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Heroes Unlimited
A Story Arc or season which features an expansion of the general cast, such as other groups of protagonists working in other locations for similar goals. Allows a new pool of characters for writers to pick from rather than constantly having to make new ones, so stories can occasionally focus on them and give the main folks a break. Often, characters from one-shot episodes are brought back as part of the new group.

Also useful as subtle filler and potential spinoff material. Can very easily lead to Loads and Loads of Characters. See also The Chosen Many, West Coast Team.

Nothing to do with the Palladium Books RPG of the same name. Even though that first turned up twenty years before Justice League Unlimited.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The "World Tour" arc of Digimon Adventure 02.
  • The foreign Gatekeepers in Gatekeepers.
  • In the world of Pokémon Special, if you somehow get a Pokedex (gift, theft, accident, doesn't matter), it is a guaranteed that you're a necessary force in combating the evil plaguing your region for whatever reason, coincidence, or personal status. Three Dexes are made for each of main regions (with Yellow receiving an older model when the Kanto trio got their upgrades. Four Dexes were also made in Unova). So up to the fifth generation, there are currently seventeen Dex Holders.For now.
    • Also, each set of regional Gym Leaders officially forms a defense group against whatever evil terrorist group is around. Sure, the Holders always save the day, but the Leaders usually provide very efficient backup.
  • Happened three times Bleach:
    • Soul Society arc introduced the 13 Shinigami Squads, each represented by a captain, a lieutenant and sometimes several lower-ranked members.
    • Zanpakutou Tales filler arc showcased physical manifestations of Empathic Weapons of most of the cast.
    • The fullbring arc in manga introduced a number of supernaturals similar to Inoue and Chad.
  • In Naruto, the Chuunin Exam arc introduced, in addition to the Rookie 9 (the classmates of the main characters), Team Gai from the year above, Team Sand from the Sand village, and Team Sound from the Sound village, and Kabuto and his teammates. Each team consists of three Genin and one Jounin sensei, making a total of 24 new characters. And that was only the beginning of the arc, and doesn't include Big Bad Orochimaru, Special Jounin like Ibiki, Anko, Hayate and Genma, Jiraiya, and the Sound 4. To be fair, a handful of these characters died. Also, the Anime tones this down slightly by introducing some of Naruto's classmates in the first episode. The Chuunin Exam is only the second story arc.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's doubled the size of the main cast compared to The Original Series. Then StrikerS came along and doubled the size of the entire cast compared to the second season.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia gets bigger with Hetalia World Series. Enter the rest of the world!

    Comic Books 
  • The All-Star Squadron, which is essentially Justice Society Unlimited set in the 1940s.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Warren Ellis's Global Frequency is like this from the start. The only characters who recur regularly are Aleph and Miranda Zero.
    • The proposed TV adaptation would have added two extra regular characters, Sean Flynn and Katrina Finch, who would join up with the rotating cast of each episode. Only the pilot was ever made though, so they're both one-shot characters after all.
  • Usually averted with the X-Men, while their roster is large enough, they're usually split into teams with each team having its own book. The roster mostly melded together when they moved to Utopia in 2009, which sort of counts.
  • Birds of Prey always had a very large cast of supporting characters in its early issues, but under Gail Simone the core team was Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk. Once Black Canary left the series, however, the cast became a bit more fluid, with a rotating lineup. Gypsy began appearing just before Canary's departure, but slowly faded out once she left. Judomaster, Big Barda, and Hawkgirl appeared for individual missions, with Misfit (an original creation) joining as a new regular in the series (though she was never really on the team). Manhunter became a recurring supporting character, and they were joined by Infinity (another original character) shortly before the series was cancelled. A dozen other heroines (from Power Girl to The Question) are shown as receiving invitations to join the team or having been active in past missions. After the series was relaunched in 2010 the cast stabilized at six members: Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and Hawk and Dove.
  • The Avengers roster increased with the Avengers Initiative.
    • At the beginning of Jonathan Hickman's run, Iron Man and Captain America created an "Avengers machine", in addition to reforming the Avengers with the core members (the movie Avengers). Steve uses it and it brings in The Falcon, Captain Universe, Hyperion, Cannonball, Sunspot, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Captain Marvel, Smasher, Shang-Chi and Manifold. The machine itself lists even more potential members, such as Bucky Barnes, Daisy Jonhson and Daredevil. Of the assembled Avengers, more than half of the machine's list are left off for whatever reason.
    • And slightly before that, the Avengers already did this by recruiting a bunch of X-Men into the team with Uncanny Avengers.
    • Neart the end of Kurt Busiek's run, the team expanded and took on a bunch of new members. The idea was that specific teams could be assembled to respond to specific situations, rather than just having one set team deal with any problem that popped up.
  • The entire idea behind The Secret Defenders. The book featured a revolving door roster, with specific characters called in on a mission by mission basis. Characters who passed through the team ranged from Wolverine and Ghost Rider to War Machine and even Thanos!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight has the Scooby Gang leading an army of hundreds of slayers, not to mention a large group of wiccans and other magic users.
  • After recovering from the events of Final Crisis, Bruce Wayne decides to expand Batman's operations into a global franchise with Batman Incorporated. With this, each country will have its own Batman representative, as opposed to the central Bat-Family that mainly operates out of Gotham and occasionally Bludhaven.

    Fanfic 
  • The Department of Hotness from the Fan Sequel and Mega Crossover, Hottie 3 The Best Fan Fic In The World. The team expanded from just Hottie's friends in the novel "Burning Ambition" by Jonathan Bernstein to various characters from throughout The Multiverse.
  • In Super Milestone Wars (and it's sequel, Super Milestone Wars 2) The Supetastic 6, which first appeared in The Naked Brothers Band animated special of the same name, have become this.
  • A very common trope in fanfics based on adaptations from other subjects. For example, X-Men Evolution fic based after the series end? Expect either introducing comic characters every chapter, a big group of comic characters added as a new team, or any number of comic characters to be made regulars right from the first chapter with no introduction. Then, there's big OC fics...

    Live Action TV 
  • LOST tends to do this each season.
    • The second season added the characters from the tail section of the wrecked plane to the cast.
    • The third season added Desmond and a few of the Others to the main cast.
    • Season four introduced the crew of the freighter.
    • The fifth season introduces time travel, allowing the entire Dharma initiative to be added, as well as the survivors from the second plane crash that brought the Oceanic six back to the island.
  • Heroes made this their policy from the very beginning.
  • The last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw the Big Bad hunting down girls with the potential to become Slayers, intent on ending the line entirely. The good guys respond by gathering as many potentials as they can, and the Grand Finale sees them magically empower every Slayer on the planet at once.
  • House did this in its fourth season. They got a whole new team for House but at the same time kept all the previous regulars as well.
  • Fringe did this with the alternate universe's Fringe Division.
  • Season three of Merlin saw the accumulation of the Knights of the Round Table. From season four onwards, most of them were regulars.

    Literature 
  • The Animorphs significantly expanded their membership towards the end of the series. Said newbies didn't quite make it to the final volume.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Axe Cop routinely holds "tryouts" for new superheroes to join his team whenever a significant threat presents itself. Then there was the time he joined up with Bat Warthog Man's team.
  • Heroes Unite is this for all webcomics related to it.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Superfriends went from having five heroes in its first two seasons to eleven in its third (and more joined in later seasons).
  • Justice League Unlimited is the Spiritual Successor of Superfriends and Trope Namer. The League officially expanded from seven members to over a hundred.
  • The Avalon Tour arc of Gargoyles, where Goliath and the others happily discovered the other gargoyle clans still surviving in the world.
    • And again in the comic books: "Clan-Building" ends with the main cast nearly doubling in size, as not only do Coldstone and Coldfire join, but Brooklyn goes on a time trip and comes back with a wife, a kid (with another on the way), and a "dog".
  • Teen Titans Titans East is the protagonists's first attempt at this. Most of the 5th season is about them recruiting new members to defeat the Legion of Doom.
  • As Codename: Kids Next Door progressed, it was revealed that the KND was a massive global operation. And despite the main characters being assigned operative numbers numbuhs 1 through 5, they were not at the top of the command structure.
  • The first season of Young Justice focused mainly on six or seven young super-heroes, although it did occasionally look at their mentors in the Justice League. Season two, set five years after the end of the first, introduced eight new characters in the first episode alone, giving this type of feel.
    • Season one also ended with multiple solo heroes being inducted into the Justice League, significantly increasing its size. Season two has many of the Young Justice characters having been promoted to the Justice League.
  • The second season of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes steadily introduces more superheroes (to the point of introducing the New Avengers into the continuity, as a backup plan of Tony Stark in case the main Avengers are unable to fight), many of whom eventually help fight Galactus in the series finale. Various one-off characters like The Falcon, Scott Lang, and The Winter Soldier also appear over the course of the season, and return for the big team-up in the finale.
  • The whole series of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is basically this. Batman is the protagonist and usually works with a different hero or group of heroes every episode, although there are some recurring characters such as The Blue Beetle, Aquaman, Plastic Man and The Green Arrow.

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