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Flaunting Your Fleets

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The US Navy shows off, with three carrier battle groups and a friend from the Air Force.note 

"Muhahaha... You fools must all have a death wish?! Witness this invincible battleship, built by the hands of a genius! Its power... unmatched throughout the universe!"
Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, Sonic Heroes

When you intend to impress (whether some characters by some other character, or your audience as the author), if it is a military or some other powerful organization, the display of power is usually based upon personnel's numbers. This is the basis of Million Mook March.

Million Mook March tends to concern infantry. However, as it happens, such a display is not restricted to footsoldiers. If it is some kind of fleet you want to show, you can just as much make them run in squadrons, and the additional benefit is that in opposition to common soldiers, even a lone ship is likely to impress, either with her guns, or herself.

Thus, Flaunting Your Fleets is a scene made of exceptional display of power, usually (though not a necessity) military, inducing Squee in any closet militarist, often in form of squadrons upon squadrons, on the march or standing down, of starships, seaships, airships, airplanes or whatever else rocks your boat.

While Million Mook March is often invoked by characters in story, it is more likely for Flaunting Your Fleets to be directed straight towards the viewer. Works both in picture and in writing. In the former, it often uses a camera trick where the camera's changing field gradually shows more and more items (see Troy in the Film examples section). In the latter, it tends to assume the form of Description Porn, often together with a Long List of unit numbers and names and giving descriptions of individual vessels or ship types, thus blurring the division between straight description of the fleet as whole and Technology Porn of its constituents (see The Iliad, on which Troy was based).

A close cousin to Technology Porn and Gun Porn, and Million Mook March may be considered a subtrope. Gunboat Diplomacy seeks to invoke this consciously.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Federation Fleet Review is a major plot point in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. Namely, that it serves as a big, juicy target for Neo-Zeon terrorists who have recently stolen a nuke.
  • Robotech has this in all three of its constituent showsnote : for example, here starting at 0:24.
  • The first actual scene of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes main series after the opening narration depicts the 20,000-strong Galactic Empire fleet under the command of Reinhard von Lohengramm. This was later matched by a similar close-up on the fleets of his opponent, the Free Planets Alliance.
  • In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the Gamilas Empire holds a Fleet Review at a Portal Network hub after Desler's presumed death, which Field Marshall Zoellick uses as a platform to seize power for himself. The Yamato coincidentally enters the hub en route to the Large Magellanic Cloud and explosions ensue.
    • This comes back to bite the Gamilas big time especially funny since Desler allowed it to happen to ferret out the conspirators against him: The Yamato manages to catch the last portal out before the hub blows up. This leaves most of Gamilas vast fleet to crawl back home without the portals... and unable to catch up to the Yamato before it reaches their capital planet.
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Earth's Wave-Motion Fleet that they built using a Dimensional Time Fault to kit out Earth with tens of thousands of both Andromeda-Class and Dreadnought-Class Vessels all equipped with Wave-Motion Guns in just a few days time. The pure awesome sight of thousands and thousands of UNCF Ships warping in around Saturn to do battle against the invading Gatlantis Armada is a sight to behold; for once Gatlantis is now the ones that are Outnumbered and Outgunned.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fractured (SovereignGFC), a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, the Trans-Galactic Republic engages in this. After batarians destroy a ship that is accidentally shot to a neighboring galaxy (where Mass Effect takes place), the response is to send a Star Dreadnaught and thirty-six escorts (of the type of ship that was destroyed). Though the Trans-Galactic Republic is generally peaceful at this point, the implication is "If you do that again, we will end you."note 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Troy, there is a close-up of a single ship... And then, the camera goes up, revealing hundreds of ships, stretching far to the horizon.
  • The Star Wars films feature several such scenes.
    • In The Phantom Menace, as the Trade Federation lands on Naboo (combined with droids in a Million Mook March).
    • In Attack of the Clones, during the display of Clones at the end, we see a bunch of star destroyers ready to take off in the background.
    • Right in the opening moments of Revenge of the Sith, we see not one but two sides flaunting their numbers (with a little scuffle in the middle).
    • In A New Hope, as the Rebel X-Wings take off to attack the Death Star.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, just before the attack on Hoth (accompanied, of course, with the first appearance of the Imperial March).
    • In Return of the Jedi, when Emperor Palpatine arrives on the Death Star II in and their entire TIE fighter complement is deployed on parade outside the docking bay.
  • A trailer for The Last Airbender, doing a trick similar to Troy's aforementioned example.
  • Used as an Oh, Crap! moment for one of the protagonists in Letters from Iwo Jima. After discussing with the others how the Americans will be sending a lot of ships - twenty, maybe thirty - he goes outside and sees the American fleet stretching all the way to the horizon.
  • The Three Musketeers (2011) the end of the movie shows the Duke of Buckingham with a massive fleet of ships and airships headed for France.
  • In The Longest Day the German coast-watchers manning a bunker gaze out into the dim pre-dawn light and see . . . the Normandy Invasion heading right for them, all five thousand ships of it.
  • A little less than halfway through Fury (2014), the soldiers look up as a fleet of bombers fly overhead. It looks like half of the sky is filled with airplanes, the noise of engines is still slightly audible down on the ground, and it's not even presented as being an extraordinary sight or situation. It's a reminder of the enormous scale of the war (as the film otherwise focuses very tightly on the five man crew of a single tank), and it hammers home how absurdly overwhelmed the Germans are at this point in the war when a pitiful handful of five German fighters are shown moving to intercept the hundreds of American fighters and bombers.
  • In Avatar: The Way of Water, the RDA comes back to Pandora with ten Interstellar Vehicles (compared to just one in the first film) and proceeds to obliterate the jungle around the landing sites for miles around.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Occurs in Babylon 5, right after Sheridan liberates Earth from the Clarke regime. After Delenn announces the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Rangers fly their White Stars in formation over Earth Dome, pounding the point home.
    • Major fleet actions, such as the assembly of Babylon 5 vessels attacking the siege line at Proxima, tend to have long, dramatic pans across the massing ships and huge quantities of Starfuries and other fighters. The Battle of Coriana at the end of the Vorlon-Shadow War has at least four - one when the Alliance fleet leaves B5, one each when the Vorlons and Shadows arrive on the scene, and one showing the huge fleet huddling close to White Star One to protect it from the Shadow Planet Killer.
    • The Babylon 5 card game has a military conflict called "show the colours", which is basically a free-for-all for all the players to show off how big and impressive their respective fleets are — the winner gains 2 influence, while the losers lose absolutely nothing. Unlike most military conflicts, no actual hostile actions are taken against other factions and nobody can attack other participants unless they already are at war.
    • There was also the heavily foreshadowed flyby of the Imperial Palace on Centauri Prime.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a few scenes like this, especially in the later seasons when the crew found themselves up against either Klingons (early in season 4), or the combined fleets of the Dominion, Cardasians, and Breen after that. The Federation also had large shows of force, which was very odd as it was lightly implied before had that the Federation did not have thousands of vessels. (For example, the battle at Wolf 359 from TNG only had about 40 ships, and Riker's line at the end of the episode, "The fleet should be back up and running within a year," seems to imply that those 40-odd ships were the MAJORITY of Star Fleet's armada!)
    • It actually implied that Starfleet can produce ~40 ships in less than a year. In-universe, Starfleet decided to Take a Level in Badass after the pounding they took at Wolf 359, so the fleet got bigger. Considering average Federation ship has lifespan of some 80 - 100 years, as evidenced by Miranda and Constitution classes...
    • Another factor beefing up Starfleet's ship count is the fact that the Starfleet Corps of Engineers are an in-universe cross between MacGyver and Memetic Badass. A Vorta (one of the enemy leaders in the series) claims that a Starfleet engineer "can turn rocks into replicators". Between that and the fairly diverse range of ships seen in Federation fleets, it becomes fairly obvious that Starfleet is basically repurposing everything it can get its hands on and sending it into battle.
    • It was obvious before that as Starfleet was set up as science and exploration service, not a military branch. This has lead some fans to conclude that Starfleet Ships might not have the best weapons of any fleet, but the best sensors of any war ship. There is a lot of advantage to seeing an enemy ship before it can see you, to see nothing about using the superior elint game to cause the enemy to miss targets while at the same time find the one area on the ship that the enemy doesn't want to be hit, and striking it with a well placed phaser.
  • Star Trek: Picard features Fleet Formation Mode as a showcase for Starfleet during Frontier Day celebrations. This make it very easy for the Borg to take them all over at once and wreak havoc.
  • Andromeda: Ever wonder why The Commonwealth's warships, specifically High Guard warships, look so sleek and fragile? This is why. The Vedrans built their ships like that just because they can and no one else had the technology to do so, even before The Fall of The Commonwealth.
  • The Man in the High Castle: At the start of season 3, the Japanese increase their military presence in their part of the conquered U.S., leading us to some impressive shots of a Japanese carrier group arriving in San Francisco Bay.

  • Hive Mind (2016): In Hurricane, the Hive sends Amber's unit to the Sea Farm in seven transport aircraft, escorted by four squadrons of twelve fighter aircraft. This is done with two purposes: to show the Sea Farm how seriously the main Hive takes the situation, and to terrify the culprit.
  • In Mission of Honor, Honor shows up in the Haven system with 48 superdreadnoughts, 6 LAC carriers, a dozen battlecruisers, twenty destroyers, a dozen ammunition freighters, and her personal yacht, to negotiate a peace treaty.
    • It happens in the first novel On Basilisk Station after Honor prevents a Havenite ship from alerting its fleet that their plan to seize the Basilisk system had been botched. When the small Havenite fleet assigned to the mission arrives, they find Manticore's entire Home Fleet, the most powerful grouping of warships in that particular region of inhabited space, in the system for "surprise exercises". The visitors decide that their "courtesy visit" should be very brief.
  • The Nature of Predators: The Arxur, a group of predator-evolved Scary Dogmatic Aliens, tend to do this whenever they show up somewhere, almost always bringing enough ships that their enemies are forced to retreat. And the first time that they actually show up with a significant force for them, the observers are shocked into silence by the sheer numbers.
    Comms technician: "Sir, more unknown ships incoming! There’s…"
    Kalsim: "Where from? How many? Speak!"
    Comms technician: "T-thousands. The subspace trails are from all over the place…"
  • The Iliad includes a hour-long-in-reading chapter made solely of the list of how many ships and men every allied Greek kingdom sends to Troy.
  • Older Than Feudalism: This trope is discussed in an ancient Greek (though not as old as the Iliad) poem by Sappho:
    "Some say horsemen, some say warriors,
    Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest
    Vision in this dark world, but I say it's
    What you love. [...]
    And I recall Anaktoria, whose sweet step
    Or that flicker of light on her face,
    I'd rather see than Lydian chariots
    Or the armed ranks of the hoplites."
  • In the Harry Turtledove two book Alternate History series Days of Infamy, Japan takes over the Hawaiian islands instead of just bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Japanese know that the Americans will only focus on regaining Hawaii at first, and the rest of the Japanese Army and Navy can take over the rest of the Pacific unmolested. The first time the Americans attempt to retake Hawaii, they send out a fleet roughly equal in numbers to the Japanese detachment at Hawaii, but it is undone by inexperienced soldiers, faulty armaments and outdated equipment. With the second attempt to retake the islands the Americans take the time to do things right and send an overwhelming force. Japanese pilots defending their hold on the islands see a fleet stretching back as far as they can see to the horizon... and then realize that there are still more ships even further back, giving the pilot seeing this a major Oh, Crap! moment.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, Geary tries to put his ships in as elegant a formation as he can when travelling through spider-wolf space. To be sure, it's no match for the spider-wolves' formation, and he knows it, but he tries.
  • In the Diane Duane Star Trek Expanded Universe novel The Wounded Sky, every ship in the Federation Fleet that can possibly be there turns out en masse to welcome the Enterprise back from its shakedown cruise with the new drive. The vista is described thus:
    The stars were bright about them. And more was bright than the stars.
    "Good Lord," Kirk said, and put the drink down, and stood to watch the screen.
    Enterprise was not alone out there. She had escort. The screen was filled with ships closing in on her... A few of them had already matched velocities and vectors with her, and were riding close around. ...
    He shook his head in wonder.
    God, he thought, it looks like the center-spread holo-foldout in Jane's Fighting Starships.
  • Happens in the final chapter of the Left Behind book Kingdom Come, as The Other Light grows to massive numbers near the end of the Millennium that they start parading themselves and their weapons around.
  • In Jingo, the Ankh-Morpork attempt to do this is pitiful, as there aren't many ships and one is named the Prid of Ankh-Morpork, but the Klatchian attempt as noted by Colon and Nobby is truly impressive.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Clan Snow Raven likes this trope, in part because at the end of the Jihad Era (3080 onward), they're the only faction in the game that still has enough warships to make an actual fleet and showing it off is a great way to convince everyone else not to mess with them.
  • England in Diplomacy will tend towards having many fleets in order to dominate the waters of the northwestern half of the board. This is pretty much a necessity in order for England to grow since it has an Island Base of Great Britain to start with — an England that doesn't rule the Atlantic waves is probably going to find itself taken out by France, Germany, and/or Russia. To a lesser extent Italy and Turkey tend to do something similar in the Mediterranean due to their positions bordering more water spaces.

  • The song Please Hello from Pacific Overtures is made of this (though the ships are offstage). As the various representatives greet the Japanese representative and issue their varrying demands/suggestions they all end exactly the same way; with a rolling cannonade from their ships.

    Video Games 
  • The Dark Side ending of Knights of the Old Republic features one of these shots. Bonus points for that not even being the massed Sith fleet, it's just what's currently rolling off the assembly line.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has a couple of impressive cinematic trailers featuring the Army of the Empire of the Rising Sun.
  • In Phantasy Star Universe's first installment, the Alliance Military Forces' starships do this in celebration of the Tripartite Alliance centennial, launching fireworks over the GUARDIANS colony with their main guns. Then the SEED invasion begins, destroying many of those ships on display.
  • In Infinite Space. Elgava dispatches five thousand ships to impress the approaching Lugovalians, but fail because the other fleet had over a hundred thousand ships. Later in the game, Libertas holds a fleet review as part of maneuvering to consolidate control over the Galactic Federation.
  • In Mass Effect 3 when the united fleets of the Alliance, Turians and whatever else Shepard has gathered take the fight back to Earth. Subverted in that even this is nothing more than a delaying action for Shepard to activate the Crucible, as there is no way to defeat the Reapers using conventional means.
  • Homeworld's in-engine cutscenes exemplify this trope. Big capital fleets squaring off set to dramatic music and voice-over basically sets up half the key missions.
  • X3: Reunion ends with a AGI Task Force fleet streaming through the newly built jump gate in Heretics End, reuniting Earth to the X-Universe. Said fleet crushes a Kha'ak invasion in mere minutes with their superior technology - then the camera goes through the wormhole to Earth, showing the massive Torus Aeternal wrapping around the Earth and even more ATF ships heading towards the camera.
  • A viable tactic in Galactic Civilizations. Park a whole bunch of powerful military ships on your border, and your neighbor is not going to attack without a big numerical or technological advantage. On the other hand, the AI can get suspicious and trigger-happy if your "demonstration" gets too close to its territory. In the third game, having a large military force nearby even slightly generates Influence in the area, making nearby colonies held by a rival civ more likely to rebel and defect. The AI has also picked up on the idea of parking some of its forces in your territory as a show of intimidation: you can ask it diplomatically to remove its forces from your area, and if it's on good terms with you it might even do that, but it will negatively affect your relations slightly.
  • part of the tutorial for EVE Online, after you alone survive an enemy attack, you get to fly around in an area with a huge retaliation fleet of the empire you selected ready to form up. Some trailers have really big ones for each of the 4 Empires as well, including dozens of Titans. Downplayed in that these fleets probably wouldn't win a battle against a large coalition fleet, and their formation, all ships on a 2D grid, would be awful to fight with.
  • The main story of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare starts off with one. It ends badly
  • Sonic Heroes onwards introduces the Egg/Eggman Fleet, a huge armada of battleships that would make the Republic and Imperial Navies look like wusses in terms of firepower, though the first time it’s deployed, it’s not Eggman himself who’s leading the fleet since he’s imprisoned by Metal Sonic, who stole his identity and only used the fleet to copy the data of the four teams (Sonic, Rose, Dark, and Chaotix), as well as Chaos’s data in a plan to defeat the Blue Blur and become the “real” Sonic.
  • In Halo: Reach, the main Covenant fleet arrives in Reach with almost a hundred ships immediately after the Supercarrier is destroyed by Jorge's sacrifice.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: a pan up from Zhao's command ship to the fleet he intends to destroy the Northern Water Tribe with. Also, the airship fleet in the grand finale.
  • The Legend of Korra: The fleet of the United Forces is shown, headed by General Iroh II
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has several shots like this, mostly from the CIS. Their fleet is massive.
  • TRON: Uprising's first (and only) season ends with a shot of what seems like CLU's entire digital armada baring down on Argon City, a show of force far in excess of the forces required to occupy the city in the first place.
    Real Life 
  • Military parades, which tend to include machines alongside the soldiers, are often deliberately intended to have this effect. This is where it blurs into Million Mook March.
  • The Soviet Union pulled off a massive con on the USA in July 1955 at the Soviet Aviation Day demonstrations at the Tushino Airfield, ten Bison bombers were flown past the reviewing stand, then flew out of sight, quickly turned around, and flew past the stands again. They repeated this six times, presenting the illusion that there were 60 aircraft in the flyby. This led to the "Bomber gap".
  • Chinese "Treasure Fleet" of XV Century, before they decided to ban anything remotely seaworthy. One of its points was to invoke this trope to awe China's neighbours into vassalization.
  • The US Navy's Great White Fleet was a prime example. Named for the Navy protocol of painting ships white in peacetime, the Great White Fleet was sent around the world by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909 as more or less a way to tell the world, "Hey, looky what we got!" Made up of ships built within the last decade with state-of-the-art designs, the display was very effective at demonstrating America's rising technological prowess and willingness to set foot on the world stage. While not impressive in absolute terms—the new British Dreadnought was worth any three of the old-style US battleships , and the Royal Navy's reaction while escorting them through the Mediterranean was more or less "aw, how cute!"—it did present a very solid announcement that the United States was now a Great Power, capable of playing the game as well as any European country. It also served as a wake-up call to the powers of Latin America (who proceeded to have a naval arms race—particularly between Argentina and Brazil) and the Pacific (mostly meaning Japan, which began a big naval buildup).
    • More importantly, the Great White Fleet showed that the US Navy could deploy anywhere in the world, no small feat given the fuel, supply, and maintenance requirements of such warships. The hands-on experience with such a deployment would prove valuable a few short years later when the United States joined World War I.
  • One of the most impressive ones in modern times has got to be the International Fleet Review, which featured a total of 167 ships of varying countries. It all concluded in a huge reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar, which occurred on that day 200 years ago.
  • The classic series Victory at Sea. About twelve hours of Flaunting Your Fleets. Oh yes, the army gets in there somewhere too...
  • True to their name, a grand old tradition of the Royal Navy. At the Fleet Review, the reigning monarch essentially inspects a parade of all the vessels of a particular fleet of the Royal Navy. Usually takes place in the Solent at Spithead. The purpose is obvious: would you dare fight a fleet like this? Fleet Reviews are traditionally held after the coronation of a new monarch, and for landmark anniversaries of the coronation. However the last proper Royal Navy Fleet Review (as opposed to the International Fleet Review of 2005) was for Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee (25th year as queen) in 1977. No Fleet Reviews were conducted for her Golden Jubilee in 2002 or Diamond Jubilee in 2012, officially as a cost-cutting measure but widely speculated to be because in its current state a Fleet Review of the Royal Navy would just highlight how embarrassingly small it's become (in 2012 it had only 25 major surface combatants in commission). This is in stark contrast to Queen Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee (the only other monarch in British history to reign for 60 years or more), where the Royal Navy displayed 50 battleships and 120 smaller warships for her Fleet Review, making up considerably less than half of the total fleet.
    • The largest-ever Fleet Review was also the only secret review in the history of the Royal Navy: in May 1944, George VI was presented with a parade of over 800 warships (ranging from battleships to tiny minesweepers) that were assembled for the Normandy invasion a month later.
  • Various coastal cities around the US (New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, etc.) pull this off yearly, with annual "Fleet Weeks" in which the Navy parades their ships.
  • Take this trope, and combine it with Stuff Blowing Up to get a military exercise. Now, this trope mixes well with Tank Goodness. And that's what Reds With Rockets subscribed to, passionately: [1]. And yes, you saw that right, that was a field of tanks. Zapad-81, featured here, may have been the most massive, but earlier excercises included not only ground, air and sea but also space, with the Soviets test-firing their IS anti-satellite weapons as well.
  • During the official surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945, the US and allies made an effort to impress upon the Japanese what a colossal mistake it had been to Awaken the Sleeping Giant. Aside from the very large fleet present in the bay (280 warships including 11 US and British battleships), the flypast involved two thousand aircraft, and the allies made it quite clear that all the big fleet carriers as well as the vast majority of the smaller ones were sitting just over the horizon in case the Japanese got any ideas.
    • The amount of aircraft was such that eyewitnesses describe the display as pretty much darkening the sky with aircraft.
  • Ancient Athens, upon striking the silver motherlode in the Mines of Laurion, were convinced by the general/politician Themistocles to build a fleet of 200 triremes rather than redistribute the wealth. This was the true start of Athens Badass Navy that helped them project their influence across the Aegean Sea, establish an empire and Hold the Line against the Persian Navy at Artemisium and Salamis.


Begun the Clone War Has

With ominous tone, the might of the Grand Army of the Republic is displayed.

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