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A motley crew is a cliché for a roughly organized assembly of characters. Typical examples of motley crews are pirates, Western posses, rag-tag mercenary bands and freedom fighters. They may align with, be (as a group), or include either the protagonist or the antagonist of the story. Dictionary.com defines a motley crew as a gathered group of people of various backgrounds, appearance, character, etc.
Motley crews are, by definition, non-uniform and undisciplined as a group. They are characterised by containing characters of conflicting personality, varying backgrounds, and, usually to the benefit of the group, a wide array of methods for overcoming adversity. Traditionally, a motley crew who in the course of a story comes into conflict with an organised, uniform group of characters, will prevail. This is generally achieved through the narrative utilising the various specialties, traits and other personal advantages of each member to counterbalance the (often sole) speciality of a formal group of adversaries.
Archetypical examples of the "motley crew" overcoming adversity are commonly found in fantasy and science fiction. Examples include parties of the Rebel Alliance (often including both humans and other species such as Wookiees, Ewoks, or Gungans) defeating many identical stormtroopers in the Star Wars universe. A motley crew is also the archetype for most sports stories. Examples include The Mighty Ducks, The Sandlot, in which the opposing and antagonistical team that is ultimately defeated is also much more organized and coherent.
Motley from 13th-century Middle English means composed of elements of diverse or varied character. In the 15–16th century came the "Motley", the official dress of the court jester. He was an important person in court circles, who could say the truth without punishment even if contrary to the king’s or senior officials’ opinion. Their uniform was multi-coloured.
-  Com[p]aring the Ideology of the Bourgeoisie to that of the Motley Crew
- “A Motley Crew of Rebels: Sailors, Slaves, and the Coming of the American Revolution,” in Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, eds., The Transforming Hand of Revolution: Reconsidering the American Revolution as a Social Movement (Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press/United States Capitol Historical Society, 1996), 155-198.