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Army of The Ages

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Then the Winged Hussars arrived! ... Along with darn near everyone else.

One of the standard uses of Time Travel for an Evil Overlord is to pluck warriors from various wars throughout history and bring them through to the future (the Evil Overlord's present) and assemble them into an unbeatable army. The technique of Time Travel isn't mandatory — even if it's not available, a Necromancer can still make up their own ancient army by use of Animate Dead, or a god of death by enlisting the souls of dead soldiers and warriors.

Occasionally, more heroic entities will use this as a means of recruiting a Time Police force.

When an army is made up solely of recognised historical figures, that's a Historical Domain Crossover. And if a group of dead people are brought together to pass judgement on the living, that's a Jury of the Damned. If an army consists of entirely long dead people, this is Night of the Living Mooks.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Fourth Ninja War arc of Naruto features heavy use of a resurrection jutsu that brings back a wide range of ninja that had been previously killed. Everything from past villains the protagonists had faced, to slain friends and mentors, to legendary ninjas who had been dead for decades.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, the Lifemaker summons all previous generations of Cosmo Entelechia upon his/her resurrection.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers:
    • Their foe Kang once had his own team of elite warriors plucked from different time periods, The Anachronauts.
    • Kang and his counterparts have also employed the Legion of the Unliving, made up of time-plucked characters who are thought dead in the present.
    • A notable example is during Avengers Forever where Kang allies with the Avengers to fight a Army Of the ages sent by his older self Immortus.
  • Commando. In "Warriors in Time", a future devastated by plague and an asteroid impact sees the rise of an Eastern warlord called Khane. When people start resisting him, he discovers an Eastern bloc time machine and uses it to recruit well disciplined and ruthless soldiers from Earth's past like Waffen SS or Soviet security troops. So La Résistance find another time machine in the West and use it to recruit soldiers in the past who've fought for freedom.
  • The Master pulls this trick in "The Time Thief" strip in Doctor Who Annual 1974.
  • In Fables #150, Rose Red summons the Knights of the Endless Table: soldiers from every world, and every time and battle who have one thing in common. They all died while holding out hope.
  • Reinhold Borsten did this in the Hex comic book series. This is how gunslinger Jonah Hex got transported to 2050. One clear example was the group that Jonah Hex once joined (against his will) called Five Warriors From Forever. The team was created by a time-based villain called Lord of Time and consisted of heroes from different historical periods, such as the Viking Prince (who is a viking), Black Pirate (who is, off course, a pirate), Miss Liberty (a vigilante from the American Revolution), and Enemy Ace (a WWI German pilot), and were gifted with various powers that allowed them to beat both the Justice League and the Justice Society
  • The 2008 DC Comics mini-series The War That Time Forgot centered on this, with various characters from DC's war books, including Enemy Ace and Tomahawk, dragged through time and dropped on Dinosaur Island. (The series is in fact named after one of the features from one of those comics that took place on Dinosaur Island.)
  • Wonder Woman (2011): Ares, god of war, is able to call up an army of the shades of soldiers from every past armed conflict on earth. Interestingly, they are specifically those who survived and returned from the war front and lived a full life afterward.
  • Inverted in X-Men, where Fitzroy tries to conquer the present (his past) with future sentinel technology. It finally backfires spectacularly when he opens a portal to a prison riot in the future, bringing in a horde of mutant inmates — Bishop follows.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks has an Animated Armors take on this. In order to fight off a German force that secretly landed in England (the story being set in 1940), witch-in-training Eglantine Price uses a magic formula to animate objects in a museum that's somehow filled with war outfits from 11th century Norman mail armors to 18th century red coats, with medieval plate armors in-between. Said animated outfits seem to be inhabited by the spirits of those who once wore them.
  • Night at the Museum's schtick in a nutshell. Ben Stiller teams up with a ragtag group consisting of an Egyptian Pharaoh named Akmenrah, Theodore Roosevelt, Attila the Hun, Christopher Columbus, Sacajawea, miniature figures of cowboys and Roman soldiers, a T-Rex skeleton, and a group of neanderthals to apprehend the previous night guards of the museum who stole a tablet that once belonged to said Pharaoh and was causing the exhibits to come to life.
    • In the sequel, Stiller leads an army consisting of Amelia Earhart, General Custer (and most of his army), and several returning characters from the first film against Kahmunrah (who claimed to be Akmenrah's older brother) and his own Army Of the ages led by Al Capone, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Ivan the Terrible.
  • The title characters do this to battle Evil in Time Bandits. Too bad he defeats all of them without much trouble.
  • A small scale example occurs during the climax of The Witch Files when Claire and MJ summon the spirits of everyone Jules has killed to attack her. While not quite an army, she has killed four people every seventeen years for more than 300 years, so there are goodly number of spirits bearing her a healthy grudge. The spirits manifest dressed in the style of the era when they were killed, so presumably they are wearing what they were wearing when they died.

  • Change War features a war fought by soldiers recruited from throughout history, but the stories are all told by grunts who have no understanding of the big picture.
  • Neal Asher's book Cowl features a Roman Legionnaire, an assassin from a cyberpunk future and a Neanderthal on the same team.
  • The Dresden Files: In Ghost Story, Harry leads an army of ghostly warriors through the Nevernever to fight a spirit enemy. One memorable scene shows the enemy having set up pillboxes and other defenses. An 18th century grenadier produces a number of black-powder grenades, and then asks a 1920's mobster if he can borrow his Zippo for a bit.
  • In Jeff VanderMeer's novel Finch, the surviving rebels have scattered throughout time and space and were rebuilding their armies with whatever local material is available. When the fungal men Grey Caps finally reveal their purpose in being on Earth, the rebel armies unleash a horde consisting of warriors from the past, present and future.
  • In The Hoplite, a short story by Robert Reed, a "quantum dilator" is used to implant the consciousness of long-dead warriors into newly cloned bodies. The warriors are given a suit of Powered Armor and no oversight when executing missions. The protagonist was a hoplite from Alexander the Great's army and works alongside an SS stormtrooper, a Crusader, a Aztek warrior, and a legionnaire. However, a civilian casts doubt on them being actual warriors from the past, claiming the "quantum dilator" is a buzzword and that they're just brainwashed.
  • Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle): Hell employs a defensive force staffed by the souls of the damned, who are drawn from the breadth of history. A number of these figures, wearing uniforms and holding tools and weapons that Allen does not recognize, are implied to originate from future eras — time is fluid in Hell, and Allen does not know for certain how long he was trapped unfeeling in his jar.
    • The violent damned in Phlegethon are guarded by soldiers from both sides of the Revolutionary, Civil and World Wars, Britons warriors in woad and Roman legionnaires in armor, tribal warriors in fur and Greek hoplites, guarding their posts with everything from throwing sticks and slings to spears, bows, crossbows, pistols and automatic rifles. These are noted to be people who in life did violence for what they felt were higher causes and enjoyed their bloody work; in Hell, they enjoy it still, and do not seek to escape.
    • A variant. The Infernal Bureaucracy is staffed by a motley assortment of bureaucrats, pencil-pushers and officials from across human history. In the halls of Dis, Allen comes across modern-day businessmen and postal workers, Chinese mandarins, Dickensian clerks, Roman officials, and a few figures apparently from future eras. The most revered civil servant in the lot is Himuralibima, Hammurabi's secretary, who invented record-keeping.
  • Edward Eager's Knight's Castle has a variation: the protagonists, four children, have been shrunk to a tiny size and the world of their toy knight figurines has come alive. They win the day in the end by bringing in one child's collection of toy soldiers, which includes soldiers from several different historical wars.
  • A variation in the Legacy of the Aldenata series where alien technology is used to rejuvinate elderly combat veterans so they can be soldiers in the galactic war. In Watch on the Rhine this includes former members of the Waffen SS.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • In a non time travel-related example, the fortress of the Greek god Hades is guarded by dead soldiers from all of history: skeletal Roman legionnaires with spears are joined by undead US Marines with assault rifles.
    • Nico De Angelo shows the ability to summon an army of the dead from different periods in history. Roman troops are summoned in "The House of Hades" to defeat monsters.
  • Nearly any military force in the Riverworld books is this trope, by nature of the series.
  • The armies of Shadow London in "Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch". The Great Enchanter has all the mythical Barbarians at the Gate: "Vikings, French infantry, Roman legionnaires, ragged cavaliers, fire-spreaders, shaggy Anglo-Saxons, Martian squid-vampires, rowdies from the country and Prussian Uhlans". The good guys have "redcoats with muskets, knights in armour, tommies in tin hats, roundheads and cavaliers shoulder to shoulder, bloods and blades, pearly kings and queens, costers, tarts, loafers, brawlers, football fanatics with scarves and rattles, the haut ton and the demi-monde, air-raid wardens, firemen, peelers, bobbies, Bow Street Runners, Chelsea pensioners, dandies, strollers and — yes! — Dick Whittington's Cat."
  • The Tamuli has the bad guys doing this. But it's less effective than most examples as the Army of the Ages are usually bronze age soldiers who are up against knights in full plate; the characters lampshade this, noting how much military technology, tactics, and techniques have improved and how ineffective this makes the ancient armies. Their other disadvantage is that they're connected to their leader and vanish if he's taken out.
  • The Horn of Valere in The Wheel of Time summons the spirits of ancient heroes bound to the Horn when blown.
  • Several of the short stories of Yoon Ha Lee mention an army assembled from throughout time to fight a war to hold back entropy at the end of time. Subverted with the protagonist of Blue Ink who is recruited because all the veteran soldiers have been killed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The War Lord does this in the serial "The War Games".
    • In "Enlightenment" the Eternals have abducted various naval crews from Earth history to participate in their race.
    • In "The Five Doctors" Borusa uses a time scoop to bring various Doctors Who, companions and recurring villains to do battle in the Death Zone.
    • In "A Good Man Goes to War", the Doctor himself does this. He recruits the space-spitfires from Churchill's England, space pirates, a Sontaran nurse, a lesbian Victorian detective Silurian, her girlfriend Jenny, and an entire army of Silurians. Word of God says that he wanted the immortal Captain Jack Harkness by his side as well, but the actor was busy making Torchwood: Miracle Day.
    • And the episode "Asylum of the Daleks" gives us an army of every Dalek in the Doctor Who series... or at least that's what the publicity said; in the actual episode, the main threat is an army of Russell T Davies-era Daleks gone mad, with blink-and-you'll-miss-them background cameos from classic series Dalek models. Only the RTD Daleks do something meaningful to the plot.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood: In "The Legion", Prince John vows to kill Robin once and for all. He trades one year of his life to the sorceress Mortiana so that she may bring back to life three of Alexander the Great's dead warriors.
  • Red Dwarf has a non-time-travel related example in "Meltdown", featuring two opposing armies of sentient waxworks including Caligula, Mussolini, Hitler, Gandhi and Lincoln.
  • Star Trek: Voyager does a scaled down version of this when the ship is broken into multiple time frames. In order to remove Seska and the Kazon from engineering (it being the time they took over the ship in that section), Chakotay recruits Icheb and Naomi from the future, Torres and some Maquis from the day they arrived in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway and Kim from before the mission began, Paris from the relative present, and finally the still-Borg Seven of Nine.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The basic premise of the game is that you, the player, are taking the role of a Planeswalker, and the cards you play represent actual creatures, spells and locations your are summoning or casting in a duel with another Planeswalker. Depending on which cards from which sets end up used in a given game, the "summoned" beings can very well originate from any of dozens of planes and anywhen from a timeline of four and a half millennia.
  • Scion:
    • The Einherjar warriors that show up in modern times come from the 18th century through the mid-1970s, outfitted in whatever gear they had on them when they "died".
    • The Anauša, the Persian Immortals, are similar, but draw from a wider timespan. Their members can come from any royal guard or army that took their name and associated themselves with their reputation, ranging from the classical-era originals to the Iranian Imperial Guard.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: La Capitan's crew of temporal buccaneers, brought together aboard her timeship from across time and space, includes a Rōnin, a Viking, a French Musketeer, an acrobat, a World War One Flying Ace, a Spanish cavalryman, and a Mongolian archer, all of them wielding an Enhanced Archaic Weapon.
  • Time Tripper allows you to play a Time Tripper, who goes forward and backward in time to recruit soldiers as allies.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Invoked. Although not actually historical, most regiments of the Imperial Guard or Space Marine chapters take cues from historical armies.
    • With the Imperial Guard, for example you can field a mix of Vietnam commando equivalents (Catachan Devils) and Tzarist Russian lookalikes (Vostroyan Firstborn) alongside Lord Commander Solar Macharius, or put the Spanish Inquisition (Imperial Inquisition) in charge of your platoon of red coat pith helmet-wearing Brits (Praetorians).
    • Space Marines are a more interesting case. You can't technically field different chapters together, but the Deathwatch is a group made up of different Astartes Chapters working under the Ordo Xenos where you can. An example 10-man kill-team can be made up of a: Mongolnote , Vikingnote , Spartannote , Scottish Highlandernote , Greco-Romannote , Prussian Junkernote , Teutonic Knightnote , Wild Samoannote , Native Americannote  and a Nazinote .
  • Wargames Atlantic's "Death Fields" miniatures line (with a respective game rule set still on the works) involves human armies abducted from Earth by aliens at regular intervals and placed on a deadly war game (and also used as mercenaries). By the time the game's "modern day" happens, the available armies are composed of descendants of armies of Napoleonic War France, Vikings, World War I British, 22nd-Century United States Marines and German Bundeswehr, and a whole lot of cannon fodder prisoners.

    Video Games 
  • Caveman2Cosmos, a total overhaul mod for Civilization IV, eventually ends up with very sci-fi future technology, including time travel. One of the best recruitment policies that can be set up is about plucking from throughout time and space specimens, warriors and soldiers who would otherwise die in combat, uplift them to current technological level and use them for your army. Each unit constructed under this policy starts with absolutely ludicrous amount of experience, allowing it to instantly pick a dozen or so upgrades, regardless of any other factors.
  • Darkest of Days: The organization that recruits you out of the American Civil War does most of its recruitment by plucking skilled soldiers out of various wars throughout history, namely people who were considered "missing in action" anyway.
  • Death Stranding: Clifford Unger is assisted by skeleton soldiers from various 20th century conflicts, namely the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, in his boss fights. Said soldiers will fight alongside him and his personal detail, who hail from a modern battlefield.
  • Empire Earth:
    • Almost inevitable in games that span a few epochs, as not every unit can be upgraded into a modern counterpart (e.g. archers and cavalry).
      • It's possible to build Fortresses to contain these units and remove them from the cap, but the AI never does so, leading to futuristic bombers and robots fighting alongside alongside barbarians and horsemen.
      • Upgrading a unit to the next epoch is done on an individual basis, so skipping a few levels may lead to musketeers being produced at the same time as anti-air missile infantry, a top-of-the-line nuclear submarine being escorted by wooden sailing ships, or a nuclear bomber being shot down by a swarm of biplanes.
    • Averted for the most part in the second game, where all units automatically evolve (except unique units), so archers become mortars, spearmen become machine gunners, etc.
      • In addition, it's now impossible to keep converted enemy units from a different era as they're automatically converted into the new owner's civilization equivalent (although cavalry and tanks are instead bumped up/down to the Industrial / WWI equivalent instead), leading to some hilarity when an Asian swordsman suddenly turns into an African soldier with an assault rifle.
      • Unique units last for five epochs, being impossibly advanced for the first two or three (the Japanese have samurai in prehistory and a Zero in WW1; the French have catapults and a Rafale jet fighter as well as Napoleonic cavalry in the Middle Ages), then usually obsolete by the end.
  • Fallout 3: The expansion "Mothership Zeta" has you team up with several cryogenically-preserved warriors on the alien spaceship: a military doctor from Operation Anchorage, a contemporary post-apocalyptic slaver, a wild west cowboy, and a samurai. And a little girl from during the Great War. You also would've had an astronaut, but he didn't survive the thawing process.
  • Hyrule Warriors: Fighters on both sides are recruited from notable eras of Hyrule's history, namely the Sky Era, the Era of the Hero of Time, and the Era of Twilight. Hyrule Warriors Legends adds heroes from the Era of the Great Sea. This last one is notable as it's from a different timeline then the previously established Era of Twilight, happening at roughly the same point in time.
  • Madden NFL included a sports version of the trope with "historic" rosters for each team with the best players in franchise history up to that point represented. It was quite satisfying to roll over the competition with a team of every elite legend from the team's history, which could stretch back for nearly a century in the cases of the older franchises. However, as their likeness was being used without compensation, some of these former players sued and EA stopped including these teams around 2008-09.

  • Chitra: When the eponymous Chitra completes the quests assigned to her by the Gods of the RPG Mechanics 'Verse she's been isekai'd into, she is rewarded with handsome male supporters randomly dispensed from a divine gacha system. The high level drops grant her world-renowned warriors, mages, or strategists from history, and the average drops result in average soldiers and tradespeople from the past. But "the past" was a time when magic was better understood and more commonly deployed in all facets of life, not just warfare. The "average" archer or architect or farmer from the past was augmented with enhanced speed, stamina, and minor magical abilities that allowed them to heal more quickly from injuries, build faster, or produce more crops.
  • In one Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip, Ares and Athena decide to see who can create the better army. Ares creates one of these, but is slaughtered to the last by Athena's army of the ones who fear death the least: unpromotable retail workers.

    Web Original 
  • Spoofed in an art piece depicting a battle between two necromancers. One, specializing in human remains, commands the walking corpses of a Roman legionary, a Continental Army rifleman, a Viking, a medieval French knight, and a samurai. The other, a "zoo-mancer", leads the animated remains of a spinosaur, a mammoth, a giant carnosaur, a tyrannosaur, a gliptodont, and a saber-toothed cat, with a bandicoot as a mascot.

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In Ego Trip, Dexter teams up with three of his future selves to fight a future version of Mandark, who in turn summons the appropriate analogues of himself (including the Brain in a Jar from the oldest Dexter's time).
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy Turner assembles an army of Crimson Chins, each with their own Era-Specific Personality.
  • The Simpsons: In one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, Bart uses a DeLorean time machine and changes history so Marge marries Artie instead of Homer, and they're rich. Homer tries to counter it with an army of Homers across history. They all get easily beaten up by Bart and Artie.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: When Jack Spicer gets his hands on the time-travel Shen Gong Wu Sands of Time, his plan is to assemble a team of history's villains; Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Billy the Kid, his first grade teacher Mrs. Cornhaven, and his future self from the very distant future. It ultimately fails when Omi uses the Sands of Time to bring his own future self to the present.