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Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
The Bible, Mark 5:9

Humans are very social creatures, we enjoy being around each other a great deal. Our friends, our family, our lovers, our coworkers, are all sources of wholesome fun. If you're not into that sort of thing, well, there's something wrong with you. But what happens when you go just a bit too far, become more and more of other people while less and less of yourself? Can you go so far that there's nothing left of you at all?

If this sounds like you, then your name may just be Legion.

I Am Legion is a Trope where some group or individual is made more sinister or strange by having them avoid referring to themselves in the singular. Through their speech and mannerisms they will make the viewer question the nature of the character. A lone character speaking as though they were chanting along as part of a chorus, or an assembly speaking in perfect unison, regardless of the situation.

Common quality of Hive Minds, but this isn't necessarily so. Not to be confused with ~Me's A Crowd~ and Royal We. Often speak with Voice of the Legion. Has nothing to do with I Am Legend. Could be a Limited Social Circle that has Jumped Off the Slippery Slope. I Am Spartacus uses this as a diversion.

Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • The Tachikoma in Ghost in the Shell are not a group of individual sentient robots, but are instead all remote controlled by a single computer. In regular intervals, the individual AI programs are stopped and all the data each unit has gathered during the day compared and analyzed. When the AIs are reinitialized, each one has exactly the same set of stored memories. Somehow they still manage to spend most of their idle time on philosophical debates with each unit expressing different views and opinions, which by all logical understanding should be impossible.


Comic Books

  • In Spider-Man, Venom usually refers to himself in the plural, as he is Eddie Brock fused to an alien symbiote.
    • In Spider Girl, during the first appearance of the symbiote it outright possesses Spider-Man and is "I". Later, Normie Osborn wrapped in the symbiote, apparently civilizing it, goes by "we". So does May, although the symbiote - the same one that made half of Venom, which had just been transferred to her to heal a fatal wound - promptly jumps off her and dies in a Heroic Sacrifice for her and her father. By that point it's not exactly evil, unlike Carnage later.
    • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Peter Parker notices himself thinking "we" instead of "I" after he starts using the symbiote.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog subverts this several times in its various incarnations of the villainous Dark Legion; despite the title, the only thing that makes them a "legion" is their great numbers and shared Hollywood Cyborg themes, otherwise they're as far from a Hive Mind as you can get (though the more recent incarnations' lust for absorbing new members into their ranks through "Legionization" parallels another cyborg race listed on here...)
  • In Final Crisis, Darkseid essentially possesses half the human race and turns them into conduits for his will:

 I. Am. The. New. God. All is one in Darkseid. This mighty body is my church. When I command your surrender, I speak with three billion voices. When I make a fist to crush your resistance. It is with three billion hands. When I stare into your eyes and shatter your dreams. And break your heart. It is with six billion eyes! Nothing like Darkseid has ever come among you: Nothing will again. I will take you to a hell without exit or end. And there I will murder your souls! And make you crawl and beg! And die! Die! Die for Darkseid!


Fan Fiction

  • Made fun of, and played straight in two different Naruto Fanfics. The first one (humor) has one of Naruto's Kage Bunshin say this to another shinobi, then another clone rolls his (its?) eyes and smacks it to get rid of it. The other one (horror) is the reason why it was forbidden. They eventually become flesh and blood, and psychically linked to the point where they lost track of the original.
  • Done in the Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic Nobody Dies, where a group of enthralled people speak in unison to punctuate the words of their leader. A direct Shout-Out to the trope picture above, from Final Crisis. "I am Legion, I am numerous. When I strike down your army, it is with SIX THOUSAND FISTS! When I stare my hatred into the depths of your soul, it is with SIX THOUSAND EYES!"


Film

Literature

  • The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting; three hundred million people, all with the same face.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The trope takes its title from the Book of Mark, where a man possessed by many demons was asked his name by Jesus and replied, "My name is Legion for we are many." Daniel 10:6 also reports the eponymous prophet's vision of a glowing man whose voice was "like the sound of a multitude."
  • At one point in the Stephen King miniseries Storm of the Century it was realized that Magnificent Bastard antagonist Linoge's name was an anagram of Legion, complete with the character who realized this quoting the relevant Bible passage. Given what we see of Linoge, that he is either a demon or some sort of avatar for them is quite likely.
    • In The Stand, it is revealed by Tom Cullen in a trance that Randal Flagg is neither truly human nor an individual, in fact Tom uses the line: "He's always outside. He came out of time. He doesn't know himself. He has the name of a thousand demons. Jesus knocked him into a herd of pigs once. His name is Legion. He's afraid of us. We're inside."
    • Whether Flagg and Linoge are one and the same is a major source of Epileptic Trees. Entirely possible, given that Flagg is a recurring character in the works of Stephen King. Walter O'Dim, the Man in Black, the Walking Dude from The Dark Tower series and Flagg are one and the same. Since Walter can travel through the multiverse, it's quite likely that he is every incarnation of Flagg/Legion to appear in all of Stephen King's stories.
  • The Morah, and its army, the Zars, from William Nicholson's Wind on Fire trilogy.
  • The Auditors from Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Whenever one uses a personal pronoun in the singular it actually pops out of existence, as if it either extinguishes itself in horror or is extinguished by the others on the grounds that to be an individual is to be alive, and all mortal lives are impossibly short next to the lifespan of the universe.
    • Later in the books, they try mortality out and the first one gives herself a Meaningful Name, because they don't see the point of names that aren't descriptive -- Lady Myria Le Jean.
      • (Since that's a little difficult, here's some help - Myria, from "myriad", meaning "innumerable", and Le Jean pronounced in the proper French manner sounds a lot like "legion".)
    • Also the Hiver from A Hat Full of Sky. Whilst it obviously qualifies as a Hive Mind, there is a part of it which could be referred to as 'the original' that is changed every time a new mind is added to the mix.
  • Mucho Maas from The Crying of Lot 49
  • Brilliantly played with in John Dies at the End where a person possessed by a swarm refers to himself as Shitload, "because there is a shitload of us in there".
  • Ygramul the Many, a giant spider consisting of millions of small hornets, from The Neverending Story.
  • In the Matthew Swift books, the blue electric angels think of themselves in the plural, despite being essentially a single entity. Since they're merged with the protagonist at the beginning of the first book, the books' narrative pronoun is "we" about half the time.
  • In Jeff Lindsey's Dexter book series, whenever Dexter lets the Dark Passenger "take the wheel" he has a tendency to refer to himself as we and us when he speaks to his victims- referring to him (Dexter) and the separate entity that is the Dark Passenger.
  • An interesting use in Star Trek: Vanguard combines this trope with Me's a Crowd. The Shedai Serrataal ruling class often speak as though they're a collective (despite being in reality an ideologically diverse bunch) and can also take on multiple forms at once, controlling several bodies simultaneously. The Apostate, when describing the Shedai caste system, explains "I am Serrataal, I am legion", thereby making use of the I Am Legion trope while also using the same words to point to the Me's a Crowd nature of his powers.
  • In Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, the Trope Namer scene is retold. It is basically the same, though it seems the Bible opted to... tone done the original line.

  Legion: My name is Legion, for there are a shit-ton of us in here.

Live Action TV

  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Primeval", while Buffy prepares to face Adam, the Scooby gang performs a power-joining spell that gives Buffy the combined power of all the past and future slayers, and speak with the combined voices of herself and those casting the spell.

  "You could never hope to grasp the source of our power." * rips out Adam's uranium core* "But yours is right here."

  • In the finale of Angel, Hamilton says to Angel that he would never defeat Wolfram & Hart because "[they] are Legion. They are forever."
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Cybermen of on occasion, particularly in the new series. "You will become identical. You will become like us."
    • The Ood pull a similar trick in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" once they're possessed by The Beast. "He is awake." "AND YOU WILL WORSHIP HIM."
    • In "The End of Time" The Master transforms everyone on Earth into a clone of himself, with a single shared consciousness.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, we have the Trickster, especially in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
  • Appropriately enough, the Red Dwarf episode "Legion" (which had the working title "Call Me Legion") featured a being which only existed as a combination of nearby conscious minds. He was referred to as a "gestalt entity"; this term was also frequently used to describe the "Grant Naylor" persona under which the programme's co-creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were often presented.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "WE ARE THE BORG. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE."
  • One episode of House, In which a game producer posts his symptoms online to find a diagnosis receives this as a suggestion. Foreman and Thirteen shoot it down as they go through several other suggestions:

 Foreman - You are possessed by the biblical demon "Legion."

Thirteen - Nope, no jumping off a cliff in a herd of pigs.

Foreman - Otherwise, it did fit.

Music

  • Black Sabbath's "I" has the lyrics "I am Wicked / I am Legion / Strength in numbers a lie / The number is one".
  • Hammerfall's song "Legion", which describes the Biblical demon.
  • E Nomine's "Der Fürst Der Finsternis", actually about Satan, contains the line "My name is legion".
  • Arch Enemy's song "Nemesis" has the line 'We are Legion/Voice of Anarchy'. Angela Gossow's singing style is the perfect compliment to the lyrics.
  • Swedish Black Metal Band Marduk has a song called "Legion" with the line "My name is legion, for we are many in here".

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000's Thousand Sons Traitor Legion have a rule representing their status as possessed suits of armour entitled "We Are Legion."


Toys

  • Lampshaded in Bionicle after Brutaka gets possessed by Antidermis:

 Axonn: Just so you know... Brutaka's his own "we" now. Long Story.

Video Games

  • The Overlord Doom Blade from Adventure Quest Worlds houses several darkness elementals
  • Starting with Symphony of the Night, Legion itself is a popular Recurring Boss in the Castlevania series. It takes the form of a giant orb with several acid-spewing tentacles sticking out, but is always initially covered in a giant layer of tortured souls/corpses, which it drops to attack you. It also doubles as the first stage of a Bonus Boss in Curse of Darkness.
    • In Symphony of the Night, Legion was called "Granfalloon", a reference to the Bokononism term in the novel Cat's Cradle for a group of people who think they're a part of an important association with a meaningful purpose, but aren't.
    • Harmony Of Dissonance introduced two variations: the first one was dubbed "Legion (Saint)", that fits the description above. The second one and the trope image was called "Legion (Corpse)", which had the shell of bodies replaced by an indestructible armor composed mostly of human skulls and the weak spot being a seemingly crucified rotten corpse.
  • Dormin from Shadow of the Colossus refers to him/her/it/Dorminself as "we." Granted, Dormin also has two voices speaking at once, and was split into sixteen different collosi/shadow beings.
  • The Original Generation from Gundam Crossover Turn-Based Strategy title, SD Gundam G Generation DS are Legion. The protagonist is their Super Prototype who is free from the Hive Mind and joins other heroes against the Legion.
  • The Mass Effect series has a variation in that every individual of the Reaper species is its own numberless legion, although the few we interact with still refer to themselves in the singular. The sequel reveals that they reproduce by liquefying millions of individual organics and pumping their genetic paste into a shell. Legion describes a Reaper as "One ship, one will, many minds."
    • In the sequel, a geth ends up rescuing Shepard and is then rescued by him/her in return and brought back to the Normandy. Shepard asks what it should be called, and it simply replies "Geth", claiming it is not an individual and that there are currently "1,183 programs active within this platform", leading EDI to recite the Bible passage and naming it Legion, which he "acknowledges as an appropriate metaphor".
      • The entire geth race is this trope; the geth are made up of two components: "platforms," the physical bodies you see in the game, and "runtimes," the actual artificial intelligence programs. To function, runtimes must inhabit platforms, usually requiring at least a few hundred runtimes per platform to run the platform's systems. Since geth platforms are all connected via FTL communication, geth runtimes will freely swap between platforms. Legion is partly unique in that it is made up of over a thousand runtimes inhabiting a single platform, over eleven times more than is normal for geth platforms.
    • Legion once describes the geth as a "shattered mind". The geth's ultimate goal is to build a Dyson sphere so that all runtimes can share at once.
    • In Mass Effect 3, depending on the choice you make, the geth runtimes can achieve true sentience and individuality.
  • Mortal Kombat's Ermac, being a Hive Mind of numerous souls. He even uses the "We are many" mantra in Mortal Kombat 9.
  • The antagonist in the video game rendition of Shadow Man was named (and may have been) Legion, and he and his group of serial killers (called "The Five") used the bible quote as a mantra. His goal was to trick the protagonist into collecting a series of demonic souls for him so he could unleash them to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, natch.
    • Both the game and instructions seem to imply heavily that this is THE Legion from the Bible but never openly state it to be the case.
  • In System Shock 2 - "Glory to The Many".
  • In Prototype, Alex Mercer is really The Virus that manifested itself into the person known as "Alex Mercer" just after the death of the original Alex Mercer. Throughout the game Alex Mercer consumes various people and gains their memories and skills, but this has also resulted in him having to relive those peoples' memory of their deaths over and over.
    • Alex/Blacklight even says outright that the people he has killed are part of him and are him, implying that the individuals he has consumed are bleeding into his sense of self. This explains why he slowly (very slowly) starts to grow something akin to a conscience; the original Mercer was a complete sociopath, but as the game goes on, he consumes people who aren't, giving him more of a sense of right and wrong.
  • Nero Chaos in Tsukihime. Technically, he does refer to himself as I, but also admits that the remaining part of him that was once a human is now very small. Say, about 1/666? The other 665 parts are animals and mythical beasts. Still mostly acts human presumably because the human part is what holds it together plus the intelligence factor. But it's implied that this won't always be so and that he is becoming something else. Or was, until Shiki killed him.
  • In Battalion Wars, Countess Ingrid is eventually possessed by the Iron Legion - an army of ancient soldiers she revived - and starts spouting lines which usually contain the phrase, "We are Legion!"
  • In both Final Fantasy III and Dissidia Final Fantasy The Cloud of Darkness refers to "herself" in the plural. The reason for this could either because "she" is actually a personification of the chaotic forces that herald the coming of The Void, or because "she" is including her attack tentacles when talking about "herself".
    • Or she could just be using the Royal We.
    • It's the latter. Each tentacle has a mind of its own, so she's speaking on behalf of all of them.
      • It should be noted this was added to the English version. In the Japanese version, she uses 'Washi,' a pronoun for old men.
  • The Prometheus robots in Time Splitters:Future Perfect say this at random (or more specifically, We ARE legion).
  • The unexpectedly sinister Animal Crossing: City Folk features this as one of the random comments while playing hide and seek.
  • The quote gets used in Soul Reaver.

 Kain: As long as one of us stands, we are legion.

  • The main character in Kane's Wrath is named LEGION[1].
    • CABAL (Computer Assisted Biologically Augmented Lifeform) was created by linking multiple Wetware CPUs together into what is essentially an AI with split personality; LEGION is based on CABAL but is much more advanced and contains CABAL's original coding. Kane loves symbolism.
  • When two characters merge their minds in Deus Ex they use the words "I... I... We... are... one."
  • The playable character Legion in MARDEK RPG 3 is a robot built by Meraeador and bound to a soul...except that Meraeador stuttered the magic words, and so Legion has FOUR souls. Three of them are crazy, and one of the three can't even speak coherently.
  • In Diablo III, Azmodan plans on becoming all aspects of the seven Great Evils, and Diablo, once accomplishing exactly that actually says this.

Web Comics

 Squirrel girls: Bio-computing effectiveness at 100%... (as their knight avatar) we are legion!

Art: That's... kinda creepy.

  • Kano sometimes refers to himself in the plural. He's the protagonist. Weird comic.
  • Tina from Wapsi Square is actually a swarm of demons inhabiting the body of a girl who was fatally injured in a car accident.
  • Kharla'ggen of Drowtales always calls herself "we", and not in the Royal We sense despite being a noble, and her adopted sister Kiel believes that she has multiple people in her head due to her aura absorbing powers. Kiel thinks this also means that Kharla's never really felt alone.

Web Original

 "Just call me 'Shitload.' Because there's a shitload of us in here."

  • In the Narbonic forums, in the Mad Scientist Wars this happens in an alternate future, which is averted thankfully. It was executed particularly creepily by using the scene as a major Break the Cutie.
  • In Marble Hornets, it's heavily hinted that totheark is not just one person, but many users working on the same account.

Western Animation

  • The Delightful Children From Down The Lane in Kids Next Door. (Though this is due to a brainwashing device that overloaded.)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - In the Avatar State, an Avatar is channeling the combined skill of every Avatar that came before him/her.
    • Also Joo Dee. Aang and his friends started to get suspicious when Joo Dee (their guide and caretaker) disappeared and a clearly different woman took her place. In a later episode, we see a whole roomful of women being Brainwashed into assuming the name and identity of "Joo Dee". Appropriately, according to Avatar Wiki, "Joo Dee" is the Chinese equivalent of "Jane Doe".

Real Life

 Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'.

  • The fans of the Dutch football team Feyenoord are referred to as "The Legion". They even use is in songs (We are the Legion, and we will become champion).
    • Scans a lot better in the original Dutch, mind you.

Notes

  1. Logarhythmically Engineered Governing Intelligence Of Nod
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