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Some groups or teams act as a character magnet.
The group keeps on attracting new members and/or close allies. In shonen
anime, especially, a former villain
of the Worthy Opponent
class tends to become a new teammate
This is often used near the beginning of a series to build the cast. When done well, this makes a character's entrance more interesting. When done poorly, it is an anvilicious
way of adding a new character. If it's done often, it will ensure that your series will have Loads and Loads of Characters
Sometimes, this happens to replace other characters in series with high turnover. Usually there's a Magnetic Hero
at the center of the team, though other characters around him will also exert "pull" to attract newcomers.
This is the logical extension of the Debut Queue
. Compare Hitchhiker Heroes
, where the team
is attracted to the new members. See also You ALL Share My Story
for a similar phenomenon.
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Anime and Manga
- The X-Men and their affiliates. The sole criteria for being affiliated with the team is that you have to either be a Mutant, or involved in mutant politics in some way or other (a sympathetic human, an ex-mutant, a genetic experiment from another dimension who happened to get saved by mutants, etc). Since about 10% of the Marvel Universe's population used to be mutants at one point, this meant a great deal of snowballing, and even after the "Decimation" event had over 90% of that population Brought Down to Normal, the X-Books' cast is still larger than almost all of Marvel's other properties, put together.
- The band of survivors in The Walking Dead runs into new people regularly, most of whom end up sticking around. This is necessary, of course, because established characters die horribly at about the same rate as new ones join.
- One of the common criticisms of Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers run is the frequency with which characters join the team only to proceed to stand around in the background with nothing to do except interject an occasional one-liner or get punched in one panel of a team fight while the lead characters do all the heavy lifting - if they even appear in the book at all (Daredevil at one point joined the team then didn't appear again for several issues).
- Even before Bendis's run on Avengers, they had one of the largest lineups in Marvel. At one point, before the X-Men decided that ALL good guy mutants were X-Men, the Avengers' roster was larger than nearly all other Marvel hero teams, combined.
- In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin finds Achoo, then Blinkin, then adds Little John, Will, and the rest of the Merry Men (and Marian, Broomhilde, and Rabbi Tuckman) as he goes along.
- The rabbits in Richard Adams' Watership Down start out as a small group and add several other characters to their number over the course of the book.
- In JRR Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring Frodo and Sam set out from the Shire alone, but collect Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, Boromir and Legolas in the formation of the titular fellowship before they part ways at the end of the book.
- Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series frequently features a villain from the preceding book as an ally, resulting in the cast growing in almost all of its earlier books. Most of Skeeve's allies have wanted him dead at some point...
- Which is subverted in Little Myth Marker, when Skeeve refuses to let the Big Bad of the book join the group because he won't associate with someone who thinks being The Mole for hire is an acceptable way to make a living.
- The Tanith First-And-Only Regiment of Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts has twice taken on a great deal of new blood to replace losses they've suffered.
- Rogue and Wraith squadrons in the Star Wars: X-Wing novels both function this way, with pilots from lesser squadrons jockeying for positions in the group. Rogue is officially the "top gun" fighter squadron of the entire New Republic fleet, so this makes plenty of sense. Wraith... Not so much, but they do at least have a famous commander and a rep for getting stuff done (and blowing stuff up). Plenty of turnover in both groups, too.
- In The Belgariad, this happens twice. The first time, it was done intentionally by Belgarath to "fulfill the prophecy". In The Mallorean the trope if followed correctly, even if Prophecy itself has to intervene at times.
Live Action TV
- Every single series of Power Rangers has the Five-Man Band joined by at least one Sixth Ranger. Some recent series start with only a Power Trio, and occasionally don't stop at six, allowing two to sometimes four Sixth Rangers. Of course, the whole reason to do this is to have more people to make action figures of.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury began looking like it would be a particularly bad example, as the toy line added three Rangers (based on secondary mecha from Gekiranger) to the existing five, and it was confirmed they'd appear on the show. It ultimately turned out that these three weren't new characters, but rather spiritual manifestations that the Power Trio or their respective mentors could summon into battle.
- Power Rangers RPM narrowly avoided being an even worse example; the original Go-Onger expanded from three to five to seven Rangers, and the toy line added three more on top of that for a total of ten. Thankfully, these three stayed as toys and never appeared on the show.
- Doctor Who gains new companions and loses old ones constantly, more so in the original series than the new one.
- Can't forget Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially season seven, where new potential slayers are collected every episode, along with characters like Andrew and Wood, and old recurring characters like Faith coming back.
- Angel does that, too, to a smaller extent. At the beginning of the first season, there were three main characters with no real minor or reoccurring characters yet. By the end of the fifth, there were eight (if you count Fred and Illyria separately), as well as two dead main characters, two or three non-main characters working with the team (depending on when you count it), Conner, and more minor reoccurring characters like Knox, Nina, Anne, Conner's "parents", and a few other random Wolfram and Hart employees. The cast never got as big as Buffy's, though.
- Both shows are notable in that they need to keep picking up new team members because old ones have a nasty habit of dying, being put out of commission or running away to the spinoff.
- ER it is always gaining new members, if only to replace old ones. It had 100% turnover over 10 seasons—done gradually.
- The O.C. has this thing going on where nearly every new character, even when they start out as antagonists, gets assimilated into the Cohen clan sooner or later.
- The duo of Merlin and Arthur from Merlin have steadily accumulated a team of knights, most of which turn up in the two-part finale of the third season to help Arthur win back Camelot.
- House of Anubis- Sibuna seems to grow larger each season, either by gaining new allies or actual members. What started out as a Power Trio became a Five-Man Band, and eventually, by The Touchstone of Ra, everyone in the house had been involved at some point in Sibuna. Except Mick.
- Common in Tabletop Games. When a player's character dies but he/she does not wish to leave the game, the group will traditionally encounter another adventurously-minded type in short order by complete coincidence.
- A common feature in RPGs, where the player starts out in control of one character but has a veritable army by the time they face the Big Bad.
- Probably two of the most striking examples of this in RPGs are Chrono Cross, which has 45 characters total, and the Suikoden series, which has 108 (although, to be fair, the vast majority of the 108 are minor characters). Also notable are the Shin Megami Tensei series, while having a reasonably small amount of characters, have hundreds upon hundreds of Mons that may be convinced to ally with the player.
- Heroes in SaGa Frontier can just about always run into somebody willing to join them for little reason than their own boredom. But really, being that the multiverse has a population of about 100, it's a nice thought that an actual statistically significant number of people are willing to get off their duffs and help save the world. Not quite the usual "5 plucky youths vs. the world while everyone else is busy dying in droves".
- In Fire Emblem, if there's a named character on the field, good odds point to that character either joining you or being the boss of the level. In Path of Radiance, many characters decide to join your army for the flimsiest of reasons regardless of any protestations from your characters.
- Lampshaded in Radiant Dawn when Oliver, a villain from Path of Radiance appears again as a boss, joins when he sees a beautiful heron in your party. If you initiate a talk between him and Ike, Ike will ask him to please rejoin the enemy.
- Sacred Stones features two paths, during which you recruit every possible character, despite said paths taking place simultaneously on opposite sides of the continent, with the path you don't choose having a Hand Wave explantion as having had a small escort, which you never see when the paths intersect later, leaving you to presume they all died.
- The player character in Mass Effect could be considered an almost literal interpretation of this trope, seeing as, in the space between Shepard's death and subsequent return, the group you had collected in your first adventure are scattered to the four winds, no longer held together by their magnet.
- When Shepard asks Joker about the old crew, he tells him/her just as much.
- The sequel pretty much plays it straight. Two of the characters join without hesitation once cleared of other duties, and everyone else from shady figures to wanted fugitives that actively despise the organisation you're working for and still sign up with no hesitation.
- Dwarf Fortress has both the titular mode, which will constantly attract new migrants as it grows, and the Adventure mode, where you can recruit more members in any town to replace those that fell to giant spiders.
- And trolls. And troglodytes.
- Deconstructed in both Planescape: Torment and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The player character's magnetism is revealed to not be just a Necessary Weasel, but an actual ability to influence others to join him. In KotOR 2, it's a one-of-a-kind force power that the protagonist unconsciously uses. In Planescape the Symbol of Torment tattooed on the Nameless One's left shoulder is a magical rune that draws tormented individuals to him. That's how he always manages to assemble a group of companions for his journeys - if you have a Dark and Troubled Past, you'll feel compelled to help him, even if it leads to your death.
- Sluggy Freelance sorta does this, as the strip started with just two characters but has added dozens to the main cast as time went on. However, since characters tend to leave just as often as they come in, the cast size at any one time is usually no more than six people.
- El Goonish Shive, periodically adds supporting characters to the list of close allies of one or more members of the main eight characters either by doing so soon after they debut or by fleshing out former minor characters.
- Team Kimba is still doing this in the Whateley Universe. First it was Chaka, Fey, Tennyo, Generator and Shroud, Phase, and Lancer. Then they pulled in Carmilla, then Bladedancer. Then Carmilla and Bladedancer pulled in more, to the point that both have been split off with their own teams. Now there's Vamp and the Crimson Comet.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has Aang, Katara, and Sokka first season. By the end of the series they have acquired Toph, Zuko, Suki, and several other characters they had previously encountered.