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When you intend to impress (whether some characters by some other character, or your audience as the author), if it is a military or some other powerful organisation, the display of power is usually based upon personnel's numbers. This is the basis of Million Mook March.
Million Mook March tends to concern infantry. However, as it happens, such a display is not restricted to footsoldiers. If it is some kind of fleet you want to show, you can just as much make them run in squadrons, and the additional benefit is that in opposition to common soldiers, even a lone ship is likely to impress, either with her guns, or herself.
Thus, Flaunting Your Fleets is a scene made of exceptional display of power, usually (though not a necessity) military, inducing Squee in any closet militarist, often in form of squadrons upon squadrons, on the march or standing down, of starships, seaships, airships, airplanes or whatever else rocks your boat.
While Million Mook March is often invoked by characters in story, it is more likely for Flaunting Your Fleets to be directed straight towards the viewer. Works both in picture and in writing. In the former, it often uses a camera trick where the camera's changing field gradually shows more and more items (see Troy in the Film examples section). In the latter, it tends to assume the form of Description Porn, often together with a Long List of unit numbers and names and giving descriptions of individual vessels or ship types, thus blurring the division between straight description of the fleet as whole and Technology Porn of its constituents.
Anime and Manga
- Robotech, for example, here, starting at 0:24.
- In fanwork here.
- A Federation Fleet Review is a major plot point in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
- In Troy, there is a close-up of a single ship... And then, the camera goes up, revealing
dozenshundreds of ships, stretching far to the horizon.
- The Star Wars films feature several such scenes.
- A trailer for The Last Airbender, doing a trick similar to Troy's aforementioned example.
- Used as an Oh Crap moment for one of the protagonists in Letters From Iwo Jima. After discussing with the others how the Americans will be sending a lot of ships - twenty, maybe thirty - he goes outside and sees the American fleet stretching all the way to the horizon.
Live Action TV
- Occurs in Babylon 5, right after Sheridan liberates Earth from the Clarke regime. After Delenn announces the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Rangers fly their White Stars in formation over Earth Dome, pounding the point home.
- Major fleet actions, such as the assembly of Babylon 5 vessels attacking the siege line at Proxima, tend to have long, dramatic pans across the massing ships and huge quantities of Starfuries and other fighters. The Battle of Coriana at the end of the Vorlon-Shadow War has at least four - one when the Alliance fleet leaves B5, one each when the Vorlons and Shadows arrive on the scene, and one showing the huge fleet huddling close to White Star One to protect it from the Shadow Planet Killer.
- The Babylon 5 card game has a military conflict called "show the colours", which is basically a free-for-all for all the players to show off how big and impressive their respective fleets are -- the winner gains 2 influence, while the losers lose absolutely nothing. Unlike most military conflicts, no actual hostile actions are taken against other factions and nobody can attack other participants unless they already are at war.
- There was also the heavily foreshadowed flyby of the Imperial Palace on Centauri Prime.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a few scenes like this, especially in the later seasons when the crew found themselves up against either Klingons (early in season 4), or the combined fleets of the Dominion, Cardasians, and Breen after that. The Federation also had large shows of force, which was very odd as it was lightly implied before had that the Federation did not have thousands of vessels. (For example, the battle at Wolf 359 from TNG only had about 40 ships, and Riker's line at the end of the episode, "The fleet should be back up and running within a year," seems to imply that those 40-odd ships were the MAJORITY of Star Fleet's armada!)
- It actually implied that Starfleet can produce ~40 ships in less than a year. In-universe, Starfleet decided to Take a Level In Badass after the pounding they took at Wolf 359, so the fleet got bigger.
- Another factor beefing up Starfleet's ship count is the fact that the Starfleet Corps of Engineers are an in-universe cross between MacGyver and Memetic Badass. A Vorta (one of the enemy leaders in the series) claims that a Starfleet engineer "can turn rocks into replicators". Between that and the fairly diverse range of ships seen in Federation fleets, it becomes fairly obvious that Starfleet is basically repurposing everything it can get its hands on and sending it into battle.
- Andromeda: Ever wonder why The Commonwealth's warships, specifically, High Guard warships look so sleek and fragile? This is why. The Vedrans built their ships like that just because they can and no one else had the technology to do so, even before The Fall of The Commonwealth.
- David Weber is a major user.
- For example, in Mission of Honor, Honor shows up in the Haven system with 48 superdreadnoughts, 6 LAC carriers, a dozen battlecruisers, twenty destroyers, a dozen ammunition freighters, and her personal yacht, to negotiate a peace treaty.
- The Iliad includes a hour-long-in-reading chapter made solely of the list of how many ships and men every allied Greek kingdom sends to Troy.
- Older Than Feudalism: This trope is discussed in an ancient Greek (though not as old as the Iliad) poem by Sappho:
"Some say horsemen, some say warriors,
Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest
Vision in this dark world, but I say it's
What you love. [...]
And I recall Anaktoria, whose sweet step
Or that flicker of light on her face,
I'd rather see than Lydian chariots
Or the armed ranks of the hoplites."
- In one Harry Turtledove Alternate History series, Japan takes over the Hawaiian islands instead of just bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Japanese know that the Americans will only focus on regaining Hawaii at first, and the rest of the Japanese Army and Navy can take over the rest of the Pacific unmolested. The first time the Americans attempt to retake Hawaii, they send out a fleet roughly equal in numbers to the Japanese detachment at Hawaii, but it is undone by inexperienced soldiers, faulty armaments and outdated equipment. With the second attempt to retake the islands the Americans take the time to do things right and send an overwhelming force. Japanese pilots defending their hold on the islands see a fleet stretching back as far as they can see to the horizon... and then realize that there are still more ships even further back, giving the pilot seeing this a major Oh Crap moment.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, Geary tries to put his ships in as elegant a formation as he can when travelling through spider-wolf space. To be sure, it's no match for the spider-wolves' formation, and he knows it, but he tries.
- The song Please Hello from Pacific Overtures is made of this (though the ships are offstage). As the various representatives greet the Japanese representative and issue their varrying demands/suggestions they all end exactly the same way; with a rolling cannonade from their ships.
- The Dark Side ending of Knights of the Old Republic features one of these shots. Bonus points for that not even being the massed Sith fleet, it's just what's currently rolling off the assembly line.
- In Phantasy Star Universe's first installment, the Alliance Military Forces' starships do this in celebration of the Tripartite Alliance centennial, launching fireworks over the GUARDIANS colony with their main guns. Then the SEED invasion begins, destroying many of those ships on display.
- In Infinite Space. Elgava dispatches five thousand ships to impress the approaching Lugovalians, but fail because the other fleet had over a hundred thousand ships. Later in the game, Libertas holds a fleet review as part of maneuvering to consolidate control over the Galactic Federation.
- In Mass Effect 3 when the united fleets of the Alliance, Turians and whatever else Shepard has gathered take the fight back to Earth.
- Homeworld's in-engine cutscenes exemplify this trope. Big capital fleets squaring off set to dramatic music and voice-over basically sets up half the key missions.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: a pan up from Zhao's command ship to the fleet he intends to destroy the Northern Water Tribe with. Also, the airship fleet in the grand finale.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars has several shots like this, mostly from the CIS. Their fleet is massive.
- Real Life: military parades, which tend to include machines alongside the soldiers, are often deliberately intended to have this effect. This is where it blurs into Million Mook March.
- The Soviet Union pulled off a massive con on the USA in July 1955 at the Soviet Aviation Day demonstrations at the Tushino Airfield, ten Bison bombers were flown past the reviewing stand, then flew out of sight, quickly turned around, and flew past the stands again. They repeated this six times, presenting the illusion that there were 60 aircraft in the flyby. This led to the "Bomber gap".
- Chinese "Treasure Fleet" of XV Century, before they decided to ban anything remotely seaworthy. One of its points was to invoke this trope to awe China's neighbours into vassalization.
- Freedom of Navigation exercises. If a country makes territorial claims that the United States disagrees with, often the US Navy will simply park a carrier battle group in the waters under dispute, as if to say, "Your waters? Prove it."
- It's called Gunboat Diplomacy, in the 150 years preceding WWII this was the favorite tactic of the Royal Navy.
- The Great White Fleet was a prime example. Named for the Navy protocol of painting ships white in peacetime, the Great White Fleet was sent around the world by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909 as nothing more or less than a way of telling the world, "Hey, looky what we got!" Made up of ships built within the last decade with state-of-the-art designs, the display was very effective at demonstrating America's rising technological prowess and willingness to set foot on the world stage.
- Interestingly enough, the entire Great White Fleet had already been rendered completely obsolete by Royal Navy's first Squadron of Dreadnought battleships when it set sail in 1909, although it provided invaluable experience at operating fleets far from home that the Americans would find very useful throughout the 20th century.
- Very interesting is the fact that the Japanese military found the Great White Fleet unimpressive when it visited Tokyo.
- The Royal Navy weren't terribly impressed when they escorted them through the Mediterranean either, but then again long range cruises were a routine part of policing the Empire. In fact the cruise of the Great White Fleet was more important as a domestic PR exercise raising support of Naval expansion - few of the Great powers considered the demonstration especially impressive, although it was certainly a wake up call for the minor naval nations in South America and the Pacific
- One of the most impressive ones in modern times has got to be the International Fleet Review, which featured a total of 167 ships of varying countries. It all concluded in a huge reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar, which occurred on that day 200 years ago.
- The classic series Victory At Sea. About twelve hours of Flaunting Your Fleets. Oh yes, the army gets in there somewhere too...