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Retired Badass Roundup

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The world has changed. Years have passed since these old heroes, villains, or neutral characters all were in their prime. In fact, most of them are now Retired Badasses. But the world needs them, one last time, for one last battle. Or they're just getting old and need to feel alive again before they're too old to do anything anymore.

Compare to Putting the Band Back Together, when it's any kind of group. Or to the Magnificent Seven Samurai, when it's about any group of people who are Badass. What makes this different from those tropes is that this trope is about those who are old and have had their turn coming back.

For the singular version, look for Back in the Saddle. See also One Last Job.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In GUN×SWORD, there was that fan-favorite episode featuring the El Dorado Five - a bunch of former Hot Blooded Super Robot pilots, now octogenarians who do nothing but hang around the local bar chatting 'bout the glory-days. Until suddenly, a Monster of The Week appears, (as always happens when Van is around), only this time, the old coots decide to pull their Combining Mecha out of mothballs for one last fight... Van, out of respect for the pride of these old warriors, decides to sit out the fight, only providing a bit of timely aid from the sidelines. It was popular enough that the El Dorado team came back as the collective Big Guy for Van's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in the second half of the series. And when Gun X Sword was finally featured in Super Robot Wars K, the El Dorado V was a recruitable, permanent mecha for your team.
  • Dragon Ball sees this during the Buu Saga with Tenshinhan/Tien, who dedicated himself to a life of ascetism, but nevertheless is able to donate energy for Goku's Spirit Bomb.

    Comic Books 
  • The Elseworlds mini-series Kingdom Come may be the Ur-Example. Set 20 Minutes into the Future, it features dozens of retired heroes (or in some cases, brand new adoptions of old names) joining two factions, one led by Batman and another by Superman, to combat the superpowered "metahumans" such as Magog, who are causing just as much loss of life and destruction as the villains do. Sadly, while the two factions share a common goal, they oppose each other as well due to distrust and disagreement over methods, leaving them vulnerable to the true villains of the story.
  • Guy Gardner decides to call in the "Mean Machine" in the second arc of the New 52 series.

    Fan Works 
  • Ahsoka: A NZRE Star Wars Story: All of the main characters were prominent freedom fighters in earlier media, but have since moved on due to the end of the Empire.
  • Star Trek: Phoenix: After James Liang accepts the captaincy of the Phoenix, he tracks down a number of his old shipmates, all of whom have since left Starfleet for other occupations or private life, to talk them out of retirement and into joining the fleet again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The plot of Once Upon a Texas Train. A train robber is released after twenty years in prison and recruits his old gang to try and rob the same train that he was originally caught trying to rob. The man who caught him rounds up his band of retired Texas Rangers to go after him.
  • This is also the entire plot of the movie Red (2010).
  • In Revenge of the Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan team up again to save D'Artagnan's daughter Héloïse and thwart a conspiracy against a young King Louis XIV after splitting up many years before.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has all of them meeting for one last time. There was supposed to be a bunch of recruitment scenes of picking them all up from different places, but it was cut for budget reasons.
  • Space Cowboys: a movie in which a Russian satellite is falling to Earth and so four retired astronauts that never got into space go up because no one else is old enough to remember how to fix it.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask: The three Musketeers meet to try and replace the king with his twin brother.
  • The Expendables films run on this, what with them being teamups of many of the big action heroes of the '80s and early '90s (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, et cetera). They're both a cinematic example and (metafictionally) a Real Life example.
  • The climax of Battleship has the former crewmen of the battleship USS Missouri, some of whom are veterans of The Korean War, being called back into service to man the Missouri against the alien invaders.
  • The Wild Bunch focuses on a group of aging outlaws coming together for one last job during the Twilight of the Old West.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has in The Stinger a group resembling the original Guardians of the Galaxy team (namely: Starhawk, Lady Starhawk, Martinex, Krugarr, Mainframe and Charlie- 27) as senior Ravager captains, getting together after Yondu's death. They decide to do One Last Job in his memory.
  • In Avengers: Endgame, five years pass after the successful but fruitless attack on Thanos, when Ant-Man arrives with a Time Heist solution based on his time stuck in the Quantum Realm. But since then, Iron Man has had a daughter he isn't willing to lose, and Thor has become an obese recluse over his failure to stop Thanos in Infinity War, so both require convincing to rejoin the team.

  • Happens at the end of the book Count Belisarius by Robert Graves (of I, Claudius fame), when the titular character has to defend Constantinople with literally no army. So he gathers his former soldiers, now old bureaucrats and retired commanders. And they still win.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels Interesting Times and The Last Hero feature Cohen The Barbarian and the Silver Horde. Their entire schtick is this trope.
  • In 20 Years After, the first sequel to Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan tries to reunite his old friends on the orders of Cardinal Mazarino. Porthos, now a wealthy widower, accepts but Athos, who regained his title and estate as the Comte de la Fère and Aramis, now a priest, refuse. Athos and Aramis are members of the Fronde, the anti-Mazarin rebellion. After a few chapters, they are kicking ass together again.
  • This is the plot of the fantasy novel Kings of the Wyld, where the members of Saga, one of the greatest mercenary bands in history, are taken off from retirement by Gabriel, their old leader, when his daughter gets caught in a siege on the other side of the world. Thing is, all of them have been out of any serious action for almost two decades, and the fact that the Heartwyld (a massive forest that spans the entire continent, infested with monsters, traps and diseases) is in their way certainly doesn't help. But they go, anyway.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: the episode "Blood Oath" where Kang, Kor, and Koloth, all Klingons from Star Trek: The Original Series meet for one last quest to fight against the murderer of their children, the Albino.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century had a squad of old retired fighters led by Peter Graves come back for One Last Job.
  • Within the 1980 version of Zorro, a bandit troupe threatens the town and Don Diego's father calls in the badass crew he used to work with. Their skills have noticeably degraded in the time they've been retired, so Zorro has to do their job behind the scenes without letting them realize their failure.
  • An episode of Psych has Henry call in two Retired Badass colleagues to solve a case; these men turn out to be strikingly similar to Shawn and Gus, which is lampshaded multiple times.
  • An episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues has the Cains bring in The Equalizer and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to lend their particular skills to help rescue a kidnap victim.
  • Dad's Army is based on the Home Guard in WW2, the desperation measure Britain employed in 1940 to bring back older men with previous military experience to do whatever was within their capabilities. The Walmington-On-Sea platoon is formed of men of average age sixty, veterans of older British wars, who all, while having retired from active service, wish they'd been Badasses. Corporal Jones, for instance, is over eighty and a veteran of four previous wars going back to 1881. The only real Badass among them is octogenarian Private Godfrey - a pacifist, and the platoon's medical orderly. Who as a Combat Medic won bravery medals in WW1 for retrieving wounded men under enemy fire.

    Myths & Religion 

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Extreme Ghostbusters: While Egon was leading the new team of Ghostbusters, the old gang came back for the series' finale.
  • The Venture Brothers: In the episode "Past Tense", when both Brock and Dr. Venture are kidnapped, Hank and Dean recruit the original Team Venture to help rescue them. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Powerpuff Girls parodies this in the episode "Fallen Arches": the leader of a legendary team of villains, the "Ministry of Pain" decides out of the blue to get his team back together and resume operations despite all of them having gotten really old. Blossom for whatever reason stops the other girls from doing something since they must "respect the elderly" so they trick the heroes who stopped them in the old days, Captain Righteous and his sidekick Lefty to fight them, despite them having had a falling out. The "battle" ends with all the elderly in intensive care and Blossom being chewed out by the news anchor about the fact that direct intervention would have stopped the problem before it started.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had the Order of the White Lotus (including Uncle Iroh, King Bumi, Jeong Jeong, Pakku, and Piandao) and their battle to retake the Earth Capital of Ba Sing Se.
    • Subverted in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, where of the remaining heroes (Katara and Toph), only one shows up to save the day, claiming that they need to leave it up to the kids.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series had World War II superheroes come out of retirement to aid Captain America against a newly risen Red Skull and his son Electro (alternate continuity) and their army of robots.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Captain Rex and a few other old clone troopers take up the cause again. Ultimately, Rex is the only one who joins the Rebel network, though Wolffe and Gregor both cover his escape.