The world has changed. Years have passed since these old heroes, villains, or neutral characters all were in their prime. In fact, most of them are now Retired Badasses
. But the world needs them, one last time, for one last battle. Or they're just getting old and need to feel alive again before they're too old to do anything anymore.
Compare to Putting the Band Back Together
, when its any kind of group. Or to the Magnificent Seven Samurai
, when its about any group of people who are Badass. What makes this different from those tropes is that this trope is about those who are old and have had their turn coming back.
For the singular version, look for Back in the Saddle
. See also One Last Job
Anime and Manga
- In GUN×SWORD, there was that fan-favorite episode featuring the El Dorado Five - a bunch of former Hot Blooded Super Robot pilots, now octogenarians who do nothing but hang around the local bar chatting 'bout the glory-days. Untill suddenly, a Monsterof The Week appears, (as always happens when Van is around), only this time, the old coots decide to pull their Combining Mecha out of mothballs for one last fight... Van, out of respect for the pride of these old warriors, decides to sit out the fight, only providing a bit of timely aid from the sidelines. It was popular enough that the El Dorado team came back as the collective Big Guy for Van's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in the second half of the series. And when Gun X Sword was finally featured in Super Robot Wars K, the El Dorado V was a recruitable, permanent mecha for your team.
- Dragon Ball: Buu Saga
- Pretty much the entire plot of Once Upon a Texas Train. A train robber is released after twenty years in prison and recruits his old gang to try and rob the same train that he was originally caught trying to rob. The man who caught him rounds up his band of retired Texas Rangers to go after him.
- This is also the entire plot of the movie Red.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has all of them meeting for one last time. There was supposed to be a bunch of recruitment scenes of picking them all up from different places, but was cut for budget reasons.
- Space Cowboys: a movie in which a Russian satellite is falling to Earth and so four retired astronauts that never got into space go up because no one else is old enough to remember how to fix it.
- The Man in the Iron Mask: The three Musketeers meet to try and replace the king with his twin brother.
- The Expendables films run on this, what with them being teamups of many of the big action heroes of the '80s and early '90s (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, et cetera). They're both a cinematic example and (sort of) a Real Life example.
- The climax of Battleship has the former crewmen of the battleship USS Missouri, some of whom are veterans of The Korean War, being called back into service to man the Missouri against the alien invaders.
- The Wild Bunch focuses on a group of aging outlaws coming together for one last job during the Twilight of the Old West.
- Happens at the end of the book Count Belisarius by Robert Graves (of I, Claudius fame), when the titular character has to defend Constantinople with literally no army. So he gathers his former soldiers, now old bureaucrats and retired commanders. And they still win.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels Interesting Times and The Last Hero feature Cohen The Barbarian and the Silver Horde. Their entire schtick is this trope.
- In Twenty years after, the first sequel to Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan tries to reunite his old friends on the orders of Cardinal Mazarino. Porthos, now a wealthy widower, accepts but Athos, who regained his title and estate as the Comte de la Fère and Aramis, now a priest, refuse. Athos and Aramis are members of the Fronde, the anti-Mazarin rebellion. After a few chapters, they are kicking ass together again.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: the episode "Blood Oath" where Kang, Kor, and Koloth, all Klingons from Star Trek meet for one last quest to fight against the murderer of children, the Albino.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century had a squad of old retired fighters led by Peter Graves come back for One Last Job.
- Within the 1980 version of Zorro, a bandit troupe threatens the town and Don Diego's father calls in the badass crew he used to work with. Their skills have noticeably degraded in the time they've been retired, so Zorro has to do their job behind the scenes without letting them realize their failure.
- An episode of Psych has Henry call in two Retired Badass colleagues to solve a case; these men turn out to be strikingly similar to Shawn and Gus, which is lampshaded multiple times.
- An episode of Kung Fu: the Legend Continues has the Cains bring in The Equalizer and the Man from UNCLE to lend their particular skills to help rescue a kidnap victim.
- Fallout: New Vegas: In the optional quest "For Auld Lang Syne", you recruit five retired Enclave soldiers to fight on your side. In the epilogue, it's stated that they go down in legend for how much ass they kick, reminding people just how scary the Enclave can be.
- Extreme Ghostbusters: While Egon was leading the new team of Ghostbusters, the old gang came back for the series finale.
- The Venture Bros.: In the episode "Past Tense", when both Brock and Dr. Venture are kidnapped, Hank and Dean recruit the original Team Venture to help rescue them. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Powerpuff Girls parodies this in the episode "Fallen Arches": the leader of a legendary team of villains, the "Ministry of Pain" decides out of the blue to get his team back together and resume operations despite all of them having gotten really old. Blossom for whatever reason stops the other girls from doing something since they must "respect the elderly" so they trick the heroes who stopped them in the old days, Captain Righteous and his sidekick Lefty to fight them, despite them having had a falling out. The "battle" ends with all the elderly in intensive care and Blossom being chewed out by the news anchor about the fact that direct intervention would have stopped the problem before it started.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender had the Order of the White Lotus and their battle to retake the Earth Capital of Ba Sing Se.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series had World War II superheroes come out of retirement to aid Captain America against a newly risen Red Skull and his son Electro (alternate continuity) and their army of robots.