Hidden Army Reveal

The hero/villain has defeated their final target, they stand triumphant, only for an entire army to appear out of thin air, apparently they were all hiding, waiting for a signal of some kind.

This army could be as few as four or as many as thousands, but they must appear out of nowhere and surround the character.

The method of hiding isn't important as look as the area appears empty on initial inspection and leave the character wondering where the hell they came from.

Related to You and What Army? and The Cavalry.

Note: To clear up any possible confusion. For something to be an example of this trope the army in question needs to be physically present, but not visible. This means teleporting in armies don't count. This trope can overlap with You and What Army? and The Cavalry, indeed an example might be present on all three trope pages.


Anime and Manga
  • In One Piece, at the start of Marineford War, the Marines stationed at Marineford saw Whitebeard's legion of pirate allies marching onto the bay, but Whitebeard himself is out of sight. When they're coming close, suddenly giant bubbles appeared from the ocean, revealing Whitebeard's own fleet.

  • In one Batman comic, Batman and Ras al-Ghul are talking, with a bunch of his assassins revealing themselves around the two (they were buried in the sand).

  • Golden Eye. Near the end of the film a field full of marines and a couple of helicopter appear at the shout of "Yo! Marines!" (Youtube clip)
  • Predator 2. Several predator de-cloak just after the hero has finished killing one, apparently they were watching and approve.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Aragorn pulls this when he arrives at the battle of Minis Tirith, what appears to be just one man charging at the enemy is suddenly one man followed by an Army of ghosts.
  • In Serenity, this tactic is used to get past the Operative's fleet surrounding Mr. Universe's planet. The planet is surrounded by an ion storm which can mask a ship's signal - The Operative sees the tiny Serenity and assumes he has won already, before an enormous Reaver fleet that had been chasing Serenity emerges from the ion cloud behind it. The Alliance wins the resulting battle, but Serenity gets through the blockade in the chaos.
  • In Keep Your Powder Dry (1945), some female soldiers have a picnic and go swimming in some sort of lake. A male officer comes up to them, tells them there's a 'problem', and marches his dozens of camouflaged men away.

Live-Action TV
  • Sharpe's Waterloo has this twice.
    • Sharpe tells Upper-Class Twit Prince of Orange that the battlefield is not empty, as the Prince keeps saying, because there are heavy cavalry hidden in a patch of dead ground behind a rise. The Prince gets a nasty shock when the cavalry turns up.
    • Napolean is surprised by a sudden appearance of reserves for Wellington's army, because Wellington had some of his troops (also Real Life example) lie on the ground just behind the crest of a hill so they could not be seen until he gave the order to stand up.
  • In Doctor Who, "A Good Man Goes To War," the Doctor tries to create a Let's You and Him Fight scenario between two armies united by their desire to kill him. The Genre Savvy leader avoids this by having his men unload their weapons... at which point the Doctor's backup decloaks and it turns out they are surrounded by an army of the Doctor's allies.

Video Games
  • There's a moment in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare where the player is surrounded by a friendly military group rising from the long grass nearby. Most players wouldn't notice them beforehand unless they went looking.

Western animation
  • Mulan: As Mulan's unit is attacked by snipers in a mountain pass, they fire cannons at them, which seems to hold them off. But then, as the smoke clears, Shan Yu appears at the top of a ridge. And just behind them, about a thousand Huns on horseback