The Cavalry

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
You wouldn't want to be at the business end of those guys.

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Things look bleak for our heroes: they gave it their best, and may have even briefly looked like winning, but in the end the villains were too strong, the heroes too few, defeat is certain, and all that's left is just enough time to compose some clever last words.

...Wait, what's that?

It's The Cavalry, riding in to save the day! Maybe they're some minor characters who've banded together to mount a rescue, or maybe they're the local Men of Sherwood, but ultimately they exist to storm in at the last minute, save the heroes and convert a Downer Ending into an out-and-out win for the good guys.

If done badly, this trope represents the ultimate example of the Deus Ex Machina. If played well, it can be an immensely satisfying climax to the plot and a nice reminder that the heroes aren't in this alone. In some cases the entire reason for the heroes' heroic stand may be that they know the cavalry is coming, if they can just hold on long enough.

This and other related tropes are named for the classic Western trope of the US cavalry charging over the brow of the hill just in time to save the beleaguered settlers from the Indians in far too many Westerns to count.

When it is specifically a vehicle with heavy firepower, it is also a "Gunship Rescue moment".

If the heroes are part of a larger organization, the cavalry is usually led by the Hero of Another Story. Compare with the "Big Damn Heroes", where the heroes are the cavalry for someone else, "Gondor Calls for Aid", where the heroes put some thought into it and call in the cavalry ahead of time, and "Always a Bigger Fish", where the cavalry are villains. If the heroes have asked for the cavalry's help before but were turned down, it's Changed My Mind, Kid. If the heroes are fighting in a Mecha Show or happen to be Ace Pilots, then this may dovetail into I Got You Covered.

The expectations that accompany this trope can be subverted into providing a Hope Spot. The cavalry could turn out to be a Redshirt Army, utterly useless and readily destroyed by the threat. Alternatively, the heroes could find themselves victims of Cavalry Betrayal, where the supposed cavalry are also hostile to the heroes. If it's clear who is supposed to be the cavalry, yet they refuse to help the heroes for some reason, that's a Cavalry Refusal. Both the Betrayal and the Refusal often lead to a Bolivian Army Ending.

Compare Conveniently-Timed Attack From Behind, Come with Me If You Want to Live, where the cavalry show up to rescue the hero rather than to win the battle. Occasionally, the cavalry will show up after the heroes have managed to turn around their "hopeless" situation.

Not to be confused with the Calvary, which is where Christ was crucified.

Examples of The Cavalry include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Batou is saved in the very last moment by three Taichikomas, which escaped dismantling by having been sold to civilian organizations. So they had to take on a walking tank stripped of all their weapons, except for one derelict rocket propelled grenade.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, At the Battle of Teppelin in episode 14. Dai-Gurren is about shot down by Cytomander, when a barrage slams into them from another direction. Cut to a huge army of lesser battleships and mecha, all hijacked by people from various villages who saw and heard of Team Dai-Gurren’s battle. This leads to an awesome shot of the entire army arrayed and heading into battle against Teppelin’s forces.
  • In One Piece, The Red-Haired Pirates for the Whitebeard Pirates in the Battle of Maineford. Noteable in that, instead of kicking ass, the threat of it, stands down the Marines, the Seven Warlords of the Sea, and the Blackbeard Pirates.
  • In Transformers Cybertron, after an Omega Lock-powered Galvatron has creamed Optimus Prime's team, the armies of Jungle Planet, Velocitron, Earth, and Gigantion all arrive to help. Lugnutz even persuaded the Ancient Decepticons to led a hand, on the grounds that they don't want the universe to be destroyed.
  • In Holyland, after Yuu defeats Katou, Shougo invokes this by calling the police so that Katou's thugs don't get to beat Yuu. Then in chapter 58, when Yuu is getting beat up by some nobodies, Iwado shows up and saves him.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, when Celestial Being are getting swamped by A-Laws, and most of their weapons nuetralized by their anti-beam clouds. The Katharon forces and defectors from A-Laws soon come to their aid.
  • One of the most memorable moments in Chars Counterattack (and some would say in all of Gundam comes at the end: Char is defeated, but half of Axis is still falling into Earth's atmosphere. With little choice, Amuro flies his Nu Gundam in front of Axis and tries altering its course by pushing the giant asteroid. Just when things look their bleakest, the Londo Bell forces join in (as do several of Char's men). Double Subverted: The focused mental energy of all those people working together combines with the black boxes in the Gundam and what's left of Char's machine to create a psychic field that pushes the "cavalry" aside...but it also pulls the piece of Axis back into space.

Comic Books

  • Of course, this shows up more or less regularly in Lucky Luke.
    • Subverted, as most tropes in Lucky Luke eventually are, in an issue where the cavalry arrives too late to save a band of settlers from an Indian attack. The cavalry commander has a nervous breakdown when Luke informs him that the cavalry came too late. "But... but... the cavalry is ALWAYS on time..."
    • And the one time the adjutant reminds the captain that they have to leave now, and cut short the thank you scene, in order to be on time for the next rescue.
  • Now that the Green Lantern Corps is back in action, it frequently pops in to help out on Earth, doing so in Infinite Crisis amongst other stories.
  • Done in one JLA story with the role of the cavalry played by the entire population of Earth, freshly given super-powers and ready to tear apart a primordial force of evil in order to help Superman.
    • Also done at an earlier point in that JLA run - with a tad more subtlety - when the entire population of Earth was mobilized by Superman to fight back against an alien invasion, using fire.
      • Plus, earlier in that story, Batman acts as a one-man cavalry in service to the entire, captive JLA. Given extra oomph since the aliens are convinced that he's 'just a man.'
  • Appears in a Star Wars Expanded Universe comic set during the Clone Wars where Anakin arrives just in time with a bunch of clones, and when someone rhetorically asks who it is, he says, "The Cavalry." I guess he's watched a lot of space westerns?
  • Namor's arrival at the end of the Civil War should count as one.
  • Nains #11 had Iron Legion reinforcement arrive behind the swarm of goblins and ogres, while the narration describes dwarven philosophy that backs their obstinacy.

A proverb said that he who gives up could be doing so in the second before a miracle comes. So, we never give up. We wait for the miracle. And the few instants we hang on could sometimes mean difference between life and death.

    • Lord Brum got this before becoming a mercenary. He picked a fight with a small horde worth of orcs (in mad rage, avenging his mentor), and when he was collapsing from wounds, a whole company of elven mercenaries (who were paid to wipe out this very horde, as it happens) rode in. At least they were impressed enough to express respect.

Fan Works

  • Downfall has one in Chapter 17- Later, in Chapter 20, Momo and a platoon from Squad Five arrive to reinforce Rangiku and the exhausted Squad Six detachment denying the Arrancar retreat to the Garganta.
  • Pulled off twice in chapter 7 of Takamachi Nanoha of 2814, a crossover between Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Green Lantern by Shadow Crystal Mage, and almost anything else the writer feels like crossing over with. Nanoha is rescued twice, first by Fate, Arf and a newly minted Green Lantern Yuuno, and then again by the Sailor Senshi, Ala Alba, Magical Girl Illya and company, Cardcaptor Sakura and Superman.
  • In Legends, the Avengers are surrounded by all the guns S.H.I.E.L.D. can muster. They affirm their resolve to stay where they are, Wolverine and Daredevil share a loving goodbye. Captain America gets the team ready to attack on his signal, and the leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. troops gets ready to signal the open fire. Suddenly, their dead teammate falls down from the heavens, given the title of Thunderstrike for dying bravely. He heals up the sorcerer supreme who turns their enemy's bullets into sand. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s leader gives the order for them to prepare to fire again and then Thunderstrike summons the warriors of Valhalla, which for those of you not clued into Norse Mythology is the resting place for warriors who have died in glorious battle. Every. Single. One. Including the original Avengers. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents promptly drop their weapons.
  • Pokemon Masters of Azeroth has a memorable scene at the battle for Icecrown Glacier. The dragons finally show up, en masse, as they had promised, just when it looks like the heroes are doomed.
  • In Tiberium Wars, the GDI defenders at the Pentagon are about to be overrun by the Nod forces being supported by Avatar warmechs, until the Mammoth Tanks arrive. Earlier in the story, the GDI Marines play this role when they rescue to troops trying to recapture the airbase.


"Theoden king stands alone."
"Not alone. Rohirrim! TO THE KING!"

  • The climax of the final battle in Saving Private Ryan is the arrival of the P-51 Mustangs that blow the German Tiger, which shrugged off bazooka shells, away before we even see them. Now that's a dramatic entrance.
  • This trope is brutally subverted in Zulu, when a sizable force of Boer cavalrymen turn up at Rorke's Drift ahead of the approaching Zulus, then gallop away to avoid being killed by those very same Zulus. Our heroes don't take this well at all.
    • If I recall my history, the Zulu were incited to attack the British by the Boers (in order to weaken both the Zulu, who opposed Boer settlement in their traditional territory, and the British, who had annexed those same Boer settlements). This would make in an even more brutal subversion, as the cavalry CAUSED the attack.
  • The Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Fear the teddy-bear army of doom!
  • In A&E's "Horatio Hornblower" movie, The Wrong War, our heroes are trapped on a beach, facing the French army. The heroes form up in ranks, and fire off a volley at the French in desperation, and are completely surprised when their little muskets cause massive devastation. They turn around to see that their ship, "H.M.S. Indefatigable", has suddenly arrived and is shooting at the French. It's a great cavalry scene, if one sets aside the fact that ships' cannon of the period were so inaccurate that the ship had a better chance of hitting their own troops than they did the French.
    • But their own troops were about to die anyway (unless they surrendered), so it was presumably worth the risk.
    • The almost same stuff happens in Jules Verne's Captain Grant's Children, where the heroes also run to the shore, chased by some Maoris whom they've managed to piss off. They weren't expecting any help, being separated from their ship and the rest of the party by an absentminded error of one of their members, but, to their surprise, what they found there was Duncan, their ship, sent there by the very same mistake.
  • The Three Musketeers films:
    • The Three Musketeers 1973. D'Artagnan has been separated from the other three Musketeers through attacks by the Cardinal's agents. As he's trying to return the diamonds to the Queen, he's accosted by several sets of Cardinal's guards. Finally, when he's outmatched by three of them, he's rescued twice: first by his servant Planchet in a polar bear costume, and then by the rest of the Musketeers whom Planchet lets in through a gate.
    • The Three Musketeers 1993: At the end, our heroes are confronted by the goons that have been pursuing D'Artagnan throughout the movie. Suddenly the goon's leader screams like a girl and the goons turn and run away. The heroes are thinking they scared the goons away when suddenly the entire Musketeer Corps appears from behind the heroes, chasing after the goons. The goons could see them coming but the heroes couldn't.
      • More a parody than a real The Cavalry moment, since the Four Musketeers are more than capable of handling Sissy Villain Gerard & his brothers.
  • Parodied in the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope film Road To Rio: while the two heroes are busy tangling the villainess and her two henchmen, an ally (Jerry Colonna) and a bunch of reinforcements ride furiously toward the heroes' location. But then suddenly, the heroes have won and the villains are hauled off to jail without The Cavalry ever arriving. Colonna reins in his horse mid-gallop and cheerfully comments to the camera: "Well, we never made it. But exciting, wasn't it!"
  • In Shaun of the Dead, the titular character and his girlfriend (but not his best friend, who has been bitten and opts to hold off the zombie hordes) are saved by the cavalry in the form of the British Army.
  • The Cavalry is generally a very happy concept. See the movie version of The Mist for an example where it really, really isn't. (In the original novella they never show up at all. Which, arguably, makes the ending of the novella happier. Or at least less fucking depressing.
  • The main characters of the Doom movie are, as confirmed in the dialogue, very explicitly the cavalry. Too bad it doesn't help.
  • Jurassic Park 3. The Cavalry saves everyone's asses at the very end, including a character long thought eaten.
    • In the first Jurassic Park where the Cavalry appears as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • Happened in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Of course, the bridge still got cut down with the heroes on it, but hey.
  • Interesting evil version in 3:10 to Yuma, where the Affably Evil Ben Wade predicts throughout the film that he will be rescued from execution by his Quirky Miniboss Squad. There are several scenes showing them tracking down their boss, and sure enough, they ultimately come to rescue him, and Wade's status as a Magnificent Bastard is perfectly clear.
  • The climax of Bedknobs and Broomsticks features this, and seen here.
  • At the climax of Avatar, the wildlife of Pandora itself comes to aid the Na'vi, who are getting curb stomped by the human forces. Could also be Gondor Calls for Aid, as Jake asks for help from nature before hand, but is told it can only "protect the balance".
    • The actual "horse" riding Na'vi cavalry is rescued by the metaphorical cavalry.
  • Just as things look their worst in Sleepwalkers, Clovis the police cat leads an army of cats on a slow motion charge toward the villains' house.
  • Subverted in Time Bandits. While in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, Kevin and Ogg stay behind to distract Evil while the others go through the time doors to get help. Just when it looks like Evil is going to win, the others return with American cowboys, Arthurian knights, Greek archers, a tank and a laser-armed spaceship to save the day. It looks like Evil has had it, right? Nope. Evil uses his powers to annihilate each of the reinforcements in turn, and is only stopped by a literal Deus Ex Machina, when the Supreme Being shows up and turns him into charcoal.
  • Yellow Submarine. The U.S. Seventh Cavalry appears out of the title vessel to rescue Ringo from attacking Indians. And no, it doesn't make sense in context.
  • Done literally in Cars 2 when Sarge contacts his old military buddies to bring the entire British Army to rescue Mater and Lightning McQueen.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie: The Flutter Ponies coming in to defeat the Smooze. They pull this again in the TV series, showing up to defeat Erebus.


  • More than one of the ugliest battles in Honor Harrington has occurred in the interval between the Cavalry arriving and actually coming in range to support her. Such is the danger of belonging to one of the few sci-fi writers who DOES have a sense of scale.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the demons are pursuing the escaping heroes and princesses when the heroes reach the assembled armies of Wisdom, all the goofy anthropomorphic personifications that Milo met on his journey.
  • General Raj Whitehall only occasionally needs to be rescued by his cavalry, mounted on half-ton 'wardogs' ranging from collies to newfoundlands. You do not want to get in the way of an angry or wounded wardog.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this happens twice. Once is on the Wall, when Jon Snow has been trapped by the wildling Mance Rayder on one side and the corrupt Janos Slynt on the other. It appears that he is in a situation with no way out, and the wildlings will overrun the Wall. Then The Cavalry quite literally arrives; Stannis Baratheon shows up with a thousand armored knights and puts the wildlings to flight. The other time is at the Battle of the Blackwater, when Mace Tyrell and Tywin Lannister show up in the nick of time to save King's Landing from Stannis.
    • Subverted with Ramsay Bolton, who arrives when the original rulers of Winterfell are besieging it to get it back from Theon Greyjoy. And neglects to mention that he's no longer on their side, destroying them easily by sneak attack. And when Theon, taking him to be The Cavalry opens the gates, reveals he's not on his side either.
  • The Riders of Rohan would appear to have this down to an art in The Lord of the Rings, book and film: They pull it off twice and, like any good Cavalry unit, know to time their arrival for the most dramatic moment.
    • The "charge" at Helm's deep by the Rohirrim was by infantry, not cavalry. This does not make them any less The Cavalry, however.
      • I might be misremembering (thanks, no doubt, to the movie!) but isn't the final saving of Helm's Deep carried out by the exiled Rohirrim lead by Gandalf and Erkenbrand a cavalry charge?
        • Actually, what happens is that the Orcs blow up the wall just before dawn, allowing the Rohirrim—who make their living in horse riding—to charge out into the Orc army tightly packed in the valley, forcing them up into trees sent there by the Ents. Gandalf and Erkenbrand show up to complete the trap. It's less a cavalry charge to save everyone at the last minute and more exactly what Gandalf planned when he found out Merry and Pippin had joined up with Treebeard.
    • And the Rohirrim were given their lands because of their first most succesful Cavalry moment when Eorl came to help Gondor all the way form the Northern lands.
      • The Riders of Rohan are amateurs when compared to the Eagles, however, who make a business out of showing up at the last moment to save the day. They do it in The Lord of the Rings at the battle for the Black Gate, attacking the Nazgul and helping Gandalf rescue Frodo and Sam. They do it twice in The Hobbit, once to rescue Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves from being treed by goblins, and again at the Battle of Five Armies. They make multiple appearances in The Silmarillion, swooping out of nowhere to save Maedhros who was chained to Thangorodrim, slashing Morgoth's face and saving Fingolfin's corpse, knocking Orcs off a cliff to save the survivors of Gondolin, and showing up with Earendil to take down Morgoth's winged dragons in the final battle at Angband. Their leader Gwaihir seems to have made it his personal mission to pull Gandalf's fat out of the fire as often as possible, having done so at least five times.
        • It must be noted that the Eagles don't move except when called and the Grey Wizard seems to be the only one with a hotline. It's implied that Gandalf did a major favor for Gwaihir once of the "saved his life" sort, it must have been some favor.
        • That maybe. However elsewhere it is implied that the Eagles are specifically at Manwe's command and Manwe doesn't wish to intervene too often.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit And The Pendulum, the protagonist is saved in the nick of time by General Lasalle's army after all of his own attempts to escape have failed.
  • Dale Brown's novel Silver Tower. The carrier U.S.S. Nimitz and its escort group have taken several hits from Soviet cruise missiles, and even more missiles are approaching. At the last second, the laser on the Silver Tower space station (which had been malfunctioning earlier) finally comes online and blasts the Soviet missiles out of the sky like clay pigeons, saving the ships from destruction.
    • In Fatal Terrain, the previously-secret Taiwanese Kai-Shan Military Complex is under Chinese bombardment when USN and USAF assets show up.
    • In Air Battle Force Hal Briggs is about to be on the receiving end of a Hind's weapons when Turabi and his Taliban men save his ass.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, Tarvitz gets the loyalist Emperor's Children to disengage, and join him. Then the Turncoat Lucius attacks him—but the Children arrive in time to stop him. AND then engage in the counter-attack that Tarvitz had planned.
  • In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novel Storm Front, Morgan walks into the end of the climatic fight and swings his sword toward Harry, who is falling unconscious. He regains consciousness to find Morgan administering CPR; Harry had, after all, saved himself from falling into a maelstrom of magic by chaining himself to a burning building, and Morgan had to get him free somehow.
    • In Changes, Harry and his small group of allies are utterly surrounded by an army of the Red Court, and while they are holding their own, they can't hope to win against tens of thousands of vampires, half-vampire minions, and mercenaries. Then the Leanansidhe opens a lightning gate that allows the Grey Council (which includes both Blaffstaff McCoy and fucking Odin!) to teleport in along with an army of kenku.
  • Deconstructed in the Sienkiewicz Trilogy's With Fire and Sword. Yes, the cavalry comes, but two of the main characters have to go on a suicide mission through enemy lines to call for it, and one of them actually is killed. The other one also nearly dies of starvation and exhaustion.
  • In Chris Roberson's Blood Ravens novel Dawn of War II, they fear that the shadow the tyrranids have cast on the warp will prevent this, and they are fighting a Last Stand, but the Third Company arrives in time.
  • In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, the rest of the Imperial Fist forces return when the scouts have managed to draw out the full Chaos forces. There are even five survivors in the forces they left.
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, the Dark Angels continue pulling out of the system even when a Chaos ship appeared. The Space Wolves go to fight alone—and the Dark Angels reappear, flanking the enemy. Whereupon they explain that they had intended that all along, but could not exactly tell the Space Wolves their plan over an open communication link.
    • Especially good because the Dark Angels and Space Wolves can't stand each other.
  • Late in the fourth book of The Wheel of Time, Perrin arranges for Faile to get to safety while he prepares his village's Last Stand. Faile doesn't get herself to safety, but instead rallies the northern village to become this. The southern village did so of its own accord.
  • In David Weber's In Fury Born a unit of the Imperial Cadre, the elite forces of the army, is betrayed by its intelligence officer and drops from orbit straight into strong anti-aircraft fire and prepared positions. They then have to fight across long distance and through many enemies in order to disable said anti-aircraft to allow The Cavalry (in this instance, Marines in ordinary dropships, as opposed to Cadremen in fast drop pods) to land. Out of 250-some original members of the unit, nine survive. Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • In James Swallow's Black Tide, there are no less than three arrivals of the Cavalry: Vetch to save Rafen and Tarikus; Killian and the other prisoners to save Rafen, Vetch, and Tarikus; and Noxx and the squad to save the prisoners fighting the splices.
  • In Mikhail Akhmanov's Dark Skies, a human colony is under occupation by a race of Lizard Folk. The protagonist leads La Résistance in a daring attempt to behead the occupational forces by killing the Clan Elder using a cache of weapons hidden during the previous war. Unfortunately, the operation fails, and the rebels are being besieged by a massive force of enemy soldiers who do not value life (neither theirs nor ours). Just as the situation seems bleak, the rebels, who are holed up underground, hear explosions on the surface, which the war veterans immediately recognize as those used by The Federation fleet. While the protagonize attempted to call for help earlier, he didn't know when or if the help would come.
    • Subverted in the beginning of the novel when a similar attempt to be the Big Damn Heroes ends in disaster when the occupational forces turn out to be a lot more numerous than expected, and all but one rescuers are killed.
  • In the Posleen War Series, the ACS often serve in this role, particularly the units headed by Mike O'Neal, Jr. In one charge to the rescue in Gust Front, at the battle in Washington, DC he even plays Yellow Ribbon, the anthem for the US Cavalry, over the suit speakers.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the cavalry arrives during the Battle of Hogwarts: Harry seems to have died, Voldemort has set the Sorting Hat on fire while Neville is wearing it, the Death Eaters seem to have won... and suddenly there are four cavalries coming at the same time: an army of centaurs from the forest, Buckbeak the hippogriff leading a pack of Thestrals, the house-elves from the kitchens, and Professor Slughorn, an old man who decided to leave Hogwarts, had a changed of heart and led the inhabitants of the town of Hogsmeade and the relatives of the Hogwarts' students in a charge that finally turns the tables on the Death Eaters in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Scarlet Citadel" ends with The Siege being lifted by such a force.
  • In the last Percy Jackson and The Olympians book, Typhon is heading for New York, while eleven of the twelve Olympians are attacking in vain. Suddenly, Poseidon and his forces abandon their battle in the ocean to fight Typhon, and finally the tables turn in favor of the Olympians.
    • There are three other cavalry moments in the same book: The Party Ponies, the Ares cabin and finally Nico, Hades and the army of the dead.
      • The Party Ponies also act as the cavalry in the third book, Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse.
  • A Conspiracy of Kings, the most recent book in "The Queen's Thief" series has an in-universe inversion. Sounis and his army are basically running from the Medes, but are saved by the Attolian army who were just over the hill. Attolis thought Sounis was delaying the Medes, with full knowledge of the waiting backup, but it turns out Sounis was running on blind faith, and had no knowledge of the Attolians. Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Sounis.
  • Jesus and His army of saints coming from heaven in the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing, which one character refers to as the "Calvary cavalry". However, Jesus does all the fighting with the Word Of God while His army does all the praising.
  • Animorphs: During the fourth book, the Animorphs save a great one - a whale, though their dolphin morphs think of it as a great one, and the whale thinks of them as little ones - from an attack by sharks (and dolphins really do not like sharks, particularly when sharks are attacking a great one). Later on, Visser Three comes after the Animorphs in his own morph (a very, very big sea-going creature from another planet), trying to kill or capture them. The Animorphs send out a cry for help via echolocation. Cue two massive sperm whales, two slightly smaller ones, and the great humpback that they saved from the sharks earlier. Sixty feet long and weighing in at approximately sixty-five tons each, tearing in at absolute top speed to first ram Visser Three's morph, and then subsequently start beating the life out of him with their tails, using blows that are described as being quite capable of knocking entire walls down. The exact same thing happens in book 36, oddly enough, also involving whales.
  • In the Tom Clancy novel Red Storm Rising the submarines Chicago, Boston and Providence undertake a cruise missile attack on a Soviet bomber base. After the mission the three are jumped by a Soviet submarine which destroys Boston and Providence. The Chicago is saved by the sudden appearance (and the torpedoes) of the British sub Torbay.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector". The Enterprise is lured into The Neutral Zone and trapped by two Romulan ships. It looks like the end, but then Picard gives the word and three Klingon ships decloak as the Klingon theme blares. The Romulans eventually back down and retreat.
    • The writers wanted to have a larger force of Klingon ships appear. Unfortunately, they could barely fit those six ships on the screen without zooming out so far that they'd all look too small for a suitably dramatic scene.
  • The Federation task force in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Sacrifice of Angels" is saved when the Klingons come screaming in from out of the sun.
    • Martok also decloaked and started shooting right as the Jem'Hadar were about to attack Defiant in "A Call to Arms," when she was constructing the all-important mine field in front of the Wormhole, and thus would have been unable to fight back. Martok played the cavalry a good number of times, actually.
    • And in "What You Leave Behind," it was the Cardassians who saved Defiant when the fleet defected en masse on learning that the Founders were ordering the extermination of Cardassian civilians.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Zero Hour," Shran shows up in the nick of time and attacks the Xindi superweapon's escort ship—which was about to shoot down the shuttle carrying Archer and the team of commandos who would eventually take down that weapon from within.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, holo-Nazis are bearing down on our heroes. All hope seems lost... That is until some holographic and very drunk Klingons show up!
  • In Stargate SG-1 the arrival of the Prometheus and its fighters to protect SG-1's defenseless cargo ship in the season 7 finale is a definite cavalry moment.

Bra'tac: They will be in firing range in thirty seconds. More ships approach from the opposite direction.
Carter: Sir! We are about to get our asses kick...!
Bra'tac: They are not Goa'uld...

    • The Goa'uld system lords do it to SG-1 in an earlier episode, as Ba'al and his fleet come out of hyperspace and immediately begin bombing the crap out of Anubis' mothership before it can make it to orbit.
      • And the Asgard pull one on Anubis' mooks on his first appearance, Freyr arriving with 2 O'Neill-class cruisers, both outgunning and out-numbering Anubis' Hatak, in an effort to convince them to let SG-1 go.
      • Hell the first appearance of the Asgard is this, as we get our introduction to Thor's Chariot.
      • A pretty crap version of this plays out during the Ori invasion arc. A storyline about Teal'c going to get some reinforcements from the local drug dealers, after much angst and wailing, the attack starts, but wait! The drug dealer guys come through. With 3 Hatak (which have been cannon fodder for about 6 seasons), 2 of which get promptly blown out of the sky.
  • The arrival of the Daedalus in the 2nd season premiere of Stargate Atlantis.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode, "Severed Dreams," Delenn never looked so beautiful to Capt. John Sheridan as when she swooped out of hyperspace when all seemed hopeless for the besieged space station with four near invincible warships at the last minute to tell the Earth Alliance ships:

Delenn: Only one human captain has ever survived battle with the Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.

    • Sheridan later tells her it was the finest moment of his life. Not to mention that she also managed to deliver the single greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome in a series full of them, by giving that speech.
    • Also from Babylon 5 in the episode "Endgame", former President Clark had turned Earth's orbital defense platforms on Earth itself. Sheridan's ship is the only ship within range of one that is about to fire and destroy half the eastern coast of the United States. With weapons out they have to ram it in order to destroy it taking themselves with it. Another Earth ship which had been able to get itself going after being earlier sabotaged by Sheridan's forces arrives and blows the defense platform up.
    • Also the season five episode of Babylon 5, A View from the Gallery, has the crew and inhabitants of the titular station holding up against an alien attack until the the cavalry, in the form of the White Star fleet arrives.
  • The most recent Richard Sharpe adventure, Sharpe's Peril, concluded in just such a fashion, with the British cavalry arriving (led by Barabbas Hakeswill, a character who's loyalty had been ambiguous until now) just in time to break the siege, give Sharpe a chance to defeat the villain and generally save the day.
  • Cruelly averted in the opening episode of Firefly during the Battle of Serenity Valley. The badly outgunned Independent soldiers start celebrating as they hear ships come overhead, thinking their air support's arrived to save them. Except the ships are actually Alliance reinforcements, and the Browncoats are well and truly screwed.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer joked about it in the 2nd season finale. Buffy goes to face Angel, and Xander shows up.

Xander: "Calvary's here. Cavalry's a frightened guy with a rock, but it's here."

  • The Burn Notice fourth season finale has Michael, Fiona, and Jesse in a half-built hotel, looking to go all Wild Bunch when Sam comes in with the frickin' army.
  • Band Of Brothers.: The Shermans in episode 3. Easy was under heavy attack and Dog and Fox companies had retreated.
    • Played with in episode 6 where the point is made that Easy Company and the 101st Airborne have never agreed with the story that they were "rescued", as Patton said, by the Third Army.
  • At the end of the fourth season of Merlin, Arthur's band of loyalists had been whittled down to Merlin and Guinevere. Then the Dragon (somehow) manages to find everyone who escaped Morgana's attack on Camelot and gathers them together at the Sword in the Stone, resulting in a ready-made army of knights and civilians just waiting for Arthur's return. Around the same time, Tristan and Isolde also agreed to fight alongside Arthur.
  • In one episode of The Saint, Simon Templar actually refers to a useful group of friendly sailors as "the cavalry" after they burst in and beat up the bad guy's Mooks for him.


  • Several such events take place in The Goon Show. For example, "Tales of Men's Shirts", which was set in occupied Europe during World War II, ended with the American army turning up out of nowhere, with Seagoon commenting "They saved us! Let's face it, they saved television folks!"


Well, Tex, looks like them Apaches got us outnumbered. Wait a minute, do you hear a bugle?

Video Games

  • Played straight with Warcraft III, when Uther brings in a large number of knights to save Arthas in the human survival mission.
  • Played straight and then horribly, horribly subverted during World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King. While the Horde does serve as a cavalry to the Alliance at the entrance to Icecrown, the Lich King's base of operations, once Arthas himself appears and the Horde's own cavalry enters the scene, it was NOT pretty.

Grand Apothecary Putress: Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? Behold now, the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken! Death to the Scourge! AND DEATH TO THE LIVING!

  • Heavily subverted in the original Half-Life. The US Marines sent in to quell the alien invasion of Black Mesa are also there to contain all information of the killing every Black Mesa employee they meet, including you.
  • Although it's usually one to three characters, in the Nintendo 3DS games for Fire Emblem, it's kind of normal for an allied soldier to officially join your team when there's a battle raging on. And it usually happens before the game's midpoint.
  • Averted entirely in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In the last missions, the combined US Marine/British SAS team calls for the "Good" Russians to help save them from the bad guys who are hot on their tail. Unfortunately, The Russians arrive, 5 minutes too late, just in time to possibly save the main character and far too late to save most of the others. However, a Russian helicopter did distract the Big Bad and his henchmen, giving Captain Price an opening to slide his M1911A1 to the main character.
    • Modern Warfare 2, confirms that Soap and Price were indeed saved by the Russians, in the latter case only to be lost in the system and imprisoned in some hellhole gulag.
    • Played straight in Call of Duty 2. After Dog Company takes Pointe du Hoc and destroys the artillery, the Germans launch a counterattack, forcing them to retreat all the way back to the cliffs. When it seems like the final members of Dog Company are about to be overwhelmed, troops and tanks from Omaha Beach finally come to the rescue.
  • In Parasite Eve 2, there's a point late in the game where our heroine is about to be overrun by a horde of the zombie-ish horrors she has been fighting all game long... only to have the United States Marine Corps arrive with automatic weapons and grenade launchers in full effect.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, the heroes are overwhelmed when the Big Bad's forces revive the Giant of Babel. Then, before they're shot out of the sky, they're joined by the Kingdom of Baron's Red Wings (commandeered by Cid, the Troian Council, and the Mysidian Elder) as well as the Dwarf Kingdom's Tank Brigade. The assembled forces then keep the Giant busy while the party infiltrates it via its throat.
    • Then it happens again as Zeromus blasts the party into oblivion, and those left behind on Earth send their prayers to the Moon, giving Cecil and his cohorts the strength needed to defeat the enemy.
    • Made even more heroic as, in the first case, the arrival of the allied forces comes with the Theme Of The Red Wings Leitmotif, also used for the final assault on the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. In the second, the assembled characters pray with the series' iconic Theme Tune, Theme of Final Fantasy/Prologue as background music.
    • In an homage to the former event, Final Fantasy IX has the party aboard the Invincible, approaching the portal to the Final Dungeon... only to be surrounded by innumerable Silver Dragons. They're saved at the very last second by the Alexandrian Armada and the Lindblum Fleet, led by Beatrix and Cid, respectively. Despite being rival nations in the past, they proceed to clear a path for the Invincible to break through and reach the portal.
  • Appears in Ace Combat 6, at the end of mission 12. Having destroyed the enemies' nuclear catalyst the Garuda team is ambushed by a huge amount of enemy fighters, after holding out for awhile the entire Emmerian Air Force shows up and saves the day, all while one of the best songs in the game plays in the background.
    • In Ace Combat 5, mission 17 ends the same way. Huge enemy ambush, Chopper dies, and reinforcements finally show up right about when you run out of missiles.
    • Ace Combat Zero has the player and his wingman as The Cavalry in a couple battles, particularly the second mission over the Round Table. Allied air units are being shredded by the Belkan Air Force, Galm Team shows up and just eats them alive.
      • Made more awesome because everytime Galm Team shows up, the Belkan Air Force collectively craps it's pants.
  • In Dawn of War the Space Marines arived just in time to save the badly beaten Tartarus forces.
    • In the Dawn of War: Winter Assault third mission this is the last part of it: Hold the Line until the cavalry arrives.
    • At the end of Dawn of War II, the Blood Raven troops are seriously outnumbered and prepare for a Last Stand to take as many Tyranids with them as they can (this actually becomes the mission objective). Cue the arrival of the fleet, which was thought to have been lost previously, and Brother-Captain Gabriel Angelos himself drops down to the planet to aid the troops with his massive Daemon Hammer.
  • The opening to Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun's GDI campaign: Phoenix Base comes under attack by the Brotherhood of Nod; the defending forces are crushed; the last of GDI's infantry scream for reinforcements... and then you enter the fray, commanding an elite group of soldiers dropped straight from orbit.
  • In the third Ratchet and Clank, the previously cowardly Galactic Rangers pull this off during the penultimate showdown.
  • Near the end of Ecco the Dolphin: Tides of Time, the rebuilt Asterite sends you to Lunar Bay to assault the Vortex. Not only are your powers from the end of the first game restored, but you're being backed up by a ton of other dolphins who have been summoned by the Asterite.
  • Darksiders: War summons this at the end of the game and it's quite literal what with them being the other three Horsemen as a sequel hook when told he can't possibly fight the Charred Council alone.
  • In Mass Effect 1, you get to call in the cavalry, to potentially save the Council. It is epic.
    • In Mass Effect 3 The Cavalry can potentially include the geth, quarians, rachni , and everyone else youve befriended throughout the series
  • Before the final battle in Skies of Arcadia, every minor character with a battleship shows up at your base in order to provide reinforcements for the final assault.
  • In Operation Darkness, a late-game mission gives you one of your first glimpses of Germany's Panzer Demons. Without Power Leveling, this fight can whittle you down quite a bit, then more Panzer Demons come, along with some tanks. After a couple turns of desperate music and legitimate fear that you did not bring enough rockets, the American Army charges the field with twice the enemy numbers and much better equipment.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII your group is cornered and surrounded, and then General Cid Raines of the Air Brigade, known far and wide as 'the Cavalry' comes to your rescue.
  • The finale of Dragon Age has you lead the cavalry, a huge army that you've spent the entire game gathering. You run into Ferelden's capital city to save it after it's attacked by darkspawn.
  • In the 30th scenario of Age of Mythology, you control Arkantos and the others as they try to defend against the overwhelming forces of Gargarensis, Kemsyt, Loki, and some Giant tribes. 20 minutes into the second objective, Odysseus rushes in with a massive army of Centaurs, Hetaroi, Myrmidons, and Hoplites that you use to take down the Big Bad.
    • This is also played completely straight in a suspiciously similar way in the very first scenario of the campaign, when a lot of heroes rush in to defend Atlantis at the end of the scenario as hordes of pirates land on the beach and you're just getting overwhelmed.
  • Reversed in the first Halo at the end of the Silent Cartographer level when the Covenant cavalry falls on you.
    • In Halo3, when the Flood crash in Earth and start spreading at the nearest city, the Covenant-Seperatist come in and help contain the Flood.
  • This trope can be ironically inverted in Mount & Blade, if the player has both enough cavalry not to be immediately demolished by the enemy formation and enough infantry that their presence or absence can tip the balance. If you're not trying to be particularly strategic and are in a hurry to finish a fight, you may simply charge ahead with your cavalry. But if the enemy turns out to be much of a challenge for horsemen alone, it will be the arrival of your slower infantry playing the role of The Cavalry as far as this trope is concerned.
  • In Dragon Age II, your reinforcements during the final battle depend entirely on your actions throughout the game. If you managed to hold your team together after siding with either the mages or the templars, whoever isn't in your active party will still join you against Meredith despite the Arbitrary Headcount Limit. Other potential allies include Donnic, Zevran and Nathaniel Howe.
  • Star Trek Online has a mission in which you must reclaim Deep Space 9 from a fleet of Jem'Hadar. They put up one last fight to keep the station for themselves, and just when you seem like you're about to lose, the U.S.S. Enterprise-F (Odyssey Class) arrives to help turn the tide.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Look to the West: Heinz Kautzman's Russo-Lithuanian-Danish-Courlandish force in the Battle of Paris. Subverted in that they were not needed, but were only there so those previously mentioned countries could claim participation in the war and find themselves part of the peace talks. It works.
  • The arrival of the Reds (and Tucker, and Caboose) in episode 19 of Red vs. Blue: Revelation.

Wash: I would say that was the cavalry, but... I've never seen a line of horses crash into the battlefield from outer space before.

  • In Greek Ninja, Sasha is saved from the advances of a succubus/ex-lover by the wandering demigoddess Electra.
  • In the Whateley Universe novel "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", when Chaka and Riptide have been taken down by The Lamplighter, they are saved by... a team of Knights of Purity in power armor. Chaka hates the Knights of Purity.
  • At the end of The Adventures Of The League of STEAM's season 2 finale, "Dead End", The rest of the League come to the rescue when Crackitus, the Baron, Katherine and Thaddeus get outnumbered by zombies.

Western Animation

  • Justice League, "The Savage Time". Hawkgirl is in trouble with three Me109s on her tail shooting at her accurately enough that she has taken a bullet through her wing. Suddenly more tracer fire comes in from offscreen and through the Luftwaffe planes. Cue dramatic music as the Blackhawks swoop in.
    • And then later, The Flash shows up, and he's brought the U.S. Navy with him!
  • Before Madame Rouge has a chance to squash Beast Boy like a bug in the second-to-last episode of Teen Titans, the ground beneath her starts to crumble... out pops Cyborg and some reinforcements! Ceiling bursts open... and Starfire has some more! Finally Raven brings in the last of them and Battle Royal against the Brotherhood of Evil begins!!!
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies". Jonny, Race and Hadji are trapped on a hilltop with armed angry Pygmies closing in from all sides. Suddenly in the distance they see a flight of helicopters approaching, with Dr. Quest as a passenger in one of them. The helicopters blow away and otherwise roust the pygmies.
  • In Thundercats 2011 during the The Siege of their kingdom of Thundera, Catfolk King Claudus and Tygra look on in shock as their city is devastated by a Superweapon Surprise, and trusted general Grune reveals himself a Turncoat who's after Claudus' Sword of Omens. Claudus reminds Grune that he does in fact, have a Praetorian Guard who has yet to be dealt with. Court Mage Jaga and his Clerics rush out from the horizon with a Super Speed Swirling Dust trail, proceeding to deliver a Speed Blitz on Grune, his Lizard forces and their Walking Tanks Minutes later, this is subverted when the Clerics attempt to save Claudus' sons from capture, only to be devastated by an attack from Big Bad Mumm-Ra.
  • The arrival of Optimus Prime and the Dinobots just in time to turn the tide in Transformers: The Movie at the climax of the Battle of Autobot City.

Real Life

  • Jan Sobieski and the Polish cavalry rescuing Vienna. Yes, they really were literal cavalry, and numbering twenty thousand, they were the largest cavalry charge in history.
    • Poland in general likes its horses. How much? They're the only modern army that still uses a cavalry unit (though it's mostly for parades and occasional border patrol).
  • During the First Crusade the Christian (Frankish) army, huge for the time, divided into two columns to pass through Anatolia. The Moslem (Turkish) army attacked and encircled one Crusader force, and appeared likely to defeat it, when the other Crusader force showed up unexpectedly. Given that knights were rescuing knights, this would be a case of the Cavalry rescuing the (dismounted) Cavalry; since the Turks were almost all mounted archers, that would be...
  • Marshal Blücher and his Prussian cavalry rescuing Wellington's force at Waterloo.
  • The famous World War II battle with the Destroyer, USS Laffey, which was being continually hit with kamikaze and conventional attacks while it was all alone doing radar picket duty, two cavalries. When things were looking bad, four US fighters from the escort carrier Shamrock Bay arrived to shoot down as many as they could, then buzz the enemy planes when they ran out of ammo, until they were forced to disengage due to low fuel. When all seemed lost for the Laffey, a second cavalry arrived in the form of a dozen US F 4 U Corsair fighters to take care of the rest of the enemy.
  • The Coaltion force in Libya was this to the Rebel forces in Benghazi, with hostile forces closing in and enemy tanks at the entrance to the city one rebel said "So, we’re being abandoned after all." Enter the French airstrikes and later the 120+ Tomahawk missles. Of course now Gaddafi is dead and fanatical Islamist militants bid fair to be in control of the country, making things worse than they were before. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Subverted initially in the American Civil War by Union cavalry, who had the reputation of retreating whenever they were met with any kind of resistance. An old joke among soldiers, "You ever seen a dead cavalryman?"
    • There were plenty of dead cavalrymen. But infantry did not see them because cavalry did long range recon far out where the infantry in camp could not see their deadness. And retreating on seeing the enemy is often needed during recon to get word back as that is the mission.
  • More in the minor-character-rescue vein, the Dunkirk evacuation: while it may have been a Curbstomp Cushion for the general public, for the French and British stuck on the beaches facing the Wehrmacht with their backs to the sea, the arrival of hundreds of ships of every variety to rescue them in the nick of time was definitely the real thing.