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Training the Peaceful Villagers

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"Set aside your peaceful ways
And prepare for war
Melt down your plowshares
And take up your swords
We will see the flesh laid low
The bodies fall
The Most High that none may know
Watches us all..."
The Sword, "Hawks and Serpents"

For added effect, listen to this while reading this page.

There's a big bad gang/army out there that wants to sack the peaceful village for whatever reason. The Protagonist can't stop them by himself for whatever reason. Either way, it's time to teach the initially Untrusting Community how to fight and defend themselves. Expect some complaining about "losing their peaceful way of life." If there's a Wasteland Elder around, expect them to back the hero and shush the young'un.

The villagers will fight back with pitchforks, plowshares and improvised weapons. It will also include many Bamboo Technology traps involving previously innocuous items, like laundry buckets filled with boiling water. Usually, the outlaw band/army should have been able to beat them, had they taken the villagers seriously and fought with genuine strategy; but their downfall usually lay in rushing into traps.


In some instances, the villagers may have existed under the oppression of the hordes for years or even generations without even thinking of fighting back. Not, that is, until The Hero shows up. Basking in the glow of his shining example, the common people finally rise up to combat the Evil Overlords.

With the enemy dead or on the run, and the villagers converted to the notion of violence for self-defense, the heroes leave. The young'un won't be complaining after that.

See also The Magnificent Seven Samurai, The Paragon, Perfect Pacifist People, Home Guard, Instant Militia, or Holding Out for a Hero. The village is often a Doomed Hometown that fights back. Compare Defiant Stone Throw. Contrast One-Man Army, where this sort of thing is not necessary.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cyborg 009 uses the trope and ends the episode with a subtle but ominous picture of one of the formerly peaceful (not to mention god-like powerful) aliens callously trampling over a flower.
  • Drifters has the oppressed elf farmers being trained by samurai.
  • Primarily averted in Naruto, given that the setting revolves around villages filled with incredibly powerful ninja, but it's Played Straight in a Big Damn Heroes moment near the very end of the Land of Waves arc, which takes place in the only known country with no ninja village. In this case, though, it's less "Training the Peaceful Villagers", and more "Inspiring the Peaceful Villagers".
  • In One Piece, the Toy Soldier realized he couldn't protect Rebecca forever due to his fragile toy body, so he trained her so she would be able to protect herself. Bonus points for Tough Love because it was later revealed Rebecca is his daughter.
  • Samurai 7, being a Seven Samurai adaptation with mecha added.
  • The Rabbitmen in Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest are so averse to violence that every other tribe of demi-humans considers them absolute cowards. They're not cowards, they just don't like fighting​. (If they were cowards, they would have just surrendered Shea.) When Hajime decides to train them, they take to it with a literal vengeance. Turns out "be very fast, be very quiet" are traits useful to both shy prey animals and assassins.
  • Parodied in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, when Kaname and Sousuke are assigned the task of training up the comically pacifist school rugby team for what will be their last match should they lose. After Kaname's more genre-appropriate measures fail to get through, Sousuke steps up to the task. The only problem is that Sousuke, not having the slightest clue about how rugby is played, just decides to put them through Full Metal Jacket (complete with direct quotes from the infamous Gunnery Sergeant Hartman). The end result is nearly as disastrously violent as its inspirations'.

    Comic Books 
  • Done darkly in an early Groo the Wanderer comic. Groo trains a peaceful village to fight against two hordes of bandits. In the process, the village and all its crops are destroyed. Having no other way to make a living now, the villagers and the bandit hordes unite into a single, massive bandit army that overruns nearby cities.
    • Darkly and surprisingly often—another, even earlier story had women being kidnapped by an airship. Groo "trains" the villagers (with the usual complaints of the attack having been less painful and going into battle being safer than Groo's training). Turns out that the women were being held in a... basically a resort... and had no intention of leaving, and that they rather resented being "rescued". A later story involved bandits riding giant birds, and while Groo's "training" more or less worked, his help, as usual, backfired spectacularly.
  • ElfQuest: When their revered Mother of Memory is entrapped on the spirit plane by an enemy they can't begin to comprehend, the peaceful Sun Folk ask the few remaining Wolfriders to teach them weapon skills. No, they never use their skills in any useful way during the main storyline, but at least learning to shoot arrows makes them feel like they're doing something.
    • The issue was more that the Wolfriders were leaving, and since the arrival of the Wolfriders had precipitated the departure of Rayek, their previous warrior-defender, they felt that they would have no more protection. Plus their healer was leaving them at the same time.
  • Shamelessly parodied in a Thrud the Barbarian story. The Xena-eat-your-heart-out-gorgeous warrior woman Lymara shows the village women how to kill two men. She drops her sword and bends over to get it, giving the men a great view of her cleavage. The two men stop and leer. She swiftly beheads them both with a cry of "Hah! Sexist pigs!" Then she looks at the (realistic) peasant women for a moment and asks, "On second thoughts, who knows how to shoot a bow and arrow?"
  • Blaze of Glory: Kid Colt suggests this in Issue #3, but he draws the line at teaching Reno's son Cass how to fight, because he won't let him go down the same path as he did.
  • Done in an issue of Marvel Adventures: Avengers, where the Avengers have to train a village to fight off a warlord and his minions. The Avengers fight along with the villagers in versions of their costumes modified to look as if they're villagers themselves, to try and make sure that the warlord won't just regroup and come back the moment he thinks the Avengers have left.
    • Even more, Cap couldn't lead them because it would tip the warlord off - he had Wolverine lead them. It was like a dream come true to him.

    Fan Works 
  • Murphy's Militia.
  • One of the early plot points of The Crimson Badger of The Urthblood Saga, where Urthblood arrives at Redwall Abbey to help them prepare for the coming dark times he's seen in a prophetic vision.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: When Ganondorf arrives in Equestria in Season 2, Vaati suggests that it might be necessary for his monsters to train the citizens of Ponyville how to fight, in order to better their chances of defending themselves.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the Royal Guard is seen levying Ponyville civilians in preparation for a large-scale search of the Everfree Forest for changelings.
  • In Project Delta, the attack on Mindoir turns out differently largely due to Jane doing everything possible to invoke this trope.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Ant Colony from A Bug's Life. Even the grasshoppers recognize the Ants' potential threat (They outnumber the grasshoppers, 100 to 1), but the Ants don't... until it is expressly spelled out for them.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 3, after some advice from Po's adoptive father Mr. Ping, Li Shan decides to aid his son Po in helping him defeat Kai and his Jade zombies by offering him and the other Pandas a chance to train Kung Fu. Po having previously been angry at his father for lying, eventually accepts, regaining back some of the faith and trust he lost for his father.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ur-film example is Seven Samurai, where the samurai plan to let a few bandits past the village gates at a time so that the villagers can Zerg Rush them with bamboo spears from a safe distance.
  • The Magnificent Seven, for instance, is a direct western adaptation of Kurosawa's film.
  • And Battle Beyond the Stars has a Recycled IN SPACE! version.
  • The Taiwanese film, Beach of the War Gods tells the story of a village being ravaged by Japanese pirates on a regular basis, until a heroic warrior and drifter bands together six other warriors to help battle the pirates.
  • Seven Swords is a Chinese version.
  • Done in a silly manner in the movie ¡Three Amigos!. The villagers couldn't do much except dig and sew, which was a problem since the heroes couldn't do much except pretend to be cowboys in silent movies. But with a plan cobbled together from the big finales of their various movies, a Rousing Speech that got a bit lost in the middle, and a lot of digging and sewing by the villagers, the day is saved.
  • Applied Phlebotinum film example: Galaxy Quest... again, not that the actual heroes have the skills that they're given credit for, either.
  • Done in Argo. Not the actual Argo, but the fictional Film Within a Film Argo, and made to sound like an allegory for the Iranian Revolution itself, gaining the approval of some Iranian guards at the airport.
  • Done in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, by Robin and Azeem. They actually weren't peaceful (or villagers for that matter), but Robin and Azeem did ultimately make them more effective.
  • The Spaghetti Western They Call Me Trinity has the heroes teaching a community of pacifists to fight back against the villain who wants the land they've built on. The villagers are so peaceful that they have no idea how to fight, and the heroes end up repeatedly clobbering them during the training exercises.
  • The whole premise in Defiance, which is about a group of Jewish refugees. As they have gathered more people, they begin training able-bodied people (including women) to fight for survival with weapons taken from the hands of dead Nazis.
  • In Army of Darkness, Ash is inexplicably seen teaching the medieval villagers, including their soldiers, on how to use a halberd.
  • The movie High Plains Drifter has Clint Eastwood as No Name Given train the villagers to fight. Darker and Edgier because they aren't peaceful, just cowards, and he really doesn't care much for them.
  • Subverted in Ip Man, where our hero trains the workers at Quan's factory in Wing Chun to help them resist a group of bandits, only for the bandits to prevail anyway until Ip Man pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment. The main thing the workers accomplish is a Divide and Conquer variant: to keep various small groups of bandits busy long enough for him to show up and deal with them one at a time rather than forcing him to fight all of them at once.
  • This is how they deal with the bad guys in Dragonheart. The villagers weren't exactly peaceful, however; rather, they were worn out from trying to fight the current Big Bad's father some ten years earlier, and just didn't want to get involved again. Having a dragon on their side changed their minds.
  • Blazing Saddles has the villagers contribute by making a fake version of their town to lure the bandits into it and then blow it up. Then the heroes lead the whole town in a massive brawl with the remaining bandits.
  • Parodied in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, where the Peaceful Villagers are so inept that Robin and company have to do pretty much everything themselves.
  • In The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, the eponymous "36th Chamber" of the hero's training is to find and train commoners to retaliate against an evil regime of some kind. Although he pretty much does all the killing himself, it's an interesting coda to the most protracted Training Montage in martial arts cinema.
  • Subverted in High Noon, where Gary Cooper plays a marshall who hears that a criminal gang is coming to his Wild West town bent on revenge. Despite the fact that he was already planning on leaving, he spends most of the movie attempting to rally the villagers to the defense of their town. Everyone else proves too cowardly to fight, however, and he is forced to take on the gang almost singlehandedly.
  • Cave Dwellers has Ator ride into a village and immediately start this sequence (seriously, he begins the "This is what we'll do" speech before he even gets off his horse)... only to get pissed off on realizing the villagers aren't playing along. Turns out they're not on his side.
  • Done to a degree and lampshaded in Kingdom of Heaven. After Balian knights all of the men in the village as a group, the priest asks if making a man a knight will make him a better fighter, to which Balian simply responds "yes."
  • A Gone Horribly Wrong example in Apocalypse Now, where both Col. Kurtz and the villagers he's trained have descended into madness.
  • Magnificent Warriors have the heroes training the entire village of Kaal, whose forces consist of mostly civilian militia, in order to repel an invading Japanese force, who comes equipped with cannons and automatic weapons. They win... against the first wave of Japanese invaders, but then it was subverted when the villagers ends up facing a second wave, whose forces includes tanks, at which point the citizens of Kaal ends up torching their homes to the ground to avoid a fatal second battle.
  • The backstory of The Siege, where Iraqi fighters trained (and abandoned) by the CIA have returned to America for vengeance.
  • A variation of this happens in Death Wish 3, where Paul Kersey teaches the retirees how to fight back against the young hoodlums that have moved into their neighborhood.
  • Hercules does this early in Hercules (2014). It bites him in the ass when it turns out their leader is a tyrant.
  • In Go West, Young Lady, all of the men in Headstone are formed into a Posse and ride out to raid Killer Pete's hideout. However, Killer Pete knows of this and plans to have the posse wiped out in an ambush by Chief Big Thunder Cloud's tribe, while he and his gang loot the town. Learning of this, Bill sends one of the women to warn the men, and hurriedly organizes the rest of the townswomen into a fighting force that ambushes the gang and does a good job of subduing them by pelting them with pots and pans and whacking them with brooms.
  • Averted in The Wild Geese. When the mercenaries are abandoned, it's suggested that they rouse the local population with the aid of the African politician they've just rescued. It's quickly shown to be unworkable; the tribesmen don't have modern weapons, there's a regiment of the dictator's Praetorian Guard approaching and the politician refuses to lead his people to slaughter.

  • Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, concerns the ka-tet defending a village from a raid of bandits. It's a very intentional homage to The Seven Samurai, which becomes a plot point when the fourth wall starts falling away later in the series.
  • Black Vein Prophecy ends with the Amnesiac Hero realizing his true heritage as a prince destined to stop a tyrant, as he leads an army comprising of conscripted villagers and Home Guard units which he had trained alongside his partner, the La Résistance leader Merzei, in order to battle his evil, ruthless brother.
  • This is the plot of one of the Animorphs books, where the peaceful villagers and the threatening invaders are both aliens. Also joining the fight are a group of Muggles who are helping to resist the invasion simply because they Jumped at the Call. They're all Trekkies on their yearly camp out.
    • It was also the plot of The Hork-Bajir Chronicles. An Andalite trains the Hork-Bajir to fight against the invading Yeerks. This was necessary because the Hork-Bajir were bark-eaters, and had never had conflict before. They, at first, couldn't even conceive of using their blades to deliberately harm another.
  • The Redwall series takes this to ridiculous extremes. The villagers are frequently absurdly outnumbered, pacifists who have never fought a day in their lives, and the villains bother to use actual strategy. (Although to be honest, all but the small handful of leader-types in any given vermin horde tend to be hopelessly inept redshirts in their own right.)
    • Defenders' Advantage—it's commonly accepted that to take a walled city or castle (which Redwall Abbey pretty much is) using medieval weaponry, the attackers need to outnumber the defenders by at least ten to one.
    • Too bad the strategy never seems to extend to using siege weaponry to knock a wall down and rebuild it. The plans are still around, aren't they?
    • To give an actual trope example: in "Mariel of Redwall," a group of sea rats are besieging Redwall Abbey, as they do. The searats have just hit on a strategy to get inside that may actually work — fling balls of burning pitch over the walls to burn them out — when a Long Patrol of three hares from Salamandastron arrive, and teach the Redwallers the construction and use of longbows.
    • In the animated adaptation this often turns comical, with one attempt to tunnel into the Abbey repulsed with a vat of hot oatmeal. In the original book, it was boiling water.
  • Harry Potter does this with 'Dumbledore's Army' in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Subverted in The Sworn Sword. Much time is spent by Dunk, Egg and Ser Bennis in training the villagers in use of arms for a proposed battle against the Webbers of Coldmoat despite many of them never holding a sword in their life. In a thorough deconstruction of the trope, Dunk decides that these villagers will get butchered since the time window is too short to be trained properly and he decides to resolve the conflict himself before it spills into bloodshed.
  • Kel does this with the occupants of her refugee camp in the final book of Protector of the Small, because she doesn't have enough guards to keep them safe.
  • Kelsier does this in the first book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. They then get slaughtered after the army's leader gets hot-blooded and attempts a general uprising instead of the targeted attacks that Kelsier was intending, before the next stage of the plan said army was to be a part of was ready.
  • Subverted in The Wheel of Time with the Tuatha'an (an ethnic Expy of the Roma), who follow a pacifistic moral code known as, "The Way of the Leaf". The Tuatha'an refuse to defend themselves even against what are essentially the Hordes of Hell, much to the anguish of Perrin and Aram, a Tuatha'an who becomes "Lost" and learns to fight when his parents are killed by the Trollocs. The Aiel have a mass BSOD when they discover that their ancestors were this.
    • However, played straight when Perrin rallies the people of Two Rivers to defend themselves against first the Trollocs, and then the Children of the Light.
      • Of course, the Two Rivers folk turn out to be pretty skilled already, being some of the best archers in the world and having the blood of Manetheren, which counts for a lot in Randland.
  • In Alan Quartermain, when a Masaii warband kidnaps the daughter of a missionary, the Zulu warrior Umslopogaas makes the plan for the parishioners to attack and annihilate the war party.
  • In Barbara Hambly's The Ladies of Mandrigyn, the eponymous, and previously very traditional, women secure the services of mercenary captain Sun Wolf to train them in weapons use so that they can free their men from imprisonment in the local mines and help to overthrow a vicious wizard/warlord.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Death or Glory, Cain creates a small army by having the PDF troops he had gathered train volunteers among the civilian refugees to supplement their ranks. The popular histories of that war claim that the bulk of the army was made of such volunteers (which was most definitely not true). In Cain's Last Stand, Cain realizes that the understrength PDF on the same world doesn't have the manpower to repulse the incoming Chaos fleet, so he creates militia units across the planet using this trope. Subverted in that he had no illusions about the ability of the militia to repulse the invaders: He was simply hoping that they could pin enemy units down long enough for properly trained soldiers to show up (and as the retired Sister says, if the war was lost they'd be slaughtered anyways by Chaos cultists).
  • Vanyel tries to do this in the first book of the Last Herald-Mage trilogy; he realizes almost immediately that he just doesn't have time to train them in new weapons, and focuses on stratagems involving things they already know how to use, like pitchforks.
  • In the second book, Eldest, of the Inheritance Cycle, Roran does something similar in Carvahall.
  • In Warrior Cats, the clan cats lead the normally peaceful Tribe of Rushing Water to battle against invaders. And then they teach them both diplomacy.
  • In the alternate history novel The Years of Rice and Salt, a samurai from Chinese-conquered Japan makes his home among a native American tribe. He teaches them the arts of warfare and modern agriculture and industry so that they will be able to withstand the advances of the Chinese colonisers on the West Coast (and the Islamic colonisers on the East Coast). Centuries later, the various native American tribes had formed the Hodenosaunee League, which survives as a major world power.
  • In The Dresden Files, the ParaNet is organized to protect minor talents from being abused by black wizards or other supernatural threats.
    • It's more successful than anyone expected, and becomes necessary for survival after Harry dies.
  • The most controversial book of the Sword of Truth has a pacifist MacGuffin people called the Bandakar Empire, that Richard and Co. train to fight.
  • George R. R. Martin short stories:
    • "And Seven Times Never Kill Man." The fanatical Steel Angels create a colony on the world of Corlos, and begin systematically wiping out the native, simian jaenshi whenever they feel the need to expand their territory. The overweight, amiable, and formerly pacifistic trader Arik neKrol takes it upon himself to organize a jaenshi resistance. The story subverts the trope. Very few of the jaenshi gravitate to his plan, all are half-wild survivors of previous Steel Angel attacks on villages who did not join other existing clans, only one of the group has any kind of discipline, and Arik is killed in their first and only skirmish. But then it's double-subverted, because it turns out that the jaenshi didn't really need an armed resistance at all. They apparently concoct a ruse (the how of which is deliberately left vague) using the mysterious pyramids their villages are based around, that plays on the Steel Angel's fanatical religious beliefs. The only thing Arik's resistance ends up accomplishing is killing the one Steel Angel officer that suspected the jaenshi were somehow deceiving them.
    • Subverted in "The Sworn Sword," where Dunk has to rally his master's peasants and train them in preparation for a conflict with the neighboring lord. The peasants are too few and completely incapable of becoming a fighting force in such a short time, forcing Dunk to figure out a better way to handle the conflict.
  • In the 10th book of the Ranger's Apprentice series, Horace and Will do this with Kikori peasants, whose greatest combat attribute is their ability to cooperate and coordinate. The results are shockingly effective against the more skilled but highly individualistic samurai, who don't really know how to handle a shield wall.
  • The Lord of the Rings - the "Scouring of the Shire", where the pacifistic hobbits, previously subdued by the barrel-scrapings of Saruman's armies, are roused to fight by the return of the four adventurers of the Ring. Becoming an efficient guerilla army, they destroy Saruman's mooks and effectively become their own Rangers, now the original protectors of the Shire have moved to Minas Tirith.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, Karyl and Rob, as the best dinosaur commander in the country and the man who defeated him, respectively, are hired by a Technical Pacifist sect to help them defend themselves against raiders and a marching army out to burn the "heretics".
  • Literature: The Bulgarian novel Under the Yoke has the rebels train their own people in the villages surrounding the town of Byala Cherkva. In the movie adaptation, the villagers are so inept that when training them to march, the rebels have to replace "left" and "right" with the names of two villages lying in the respective directions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Xena: Warrior Princess has done this more than once.
  • MacGyver (1985) likewise has to train a peaceful village in a Republica del Platano to fight their drug lord oppressors, in the episode "The Golden Triangle."
  • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Marauders" has the Enterprise crew do this with a mining colony that was being raided by a group of Klingons.
  • Combined with a Stable Time Loop in a particularly bizarre episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. A time-displaced Peter is surprised to learn the besieged group of Shaolin monks he's landed among have no clue how to fight off their attackers. The rudimentary self-defense he teaches them eventually became the basis for the kung fu his Shaolin father taught him.
  • Done in the third season finale of Buffy and many a character's Moment of Awesome.
  • Red Dwarf: Rimmer tried this with a group of entertainers and pacifists in "Meltdown," and expended the few troops that survived his training on a suicide mission.
  • An episode of Merlin uses this trope after the title character's home village is attacked by raiders.
  • The Mandalorian Chapter 4 "The Sanctuary" embraces the trope as the hero saves peaceful villagers from raiders and a rampant AT-ST. A Training Montage displays how far they have to go. He meets a Retired Outlaw Action Girl who helps him train the villagers. The Hero finds a Love Interest — a widow with whom he "wished he could" settle down with, but he can't.
  • Doctor Who
    • A variation on this trope occurred in "The Daleks". Rather than being ignorant the Thals were instead morally opposed to violence due to the wars of their past, which was OK until the Daleks decided to massacre them.
    • Played for Laughs in "The Girl Who Died". After their best Viking warriors are abducted by aliens, the Doctor and his companion decide to do this trope with the remainder, who lack any experience in fighting. Hilarity Ensues when they burn down their village by accident during training. Of course the Doctor comes up with a cunning plan instead to save the day.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series subverts this in "Errand of Mercy," when war breaks out and Kirk and Spock try to get the apparently primitive citizens of the planet Organia to side with the Federation. However, the Organians aren't interested and seemingly go along with the Klingons seizing control of the planet while resolutely protecting the Starfleet officers, who are trying to rouse a resistance, with incomprehensible motives and means. In the end, the Organians suddenly stop the war themselves and reveal that they are actually energy beings of godlike power and were only humoring the warring powers around until their patience ran out.
    • Played straighter in "A Private Little War" where Kirk must decide whether to arm and train the Hill People of a planet who are being attacked by previously peaceful Town People (and to make matters worse, he had surveyed the planet beforehand and found it a peaceful paradise, as well as befriended the Hill People personally). It turns out the Town People were being given lessons in weapons development by the Klingons, allowing Kirk the legal pretext to arm the Hill People, while tortuously aware that he is starting an arms race that will plague the planet. It's an allegory to the then-ongoing Vietnam War.
    • In "The Omega Glory", Kirk has to stop a fellow officer from arming the villagers of the last village left on the planet, who all look Chinese with phasers against wild, brutish invading Americans who worship freedom but are pretty fuzzy on its finer points. This one is also a Cold War fable.
  • Subverted in Robin Hood. In an early S3 episode Robin rallies the villagers and tells them that one day he will call upon them to fight; likewise a press release revealed that Tuck would be organizing a "people's army." Turns out that what Robin and Tuck had in mind was for the villagers to stage a peaceful sit-in protest.
  • One episode of Firefly ("Heart of Gold") involved the crew digging in to help train and defend the local... whorehouse, complete with montage. It works.
  • Stargate SG-1 tries to do this with a planet about to be invaded by the Ori. They only have time for a quick crash-course in using P90s, which does not include reloading. As soon as ammo runs out, the villagers surrender.
    • Stargate also has a villainous example with the Ori followers. Aside from the whole burning people thing, the Ori army were previously decent people. The Ori whipped them into an effective army rather quickly.
    • And also in Stargate Atlantis, in a Bad Future where Ronon trains villagers as a guerrilla army to fight Michael's army of hybrids.
  • The outlaws in Robin of Sherwood travel to the village of Uffcombe in the two-part adventure "The Swords of Weyland" (originally broadcast as a feature-length special), where the villagers are being terrorised by the Hounds of Lucifer not supernatural demons as it turns out but merely the horseriding, mask-wearing minions of the local Priestess of a Satanic coven which is pretending to be a religious order of nuns. No, really. works.
  • An episode of Legend of the Seeker zig-zags this. On finding a peaceful village being harassed by raiders, Richard tries to train volunteers to fight in defense, only to find that they're under an old spell that paralyzes them should they even try to be violent. Richard convinces Zedd to remove the spell despite his objections, and finds out why it'd been cast in the first place: The villagers are the descendants of a group of brutal enforcers for an ancient ancestor of Richard's. Their anger is linked to him, and through him to the Sword of Truth, fanning their rage. This leads to them attacking and killing some of the raiders in their sleep, prompting the rest of the raiders to move for revenge—leaving Richard with only himself and a handful of men freed from the spell against the hundreds of raiders. They set up a bluff, arming the rest of the village, and try and convince the raiders to leave...which only works because one of the (still peaceful) villagers had saved one of the raiders earlier in the episode.
  • An Andromeda episode has Dylan arrive to train a tribe of peaceful locals to fight off-world pirates armed with guns. Dylan brings a crate-load of force lances (extendable pikes that double as guns with guided ammo), but a missionary, ironically the one who called him there thinking he'd bring his warship and scare the slavers off, destroys them, refusing to allow Dylan to corrupt the locals as they had Genetic Memory and their descendants would know violence from birth. Instead, Dylan has them build fortifications and trains them to throw spears from the walls. They win, briefly. But when the slavers stated they were coming back with reinforcements one of the villagers sacrificed herself to spawn a group of Magog with her memories that could protect the rest.
  • When Krane and his gang take over the town and hold all of the Dons hostage in the Queen of Swords episode "The Hanged Man", the Queen has to train the Dons' wives to fight back.
  • The Musketeers has this in the episode "The Return", where Athos is dragged back to his lands by the tenant farmers, who want him to reclaim the title of Comte de la Fère to protect them from a baron who sees the land as abandoned. Instead of reclaiming his title, he gifts the land to the people and the Musketeers train them to fight so they can keep it.
  • Tour of Duty: In "Paradise Lost", Bravo Company is saved from a group of VC by some Montagnards, who then bring the guys back to their village, home of a former Special Forces agent. Brigade determines that Bravo Company should train the villagers on weapons. The Special Forces agent opposes giving the tribe the weapons, as it will cause them to become a target. Brigade wants the Montagnards to cut off the VC trail running near the village.
  • Sharpe: In "Sharpe's Peril", Sharpe and Harper do this.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is in the backstory of Mortarion, Primarch of the Death Guard Space Marine legion in Warhammer 40,000. He was adopted by one of the overlords of the planet he was found on, but later escaped into the valleys, where the air was breathable for normal humans, and trained them to resist the overlords (who used them as slaves and experimental subjects), forming the Death Guard (not originally Marines, but the legion took the name) to fight. The Salamanders' Primarch pulled off a similar trick, beating Eldar raiders around the head with his blacksmithing hammers.
    • Also a tactic sometimes used by the Space Wolves, as described in the codex. An example has a squad of grey hunters being ordered to evacuate the main spaceport to allow orbital bombardment of it to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. The Space Wolves, in their rebellious natures, instead decided to stay and not evacuate the spaceport, to train the local populace until the enemy arrived so they could defend the spaceport instead of losing it forever.
  • In Traveller, mercenaries are often hired to do this.
  • Frighteningly prevalent with experienced players in Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The degree to which this can work varies by edition. As of 4E, you can arm everyone in town with reasonable gear and give them weeks of training, but they'll still have exactly one hit point and die from the indirect side-effects of a single enemy's attacks. Third edition let them live long enough to buy the heroes time and/or provide flanking bonuses. Second edition would let them win almost any fight hands-down through mob rules for overbearing.
    • Once used to defend a village against a rampaging horde of kythons. This was not the worst thing in the campaign.
  • Though perhaps more frightening when done in Exalted. Tiger Warrior Training can turn even the smallest peasant villager into a lethal combatant.
    • Also, one of the secondary signature Zenith Caste Solars, Karal Fire Orchid, does this in her origin story.
    • Infernals can't train them anywhere near as well (yet), but can provide the peaceful villagers with power-enhancing mutations to make them just as dangerous. If you really want an unholy terror, get a mixed Circle to use multiple Charms of this sort on the same group of villagers, then hold off the monsters with firebreathing, taloned Super Soldiers.
  • Happens in one of the Pathfinder Society modules taking place in the Asian-inspired continent. A village holding the lost heir to an artifact's power is annually attacked by bandits at harvest time. It is up to the PCs to train the villagers to defend themselves in the upcoming battle. It's a Whole Plot Reference to Seven Samurai.

    Video Games 
  • A lot of strategy games start out this way, usually as the tutorial.
  • You had to do this in Jagged Alliance 2 if you wanted to keep Deidranna from re-taking any liberated towns. the unofficial v1.13 update makes them a lot more dangerous.
  • In Pikmin, the titular creatures are nigh-extinct until Captain Olimar assembles them and exploits their sheer numbers and abilities. When he takes off, the Pikmin start fending for themselves. By the time the sequel came around, they are found to be, while not numerous, in much better shape than before, managing to survive on their own.
  • In Roadwar 2000, your gang can recruit the starving "Needy" people, who are hands down the most worthless of all the post-apocalypse city wanderers who can possibly join you... but with a good drill sergeant, you can promote these recruits into worthy gang members after only a few firefights or road battles to harden them.
  • The western chapter of Live A Live mostly features Sunset (the hero) and his rival/partner Maddog searching the town for items to give to the peaceful townfolks to use as traps (ranging from dynamite and ropes, to horse droppings, a pachinko machine, and a naughty poster), in order to decimate the villain gang.
  • In Fallout 3, you can help the population of Big Town defend themselves from Super Mutants with guns, robots, mines, or even just hiding inside depending on what skills you have. However, you may find it more amusing to leave them to die.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Deconstructed in the DLC Honest Hearts, where the player must choose to help a pacifist tribe called the Sorrows, either by teaching them to fight back or help them escape and settle elsewhere. Daniel, the Mormon missionary who advocates resettlement, worries that training them will lead to the loss of the Sorrows' innocence and calls you out if you choose to do so. If you help them by fighting, the epilogue reveals they end up becoming aggressive Proud Warrior Race Guys that start waging wars with other tribes. The other option is not better, however, since the Sorrows lose their homeland with it and the epilogue shows that Daniel himself felt doubtful if it really was the right choice.
    • It's also played straight in the early quest "Ghost Town Gunfight" where you form a impromptu militia of Goodsprings townsfolk to fight Joe Cobb and his small group of Powdergangers. The best thing you can do is get Trudy to round up the townsfolk, get dynamite from Easy Pete, armour from Chet, and meds from Doc Mitchell. This allows the town to beat the gang. If you take the opposing quest they'll still put up a spirited fight, but the chips fall against them this time.
  • In Fallout 4, you're expected to build defenses for your settlements and arm your settlers in order to protect them against raids by Raiders, Super Mutants, Gunners, and whatever else the Wasteland decides to throw at you. The ironic thing is that the player (and arena fights in the Wasteland Workshop DLC) is the only thing in the game that can kill settlers.
  • In Mount & Blade, villages may ask you to help teach them how to fight better to fend off bandit attacks. You had to drill them, beat up several of the recruits and then fight off an attack after completion. Their relation with you improves as a result.
    • The opinion of their respective lords, however, worsens.
  • The entire point of Battle Realms. Unlike most other Real-Time Strategy games, you can not actually purchase new units (aside from Heroes). Instead, you train the worker units (aka Peasants) into different schools to get the units you want. Training them again in one of the remaining schools mixes their education and makes them into different units; and so on.
  • The village of Redcliffe in Dragon Age: Origins is besieged by The Undead. You can choose to help the villagers defend themselves by convincing their drunk-off-his-ass blacksmith to supply them with new armor and weapons, persuade/coerce the somewhat shady dwarven warrior Dwyn and his thugs to fight, offer an Elvish archer spying on Redcliffe for Loghain mercy in exchange for his help, convince Lloyd the bartender through threat or persuasion to offer the militia free ale and/or make him fight too, find oil that can be used to set a trap at the village entrance, and provide the Knights of Redcliffe with amulets from the local Chantry that help boost their morale. Of course even with all of this, they still won't stand a chance without you and your party fighting alongside them. If you don't want to go to all of this trouble, you can also just leave them to the hungry zombie horde.
  • You can help the settlement on Dantooine in Knights of the Old Republic 2 fight off a group of mercenaries by recruiting new blood for the militia, repairing their droids and turrets, shoring up the defenses with mines, and giving a Rousing Speech. And, if you've got the Restored Content, take part in an epic siege battle... or you could sell out to the mercenaries, sabotage the defenses, and get paid a lot more.
  • Human players in Warcraft III can convert their peasants into milita in an emergency. They turn back into normal peasants after a while, though.
  • If Shepard has the 'War Hero' background in Mass Effect, s/he (at 22 years old) rallied the civilian colonists of Elysium against a slaver attack. When the defenses fell, Shepard single-handedly held a position for several hours until reinforcements arrived.
  • In Scribblenauts Unlimited, the Starite quest in Abjad Dunes requires you to train and fortify a small desert village to protect against invading Desert Bandits.
  • In Guild Wars 2, there's a quest where you help build weapons and train villagers to fight the Forged. "Help X train" is a pretty common quest format in the game, although usually you're helping out other armed groups.


    Western Animation 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) did this with a planet of "peaceful space turtles".
  • One episode of Samurai Jack had Jack teaching a group of peaceful monkey-men (and their human friend) to defend themselves from a thieving, bullying rival tribe, in exchange for their giving him some training to enhance his jumping abilities.
    Jump good!
  • Done in an episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!.
  • Bounty Hamster. Parodied in "The Good, the Bad, and the Adorable", most notably in the scene where the cute alien villagers decide that the best solution is to steal their saviour's spaceship and run away en masse.
  • Centaurworld's first season ends with Horse deciding to stay in Centaurworld in order to help prepare the peaceful centaurs for the coming war with the Nowhere King's army.
  • The first episode created for Wakfu (chronologically the fifth episode) has this as a premise, the heroes trying to teach a peaceful society of blob-people to stand up against the bull-creatures who are stealing from them.
  • A hilarious example in the Futurama episode "Birdbot of Ice-Catraz", in which Bender teaches the rapidly-multiplying penguins how to defend themselves against humans, only to have the flock be hilariously devoured by an orca in one gulp... On Pluto. The trope is played with at the ending, in which a pair of penguins pick rifles, and glare menacingly.
  • In Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart, Mao Mao hears word that his old partner Bao Bao is coming to Pure Heart Valley and decides to arm the local Sweetiepies with cheap spears, regardless of their fighting ability (or lack thereof) or number of fingers (or lack thereof).
    Mao Mao: You pick up that spear, Kevin! Grab it...GRAB IT...!!
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Obi Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka, along with four bounty hunters, teach the farmers of a small village to fight pirates and protect their homes.
  • The Thundercats 2011 episode "Berbils" has Panthro and the Cats' teach Ro-Bear Bill and the cute and cuddly Ro-Bear Berbils how to defend themselves form those who would use them as slaves.
  • Filmation liked this trope, using it in episodes of Bravestarr and She-Ra: Princess of Power. Although in both cases, it was more a matter of getting the villagers to work up the courage to defend themselves than actually training them.
  • Tragically subverted in a flashback episode of Phantom 2040: at the end of the Resource Wars, the still-human Graft is drafted by Maximum Inc to clear out native villagers from the Amazon so that Maximum can strip the resources. Graft defies his employer and trains the villagers to fight back... but they still get massacred, and Graft is turned into a cyborg.
  • G.I. Joe: Renegades: In the fourth episode the Dreadnoks debut by taking over a peaceful town. The Joes show up and work with the bullied citizens and two emergency service workers to train them to fight back against the biker gang.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: In "Twin Beaks", the gang encounters a community of raccoons living in resigned fear of a giant predatory bird and teaches them that they can fight back against it.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television, to an extent. Certain special forces groups worldwide, including the British SAS and the US Army's Green Berets, are sometimes tasked with raising up rag-tag revolutionary armies to bring down governments perceived as exploitative or antagonistic. The peacefulness of the villagers in question, however, varies wildly.
    • Afghanistan is the key example most folks will use. The villagers were never peaceful, but their pre-1900 rifles didn't do squat to attack helicopters. US trainers and assistance came in and gave them Stinger missiles, and not long after the Soviets learned how America felt in Vietnam.
      • The Taliban then used this against the Coalition forces during The War on Terror. Although in this case, "training" consisted of giving local farmers a wad of money and a cell phone and telling them to call the only phone number in the directory when a Coalition convoy passed by the nearby road. And that's how you got the many, many ISAF deaths.
    • Ironically, this happened in Vietnam too. There was a group of tribes collectively known as the Montagnards, who were routinely harassed by the North and South Vietnamese. US Special Forces provided them with training and some supplies and tools, and in return they ended up proving to be very resourceful allies on the battlefield, who provided American forces with LOTS of helpful information. Too bad we didn't use that knowledge to make our lives easier in the past two decades' conflicts.
    • America itself only had a small standing army between 1865 and 1916, and especially between 1920 and 1940. Even in the latter case, the ability to raise an army as quickly as they did surprised a lot of other countries' leadership, on both sides.
      • Of course there is the example of the Prussian officer Baron von Steuben who, during the Revolutionary War, taught the ill-trained American Contintental Army how to fight as well as the British.
  • The Semai people had no violence, or even any words for violence. When they were taught to fight when the area became a war zone, they surprised their "teachers" by becoming frenzied and intoxicated with the bloodshed, since they didn't fully understand the effects of their actions. Fortunately, they are still extant, and returned to their non-violent ways following the conflict ending.
  • A key job of the British Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services during World War II was to organise and train operatives to go behind enemy lines and train / supply resistance groups. Given the nature of the job, it was often a one-way journey.
    • This was also done by the Soviets whose partisans were often quite effective against the German Army. In this case however they were usually Soviet citizens but not necessarily ethnic Russians.
    • This came back to bite Stalin in the bum, as many of the partisans trained and recruited in the Ukraine saw no reason to stop fighting after the Russians reconquered the Ukraine from Germany. Anti-Russian and anti-communist partisans carried on sporadically fighting until well into the 1950's, the goal being a genuinely free Ukrainian state. This latent anti-Russian feeling may well become active again in today's little difficulties in that region.
    • The downside to this is well illustrated in the aftermath of the war. Those same resistance groups that were so effective against the Axis powers were just as effective against colonial powers. Among the numerous groups helped was a group of resistance fighters in French Indo-China led by Ho Chi Minh.


Video Example(s):


Wartwood attacks the robots

The frogs of Wartwood help Sasha and Grime fend off the robots.

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Main / TrainingThePeacefulVillagers

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