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Specifically Numbered Group

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Sometimes, an organization, group or gang needs specific rules. Like how many members it can have. It's fairly routine with evil organizations, though it may appear with heroic groups as well.

This is a case when the number of the group is defined and, apparently, immutable. There are times when a justification is given during the course of the story, but other times there is no explanation whatsoever, except that it sounds better.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The great Archfiends from Avesta of Black and White are always capped at seven. No more, no less. Should one against all odds be killed, then the clock is ticking for the heroes as should they fail to kill all of them within a year of the first, then a new one will rise to take the fallen one's place. Of course it goes further than that. Should all of them be killed, then a giant Reset Button will be triggered that causes everything to start all over again, just with the roles reversed. All to fit with the Black-and-White Insanity of the ruling God.
  • Bleach: The Espada are the ten top-ranked and most powerful Hollows, ranked by personal strength. Although the number isn't given any particular significance, it is consistent — when one member suffers an injury that weakens him, he's immediately demoted to "Privaron Espada" and replaced.
  • D.Gray-Man gives us the Clan of Noah. It is made very clear that there are only 13 members; one of the reasons for the existence of the Fourteen is a mystery until it is revealed that he is actually part of the Millenium Earl, their leader.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), the Big Bad employs a maximum of seven homunculi at any one time, giving them codenames based on the Seven Deadly Sins. This is in contrast to the original manga, where the homunculi are literal embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins which split off from the Big Bad and thus cannot gain new members (though they can be "rebooted" to some extent).
  • Fruits Basket: The cursed members of the Sohma family are always 14, due to being possessed by the animal spirits of the Zodiac, plus the spirits of the Cat and the God of the legend.
  • In Hunter Hunter, the Phantom Troupe is always meant to have 13 members—absolutely no more, and any new members are either selected by the leader or earn their place by defeating one of the members. They each have their number tattooed on them.
  • One Piece:
    • The Shichibukai, also known as the Seven Warlords of the Sea in the English localization, are exactly seven people, and the World Government constantly scouts for replacements in case one of them loses their position. The nod to the Seven Samurai is even more prominent in the German localization where they're called exactly like that (which later becomes a problem when actual samurais are introduced in the story).
    • The Yonkou, localized as the Four Emperors of the Sea, are the four strongest and most influential pirates of their era. Even when Luffy is nicknamed the "Fifth Emperor", he's not considered an actual part of their ranks, since the group doesn't get their name changed to "Gokou". Luffy eventually becomes a Yonkou anyway, meaning that they are still four of them. This is also justified, since if one of the Yonkou dies, their would be a power vacuum that needs to be close, which is why they're always four.
    • The Big Mom Pirates have the Sweets-Three-Generals which are the three strongest members of the crew and family. They were originally called the Sweets-Four-Generals, but Snack got defeated by Urouge before the Whole Cake Island arc began, which resulted in Snack being degraded, but without getting replaced, which is why the group was renamed.
    • The Blackbeard Pirates have the Ten Titanic Captains, who are the ten highest ranked officers under Blackbeard who each command a ship of their own.
    • The Tobi Roppo are the six strongest Headliners of the Animal Kingdom Pirates, who also have been serving Kaidou for at least two years or more. One thing they all have in common is that they all have Ancient Zoan powers.
    • The Akazaya Nine were the nine brave vassals who were served Kozuki Oden when the latter challenged Kaidou 20 years ago. After Kanjuurou turns out to be a traitor, Izou returns to Wano as a proxy replacement for him, who was previously also one of Oden's vassals.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The "Seven Stars Assassins" consist of seven Duelists whose goal is to retrieve the seven Spirit Keys from their guardians. Although, the concept of each member of the Seven Stars facing each of the seven guardians is pretty much thrown away, as soon as multiple of the guardians keep losing to the best members of the Seven Stars. Three members of the Seven Stars end up dueling multiple guardians individually, and three of the guardians also end up dueling multiple members of the Seven Stars (Judai defeats five of them himself). The fact that the seventh of the Seven Stars and the seventh guardian are the same person makes it even more complicated. Furthermore, while the group was formed and assigned to retrieve the seven Spirit Keys, the reason was actually arbitrary, since they were just pawns used to generate enough Duel Energy to awaken the Sangenma, and the Spirit Keys were just an excuse to give the characters a reason to duel for, just as Kagemaru planned.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
    • A complicated case due to Executive Meddling and subversion. There were originally only five Signers because there were only five birthmarks of the Crimson Dragon, and five dragons working for it. The Team 5D's was named because of that reason, even though the team was officially formed with seven members, although they made it clear that the two extra members were just extras, not Signers. However, because Executive Meddling made Crow the new fifth Signer instead of Lua who was originally intended to be, a sixth dragon was added a season later after Crow became a Signer and the dragon was retroactively added in new flashbacks. When Lua became the sixth Signer near the end of the series, a sixth birthmark was added and he got the fifth dragon that has been shown for years.
    • The Dark Signers, on the other hand, were never fixed to be specifically five members. Their birthmarks were based on the Aztec lines, of which more than five exist. Thus, new Dark Signers with different birthmarks were added, and unlike the case of Crow, additional members for the Dark Signers were always intended.
    • In the case of the Signers being originally fixed to five members, the fifth Signer kept changing due to the five birthmarks being originally fixed to five. Of the modern era, Rudger was the original bearer of the "head" birthmark. Before turning into a Dark Signer, he sliced his arm with the birthmark off and gave it to his brother Goodwin to take care of, so someone else can inherit the birthmark. Goodwin, reborn as the seventh Dark Signer, replaced his artificial arm with his brother's arm and simultaneously became the new fifth Signer. Then during the clinax, Goodwin's birthmark of the Crimson Dragon's head was magically transferred to Yusei, and Yusei's "tail" birthmark was transferred to Crow.
    • The Three Emperors of Yliaster are three members because they represent the three ages of Aporia. Specifically, they represent the three points in time where he fell in absolute despair. Each of them wield one of the three Machine Emperors.

    Literature 
  • Of all schools shown in the Harry Potter series, Hogwarts is the only one whose students are divided into four Houses, created by the four founders.
  • In The Elenium, the Styric Pantheon is aptly known as The Thousand, or, literally, "ten times ten times ten", which they picked because it was an auspiciously round number. One god who'd lost a finger had wanted it to be the "nine times nine times nine", but more deities than that had already come into existence.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, the Prince of Gujaareh has an Exotic Extended Marriage of 256 wives: the goddess Hananja is associated with the number four, so 256 (four times four times four times four) is especially holy, as is the Prince as Hananja's Avatar.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Whereas the nine other Orders of Knights Radiant have no membership limit, the Order of Bondsmiths has at most three Knights. This is because the other Knights gain their powers by bonding a specific type of spren, but each Bondsmith is bonded to a unique, powerful Spren: either the Stormfather, the Nightwatcher, or the Sibling.

    Live Action TV 
  • Blake's 7 is only a borderline example because the titular Rag Tag Band Of Misfits are never actually called such in-universe, but for some reason they never spent more than a couple of episodes down to six or fewer main characters before picking up someone new. This persisted even after Blake himself was Put on a Bus.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: The Magocracy of ancient Thassilon was founded on principles of Runic Magic and philosophy, including a leadership of seven Runelords, one for each of the Seven Virtues of Rule. As Thassilon fell into decadence, the Runelords came to represent the Seven Deadly Sins instead.
  • Planescape: The Hierarchs of the Modrons, a race of constructs that embody universal orderinvoked, have nine ranks, each with a population equal to the square of the rank — from 100 Decatons to four Secundi, ruled by Primus. They follow the chain of command without fail; if one dies, one member of every inferior rank is promoted up, and a new Monodrone (the lowest rank) is spontaneously created.

    Video Games 
  • Organization XIII of Kingdom Hearts series is a group of the few elite Nobodies who still look human (Nobodies being what's left of a particularly strong-willed person who's lost their heart to darkness, their body and soul continuing to operate as emotionless husks) and are willing to do anything it takes to get their hearts back to be real people again. They are the main villains of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, and the Villain Protagonists of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (well, three of their members are anyway). Several games after the group's debut, it's revealed in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] that Xehanort's true purpose in creating the Organization was to get empty vessels he could implant with copies of his own heart for use as candidates for the 13 Seekers of Darkness he needed as part of his larger scheme to create a legendary weapon. In reality, the group only has 13 members for a very short period of time. Starting with just six members, it eventually grows to 12 over the course of many years. Finally, Roxas becomes the last, Number XIII... but then Days reveals that Number XIV joins a few days after him. Days later reveals that Xion was not considered a real member of the group, she was basically a clone of Roxas intended to replace him as the Organization's Keyblade-wielder who'd create Kingdom Hearts for them in case he didn't work out. In Kingdom Hearts III, the group's second incarnation, filled by the successful 13 Seekers and dubbed "the Real Organization XIII", actually has a total of 15 members, with one brought in to serve as the thirteenth active member even with two other members already on standby as "reserves". Hilariously, the new Number XIII was Xion. Guess she does qualify as a Real member.
  • The End Times: Vermintide and its sequel pits five heroes - the Ubersreik Five - against an endless invasion of ratmen, northlanders, and beastmen. It's a four player game, so every round one character is benched. Lampshaded in one of the Mercenary Captain's ultimate lines. Justified in that the world literally ended; Warhammer Fantasy is no more.
  • The Quarter Knights from Wild ARMs are a group of four demons hell bent on subjugating Filgaia. When Berserk is defeated, Alhazad remarks he doesn't feel comfortable with the team only having three members because they are supposed to be a foursome. However, Mother quickly replaces Berserk with Boomerang, bringing the number back to four again.

    Visual Novel 
  • The Fate Series started out with Fate/stay night, where there exist seven classes that can be summoned in Holy Grail Wars. The founding members of the Great Three Houses needed more Masters to participate in the ritual, thus the number of the main classes was fixed to seven. The seven classes are further divided in two categories: the Three Knights and the Four Cavalries. The Extra Classes are considered irregular.

    Real Life 
  • A large number of governmental bodies always have exactly X number of members (e.g.: the U.S. Supreme Court always has nine members, unless there's a vacancy). There are far too many of these to list them all, but it's safe to say that for any given such body, the reason that it is always exactly X number is usually "It's convenient."
  • Historically, a jury (in common-law countries, at any rate) always had twelve members (with the exception of Scotland, where the number was 15), with the historical justifications ranging from the numerological to the lazy. Modern juries are an aversion: many jurisdictions call for smaller juries in criminal trials, and even the most conservative (like the American federal court system, which insists on the old-fashioned twelve-person jury for criminal cases) allow for the parties to agree on a smaller jury in civil cases.

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