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Hmm, what's this? Want to Take Over the World
? Cause mayhem? Have you considered the Sealed Army in a Can
? Guaranteed to provide decades of destructive entertainment, try it today!
The Sealed Army in a Can
is an army that was so powerful that it was impossible to destroy them and the best that could be hoped for was sealing them away, usually at great cost. With works that employ this trope you can invariably expect that the Big Bad
's master plan will revolve around awakening this army to do his bidding whether it be to Take Over the World
or just break things. Often times you will get the Sealed Evil in a Can
thrown in with them as a nice bonus. Like the Sealed Evil in a Can
the fact that they were sealed away may have weakened them to the point they can be destroyed or technology has advanced to the point where it can get the job done. Or not.
Unlike a real army that is composed of individuals, the sealed in a can variety don't seem to have any sentience and will often mindlessly follow whoever freed them.
Can sometimes be used as Sealed Good in a Can
for a really Big Damn Heroes
moment; see also Awakening the Sleeping Giant
. In these cases they may not be quite as mindless. For several unique characters (often in separate "cans") see Sealed Cast in a Multipack
. For a single character in multiple "cans", see Sealed Evil In A Six Pack
Sub-trope of Badass Army
except more so (otherwise, what's the big problem?).
- Hellsing: Alucard has the ability to summon people he's drained as familiars. Towards the end, he summons everybody he's ever eaten, ever just FYI Alucard is The original Dracula; He's been around since the Crusades (back when he was "Vlad the Impaler"). Think about that for a minute.
- Capone "Gang" Bege of One Piece has this as his power, where he seals an entire army in himself. This allows him to brazenly stroll into a battlefield alone and still wind up with superior military force once he ejects them.
- There also is an example in the Naruto Manga where it's revealed that Zetsu, given a sufficient amount of chakra can spawn an army of 100.000 clones of himself.
- In ROM: Spaceknight, Rom's preferred weapon, The Neutralizer, banishes his enemies into Limbo. Thus some Dire Wraiths stole the gun, and later captured Rom, in the hopes of finding a means of returning the many Dire Wraiths he banished and thus create an big renewal of their forces.
- Lord of the Rings: In a variation on this trope Aragorn gains control of one of these in both the film and the book The Return of the King and uses it to save Minas Tirith. Different from most examples in that they retained their sapience.
- The Mummy Trilogy:
- In the second movie the mummy returns and attempts to gain control of the Army of Anubis. Cutting off their heads is the only way to kill them, not that it helps since more will show up anyway. They can only be sealed away, not destroyed.
- The Dragon Emperor's Army in the third movie, although the heroes get access to another Sealed Army in a Can in the form of his many dead slaves. They aren't exactly superior combatants, but they hold their own.
- The Golden Army from Hellboy II. An army of 4900 (More accurately, 70 times 70 soldiers) invincible, untireable, clockwork warriors, to be precise. They're controlled by a MacGuffin that was split into three pieces to prevent it from ever being used again.
- The buried alien army in The War of the Worlds remake.
- The Mahou Sentai Magiranger movie has an evil army that would be unleashed if Groom no Bridon marries someone pure and good, so he kidnaps the red ranger's Love Interest.
- Babes in Toyland (a/k/a March of the Wooden Soldiers) features an army of toy wooden soldiers that were built outside specification (100 wooden soldiers each six feet tall, instead of 600 wooden soldiers each one foot tall). They come in handy defending Toyland from the boogeymen.
- Bane creates a good version of the Sealed Army In A Can in The Dark Knight Rises when he traps almost the entire Gotham Police Department in the sewers.
- In Immortals, Hyperion uses Epirus Bow to unleashed Titans for total destruction.
- One of these were found under the Long Man in Lords and Ladies. They're supposed to wake up in time for some final battle when a wolf eats the sun.
- Interesting Times has Rincewind discover the "real" Red Army, and use it to save the revolutionaries.
- In Making Money, the four Gold Golems comprise one of these. Especially since "gold", in this sense, is a number meaning "one thousand".
- In Fate/Zero, Alexander the Great, A.K.A. Iskander, can summon a regiment of his former army at will as his Noble Phantasm. They all manifest as lesser Heroic Spirits, and some of them are genuine Heroic Spirits as well. He uses it to kill 80 Assassins in approximately an eighth of a second. Later, it's destroyed by Gilgamesh blasting all the soldiers and disrupting it.
- In The Dragon in the Sword, by Michael Moorcock, the Eternal champion manages to get access to one of these, composed of all the heroes throughout eternity that fell. (It's implied that they're ones who tried to stop fighting). Each one is described as being as skilled as Erekose, who is able to take on 6 mooks without too much trouble. They take on the concentrated might of all of Chaos.
- The Horn of Valere from The Wheel of Time. Whoever blows it can summon the Heroes of the Ages to fight for him. Of course, everyone wants it.
- In Robert A Heinlein's The Door Into Summer he mentions in passing that the USA was able to win a war against Russia because of reserve troops kept in suspended animation.
- The good version is found in The Tower of Geburah. Five hundred of the best knights of the realm, awakened and ready to kill the hordes of bad guys.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: seen in season 7 when Buffy & co. have to fight the uber-vamps sealed beneath the Hellmouth.
- Angel: A subversion is used where Eldritch Abomination Illyria attempts to conquer the world by raising her invincible demon army that has waited underground while she was
sealed away dead. However, it has since crumbled to dust due to the passage of time.
- Used a number of times on Doctor Who.
- Played with an interesting twist in Power Rangers Ninja Storm. In the finale, it turns out that, unbeknownst to either the audience or the Rangers, the heroes haven't been killing the Monsters of the Week, they've been sealing them. And the Big Bad was keeping track of the exact number of monsters the can could hold, as when it went one over, it would let them all out at once.
- At any given time the majority of the Wraith are in hibernation, as the human populations they feed on couldn't support all of them at once. However, when those currently awake find out about the 6 billion humans available on Earth they begin waking the rest up.
- The Season 2 finale of Supernatural has an agent of the show's Big Bad open a doorway to Hell and unleashing an army of demons.
- The Bohrok swarms in Bionicle. In a mild subversion of the trope, they didn't follow the commands of those that had released them, but their sole operative (demolishing the island of Mata Nui and everything that gets in their way, then going back to stasis) was put to good use both by the villains and the good guys at different points — first when Makuta Teridax unleashed them to terrorize the Matoran people of Mata Nui, and then when the Matoran released them again to fight against the Makuta's real army.
- Jason was given the task to sow a field with dragon's teeth, which sprouted into a huge, invincible army. However, he defeated them by throwing a stone into the army, causing them all to kill each other in an escalating brawl. There's probably a message in that somewhere.
- The Myrmidons in The Iliad were ants who would turn into warriors and provide Achilles with an invincible army.
- There is a Polish legend that says an entire army of knights is slumbering under the Tatra mountains, and will awaken when Poland is in dire need of them. In some versions of the legend, an old Polish king is slumbering with them.
- The same functional legend for the Irish Fenians, who sleep under certain hills in Ireland.
- The Necrons from Warhammer 40000 are a variation in that they can't be controlled and their only goal is to eradicate all life from the universe. Additionally, unlike most sealed armies they can wake up anytime they want and will voluntarily seal themselves away for centuries at a time to wait for victims to make themselves available.
- Dungeons & Dragons adventure OA6 Ronin Challenge. Underneath the city of Tempat Larang is an army of 500,000 infantry.
- The Spirit Army from Mortal Kombat. Resurrecting it was the villains' plot for Deadly Alliance, and it was completely and totally destroyed in the opening of the following installment, Deception.
- The Chimera from Resistance are a bit of a variation in that they aren't sealed away, the means by which they get more soldiers is.
- In Loom, the Archbishop Mandible has a grand plan to release an army of dead from the afterlife. This turned out to be not such a great idea.
- The Terracotta Army is available as a wonder in Rise of Nations, that grants a bonus of troops (unsealing a platoon?) after a while in the game during the campaign in another territory, and generates one light/modern infantry at regular intervals based on the number of existing infantry when present in a match.
- The second to last scenario of Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath involves activating an army of cyborgs Kane has hidden away, and the last mission involves using said cyborgs to storm a massive GDI Complex.
- The Darkspawn from Dragon Age are another example as they show up every few years and just start killing their way through the kingdom. Turns out that they emerge whenever they manage to corrupt a dragon and stay until said dragon is destroyed. In the meantime they just stay in the Deep Roads fighting the dwarves and rarely going to the surface.
- The Myrkridia, a terrifying race of Always Chaotic Evil humanoid monsters in the universe of Myth and its sequels, were sealed in a small artifact call the Tain. Various plotlines involved Myrkridia getting out of and/or the protagonists (and their armies) being trapped in it.
- In Prince Of Persia The Forgotten Sands, the Prince has an entire Sealed Army in a Can.
- It's heavily implied that this happens to the Iron Legion of Xylvania in Battalion Wars when the Solar Empire uses its super weapon to defeat them.
- Confirmed in the last leg of the game in which you have to fight the ressurected Iron legion with a battalion of somewhat more modern troops
- There's Mr. House's Securitron army hidden in Fortification Hill in Fallout New Vegas, the door to which can only be opened by the thing you were mugged for at the start of the game.
- The Minion Hives in Overlord 1 & 2 have to be recovered to grant the Overlord a replenishing supply of various forces.
- The Terracotta Warriors are, according to legend, one of these.
- The page picture is of a sculpture garden by Antony Gormley, who has this motif among his themes. He's also made a garden of wood and cement blocks shaped like real people (he took their measurements).
- Neo-Nazi movements, and extremist movements in general are the closest real life examples known.
- The Russian Navy is this, sealed away by its lack of any ports that don't freeze over except on the Black Sea where it is bottled up by Istanbul controlling the mouth. As a result several naval powers have had sort of a standing This Means War! on any attempt by Russia to conquer Istanbul, going back several generations.
- Unlike Soldiers themselves, tanks, ships, airplanes, guns, artillery, and everting else you need to arm an army in the modern world can be preserved for decades if not indefinitely. When these munitions become obsolete, Military's will often put them in a something akin to a state of suspended animation for long term preservation in case the latest technological developments actually suck. Similarly, whenever any base that is abandoned is often also specially preserved in case it became useful in the future. They might not be an entire army in can but there are many places in the world that have everything an army needs sealed away.