Follow TV Tropes


Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits / Live-Action TV

Go To
"The only thing keeping Manhattan safe from crumbling to a pile of dust is the four of you."

  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Night's Watch. Even many of the members who don't have a criminal past are fleeing from a life wherein they were considered unsuitable by their own kin.
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners. They're competent enough to get by and become a pain in the arse for the Lannisters, but at the end of the day they aren't the decisive force fighting against them, and they lack the funding necessary.
    • House Stark, as of Season 6, with their leadership consisting of one of the last Starks (Sansa), a former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch (Jon Snow), a knight from a noble house in the Stormlands (Davos), a Red Priestess (Melisandre), and a Wildling chieftain (Tormund). The bulk of their army consists of two thousand Wildlings and several hundred bannermen from the few Northern houses still loyal to them. Suffice to say, the resurgent forces of House Stark are a diverse bunch. As of the finale, this is taken further with the addition of the surviving Northern Lords, Littlefinger and the Vale Lords as their bannermen.
    • Advertisement:
    • Westerosi exiles and rejects, scorned nobles, fugitives, tarnished knights, mercenaries, eunuch warriors, Dothraki, and former slaves are all part of Daenerys' retinue - and there are her three dragons as well.
    • Stannis' army is composed of this, by Westerosi standards. It includes former smugglers, Lyseni pirates, religious fanatics worshipping a strange new religion and of course a Red Witch.
  • Happy Endings: The main gang is this whenever they all work together on something, which doesn't happen too often (usually they're split into smaller groups of two or three). In Kickball 2: The Kickening, they rally together for a kickball match, and Max describes tham as 'The loveable but gruff player manager (himself), a third baseman with priorities all out of whack (Dave, trying to decide which eyeblack to use), a right fielder in six inch heels on (Penny insists her kickball shoes make look like a lesbian), and Brad (who likes to bunt)-who Max can't tell if he's practicing kicking or gently nudging it to see if its still alive. Paired with the "child-sized" woman Alex, and the crazy Scotty. Even though they eventually get the aid of their friend/team traitor Jane, and NFL player Lance Briggs, this trope is ultimately subverted as they lose in the championship.
    • In Season 3, trying to save the kid playcenter where he now works, Brad says he's gonna round up the rag-taggiest band of misfits. His boss excitedly asks "Traveling Wilburys?!" and Brad says "How am I gonna get the Traveling Wilburys? Two of them are dead! Its my friends, dammit! I'm talking about my friend!"
  • Teen Wolf. Every member of Derek's pack was a confirmed misfit before being turned into a werewolf. Scott and Stiles both consider themselves to be misfits as well.
  • Advertisement:
  • The A-Team. So very much. As Face once put it, "On our own, we're just a bunch of misfits, but when we're that's something special." The leader of the outfit is addicted to his own adrenaline. The mechanic and Big Guy is in desperate need of anger management classes and has to be knocked out every time they need to travel by airplane. The con-man is, you might say, very easily distracted by the presence of pretty women. As soon as he breaks the team pilot and in-house medical advisor out of the psychiatric ward, they're on their way. Aren't you glad you just hired The A-Team?
  • One could certainly expect the crew of the Federation Starship Voyager to be this after half the crew gets killed and replaced by necessity with the outlaws they were sent to capture. But the Maquis quickly blend in and in the later seasons, you couldn't tell any difference between them and the starfleet crew.
    • B'ellana Torres and Tom Paris, still manage to appear somewhat out of the norm. Torres has a temper that could power the ships engines, and Tom Paris is an ex-con. Given that he actually runs cons during the shows run, the 'ex' part is exaggerated.
  • Invoked by Sheldon in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
    Leonard: Why do I always have to carry the heavy stuff?
    Sheldon: Well, it’s very simple. In our ragtag band of scientists with nothing to lose, I’m the smart one, Wolowitz is the funny one, and Koothrappali is the lovable foreigner who struggles to understand our ways and fails. That leaves you, by default, as the muscle.
  • Black Sheep Squadron (originally titled Baa Baa Black Sheep) is about the exploits of a squadron of misfit pilots fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during World War II. One pilot has crashed so many times he's technically a Japanese ace. Others are drunks, insubordinate brawlers, Japanese-American pacifist mystics, or just plain crazy. Their commander is a drunk, insubordinate, over-the-hill ex-Flying Tiger who whips them into shape and turns them into the terrors of the South Pacific. It's based on a true story, and while the misfit tendencies of the squadron members themselves are highly exaggerated, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, the squadron commander, was if anything MORE of a drunken misfit Magnificent Bastard than the one in the TV series.
    • And, just in case any viewer missed the point, each first-season episode opened with a title card that described the squadron as "a collection of misfits and screwballs who became the terrors of the South Pacific."
  • Torchwood details the exploits of a band of misfits who seem to have nothing in common save the fact they are all inexplicably bisexual (or Welsh) and somehow lonely. In fact, almost as many episodes (including the apocalyptic season finales) deal with the team members fighting each other as with the supposed premise of protecting Earth (or, at least, Cardiff) from aliens. But they ultimately are quite protective of each other and complement one another.
  • Blake's 7 makes Torchwood look like a haven of unity and competence.
  • Firefly is essentially the ragtag bunch of misfits IN SPACE!.
  • Farscape is basically this IN SPACE too. Of course, they're pretty awesome anyway, since the misfits are comprised of kick-ass ex-soldiers and convicts.
    • And muppets!
  • Battlestar Galactica. A commander who's brilliant but can't play politics and as such is about to be quietly retired; an alcoholic, caustic, foul-mouthed tyrant of an XO; a stratospherically gifted but undisciplined and half-crazy pilot; the commander's highly competent and idealistic yet resentful son; a genius scientist who can't keep it in his pants; and a schoolteacher are the people exemplified as the best that is left of all of humanity. And their ship is an aging, battered, about-to-be-decommissioned bucket which (due to being ancient and obsolete) is actually the perfect weapon against masters of electronic warfare.
    • The Fleet itself qualifies. It carries the last survivors of humanity and consists of; cargo ships, one or two science vessels, factory/refinery ships where workers toil endlessly in terrible conditions, a freighter which essentially becomes a slavery and black market hub, passenger liners (airplanes in space) and a massive luxury liner (complete with artificial gardens) that travel together with an old battleship that was supposed to be retiring, its brand-new cousin commanded by General Ripper and, much later, a Cylon Baseship. And the best bit is, there are plenty of episodes showing just how much they can't stand each other and only do because it is the next best option.
    • "A ragtag, fugitive fleet...".
  • Hogan's Heroes are a ragtag bunch of multinational soldiers who are probably one of the most powerful Allied sabotage and espionage forces in all of Germany. Even the oblivious and childish Carter is a Genius Ditz when it comes to explosives.
  • Lazy Company is comprised of a spectacularly unlucky sergeant, a Lovable Sex Maniac corporal, a Blind Without 'Em ingénue and an escapee from an asylum who is probably the Only Sane Man of the bunch. They're fighting Nazis in 1944 France and are surprisingly good at it.
  • Power Rangers dips into this quite often; even when the team as a whole are trained professionals their leader is often a rookie. Still, some teams are more ragtag than others:
  • Take a Hot-Blooded Jerk with a Heart of Gold and add a Defector from Decadence Master Swordsman, then bring along a Tsundere Aloof Dark-Haired Girl, a Combat Pragmatist Gadgeteer Genius, The Pollyanna and add a Determinator Ascended Fanboy of Super Sentai and what do you get? The Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
  • Babylon 5 makes this (or as J. Michael Straczynski puts it, being "community-builders") our collective Hat.
    • Mostly averted in the Crusade spin-off, where the only "misfits" are Dureena, a professional thief, and Galen, a rogue technomage.
  • Glee gets its entire premise from this. A Cool Teacher takes on the worst Glee club in the state consisting of an obnoxious diva, the school's star quarterback, a Camp Gay who also plays football, a pregnant cheerleader, a Jerk Jock, a Sassy Black Woman, a stuttering Asian Perky Goth, a nerd in a wheelchair, and two more cheerleaders and two more football players.
    • Lampshaded in Journey to Regionals, with Olivia Newton John saying that the whole trope is overused and that everyone expects the underdogs to win. Not this time.
  • Supernatural: The entire subculture of hunters. They're all just a bunch of emotionally scarred people who make it their (non-paying) job to hunt and kill supernatural beings, most likely because someone they were close to was killed by one. Considering how rampant these paranormal attacks seem to be, you'd think the government would set up a secret agency to fight them. But no, it's left entirely up to these people, who will break as many laws and wander the earth as much as they have to in order to get the job done, with no thanks or pay to show for it?
    • From The Song Remains The Same, with Heaven and Hell both threatening to destroy the earth and the apocalypse underway:
      Dean: This is it.
      Sam: This is what?
      Dean: Team Free Will. One ex-blood junkie, one dropout with six bucks to his name, and Mr. Comatose over there.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1: Fitting the Bunny-Ears Lawyer mold. Teal'c is an alien defector, Jack is the Military Maverick, and Daniel is the quirky academic. Even Sam is presented as not seeming to relate to a lot of people outside the band and rather obsessive when it comes to Gate technology and physics. She's in two male-dominated fields, the military and science, and seems to have a psychological need to prove herself because of it ("Me? Tense? I'm not tense!"). Of the later additions, Jonas Quinn was responsible for his predecessor's death, Vala MalDoran is a criminal, and Cam Mitchell gets a lot of flack for being a newbie 'commander' who can't actually give any of his team orders. Probably not quite the sanest group you could send through a Stargate, but they do save the world every other week, so they keep their jobs.
    • Stargate Atlantis isn't much better. John is the only official soldier in the team, who was kicked to the curb by the by his commanders for not obeying the rules, never had anyone until Elizabeth dragged him out of his slump to join the expedition his self-loathing issues still intact but he's still the best pilot in 2 galaxies, Elizabeth herself is Married to the Job and isolated with the responsibility of keeping an alien city running and everyone under control, Rodney is an abrasive, arrogant scientist with a penchant for last-minute solutions, Ronon is The Stoic who spent 7 years alone on the run from aliens which left serious emotional damage but also real muscle, Teyla is a down-to-earth action-girl who's the closest they have to someone normal but was still orphaned from a young age and lived under the Wraith her whole life.
    • Stargate Universe takes this trope and turns it Up to Eleven. Introducing
      • Insufferable Genius Manipulative Bastard widower Dr. Rush who is more fit to be a supervillain than a hero
      • A commander who isn't really fit to command anyone, has problems making hard decisions and was about to retire
      • Brilliant, but Lazy Eli who has a mother infected with HIV, an absent father, a former love interest turning into something alien and hostile and a dead girlfriend.
      • Said former love interest Chloe who is utterly useless and knows it (and is turning into something different). Oh, and her father died in the first episode.
      • Lt. Scott, newbie but became second in command, has a son at home whom he doesn't know and his current girlfriend is the aforementioned Chloe.
      • Greer, who had an abusive war veteran father and has anger management issues.
      • And this was only the main cast...
  • As the title of the show may suggest, this is pretty much the whole premise of 2009 sci-fi drama Misfits, which chronicles the escapades of five slightly disturbed and anti-social young offenders doing community service, who develop superpowers after being caught in a freak electrical storm.
  • And ~15 years earlier, the Misfits of Science.
  • Lost's cast includes a spinal surgeon, a fugitive, a con man, a One-Hit Wonder rock star, a former member of the Republican Guard, a cursed millionaire, a Deadpan Snarker psychic who can hear a dead person's last thoughts, a memory-impaired physicist, and an Unstuck in Time Scottish man. As seasons passed, you could add an immortal, a Deadpan Snarker pilot, a Magnificent Bastard, a Handicapped Badass who has always been an Unwitting Pawn, a puff of smoke transformed into the previous Unwitting Pawn and another immortal who had the job to keep this puff of smoke on the island and who might be a God. Loads and Loads of Characters indeed.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Much was made of the Scooby Gang's misfit characteristics, both as individuals and as a group. Particularly during the high school years. Or in Season 4 in comparison to the Initiative.
  • Ditto for Team Angel, minus the high school part.
  • The outlaws from Robin Hood included a disinherited nobleman, his manservant, a con-artist/pick-pocket/thief, a carpenter, a woodsman, and an Arabic female doctor. The third season added a monk and a potter, who were admittedly, pretty useless.
  • Eureka is basically an entire town of misfits, albeit not necessarily ragtag.
  • The Major Crimes Unit in The Wire plays this trope straight.
  • Each season of Prison Break has a new band of criminals. Michael lampshaded it in season four:
    Let me guess. He had a ragtag band of criminals ready to pick up the slack.
  • The Rottaran in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Soldiers of the Empire'' . A Klingon Bird of Prey that is down on it's luck, plagued by a series of defeats is led by Martok, Worf, and Dax to a victory.
    • As for the main cast, most of them were Reassigned to Antarctica in one form or another. Sisko was hoping to phone it in until retirement, Kira was shoved there because she was no fan of the provisional government, Odo and Quark frankly had nowhere else to go (and Quark was blackmailed into staying put), Garak was exiled, and Bashir talked a good game about "frontier medicine," but he had a lot to hide and a backwater station was a good place to hide it. Only O'Brien and Dax appear to have volunteered for it.
    • Utterly defied in the episode Valiant. Red Squad, an elite training team for the Federation, ended up with a cadet in charge of their ship after a skirmish killed their real captain. The now "Captain" Watters does a decent job of staying alive behind enemy lines, and manages to complete their original mission to recon info on a new Dominion battleship. Then he tries to enforce this trope by disobeying orders and taking their damaged cruiser to fight a brand-new battleship ten times their size. For what it's worth, their Technobabble attack makes a good light show...and nothing else. Red Squad is mercilessly slaughtered, leaving only the two main characters and one Red Squad cadet alive.
  • Heroes uses this. At the end of season 1 a group containing a cheerleader, a male nurse, a cop, an Internet stripper, a boy genius, a politician, a Japanese Otaku, his sidekick, an escaped con and the professor are all present
  • The Five in Sanctuary were this, including an immortal scientist specializing in strange creatures, a genius keeping himself alive with a machine, an invisible thief, an electrical vampire/Insufferable Genius, and teleporting Jack the Ripper. The Sanctuary team itself could be considered this with the above-mentioned immortal scientist, her daughter (and Jack the Ripper's) with anger-management issues, a quirky forensic psychiatrist disliked by his own colleagues, a Neanderthal, and a HAP. After the death of Helen's daughter, the team "acquires" a professional thief and smuggler.
  • Primeval. Lester is well aware that he's in charge of a Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits and would gladly fire the lot of them and bring in professionals instead, were he not such a fundamentally decent chap.
    James Lester: Repeat that disgraceful slander, and you'll be hearing from my laywers.
  • The Warehouse 13 team could certainly apply: two former Secret Service agents (one of whom gets psychic hunches), a disgraced former NSA analyst who was convicted of treason, an aura-reading B&B operator, a former mental patient and Teen Genius, an Anti-Villain female HG Wells, and a gay ATF agent who's a living lie detector. Not to mention their boss, who is a mysterious teleporting and apparently immortal woman.
    • The Regents are this. None of them have high positions, and most have menial jobs (one is a diner waitress and another is a housewife who is also Pete's mom). This is deliberate, though, as people in power can't be trusted with the Artifacts in the Warehouse.
  • The central study group characters of Community are a Jerk with a Heart of Gold disbarred lawyer; an ex-anarchist high school dropout; a Meta Guy who sees everything as tropes; a high school jock-turned-goofball nerd; a recovering alcoholic Evangelical Christian housewife; a unpopular girl-turned-hottie who had a mental breakdown; a conniving, somewhat racist old man with Obfuscating Stupidity; and a crazed Chinese ex-professor who lied about knowing his subject. It's hard to find a group this crazy and yet a coherent whole.
  • Similarly Friends: A gang that started when a guy who married a lesbian introduced his little sister, a neurotic, 11-towel-categories Control Freak, and college roommate, an equally neurotic Stepford Snarker with a drag-queen father. She cuts off his toe, the pair become neighbours and the snarker gets a ditzy roommate who, among other things, throws a girl's wooden leg in the fire. The control freak gets two roommates, first a former Street Urchin who was conceived in a threesome with her adopted mother and real parents, and later a woman who abandoned a man at the altar and isn't even equipped enough to make coffee. And this is apparently your ordinary, fully-qualified group of grown ups.
  • During the Neverland arc of Once Upon a Time, Emma rallies Regina, Snow, Charming, and Hook into an impromptu Five-Man Band so they can go rescue Henry. This means the rescue team is composed of The Chosen One, a manipulative Evil Sorceress, an idealisitic princess, a Knight in Shining Armor, and an unscrupulous pirate. Emma even invokes this, saying that it doesn't matter if not all of them like each other—their different histories and professions give the whole group access to many different skills, all of which will be needed to survive in a place where everything is trying to kill them.
  • The Danger 5 team, particularly in the online prequel. In fact, the reason the team exists is because when Tucker, Jackson, and Pierre were sent on a mission to Hitler, their total failure was met with such scorn that two women - the abrasive, alcoholic Russian Isla, and the calm but uptight Claire - were added to the team. Thus, in the midst of a satire of old-fashioned sexism, the Danger 5 team was born.
  • Casaya from Survivor: Panama was one of the most dysfunctional tribes the show has ever seen, with the yoga instructor who tried to start fire with his mind alone and the couch potato who was scared of leaves on her first day being the sanest members of the bunch. The other members? A Manchild with a Hair-Trigger Temper and Sanity Slippage made ten thousand times worse by severe nicotine withdrawal, a fire dancer who annoyed everyone on her tribe with her Talkative Loon and Cloudcuckoolander ways, an easily irritated woman with the world's heaviest Boston accent, who was just a cut below said fire dancer on the Most Annoying scale, a lawyer who spent an entire night drinking wine in the camp's new outhouse, and a ridiculously Asian guy who made his own Zen garden and practiced martial arts on the beach. In spite of all this and their alliance almost coming apart at the seams multiple times, the Casaya Crazy were still able to stick together to pick off the more harmonious and peaceful La Mina tribe and turned on each other only when the Last of His Kind continued his immunity run.
  • Parodied and called out by name in Wizards of Waverly Place when Justin has to teach a class of magical delinquents to be a wand drill team of sorts. Everyone is too Genre Blind to see that there's actually very little irony in the ragtag much of misfits pulling it off (well pull it off until Alex's attempt to help the one truly hopeless member causes them to actually lose out in the end).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The show plays this to almost Running Gag levels. The Doctor himself defines ragtag, a Cloudcuckoolander who stole a clapped-out ship and ran away from his people, for the sole purpose of....sightseeing the multiverse. He then makes a habit of picking up cavewomen, warriors from the Scottish Highlands, nurses, kissogramers, schoolteachers, constantly put-upon soldiers, reporters, and on one occasion, a 19-year-old working in a department store. Predictably, they save the multiverse repeatedly.
    • In A Good Man Goes to War, the Doctor assembles a team from across time and space to rescue Amy and her baby. Said team consists of the Doctor himself, a 900 year old time traveller; the Doctor's companion Rory Williams, a 2000 year old Roman Centurion; Commander Strax, a Sontaran nurse; Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint, Victorian crime-fighting katana-wielding interspecies lesbians; and Dorium Maldovar, a big fat blue guy. Space Pirates are also involved.
    • Invoked in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The Doctor recruits Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Victorian-Era big-game hunter John Riddell, Amy Pond, Rory Williams the Last Centurion, and (by accident) Rory's very confused dad to help complete his mission.
    • In In The Forest Of The Night, the Gifted and Talented kids seem to be made up mostly of the weird kids that Clara and Danny thought had something special.
  • The East Dillon Lions in Season 4 of Friday Night Lights start out this way. Coach meets his quarterback when a local detective brings him in the back of a squad car even and the rest of the team doesn't know how to huddle.
  • Kamen Rider Build: The nascita gang is led by a genius with identity issues and includes an idiot hero with a mean punch, a girl with an idol persona and a journalist. They fight to stop the evil organization operating in their country, turning people into monsters and generally creating chaos. And that's before they are joined by said idol's fanboy and a former cartoonish villain (both enemy soldiers) and have to defeat an Eldritch Abomination trying to eat the planet.
  • Legends of Tomorrow features: A girl with wings and a past lives complex, a deceased (and resurrected) assassin, a pair of criminals, a billionaire with more tech than he clearly knows what to do with, and (a powerless) half a hero along with a time traveler. Season 2 removes the time traveler (temporarily) and one of the criminals, while adding a historian (who gains superpowers in short order) and a World War II-era superheroine with animal powers (Vixen's grandma).
  • The Librarians follows the adventures of three Librarians-in-training and their guardian, all of whom were recruited in the first episode and generally have no idea what they're doing. Colonel Baird is a pretty capable Guardian, but the other three are only there because they were the last Librarian candidates that the Serpent Brotherhood hadn't killed, since they didn't see Stone, Cassandra, or Ezekiel as much of a threat. Regardless, things tend to work out pretty well for the team anyways.
    Lamia: How are you going to stop us? Hmm? With your little knock-off Librarians? One doomed by her gift, one who fled his gift, one who abuses it!
  • The core premise of The 100 is that a bunch of juvenile delinquents have to figure out how to keep humanity alive on post-apocalyptic Earth, because they were the only people deemed expendable enough to send down to a Death World. Even after other, better trained people are sent down later, the delinquents still prove essential due to becoming Action Survivors on the ground.
  • Leverage starts out like this, especially before the gang warms up to each other. While these people are all the best at what they do, they all are adamant about always working alone, and they don't like one another at first: lead by an alcoholic Team Dad who used to be a good guy, a nerdy hacker, a temperamental hitter, an elegant (but deluded) grifter, and Parker, who has a reputation for being literally insane.
  • The Defenders (2017) (pictured): The titular group is comprised of a blind defense attorney (Matt Murdock), a smartass private investigator (Jessica Jones), a bulletproof ex-con (Luke Cage), and a kid with a glowing fist (Danny Rand). This unlikely group are to protect New York City against the Hand.
    • Their support network of allies is even more impressive: a social worker and recovered addict (Malcolm Ducasse), a freelance nurse (Claire Temple), two sensei (Stick and Colleen Wing), two more lawyers (Foggy Nelson and Jeri Hogarth), two reporters (Karen Page and Trish Walker), and an NYPD detective (Misty Knight).
    • It says something when the project's working title was Group Therapy.
  • When just looking at each of the Marvel Netflix shows on their own, the main cast is usually a bunch of misfits:
    • Daredevil (2015): A blind lawyer who knows martial arts (Matt Murdock), an intrepid secretary/reporter with a habit of seeking danger to get leads (Karen Page), and a third lawyer who just wants to keep his head on straight (Foggy Nelson) are responsible for taking down Wilson Fisk.
    • Jessica Jones (2015) is the tale of three addicts: the alcoholic private investigator (Jessica Jones), the former child star with an old drug habit (Trish Walker), and the recovered addict (Malcolm Ducasse).
  • In one episode of The IT Crowd Moss uses the trope almost word for word when he, Roy, and a trio of Douglas' perverted business colleges are playing a Dungeons & Dragons style RPG. "I've only come to see what kind of ragtag bunch of adventures have managed to best the deadliest criminals in Crackenwood".
  • The Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of the Dark? fit this in all their iterations seen in the show.
    • The first iteration we see is comprised by Gary, the responsible leader of the bunch with a fascination for magic; Betty Ann, a nice girl with a penchant for the macabre; Kristen, the girly girl of the group; Kiki, the tomboy; Eric, the sarcastic one who habitually antagonized others; David, the shy guy; and newcomer Frank, a tough-talking punkish guy.
    • Eric leaves the group with no explanation as to why after the first season, and Kristen and David have moved away after the second season. The group then adds Sam as the new girly girl of the group, and Tucker, Gary's bratty younger brother who becomes the youngest member of the Society. Eventually Frank moves away after the fourth season, his place taken by Stig, a weird guy with poor hygiene.
    • The first iteration of the Society eventually disbands as a whole, and a few years later, a teenaged and more mature Tucker forms a new one with himself as the new leader, which includes Quinn, a cocky jock-type kid; Vange, the tomboy; Megan, the newest girly girl; and Andy the friendly guy who aims to please.


Example of: