Like almost everyone else, heroes can achieve greater things when they band together. Heroes R Us is a group that recruits, trains, equips, and funds heroes and directs their efforts where they are most needed. They can be clandestine or public, governmental or not, and the scope of their powers may vary from fighting some single, specific enemy to being some sort of benevolent Ancient Tradition; the crux of the trope is that if The Hero isn't a member, they'd at least like him to be.
There are two major types of Heroes R Us: organizations of heroes and heroic organizations. In organizations of heroes, every member has a skill or power that sets them apart from the Muggles. Owing to the natural rarity of such extraordinary people, these tend to be Oddly Small Organizations where even perfectly good action heroes are forced to take on administrative duties. Stories following such organizations tend to focus on The Squad of which the hero is a member, featuring the aforementioned promoted heroes as The Captain or the Four-Star Badass.
A heroic organization fields only a small number of highly competent agents, backed up by a staggering number of faceless assistants tasked with conjuring up fake identities for the heroes, escorting them to their targets, and equipping them with fancy gadgets. Depending on how narrow the ratio between super and muggle employees in the organization gets, it may even become a Hero Secret Service. Stories following heroic organizations generally follow the hero as he works alone, with only his Mission Control and possible partner/Girl of the Week for company.
Though the word "hero" is used throughout this article, "protagonist" might be more accurate. While the intentions of the majority of the examples below are genuinely good, Da Chief might be forced to make tough decisions and butt heads with a Chaotic Good hero every once in a while; indeed, precisely this sort of ideological schism is frequently an element of stories featuring a Heroes R Us.
Common types of Heroes R Us include The Chosen Many, Super Team, The Order, Artifact Collection Agency, N.G.O., Adventure Guild, and La Résistance, as well as organizations that hunt the paranormal, and these which aren't defined beyond "We Help the Helpless".
- The Royal Order of Protestant Knights, or the Hellsing organisation.
- BABEL in Psychic Squad, a government ESP organization dedicated to stopping crimes before they happen.
- The Worlds Welfare & Works Association, better known as the 3WA, are the unfortunate employers of the Dirty Pair.
- The Alien Exterminating Global Intercept System (AEGIS) from Gatekeepers.
- The vampire hunting Red Shield from Blood+.
- The Pandora organization in PandoraHearts.
- The Black Order of D.Gray-Man collects Innocence and the people capable of using it to fight Akuma.
- The Alchemists' Guild in Buso Renkin.
- In Ga-Rei -Zero-, the Seeker Squad of Defense Ministry is a heroic organization, while the Exorcists are an organization of heroes, being Ancient Tradition converted into modern framework. Neither of them are effective.
- The Speedwagon Foundation in Jojos Bizarre Adventure dedicates part of its funds to investigating the supernatural as well as helping the Joestars in any way they can.
- The Hero Association from Ratman.
- The Hero Association from One-Punch Man.
- In My Hero Academia, Superheroes are all signed with agencies that help fund and promote them.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. is essentially the CIA for a weird world, complete with bizarre supertech and Nick Fury.
- Originally, they answered to a mysterious trio, and had international authority; but during Civil War, they acted pretty much as an American Law Enforcement branch, answerable to the US President. It's possible the organization has been redesigned (as was the case with DC Comics' Checkmate)... or somebody made a mistake.
This is almost certainly a case of Canon Immigration from the Ultimate universe, where S.H.I.E.L.D. is very definitely and contentiously a U.S. intelligence agency. Since that continuity's version of S.H.I.E.L.D. in general and Nick "Samuel L. Jackson" Fury in particular were wildly more successful with audiences... Whether it's intentional or the writers' mental picture was just infected by the more prominent adaptation is another question.
- Confusion over exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D. was considerably predates the Ultimate Universe. From its creation, it was a basically American entity, notwithstanding it supposedly being international (which was mainly an excuse for why it could operate anywhere with impunity).
- S.H.I.E.L.D. did have foreign agents, however (e.g., Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine). A plausible explanation for S.H.I.E.L.D. might be that it's a NATO organization. Since NATO is an international alliance, but one where the United States largely runs the show, it would fit S.H.I.E.L.D. as it was depicted.
- Technically S.H.I.E.L.D. is a United Nations agency that the US (as the Superhuman capital of the world) administers over. The jurisdiction conflict between the UN and US was actually a major plot point of Dark Reign before Siege set in.
- The confusion is reflected in what S.H.I.E.L.D. actually stands for: the original Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage and Law-Enforcement Division suggests NATO (as in the Real Life Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the later Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate could be either, and the current Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division definitely suggests a US agency.
- Originally, they answered to a mysterious trio, and had international authority; but during Civil War, they acted pretty much as an American Law Enforcement branch, answerable to the US President. It's possible the organization has been redesigned (as was the case with DC Comics' Checkmate)... or somebody made a mistake.
- The British version of SHIELD was, originally, WHO (Weird Happenings Organisation, being a thinly veiled and chronically underfunded reference to Doctor Who's UNIT), which tussled with more nefarious groups like Black Air and RCX. These were ultimately replaced by MI13, which runs Excalibur, Britain's resident super-team and functions like a European outpost of the Avengers and the X-Men (it's been both, in the past).
- The trope is toyed with in Ultimate X-Men, where the Hellfire Club provides funding for Charles Xavier — as a means of getting to Jean Grey and unleashing the Phoenix Force.
- The Ultimate X-Men were subsequently funded by the Church of Shi'ar Enlightenment, who are quite open about their interest in the Phoenix, but see it as a force for good. Too bad they've been infiltrated by Hellfire members.
- From the Nextwave comics, we have the Nick Fury parody Dirk Anger, who leads up the organization known as H.A.T.E., which has such bizarre technology as "Ptero-assault troops" — soldiers in bright yellow pterodactyl suits — and "Drop Bears" — Koalas with razor-sharp teeth. Nextwave is a strange, strange comic— but it's got the name "Warren Ellis" on the cover, so you get what you came for.
- The JLA has been this for ages, especially during its Watchtower period, during which members lived/hung out/worked at their base.
- The Justice Society of America is a hero group with its origins in the days of WWII that these days activley recruits and trains younger heroes.
- The Legion of Super-Heroes is a organization of young super powered heroes operating with the Science Police and other Planetary Federation authorities.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, numerous Heroes merchandise themselves to the public as per the original My Hero Academia. In addition to his veritable archive of All Might merchandise, Izuku owns a wide variety of Justice Society of America paraphernalia and "Beats by Canary" headphones. He also eats some of Green Arrow's blazing hot chili for breakfast one winter morning.
- During Steven Universe Adventures Of The Gems 3, Steven discovers the existence of a government organisation going by the name of G.U.A.R.D (Governmental Undercover Agents Restoring Defence), lead by Director Barak Wrath, who sees the opportunity to add him to add him to a supernatural team of defenders, alongside two discovered vigilantes known as the Blue Devil from Montana and the Lunar Fox, sometime in the future.
- Penguins of Madagascar has the North Wind, a secret organization of Arctic animals. Their backers are unspecified, but they have a massive secret base, complete with hypersonic flying craft, Powered Armor, BFGs, and flying jetpacks.
- The Rescue Aid Society from Disney's The Rescuers (as well as the original novels) is a Mouse World version of this.
- Another non-government agency, the titular agency from Men in Black.
- The Soldier (1982). The title character is the leader of an elite unit formed after the "Iranian fiasco" and reporting only to the Director of the CIA. Which causes problems when he's assassinated.
- The Jedi Order of Star Wars.
- The Transformers Film Series had NEST, an organization formed by humans and Autobots to fight the Decepticons hiding in various countries across the globe. They were disbanded by the time the events of Age of Extinction rolled around, however.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe has SHIELD, a non-government organization dedicated to dealing with super-powered threats founded by Peggy Carter and Howard Stark after Captain America disappeared in 1945. It was made up primarily of non-powered agents (although the original Ant-Man and the Wasp may have been agents as well) until the creation of the Avengers initiative. The organization dissolved in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when it was revealed that the entire organization was infested with Hydra moles. In its place rose the Avengers as a separate organization funded by Tony Stark, the ranks of which fluctuates but includes a roster of 6-9 superheroes at one time and a few non-powered support agents (Nick Fury and Maria Hill, for example). After Captain America: Civil War, there are only 2 active Avengers - Vision and War Machine - while a few other heroes (Nomad, Falcon, and Black Widow) do vigilantee work under the nickname "Secret Avengers". SHIELD, meanwhile, continued under the leadership of Phil Coulson, although as a much smaller organization. After the events of Avengers: Infinity War, both organizations have been decimated, with only the original 6 Avengers note plus War Machine still alive, and who knows how much of SHIELD.
- American Teens Against Crime (ATAC) from the most recent incarnation of The Hardy Boys.
- The Executioner. Stony Man handles anti-terrorist and anti-crime operations beyond the capacity of established agencies like the CIA, NSA, and FBI. This usually means a mission that the U.S. Government can disclaim any knowledge of if it goes sour, or something that is just too dangerous for regular agencies to handle. Led by Hal Brognola and answering only to the White House, its primary weapons are vigilante One-Man Army Mack Bolan, and his black ops units Able Team and Phoenix Force.
- The mercenary unit Soldiers of Barrabas (or SOBS) (a Gold Eagle series by Jack Hild) is ostensibly led by a mercenary who's 'soft' on his native country, and so willingly seeks contracts that advance its interests. In truth they work directly for the US government as a deniable dirty tricks team.
- The Knights of Maidenhead in The Faerie Queene.
- Tiger Mann (created by Mickey Spillane) was an early version of this trope, working for an espionage organization funded by a radical right-wing billionare. The character was first introduced in the 1964 novel Day of the Gun.
- In Bad Monkeys, the protagonist Jane Charlotte works for an organization that is the second type. The organization has many branches, and the one that she works for is Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons ("Bad Monkeys" for short), which is devoted to ending the lives of irredeemable evil persons. The various branches do almost anything you can think of, such as Panopticon, which has cameras in any picture with eyes and also in library bindings, or Catering, which will always answer if you pick up any phone.
- In The Destroyer series, Remo Williams works for CURE, an agency whose very existence is known only to Presidents, and which has only three members: Remo himself, his mentor Chiun, and their boss, Dr. Smith. Chiun insists that Smith is the de facto emperor of the US, as the agency appears to have essentially unlimited authority and resources, even denying Presidential requests when Smith deems them unwise. Of course, an uber-hacker and two sociopathic assassins with superhuman powers would be able to get away with a lot.
- The Department of Paranormal Resources in the Temps Shared Universe ... sort of; most of their draftees have useless powers, and are generally called in because they're on the payroll anyway so it's cheaper than hiring admin staff or furniture movers. Occasionally, however, there's a perfect match between seemingly-useless power and situation, or the paranorm has other useful skills, or the DPR is just desperate. (These are the occasions the stories are about, of course.)
- The Stockholm Syndicate by Colin Forbes. "Telescope" is a vigilante anti-terrorist group operating in Europe, that finds itself going up against the titular syndicate.
- Villains' Code has the Alliance of Heroic Champions that fits both definitions. It has a good number of metas to do all the crime-fighting across the country, but there are also Muggle support staffers, such as the marketing team. The Guild of Villainous Reformation is their Evil Counterpart, although it fits the first definition more, as there are no observed non-meta members or employees. In fact, the guild is actually a secret, known only to its members and the AHC. The guild tends to use Doctor Mechaniacal's robots for menial work.
- In Everybody Loves Large Chests there exists an organization called Demons R Us Which is this trope except for demons.
- R.S. Belcher's The Brotherhood of the Wheel has the Brotherhood of the Wheel which are the descendants of the Knights Templar. A combination of this trope, Ancient Conspiracy and Ancient Order of Protectors, the group consists of 3 branches. The Builders are the researchers into the supernatural and also develop new technologies such as a quantum radio channel, the Benefactors expand the financial and political power (they control much of the media) and finally there's the Brethren, who are the foot soldiers of the group and protect the roadways from supernatural threats and serial killers. Unfortunately for the USA, the Brethren are greatly diminished from attrition.
- In The Mouse Watch, the titular team is an international group of crimefighting, do-gooding mice created by Gadget Hackwrench of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fame. They divide their time between We Help the Helpless activities such as "helping an elderly person cross the street" and "helping build a well for a thirsty village" and saving the world from the Nebulous Evil Organization R.A.T.S..
- The Phoenix Foundation, MacGyver (1985)'s employer from the second season onward, though the DXS (a government department) also fits the type.
- The Foundation for Law And Government in Knight Rider is an organization of exactly the same sort.
- The Blackwood Project of War of the Worlds (1988) is an example with a narrow scope and clandestine affiliation with the government.
- Very common in Invisible Man series. The Scifi Channel's The Invisible Man used a clandestine government department, while Gemini Man and the David McCallum series both used private companies.
- Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Power Rangers Time Force and Power Rangers S.P.D. all used this setup.
- Most of the early Super Sentai teams were part of a military organization. Starting from the early 90's, this trope faded from prominence, with teams formed from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits becoming the norm.
- Denji Sentai Megaranger proves you can combine the two: none of the Megarangers were part of the organization before being the only ones around to suit up and stop the attack in the series premiere. The Megarangers themselves are high school students.
- Tokumei Sentai Go Busters has a darker take on this trope. Due to being the only ones able to destroy the villains, two of the three heroes belong to this organization from childhood, meaning they had no chance on having a normal life. In an early episode, the commander even makes clear that if he had to sacrifice the heroes to win the war, he would do so.
- Kamen Rider:
- Subverted in Kamen Rider Blade. Two of the Riders were part of an organization called BOARD, but it was wiped out in the first episode by a Monster of the Week, leaving our heroes on their own with what little tech they could recover, this basically being the shiny suits and the monster radar.
- Played straight in Kamen Rider Hibiki, where all the Riders are part of an organization of demon hunters called Takeshi.
- Kamen Rider Kabuto has the ZECT organization, which is dedicated to destroying a hostile race of aliens known as the Worm. However, ZECT is quite shady and our heroes are definitely with them but not of them, subverting this trope once more.
- Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has the CR organization, whose mission it is to fight the sentient Bugster Viruses and treat patients infected with said virus.
- In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, the Riders were apparently originally part of one of these, but as their doppelgangers in our dimension - the only ones who can use the Loyal Phlebotinum assigned to the original owners - had different lives, it's not how it works in the show proper.
- The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) in Doctor Who is a (not very) clandestine government organization — though it isn't always clear which government they answer to. The "United Nations" part of the name implies that they work for the UN, but there are many examples of the wishes of the UK government taking precedence, without a very clear sense of whether this is by the organization's design or a side-effect of UNIT's officers also being members of the British army.
- During the time of the new series, the real life United Nations had complained. The organization's name is now the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, which makes who they answer to even less clear.
- Also The Torchwood Institute in Doctor Who (where they start off as grey area "bad guys") and in Torchwood. It was set up by Queen Victoria and was for most of its history directly answerable to the Monarch but Queen Elizabeth's current position on them isn't very clear. According to some Expanded Universe stories (mainly Big Finish), the template of "alien-fighting institute founded by a past monarch" makes it to Russia and Germany.
- International Rescue from Thunderbirds makes it a point to keep their secrets and technology away from the governments of the world. This one dates to the '60s, ahead of its time.
- We're never told exactly how or where the heroes of Mission: Impossible get their hands on all their useful gadgetry, fake IDs, financial resources, and so forth. All we know is that they're connected to The Government, but not very closely; as the recordings we hear Once an Episode imply, the CIA (or whoever it is) can cut their whole organization loose if necessary, in order to maintain plausible deniability.
- The line is "The Secretary will deny all knowledge of your actions", implying they answer directly to someone at the cabinet level.
- The 4400 has the US governments National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC) which was pretty much completely redirected to handling issues caused by the 4400.
- O2STK in The Middle Man apparently are behind the Middleman Organization's bankroll and Applied Phlebotinum supply. In an interesting subversion, not even the Middleman himself knows who they are—the name is a joke meaning "Organization Too Secret To Know", and Middleman '69 called them WTHWWF, "Whoever The Hell/Heck We Work For."
- Airwolf's heroes get a fair degree of support from the F.I.R.M.- they must get Redeye missiles from somewhere, but also have Santini Air (a chopper hire company) for other money and occasionally get paid for rescuing a captive.
- The A-Team's weaponry source is unclear and they have no organisation backing them up, averting this trope in one of the most Eighties of the shows.
- The Dollhouse may be for hire, but most of the agents and administrators display the best intentions for their work.
- The Millennium Group from the first series of Millennium consisted of the best analysts, pathologists, and other agents from various law-enforcement organizations. The Group consulted with police agencies on extraordinary cases beyond the scale and budget of the average police department.
- The heroes of Madan Senki Ryukendo belong to SHOT, this being an acronym for Shoot Hell Obduracy Troopers, which is an organization dedicated to protecting Akebono City from the Jamanga Demons.
- The United Fire Defense Agency, UFDA for short, is the organization behind both the Tomica Hero Rescue Force and Tomica Hero Rescue Fire teams.
- Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp has A.P.E., the Agency for the Prevention of Evil, of which Lance is their top agent and lead guitarist for the Evolution Revolution.
- Get Smart: Maxwell Smart and agent 99 are agents for CONTROL.
- Team Machine in Person of Interest is one of these. Especially after The Machine goes on a hiring spree, adding agents around the world other than the main crew.
- The Adventure Zone: Balance has The Bureau of Balance, which hires adventurers to find and collect the Grand Relics, and to stop those who use them.
- The protagonists of Mac Attack are implied to be this — although only three members are shown, they have enough hardware, vehicles, and firepower to rival a small country.
- Bone Busters features a team of suspiciously familiar supernatural-stopping heroes fighting a horde of animated skeletons with beam-shooting energy weapons.
- Department 7 in d20 Modern (Most Player characters are members by default). Department 7's depictions vary from GM to GM, but it's always an organization that gives the players missions, provides them with payment (and cool equipment). It also provides assistance in other ways as well. Depending on the campaign, it could function as a mundane Law Enforcement/Anti Terror agency, or a UNIT/Torchwood style agency for dealing with the supernatural. It's also very mysterious, and may or may not have government connections.
- The Mutants & Masterminds setting of Freedom City has AEGIS (American Elite Government Intervention Service), which is a clear expy of SHIELD, or at least the "American Agency" version of it. It also has UNISON, the UN International Superhuman Oversight Network, which fills in for SHIELD's "UN Operation" version, combined with Doctor Who's UNIT.
- The Conspiracies and Compacts of Hunter: The Vigil gears toward one end or another of this trope; for example, the Task Force Valkyrie is closer to heroic organization (made of normal humans fighting monsters), while the Lucifuge is closer to organization of heroes (made of super"humans" fighting monsters).
- In Crimestrikers, the titular heroes are an elite team of international crimefighters who protect Creaturia, a World of Funny Animals, from a Rogues Gallery of Super Villains. They're a special unit of CIPO (Creaturian International Police Organization), the setting's equivalent of Interpol.
- Dungeons & Dragons: The Forgotten Realms setting's City of Waterdeep maintains Force Grey, an elite group of adventurers who dispatch threats that the City Guards can't handle. Members are available on-call for a certain number of hours per week in exchange for a monthly stipend, but otherwise have no standard duties.
- The Realms are also the home of the Harpers, an organization of bards that exists explicitly to generally promote good in the world. Bear in mind that the Realms is a setting where, thanks to the ubiquity of magic, moral alignment is a somewhat more tangible and definable concept than it is in our world.
- Predictably, there are SEVERAL of these in City of Heroes, including the for-profit Hero Corps, the non-profit Freedom Corps, and several more-or-less clandestine groups, including The Vanguard, Longbow, and Wyvern.
- And those are just the official ones in the game backstory. Technically, anyone who starts a supergroup (this MMO's version of a guild) has begun their own Heroes R Us organization.
- There are also the official Villains R Us groups like The Council, Arachnos, and the Malta Group. Any player can start their own villain group as well.
- The VSSE in Time Crisis. They're one of only two plot elements that connect the games together.
- The Heroes Guild in the original Fable.
- The Assassins of Assassin's Creed are engaged in a Secret War with the Templars.
- The Grey Wardens of Dragon Age were formed to guard against the Blight.
- The Ad Libitum guild in the Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology series.
- The Minutemen in Fallout 4. They establish and protect settlements from the dangers of Post-Nuclear Apocalypse society. However, they're very decentralized, and some troops dont even listen to you or Preston. By the end of the game, they border on being a Libertarian style system of government.
- The Skylanders are such a group, existing to defend the Skylands against evil with the help of the Portal Masters. Though interestingly enough, previous acts of heroism aren't required; you just have to be a badass who's willing to fight for good. A few members are even of species which are enemies in game who defected, such as Boomer the Troll and most of the Undead Skylanders. Ghost Roaster isn't even really a hero and had to promise to only eat evil ghosts when he joined.
- The Institute Of War in League of Legends is an interesting example, as it accepts Champions and Summoners from every qualifying city-state, several of which view each other's Champions as decidedly un-heroic. The Institute supervisors have to be very careful to avoid conflicts of interest, since its primary purpose is to allow every faction to hire heroes against each other to solve political disputes.
- The Bracers' Guild in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.
- Expect plenty of them appearing throughout the Super Robot Wars installments, with the most popular being the "Alpha Numbers" from Super Robot Wars Alpha, ""Wärter"/"Neue Wärter" from Super Robot Wars W and the "Steel Dragon Battle Group" from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation.
- Shinra from Namco × Capcom and Project X Zone, which is a government agency dedicated to investigating paranormal activity and eliminating supernatural threats to the world.
- The VCD (Vanguard for Crystal Destruction, or Vanguard Crystal Defense) from Raiden V, which is an elite military organization dedicated to eliminating contaminated weapons and the crystals that the army can't normally deal with.
- Planet Tamers in Evolve, specialized mercenaries employed by various governments to reduce the levels of dangerous wildlife on colony worlds. While their individual motivations may vary, the colonists undoubtedly view them this way when they kill the alien nightmare beasts that keep eating their friends.
- The World Hero Association in Zettai Hero Project. It's by their great timing that the Main character doesn't die on their very first battle against Darkdeath Evilman, allowing the Main Character do go through Training from Hell to get strong enough to defeat Darkdeath Evilman. Their purpose is to train new heroes by having them practice heroism on an alternate Earth called Bizzaro Earth. The Unlosing Ranger, whether it's Main Character or Pirohiko, gets most of his experience in heroism from here.
- The Order of Orion from the Web Comic Rumors of War is an example in a world based on Greek Mythology. The main cast is one of several groups retained by the Order, though the role they play in the organization has yet to be revealed.
- Spoon from I Don't Want This Kind of Hero, aka a government agency that recruits people to become 'heroes'. They actually almost had to disband when their main nemesis, Knife, suddenly disappeared years ago, and ultimately had to create a fake Knife group to justify their continued existence. Until the real Knife's return in the present, they mostly take on odd jobs and act as a second police force.
- Superhumans Inc. from Supercrash. Though in this case, they're the ones giving the powers since they manufacture orbs from special material they dub Heronium and only employ teenagers since the orbs won't work past the age of 18 and even then, to join, you have to pay a monthly fee (Hey the CEO of the company has to pay the Hero Insurance somehow).
- ARCHON from Grrl Power - a government-run, military-style heroic organization (Field leader Maxima is explicitly an Air Force colonel). Protagonist Sydney's recruitment and subsequent training in Arc-SWAT (ARCHON's field teams) is the series' main ongoing narrative.
- The unnamed "Hero Organization" from Sidekick Girl is ostensibly one, though it acts more like a Weird Trade Union.
- The Heroes' League from White Dark Life is a coalition of heroes organized to counter a Legion of Doom that sought to wipe its members out. Notable members include Mario, Sonic, Kirby, and Bomberman. In between clashes with said Legion of Doom, the Heroes' League spends much of its time righting wrongs, performing public services, and fighting other villains.
- The Justice Brigade of the Whateley Universe, a world renowned team of superheroes. The Knights of Purity are supposed to be this, teams of baselines in power armor protecting regular people from supervillains, but most mutants see them as the enemy. (They may be right, or it may be a mixed bag: in "Loose Cannons" a Knight is trying to kill the protagonists to hide his screw-up, but in "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", a team of Knights saved Chaka from The Lamplighter.)
- Worm has The Protectorate, the Wards, and the New Wave as organizations of superheroes in Brockton Bay, with the PRT, which is a non-parahuman organization which supports the Protectorate and Wards.
- The Protectorate and the Wards are national organizations, technically operating under the PRT, although the Director of the PRT is secretly Alexandria and the whole organization was founded and remains more or less controlled by Cauldron. Other organizations of heroes are known to exist, including the Guild, which is small but includes massively influential capes like Dragon.
- Homestar Runner has the Cheat Commandos, a direct parody of G.I. Joe that was formed to counter the evil Blue Laser and to sell toys and cereal.
- Global Justice on Kim Possible is a S.H.I.E.L.D. knockoff, right down to an eyepatch-wearing Fury equivalent, Dr. Director (who happens to be a woman).
- The Order of The White Lotus in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra serves as this, dealing with extraordinary threats such as the Red Lotus, a nebulous conspiracy that seeks to bring the world to chaos.
- WOOHP in Totally Spies! exemplifies this trope.
- Inter-Nation Security from Birdman was never that developed - its only members seemed to be Birdman, Falcon Seven, Avenger, and possibly Birdboy - but it seemed to be a legitimate government (or inter-governmental) agency.
- The Office Of Secret Intelligence (OSI) from The Venture Bros., who even have their own theme song. It's a cross between G.I. Joe, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Village People.
"OSI!! We fight for freedom and the little guy!
OSI!! We'll tear a new hole in your sky!
When it's time to start the war
You'll hear our mighty engines roar
A super army of super spies
Look out Sphinx, you're gonna die!
OSI!! We'll shatter your skull and make your children cry!
OSI!! Here we come, look up in the sky!
OSI!! Mass destruction comes your way!"
- "G.I. Joe is the code name of America's daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world."
- In season two of Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Boo Boo Bear have their own hero agency — as Huckle Hero, El Kabong, and Ram-Boo Boo, respectively. They have a poster on the wall with the three ubiquitous guys laughing and the caption "You want your planet saved when??"
- Bojack Horseman: St. Clair Foundations is a brutal deconstruction of this. Made when an epiphany hits its affluent owner, the foundation goes from one ravaged country to another, building hospitals and helping refugees. Of course, while unsung heroes do their share of the work, Sebastian St. Clair often does the same in a more flashy way which draws more attention to him. Adding to that, the foundation is empathetic only to the basic necessities of the country's people; giving less of a shit about feelings, tact or their plight. More over, their heroics, while helpful, are done for the sake of publicity, white guilt and fame. Sadly, these attributes are what make them effective, even if it doesn't make them less of assholes. Diane learned this the hard way.
- On DePatie-Freleng's Super 6, the title heroes are heroes for hire at a superhero agency. Super Bwoing has his own segment weekly while the others rotate among the third segment of the show. (The second segment is the Brothers Matzoriley, a three-headed brother act.)
- A villainous variation: The League of Super Evil, whose acronym is L.O.S.E.
- The Powerpuff Girls attempt to join a superhero league in "Members Only," only to be turned away even after they've proved themselves worthy simply because they're girls.
- Médecins Sans Frontières (aka Doctors Without Borders) sends highly trained medical professionals to war zones and poor countries experiencing public health emergencies. They will typically go to places that even the International Red Cross won't touch, and for several months they were the only organization working to stop the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
- The Peace Corps.
- A real-life flaw of such units is exposed in the non-fiction book See No Evil. Former CIA agent Robert Baer tells how he was attached to a special unit, authorised by the President to track down terrorists. The unit failed because the CIA station heads kept refusing to share information with it, so they spent all their time running about trying to develop their own sources instead of doing the job they'd been created for.
- Private Intelligence Agencies and Private Military Corporations could arguably be the real-life equivalents to this trope.