Silesia fighting pirates (who happened to be threatening his shipping). He figured either she'd succeed and protect his interests, or she'd fail and likely be killed while doing it.
* At the end of ''Literature/HarryPotter'', Harry [[spoiler: begins to think of himself as this, after learning of Dumbledore's manipulative plans.]] Whether or not this was the truth is up in the air.
--> [[spoiler:''Of course there had been a bigger plan; Harry had simply been too foolish to see it, he realized that now. He had never questioned his own assumption that Dumbledore wanted him alive. Now he saw that his lifespan had always been determined by how long it took to eliminate all the Horcruxes. Dumbledore had passed of destroying them to him, and obediently he had continued to chip away at the bonds tying not only Voldemort, but himself, to life. How neat, how elegant, not to waste any more lives, but to give the dangerous task to the boy who had already been marked for slaughter, and whose death would not be a calamity, but another blow against Voldemort.'']]
** Dumbledore was not available for questioning during the climactic moment, but his behaviour both before and after suggests he hoped and intended for the individual in question to survive, but would have considered it an acceptable loss to defeat Voldemort.
* In ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'' Damadora's Rajput Army was assigned to a diversionary task. In the process it became the best army in the Malwa service and made Damadora TheEmperor.
* [[Literature/TheBible David himself]] (yes, the TropeNamer for the UriahGambit). He was sent by King Saul to bring back 100 Philistine foreskins (and therefore kill their previous owners) to prove himself worthy of marrying Saul's daughter. [[GreenEyedMonster Saul intended for him to die]], but David survived and brought back ''200'' foreskins.
* In AndreiLivadny's ''[[Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy Serv-Battalion]]'', an [[TheEmpire Earth Alliance]] admiral uses a unit of [[AMechByAnyOtherName serv-machines]] as an extremely expensive diversion to capture a powerful Colonial flagship and its WaveMotionGun. The rookie pilots' [[IKnowMortalKombat training in simulations]] gives them a surprising edge and they inflict great damage on the enemy, but [[SubvertedTrope die anyway]] when the flagship takes the bait and [[DeathFromAbove bombs them]]. The serv-machines' AI modules do take on fragments of the pilots' personalities and survive the battles, however.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The basic premise for ''Series/GarrisonsGorillas''.

* Savoyard march song ''Gironfla'', where the King of Savoy musters himself an army of 80 halberd-armed peasants, 4 cast iron guns and baggage train of 20 donkeys, puts a twenty-year old EnsignNewbie Cristopho de Carignan to lead it - and wins the French army sent against it. [[spoiler:The song is based on RealLife historical events.]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* This is pretty much the goal of a new party in ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'': the {{Player Character}}s are specifically deniable assets, disavowed should they be captured, and oftentimes the Johnsons in question are specifically [[TheUriahGambit trying to get them killed somehow]] anyway. ([[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Never]] [[DoesntTrustThoseGuys trust]] [[TreacherousQuestGiver a Johnson]], especially if they also happen to be a dragon.) After a few good missions, they grow to be respected, if not feared, though the folks hiring them will often still send them on suicide missions.
* The "Penal Legion" regimental option for ''TabletopGame/OnlyWar'' has this as the implicit expectation: you play a squad of troops in a regiment assembled from people who were sentenced of some crime, but whose skills were too useful (or for whom death would be too quick and painless to truly be recompense for their sin) to simply be subject to summary execution. Thusly they're given ''just enough'' gear, intel and support to successfully complete a SuicideMission, emphasis on the suicide. Ostensibly, any PC surviving the first mission should probably be pardoned, but this being the [[CrapsackWorld unfair galaxy]] that is ''Warhammer 40K'', you're more likely to just get shipped off to a slightly different meat-grinder.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* This is the entire premise of ''VideoGame/StarWarsBattlefront II'', where you play as the [[OpeningACanOfClones 501st Legion]], which "has a history of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat."
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'' plays with this, with Ziggurat-8. Rather than someone else sending him on {{Suicide Mission}}s, he sends ''himself'' on suicide missions, because he ''wants'' [[DeathSeeker to die fully]] ([[ICannotSelfTerminate but can't kill himself outright due to programming]]). The problem (for him), is that he's just too good to die, and ends up being recruited for a very important mission due to his skill.
* ''VideoGame/BattlefieldBadCompany''. This is the entire premise of the eponymous B Company. Command keeps sending them on {{Suicide Mission}}s, they keep succeeding and surviving, so much so that in ''Bad Company 2'', they are treated as super-elite soldiers despite not actually being such, who are sent in ''before'' actual Spec Ops units. Well, they already were, but for different reasons.
-->'''Sweetwater:''' Don't they have specially trained guys in the Army for that?\\
'''Sarge:''' We're going in before them. They're too expensive to waste.
* The PlayerCharacter in ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' starts off as this - his first true famous action in the war is getting sent out over the "Round Table" without any support beyond his wingman, as nothing more than a distraction while the main attack commences elsewhere, and defeating an elite squad of Belkan aces ''anyway''.
* The player character in ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' for most of the game. You have no sire (because he/she broke the law in creating you), no standing in the Camarilla (because the Camarilla executed him/her for it), and the only person who claims responsibility for you is the city's prince (who passed the sentence - popular opinion spared you from the same fate). Said prince repeatedly sends you off on UriahGambit missions because your continued existence is an eyesore to him, and you keep coming back with success stories. [[spoiler:After two or three missions of this, said prince wises up and decides to send you on a mission that he expects you to come back from -- if only because it's a planted murder scene and he wants you, the politically naive newbie whose word would be relatively more trusted, to be the UnwittingPawn who implicates one of his political rivals.]]
* The Arbiter rank from ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' plays with this. Basically, a highly decorated Elite who nevertheless has somehow managed to disgrace himself ([[spoiler:or simply been unfortunate enough to be seen by the Prophets as a potential threat to their power]]) will sometimes be granted the title and sent on a highly important, if suicidal, mission, giving the Prophets a way to execute him for his crimes while making him do something useful in the meantime; if he lives, well, there are always more suicide missions that need to be done. Indeed, despite the nature of the rank, Arbiters are generally highly respected within the Covenant (given that they are usually selected from the best and brightest Elites), with the authority to command entire fleets if need be. However, in the case of Thel 'Vadam, the current Arbiter, he's just too badass to die, so [[spoiler:the Prophets finally order Tartarus to just murder him (as part of their greater plan to wipe out all the Elites). This still doesn't work.]]
--> '''Prophet of Mercy:''' The tasks you will undertake as the Arbiter are perilous, ''suicidal''! You will die, as each Arbiter has before you! The Council will have their corpse.
* In ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'', [[TheNeidermeyer General Damon]] becomes jealous of Militia Squad 7's successes overshadowing the regular military and constantly sends them on insanely dangerous missions in hopes that they get killed off somehow. It doesn't help that he's always considered the Militia as CannonFodder. Fortunately, since Squad 7 is essentially a BadassArmy with a CoolTank, they manage to complete their missions successfully.
** [[FromBadToWorse It gets worse.]] In ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChroniclesIII'', The Nameless' missions are essentially one [[CannonFodder deliberately suicidal task]] after another, up to and including assassinating Emperor Maximillian in his fortress of Ghirlandaio.[[labelnote:spoiler]][[ForegoneConclusion That's about the only one time they fail.]][[/labelnote]] Have we mentioned that The Nameless [[ArmyOfThievesAndWhores is a penal legion]] and [[DysfunctionJunction the characters dysfunctional]]? Fortunately, Kurt and co. are a perseverant and crafty bunch.
* Can be pulled off in most ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' games due to the way character mechanics work. If you have an InadequateInheritor, you can send him with an army into enemy territory against highly unfavorable odds. If he fails, he dies, and someone more worthy becomes the new heir; if he succeeds, you've just wiped out a major enemy force and possibly taken a new province, and the target has likely gained some kind of trait that will actually make him more useful.

* ''Webcomic/ExterminatusNow'' usually has the gang [[http://exterminatusnow.co.uk/2004-09-10/comic/orbital-arachnaphobia/previous-experience-not-required/ sent off]] to do some incredibly dangerous mission specifically because they're a bunch of frakkers whose backs no one would care to see. As a result, they frequently don't get the job done too well. However, their tenacity at surviving numerous operations where their command staff are explicitly ''trying'' to get them killed off means that Schaefer tends to go to them first if there is a genuine need for a group of inquisitors with a record for pulling off suicide missions.
--> '''[[http://exterminatusnow.comicgenesis.com/d/20040910.html Rogue]]''': Is there any reason this mission is code-named ''"Dead Men Walking"''?
** There's also the fact that they have a steadily increasing supply of blackmail images and videos they can use against their boss: they use this to extort an incredibly large base, some very impressive computers, and some very impressive hardware from their boss, but can't use it to keep from being forced to do their jobs. So, if they go out and get killed, Schaefer wins, and if they come back successful, the Inquisition wins. Perfect Win-Win scenario, as long as their failure doesn't doom the planet to dominion by the dark gods.
--> '''[[http://exterminatusnow.comicgenesis.com/d/20100605.html Schaefer]]''': You have a history of making it out of impossible situations, no matter how often we [[UriahGambit try to ki-]] no matter what assignment we deploy you on.
* Arachne from ''Webcomic/YetAnotherFantasyGamerComic'' was there, [[http://yafgc.net/comic/0070-a-quick-promotion/ done that]]. ReassignmentBackfire happened much later.

* The Red and Blue armies from ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' are culled from a collection of washouts, trainees, [[ShellShockedVeteran former soldiers]], and other undesirables to run mock battle simulations so the agents of Project Freelancer can test their skills and equipment before deployment. The two teams that get the most focus are even worse, yet through a combination of their own quirks and sheer dumb luck they manage to dismantle Project Freelancer, defeat and/or kill ''four'' Agents, and undo a massive FalseFlagOperation by Freelancer's rival, Charon Industries.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', when the Monarch is asked why he always picks 21 and 24 on missions, he responds, "I know it sounds crazy, but they both have [[MauveShirt the rare blend of expendable and invulnerable]] that makes them the perfect henchmen."
** Finally averted when [[spoiler:24 died]], but that event caused 21 to become so [[EliteMook badass]] he managed to take on [[OneManArmy Brock]] [[BadassNormal Samson]] in a straight up solo fight ''and live''.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers'': the Series Five team is hinted to be this in canon. Doc and Niko have [[MysteriousPast mysterious pasts]]. Goose is the lone member of his failed SuperSoldier project to stay loyal to his handlers. Even Zachary, a respected officer, has people from politicians to low-level security guards questioning his sanity. The {{Fanon}} merely makes it ''very'' explicit.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'' animated series, they are described as (paraphrasing) "The best, most expendable guys we've got". They take it as a compliment.

[[folder: Real Life]]
* The WWII Soviet Black Sea Naval Infantry, aka The "Black Death". Got Romanians on your doorstep? Army getting pushed back on all other fronts? Give your sailors rifles, tell 'em to fight. Everyday sailors given a rifle and pressed into service as shocktroopers against the Germans, Italians and mostly Romanians. Manages to hold Sevastapol in the face of German invasion for months, even completed more paradrops during the war than the actual Red Army paratroopers. They were among World War 2's many unsung badasses.
* Polish soldiers have held the dubious honor of being these for many countries, including countries other than the Kingdom of Poland or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
** Napoleon created the Grand Duchy of Poland and fostered Polish nationalism to recruit the (west Slavic) Poles as allies against the Germanic Prussian kingdom, east Slavic Russian kingdom, and Germanic/south-Slavic Austrian empire. Napoleon's "Polish Legions" acquitted themselves well in several campaigns, most famously at the Battle of Somosierra. As a reward for their service he...sent them to quell slave uprisings on Haiti. Few ever returned.
** Polish troops were ''theoretically'' cannonfodder for three of the combatants fighting WorldWarOne, but in practice they were never actually used in this capacity due to their tendency to surrender to the enemy. The Polish-Russian dual monarchy (commonly called 'Russia'), Austro-Hungarian dual empire, and German kingdom ''all'' fielded combat units composed largely or even entirely of ethnic Poles during WorldWarOne. However the German ''Polnische Wehrmacht'' (headed by the later military dictator of Poland, Joseph Piwsudski) and Austro-Hungarian ''Polnische Legion'' were only very small with the former never having more than 10,000 men and the no more than 60,000. While the Polish-Russian kingdom fielded as many as 200,000 Polish troops, including some with very good (in relative terms) training and morale, they were as unreliable as their German and Austro-Hungarian counterparts and were never used in combat if STAVKA could avoid it.
** Polish troops were ''kind of'' cannonfodder for three different combatants fighting WorldWarTwo, though in practice their treatment seems to have been little different to that of other forces - [[DudeWheresMyRespect save the egregious lack of publicity recognition given to their efforts]]. [[DudeWheresMyRespect This became particularly grating when other forces received greater thanks for their own efforts, sometimes despite them having actually contributed far less than the Poles]]. The French, British, and Soviets all fielded Polish veteran expats in combat units, in which many acquitted themselves very well. While the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB) ''did'' have those captured Polish Army Officers who refused to serve in the army of Communist Poland executed (in the 'Katyn' massacre of 1940, with as many as nine-tenths refusing and being killed), the volunteers seemed to have performed admirably against Nazi Germany. Indeed, it was a Polish Army force which finally liberated Warsaw in January 1945 (for a given value of 'liberation'). The British in particular were heavily reliant on their Poles' grit, guts, and experience to sway the outcome of several pitched trench-warfare battles including the Battles of Monte Cassino (Italian campaign, January-April 1944), the lack of recognition given for their part in that particular campaign being something of a sore point.
* The French Foreign Legion were this through much of their history. Many of their most notable battles involved them fighting over whelming odds. In many cases, they were not expected to win the battle, just buy time for other French forces to position themselves or to wear down enemy soldiers before an attack. In most wars, the Foreign Legion would generally become more and more elite, since Legionnaires that survive battles tend to keep surviving. This is generally helped by the fact the Legion has a history of recruiting mercenaries and soldiers from other countries.
* The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger (1944), or simply the Dirlewanger Brigade, was a military unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Composed of criminals expected to die fighting in the front-line, the unit was led by Oskar Dirlewanger. Originally formed for anti-partisan duties against the Polish resistance; the unit eventually saw action in Slovakia, Hungary, and against the Soviet Red Army near the end of the war. During its operations it engaged in the rape, pillaging and mass murder of civilians.
** The unit participated in some of World War II's most notorious campaigns of terror in the east. During the organization's time in Russia, Dirlewanger burned women and children alive and let starved packs of dogs feed on them. He was known to hold large formations with the sole purpose of injecting Jews with strychnine. Dirlewanger's unit took part in the occupation of Belarus, where it carved out a reputation within the Waffen-SS as an atrocious unit. Numerous Heer and SS commanders attempted to remove Dirlewanger from the SS and disband the unit, although he had patrons within the Nazi apparatus who intervened on his behalf. His unit was most notably credited with the destruction of Warsaw, and the massacre of ~100,000 of the city's population during the Warsaw Uprising; and participating in the brutal suppression of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944. Dirlewanger's Division of the Waffen SS generated fear throughout Waffen-SS Organizations including the SS-Führungshauptamt (SS Command Headquarters) and earned the notoriety as the most criminal and heinous SS unit in Hitler's war machine.
*** The Dirlewanger brigade/division does not really qualify as 'elite' while cannon fodder it might be. Himmler wanted its own penal unit and this really was a unit of criminals not of soldiers accused and convicted of minor or major offenses. The casualty rates reflected that which regularly caused the unit to drastically down-size when faced with anything more dangerous than women and children.