Flaunting Your Fleets
When you intend to impress (whether some characters by some other character, or your audience as the author), if it is a military or some other powerful organisation, the display of power is usually based upon personnel's numbers. This is the basis of Million Mook March. Million Mook March tends to concern infantry. However, as it happens, such a display is not restricted to footsoldiers. If it is some kind of fleet you want to show, you can just as much make them run in squadrons, and the additional benefit is that in opposition to common soldiers, even a lone ship is likely to impress, either with her guns, or herself. Thus, Flaunting Your Fleets is a scene made of exceptional display of power, usually (though not a necessity) military, inducing squee in any closet militarist, often in form of squadrons upon squadrons, on the march or standing down, of starships, seaships, airships, airplanes or whatever else rocks your boat. While Million Mook March is often invoked by characters in story, it is more likely for Flaunting Your Fleets to be directed straight towards the viewer. Works both in picture and in writing. In the former, it often uses a camera trick where the camera's changing field gradually shows more and more items (see Troy in the Film examples section). In the latter, it tends to assume the form of Description Porn, often together with a Long List of unit numbers and names and giving descriptions of individual vessels or ship types, thus blurring the division between straight description of the fleet as whole and Technology Porn of its constituents (see The Iliad, on which Troy was based). A close cousin to Technology Porn and Gun Porn, and Million Mook March may be considered a subtrope. Gunboat Diplomacy seeks to invoke this consciously.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- A Federation Fleet Review is a major plot point in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
- Robotech, for example, here, starting at 0:24.
- In fanwork here.
- The first actual scene of the Legend of Galactic Heroes main series after the opening narration depicts the 20,000-strong Galactic Empire fleet under the command of Reinhard von Lohengramm. This was later matched by a similar close-up on the fleets of his opponent, the Free Planets Alliance.
- In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the Gamilas Empire holds a Fleet Review at a Portal Network hub after Desler's presumed death, which Field Marshall Zoellick uses as a platform to seize power for himself. The Yamato coincidentally enters the hub en route to the Large Magellanic Cloud and explosions ensue.
- This comes back to bite the Gamilas big time especially funny since Desler allowed it to happen to ferret out the conspirators against him: The Yamato manages to catch the last portal out before the hub blows up. This leaves most of Gamilas vast fleet to crawl back home without the portals... and unable to catch up to the Yamato before it reaches their capital planet.
- Done with soliders and not ships, but SD Gundam Force episode Ultimate Challenge! Kibaomaru vs Shute ends with a call that the Kibao Army resume their march, and the shot zooms out to show God-knows-how-many Nobusshi marching after the Tenchijou.
- In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, the Trans-Galactic Republic engages in this. After batarians destroy a ship that is accidentally shot to a neighboring galaxy (where Mass Effect takes place), the response is to send a Star Dreadnaught and thirty-six escorts (of the type of ship that was destroyed). Though the Trans-Galactic Republic is generally peaceful at this point, the implication is "If you do that again, we will end you.note "
- In Troy, there is a close-up of a single ship... And then, the camera goes up, revealing hundreds of ships, stretching far to the horizon.
- The Star Wars films feature several such scenes.
- In The Phantom Menace, as the Trade Federation lands on Naboo (combined with droids in a Million Mook March).
- In Attack of the Clones, during the display of Clones at the end, we see a bunch of star destroyers ready to take off in the background.
- Right in the opening moments of Revenge of the Sith, we see not one but two sides flaunting their numbers (with a little scuffle in the middle).
- In A New Hope, as the Rebel X-Wings take off to attack the Death Star.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, just before the attack on Hoth (accompanied, of course, with the first appearance of the Imperial March).
- In Return of the Jedi, when Emperor Palpatine arrives on the Death Star II in and their entire TIE fighter complement is deployed on parade outside the docking bay.
- A trailer for The Last Airbender, doing a trick similar to Troy's aforementioned example.
- Used as an Oh Crap! moment for one of the protagonists in Letters from Iwo Jima. After discussing with the others how the Americans will be sending a lot of ships - twenty, maybe thirty - he goes outside and sees the American fleet stretching all the way to the horizon.
- The Three Musketeers (2011) the end of the movie shows the Duke of Buckingham with a massive fleet of ships and airships headed for France.
- In The Longest Day the German coast-watchers manning a bunker gaze out into the dim pre-dawn light and see . . . the Normandy Invasion heading right for them, all five thousand ships of it.
- In an early scene in Fury, the soldiers look on as a fleet of bombers fly overhead. It looks like half of the sky is about to be covered in airplanes, the noise of engines is still slightly audible down on the ground, and it's not even extraordinary. Which serves to hammer home the whole scale of the war.
- Occurs in Babylon 5, right after Sheridan liberates Earth from the Clarke regime. After Delenn announces the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Rangers fly their White Stars in formation over Earth Dome, pounding the point home.
- Major fleet actions, such as the assembly of Babylon 5 vessels attacking the siege line at Proxima, tend to have long, dramatic pans across the massing ships and huge quantities of Starfuries and other fighters. The Battle of Coriana at the end of the Vorlon-Shadow War has at least four - one when the Alliance fleet leaves B5, one each when the Vorlons and Shadows arrive on the scene, and one showing the huge fleet huddling close to White Star One to protect it from the Shadow Planet Killer.
- The Babylon 5 card game has a military conflict called "show the colours", which is basically a free-for-all for all the players to show off how big and impressive their respective fleets are — the winner gains 2 influence, while the losers lose absolutely nothing. Unlike most military conflicts, no actual hostile actions are taken against other factions and nobody can attack other participants unless they already are at war.
- There was also the heavily foreshadowed flyby of the Imperial Palace on Centauri Prime.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a few scenes like this, especially in the later seasons when the crew found themselves up against either Klingons (early in season 4), or the combined fleets of the Dominion, Cardasians, and Breen after that. The Federation also had large shows of force, which was very odd as it was lightly implied before had that the Federation did not have thousands of vessels. (For example, the battle at Wolf 359 from TNG only had about 40 ships, and Riker's line at the end of the episode, "The fleet should be back up and running within a year," seems to imply that those 40-odd ships were the MAJORITY of Star Fleet's armada!)
- It actually implied that Starfleet can produce ~40 ships in less than a year. In-universe, Starfleet decided to Take a Level in Badass after the pounding they took at Wolf 359, so the fleet got bigger. Considering average Federation ship has lifespan of some 80 - 100 years, as evidenced by Miranda and Constitution classes...
- Another factor beefing up Starfleet's ship count is the fact that the Starfleet Corps of Engineers are an in-universe cross between MacGyver and Memetic Badass. A Vorta (one of the enemy leaders in the series) claims that a Starfleet engineer "can turn rocks into replicators". Between that and the fairly diverse range of ships seen in Federation fleets, it becomes fairly obvious that Starfleet is basically repurposing everything it can get its hands on and sending it into battle.
- Andromeda: Ever wonder why The Commonwealth's warships, specifically High Guard warships, look so sleek and fragile? This is why. The Vedrans built their ships like that just because they can and no one else had the technology to do so, even before The Fall of The Commonwealth.
- In Mission of Honor, Honor shows up in the Haven system with 48 superdreadnoughts, 6 LAC carriers, a dozen battlecruisers, twenty destroyers, a dozen ammunition freighters, and her personal yacht, to negotiate a peace treaty.
- The Iliad includes a hour-long-in-reading chapter made solely of the list of how many ships and men every allied Greek kingdom sends to Troy.
- Older Than Feudalism: This trope is discussed in an ancient Greek (though not as old as the Iliad) poem by Sappho:
"Some say horsemen, some say warriors,Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliestVision in this dark world, but I say it'sWhat you love. [...]And I recall Anaktoria, whose sweet stepOr that flicker of light on her face,I'd rather see than Lydian chariotsOr the armed ranks of the hoplites."
- In the Harry Turtledove two book Alternate History series Days Of Infamy, Japan takes over the Hawaiian islands instead of just bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Japanese know that the Americans will only focus on regaining Hawaii at first, and the rest of the Japanese Army and Navy can take over the rest of the Pacific unmolested. The first time the Americans attempt to retake Hawaii, they send out a fleet roughly equal in numbers to the Japanese detachment at Hawaii, but it is undone by inexperienced soldiers, faulty armaments and outdated equipment. With the second attempt to retake the islands the Americans take the time to do things right and send an overwhelming force. Japanese pilots defending their hold on the islands see a fleet stretching back as far as they can see to the horizon... and then realize that there are still more ships even further back, giving the pilot seeing this a major Oh Crap! moment.
- In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, Geary tries to put his ships in as elegant a formation as he can when travelling through spider-wolf space. To be sure, it's no match for the spider-wolves' formation, and he knows it, but he tries.
- In the Diane Duane Star Trek EU novel The Wounded Sky, every ship in the Federation Fleet that can possibly be there turns out en masse to welcome the Enterprise back from its shakedown cruise with the new drive. The vista is described thus:
The stars were bright about them. And more was bright than the stars.
"Good Lord," Kirk said, and put the drink down, and stood to watch the screen.
Enterprise was not alone out there. She had escort. The screen was filled with ships closing in on her... A few of them had already matched velocities and vectors with her, and were riding close around. ...
He shook his head in wonder. God, he thought, it looks like the center-spread holo-foldout in Jane's Fighting Starships.
- Happens in the final chapter of the Left Behind book Kingdom Come, as The Other Light grows to massive numbers near the end of the Millennium that they start parading themselves and their weapons around.
- The song Please Hello from Pacific Overtures is made of this (though the ships are offstage). As the various representatives greet the Japanese representative and issue their varrying demands/suggestions they all end exactly the same way; with a rolling cannonade from their ships.
- The Dark Side ending of Knights of the Old Republic features one of these shots. Bonus points for that not even being the massed Sith fleet, it's just what's currently rolling off the assembly line.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has a couple of impressive cinematic trailers featuring the Army of the Empire of the Rising Sun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeLH0larJTc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFKpBT7eb5k .
- In Phantasy Star Universe's first installment, the Alliance Military Forces' starships do this in celebration of the Tripartite Alliance centennial, launching fireworks over the GUARDIANS colony with their main guns. Then the SEED invasion begins, destroying many of those ships on display.
- In Infinite Space. Elgava dispatches five thousand ships to impress the approaching Lugovalians, but fail because the other fleet had over a hundred thousand ships. Later in the game, Libertas holds a fleet review as part of maneuvering to consolidate control over the Galactic Federation.
- In Mass Effect 3 when the united fleets of the Alliance, Turians and whatever else Shepard has gathered take the fight back to Earth. Subverted in that even this is nothing more than a delaying action for Shepard to activate the Crucible, as there is no way to defeat the Reapers using conventional means.
- Homeworld's in-engine cutscenes exemplify this trope. Big capital fleets squaring off set to dramatic music and voice-over basically sets up half the key missions.
- X3: Reunion ends with a AGI Task Force fleet streaming through the newly built jump gate in Heretics End, reuniting Earth to the X-Universe. Said fleet crushes a Kha'ak invasion in mere minutes with their superior technology - then the camera goes through the wormhole to Earth, showing the massive Torus Aeternal wrapping around the Earth and even more ATF ships heading towards the camera.
- A viable tactic in Galactic Civilizations. Park a whole bunch of powerful military ships on your border, and your neighbor is not going to attack without a big numerical or technological advantage. On the other hand, the AI can get suspicious and trigger-happy if your "demonstration" gets too close to its territory.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: a pan up from Zhao's command ship to the fleet he intends to destroy the Northern Water Tribe with. Also, the airship fleet in the grand finale.
- The Legend of Korra: The fleet of the United Forces is shown, headed by General Iroh II
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars has several shots like this, mostly from the CIS. Their fleet is massive.
- Military parades, which tend to include machines alongside the soldiers, are often deliberately intended to have this effect. This is where it blurs into Million Mook March.
- The Soviet Union pulled off a massive con on the USA in July 1955 at the Soviet Aviation Day demonstrations at the Tushino Airfield, ten Bison bombers were flown past the reviewing stand, then flew out of sight, quickly turned around, and flew past the stands again. They repeated this six times, presenting the illusion that there were 60 aircraft in the flyby. This led to the "Bomber gap".
- Chinese "Treasure Fleet" of XV Century, before they decided to ban anything remotely seaworthy. One of its points was to invoke this trope to awe China's neighbours into vassalization.
- Freedom of Navigation exercises, a modern variation of Gunboat Diplomacy. If a country makes territorial claims to waters note that the United States disagrees with, often the US Navy will simply park a carrier battle group in the waters under dispute, as if to say, "Your waters? Prove it."
- It usually worked, except in one notable case when the American ships tried to test the patience of the Soviet sailors guarding a stretch of water in the Black sea. After being harrassed by the US ships just shaving the edge of a dusputed zone several times, a Soviet frigate just went up and rammed her opponent, tearing a 5-meter gash in her side with an anchor. Fortunately, no one wished to escalate further.
- The US Navy's Great White Fleet was a prime example. Named for the Navy protocol of painting ships white in peacetime, the Great White Fleet was sent around the world by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909 as nothing more or less than a way of telling the world, "Hey, looky what we got!" Made up of ships built within the last decade with state-of-the-art designs, the display was very effective at demonstrating America's rising technological prowess and willingness to set foot on the world stage. While not impressive in absolute terms—the British dreadnoughts had rendered the Fleet effectively obsolete, and the Royal Navy's reaction while escorting them through the Mediterranean was more or less "aw, how cute!"—it did present a very solid announcement that the United States was now a Great Power, capable of playing the game as well as any European country. It also served as a wake-up call to the powers of Latin America (who proceeded to have a naval arms race—particularly between Argentina and Brazil) and the Pacific (mostly meaning Japan, which began a big naval buildup).
- More importantly, the Great White Fleet showed that the US Navy could deploy anywhere in the world, no small feat given the fuel, supply, and maintenance requirements of such warships. The hands-on experience with such a deployment would prove valuable a few short years later when the United States joined World War I.
- One of the most impressive ones in modern times has got to be the International Fleet Review, which featured a total of 167 ships of varying countries. It all concluded in a huge reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar, which occurred on that day 200 years ago.
- The classic series Victory At Sea. About twelve hours of Flaunting Your Fleets. Oh yes, the army gets in there somewhere too...
- True to their name, a grand old tradition of the Royal Navy. At the Fleet Review, the reigning monarch essentially inspects a parade of all the vessels of a particular fleet of the Royal Navy. Usually takes place in the Solent at Spithead. The purpose is obvious: would you dare fight a fleet like this?◊
- Various coastal cities around the US (New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, etc.) pull this off yearly, with annual "Fleet Weeks" in which the Navy parades their ships.
- Take this trope, and combine it with Stuff Blowing Up to get a military exercise. Now, this trope mixes well with Tank Goodness. And that's what Reds with Rockets subscribed to, passionately: . And yes, you saw that right, that was a field of tanks. Zapad-81, featured here, may have been the most massive, but earlier excercises included not only ground, air and sea but also space, with the Soviets test-firing their IS anti-satellite weapons as well.