Occasionally, you get a hero with such personal magnetism that he is capable of persuading others, usually the Badass Bystander, to join him in his quest. Of course, the new companion has no qualms about killing for, or even dying for, the hero, despite having known him only briefly and facing many people who want him dead.
This is a staple of fiction that may well be Older Than They Think. Many epics and legends chronicle the process by which a hero gathers a band of motley friends and allies of dubious background but doubtless courage and nobility. Even if the hero has no special quality compared to his subordinates, this is often his implied "power", Heart.
There's a few variants of this:
Beat them up. Because Defeat Means Friendship, anyone the hero beats up on the way to the supermarket will become a lifelong friend and ally.
Conversely, beat up their enemy along with them. Fire-Forged Friends are always ready to come along.
One of the more... interesting examples is Spanner's sudden decision to switch sides and become a part of Tsuna's family. This decision was reached after the two spent a long, undisclosed amount of time alone together. With Tsuna naked, unconscious, and handcuffed to Spanner's bed. You figure out the reason and method of how Tsuna unwittingly managed to convince him to join.
Ichigo from Bleach. Turning the Shinigami who was initially antagonistic to acceptance to willingly give him his power back.
Even though Gin from Gintama is basically a jobless dirty-old man with the body of a twenty something, he was still able to attract many followers as the Emperors of Kabuki-cho arc demonstrated.
Yusei of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, and even more naturally than Yugi. He grew up with Kiryu's True Companions, formed one of his own that we meet at the start of the series, then quickly gets separated from them to form an entirely new one. We also see he recruits using all five methods.
How has Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's Jaden/Judai been left out? Every single character he ever disputes with is converted, seemingly by the sheer force of his personality, either to a friend or a hardcore devotee by the end of the episode/duel/season.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha - Nanoha is apparently at her best accompanied by former foes she's thrashed to within an inch of their lives. Of course, she's very nice about it.
Subaru also has this quality, befriending not only the Tsundere Teana, who initially dislikes her and tries not to bond with her, and the initially socially awkward Erio and Caro, but also the reformed Combat Cyborgs, four of whom become her adopted sisters. She also manages to befriend Ixpellia and change her worldview. Lampshaded by Teana.
Teana: (to Erio and Caro) You don't have to become friends with everyone like the Stars' front attacker.
Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!. He actively tries to discourage people from becoming his friend, and is generally verybusiness-like and unfriendly, disliking chit chat. Yet somehow, he always manages to attract a bunch of people to him. And all of them really like him (many times, to the point of being willing to die for him). Even his enemies are attracted to him. In the novels, as Lemon puts it, "even though he is so expressionless, he's oddly charming."
Negi Springfield of Mahou Sensei Negima!. He starts out working pretty much on his own, but by this point he has a troop of around 15 or so primary allies (mostly various students) in addition to an absurd number of secondary characters. He has tried on many occasions to ditch his True Companions but that just starts fights and he sees himself as the Papa Wolf now since they keep hanging around.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that most of his group (which tend to be female) find him attractive the usual way.
Haru slowly accumulates buddies in Rave Master. Elie by the power of love, Musica (more or less) by uniting him with his grandfather, Let with an impressive display of belief, Celia by pulling her out of a rock, Lazenby by showing him he was working for the villain, Shuda by motivating him to live (and also some stuff with his dad), Julia by his determination, Julius by... *cough*, and Belnika by being cute and friendly.
Ash of Pokémon always has unbelievable luck in finding traveling companions. It's basically episodic.
Not just humans. Most of the Pokemon he captures, he does so by getting them to like him and follow him. Not to mention the god-like powerful legendary Pokemon he has befriended, listing Arceus, Mewtwo, Giratina and Lugia to name a few.
Touma from To Aru Majutsu no Index even if they don't fight alongside him all the time, many people would rally to his cause, something that a magic cabal took note of and tried to have someone use magic to pose as someone in the group to assasinate him and split it up even though there is no real group. Others he's beaten take new paths in life.
Monster Rancher has Genki who is able to see the good in the most evil-seeming enemies, and then get them to see it. Notable examples include Pixie and Big Blue as well as a large number of mooks and lesser villains as well as Tiger and Hare (Maybe even Golem if you think about it).
Sengoku from Cage of Eden starts off as another goofy schoolboy, but begins to come into his own as he pulls more of the survivors into his group.
He wasn't especially charismatic, but he had a strange way of gathering people about him — or, to be more specific, it was like they gravitated to him. His appeal didn't spring from any sort of trustiness, but instead from the feeling that, if left to his own devices, he'd probably end up walking off a cliff somehow. He evoked a strange sort of protective instinct in people.
A villainous version comes from The Claw in Gun X Sword, where nearly everyone he meets considers him to be a kind man.
Miria, the Supporting Leader of Claymore, has this quality: wherever she goes, other Claymores follow, often without exactly understanding why. Perhaps the best example is when she rallies the entire current generation to rebel against the Organization—despite their standing order to kill her on sight.
Tatara(Sarasa) in Basara; some other charaters may also counts: Shuri, Raizo, etc.
Subverted by Sword Art Online, at least for the first arc. The Protagonist, Kirito, is a solo player. It's seen most dramatically in the chronologically ordered Anime. Klein, the new friend Kirito just taught how to swordfight: "Kirito!" *Kirito walks away.* It's played fairly straight in later arcs, though.
Superman is at, or near, the forefront of nearly every major event in the DCU since he began his career of heroics. If not just because of his incredible power, then for who he is as a symbol, and the sheer number of other heroes he's befriended and/or inspired through the years.
John Constantine of Hellblazer attracts friends with his charming and magnetic personality, but they all eventually either get offed by the many Cosmic Horror Story villains or screwed over by Constantine himself. He gets called out on this many times, but despite constantly flirting with the Moral Event Horizon, he's never quite passed it in 20 years of stories.
Nightwing is a huge one too, to the point where some believe his superpower is charisma. When he showed up to a fight with multiple generations of Teen Titans, Superboy noted how everyone instantly followed his lead. He also once convinced every hero on Earth, without question, to jump into a parallel dimension (saving them all). Batman even said it's one of the reasons he's proudest of Dick—unlike Bats, he can gain and keep allies. So essentially he's "Batman with social skills."
More examples of "Magnetic Villains" in The Darkness Series: Voldemort, being the magically appointed Dark Lord which all darksiders are magically bound to follow has this naturally. Also Harry.
Played remarkably straight (along with several other tropes) in the movie Krull. Prince Colwyn got an Ergo The Magnificent, a group of escaped prisoners intent on robbing him, a Blind Seer and a cyclops to join his party.
King Arthur in most of his incarnations in film, but most notably John Boorman's Excalibur. If you're fighting a fully-armed knight, get the better of him, and demand he swear faith to you with your sword at his neck, you generally don't ask him to knight you and hand over your Infinity+1 Sword to him when he objects to giving you his allegiance because you're a squire and thus he outranks you. On the other hand, if you're the knight in question you generally don't use said sword to knight said squire when he kneels before you to accept your knighting and then kiss his hand in fealty ... unless the squire, of course, is a Magnetic Hero.
Tortall Universe: Lady Knight Keladry of Mindelan. Seriously. This Badass Normal girl makes friends with EVERYONE (except the bad guys) and those that don't befriend her at least respect her (save the bad guys). Kids, Commonfolk, pages, birds...Kel will never be one of those hereos that fights alone in dark places, because while she may not be a Wild Mage or have the Gift, she's got the superpower of building one of the most loyal band of True Companions in a few hundred pages. They won't let her go off and do anything stupid without them.
Cohen the Barbarian has this sort of power. As Rincewind explains it, when you interact with him for long enough, you see the world the way he does... and want to be part of it.
Carrot is the driving force behind the expansion of the City Watch, and its large presence of non-humans.
This trope is played with in Carrot's case, as it is mentioned that he could get people to do just about anything but does not, possibly because of the negative consequences of this trope. He's a Magnetic Hero who doesn't believe that heroes are a particularly good solution. In Men at Arms he remarks to the Patrician that people only need a hero when times are bad; they need peace and stability every day.
Speaking of, Corporal Nobbes is probably an inversion. He's so horrible, he's fascinating, and people are drawn to him just to see what he might do next.
Moist Von Lipwig has traces of this as well, as evident by how he gradually rebuilds the postal service in Going Postal.
Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter of His Dark Materials are both imbued with an uncanny ability to persuade people over to their side, to command and convince them to obey. Their daughter, Lyra, is nothing if not more so, as almost everyone who meets her takes an immediate liking to her and wants to help her.
The Chosen: Rebbe Saunders. Not only is he a charismatic and beloved "Rabbi Man" but the Back Story shows Hidden Depths that reveals he is more then just the demanding father we see. In Russia during the many excesses of the chaos there he had led his people to immigrate to America. Reuven finds it odd that a rabbi would have such autocratic power and it is; Danny's sect is odd in that respect. In a way though Reuven is Completely Missing the Point that Rebbe Saunders was also the first one in his community to think of a good idea about how to get out of their difficulties.
In The Hunt for Red October Russian officers and men had once competed to get berths with Ramius and he was accused of forming a "cult of personality". Once the Americans board his sub there is a sense of him recuiting them!
In the Dragonlance novels the elven princess Laurana is a remarkably charismatic figure whose incredible beauty, charm, and courage inspires thousands to join her army.
In the Belgariad novels, Ce'Nedra becomes this trope as well, albeit that it's much more consciously manipulated by those supporting her, and she actually feels some remorse over being the Magnetic Heroine to her army.
Um... Jesus? (Makes Robin Hood look positively recent!)
Although Jesus is hardly an Ur example of this, there are examples hundreds of years older, take Achilles for example.
Judge Dee: Three of Judge Dee's trusted lieutenants are criminals who abruptly reformed after their first encounter with him. He occasionally has trouble getting shut of attractive young women who've assisted him too. Magnetic is definitely the word.
Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files, although a very powerful wizard in his own right, one of his most valued assets might be the staggering number of allies he has acquired/known/converted over the years.
In Myth Adventures, Skeeve's generosity and caring draws in a fiercely loyal group of associates, many of whom were originally his adversaries. Massha defines the process in M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link:
He's always gettin' in over his head tryin' ta do what he thinks is right, and a body gets the feelin' ... I don't know, that if you stand beside him he just might be able to pull it off. Even if it don't work out, you feel you've been doin' somethin' good with your life instead of just hangin' in there for the old number one.
Live Action TV
In Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway does this, first getting Chakotay and the crew from his ship to join, then Neelix, then later Seven of Nine, then even later, they pick up several children who were assimilated by the Borg. Most of them return to their various homeworlds, but one remains on Voyager.
Scandal: Olivia Pope fixes things, including people. Said people explicitly say that they would follow her off cliffs.
Definitely happens on Farscape, but it's hard to say exactly which attribute it is that draws people to John Crichton. It's probably a mix of all of the above, and a just general lack of what to do without him.
The Doctor in Doctor Who. This is how he picks up nearly all of his Companions. Also how he picks up the majority of non-companion allies. People usually start doing what he tells them within minutes of meeting him, however batshit insane he may have been acting. The trope is subverted occasionally, particularly in the disturbing episode Midnight.
"Journey's End" provided a decontruction then a reconstruction. The Doctor is called out on this by Davros of all people, who asks how many have died in the Doctor's name. Cue flashbacks of nearly every Mauve Shirt in the revived series. The reconstruction is how the story is resolved: every major character in the revived series comes together to save the universe, without having to do any of the morally gray things the Doctor or companions are sometimes forced to do.
"Vampires of Venice" - Rory: "It's not that you make people take risks, it's that you make them want to impress you. You make it so they don't want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves!" This is Foreshadowing: in spite of his concerns about Amy, Rory's the one who sacrifices his life to save the Doctor's. He gets better.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS. His whole team says so. But he only uses his powers for good. Ask Abby.
Merlin is highly magical, but also seems to possess the innate ability to make every man, woman and child that he comes across fall hopelessly in love with him. With the exception of Prince Arthur and King Uther, Merlin has made immediate and life-long friends with cast regulars such as Guinevere, Lancelot and Gwaine, as well as guest stars such as Freya and Gilli. Most, if not all, are willing to die for him within mere moments of their meeting. At least one has come back from the dead in order to aid him on his quest.
Steve McGarrett in the re-imagined Hawaii Five-0 recruits his team in the pilot by basically going to each of them and saying "Come work for me". In the second season premiere after being framed for murder, even characters like Dr. Max who he's only ever interacted with on a professional level, are willing to put themselves on the line to keep him out of jail and help him prove his innocence. Even ne'er-do-well informant Kamekona offers to invoke Bolivian Army Ending on his say so.
Gentaro Kisaragi from Kamen Rider Fourze makes it his personal goal to make friends with everyone at his high school. So far, he's living up to that promise as he has saved some of his new friends' lives from Monsters of the Week, as well as getting to know the personal issues of some of them as well. It's to the point where the Mid-Season Upgrade deals with magnetism.
His reputation might have been tainted by his boneheaded move in the Heroes vs. Villains season, but back in Survivor: Tocantins, J.T. was the epitome of a Magnetic Hero who had even the members of the opposing tribe willing to sacrifice their chances of winning for him and who could backstab his allies and have them still completely trust him afterwards to the point that some viewers wondered if he had some supernatural Charm Person ability to make everyone around him fall in love with him. Heck, even in the HvV season where he became a lot less heroic and should have had a HUGE target on his back due to his Flawless Victory in Tocantins, he somehow managed to avoid being even considered as someone who needed to be voted out by his tribemates until the merge and even then would likely have made it even farther if not for his moronic idol play.
John from Sherlock. He seems to have this "you can completely confide in me" aura around him. Sherlock befriends him. Mycroft confides in him. Government scientists will tell him about their experiments even if they're aware John is just an average guy. The only person we've seen him talk with that was completely immune to John's charming skills is Moriarty, who's an Ax Crazy psychopath bordering Omnicidal Maniac.
Stefan from The Vampire Diaries. He has always been popular, well-liked and respected since his human life. He has the ability to charm others and persuade people to listen to him without the use of mind control. Not to mention that many people find Stefan likeable.
In Forgotten Realms Cormyrean dynasty Obarskyrs are born charismatic. Once very young princess Alusair slipped from her guards while in Waterdeep. The city watch found her in Dripping Dagger—a mercenary hangout with door covered in blood stains and weapon marks. During this time patrons played with her, let her taste local beverages and taught some tricks with weapons. The watchman who had to dodge a dagger she was throwing at the door marveled no one here knew who she is. Her father was amazed only by amount of salty language she learned in about one hour. Of course, adult Obarskyrs in their land are even more popular—no wonder they remained in power about millennium and half.
One of the main points behind the charisma stat is to turn you into one of these.
A Deconstructed Trope in Knights Of The Old Republic II. The main character is (in)famous for creating bonds like this subconsciously by using the Force, sometimes creating bonds strong enough for a Synchronization. Further deconstructed when it's revealed that you're regaining your connection to the Force by basically pulling the Force into yourself through said bonds.
This trope is played straight in the original.
Also deconstructed in Planescape: Torment, which KOTOR II took many notes from. The Nameless One's allies are drawn to his torment by torments of their own. Furthermore, with the exception of Annah, Nordrom and Fall-From-Grace, their torments are mostly your fault.
The Avatars of the twelfth and thirteenth games are able to support with every other playable character of their respective game - and the latter can even marry any of the opposite sex. Even the Secret Characters that don't as much as get supports with anyone else.
Commander Shepard of Mass Effect has natural talent for influencing other people. Whether that talent is for charm or for intimidation — and to what uses Shepard puts it — is up to the player. Paragon Shepard even recruited from supposedly Always Chaotic Evil races. *
Hackett himself even notes that this is exactly why he essentially made him/her the Big Good to the other species. Because he knew that s/he could get them to believe in the cause and follow him/her, no matter what the cost or odds.
Lampshaded by Miranda in the second game as the reason why Cerberus spent billions in credits in order to resurrect Shepard;
Miranda: But Shepard? They'll follow him/her.... s/he's a bloody icon!
Shepard's ability to do this is seemingly a Running Gag in the third game, whereas most characters react with astonishment, only Wrex and Mordin's reaction to Shepard having a Prothean squadmate is essentially boiled down to, "It's Shepard... what else is new?!"
One of the reason for such to happen is that he was willing to accept anyone, even those that was once his enemy; in fact, sometime before Metal Gear 2, he recruited Kyle, who was antagonistic in Metal Gear.
Arcanum Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura. The protagonist has no problem whatsoever in recruiting people to cheerfully abandon their livelihoods and trudge along, carrying crateloads of gear into dangerous situations and swinging weapons at all manner of ungodly foes and beasts, and not even say anything when you're announcing your plans to go to the next "no-one-ever-came-back-alive" destination, such as the Vendigroth Wastes, Island of Despair, ultra-secret enclave of the dark elves, or the Void. (Those are Names to Run Away From Really Fast, people.) The protagonist will also usually inform the latest recruit that they're hunted by an ancient order of assassins who want them, and everyone associated with them, dead. This fails to deter anyone. I guess living in Dernholm must suck majorly if this is the preferred choice.
The Legend of Zelda - Link is made of this trope. All sentient characters except Ganondorf are required to help him in some way.
Fei of Xenogears falls into this, since he recruits quite a large party of people from all over the world, including at least a couple who try to kill him at first.
The MC of Devil Survivor can become one, depending on dialogue choices and in some paths, end up recruiting more humans than the player can deploy in battle.
Yuri from Infinite Space seems to have natural air of leadership that draws people to him... or have him to do dirty work for them.
Reimu and Marisa from Touhou are extreme examples of this trope - every game introduces about 8 new characters, and the series is a dozen games long, not even counting the Gaiden Games leading to roughly a hundred characters (117 named characters as of this writing), and Defeat Means Friendship is practically ironbound law in Gensokyo, leading to them having massive numbers of Superpower Lottery winners to call on for allies. Although only a fraction of these characters actually wind up fighting directly alongside the heroines in any of the regular games (doujin games like Touhou Labyrinth that have real party systems being an exception), and often are more friendly rivals in function, the sidestories like Silent Sinner In Blue feature essentially half of Gensokyo teaming up in a massive jumble to take on the Lunarians.
The Grey Wardens of Dragon Age: Origins have far less clout in Fereldan then they enjoy in other countries, so they rely on this for their recruitment. Duncan and the player are two such examples. Arl Eamon also owes his political influence to being one.
Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII. Despite the fact that he's a former soldier for Shinra, not to mention a jerk, AVALANCHE accepts his help and eventually admit him as their leader. It gets even harder to swallow when they find out that his memory of certain important events is *wrong*, and even when they discover that he can be mind-controlled by the Big Bad they still trust him!
It's observed early on that the protagonist of Exit Fate has a knack for this. After he defects to the opposing army, his superiors don't even bother assigning troops to him, since he's so good at finding new recruits. At the end of the game, your crew count will be somewhere between 40 and 75.
Tactical RPGs love this. In Ogre Battle, your hero does it with main characters, and you can also do it with neutral encounters, and occasionally you'll get an item called Love and Peace that lets you do this to enemies.
Valvatorez of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has an extreme knack for bringing people to his side. Apart from drawing in Fuka, Emizel, Vulcanus, and Desco, he also manages to unconsciously amass an entire army willing to fight for him. For Tyrant Valvatorez, it's taken to an even higher level - he can get a passive ability to turn any enemy he defeats into an ally for the rest of the battle.
Hawke in Dragon Age II seems to have an unerring ability to gravitate people towards them. Besides their regular companions, it's shown that Bodahn Feddic vowed complete Undying Loyalty after Hawke rescued his adopted son, Sandal, in the Deep Roads, becoming their man-servant and official Team Dad of their estate, despite Hawke's proteststhat it really wasn't necessary. Hawke's maid, Oriana, was a former slave that s/he rescued from an insane Tevinter Magister. She's naturally bewildered when Hawke informs her she's now free, proceeds to offer her a job... and more astoundingly, is actually going to pay her for her service.
"Sparks" of Girl Genius have this as an explicit power; it was described as "a strange charisma".
Mr. Rovainen: Ah—it is part of the power of the gifted. Those around them wish to aid them. To serve them. Even when we know them to be monsters. Heterodyne Sparks are alleged to be even more charismatic than the average Spark.
Axe Cop is all over this like an axe on a bad guy's neck. His recurring sidekick (variously Flute Cop, Dinosaur Soldier, Avocado Soldier, Uni-Avocado Soldier, Viking Cop...) is secretly his brother, and I don't think there's been an explanation for Wexter yet, but any time anything bad happens, Axe Cop announces "we need to have more try-outs" and people pour out of the woodwork to join him. Examples: the Moon Ninja Brothers, Sockarang, Uni-Man and his family, Chihuahua Soldier, that cyborg lion, the King of the Mermaids, "a wrestler", Leaf Man, Mr. Wilkins, those various aliens from the Bad Guy Planet Two arc...
There are people in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe who would follow Global Guardians team leader Achilles into the fires of Hell just because the man said it might be necessary.
Rob from Dimension Heroes brings a group together, not because he has any particularly appealing qualities, but because he unintentionally put them under fire from the enemy, thereby forcing them to become involved as part of the group.
Sasha Hunter in Greek Ninja, although shown and claiming to not like people and even being rude to them a lot of the time, somehow manages to gather a group of capable fighters around her. The twist is, most of them join her on her quest even though she was unwilling to accept them. The only character she actually asked to join her on her own accord was Electra.
Chaka of the Whateley Universe seems to have this. She pulled Fey and Lancer along in her wake when they first met, and then helped pull Team Kimba together. Since then, she's also pulled in more boyfriends and girlfriends than any fourteen-year-old could possibly handle.
Recently, her team-mates have begun pointing out that this is not a good thing, as far as her relationships go. Ayla does not expect it to end well, if/when Chaka's significant others all find out about each other, and has had to explicitly forbid Chaka from bringing both of them to his birthday party.
Metalocalypse - Although we don't know much about how the band was actually formed, Nathan Explosion seems to be capable of getting virtually anyone to do anything purely by his personal magnetism, at one point even convincing the most homophobic of his bandmates to attempt autofellatio in front of the others with a brief pep talk. Even the villains often comment on his so-called Stalinlike ability to galvanize the masses, and how dangerous that is.
Recess has TJ who frequently saves the playground through personality alone and is adored even by his enemies.
Any great leader fits this trope. No leader can be great without it.
Innumerable ordinary heroes. You probably know a couple personally.
Both Churchill and Hitler were Magnetic Heroes, in the eyes of their followers. Hitler was not heroic in any other sense. They had tens of millions of followers. Both managed to array great world powers behind them on the issue of the largest war in human history, based largely on the force of their personality and oratory. Hitler was a decorated soldier in WW 1, Churchill fought as a soldier/reporter in the Sudan and Boer Wars.
Several people who met Hitler said he was magnetic. Of course, really, you should wonder about the testimony of someone who was granted an audience with Hitler. One of the chief appeals of Nazism was to give people a way to try to live fantasy in Real Life . That was one of the main points of the torchlight parades and the hocus-pocus. Thus if one is to convince factory workers that they were Proud Warrior Race guys, they need to have a Magnetic Hero just like the ones in poems did. If Hitler didn't foot the bill, the Ministry of Propaganda could easily enough pretend he did.
Horatio Nelson. The man was heavily into self promotion, but he earned ever accolade, and his ability to inspire men was even termed 'the Nelson effect'.
Stonewall Jackson. This is a man who, when his men are outnumbered 10 to 1, turns a full rout into a counter-attack through sheer force of personality.
Canada had Isaac Brock in the War Of 1812, a savy general who was able to persuade the Aboriginal leader, Tecumseh, to join forces with him so effectively that the Native Leader stood up, patted Brock on the shoulder and proclaimed, "This is a man!"