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Heroes Unlimited

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Top: The Justice League roster (Seasons 1-2)
Bottom: The Justice League Unlimited roster
(Seasons 3-5)
Doctor Strange: Is that everyone?
Wong: What, you wanted more?

A Story Arc or season which features an expansion of the general cast, such as other groups of protagonists working in other locations for similar goals. Allows a new pool of characters for writers to pick from rather than constantly having to make new ones, so stories can occasionally focus on them and give the main folks a break. Often, characters from one-shot episodes are brought back as part of the new group.

Also useful as subtle filler and potential spinoff material. See also The Chosen Many, West Coast Team, Back for the Finale.

Nothing to do with the Palladium Books RPG of the same name. Even though that first turned up twenty years before Justice League Unlimited.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens three times in Bleach:
    • The Soul Society arc introduced the 13 Shinigami Squads, each represented by a captain, a lieutenant and sometimes several lower-ranked members.
    • The Zanpakutou Tales filler arc showcased physical manifestations of Empathic Weapons of most of the cast.
    • The Fullbring arc in the manga introduced a number of supernaturals similar to Inoue and Chad.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers gets bigger with Hetalia World Series. Enter the rest of the world!
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's doubled the size of the main cast compared to The Original Series. Then StrikerS came along and doubled the size of the entire cast compared to the second season.
  • In Naruto, the Chuunin Exam arc introduced, in addition to the Rookie 9 (the classmates of the main characters), Team Guy from the year above, Team Sand from the Sand village, Team Sound from the Sound village, and Kabuto and his teammates. Each team consists of three Genin and one Jounin sensei, making a total of 24 new characters. And that was only the beginning of the arc, and doesn't include Big Bad Orochimaru, Special Jounin like Ibiki, Anko, Hayate, and Genma, Jiraiya, and the Sound Four. To be fair, a handful of these characters died. Also, the anime tones this down slightly by introducing some of Naruto's classmates in the first episode. The Chuunin Exam is only the second story arc.
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • In the world of Pokémon Adventures, if you somehow get a Pokédex (gift, theft, accident, doesn't matter), it is a guaranteed that you're a necessary force in combating the evil plaguing your region for whatever reason, coincidence, or personal status. Each region has had between two and four Pokédexes made, so up to the seventh generation, there are currently twenty-one trainers designated as Pokédex Holders. For now.
    • Also, each set of regional Gym Leaders officially forms a defense group against whatever evil terrorist group is around. Sure, the Dex Holders always save the day, but the Leaders usually provide very efficient backup.
  • Pretty Cure All Stars has an alliance of Pretty Cures which gets larger with every movie released.
  • World Trigger begins with a small cast comprising of Yuuma, Osamu, Chika, and the handful of Border agents who cross their path. Once the Border Defense Agency is formally introduced, the cast size rapidly expands by introducing dozens of new agents, operators, and administrative staff in each subsequent arc. As of Chapter 200 there have been no less than 100 named characters that have been added to the story.

    Comic Books 
  • The All-Star Squadron, which is essentially Justice Society Unlimited set in the 1940s.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes. By the time they had their own feature in Adventure Comics, the team had enough members that they were rotated in and out, often with a "Roll Call" on the title page that would list every member appearing in that issue.
  • Warren Ellis's Global Frequency is like this from the start. The only characters who recur regularly are Aleph and Miranda Zero.
    • The proposed TV adaptation would have added two extra regular characters, Sean Flynn and Katrina Finch, who would join up with the rotating cast of each episode. Only the pilot was ever made though, so they're both one-shot characters after all.
  • Usually averted with the X-Men: while their roster is large enough, they're usually split into teams with each team having its own book. The roster mostly melded together when they moved to Utopia in 2009, which sort of counts.
    • X-Men Unlimited definitely counts, as it rotated the spotlight not only around the X-Men team, but supporting characters, villains, and even members of other teams with ties to the X-Men. There was even an issue where Franklin Richards was the focus, in the aftermath of Onslaught.
  • Birds of Prey always had a very large cast of supporting characters in its early issues, but under Gail Simone the core team was Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk. Once Black Canary left the series, however, the cast became a bit more fluid, with a rotating lineup. Gypsy began appearing just before Canary's departure, but slowly faded out once she left. Judomaster, Big Barda, and Hawkgirl appeared for individual missions, with Misfit (an original creation) joining as a new regular in the series (though she was never really on the team). Manhunter became a recurring supporting character, and they were joined by Infinity (another original character) shortly before the series was cancelled. A dozen other heroines (from Power Girl to The Question) are shown as receiving invitations to join the team or having been active in past missions. After the series was relaunched in 2010, the cast stabilized at six members: Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and Hawk and Dove.
  • The Avengers roster increased with the Avengers Initiative.
  • Champions: The first relaunch has Kamala Khan coordinating three separate teams of Champions, resolving crises around the world.
  • The entire idea behind The Secret Defenders. The book featured a revolving door roster, with specific characters called in on a mission by mission basis. Characters who passed through the team ranged from Wolverine and Ghost Rider to War Machine and even Thanos!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight has the Scooby Gang leading an army of hundreds of slayers, not to mention a large group of wiccans and other magic users.
  • After recovering from the events of Final Crisis, Bruce Wayne decides to expand Batman's operations into a global franchise with Batman Incorporated. With this, each country will have its own Batman representative, as opposed to the central Bat-Family that mainly operates out of Gotham and occasionally Bludhaven.
  • Superman: Grounded: Superman meets a group of heroes with the same powers and ideals as him called the Superman Squad, Members of that team come from different places and times and include exotic beings such as a sentient gorilla, a sentient star system and a sentient “good idea”. At the end of Grounded, Superman forms a similar team called the Supermen of America, who in time will become the precursors to the Superman Squad.
  • A typical Crisis Crossover will be this to some degree. DC's Invasion! made it official for the duration with Captain Atom placed in command of all superheroes.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The "The Witch and the Warrior" arc has a rather impressive cast expansion, by doing its best to cram in every single female hero and villain currently in circulation. There are 60 villains named and given at least one line in the arc and 60 heroes for which the same can be said.

  • The Department of Hotness from the Fan Sequel and Mega Crossover, Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World. The team expanded from just Hottie's friends in the novel "Burning Ambition" by Jonathan Bernstein to various characters from throughout The Multiverse.
  • In Super Milestone Wars (and it's sequel,Super Milestone Wars 2) The Supetastic 6, which first appeared in The Naked Brothers Band animated special of the same name, have become this.
  • A very common trope in fanfics based on adaptations from other subjects. For example, X-Men Evolution fic based after the series end? Expect either introducing comic characters every chapter, a big group of comic characters added as a new team, or any number of comic characters to be made regulars right from the first chapter with no introduction. Then, there's big OC fics...
  • This is one of the main themes in YuYuGiDigiMoon.
  • In Child of the Storm the Avengers started out as a small band of heroes but its roster (including associates) has increased to N.G.O. Superpower levels in later chapters.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls: In the prologue, Lord Death tells Maka it is possible she and others will be fighting alongside people they don’t know as times goes on and evil runs amok. Sure enough, to fight the Gemini in Madrid, Maka and Soul have to team up with Caius and Claudia, who are working together with someone for the first time ever, and this is their first time working together as a whole. Lord Death’s point is reiterated during the Joint Resonance Training arc by Noel. It keeps going from there. Helps that the author implements OCs and expands canon minor characters.
  • Coreline: The Justice League Unlimited (it's right there on the name!) and the Avengers Infinity are two of the biggest examples of this type of superhero teams on this Massive Multiplayer Crossover setting. They acquire both Alternate Universe selves of "canon" characters to both groups and Fusion Fic/Super Fic Alternates of characters from other Fiction shows/universes. A running sub-plot throughout the stories written by OrionPax09 is an effort from the A.I. to become even bigger by becoming more open to said Fusion Fic Alts.
  • Avengers of the Multi-verse: At the end of Season 1, the Avengers decide to start expanding their roster by recruiting the other heroes from their respective universes in order to counter the current numerical superiority held by the Cabal.

  • The Animorphs significantly expanded their membership towards the end of the series. Said newbies didn't quite make it to the final volume.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost tends to do this each season.
    • The second season added the characters from the tail section of the wrecked plane to the cast.
    • The third season added Desmond and a few of the Others to the main cast.
    • Season four introduced the crew of the freighter.
    • The fifth season introduces time travel, allowing the entire Dharma initiative to be added, as well as the survivors from the second plane crash that brought the Oceanic six back to the island.
  • Heroes made this their policy from the very beginning.
  • The last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw the Big Bad hunting down girls with the potential to become Slayers, intent on ending the line entirely. The good guys respond by gathering as many potentials as they can, and the Grand Finale sees them magically empower every Slayer on the planet at once.
  • House did this in its fourth season. They got a whole new team for House but at the same time kept all the previous regulars as well.
  • 'Series/'Fringe'' did this with the alternate universe's Fringe Division.
  • Season 3 of Merlin saw the accumulation of the Knights of the Round Table. From Season 4 onwards, most of them were regulars.

    Video Games 

  • Axe Cop routinely holds "tryouts" for new superheroes to join his team whenever a significant threat presents itself. Then there was the time he joined up with Bat Warthog Man's team.
  • Girl Genius introduced about a dozen characters in the Mechanicsburg arc.
  • Heroes Unite is this for all webcomics related to it.

    Web Original 
  • The Whateley Universe has grown like this. The original six main characters have grown to around 20 main characters and another dozen or so who have gotten A Day in the Limelight or Character Focus or just a lot more facetime than originally planned. This is only possible because the original half dozen (or so) canon authors have grown to over twice that.

    Western Animation 
  • Superfriends went from having five heroes in its first two seasons to eleven in its third (and more joined in later seasons).
  • Justice League Unlimited is the Spiritual Successor of Superfriends and the Trope Namer. The League officially expanded from seven members to over a hundred.
    • The comic book continuation, Justice League Beyond, has a smaller lineup, but nonetheless qualifies. Apart from the initial roster seen in Batman Beyond, they are soon joined over the course of the series by Mr. Miracle, Captain Marvel, the Flash, Superboy, the Metal Men and Wonder Woman.
  • The Avalon Tour arc of Gargoyles, where Goliath and the others happily discovered the other gargoyle clans still surviving in the world.
    • And again in the comic books: "Clan-Building" ends with the main cast nearly doubling in size, as not only do Coldstone and Coldfire join, but Brooklyn goes on a time trip and comes back with a wife, a kid (with another on the way), and a "dog".
  • Teen Titans: Titans East is the protagonists' first attempt at this, leading to a second team being created in a new city. Most of the 5th season is about them recruiting new members to defeat the Brotherhood of Evil.
  • As Codename: Kids Next Door progressed, it was revealed that the KND was a massive global operation. And despite the main characters being assigned operative numbuhs 1 through 5, they were not at the top of the command structure.
  • The first season of Young Justice focused mainly on six or seven young super-heroes, although it did occasionally look at their mentors in the Justice League. Season two, set five years after the end of the first, introduced eight new characters in the first episode alone, giving this type of feel.
    • Season one also ended with multiple solo heroes being inducted into the Justice League, significantly increasing its size. Season two has many of the Young Justice characters having been promoted to the Justice League.
  • The second season of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes steadily introduces more superheroes (to the point of introducing the New Avengers into the continuity, as a backup plan of Tony Stark in case the main Avengers are unable to fight), many of whom eventually help fight Galactus in the Series Finale. Various one-off characters like The Falcon, Scott Lang, and The Winter Soldier also appear over the course of the season, and return for the big team-up in the finale.
  • The whole series of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is basically this. Batman is the protagonist and usually works with a different hero or group of heroes every episode, although there are some recurring characters such as The Blue Beetle, Aquaman, Plastic Man and The Green Arrow.
  • Justice League Action follows in the footsteps of Justice League Unlimited and The Brave and the Bold. The three main leads are Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, but the rest of the League is a revolving door cast, with at least eleven other heroes on the first poster alone.


Video Example(s):


Avengers Unlimited

The Avengers go from six in 2012 to a full army in 2019.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeroesUnlimited

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