This mission is important. The fate of the battle, nay, the war, nay, the entire world rests on the outcome. Who has the capability to stick it out, to give the good guys the victory they desperately need? This calls for a special team. The group of experienced, highly skilled, professional, team-oriented experts? Not them. The assorted group of ex-con lowlife inexperienced jerkasses who are trying to off their commanderwhen they aren't trying to kill each other? Yeah, them.
This is usually justified in one or more of several ways:
If trouble blew up at a remote outpost, and there isn't time to get help, those characters who were Reassigned to Antarctica have to deal with it. Since they all did something to get themselves Reassigned to Antarctica, they tend to be a miscellaneous bunch.
The villains, no fools, took out everyone that looked like they could stop their Evil Plan; this is what's left.
They're random survivors of some apocalyptic event who more or less stumble across each other.
Fate has determined that these misfits are The Chosen Ones, and they are destined to save the world no matter what.
Your basic Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits consists of a Hero, a Sidekick, a Big Guy, a Smart Guy, an Old Guy, a Young Guy, and a Funny Guy - But you can call them The Magnificent Seven Samurai.
Of course, the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits will eventually have a Misfit Mobilization Moment to get their act together and win the day. Most often it produces casualties: typically, the guy forced to go on the mission despite being the Convicted Innocent, or the Officer and a Gentleman who's been stodgy and uptight just before making a Heroic Sacrifice.
If the characters were not forced on the team — Condemned Contestant, Boxed Crook — they often join to be Lonely Together. To contrast their diversity, their enemies will likely be all homogenous in one way, typically by being highly collaborative professionals.
Compare with Character Magnetic Team, Cosmic Comic Story, and Hitchhiker Heroes.
In the world of sports, this trope counts double. Last year's Super Bowl champions don't stand a chance against a random group of ex-cons, couch potatoes, and farm animals, with Improvised Training, who are almost guaranteed to pull out a last-minute win.
Also where the trope is shown in the context of sports, you will typically find a three-game arc of progress. In the first game, it's Murphy's Law. The game is a comedy of errors for our ragtag gang of misfits, and they lose. Bad. Ridiculously bad. In the second game, the team sees notable improvement; usually they'll play well enough, only to lose at the last minute. Occasionally, they might even win on a freak play. By the third game, however, everyone has clicked and is playing at the top of their game. From that point on, it's all smooth sailing until The Big Game. (Often times, their opponent in The Big Game will be the same team that blew them out in the first game, just as a ways to show how far they've come.)
See also Army of Thieves and Whores for when this trope is magnified to the size of an army.
open/close all folders
The Charlestown Cougars, a fake women's high school basketball team assembled for the purpose of Nike commercials.
Anime & Manga
Bleach: The team Urahara puts together to go and rescue Rukia in the Soul Society arc is one these: Ichigo may be The Hero, but he's only had ten days of training. Sado may be a powerhouse, but he's only possessed power for barely a month. Orihime has possessed power for barely any longer, but at least she can heal everyone, and Ishida is the archer whose got a score to settle with shinigami in general. None of them are experienced with either the power level they'll be facing or with real battle, but they go anyway. Because Ichigo's their friend, and Ichigo owes Rukia his family's life.
The Dollars gang in Durarara is surprisingly this, in spite of their sinister reputation.
And then there's Irresponsible Captain Tylor, whose crew is mostly composed of the kind of people you don't want near pencils for fear of what they might do to each other with them, much less a destroyer-class military space ship.
In the Soyokaze's case, the reason it's a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is because the aging, broken-down destroyer has been assigned as the official dumping ground for all the lunatics, incompetents and misfits of the UPSF. In other words, every trouble-maker or disruptive element that accidentally manages to get into the military is invariably assigned here, so they'll be out of the way. The doctor is an alcoholic who's been drinking since he was three years old, the marines are all violent slobs, The Ace is arrogant and full of himself, as is the navigator, and the captain is, as far as the military higher-ups are concerned, either an absurdly lucky moron or possessed of genuine great insight but limited common sense. The only outright military and competent crewmembers are Lieutenants Yamamoto (who was assigned as the First Officer in the hopes he could somehow cover for Tylor) and Yuriko (who volunteered to join the Soyokaze in the hopes that she could somehow reform the crew).
The crew of White Base in the original Mobile Suit Gundam was comprised mostly of civilian refugees and a handful of junior officers who survived the attack on Side 7 in the first episode. They still manage to score a number of improbable victories against the elite forces of the Principality of Zeon, thanks to the Super Prototype principle and some of the cast developing into Newtypes. And more importantly to Federation command, they made really good decoys.
Both justified and subverted in 20th Century Boys. When Kenji starts up La Résistance, it's made up of guys he knew back in middle school, as they would be the only ones who were remotely familiar with who they're fighting against. After all, it's not very easy to recruit somebody off the street to fight against a cult based on your own twenty-year-old fanfiction. This ends up blowing up in his face for several reasons, the first of which would be that one of those Ragtag Misfits is the cult-leading Big Bad...
Eyeshield 21's Deimon Devil Bats. Other teams have full rosters, deep benches and long traditions. The Devil Bats only have 11 full-time team members (eight of whom were only just scraped up for this year, three by blackmail), and they all are weird in their own way.
The three helpers are also quirky. The two basketball players lent to the team and the miniature sumo wrestler. Though it feels like I'm forgetting someone...
Quite literally in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei where the depressed-to-the-point-of-attempting-melodramatic-suicide-on-a-daily-basis teacher Itoshiki Nozomu's entire class, the very same people who are supposed to take care of the world of tomorrow, are a bunch of social misfits, mental cases, borderline psychopaths and WORSE... In the end, Nozomu himself comes across as a perfectly sane and socially functional man by comparison.
Team Dai-Gurren fits pretty well here. Kamina and Simon, two idiots who had never seen combat before were able to put up a fight against a powerful commander of the enemy forces (through use of stolen mechs they had no idea how to pilot), steal their mobile base, summarily defeat every major general they came across, along with the Big Bad. Their unit consisted roughly of around 30 or so (grew exponentially by the end) people who barely managed to survive on the surface, who were all fighting for a cause they believed in. The Rule Of Cool was in full effect here, as well.
Division 2, the main cast of Patlabor, is made up mostly of police officers who were either Kicked Upstairs by their superiors or deemed too wimpy or too wild for the rest of the force.
The Yang Fleet from Legend of Galactic Heroes certainly gave this impression. It was first formed as the 13th Alliance Fleet, composed of new recruits and the remnant survivors of another fleet. Their first mission was occupying an invincible space fortress, which they succeeded at with ease. Ultimately, the Yang Fleet gathers up a colorful array of characters: an elite combat division of expatriate Imperials, a venerable, old Imperial officer in exile, a womanizing fighter jock, a bureaucratic family man, an ingenious orphan, rogue merchants from Phezzan - all of them led by a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who would much rather read history books than wage war, but who just happens to be one of the most brilliant tacticians in centuries. Dusty Attenborough and Poplan coin the phrase "foppery and whim" to describe the Yang Fleet's motivations in the face of incredible odds stacked against them.
One reason why Yang is such a frightenly good commander is that he has a very keen eye for talent and will disregard virtually everything else, which explains why the Yang team is so lax when it comes to military protocol: Yang handpicked his subordinates because they know how to fight and how to lead, the rest is irrelevant.
In Fushigi Yuugi, the antagonist Seiryuu warriors are mostly battle-hardened, ruthless killing machines, a few of whom could conceivably take over Big Bad duties in their own right. The good guys? An Ordinary High School Student, a peasant farmer, a Wholesome Crossdresser, a permanently smiling monk, a rageaholic bandit, a burned-out country doctor, and a young boy who initially refused the call because he was afraid. Oh, and the Emperor. Subverted in that five out of seven of them get killed, and they actually fail to prevent the god Seiryuu from being summoned. Good only triumphs at the end because of a Heel Face Turn by the Seiryuu priestess.
The Muto Extermination Squad in Busou Renkin. Put together because the only leader who could keep them in line is a General Ripper, and they are on their important task because everyone else is dealing with a bigger threat. Especially notable because they are the antagonists.
The Varia in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. The future arc shows Bel and Levi apparently wanting to kill Fran. This of course is followed by Bel sticking knives in Fran's back.
D.Gray-man has this when you consider the people that the Innocence chooses for their users. The current Exorcists consist of: a former circus brat, a teenage girl, a swordsmen who is actually a test tube baby, a teenage historian with an eye-patch, his 80 year old mentor, a manic depressive woman who has lost 100+ jobs in her life, a bipolar man who spent his whole life in a castle, a blind guy to be fair he lost his eyesight on the job, a man raised by a brothel owner, an ex-con, a sentimental artist, a circus animal trainer, a perverted nine year old delinquent with the arguably most powerful/competent being the womanizing alcoholic who can't seem to go anywhere without piling up debts and carts around a dead woman. Not exactly the sort of Apostles of God you'd take comfort in having the task of saving humanity.
Sanzo's team and Kougaiji's team in Saiyuki both fit. "Ragtag team" is even used to describe the Sanzo-ikkou at one point.
British war-oriented comic Battle Action included a British Empire Dirty Dozen clone called The Rat Pack complete with cockney thug/knifeman/marksman, sneaky little pickpocket and gigantic musclebound Turk. For some reason these "Convict Commandos" wore blue battledress rather than Khaki or green.
Mercilessly parodied in The Rifle Brigade where fearless Captain "Khyber" Darcy leads Ambiguously Gay Lieutenant "Doubtful" Milk, monstrous Yorkshireman Sergeant Crumb ("'ey oop"), Cockney thug Corporal Geezer ("Yer aht of ordah!"), Private Hank the Yank ("Gawd Dammit!") and The Piper (who isn't an actual soldier but is still probably the most brutal of the lot) on missions against.... well you really just have to read these for yourself! But to give you an idea on the type of operations entrusted to the Rifle Brigade, one of their most important assignments involved recovering a powerful arcane artifact before the Axis could get their hands on it. The artifact was Hitler's missing testicle.
Captain Darcy would eventually lampshade the squad's existence by saying that there's always been a place for a Rifle Brigade in the British forces, and that there was a Rifle Brigade-type collection of misfits before there were rifles, because "when you get down to it there's some things ordinary chaps just can't do!"
The Rifle Brigade was also likely a parody of Sergeant Fury's Howling Commandos, the Leatherneck Riders, and the Deadly Dozen. Notable, Doubtful takes the place of Ambiguously Gay Percival Pinkerton, while Hank the Yank is the token foreigner (again, Pinkerton), Crumb the gigantic Bruiser (Dum Dum Dugan), etc.
Basically, pick a war comic. Even the stark realism of Sergeant Rock's Easy Company leans this way, featuring the mild-mannered Wildman (whose name comes from his secretly having a Hair-Trigger Temper), one armed bazooka expert Zack, nebbish bespectacled sniper Four-Eyes, clinically anxious Worrywart, etc.
The Suicide Squad in The DCU. A covert program of the U.S. government that keeps sending villains (and a few heroes) on suicide missions until they've earned release from prison... or they die. Think The Dirty Dozen with superpowers (some of them, anyway). While literally every incarnation fits, the Injustice League version is the most apt, with General Failure Major Disaster, Dumb Muscle Big Sir, Insufferable Genius Clock King, Deadpan Snarker Cluemaster, and The Chew Toy Multi-Man. The subversion happens when all of them die in the first issue except for Major Disaster.
The original Suicide Squad was a WWII unit simply composed of notable or exceptional soldiers. However, apparently the top brass and the recruiting officers didn't collaborate very closely on this one, because the resultant team was composed entirely of antisocial hotheads who hate each other more than they do the enemy, hence the name.
Subverted in Kyle Baker's Iraq war satire Special Forces, where an army recruiter desperate to make quota so he doesn't get sent back to Iraq recruits a ragtag bunch of misfits, falsifying records to recruit criminals, drug addicts, those mentally or physically unfit for service, and others who by all rights shouldn't be in the army, but ends up having to serve alongside them when one of them goes off his meds and gets himself killed before boot camp. By the end of the first issue, he and all but two of his recruits have been slaughtered.
For the record, the surviving members are Zone, a severely autistic young man who doesn't talk and follows orders with machine precision, and Felony, a nineteen year old girl with an extremely colorful criminal record. Yes, they were both in a front line infantry unit.
Also from The DCU, Gail Simone's Secret Six, a team of mercenaries who are spectacularly messed up, and know it. Their enemies are even worse.
The Losers in the same universe, several military men who for one reason or another are off official duty and now serve covertly; they're called the Losers because they have nothing left to lose (try understanding the idea behind that), and include Captain Storm, a one-eyed, one-legged salty sea dog if'n thar ever were one, or Johnny Cloud, who was genuinely heroic and uber-competent but insisted on being a Loser because, well, he felt like a loser.
The original ABC Warriors; Hammerstein is a warhorse famous for his strength and leadership skills but rumored to have murdered a human superior, Joe Pineapples is an ace marksman who once killed a target from orbit but is perhaps the most unsavory being in the universe, Happy Shrapnel is simply dumped onto them because as an older model he's not very user friendly, Mongrol is a monster of metal who is constantly full of only rage and confusion, Mek-Quake is stupid, violent, and crude, Deadlock is an extreme Knight Templar, Blackblood is known for murder at the slightest provocation, Steelhorn is the original veteran of the Volgan War turned into a horrific mess of molten slag, and so on and so forth. They're the most capable combat unit fighting the Volgs, but goddamn.
Later additions only enhance this image; Mad Ronn the bomb disposal expert (whose skill at his profession is uncertain because he kind of dies the first and only time he actually tries to defuse a bomb), Hitaki the warrior with samurai programming, Morrigun the waitress whose combat skills come from secondary bouncer software, and Ro-Jaws, who is honestly more of a mascot than anything else. Morrigun was the result of a Terrible Interviewees Montage; you should see the guys they turned down.
The Defenders, comprised of heroes who don't work well with others, and who often get into fights in the middle of their missions, still manage to be successful because they are comprised of some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe. They're even famously known as a "non-team", because the concept of teamwork is completely alien to them. This is all in spite of the fact that the founding Defenders (Doctor Strange, the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner) are among the most powerful Marvel heroes of all.
The second team of X-Men, especially in comparison to the original team. The first group were five white, American teenagers, recruited by Professor X as students for his school, given matching uniforms, and trained to work as a group before their first mission. The second team*
each came from a different country, including no members who were both white and American (and one that was blue); varied from their teens to middle age; came from backgrounds ranging from law-enforcement to former supervillain (including one that was both); ranged in education level from college graduate to "raised on the streets"; were all given unique uniforms (or just wore what they showed up in); and barely had time to learn each others names before being sent off to risk their lives.
The Great Lakes Avengers is a team comprised of some of the weirdest superheroes in Marvel's catalog, including Flatman, Big Bertha, and most popularly, Squirrel Girl (whose superpower is . . . squirrels). It doesn't hurt that Deadpool is considered one of their reserve members.
In both BPRD 1946 and 1947, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense finds itself working with one of these. In the first, it's a squadron of problem soldiers who've been together since D-Day — and have been causing trouble since the end of the war out of frustration for not being allowed to go home. In the second, it's shell-shocked paratrooper Jacob Stegner; Simon Anders, a merchant marine who survived 24 days lost at sea in a lifeboat; Gabriel Ruiz, a Latino jungle warfare specialist who tried to sue the USMC for discrimination; and Frank Russel, a bomb and mine disposal expert who served with distinction in Africa - and chose the BPRD when offered an officer position in an intelligence org of his choice. The first group was assigned to aid Professor Bruttenholm during his time in Berlin - because all the army had to spare was soldiers. The second was a collection of agents available for immediate deployment.
The New Avengers are a team more or less thrown together by circumstance (they were on the "losing" side of Civil War). Even now that they can work openly, they remain a group without a great deal in common except that the team is a sort of refuge where they can get themselves back together and get on with their lives.
You don't get much more "ragtag" or "misfit" than Doom Patrol. They're the superheroes that even other superheroes consider too weird. When Beast Boy is considered one of the most mentally healthy and scary-competent members of the team, you know it's bad. Turned out to be an Invoked Trope by their Magnificent Bastard of their financial backer/leadership/Mission Control Niles "The Chief" Calder.
Astérix, Obelix, Hemispheric, Selectivemploymentax, Gastronomix, Neveratalos and Ptenisnet in Asterix the Legionary.
Red Hood and the Outlaws: So far, 3 former Titans, 2 of whom are failed ex-sidekicks. The resurrected, violent, mildly crazy Red Hood, who managed to get kicked out of the Batfamily after coming back from the dead, is The Leader. former alcoholic and Arrow family dropout Arsenal (even with the most traumatic bits retconned out) and Princess Koriand'r... who as a young child was sold into slavery by her sister, to save her home world, spent much of her life in death camps, and doesn't really remember alot of things concerning earth clearly. Which is good, because Red Hood tried to kill someone she deeply cares for. Several times. And nearly killed their mutual brother, whom she was a teammate of.
The film Boarding School Wars has Jake Winters invoke this by name in his Shut Up, Hannibal! moment during a paintball battle that decides which school's boys get to go to the dance with the girls. "Yeah, you're right, you're right. We're messed up. We've got problems. And you nailed me in the back of the head. Good one. Guess our ragtag bunch of misfits haven't got a chance against your obvious superiority. But hey - shouldn't you be guarding your flag?" George's eyes widen as he realizes the bulk of the opposing team deliberately lost to separate the team from its flag. Using the walkie-talkies he smuggled in, George tries to tell his fellow team members what's happening, but it's too late. They arrive after the battle's been decided in a one on one shootout between their leaders.
The Dirty Dozen. The team sent in to blow up the Nazi R&R chateau is made up entirely of men facing either execution or life sentences in military prisons. Except for Magot *
who is an out-and-out psycho, serial killer
, though, most of them are implied to be not-such-bad guys who simply were pushed too far, or never should have been allowed in the military at all.
In The Devil's Brigade, the Americans are an example, while the Canadians are more serious about it. The real First Special Service Force recruited its American members by asking for volunteers, not forcing the dregs of the Army into it, though plenty of troublemakers got "volunteered" by their commanding officers to get rid of them. The SSF weeded out a lot of the worst, but it was still a pretty motley bunch.
Armageddon: "The fate of the planet is in the hands of a bunch of retards I wouldn't trust with a potato gun."
The Massachusetts 54th Infantry, a regiment of black soldiers in The American Civil War, as seen in Glory. They include a gravedigger, an escaped slave who's as dangerous to himself as anybody else, an erudite Bostonian who's a piss-poor soldier, a stutterer who can't read, and the vast majority don't know either the alphabet, or even right from left. Their excellent performance in battle was a testament to their own heart and the training of their white commanders.
The crew of the USS Stingray in Down Periscope is the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits played for comedy. In this case, they are assembled by an Admiral with a grudge against the Stingray's captain intending them to fail an exercise the Stingray was participating in. The crew of the Stingray includes a captain with a tattoo on his penis, a jittery Number Two with No Indoor Voice, a female diving officer (actually, the most normal of the group - the offbeat part is that at the time of the film women didn't serve on US Navy submarines, and she's there as a test case), a washed-out basketball player, a compulsive gambler, a sonar technician with a ridiculously good hearing (he knows what eating an Oreo sounds like), a cook with few cooking skills and noxious flatulence, an admiral's son who wants to get kicked off the boat, an electrician who ignores simple safety instructions, and a crazy old mechanic who pours scotch into the engine to boost its power.
Shaolin Soccer provides an interesting twist with a rag-tag soccer team full of washed-up Shaolin monks. Despite their shabby appearance and total lack of soccer experience, they harness martial arts superpowers to defeat the reigning champions.
Major League is basically The Bad News Bears with a Major League team. Also, unlike the Bears, the Indians win the AL East. In this case, the team was put together specifically to lose, because the owner wanted to move the team and an abysmal season would justify it. The team starts gelling when they find out about this plan and decide they want to be winners.
DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story actually calls the team of average Joes "The Average Joes". They're made up of an apathetic gym owner, a man who thinks he's a pirate, a high school loser who wants to be a cheerleader to impress a girl (think about that one for a second), a man who thinks his mail-order bride loves him, and two of the gym employees who consider the gym better than their previous job at the airport. The only normal person on their team is a female lawyer (who happens to be bi). They are led by a paraplegic coach who loves throwing heavy objects at his players and making them dodge highway traffic.
WALL•E has the titular character, his girlfriend and a bunch of insane broken robots, HANS in particular.
In The Last Castle, a convicted army general gathers up an army of inmates at a military jail. One would think his army is a Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits, but since they all used to be soldiers, they're as disciplined and well-coordinated as any official battalion.
The replacement Washington Sentinels in The Replacements, featuring a notoriously easy-to-neutralize quarterback, a convict, an gambling addicted ex-soccer player, a sumo wrestler, two gargantuan gun-toting brothers, an outspoken Evangelical Christian with a bad knee, a deaf man, and a riot cop with serious anger management problems. Even the Sentinels' cheerleaders are a collection of bizarre performers who would never work on any other squad but pull it together for awesomeness.
Colette from Ratatouille describes her fellow chefs as such.
The 2009 Star Trek's reimagining of the characters verges on this: Kirk's under disciplinary review and not even supposed to be on board any ship, let alone commanding one; Scotty's been Reassigned to Antarctica; Sulu's a last-minute rookie replacement for the real pilot, who got sick. And after Nero wipes out the entire rest of the fleet, It's All Up To Them.
Caveman, the protagonist Atouk along his friend Lar, after being banished from their tribe they found their own when encountering other misfits wondering the wilds, including the old blind man Gog, the comely Tala, a gay caveman couple, the Asiatic caveman Nook (who inexplicably, speaks only in English), and a caveman midget.
The American team in Broken Lizard's Beerfest. To give you an idea, one of their members is a homeless male prostitute.
"There's no use waiting for the cavalry, because as of this moment, the cavalry is us. This is our fight, whether we like it or not. Just we few. We're not your classic superheroes. We're not the favorites. We're the other guys. We're the guys nobody ever bets on."
The core protagonists of Star Wars are a ragtag bunch of misfits IN SPACE!. Farmboy Luke, princess Leia, retired Jedi Ben, smuggler Han, fuzzball Chewie, prissy C3P0, and spunky R2D2.
In Vertical Limit, the crew assembled to go rescue the stranded climbers looks like this from the outside. A half-crazy mountain man, two slacker brothers, a woman mostly in it for the money… Subverted in that they’re all actually experienced climbers who know what they’re doing, and are crazy enough/desperate enough to mount what even they admit is a suicide mission.
The '70s cult comedy Steelyard Blues centers around a group of this type.
In a rare non battle/sports example, the groomsmen from I Love You Man consist of a the groom's father, brother, a few guys he went on "man dates" with,...and Lou Ferragino
The Avengers is pretty much "Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Superhero Edition". A billionaire celebrity technological genius, a super-soldier who has been preserved in ice since WWII, a guy with incredibly destructive Jekyll and Hyde problems who's on the run from the military, a 900-year-old alien king-slash-demigod with a spectacularly dysfunctional family life, a trained-from-birth ex-Russian assassin who used to be a villain, and another ex-assassin turned highly eccentric government agent who spends half the film Brainwashed and Crazy. Now, put them all in close-quarters under high stress on a high-tech secret government airship with the demigod's insane, world-conquering little brother, and stir.
The Bellas from Pitch Perfect consist of a wannabe producer who was forced to join who wants to change things up, a By The BookIce Queen, an Ambiguously Gay girl with vocal nodules, an overweight Australian, a Butch Lesbian, a girl who constantly speaks in a whisper and says very disturbing things, and a nymphomaniac.
The Dwarves in The Hobbit. Only a few of them are actually warriors, while others range from miners to toymakers. In combat, their abilities could range from easily cutting through tough foes to ineffectively shooting at an enemy with a slingshot. Thorin, for his part, would take the group he has over a thousand trained soldiers every time — because when he called, they answered.
A ragtag bunch of street trash attempt a safe-crack in Welcome To Collinwood. Subverted in that these losers do lose (apart from the character Riley, played by William H. Macy, who luckily achieves his admittedly modest aims). Remake of the Italian movie I Soliti Ignoti (1958).
Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) assembles a motley group of immigrants (a mortuary assistant, a hotel doorman, a sweatshop worker, a Hooker with a Heart of Gold) to get the best of the unpleasant Sneaky Juan in Stephen Frears' film Dirty Pretty Things
The main heroes in Greystone Valley include two children, a mouse-sized dragon, and a very pessimistic warrior. In a world populated by fey, dragons, and wizards, this motley crew still seems to be the best hope of saving the day.
Skulduggery Pleasant has a well-dressed living skeleton Deadpan Snarker (who is a detective), a teenage girl with odd heritage who owns a mansion, a beautiful blonde woman with a sword who kills things for a living, and a heavily-scarred tailor who is also a boxer. They are later joined by the last teleporter, a vainglorious teenage boy with excessively stupid hair. All of them are mages. None of them are remotely normal.
And in the fourth book, Billy Ray Sanguine actually refers to the protagonists as a "Motley Bunch of Misfits" or something along those lines, but of course, the writer is One of Us.
The group designed to free Ciri in The Witcher was ultimately formed from a aged and mostly retired monster hunter, elder vampire, amazon bowwoman, perverted bard, teenager with villainous background and friend-turned soldier/secret agent/noble from the hostile empire. Also, few times a half dozen or so dwarves were thrown in.
The Monstrous Regiment's survival is a little more believable when you take into account that several of their number have super(natural) powers and their commanding officer (in fact if not name) is a Magnificent Bastard who knows everyone on both sides of the conflict and carries a bit more pull than you'd expect a sergeant to have.
It may have helped a bit that the enemy's senior commander (Vimes) was gunning for them.
Vimes was not the enemy commander, Ankh-Morpork was not directly part of the fight, and Vimes is very pointedly not military; he is a policeman. But his help was very helpful.
And of course, the early City Watch novels. The change occurs after Feet of Clay, when the Watch starts getting so big that Vimes doesn't even know all his officers anymore. (Vimes still thinks of them as being something of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, of course—no one sane wants to be a copper.)
Just as big a bunch of misfits are the night watch in Night Watch.
The witches are also somewhat of a bunch of misfits.
For a non-Discworld Terry Pratchett example, the titular group in Nation, made up of the remnants of many different Polynesian tribes who have managed to survive a tsunami and attacks by the Raiders, led by a Flat Earth Atheist teenager whose tribe was eliminated before his initiation ritual into adulthood could be completed, meaning that to the others (except Daphne) view him as basically having no soul and being possessed by a demon.
The Wraith Squadron novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe were based on this principle. Having witnessed some of the problems his squad ran into during the Bacta War, Wedge Antilles proposed a new type of squadron. To address the New Republic's budgetary problems, he said that he would give the squad to them "for free"—taking the washouts, the disciplinary screwups, the mental cases, aliens who just had trouble fitting in with human and near-human societies, and those who were in general on the verge of being discharged, to get them out of other commanders' hair but still give them one last chance. During the initial interviews and subsequent training missions, Wedge did wash out those who were truly irredeemable—those who were obviously emotionally unstable or had criminal tendencies, among other faults. He was shooting for a roster of twelve—a full squadron—but only ten of the approximately fifty applicants made the cut; the remainder still fit this trope very well.
After Wraith Squadron's initial success, though, several new members explained that they signed up because of the squadron's success rate, unaware of their initial reputation. That being said, they are either as charmingly wacky or as deeply scarred as the original squad, and soon fit right in. The Wraiths are eventually considered competent...if unpredictable, unorthodox, and hardly military disciplined. Appropriately, they're recommissioned as an Intelligence unit.
Rogue Squadron isn't exactly what you'd call orthodox either; although they're not as wide out as the Wraiths, they sit somewhere between the Wraiths and the regular military.
It's hinted that the Empire actually encourages that sort of thing, believing that allowing individual squads (and soldiers) to find their own idiosyncratic ways of fighting is more efficient than enforcing conformity in the ranks. Seeing as this is more or less accurate in the Heroic Fantasy world the story takes place in, this might make the Empire an entire nation that is Genre Savvy.
And then there's the Mott Irregulars, a bunch of insane country hicks lead by twenty warlock brothers and a sister (the meanest of them all) who are so ragtag and fit so badly that they managed to run circles around the Bridgeburners for more than a year and win at the end.
The Phule's Company novels have this as their premise; The "Omega Company" is a dumping ground for troops that no commander wanted to deal with, and Phule is given command as a punishment for strafing a peace treaty signing.
Naturally, the Omega Company just need a leader with charisma, patience, flexible ethics, and loads of money, which is what they get in Phule. The rest goes splendidly.
Justified in Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity, where only criminals and evildoers can save the world, and there's only a handful left. Naturally, it takes a while for them to get along.
The 27th Penal Panzer Regiment of the Sven Hassel novels is made up of ex-convicts and court-martialed soldiers who have been 'pardoned' and sent off to die for Nazi Germany.
The Zone series of World War III novels by James Rouch is about the Special Combat Group, made up of soldiers picked up on their various assignments from the US, British, and Dutch forces, and deserters from the Soviet army and East German border police. The established special forces units despise such ad-hoc groups and are exerting political pressure to shut them down.
In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novels, Inquisitor Eisenhorn's retinue includes in their number: a gunslinging pilot, an aging scholar who's literally addicted to knowledge, an ex-cop, an anti-psychic prostitute, and a flamboyant cyborg starship captain. And that's just the first novel.
In his Ravenor novels, Inquisitor Ravenor, though starting with a retinue, adds a Street Urchin, an arbite who was targeted by the Chaos forces for knowing too much, and a doctor who is working illegally because of having lost his license by caring for people not allowed to be treated and falsifying records to get the supplies he needs.
Sandy Mitchell's Dark Heresy novels have the Angelae Carolus, comprising among their number an ex-cop, a fanatic assassin, a cyborg who spends a lot of time contemplating the oddness of human speech patterns, a pair of Imperial Guardsmen who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Inquisitor Carolus' former pyrokine girlfriend.
The Wheel of Time series has quite a few examples, though it's usually a mix of Badass and misfit. Perrin and his band of Two Rivers men, Cha Faile, the rebel Aes Sedai, The Kin, and especially the first band of main characters in the first book.
In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Duty Calls, Inquisitor Vail's retinue already includes a former commissar/member of a penal regiment, and a former arbite who had, while undercover, imploded a criminal organization with a judicious murder and frame, and picks up a food vendor who had stumbled into some knowledge of the Inquisition â€” and picked up a gun when cornered by a Chaos cult. Warhammer 40000 Inquisitors seem to attract this trope. It's lampshaded, too; Cain wonders if eccentricity is a requirement for joining up with Vail, who notes that in a job like that, you just tend to find more people whose view of the universe is... unusual.
In Death or Glory, Cain whips together "Cain's Liberators" from the tattered remnants of the PDF armies and civilians on the continent overrun by orks. Including getting all their medical attention from a vet.
In For the Emperor, the ragtag band of court-martialed soldiers offered amnesty in exchange for their services function as a well trained military unit. So much so that even two of them who were specifically court-martialed for trying to kill one another were able to work together without incident... at least between each other.
Gav Thorpe's Warhammer 40000Last Chancers novels fit this trope to a dark and bloody tee, being made up of the scum and villainy of the Imperium.
In Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40000 novel Scourge the Heretic, Carolus already has an interesting collection in his retinue, consisting of a sanctioned psyker, a former policeman, a psychotic fanatic assassin, and a tech-priest. He picks up two soldiers who were at a post when witches attacked and alerted him, and the shuttle pilot who took him there.
In Tad Williams' Otherland series, the group of protagonists that ends up infiltrating the Grail Brotherhood's private virtual reality network consists of a South African schoolteacher, a Bushman, a pair of American teenage gamers (one of whom has a terminal disease), a third teenager who's an ex drug addict, a reclusive blind French researcher, a Chinese grandmother, a German doctor and cult refugee, and an old man who's an Accidental Pervert. Their only connection is that they all know someone who's fallen victim to the mysterious comas caused by the Other and stumbled upon the clues left by Mysterious Informant Sellars.
In Temeraire book five Victory of Eagles, the title character forges one of these from the collection of renegades, retirees, and rejected experimental crossbreeds Dragons that were in the breeding grounds he was exiled to, after getting word that his captain had been killed and Napoleon had invaded Britain.
The defense of The Wall in A Storm Of Swords takes the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits trope Up to Eleven. Since most of the Watch's best men have been killed, and the best of the rest are engaged in fighting elsewhere, only the very bottom of the barrel and some volunteers from a nearby town are left to fight the Wildling horde.
The Brotherhood Without Banners, made up of the remnants of a royal mission for a now very dead king, as well as a collection of miscellaneous stranded soldiers, armed peasants, petty bandits, and the like. It's telling that both of their leaders have been Westeros' equivalent of zombies
There are two in Michelle West's The Sun Sword/House War series. The first is the army of the Kalakar, the Ospreys. The second is Jewel's den, which are the much more ragtag bunch of misfits that are significantly more badass. Granted, they have an overlapping character who provides a liberal dose of overkill, but both fit this trope.
In the Farsala Trilogy, the entire Farsalan army is this after the defeat of the deghans in the first book, Fall of a Kingdom.
The investigating team in The Alienist matches this description.
In Dale Brown's Act Of War, Task Force TALON starts as a mish-mash of FBI agents, "lab-bound mavericks" and actual combat-hardened personnel.
The only defense the human race has against a race of parasitic aliens who take over their hosts' brains and render them completely helpless? Five teenagers and an alien cadet.
Everworld has this even more. Especially in the later books when the stakes are higher and Senna gets more antagonistic.
The Chosen Men under Sharpe in the Sharpe series of books by Bernard Cornwell. They are not vastly different from most infantrymen (teh recruitment procedure was very loose back then) but their flamboyant personalities and lackluster approach to discipline makes them this very trope. They are scorned by officers but tolerated by pragmatic commanders like Wellington or Hogan who tend to highly value the unit's combat prowess and experience.
In Romance of the Snob Squad by Julie Anne Peters, the Snob Squad is one of these. Jenny is overweight, Lydia talks too much, Max is big for her age, and Prairie only has one leg. They end up together in a P.E. class competition. They end up subverting the Underdogs Never Lose trope and losing the competition anyway, and Jenny even comments on this, saying that "if you think we pulled ourselves together and won this thing, you've OD'd on Disney".
Implied in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series. Because of their natural battle reflexes, amplified senses and hardwired-for-ancient-languages brains, demigods in the mortal world are usually diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, so they tend to be isolated from other kids, and since, apparently, most teachers are monsters, they tend to fail in school a lot. The main protagonist and narrator of the first series, Percy, has been kicked out of almost every school he's ever attended, to the point where the only time he wasn't, he joked that he'd have to try harder to keep the record, and it's implied that he's never had many mortal friends. Many demigods share similar stories. Yep, these are the kids who hold the fate of our world in their hands.
Raymond E. Feist's Shadow of a Dark Queen book of The Serpentwar Saga has a bunch of convicts sentenced to death by hanging, given express (but effective) military training and sent on a suicide mission across the ocean, on the condition, that they may be given pardon, if they succeed and come back alive.
In The Dresden Files, any time Harry brings along more than one or two people to help take on the book's bad guy, it's this. The biggest so far involves his assault on the Red Court at the Chichen Itza. Aside from a snarky wizard, his attack force consisted of his teenage neuroamncer apprentice, an agnostic paladin wielding a holy sword, a Chicago PD lieutenant also using a holy sword, a spirit of intellect locked away in a skull, a half-vampire journalist, a White Court vampire, a fairy noble, a vampire hunter, and a temple dog.
In Rainbows End, the Library Cabal, who are ostensibly trying to stop the destructive digitization of the library's contents. They don't even know they've been recruited by The Rabbit to try to save the world.
In one book of Fiona Patton's Tales Of The Branion Realm series, a child ruler is on the run from traitors who assassinated her father and now control the guards and priests who are supposed to be protecting her. For bodyguards and advisers, she instead has a family of artists, a troupe of traveling actors and tumblers, and two of the (repentant) traitors. The group hails from three different countries and two opposing religions.
In the Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson, the actual Destroyermen are described as this. They're even called the misfits of the navy clumped together in the Asiatic fleet because they fit no where else and were even called a ragtag group of misfits in the first book.
Teen Wolf. Every member of Derek's pack was a confirmed misfit before being turned into a werewolf. Scott and Stiles both consider themselves to be misfits as well.
The leader of the outfit is addicted to his own adrenaline. The mechanic and Big Guy is in desperate need of anger management classes and has to be knocked out every time they need to travel by airplane. The con-man is, shall we say, very easily distracted by the presence of pretty women. As soon as he breaks the team pilot and in-house medical advisor out of the psychiatric ward, they're on their way. Aren't you glad you just hired The A-Team?
One could certainly expect the crew of the Federation Starship Voyager to be this after half the crew gets killed and replaced by necessity with the outlaws they were sent to capture. But the Maquis quickly blend in and in the later seasons, you couldn't tell any difference between them and the starfleet crew.
B'ellana Torres and Tom Paris, still manage to appear somewhat out of the norm. Torres has a temper that could power the ships engines, and Tom Paris is an ex-con. Given that he actually runs cons during the shows run, the 'ex' part is exaggerated.
Black Sheep Squadron (originally titled Baa Baa Black Sheep) is about the exploits of a squadron of misfit pilots fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during World War II. One pilot has crashed so many times he's technically a Japanese ace. Others are drunks, insubordinate brawlers, Japanese-American pacifist mystics, or just plain crazy. Their commander is a drunk, insubordinate, over-the-hill ex-Flying Tiger who whips them into shape and turns them into the terrors of the South Pacific. It's based on a true story, and while the misfit tendencies of the squadron members themselves are highly exaggerated, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, the squadron commander, was if anything MORE of a drunken misfit Magnificent Bastard than the one in the TV series.
Torchwood details the exploits of a band of misfits who seem to have nothing in common save the fact they are all inexplicably bisexual (or Welsh) and somehow lonely. In fact, almost as many episodes (including the apocalyptic season finales) deal with the team members fighting each other as with the supposed premise of protecting Earth (or, at least, Cardiff) from aliens. But they ultimately are quite protective of each other and complement one another.
Blake's 7 makes Torchwood look like a haven of unity and competence.
Farscape is basically this IN SPACE too. Of course, they're pretty awesome anyway, since the misfits are comprised of kick-ass ex-soldiers and convicts.
Battlestar Galactica. A commander who's brilliant but can't play politics and as such is about to be quietly retired; an alcoholic, caustic, foul-mouthed tyrant of an XO; a stratospherically gifted but undisciplined and half-crazy pilot; the commander's highly competent and idealistic yet resentful son; a genius scientist who can't keep it in his pants; and a schoolteacher are the people exemplified as the best that is left of all of humanity. And their ship is an aging, battered, about-to-be-decommissioned bucket which (due to being ancient and obsolete) is actually the perfect weapon against masters of electronic warfare.
The Fleet itself qualifies. It carries the last survivors of humanity and consists of; cargo ships, one or two science vessels, factory/refinery ships where workers toil endlessly in terrible conditions, a freighter which essentially becomes a slavery and black market hub, passenger liners (airplanes in space) and a massive luxury liner (complete with artificial gardens) that travel together with an old battleship that was supposed to be retiring, its brand-new cousin commanded by General Ripper and, much later, a Cylon Baseship. And the best bit is, there are plenty of episodes showing just how much they can't stand each other and only do because it is the next best option.
"A ragtag, fugitive fleet...".
Hogan's Heroes are a ragtag bunch of multinational soldiers who are probably one of the most powerful Allied sabotage and espionage forces in all of Germany. Even the oblivious and childish Carter is a Genius Ditz when it comes to explosives.
Mostly averted in the Crusade spin-off, where the only "misfits" are Dureena, a professional thief, and Galen, a rogue technomage.
Glee gets its entire premise from this. A Cool Teacher takes on the worst Glee club in the state consisting of an obnoxious diva, the school's star quarterback, a Camp Gay who also plays football, a pregnant cheerleader, a Jerk Jock, a Sassy Black Woman, a stuttering Asian Perky Goth, a nerd in a wheelchair, and two more cheerleaders and two more football players.
Lampshaded in Journey to Regionals, with Olivia Newton John saying that the whole Ragtag Bunch of Misfits trope is overused and that everyone expects the underdogs to win. Not this time.
Supernatural: The entire subculture of hunters. They're all just a bunch of emotionally scarred people who make it their (non-paying) job to hunt and kill supernatural beings, most likely because someone they were close to was killed by one. Considering how rampant these paranormal attacks seem to be, you'd think the government would set up a secret agency to fight them. But no, it's left entirely up to these people, who will break as many laws and wander the earth as much as they have to in order to get the job done, with no thanks or pay to show for it?
From The Song Remains The Same, with Heaven and Hell both threatening to destroy the earth and the apocalypse underway:
Dean: This is it.
Sam: This is what?
Dean: Team Free Will. One ex-blood junkie, one dropout with six bucks to his name, and Mr. Comatose over there.
Stargate SG-1: Fitting the Bunny-Ears Lawyer mold. Teal'c is an alien defector, Jack breaks protocol every chance he can, and Daniel's going native on Abydos didn't endear him to the military and his general obsession with non-standard archaeological ideas makes him more than a bit quirky. Even Sam is presented as not seeming to relate to a lot of people outside the band and rather obsessive when it comes to Gate technology and physics. She's in two male-dominated fields, the military and science, and seems to have a psychological need to prove herself because of it ("Me? Tense? I'm not tense!"). Of the later additions, Jonas Quinn was responsible for his predecessor's death, Vala MalDoran is a criminal, and Cam Mitchell gets a lot of flack for being a newbie 'commander' who can't actually give any of his team orders. Probably not quite the sanest group you could send through a Stargate, but they do save the world every other week, so they keep their jobs.
A commander who isn't really fit to command anyone, has problems making hard decisions and was about to retire
Brilliant, but Lazy Eli who has a mother infected with HIV, an absent father, a former love interest turning into something alien and hostile and a dead girlfriend.
Said former love interest Chloe who is utterly useless and knows it (and is turning into something different). Oh, and her father died in the first episode.
Lt. Scott, newbie but became second in command, has a son at home whom he doesn't know and his current girlfriend is the aforementioned Chloe.
Greer, who had an abusive war veteran father and has anger management issues.
And this was only the main cast...
As the title of the show may suggest, this is pretty much the whole premise of 2009 sci-fi drama Misfits, which chronicles the escapades of five slightly disturbed and anti-social young offenders doing community service, who develop superpowers after being caught in a freak electrical storm.
The outlaws from Robin Hood included a disinherited nobleman, his manservant, a con-artist/pick-pocket/thief, a carpenter, a woodsman, and an Arabic female doctor. The third season added a monk and a potter, who were admittedly, pretty useless.
EUReKA is basically an entire town of misfits, albeit not necessarily ragtag.
The Major Crimes Unit in The Wire plays this trope straight.
Let me guess. He had a ragtag band of criminals ready to pick up the slack.
The Rottaran in Star Trek: Deep Space NineSoldiers of the Empire'' . A Klingon Bird of Prey that is down on it's luck, plagued by a series of defeats is led by Martok, Worf, and Dax to a victory.
As for the main cast, most of them were Reassigned to Antarctica in one form or another. Sisko was hoping to phone it in until retirement, Kira was shoved there because she was no fan of the provisional government, Odo and Quark frankly had nowhere else to go (and Quark was blackmailed into staying put), Garak was exiled, and Bashir talked a good game about "frontier medicine," but he had a lot to hide and a backwater station was a good place to hide it. Only O'Brien and Dax appear to have volunteered for it.
Heroes uses this. At the end of season 1 a group containing a cheerleader, a male nurse, a cop, an Internet stripper, a boy genius, a politician, a Japanese Otaku, his sidekick, an escaped con and the professor are all present
The Five in Sanctuary were this, including an immortal scientist specializing in strange creatures, a genius keeping himself alive with a machine, an invisible thief, an electrical vampire/Insufferable Genius, and teleporting Jack the Ripper. The Sanctuary team itself could be considered this with the above-mentioned immortal scientist, her daughter (and Jack the Ripper's) with anger-management issues, a quirky forensic psychiatrist disliked by his own colleagues, a Neanderthal, and a HAP. After the death of Helen's daughter, the team "acquires" a professional thief and smuggler.
Primeval. Lester is well aware that he's in charge of a Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits and would gladly fire the lot of them and bring in professionals instead, were he not such a fundamentally decent chap.
James Lester: Repeat that disgraceful slander, and you'll be hearing from my laywers.
The Warehouse 13 team could certainly apply: two former Secret Service agents (one of whom gets psychic hunches), a disgraced former NSA analyst who was convicted of treason, an aura-reading B&B operator, a former mental patient and Teen Genius, an Anti-Villain female HG Wells, and a gay ATF agent who's a living lie detector. Not to mention their boss, who is a mysterious teleporting and apparently immortal woman.
The central study group characters of Community are a Jerk with a Heart of Gold disbarred lawyer; an ex-anarchist high school dropout; a Meta Guy who sees everything as tropes; a high school jock-turned-goofball nerd; a recovering alcoholic Evangelical Christian housewife; a unpopular girl-turned-hottie who had a mental breakdown; a conniving, somewhat racist old man with Obfuscating Stupidity; and a crazed Chinese ex-professor who lied about knowing his subject. It's hard to find a group this crazy and yet a coherent whole.
The Danger 5 team, particularly in the online prequel. In fact, the reason the team exists is because when Tucker, Jackson, and Pierre were sent on a mission to Hitler, their total failure was met with such scorn that two women - the abrasive, alcoholic Russian Isla, and the calm but uptight English Rose Claire - were added to the team. Thus, in the midst of a satire of old-fashioned sexism, the Danger 5 team was born.
The Casaya tribe from Survivor: Panama was one of the most dysfunctional tribes the show has ever seen, with the yoga instructor who tried to start fire with his mind alone and the couch potato who was scared of leaves on her first day being the sanest members of the bunch. The other members? A Man Child with a Hair-Trigger Temper and Sanity Slippage made ten thousand times worse by severe nicotine withdrawal, a fire dancer who annoyed everyone on her tribe with her Talkative Loon and Cloudcuckoolander ways, a woman with a really heavy accent, who was just a cut below said fire dancer on the Most Annoying scale, and a ridiculously Asian guy who made his own Zen garden and exited the game via constipation. In spite of all this and their alliance almost coming apart at the seams multiple times, the Casaya Crazy were still able to stick together to pick off the more harmonious and peaceful La Mina tribe and turned on each other only when the Last of His Kind continued his immunity run.
Parodied and called out by name in Wizards Of Waverly Place when Justin has to teach a class of magical delinquents to be a wand drill team of sorts. Everyone is too Genre Blind to see that there's actually very little irony in the ragtag much of misfits pulling it off (well pull it off until Alex's attempt to help the one truly hopeless member causes them to actually lose out in the end).
Doctor Who plays this to almost Running Gag levels. The Doctor himself defines ragtag, a Cloudcuckoolander who stole a clapped-out ship and ran away from his people, for the sole purpose of....sightseeing the multiverse. He then makes a habit of picking up cavewomen, warriors from the Scottish Highlands, murses, kissogramers, schoolteachers, constantly put-upon soldiers, reporters, and on one occasion, a 19-year-old working in a department store. Predictably, they save the multiverse; repeatedly.
Invoked in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". The Doctor recruits Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Victorian Era big game hunter John Riddell, Amy Pond, Rory Williams the Last Centurion, and (by accident) Rory's very confused dad to help complete his mission.
Mötley Crüe got its name from this trope. Mick Mars recalled playing in another band in which a fellow member had described the group as "a motley looking crew".
Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins recorded with a group known as the "Ragamuffin Band", who continued to perform together after his death. The opening track of A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band features a bit of Studio Chatter in which one of the band members admits he's barely ready to do this, which gets a laugh out of Rich and gives the listener the impression that the recording sessions were impromptu and fairly laid-back.
The Savoyard march Gironfla, where the Duke of Savoy musters an army of eighty peasants armed with halberds and wooden swords, gives them four cast iron cannons for artillery and twenty donkeys laden with turnips as baggage train, and nominates a 21-year old Ensign Newbie to lead the "army" to conquer France. Miraculously, they succeed. The song is based on historical events.
Blood Bowl gives us the Motley Horde, a Blood Bowl team that fits this describtion to a tee. Not even the coach knows what kind of lineup he will see each game.
EveryDungeons & Dragons party ever, with few exceptions. See also the Video Games section and how they talk about the various RPGs; this is where they got the idea. It's possible to coordinate a non-ragtag adventuring party with some pre-game work, but a Ragtag Bunch of Level 1 Misfits spontaneously joining up for mutual adventure and profit is the default assumption.
A lot of Solar, Abyssal and Infernal circles in Exalted would qualify. For Solars, if you're a reborn god-king with about half the world gunning for him, you tend to associate with others who can help you punch that half the world in the face. Infernals and Abyssals tend to end up in these through a mix of that desperation and the details of the assignments they receive from their bosses.
Taken to an extreme, as is everything in the Warhammer 40000 universe with entire penal legions, where the worst of the worst of the Imperium's convicted felons are sent on literal suicide missions in return for a general pardon in the unlikely event they survive. Think Dirty Dozen in battalion size. This trope is best exemplified in the novel Kill Team.
Hell, the entire 597th could be considered a ragtag bunch of misfits. Of course, given the 40k universe's casually lethal nature, it's a good thing that they get constant reinforcements from Valhalla...
Colonel Schaeffer's Last Chancers. Recruited from penal planets and given the opportunity to redeem themselves by dying for the Emperor.
The 40k fanfilm Damnatus follows the same idea, centering around a squad of mercenaries conscripted by the Inquisition to root out a suspected Chaos cult. There's the leader von Remus, sidekick Corris, big guy Wodan and their resident tech-priest Oktavian, all kept under close watch by more straight-laced PDF sergeant Adeodatus and his sidekick Nira.
A lot of Inquisitors' retinues tend to end up as this as well since Inquisitors frequently recruit people that they meet during their work with the only criteria being competence and loyalty.
It should also be noted that the people they recruit can be of any social status or have any kind of occupation, too. For instance, one member of Amberley Vail's retinue used to be a fast food seller.
Mordechai Horst ends up temporarily recruiting a prostitute desperate to escape from the societal role she was forced into as a guide. And his boss inducted a pair of Guardsmen simply because they were eyewitnesses to a major breach of security, and the pilot whose shuttle they were shot down in just because.
The employees at Maraczek's Parfumerie in She Loves Me could qualify.
Comedy musical Starship features a crew including a robot that wants to kill all humans but can't, a battle-scarred emotionally unstable Commander with a mortal fear of robots, his violent and unsympathetic second-in-command, a Non-Action Guynerd, a hyperactive idiotic recruit, a recruit from FarmPlanet, a science officer whose relevant skills don't even extend to the ability to pronounce 'science', and the bratty son of the company boss. At first it seems to just be Played for Laughs in a parody of the sci-fi genre, but it is revealed later that Junior is evil and he needed the crew to be dysfunctional enough that they would notice his evil plan.
Interestingly, this can also be true when it comes to the players behind the screen in a MMORPG. No matter what everyone does for a living in Real Life, together you still managed to bring down that big dragon.
Just about any group of strangers that meets up in an online game as a team can be considered this to some degree.
Because Destiny Says So, the hero of the various Suikoden games must battle The Empire and optimally gather together a force led by 108 very, very diverse individuals. A minority of them are seasoned troops. Most are crossdressing tea fanciers, elevator operators, cape-wearing squirrels... it just gets weirder after that.
Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark qualifies, as your possible companions include a gentleman tiefling with a frenzied demon side; a reformed drow assassin; an either vengeful or reformed ghost of a fallen paladin; and a kobold bard turned Red Dragon Disciple. And all of you are Epic-level. Even the kobold.
Especially the kobold. The Big Bad tries to persuade your allies to turn on you. Most of them will stay if you're nice to them at various points, or discovered certain things about them. Deekin will stay no matter what.
The defenders of Kosigan in the Bastard of Kosigan can consist of a bastard half-orc trying to reclaim his heritage, an elf taking revenge for her abuse at the hands of the heir to the county, a prepubescent boy appointed second-in-command of the Grey Guard for no good reason, and an extremely loyal career soldier in charge of the army, all led by whatever you decide the player character is. You even get to lampshade this if you side with Mordred and Alex at the end of the second module, wondering if "two bastards and a little elf" stand a chance against the might of Burgundy.
Lampshaded early in Final Fantasy VII when, upon hearing the party introduce itself one member at a time, Rufus Shinra shrugs and replies, "What a crew."
Also invoked in Final Fantasy XIII according to Word Of God, who wanted to invoke a feeling similar to Final Fantasy VII: Your party consists of a soldier, an airline pilot trying to save his son, a leader of a group of anarchist do-nothings turned freedom-fighters, some kid on vacation, and two girls whose reasons for being in the party are too spoilerific and complicated to post here. In fact, FFXIII can be regarded as a Deconstruction of this trope, seeing how the party members quite naturally spend over a half of the game hating each other's guts and blatantly violating the Never Split the Party principle because of that.
Final Fantasy Tactics: Being branded as a heretic early on in the story results in Team Ramza collecting all sorts of unusual characters, not including the mercenary generics he can pick up at the bar or monsters.
The crew who ends up saving the world from being Porky's oyster in Mother 3 is a cowardly preteenage boy who can't quite get over his troubled past, his loyal dog, a teen girl raised by freaky cross-dressing fairy things who has been locked away in a castle all her life, and a smelly, ridiculed thief in his 20s with a crippled leg. Yet somehow, we're not doomed.
In Super Paper Mario Count Bleck plays this straight by calling your crew this in the opening scene.
Paper Mario 64 has a Mario Fanboy, a wannabe archaeologist, a Valley Girl pink bomb, a bumbling postman, a bratty female ghost, an infant light bulb, an overbearing fish who somehow breathes and walks (okay, flops) on land, and a punk Lakitu with an Embarrassing First Name.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn's Dawn Brigade, justified as they are a group of resistance fighters, rather then a formal military group, but that justification goes straight out the window when they become the core of a full blown rebel army.
Like Fire Emblem, the recruitable casts found in all Shining Force games (and many sidegames) have a large degree of variation in occupation, nationality, class, motive, and even race. It is not uncommon to wound up with an army full of Humans, Halflings, Centaurs, Elves, the token Joke Character, beastmen, and many other fictional races towards the end of the game. Hell, some games even have Ninjas and Samurais joining the force seemingly at random.
Rogue Galaxy could also qualify. By the middle of the game the super-elite pirate ship's crew consists in: a legendary pirate, a Second-in-command cat with a bad attitude, a bad-tempered jungle girl, a clueless young boy mistaken for a skillful hunter, an actual skillful hunter, a cheerful girl, an extremely polite fighting-machine robot with the spirit of a dead child inside, a depressed Ex-soldier, a police-wanted, fired-from-his-job computer genius, and a... something that can fire missiles from his back and speaks with a weird accent, plus a couple of normal human pirates and a talking frog who eats weapons. Insanity ensues.
Delta Squad in Gears of War fit the trope perfectly - though everyone on the team is a soldier, they argue amongst each other constantly, are generally a collection of jerkasses, and the (newly promoted) squad leader is an actual ex-convict freed literally minutes before the mission began.
It is stated by several of the characters however, that Marcus's trial was a sham and before it he was an extremely skilled soldier.
Planescape: Torment. An amnesiac immortal trying to find out who he is and how to die while he still can; a flying talking skull with the libido and vocabulary of a frisky teenager and a distinct lack of honesty; the last warrior of an ancient order who wield blades attuned to their minds, capable of destroying anything but long ago broken in spirit; a fiendblooded thief and corpse-collector; a chaste agnostic cleric succubus; a pyromaniac mage who's perpetually burning and loves it; a being embodying geometric order cut off from the Hive Mind of its brethren, accompanied by a pair of semi-sentient spirits who have shaped themselves into its crossbows; and a haunted suit of armor kept together by its refusal to abandon its duty to Justice. Of course, considering most of the game takes place mostly in Sigil, it would have been weird if the group wasn't a bunch of randomly selected and mismatched people and other creatures. It's that sort of city.
Justified in that the Mark of Torment etched into the Nameless One's flesh draws troubled souls to him. Furthermore, sometimes past incarnations of the Nameless One helped make them the way they are.
This is pretty much the entire point of Battlefield: Bad Company. B Company is apparently a dumping ground for anyone the Army deems a troublemaker, making them expendable. Plus, the squad featured pretty much qualifies in and of itself: a demolitions man who blew up the wrong latrine and loves to go in depth on his philosophical non-sequiturs, a cowardly comm specialist who looked up porn and wound up giving the Department of Defense network a nasty virus, a chopper pilot whose boredom and subsequent recreational drug use led to an accident that then led to his reassignment, and a weary sergeant who just wants to get out as soon as possible and is willing to take a transfer to the highest mortality rate company in the Army to get it.
Depending on whom you recruit in your pack, Spore has elements of this trope. It's possible to end up with someone with his cilia from the Tidepool, and yet he can last longer than the others.
In Mass Effect, the fate of the entire galaxy rests in the hands of a war hero/ruthless commander/Shell-Shocked Veteran, who is backed up by a telekinetic tech put through brutal training as a child, a Catholic Marine with an infamous family history she's desperate to redeem, an angry cop with an estranged dad, a Proud Warrior Race Guymercenary with species issues who killed his own father, an alien mechanic desperate for her father's approval, and a blue-skinned Hot Scientist recruited to fight her own evil mother. Big, happy family, right? Even Shepard isn't immune. Depending on which past you choose, s/he either grew up without a family and was raised by gangs and violence (Earthborn) or is the sole survivor of a pirate raid on his/her home planet (Colonist) and either watched his/her whole platoon except for him/her being annihilated by an alien monster (Sole Survivor) or sent the 3/4 of his/her platoon to death to capture a bunker from slavers (Ruthless).
Mass Effect 2 brings this trope to even Darker and Edgier territory. Shepard's suicide mission team appears to consist of nothing but thugs, sociopaths, and ne'er-do-wells. Specifically, the party includes: a quirky scientific genius/ruthless spec ops soldier with deep regrets, a homicidal test subject with psychic powers tortured from babyhood, the angry cop from the first game who has becomea vigilante who takes the war on crime to the heart of darkness and picked up a pile of Survivor Guilt and an intense need for revenge, a berserk vat-grown alien supersoldier with existential issues, a cynical ex-Marine with daddy issues (and the Only Sane Man, mind you), a human-supremacist test tube baby femme fatale with daddy issues, a quasi-hive minded robot motivated by religious zeal (with no issues!), an alien warrior driven by a rigid code of honour to hunt down her own family, the same alien mechanic accused of betraying her own race, a deeply spiritual alien assassin estranged from his son, and, in downloadable content, a sociopathic mercenary out for revenge and a galactic-class cat burglar with a dead boyfriend. In a subversion, you can get a total party kill - yes, including Shepard - if you don't do any of these characters' side missions, all ofwhichsolveat leastsomeof their many personal issues. (And yes, thatmany characters have father/mother/child issues in Mass Effect.)
Both games take some effort to justify such choices in crew. In Mass Effect 1, Shepard is a Spectre, a self-sufficient field agent flying a ship that is technically on loan from the Alliance. The situation with Saren isn't seen as that much of a threat, and Shepard simply picks anyone who offers to tag along; the six party members are the best Shepard could gather on short notice. In Mass Effect 2, the authorities outright ignore the problem and don't provide any help, and Shepard is forced to seek out criminals and social outcasts who are nevertheless insanely talented in their fields.
Basically, this trope is what you'll see just from browsing through the War Assets list of Mass Effect 3. Even by the franchise's previous standard, there are groups that you'd never imagine on the same side before Mass Effect 3 hit shelf.
Invoked in the original Starcraft and its sequel. The original Terran campaign has Jim Raynor shepherding anyone who will follow him across the sector. In the expansion, UED Commander Stukov calls Raynor's forces in the ongoing civil war in the sector a "Rag tag peasant militia," and isn't really wrong (especially with Arcturus Mengsk having taken the title of "Emperor" over the "Terran Dominion.". The sequel plays this aspect up, with Raynor recruiting a nerdy young scientist, an ex-con who's been welded into his Powered Armor, a portly cyborg mechanic, a surprisingly normal First Officer, and the occasional omen from a cold, alien Psychic ascetic.
Nippon Ichi loves this trope. Disgaea certainly qualifies, even if the 'heroes' aren't very heroic. You have the orphaned son of the demon king, his sidekick of debatable loyalty, an assassin angel (don't ask), Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth and his two sidekicks, the gorgeous scientist and the funky robot, various defeated enemies, and don't forget the souls sewn into demonic penguin bodies in the Prinny Squad. You can recruit a ton more weird characters via the post-game, as well as create your own squad of wacky generics. The same goes for all of the sequels, in which you can also recruit previous game characters and cameos from other Nippon Ichi cameos, usually in the form of DLC.
How about Knights of the Old Republic? In the first game you have an ex-pilot with major trust issues due a past betrayal, a Jedi trying too hard to be perfect and scared to death of failing, a Mandalorian Blood Knight, an exiled Wookee, a smartmouthed teenaged Twi'lek, a redeemed Jedi with a powerful temper and a sad history, a Jedi who's either verging on senility or pretending to be specifically to annoy you, an astromech droid with no personality (so far), a bloodthirsty assassin droid who suggests murder as the solution to any problem; and leading them all is an amnesiac Sith Lord. In the second, the Blood Knight and the two droids carry over (though all are now older, more cynical, and more devious), and you get to add an old woman whose near-sociopathic dedication to self-reliance has lead her to attempt to destroy the Force, a maniacally-depressed and heavily mutilated (mental and physical) former Sith, a former wisecracking Jedi-killer with a lot of blood on his hands, another psychotic droid (but this one has such an intense control complex it's out to rule the galaxy), a Zabarak mechanic trying to make up for all the deaths caused by the superweapon he designed, depending on your choices either an insane evil Wookee bounty hunter or an overconfident and rigidly honorable female human bounty hunter, and depending on your gender either a Badass Bookworm with a few secrets or a soldier whose culture interprets dueling as flirting; and all of these are led by a hole in the Force that feeds off their living spirits.
Boots and his buddies from Anachronox certainly qualify: a stripper, a toy robot, TWO scientists, an alcoholic ex-superhero, and an entire planet, which you at several points were exploring.
The Wasteland crew in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. Unofficial leader Iggy van Zandt is explicitly called "the king of the misfits" for a reason. And with friends like the player character (a clueless farmboy who just got off the bus), Boone (a violent screw-up who couldn't even cut it as a gang member), Murphy (every slimy agent ever minus the money), Useless Dave (whose endless knowledge of pointless minutiae never fails to bore)... yeah, that's ragtag.
Don't forget the most "normal" of the crew: a punk-rock chick with a penchant for exceptional art.
Every team in City of Heroes (and many other MMORPGs, really) except particularly coordinated ones, given the Fantasy Kitchen Sink nature of the superhero genre, and also the casual-friendly nature of the game where it's not uncommon for the fate of the world to be in the hands of a team that may include one or more of the following: A 13-year-old, a 60-year-old, a drunk, a furry, a hopeless powerlevelled newbie, and maybe a Munchkin if you're lucky.
While Raze's group in Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy is more-or-less a well-oiled group, Ulrika's group fits this precisely, consisting of a fairy(?) larger than Ulrika and far more timid, a guy in an animal suit/ball which said suit carries who can switch at will, a young boy with a machine obsession (and an abusive sister, but that's on Raze's side), a girl who believes curses are "incantations", and finally, Ulrika herself. In-battle, Ulrika's side is a bit more powerful than Raze's, due to tactical considerations and better overall abilities.
In Mercenaries 2, a five-person team composed of a revenge-driven merc, a snarky computer geek, a lecherous helicopter pilot, a perpetually drunken jet pilot, and a snarky mechanic, destroys the Venezuelan government, and defeats a superpower-backed army as nothing more than a means to that end.
Team Fortress 2: A drawling More Dakka engineer. A big, somewhat dimwitted Russian. A psychotic delusional soldier. A mouthy, trash-talking speedster. A German Mad Doctor. A smooth-talking French spy. A laid back Australian professional killer. A drunk, manic-depressive Black Scottish Cycloptic nutcase. A demented pyromaniac of Ambiguous Gender. They Fight Their Other-Coloured Clones (and more recently, robots)!
Dragon Age: Origins. It's a BioWare RPG, so you've got: Two Grey Wardens (they're a whole order of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. One is a prince and a former Templar apprentice. The other is you, of course), a deadpan-snarking shape-shifting witch from the forest, a redheadedfantasy French bard who was a priest but joined you after a vision, a stoicQunari warrior, a female golem with an intense hatred of pigeons, an alcoholic dwarven berserker, an elven assassin with very few sexual inhibitions, an elderly Dead All Along mage, a villainous noble champion. Oh and their pet dog. Said prince was actually a bastard shipped off to a convent to keep him away from the throne, the witch had a rough and isolated childhood and so has No Social Skills, bard in this context means spy and assassin who sings, the qunari you free from prison after he killed eight innocent people, the dwarf joins you after you help him find his wife who abandoned him searching for an Artifact of Doom, and the elven assassin was hired to kill you and makes no secret of it at all.
Dragon Age: Awakening continues this. The alcoholic dwarven berserker returns plus a failed marriage, and the new members are an snarky rogue mage with an obsessive Templar out for his blood, a murderous elven hippie, a bitter rogue whose father is the noble who killed the Human Noble's family in the first game, a member of the Dwarven Legion of the Dead who failed to die when she should have, a Fade spirit of justice trapped in the body of a dead man, and a very nice Grey Warden recruit who dies the second she takes her Joining.
...But it has been noted that since this party contains a child killer, a child eater and a child molester, they are the perfect team for taking on the Watchers.
Infinite Space starts out rather normally: a boy who seeks to unravel the mystery of the Epitaphs, his little sister, a "launcher", and an ex-thug. As the game progresses, you can hire mercenaries and have some normal citizens on board, which don't seem too bad, but later on, you can also have military officers (who join you for various reasons), ex-pirates, and even princesses.
The Fallout 3 DLC Mothership Zeta plays this trope straight. You have to take over the alien mothership with the help of the somewhat unprincipled mechanic Somah, the pre-War combat medic Lt. Elliot Tercorien, the cowboy Paulson whose family was killed by the aliens and the little girl Sally whose repeated escape attempts net her solitary confinement and fairly good knowledge of the ship's systems. Oh, and Toshiro Kago, a Japanese samurai (in full armor complete with a katana) who can't understand a thing the others say (and vice versa).
Perhaps even more so in Fallout New Vegas, where your followers include a Cold Sniper, a scientist with a mysterious past, an Eyebot and a Super Mutant formerly in the employ of The Master from Fallout, among others.
The quest "Flags of our Foul-Ups" consists of the player trying to make such a squad (called The Misfits!) actually combat effective. They consist of a small team of NCR troops with a severe attitude and discipline problems; an ambitious young woman who washed out of the Rangers but is still desperate for glory, a bloodthirsty former raider who'll recommend the squad dose up with the in-universe equivalent of PCP, a lazy and immoral snob, and a huge but soft-spoken and pacifistic hick. They can be properly mobilised with the right choices and skills, demonstrated during the final attack by the Legion on the Dam, when your Misfits defeat a Legion assault.
Fallout 2 demonstrates the ensemble dynamic more clearly by letting the player travel with many of them at once (instead of leaving them on display in a hotel, never to interact with each other). These include a one-eyed old man with a metal plate in his head, the son of a slaughterhouse operator who is your potential husband (regardless of your gender), his sister who is your potential wife (again, regardless of your gender), four dogs (two of which are cyborgs), a super-intelligent deathclaw, a ghoul former doctor, a super mutant, an obnoxious racist sexist teen drug genius, a military AI called SkyNet traveling in a robot body of the "Danger, Will Robinson" variety, a tribal warrior with a Jamaican accent and multiple body piercings who talks to the bone in his nose, and a trader of dubiously valuable goods with a missing daughter and a habit of calling you "Boss".
Raynor actually refers to them as a ragtag bunch of misfits at one point.
Subverted in Pathologic. The first scene in the game shows the three healers meeting up, arguing with each other, then deciding to strike out separately to fight the plague. Throughout the game, they never really team up, and occasionally work against each other.
Really, most of the games are like this. Breath Of Fire II has said Hero and winged princess, a dog-man with a crossbow, a giant armadillo-man, a near-naked tiger girl, a flower man and a monkey. Breath Of Fire III has The Hero once again, the two orphans he ends up living with (one of whom is a tiger-person with Lightning Magic and is a weretiger, the winged princess once again, an inventor/librarian dog person with a bazooka, a mutated ONION and what essentially looks like some kind of Gargoyle. IV is slightly more organised as we start out with a Princess and her (tiger-man) bodyguard who encounter the Hero, but they are soon joined by a Cloudcuckoolander in a robot suit that turns out to be empty and "possessed" by Deis, a stuttering (or in Japan, alcoholic) dog-samurai and a gun-toting soldier woman.
Somewhat subverted in Baldur's Gate and its sequel; yes, you can include deranged rangers, badass paladins, angsty or depressed elves, psychotic dwarves, insane necromancers and even a former Big Bad in your party. But they do all have their own goals and agendas, and if you violate their beliefs or make them work with people they detest, they will eventually leave your party or worse.
Air Force Delta Strike: Delta Squadron is where all the EDAF losers are assigned.
Pretty much describes everyone part of S.E.E.S. in Persona 3 or the Investigation Team in Persona 4, but it's what allows them to summon Personas.
Most parties in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura seem to end up like this. In addition to the hero, a poor schmuck who just happened to survive a blimp crash, you can have a monk who doesn't know the first thing about his religion, an overly proud dwarf with no idea what dwarves are really like, a half-drunk half-ogre, the world's smartest "orc", an elven princess, a necromantic fop, and even the guy you set out to kill in the first place. Oh, and a dog who kicks more ass than the rest of the party combined.
Eien No Filena. The party that saves the world consists of a transvestite, a prostitute, a dog, and a writer.
The main cast of Resident Evil Outbreak consists of eight people at the same diner when the outbreak happened, not highly trained police officers as in the others.
By the end of Freelancer, the Order includes a rogue captain guilty of Grant Theft Cruiser, a former security officer wanted for murder, an odd-jobs pilot wanted for murder and artifact smuggling (you), two archaeologists, and two noblemen disillusioned with their respective governments. Additionally, your alliances include a by-the-book destroyer captain, your character's father figure (an eccentric mechanic), and a gang leader.
Freedom Force, being a typical superhero team, consist of unlikely people brought together by extraordinary circumstances... and Energy X. These include an alien fugitive with Psychic Powers, a nuclear physicist obsessed with patriotic ideas, a hot-headed Latino from the barrio, a playboy atoner forever trapped in a metal suit, a Southern Belle/witch, a "Shcottish" fisherman with scales, two teens, a reprogrammed evil robot from an alternate future, a high-school nerd with an insect obsession, a former Air Force pilot now a Speedster, a rookie cop and a blind witness joined into a single being, a strange plant lady with a bikini made of leaves, a washed-up British boxer, an ex-thief, and one who is either an alien or an experiment.
The sequel adds a half-dead widower, a guy who really loves his Shakespeare, the daughter of a powerful sheikh, an Aztec god in a teenage body, a British inventor with a penchant for poisonous cards, a French fencing champion, and an actor with a jetpack.
Many Dragon Quest games are like this - in Dragon Quest V in particular, depending on how you recruit your monsters, can very quickly become this when you have your Hero accompanied by a one-eyed, fanged apple, a shroom wielding a hammer and a long-tongued cat... and that's just when you first learn to recruit monsters, it gets weirder from there.
Last Res0rt sees this and raises you a Reality Show. Of course, they don't really DO anything of worldly importance (yet), but still, there they are.
Lampshaded and subverted in 8-Bit Theater, especially with the second party of worthy warriors always arriving too late to do any good or be hired for the quest.
And again in Episode 1163 'Semantics' when they face Sarda. Red Mage confronts him and The Wizard Who Did It says "You and what ragtag band of adventurers with humorously conflicting personalities who learn the true meaning of friendship?" RM points behind him. They ran off.
The Last Days of FOXHOUND portrays FOXHOUND (the Quirky Miniboss Squad of Metal Gear Solid) this way. It is played with a bit, as everyone, including the misfits themselves, readily acknowledge how unstable and insane the team is, but also recognize that they are able to accomplish feats that would be impossible for any other group.
The Order of the Stick crew certainly qualifies. Roy is pretty competent in his own right, but his band consists of a dwarf who is convinced that trees are evil, a childish bard who is completely useless in battle until he takes a prestige class that depends on puns to be effective, a greedy rogue who constantly steals from the rest of the party, a megalomaniac elf wizard with an unknown gender, and a bloodthirsty halfling who defines Heroic Comedic Sociopath. Their evil counterparts aren't any better, either...
And for that matter, pretty much all of the comics in the fan comic section of the forum do this too.
Roy at one point refers to his team as trained professionals before adding "Well, semi-trained, quasi-professionals."
At one point General Tarquinaka, Elan and Nale's father, despite being initially unaware of the composition or existence of the Order of the Stick, deduces that it is a team almost immediately upon meeting all the individual members, largely because he recognizes that when a bunch of weirdly competent but oddly diverse individuals show up out of nowhere "it's safe to assume they're an adventuring party until this assumption is disproven".
Big Bad Xykon never directly addresses the Order as such, but when he's off buying some new magic items he asks if he can get insurance that will cover the loss if his lair is destroyed by a ragtag team of heroes.
Clerk: How ragtag are we talking, here?
In No Rest for the Wicked, November acquires anthropomorphic cat Perrault (intentionally), the Ax Crazy Red by accident, and Claire after they happen to rescue her from being burnt at the stake.
Mindflayer: Adventurers? I thought we were a bunch of outcasts banded together in hopes of increasing our odds of surviving to the next day. Lomylith: That would be the definition of the word "adventurers", flayer.
The five protagonists from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes, despite their increase in power and skill over the course of the series, have yet to fully separate themselves from this trope.
The main characters of Red vs. Blue. They are all fully armed soldiers who were hand pick for being one lowest scoring grunts in the military, they are also the least qualified people to be handling the various omnicidal maniacs that cross their path.
With the exception of Tex, who is pretty much confirmed to be the single best fighter in the series.
Not that she's without her own very special issues, however, as season 8 reveals. She's essentially cursed to ultimately fail at everything she tries to do. The most normal person they meet (Wash) still has issues, what with Epsilon's memories being beamed directly into his mind and all.
The heroes of The Nerdy Show's pen and paper adventure podcast, Dungeons & Doritos, hurt each other and their allies or employers about as much as they hurt their enemies. However, over the course of the adventure, they learn to care for their teammates and become increasingly competent at working together. Except when they aren't, and then Hilarity Ensues.
The members of "Team Templar" from Shadow Of The Templar are the first type of this, all the way. Extremely talented but mostly crazy, their general rule of thumb seems to be that "standard procedure" is a good Plan B. All the same, they have a reputation for getting things done.
The whole bunch of convicts living in the Paracelsus' Sword in the world of Einsteinian Roulette count as this, ranging from mercenaries, petty criminals and discarded experience subjects to farm boys, spoiled brats and crazy doctors.
The Undersiders in Worm work as a team at the request of their, at times, mysterious employer, despite the fact that one or two of them just aren't cut out for normal human interaction. They manage to get the job done well enough most of the time though, and that's all their employer asks of them. Though he does keep a back up team in reserve for the heavy hitters.
Then there's The Deviant Universere's premeir Super Team The Thunder Force. The first incarnation consists of a government agent with a dark past and robotic enhancements to his body, an invisible gun toting ex-news anchor, a rich treasure hunter with a magic bone necklace and a tiger striped costume, a female super speeder, a strange girl in a school girl outfit, Canada's only hero who is powered by the internet, a living beat'em up video game chick, a symbiote who is similar to both Nightcrawler and Venom only with no angst about his situation, and a chibi computer program who is programmed to destroy the world himself. The second incarnation consists of a jerkass archer secret agent, an animal shapeshifter teen boy, a male Captain Americaexpy who uses guns and is kept alive through cloning, a female Captain America and Wonder Woman combined expy, a hero with thunder powers combined with Flying Brick abilities, and a mermaid heroine with legs joined up with the aforementioned treasure hunter in tiger print and the symbiote guy.
Hell the Occult Society can pretty much be a Ragtag Organization of Misfits. The latest arc had just introduced an overly conceited Fighting Narcissist and a Anthromorph with multiple personalities of the Western Zodiac in the secondary cast.
Similarly invoked in Transformers Animated, in which the job of saving the day lands on a repair crew with barely any real weapons who've mostly never been in combat before, while the Decepticons also spend a large time disorganized and spread apart. Of course, when the team of experts does show up, they're not a lot of help...
Parodied with the elementary school dodgeball team in the South Park episode "Conjoined Fetus Lady", who make it all the way to the finals much to their own shock and dismay.
In Avatar The Last Airbender, the responsibility of defeating the Fire Nation and saving the world rests entirely with a 12-year-old goofball of a Messiah and the various other children he picks up along the way. These include a fourteen year old untrained water-bender, a fifteen year old wannabe warrior, a twelve year old spoiled runaway earth-bender and the angsty banished prince of the enemy. Three attempts were made by various characters to have actual armed forces involved, but the first two times were stopped before they started (the second when a fourteen year old princess and her two handmaidens, a dourKnife Nut and a Cloudcuckoolanderacrobat, managed to pull off a coup in a hostile city) and the third time resulted in a crushing, ruinous defeat
Referenced and Parodied in Futurama, when Fry attempts to destroy a giant brain with a Quantum Interface Bomb. He's found by a squad of smaller brains that try to destroy him. When their brain rays fail, one of the brains say, "But we're an ambitious young squad, with everything to prove!"
The Planet Express crew in general; the main delivery crew is a goofball from the 20th century (Now known as 'The Stupid Ages'), a selfish robot who spends his time drinking booze and making wisecracks, and a social outcast cyclops who tries to be professional, maybe a little too much. The rest of the company is a century-and-a-half-old mad scientist, a Jamaican paper-pusher who likes to limbo and fill out forms, a ditzy Chinese girl from Mars, and a lobster alien who lacks neither social graces or an accurate idea of what the human body is, despite being the company doctor.
You forgot Scruffy, the janitor.
The Robot Chicken sketch parodying Armageddon, where the leader was chosen by call-in votes. The winner was Harrison Ford, who protests "I'm just an actor! I'm 62 years old!" but everyone expects him to act like a movie hero. Aerosmith fill the remaining slots on the team because the mission needs a cool theme song. They die trying to land.
Reporter: Don't we have highly trained astronauts?
Senator: Oh, that's something of a myth.
GI Joe Renegades invokes this hard in the first episodes, with the team only tolerating each-other for the mission, and getting much worse for a bit until the end of the second episode when they're able to come together to stop a threat. They're still at odds for the next few episodes, but gradually seem to come together as everyone gets to know each other.
The ThunderCats, both the original series and the 2011 reboot, were survivors of a great catastrophe (in the original series, it was the destruction of their home planet Thundera while in the reboot, it was the destruction of the kingdom Thundera). The original group consists of a young inexperienced prince with a great destiny, an old soldier, an Action Girl, a scientist (original series)/arrogant prince (reboot), two Tagalong Kids, and the Team Pet.
Nightmare Moon was defeated by the Mane Six after they had known each other for less than a day.
In The Simpsons episode "Moneybart", Lisa tries to apply this trope to Bart's baseball team, ala the Oakland A's, but it doesn't quite work.
Bart: We're not losers! Last year we finished six and five.
Nelson: And we're not lovable. We had a tall freckle-faced kid on the team that we picked on 'til he quit. Hey, Splatterface, how's the weather up there? It's too bad, cause he's a great hitter, but it's worth it.
The "Mille", the thousand-something volunteers that followed Giuseppe Garibaldi on his expedition to conquer the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and unify Italy in 1860. The youngest was 10 years old. The oldest, 70-something. There were students, poets, shopkeepers, tailors, pharmacists, bakers, former soldiers and officers of the regular army, medics, pretty much anything, including a woman, each with his own motive: fame, fortune, romance, adventure, ideals, death (reportedly one of the volunteers jumped offboard the ship twice during the trip to the shores of Sicily). They wore civilian clothing that only had in common the color red (the closest thing they had to an uniform) and were armed with old rifles obtained by tricking an army quartermaster into giving them. Besides, the rifles themselves never saw much use, since Garibaldi's tactical philosophy was "the rifle is nothing more than the grip of the bayonet". And apparently it worked, as the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits eventually conquered the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
This always was Garibaldi's Modus Operandi: find a big country, assemble a ragtag bunch of misfits, and go kick asses. Sometimes, Garibaldi's troops were fighting long after the rest of the country they were fighting for had been crushed: during the Uruguayan civil war, the regular Uruguayan forces were crushed at the battle of Arroyo Grande: Garibaldi's ragtag bunch of former slaves and immigrants held the city for nine years and eventually won the war.
Garibaldi was helped by two factors: first, his foes tended to think that time he had bitten off more than he could chew and didn't take him seriously for a while; by the time they realized he could actually do it, their army had lost morale and his own had grown, partly thanks to defections from his enemy. The Mille are a good example of this: when they landed in Sicily proper there was about a thousand of them and were regularly faced by similar-sized forces, when they landed on the continental part of the kingdom after conquering Sicily there were twenty thousands of them and had much better equipment than at the start, and by the time of the final battle they were thirty-five thousands, most of which having deserted the Sicilian army during the campaign. That's why the Italian army (that would usually sick him at a place they wanted conquered and wait 'till his 'unexpected' success gave them an excuse to intervene) and the French army (who had already fought him once and got their collective asses kicked hard) managed to defeat him: at the Aspromonte (Italians) and Mentana (French) they attacked him with their best troops in superior numbers, either forcing him to back down (Aspromonte) or utterly defeating him (Mentana).
The ships that ended up discovering the Americas originally had an overwhelming majority of criminals and other lowlifes as their crews, as they weren't even expected to make it through alive, let alone come back. (Predictably, malnutrition and illnesses did end up mowing a lot of them down on the way.) This also partly explains the horrible treatment the natives suffered.
Hollywood History example: According to widespread belief (and would Hollywood lie to you?), the Americans were the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who drove the British from their shores during the American Revolution. In history, of course, the Americans did form proper military units, with ranks and rules and discipline and everything. They did do so with a lot of foreign (especially French and Prussian) help, but...
General 'Von' Steuben took advantage of the long winter at Valley Forge to whip the Continental Army into some kind of shape. A lot of our Founding Fathers were emotionally and ideologically committed to the 'citizen soldier' ideal. George Washington, who for his sins, had commanded militia men in the French and Indian War knew that this was unworkable. Not because citizen soldiers are cowards but because it takes training and discipline to make men do something as counter-intuitive as stand still and let the enemy empty their muskets into them.
Modern researchers on the battles of Lexington and Concord have concluded that the Massachusetts Militia actually contained a higher percentage of combat veterans from the French and Indian war than the so-called professional soldiers they opposed. Which probably shouldn't surprise anyone, considering that they managed to pull off a seven mile moving envelopment. One British Officer writing home after the battle concluded "These people know very much what they are about."
Gen. George S. Patton, when taking control of the US armed forces in Africa, started by levying heavy fines for soldiers and especially officers for unkempt uniforms. By the time Patton engaged in the famed 609 Battle, he'd transformed, well, you-know-whats into bonded soldiers.
Another example of "folk history", this time Russian, is the Red Army, which, according to popular belief, was a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits which, during the Russian Civil War, drove out the White Army with pure revolutionary enthusiasm. While it was a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits for a short time since its creation, it was completely unsuited for combat, and only began to score victories against the Whites after its transformation into an actual army, with ranks and discipline — mostly courtesy of former war specialists from the disbanded Tsarist army, whom the Bolsheviks began to enlist after realizing that the "army of workers and peasants" ideal didn't work at all.
The reorganization of the Red Army was supervised by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky became the ultimate persona non grata during Stalin's rule, which may help to explain where the popular belief came from. Stalinist history textbooks obviously couldn't talk about Trotsky's role in building the Red Army, let alone the role of counterrevolutionary officers from the Tsarist period.
Speaking of the Russian Red Army, The 1980 Winter Olympics featured the Soviet Hockey juggernaut playing against a bunch of college hockey players who just happened to be playing for the United States. In what would become known as the Miracle on Ice, the college kids toppled the Russians 4-3, with a little help from the home crowd.
Canada did it first, eight years earlier.
With an All-Star lineup of NHL players - many of them future Hall of Famers - and in an exhibition series, not the Olympics. The Americans? Over a third of the team, including the captain, never played a minute in the NHL.
Real world example: grab a book about Mexican history, open it on the chapters about the 19th century and the Revolution, and you'll see at least five disorganized bands duking it out for any reason. In fact, the reason why the Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday is because that was the day when a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, kicked the crap out of the disciplined and well-equipped French invaders.
They won that battle, but lost the war.
No they didn't, it's true that Puebla was lost a year later but after too much complication the liberals won the war and completely squashed the competition, this time permanently. (That doesn't mean other conflicts appeared but...)
The Texans who won their independence from Mexico were mostly ranchers, farmers, brigands, and failed American politicians, but some of them (mostly officers) had some military experience.
Some even Mexicans as Lorenzo de Zavala.
The violent Indian Freedom Fighters who fought the British were very much this. Although their role in securing Independence was fairly minor, Britain simply didn't have the resources to maintain its empire after World War II, not to mention it had very much lost the High Moral ground to Gandhi.
The Calcutta Light Horse were less a ragtag bunch of misfits and more a bunch of expatriate English barflies, but they did manage to infiltrate Portuguese Goa during World War II and destroy an interned German merchant ship passing radio intelligence out of neutral territory.
The Battle of New Orleans at the end of the war of 1812 was basically won by one very good leader (Andrew Jackson) with a ragtag bunch of misfits. And pirates!
Real Life sports victory example, Wimbeldon FC's "Crazy Gang," with a reputation for pulling an assortment of practical jokes on each other and their manager as well as for playing The Beautiful Game with a very unsophisticated and amateurish style, were able to beat the much more skilled Liverpool squad in the 1988 FA Cup Final against all expectations.
Then there’s Jesus himself, a small-town guy who worked construction for a living, got dissed on for his country accent when he went to the big city, and never was accepted in his home town, at least partly because of his dubious parentage (of course, nobody believed Mary when she told them who the daddy was). Even away from home he was unjustly accused by pious folks of being a drunken party boy because of the “tax-collectors and sinners” he hung around with.
The French Foreign Legion, at least according to all those romantic novelists...
Israel actually subverts this trope by taking these misfits, and organizing them into settlers and soldiers. They started out as misfits, but due to the unifying and organizing force that was the Zionist movement quickly lost that designation. Most of the country's accomplishments are due to having its Misfit Mobilization Moment very early, and most importantly, before getting involved in any war. Against the expectations of every single military power in the world, said ragtag group beat back the well-equipped Arab Armies, who collectively had as much manpower as Israel had people, including the massive elderly Jewish population of Jerusalem.
Casting the British Mandatory occupation as the Obstructive Bureaucrats at best, and with many of the companion tropes and ideas such as
improvised weaponry such as catapults for explosives, canes with a single bullet for the elderly, and an "air force" consisting of tossing grenades out of Cessnas
Refuge in Audacity such as claiming to have nukes in 1948, stealing electricity from the British to power the literal underground bullet factories, and so on.
The Norwegian resistance movement during World War II fits the trope, as the many groups involved developed locally, and didn't have a chance to communicate with the Norwegian exile government for quite some time. Meanwhile, they different groups seemed to step on eachother's toes. And yes, they were mostly ordinary guys without proper combat experience, and home made tools that didn't go off as planned. AND then there was the communist fraction, who did not communicate well with the others.
The Haitian slaves owned by France back in the Napoleonic days could be counted on to fight, argue, and fight some more. With the help of Toussaint Louverture, they managed to stop bickering long enough to kick the French's ass. Tragically, they went right back to the whole Ragtag misfit thing, and the country has languished in the third world as a result.
Brutally averted by the Canadian rebellions led by William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada (later Ontario) and Louis-Joseph Papineau in Lower Canada (later Quebec), who were both rebelling against the nepotism and corruption of the British colonial governments of the time. Papineau and Mackenzie's "soldiers", if you could call them that, were mostly common farmers and labourers who were poorly trained and disciplined. Needless to say, the trained British troops mopped the floor with them.
Bolivar's army was a subversion at first (to put it simple: everybody wanted to be the leader by having indy ploys every three seconds instead of the ones they were planning for months before...), since they spent around twenty years of 'we did it!...oh, sorry, the Spanish beated us again...' before deciding it was easier to free Colombia and then, with the support of a whole nation, get Venezuela free. It worked.
The 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants, a team literally described in the media as "a bunch of castoffs and misfits", as the roster was cobbled together throughout the year with an ever-changing lineup playing the games. Affectionately dubbed The Scrapheap Gang, these Giants were a group of inexperienced, but talented and sometimes eccentric youngsters backed up by some aging veterans and a few guys signed and given another chance to play when no other team wanted them. Late in the regular season, when they looked like they would miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year, their general manager held a private meeting with the pitchers to break them out of a slump. At the same time, their first baseman acquired a red thong that he claimed would lead them to victory. And did they ever rise to the challenge, with one of the strongest final pushes in MLB history. Leaning heavily on the strength of their pitching, particularly that of the starters and of their "unique" closer Brian Wilson (no, not that Brian Wilson), the Giants eventually notched enough wins in September to qualify for the playoffs on the last game of the regular season. The postseason would be even more dramatic, as most of their games, in sport movie fashion, would go Down To The Last Play. To boot, almost each game they won would feature an Unlikely Hero, and very often it was someone playing better than they ever had before to make up for a slumping teammate's play. To cite two prominent examples: the MVP of the League Championship Series was Cody Ross, who had been released by the third-place Florida Marlins with six weeks to go in the season. The MVP of the World Series was Edgar Renteria, an aging, injury-prone shortstop who for much of the season slumped so badly that he was reduced to being a part-time starter.
NFL example: If documentaries by NFL Films (such as the America's Game series) are anything to go by, the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders are likely a good example of this, at least the teams from the 70s and 80s under head coaches John Madden and Tom Flores. Featuring many castoffs from other NFL teams, players who were considered washed up, and some colorful personalities with chips on their shoulders, the Raiders were a bunch of misfits who became the "bad guys" of the NFL because of their highly aggressive play (especially players like George Atkinson and Jack Tatum). They were also a successful bunch of misfits, winning Super Bowls XI, XV, and XVIII.
Outcasts United by Warren St. John is a real life example of this. It is the story of a bunch of refugees who ended up living in Clarkston, Georgia (a small suburb of Atlanta), which became a resettlement center for refugees from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. These kids eventually start a soccer team, the Fugees, with the help of Luma Mufleh, an American educated Jordanian woman. It the prejudice they endured and the money struggles they have, and the culture clashes (such as how in Georgia soccer is a sport associated with rich people).
The rebels in the Libyan Civil war. Very few of them were actual soldiers.
The Oakland Athletics in the early 2000s, as seen in the book and film Moneyball, were deliberately assembled as a championship team that the club could actually afford. This entailed culling players from "the Island of Misfit Toys", standouts in one area who flounder in others. A classic example of this was Scott Hatteberg — where most of baseball saw a catcher with an injury that prevented him from throwing the ball, the A's saw a batter with a preternatural ability to avoid getting an out (and whose arm injury wouldn't matter if they put him at first base instead).
Many of the NHL's "Cinderella" teams can be described as this. The 2003/2004 Calgary Flames and 2005/2006 Edmonton Oilers could be best described as a group of talentless players (minus one or two) that played their hearts out, sacrificing their bodies to outplay everyone. By the time the dust settled, the teams had little, if any, players healthy enough to play the last games of the playoffs.
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were branded this by the media. While the 2001 World Series team feature a group of proven veterans, the 2011 team featured only Justin Upton as the only star. But coming off a miserable 2010 they managed to grab two pitchers for players of lesser value. They also featured a pitcher that throws a baseball like a tomahawk and the player with the most tattoos in the majors. They managed to unseat the 2010 Giants as division champions, against them no less before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Reddit and 4chan's /v/ board had a competition in Tribes: Ascend. Team Reddit was a well-coordinated, heavily practiced team with high-end computers; Team 4chan was a hastily-gathered team of /v/irgins run by a furry with a tripcode and a Brazilian sniper with 140 ping playing on toasters. 4chan won 3-2.
"WE WINNERS NOW"
The army of Chad counts as this in the Toyota War it fought against Libya in the late 1980s. Chad's army was a cobbled-together alliance of rebel and government forces who until very recently had been at each others' throats, was outnumbered and outgunned by their Libyan opponents, and was so underequipped that it had to use Toyota transport trucks to ferry its troops. Despite this, they still managed to win against the Libyans, in no small part because Muammar Gaddafi was a cross between a Modern Major General and a General Failure.
The British Army lives and dies by this trope. One of the first modern armies, the New Model Army was a complete subversion (English, but the framework for the British army was laid here), made up primarily of professional soldiers who had been fighting against the Royalists...until they were only able to fill about two thirds of places. After which, the Army lowered its standards. From then on, to about 1914, the Army was been considered the second service to the far more prestigious and skilled Navy (the "senior service"), taking on colossal numbers of thieves, rapists, murderers and arsonists, then moving on to those who have failed their GCSEs. This trope was so prevalent during the Napoleonic Era that the Duke of Wellington noted how wonderful it was to make so much of them. This applies less to other armies as they tended to still take Peasant Levies, meaning the men were required to serve whatever their profession, or have a very elite air and esprit de corps (the French, up until 1812).
For the effects George Lucas wanted for Star Wars: A New Hope, supervisor John Dykstra assembled some college students, artists and engineer to create Industrial Light and Magic. In their large empty warehouse, they wound up wasting $1 million (lots of miniatures and technology were created, but the only scene they made that could be salvaged was the Tantive IV's escape pod being released, which even opened the Star Wars trailer) and had an unorthodox working environment that shocked 20th Century Fox executives when they visited. Once Lucas returned from the already-screwed enough shoot in England, he put the motley crew of technicians under a tight leash to make sure the effects were made... but not before he was hospitalized in shock.