Army of the Ages

One of the standard uses of Time Travel for an Evil Overlord is to pluck warriors from various wars throughout history and bring them through to the future (the Evil Overlord's present) and assemble them into an unbeatable army. The technique of Time Travel isn't mandatory, even it's not available, a Necromancer can still make up their own ancient army by Animate Dead.

Occasionally, more heroic entities will use this as a means of recruiting a Time Police force.

When an army is made up solely of recognised historical figures, that's an Archived Army. And if a group of dead people are brought together to pass judgement on the living, that's a Jury of the Damned. If an army consists of entirely long dead people, this is Army of the Dead.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Fourth Ninja War arc of Naruto features heavy use of a resurrection jutsu that brings back a wide range of ninja that had been previously killed. Everything from past villains the protagonists had faced, to slain friends and mentors, to legendary ninjas who had been dead for decades.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Lifemaker summons all previous generations of Cosmo Entelechia upon his/her resurrection.

    Comic Books 
  • Reinhold Borsten did this in the Hex comic book series. This is how gunslinger Jonah Hex got transported to 2050.
  • The 2008 DC Comics mini-series The War That Time Forgot centered on this, with various characters from DC's war books, including Enemy Ace and Tomahawk, dragged through time and dropped on Dinosaur Island. (The series is in fact named after one of the features from one of those comics that took place on Dinosaur Island.)
  • Inverted in X-Men, where Fitzroy tries to conquer the present (his past) with future sentinel technology. It finally backfires spectacularly when he opens a portal to a prison riot in the future, bringing in a horde of mutant inmates — Bishop follows.
  • The Avengers:
    • Their foe Kang once had his own team of elite warriors plucked from different time periods, The Anachronauts.
    • Kang and his counterparts have also employed the Legion of the Unliving, made up of time-plucked characters who are thought dead in the present.
    • A notable example is during Avengers Forever where Kang allies with the Avengers to fight a Army of the Ages sent by his older self Immortus.
  • The Master pulls this trick in "The Time Thief" strip in Doctor Who Annual 1974.
  • In Fables #150, Rose Red summons the Knights of the Endless Table: soldiers from every world, and every time and battle who have one thing in common. They all died while holding out hope.

    Film 
  • The title characters do this to battle Satan in Time Bandits.
  • Night at the Museum's schtick in a nutshell. Ben Stiller teams up with a ragtag group consisting of an Egyptian Pharaoh named Akmenrah, Theodore Roosevelt, Attila the Hun, Christopher Columbus, Sacajawea, miniature figures of cowboys and Roman soldiers, a T-Rex skeleton, and a group of neanderthals to apprehend the previous night guards of the museum who stole a tablet that once belonged to said Pharaoh and was causing the exhibits to come to life.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the sequel, as Stiller leads an army consisting of Amelia Earhart, General Custer (and most of his army), and several returning characters from the first film against Kahmunrah (who claimed to be Akmenrah's older brother) and his own Army of the Ages led by Al Capone, Napoleon, and Ivan the Terrible.
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Miss Price assembles one to ward off the Nazi invasion, although they are really living suits of armour, not actual people.

    Literature 
  • This is the setting for Fritz Leiber's Change War stories, but the stories are all told by grunts who have no understanding of the big picture.
  • The Horn of Valere in The Wheel of Time summons the spirits of ancient heroes bound to the Horn when blown.
  • Neal Asher's book Cowl features a Roman Legionnaire, an assassin from a cyberpunk future and a Neanderthal on the same team.
  • The Tamuli has the bad guys doing this. But it's less effective than most examples as the Army of the Ages are usually bronze age soldiers who are up against knights in full plate; the characters lampshade this, noting how much military technology, tactics, and techniques have improved and how ineffective this makes the ancient armies. Their other disadvantage is that they're connected to their leader and vanish if he's taken out.
  • Edward Eager's Knight's Castle has a variation: the protagonists, four children, have been shrunk to a tiny size and the world of their toy knight figurines has come alive. They win the day in the end by bringing in one child's collection of toy soldiers, which includes soldiers from several different historical wars.
  • Nearly any military force in the Riverworld books is this trope, by nature of the series.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians has an example, but it isn't time-travel related. The fortress of the Greek god Hades is guarded by dead soldiers from all of history: Skeletal Roman legionnaires with spears are joined by undead US Marines with assault rifles.
    • Nico De Angelo shows the ability to summon an Army of the Dead, from different periods in history. Roman troops are summoned in "The House of Hades" to defeat monsters.
  • In Jeff VanderMeer's novel Finch, the surviving rebels have scattered throughout time and space and were rebuilding their armies with whatever local material is available. When the fungal men Grey Caps finally reveal their purpose in being on Earth, the rebel armies unleash a horde consisting of warriors from the past, present and future.
  • The armies of Shadow London in the Diogenes Club story "Sorcerer, Conjurer, Wizard, Witch". The Great Enchanter has all the mythical Barbarians at the Gate: "Vikings, French infantry, Roman legionnaires, ragged cavaliers, fire-spreaders, shaggy Anglo-Saxons, Martian squid-vampires, rowdies from the country and Prussian Uhlans". The good guys have "redcoats with muskets, knights in armour, tommies in tin hats, roundheads and cavaliers shoulder to shoulder, bloods and blades, pearly kings and queens, costers, tarts, loafers, brawlers, football fanatics with scarves and rattles, the haut ton and the demi-monde, air-raid wardens, firemen, peelers, bobbies, Bow Street Runners, Chelsea pensioners, dandies, strollers and — yes! — Dick Whittington's Cat."
  • In The Hoplite, a short story by Robert Reed, a "quantum dilator" is used to implant the consciousness of long-dead warriors into newly cloned bodies. The warriors are given a suit of Powered Armor and no oversight when executing missions. The protagonist was a hoplite from Alexander the Great's army and works alongside an SS stormtrooper, a Crusader, a Aztek warrior, and a legionnaire. However, a civilian casts doubt on them being actual warriors from the past, claiming the "quantum dilator" is a buzzword and that they're just brainwashed.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The War Lord does this in the serial "The War Games".
    • In the episode "A Good Man Goes to War", The Doctor himself does this. He recruits the space-spitfires from Churchill's England, space pirates, a Sontaran nurse, a lesbian Victorian detective Silurian, her girlfriend Jenny, and an entire army of Silurians. Word of God says that he wanted the immortal Captain Jack Harkness by his side as well, but the actor was busy making Torchwood: Miracle Day.
    • And the episode "Asylum of the Daleks" gives us an army of every Dalek in the Doctor Who series... or at least that's what the publicity said; in the actual episode, the main threat is an army of Russell T Davies-era Daleks gone mad, with blink-and-you'll-miss-them background cameos from classic series Dalek models. Only the RTD Daleks do something meaningful to the plot.
  • Star Trek: Voyager does a scaled down version of this when the ship is broken into multiple time frames. In order to remove Seska and the Kazon from engineering (it being the time they took over the ship in that section), Chakotay recruits Icheb and Naomi from the future, Torres and some Maquis from the day they arrived in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway and Kim from before the mission began, Paris from the relative present, and finally the still-Borg Seven of Nine.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eternity's Rangers from GURPS: Time Travel.
  • Hero Scape
  • The basic premise of the Magic: The Gathering CCG, with you as the summoner.
  • The SPI board game Time Tripper allowed you to play a Time Tripper, who went forward and backward in time to recruit soldiers as allies.
  • In Scion, the Einherjar warriors that show up in modern times come from the 18th century through the mid-1970s, outfitted in whatever gear they had on them when they "died".
    • The Anauša, the Persian Immortals, are similar, but draw from a wider timespan. Their members can come from any royal guard or army that took their name and associated themselves with their reputation, ranging from the classical-era originals to the Iranian Imperial Guard.
  • Certainly invoked by Warhammer 40K. Although not actually historical, most regiments of the Imperial Guard or Space Marine chapters take cues from historical armies. You can field Vietnam commando equivalents alongside an Alexander the Great Expy, put the Spanish Inquisition in charge of your platoon of red coat pith helmet-wearing Brits, etc. They're just all Recycled In Space.

    Video Games 
  • This is the plot of the first-person shooter Darkest of Days. Well, the organization that recruits you out of the American Civil War apparently isn't evil, and is more of a Time Police. But they still do most of their recruitment by plucking skilled soldiers out of various wars throughout history, namely people who were considered 'missing in action' anyway.
  • The Fallout 3 expansion "Mothership Zeta" has you team up with several cryogenically-preserved warriors on the alien spaceship: a military doctor from Operation Anchorage, a contemporary slaver, a wild west cowboy, and a samurai. And a little girl from during the Great War.
    • You also would've had an astronaut, but he didn't survive the thawing process.
      • You can wear his suit, though, it's actually required to walk on the surface of the alien ship, so in a way, you are the astronaut!
  • In Hyrule Warriors, fighters on both sides are recruited from notable eras of Hyrule's history, namely the Sky Era, the Era of the Hero of Time, and the Era of Twilight. The upcoming Hyrule Warriors Legends adds heroes from the Era of the Great Sea. This last one is notable as it's from a different timeline then the previously established Era of Twilight, happening at roughly the same point in time.

    Western Animation 
  • Common in many Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Standard villainous armies tend to include Goths, Mongols, Vandals, and the like.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy Turner assembles an army of Crimson Chins, each with their own Era-Specific Personality.
  • In one of The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, Bart uses a DeLorean time machine and changes history so Marge married Artie instead of Homer, and they're rich. Homer tries to counter it with an army of Homers across history. They all get easily beaten up by Bart and Artie.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory special Ego Trip, Dexter teams up with three of his future selves to fight a future version of Mandark, who in turn summons the appropriate analogues of himself (including the Brain in a Jar from the oldest Dexter's time).
  • When Jack Spicer got his hands on the time-travel Shen Gong Wu Sands of Time in Xiaolin Showdown, his plan was to assemble a team of history's villains; Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Billy the Kid, his first grade teacher Mrs. Cornhaven, and his future self- from the very distant future. It ultimately fails when Omi uses the Sands of Time to bring his own future self to the present.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArmyOfTheAges