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Character-Magnetic Team

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Some groups or teams act as a character magnet. The group keeps on attracting new members and/or close allies. In Shōnen anime, especially, a former villain of the Worthy Opponent class tends to become a new teammate.

This is often used near the beginning of a series to build the cast. When done well, this makes a character's entrance more interesting. When done poorly, it is an anvilicious way of adding a new character. If it's done often, it will ensure that your series will have a large cast.

Sometimes, this happens to replace other characters in series with high turnover. Usually there's a Magnetic Hero at the center of the team, though other characters around him will also exert "pull" to attract newcomers.

This is the logical extension of the Debut Queue. Compare Hitchhiker Heroes, where the team is attracted to the new members. See also You ALL Share My Story for a similar phenomenon.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi is perhaps the crowned king of this trope.
    • At the beginning of the story, it's only Negi. Asuna and Konoka are added to his group fairly quickly. The Kyoto arc adds Setsuna, Nodoka, and Asakura to the main group, while also introducing Yue, Paru, Ku Fei and Kaede. In the festival arc, Yue, Paru, Ku Fei and Kaede, along with Chisame and Kotaro. The Magic World arc adds Chachamaru as well as five ostensibly "normal" girls - Natsumi, Akira, Ako, Makie, and Yuuna.
    • It also seems his father's group the Ala Rubra was something of this: Rakan ended up joining after being defeated by Nagi.
  • YuYu Hakusho used the first arc of its plot solely to do this.
    • Even after that, quite a few of the foes Yusuke and co. came across would end up joining the group as allies (if not full-time Supporting players). Notably, 6 characters that Team Urameshi beat in the Dark Tournament Saga ended up making return appearances in the final saga to receive training from Genkai. The Chapter Black Saga also had Genkai train 3 people just to test Yusuke's group, and they would all end up helping the heroes for the rest of the arc's run. Then there's also Seaman, who joins them after Kuwabara convinces him to perform a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Bleach: Ichigo's group acts as this right the way through the manga. If characters aren't drawn fully into the group, they at least become recurring friends and allies of the group.
    • Taken further after the Soul Society arc, following which Ichigo's group is unofficially allied with the entire Gotei 13, many of whom become recurring characters.
  • Dragon Ball is a frequent flyer of this trope, bringing in characters in this manner all throughout the first series and through Dragon Ball Z.
  • ''Pokémon: The Series, by its nature, is supposed to attract more and more "characters" over time. They do, however, get Put on a Bus or eliminated some way more frequently than not. This due to only six being allowed on a trainer's team at any one time. Additionally, everyone except Pikachu gets sent back to Professor Oak at the end of each series as the franchise makes way for the newest generation's Pokemon by putting the previous generation's on a bus.
  • In Get Backers, the protagonists' villains also often return as allies. As a result, the one arc to feature a large cast is an almost all-villain team.
    • In a tolerable way, as most of the "villains" are jobbers trying to get paid, just like the heroes. In that environment, the guy you were fighting last week might be a coworker this week.
  • This occurs gradually over the course of the first half of Cowboy Bebop, much to the main character's chagrin.
  • Rurouni Kenshin does this profusely (even if the characters aren't immediately allies afterwards).
  • This happens in Maria Watches Over Us, although it's not as bad as it could have been, since the basic team is rather picky about the persons they associate with.
  • Half of the plot of One Piece is Luffy's search for crew members for his ship.
  • The majority of the cast of Ranma ˝ came on like this. Especially the shonen trope of being enemies first.
    • Although most of them were also enemies after, at least to someone. Mostly Ranma's and Akane's suitors are allies to their respective loves, and bitter enemies to any of their rivals.
  • Ditto for Lyrical Nanoha. This was more or less the only way they added cast members up until StrikerS, and they were still doing it then, also. They don't call it "befriending" for nothing.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is inexplicably able to call upon former foes (the crazier ones, at least) to aid him in battle, or at least act as cannon fodder.
  • Rave Master starts adding new members in the second volume, and finishes up it accumilation of team mates in volume 28. Characters range anywhere from having been met on the street to being parts of a Quirky Miniboss Squad.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma and Index. Justified in that the former has an unusual power, and the latter is sought after for her information (and thus protected) by a large part of the world. It eventually reaches the point of being recognized in-universe as the so-called "Kamijou Faction". However, it's far from unified - most members aren't aware that the rest exist (in fact, Touma himself doesn't remember some of them).
    • Later on, the Kamisato Faction is introduced, centered around Kakeru Kamisato. It consists of him and over one hundred girls who fell in love with him after he helped them.
  • Code:Breaker: Similar to the To Aru example, Sakura and Ogami are unique, as one is a "Rare-Kind", while the other has the most powerful Code ability.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has this constantly due to The Power of Friendship and Defeat Means Friendship being prominent in the series. Most of the magnetized heroes tend to go their own way after each arc, keeping the team from getting overwhelmed, although they often pop up again.
    Duelist Kingdom: Mai, Bakura, Mokuba, and in some ways Kaiba
    Virtual Arc (Simlow): Mai, Mokuba, and Kaiba
    Battle City/Battle City Finals: Duke, Serenity, and Ishizu, along with Mai, Mokuba, and Kaiba again
    Waking the Dragons: Rebecca, Professor Hawkins, along with Duke, Mokuba, and Kaiba
    KC Grand Championship: Rebecca, Solomon Muto, Professor Hawkins, and Duke
    Memory World: Mana, Mahad, and the rest of the Pharaoh's court.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL continues this, with Yuma starting out with only two friends and ending up with 9-12 friends, depending on how you count.
  • The Morioh gang in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. They're the switcharoo type. The same two or three characters are usually always involved, but they're helped each time by different companions.
  • In Endride, the Rebel Leader Demetrio has a gift for attracting characters to his cause. When faced with a Sadistic Choice between his life in exchange for a major ally for the cause and the freedom of his True Companions, or his freedom but their deaths, the other Ignauts argue that although they've banded together for a greater purpose, without him they have no hope of ever achieving it.

    Comic Books 
  • The X-Men and their affiliates. The sole criteria for being affiliated with the team is that you have to either be a Mutant, or involved in mutant politics in some way or other (a sympathetic human, an ex-mutant, a genetic experiment from another dimension who happened to get saved by mutants, etc). Since about 10% of the Marvel Universe's population used to be mutants at one point, this meant a great deal of snowballing, and even after the Decimation event had over 90% of that population Brought Down to Normal, the X-Books' cast is still larger than almost all of Marvel's other properties, put together.
  • The band of survivors in The Walking Dead runs into new people regularly, most of whom end up sticking around. This is necessary, of course, because established characters die horribly at about the same rate as new ones join.
  • One of the common criticisms of Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers run is the frequency with which characters join the team only to proceed to stand around in the background with nothing to do except interject an occasional one-liner or get punched in one panel of a team fight while the lead characters do all the heavy lifting - if they even appear in the book at all (Daredevil at one point joined the team then didn't appear again for several issues).
    • Even before Bendis's run on Avengers, they had one of the largest lineups in Marvel. At one point, before the X-Men decided that ALL good guy mutants were X-Men, the Avengers' roster was larger than nearly all other Marvel hero teams, combined.

  • Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace starts with just the two Jedi. While they join Queen Amidala's team by design, they also accidentally acquire first Jar Jar and later Anakin along their journey. While Qui-Gon is happy to accept everyone, Obi-Wan is more reluctant.
    Obi-Wan: Why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic lifeform?
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin finds Achoo, then Blinkin, then adds Little John, Will, and the rest of the Merry Men (and Marian, Broomhilde, and Rabbi Tuckman) as he goes along.

  • The rabbits in Richard Adams' Watership Down start out as a small group and add several other characters to their number over the course of the book.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Frodo and Sam set out from the Shire alone, but collect Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, Boromir and Legolas in the formation of the titular fellowship before they part ways at the end of the book. And then, when they are split up, accrue everything from a Token Evil Teammate to walking trees to the Affirmative Action Girl.
  • Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series frequently features a villain from the preceding book as an ally, resulting in the cast growing in almost all of its earlier books. Most of Skeeve's allies have wanted him dead at some point...
    • Which is subverted in Little Myth Marker, when Skeeve refuses to let the Big Bad of the book join the group because he won't associate with someone who thinks being The Mole for hire is an acceptable way to make a living.
  • The Tanith First-And-Only Regiment of Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts not only has twice taken on a great deal of new blood to replace losses they've suffered, but Gaunt himself also tends to attract any individuals he encounters to join up: be it a grouchy priest, an albino doctor, a savage tribal, or great many fellow commissars, if a character helps him out in a book in any significant way, they'll assuredly have joined the Regiment in full by the next book.
  • Rogue and Wraith squadrons in the Star Wars: X-Wing novels both function this way, with pilots from lesser squadrons jockeying for positions in the group. Rogue is officially the "top gun" fighter squadron of the entire New Republic fleet, so this makes plenty of sense. Wraith... Not so much, but they do at least have a famous commander and a rep for getting stuff done (and blowing stuff up). Plenty of turnover in both groups, too.
  • In The Belgariad, this happens twice. The first time, it was done intentionally by Belgarath to "fulfill the prophecy". In The Mallorean the trope is followed correctly, even if Prophecy itself has to intervene at times.
  • The Ankh-Morpork City Watch in the Discworld novels. Initially it comprises four members: Vimes, Nobby, Colon and Carrot. In their second appearance they add Angua and Detritus. From then on new members are mentioned every book, until the Watch had expanded to the point where Sir Terry didn't need to say "X was a new recruit"; it was acceptable there were watchmen who we simply hadn't met before because of the size of the organisation.

    Live Action TV 
  • Every single series of Power Rangers has the Five-Man Band joined by at least one Sixth Ranger. Some recent series start with only a Power Trio, and occasionally don't stop at six, allowing two to sometimes four Sixth Rangers. Of course, the whole reason to do this is to have more people to make action figures of.
    • Power Rangers Jungle Fury began looking like it would be a particularly bad example, as the toy line added three Rangers (based on secondary mecha from Gekiranger) to the existing five, and it was confirmed they'd appear on the show. It ultimately turned out that these three weren't new characters, but rather spiritual manifestations that the Power Trio or their respective mentors could summon into battle.
    • Power Rangers RPM narrowly avoided being an even worse example; the original Go-Onger expanded from three to five to seven Rangers, and the toy line added three more on top of that for a total of ten. Thankfully, these three stayed as toys and never appeared on the show.
  • Doctor Who gains new companions and loses old ones constantly, more so in the original series than the new one.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Most notably happens in season seven, where new potential slayers are collected every episode, along with characters like Andrew and Wood, and old recurring characters like Faith coming back.
    • Angel does that, too, to a smaller extent. At the beginning of the first season, there were three main characters with no real minor or reoccurring characters yet. By the end of the fifth, there were eight (if you count Fred and Illyria separately), as well as two dead main characters, two or three non-main characters working with the team (depending on when you count it), Conner, and more minor reoccurring characters like Knox, Nina, Anne, Conner's "parents", and a few other random Wolfram and Hart employees. The cast never got as big as Buffy's, though.
    • Both shows are notable in that they need to keep picking up new team members because old ones have a nasty habit of dying, being put out of commission or running away to the spinoff.
  • ER it is always gaining new members, if only to replace old ones. It had 100% turnover over 10 seasons—done gradually.
  • The O.C. has this thing going on where nearly every new character, even when they start out as antagonists, gets assimilated into the Cohen clan sooner or later.
  • The duo of Merlin and Arthur from Merlin have steadily accumulated a team of knights, most of which turn up in the two-part finale of the third season to help Arthur win back Camelot.
  • House of Anubis- Sibuna seems to grow larger each season, either by gaining new allies or actual members. What started out as a Power Trio became a Five-Man Band, and by The Touchstone of Ra, everyone in the house had been involved at some point in Sibuna. Except Mick.
  • Despite the astronomically high death rate of their allies, Sam and Dean of Supernatural can usually convince anybody who actually knows about the supernatural to work with them, sometimes including the "bad guys."


    Tabletop Games 
  • Common in Tabletop Games. When a player's character dies but he/she does not wish to leave the game, the group will traditionally encounter another adventurously-minded type in short order by complete coincidence.

    Video Games 
  • A common feature in RPGs, where the player starts out in control of one character but has a veritable army by the time they face the Big Bad.
    • Probably two of the most striking examples of this in RPGs are Chrono Cross, which has 45 characters total, and the Suikoden series, which has 108 (although, to be fair, the vast majority of the 108 are minor characters). Also notable are the Shin Megami Tensei series, while having a reasonably small amount of characters, have hundreds upon hundreds of Mons that may be convinced to ally with the player.
    • Heroes in SaGa Frontier can just about always run into somebody willing to join them for little reason than their own boredom. But really, being that the multiverse has a population of about 100, it's a nice thought that an actual statistically significant number of people are willing to get off their duffs and help save the world. Not quite the usual "5 plucky youths vs. the world while everyone else is busy dying in droves".
    • In Fire Emblem, if there's a named character on the field, good odds point to that character either joining you or being the boss of the level. In Path of Radiance, many characters decide to join your army for the flimsiest of reasons regardless of any protestations from your characters.
      • Lampshaded in Radiant Dawn when Oliver, a villain from Path of Radiance appears again as a boss, joins when he sees a beautiful heron in your party. If you initiate a talk between him and Ike, Ike will ask him to please rejoin the enemy.
      • Sacred Stones features two paths, during which you recruit every possible character, despite said paths taking place simultaneously on opposite sides of the continent, with the path you don't choose having a Hand Wave explantion as having had a small escort, which you never see when the paths intersect later, leaving you to presume they all died.
  • The player character in Mass Effect could be considered an almost literal interpretation of this trope, seeing as, in the space between Shepard's death and subsequent return, the group you had collected in your first adventure are scattered to the four winds, no longer held together by their magnet.
    • When Shepard asks Joker about the old crew, he tells him/her just as much.
    • The sequel pretty much plays it straight. Two of the characters join without hesitation once cleared of other duties, and everyone else from shady figures to wanted fugitives that actively despise the organisation you're working for and still sign up with no hesitation.
  • Dwarf Fortress has both the titular mode, which will constantly attract new migrants as it grows, and the Adventure mode, where you can recruit more members in any town to replace those that fell to giant spiders.
    • And trolls. And troglodytes.
  • Deconstructed in both Planescape: Torment and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The respective Player Character's magnetism is revealed to not be just an Acceptable Break from Reality, but an actual ability to influence others to join them. In The Sith Lords, it's a one-of-a-kind Force power that the protagonist uses unconsciously. In Planescape, the Mark of Torment tattooed on the Nameless One's left shoulder is a magical rune that draws tormented individuals to him. That's how he always manages to assemble a group of companions for his journeys— if you have a Dark and Troubled Past, you'll feel compelled to help him, even if it leads to your death.
  • Ramza's party from Final Fantasy Tactics is a straight example. At the end of the game you can have a whole squad of recruited allies.

  • Sluggy Freelance sorta does this, as the strip started with just two characters but has added dozens to the main cast as time went on. However, since characters tend to leave just as often as they come in, the cast size at any one time is usually no more than six people.
  • El Goonish Shive, periodically adds supporting characters to the list of close allies of one or more members of the main eight characters either by doing so soon after they debut or by fleshing out former minor characters.
  • Battle Kreaturez: The Wyldcard team starts out with just four members in the early chapters, but three more are added over time.
  • Tower of God has a large cast, and it seems like a majority of them join Bam's team at some point, and usually stay allies afterwards.

    Web Original 
  • Team Kimba is still doing this in the Whateley Universe. First it was Chaka, Fey, Tennyo, Generator and Shroud, Phase, and Lancer. Then they pulled in Carmilla, then Bladedancer. Then Carmilla and Bladedancer pulled in more, to the point that both have been split off with their own teams. Now there's Vamp and the Crimson Comet.
  • Fallout Is Dragons has the Dragon Mawlers Incorperated, much to the frustration of the game master.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Aang, Katara, and Sokka first season. By the end of the series they have acquired Toph, Zuko, Suki, and several other characters they had previously encountered.
    • The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, is even more extreme, with the starting four (Korra, Asami, Mako and Bolin) expanding to include Tenzin, all three of his kids and both of his siblings, Varrick, Jhu Li, Toph, Lin, and Opal Beifong, and the airbender Kai.