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Recruit the Muggles

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"In the end, the world didn't really need a super man. Just a brave one."

This trope describes a moment in a series, usually involving superheroes, in which the general public, either at the request of the heroes themselves, or of their own volition, directly come to their aid and fight alongside them. The series generally has established by now that this would normally never happen, because ordinary people are the ones that often need to be saved. However, in this case, the public may have decided it was time to pay the heroes back for all they've done. Needless to say, if the citizens do this on their own, it can be considered a massive sign of admiration and respect for the hero they are willing to protect. Alternatively, if done on the part of the heroes, it can mean that they consider the citizens to be their allies.


Contrast with Apathetic Citizens and Bystander Syndrome.


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  • Used in Mahou Sensei Negima! during the Mahora Festival. The mages were outnumbered by an army of demon-powered robots and mechas, so they decided to recruit several thousand muggles and arm them with magical weapons. (Fortunately, both sides were using non-lethal weapons.) Of course, since the muggles must not know anything about magic, the mages told them that it was a giant role-playing game.


  • One of the most explicit examples of this trope comes in RoboCop 3, when Sgt. Reed deputizes the entire city of Detroit and leads them into battle against the OCP rehabs.
  • There's a less explicit example in the first Spider-Man movie, when a group of people standing on the bridge start throwing rocks and bricks at the Green Goblin, in order to get him away from Spider-Man.
  • Superman II. After Superman is apparently defeated during his battle against the three Kryptonian supervillains, the normal humans watching the battle decide to attack the villains in hand-to-hand combat. They are all literally blown away by the villains' super breath.


  • In Ciaphas Cain: the Traitor's Hand, a Chaos battleship is destroyed when it tries to massacre a giant swarm of merchantships. The Imperial cruiser present managed to wreck the battleship's main weapons when it was already committed to its course, and then the merchantships swarmed it and nibbled it to death with their little defensive guns.
  • Defied in The Dresden Files. Recruiting the muggles, at least in a mass scale, is considered the nuclear option for the supernatural world. Not in the least because they now have nukes. There are subtle cases, though, whether it's the White Council releasing books to siphon off power of a dangerous entity by having too many people drawing on it at once, or the White Court releasing a how-to book on killing Black Court Vampires in the form of Bram Stoker.
  • The ultimate fear of the great guilds in The Pillars of Reality is the Commons learning their secrets. Makes recruiting the Commons (who aren't suppose to be able to use either mage or mechanic arts) a pretty effective technique.


     Live-Action Television  

  • During the finale of Power Rangers in Space, Angel Grove is invaded, and the villain demands that the Power Rangers show themselves, or else they will start killing civilians. Bulk and Skull, the oblivious comic relief of the series, step up and falsely claim to be Power Rangers. Soon, other citizens start joining in with them, and when the real rangers do appear, they publicly announce their secret identities and morph in full view of the city before leading them into combat.
    • In the finale of Power Rangers Mystic Force the Rangers and allies have used up all their magic and are still facing off against the villain. Toby and Phineas lead the townspeople and forest folk, respectively, to give all their latent power to the Rangers to let them defeat the villain.
  • In the season three finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the entire Sunnydale High senior class join with Buffy to fight off the Mayor and his minions.

  • A common theme in The Adventure Zone:
    • The Adventure Zone: Balance:
      • Lucretia recruits Angus McDonald, Boy Detective, to work for the Bureau due to his help in solving the Murder on the Rockport Limited. He essentially becomes a Voice with an Internet Connection for the Tres Horny Boys, although Taako later begins teaching him some magic.
      • Deliberately invoked by Griffin in Story and Song: after the two Voidfish broadcast Johann's song, every single person in the planar system (including nearly every single named character in the podcast) suddenly gains Bardic Inspiration to fight against the Hunger. Notably, as the narrator points out, this includes the listener as well, as the planar system includes our own.
        Johann: You're going to have to fight ... and you're gonna win!
      • In the same episode, Taako recruits a modern, Earthly boy working in his family's taco truck named Joaquin to help him learn how to make tacos. Both of their food trucks explode, and they each gain more powerful magic powers than before.
    • The Adventure Zone: Amnesty:
      • In a sense, this is Ned's role in the Pine Guard: Duck and Aubrey have their Chosen and Magic powers, Mama has years of monster fighting experience under her belt, and the other residents of the Lodge are superhuman crypitds. Ned, on the other hand, is just a petty thief and con man caught up in something way bigger than himself.
      • Invoked more directly when fighting the Water; the Pine Guard recruits the help of city worker Pigeon in order to allow them to divert water away from H2Whoa: That Was Fun! while they fight the abomination.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Champions. If a hero achieved a high enough score with a Presence attack, either (a) he could ask any nearby normals for help against a supervillain or (b) the normals could decide on their own to help against the villain.

     Video Games 
  • In The Wonderful 101, by drawing a circle around civilians you can recruit them to your team for the duration of the stage.


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