Always Save the Girl

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Majesty: Burn the whole city... that's pretty extreme for the life of one woman.

Caine: Fuck the city. I'd burn the world to save her.

The hero makes it uncomfortably plain that they value the life of their Love Interest over those of everyone else: friends, family, True Companions, or even all other life in the universe. Can come about as the result of a Sadistic Choice, only having enough time to rescue one person out of several, or whatever other requirements the plot puts in their way and well, plainly making a decision.

As long as the hero takes a third option or at least shows a decent amount of angst over the decision, the audience may sympathize. But the hero will seem to suffer from Moral Dissonance if he makes the choice a little too easily, or if the exchange of life is ridiculously high. It can go full-on Wall Banger if the couple in question were Strangled by the Red String or if they've only known each other for a short time. Then again, it could also be done in such a way that makes the audience feel the hometown/nation/world deserved it for relentlessly abusing the hero.

Another ridiculous aspect is that only the hero can rescue his Love Interest. The hero is able to rescue her while allies who should be more efficient are helpless.

Sometimes the hero will find a way to save both the love interest and everyone else. If done right, the hero can come out looking even more clever and badass. Often times, though, the "The Needs of the Many" argument will fall on deaf ears.

Despite the name, it doesn't actually have to be the love interest or even a single person. A Most Important Person, members of the hero's Nakama, or beloved family members work just as well.

See also Hostage for Macguffin. Contrast Duty First, Love Second.

Examples of Always Save the Girl include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Fullmetal Alchemist manga features a subversion. Ed's Love Interest is used as a hostage by one of the more Ax Crazy villains in the story, who tells him to obey some murderous orders from the military higher ups. Ed seems to comply pretty quickly, but in reality he is already planning to Take a Third Option.
    • Also averted when a villain attempts to force Roy Mustang to attempt human transmutation by having a mook cut Riza Hawkeye's throat; recognizing an eye signal from the wounded Hawkeye, Mustang realizes that if he saves her, not only will he lose limbs or organs and become the last tool the Big Bad needs to bring about the end of the world, Hawkeye will kill him. He refuses. Unfortunately, even after a Big Damn Heroes moment, the villain's bosses manage to somehow force him to do human transmutation against his will.
    • Earlier, when Roy is giving into Revenge Before Reason, Riza stops him from going too far by threatening to shoot him—as they agreed if he ever strayed from the path he had chosen. He asks her what she plans to do after she kills him, and she admits she's going to kill herself, since there will be nothing left for her. That is what finally convinces him to step back.

Roy: I can't bear the thought of losing you.

  • In Chaos;Head, Takumi could have let Norose use Noah II to greatly improve the world but he saved Rimi instead. Of course, That's assuming the psychopathic Norose would use the Noah II as he claimed he would.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. At the beginning, it was touching and powerful when Syaoran was willing to give up everything he knew, and even Sakura's love for him, at the expense of saving her life. In more recent chapters, when we find out that, for Sakura's sake, he has purposely damned an entire town, watching them melt before his eyes, chosen staying with her over his own world and family at the age of seven, and then made a Deal with the Devil to radically alter, and not for better, the life of her entire family, herself, and his own parents, along with, potentially, all of space and time it's starting to become... a tad aggravating.
    • The town and its people were fake, things ended up okay (sort of), and he really didn't have a choice in the matter anyway.
  • The end of Slayers NEXT, when Lina chooses to cast a spell that's probably going to wipe out the entire universe just to save Gourry. On the other hand, considering what type of morally questionable person she already is, this is a lot less unusual for her. It didn't help that Lina would have been killed if she didn't cast it, and that she had been severely psychologically abused by this point. Lina did not cast the spell the first time Gourrys life had been threatened. She only broke after the villain revealed that he could still be saved.
  • My-HiME, when Mai's Most Important Person is revealed to be Yuuichi. Instead of, say, her little brother, who up until now seemed to be her top priority.
    • Then again, Takumi was already Akira's Most Important Person.
    • While Mai is gradually becoming closer to Yuuichi, Takumi is trying to become independent from Mai, which upsets her and slightly downgrades his importance. Natsuki suggests that Takumi was Mai's Most Important person at first, but Yuuichi replaced him before Takumi died.
  • Code Geass does this at the end of season one when Lelouch drops everything in the middle of the key battle and goes off to save his sister Nunnaly.and again in season 2 when Lelouch does the same thing when Kallen is captured, and this time someone even Lampshades how it reeks of preferential treatment, and how absurd it is to choose one life over an entire country. Doesn't stop him from doing it anyway.
    • However, Code Geass is somewhat of a subversion of the trope, since while Lelouch does choose the girl over everything else, in both cases it backfires, causing him to suffer defeat, and lose the girl anyway.
    • In a non-hostage example, Ohgi secretly goes AWOL from the Black Knights to see Villetta, who he knows is going to kill him. In contrast to the above examples, Ohgi not only makes it out of the ordeal with his life and no repercussions whatsoever, but also manages to get Villetta into the Black Knights with him in spite of what she's done.
  • Played very straight in one of the Sailor Moon Super S specials. A puppet is stealing Haruka's life energy. The ventriloquist tells Michiru that she cannot harm the puppet, because if the blue bottle the puppet is holding it destroyed, all the shadows of the world would attack their owners. Michiru Deep Submerges the puppet anyway. The ventriloquist asks Michiru how she knew he was lying, and she says, "Oh, it wasn't true?" Shocked, he replies, "You did it just to save her? What kind of heroine are you?" to which she says, "Oh, maybe you misunderstood. A world without Haruka is hardly worth saving."
    • May not be played as straight as it seems. Michiru's posture and expression implies that she was calling the puppet's bluff the whole time, and just saying something witty to top it all off.
  • In Rave Master, the villain Sieg Hart wants to kill Elie to prevent the destructive power of Aetherion from awakening and tearing the world apart. He tries to make Haru see his point that one life is a small sacrifice for saving the world, to which Haru replies, "If peace can only come through killing someone, then I don't want it." When the power awakens anyway, Hart is unable to do anything, and it's up to Haru to make the decision... And he decides to Take a Third Option and seals the power without killing her.
  • Sanji from One Piece. Possibly one of his major character flaws, actually.
    • A good example is seen in the Foxy filler; Sanji nearly gives up a game of a Red Light-Green Light by jumping after an enemy girl to rescue her. Sanji is still in the game by kicking his legs really fast so he floats perfectly still, but the game master can't see. He loses when the girl hugs him.
  • In Bleach, Ichigo goes nuts trying to save Rukia and later Orihime. The former case pits him against thousands of Soul Reapers, several of whom are stronger than he is even at the end of the arc, and the latter forces him to go into he enemy's fortress alone, at great detriment to the upcoming war. Which he's romantically interested in, if at all, is anybody's guess.
  • Played very straight by Shinji in Rebuild of Evangelion: "I don't care what happens to me... I don't even care what happens to the world... but I'm bringing Rei back! I'll promise I'll save you Rei, EVEN IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO!!!" In classic Evangelion form, saving her means killing everyone in the world. Oops. Thankfully, the world is saved at the last moment by none other than Kaworu.
  • Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess makes it clear she puts Keiichi's life ahead of all others, once allowing the cutting of the Universal superstring rather than killing him when he is possessed by the Lord of Terror, ends up taking the third option to save the day.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, just like everything else, takes this trope and cranks it past absurdity all the way into heartbreaking. While there is the excuse of having to fight off the evil swarm, the last few episodes boil down to Simon's perfect willingness to march into Hell to come for Nia. Even when it costs him enough energy to create detritus galaxies and fill the cockpit with blood, the lives of the Gurren Brigade, and comes close to destroying the universe. That's some Goddamned love.
    • Of course, this only happens in Lagann-hen. In the anime, there's a lot less blood.
  • Played straight right after the timeskip in Mythic Quest. Tragic has decided to put off defeating the Chaos Sorcerer indefinitely so he can fully concentrate on finding Aramusha. He gets back on track after discovering most of the information about her is lies and misdirections planted by Shadow himself to keep Tragic distracted from him.
  • Subverted at the last second in Weiss Kreuz. This is pretty much Youji's default mindset, but he ends up killing the woman he loves in order to save his teammates.
    • Aya also makes it pretty clear that he doesn't give a single fat damn about Weiss's mission to make the world a better place if it interferes in any way with his ability to protect his little sister.
  • The Place Promised in Our Early Days has the heroes risk the entire planet Earth to wake Sayuri from a coma induced by the world-ending machine.
  • Akemi Homura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is revealed to have this mindset. Happily, saving the girl in question also coincides with saving the world by ensuring she'll never turn into a super-powerful, world-destroying Witch. Sadly, however, it's not as easy as it sounds, even with multiple attempts. She's even had to Shoot/Mercy Kill The Girl once.
    • This is deconstructed, like so many other tropes in the series' manga spinoff. At the end of the manga, Homura, Mami, and Kyoko are all alive, and neither Madoka or Sayaka had to sign Kyubey's contract. Then a witch kills Madoka and Homura decides to press the Reset Button again, despite the fact that she's pretty much achieved the Golden Ending. In the main series, this is eventually Reconstructed when Homura's perseverance finally pays off and Madoka uses her wish to rewrite reality.
  • In Inuyasha, Sango's inability to live without Miroku shows how damaged she really is after losing everything she loved, and she'll do anything, anything, to save him. When she fails, she finally gives up and asks to die with him.
  • Deconstructed in the Conviction Arc of Berserk. Guts saves Casca from being burned at the stake as a witch by Bishop Mozgus and his henchmen, who are being backed by all of the citizens who blindly follow whatever he says just to save themselves from damnation. They want to burn her because they think she is responsible for the influx of monsters and evil spirits around St. Albion and, well, technically they're correct, since the Brand of the Sacrifice on Casca's breast attracts evil spirits that are nearby. But Guts, being her Love Interest and thus vowing to protect her, doesn't give two shits about what will happen so long he and Casca survive at the end of it all. He pretty much tells Mozgus and the refugees to go fuck themselves.
  • This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Hikari is the anthropomorphic personification of extinction. Takeru is a mutation born to stop her. And he still does everything in his power to protect her, consequences be damned. Granted he doesn't know either of those facts for most of the series, but even after he learns the truth it doesn't change anything.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index:
    • Touma will help anyone in need. Usually this help involves punching someone in the face. While everything around him is exploding.
    • Accelerator doesn't care if you're an angel, an esper, or the entire world's militaries combined; he won't let anything happen to Last Order.
  • Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest has Inugami the hero who's biggest Berserk Button is if someone messes with Aoshika. Haguro did in a huge way and now he's gonna pay.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Extremely subverted in Sin City: The Big Fat Kill, Dwight McCarthy offers Jackie Boy's head to Manute (which will allow Manute to tie Jackie Boy's death to Old Town) in exchange for Gail. Dwight's stuffed the head with explosives and as soon as it's in Manute's hands, blows it up as dozens of Old Town girls show up on the rooftops, raining bullets into the alley, killing Manute and all his men.
  • Also extremely subverted in Ultimate Fantastic Four during the Ultimatum storyline. Reed Richards chooses to confront Doctor Doom and save the world at large, abandoning his dying girlfriend, Sue. Eventually, she calls him out for it and breaks up with him. He explains that he made the "logical" choice, as saving the world would ultimately mean saving her as well. Sue remarks that she always felt that their love defied logic, and leaves him.
  • Absolutely subverted at the end of the Argentine comic book El Eternauta (the second volume). After blowing up the enemy headquarters, the hero flies to help La Résistance. When he arrives to the war scene, he must choose to help either his wife and daughter at one side of the battlefield, or the bulk of the women and children of the small population of last remaining humans. He goes for the later and saves them, but by the time he can go to help his wife and daughter, they have died.

Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • In The Castleof Cagliostro, Lupin's original intention is a simple snatch and grab of the high-quality plates used to make near perfect counterfeit bills, then a pretty girl is chased past him by bad men with guns and the movie happens.
  • Disney's |Hercules pulls this with Hercules giving of his powers to make Megara safe. It leads to Fridge Horror when you consider what would have happened if an unlucky accident hadn't killed Megara and returned his powers.


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The Joker is counting on this in The Dark Knight, as he tells Batman the two hostages' locations backwards to ensure that he saves Dent even though he wanted to save the girl.
  • Also Batman Forever, but subverted as Batman knows he wouldn't be able to save either the girl or Robin, then he goes and saves both anyway because he's just that good.
  • Star Wars
    • Attack of the Clones play with the trope. Anakin finally accept to continue the more important mission while Padmé seems to be hurt. But when a clone trooper rescue her, she can rise without even taking his hand.
    • Deconstructed in Revenge of the Sith. Anakin Skywalker turns to the Dark Side, kills off all the Jedi, and turns a Republic into an Empire to save the life of his wife Padme Amidala. She dies anyways, and he likely caused her death through a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he Force Chokes her when, after confronting him over his actions, Obi-Wan arrives, having snuck onto the ship.
  • The Matrix Reloaded, in which Neo decides to save Trinity, even though it's at the cost of the extinction of the entire human race. At least, until Revolutions...
    • And lampshaded to a degree by the Architect, who makes some cynical comment regarding Neo's "emotional response designed to overwhelm logic".
    • Someone (probably the Architect) also pointed out that the previous "One's" loved humanity in a general sense, leading them to sacrifice most of the population for the sake of the species as a whole. Due to the Oracle's influence, Neo loved Trinity more than humanity, directly leading to humanity's freedom.
  • There's the choice given in the first Spider-Man film where Peter is forced to choose between Mary Jane's life and the lives of some children in a cablecar. It appears for a moment as if he's chosen M.J., but actually he's Taken a Third Option.
  • In the first Hellboy film, the villain Rasputin offers Hellboy the choice of bringing about the Apocalypse to gain enough power to save his desouled girl Liz, or to save the world and lose her forever. Hellboy initially sees this as no choice at all, and begins the procedure of summoning the Ogdru Jahad and end the world, before Naive Newcomer Myers throws Hellboy his father's cross. The cross burns into his flesh, reminding him that this is his choice. Save the world, or save Liz, and his father always did say that a man is made by his choices. He then chooses the world, tears off his newly regrown horns, and stabs Rasputin to death with one of them. There is then a Double Subversion when he manages to save the girl anyway by sheer Badassery. A newly awoken and somewhat confused Liz asks him how he saved her. His answer?

Hellboy: Hey, you on the other side. Let her go. Because for her I'll cross over, and then... you'll be sorry.

    • In the second film, however, this is played straight by both Abe and Liz. Abe tries to save his porcelain princess by giving her brother the MacGuffin that controls the Golden Army (the one, which, you know, nearly drove humanity extinct last time it was used) while Liz, after being told by an Angel of Death that Hellboy would bring about the Apocalypse, tells Hellboy's Angel of Death to sod off and save him anyway. This is also a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, since it shows just how much Liz really trusts Hellboy, but she still screwed the world to save her boy.
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun 33 1/3. Rocco tells Frank to give him the bomb or he'll shoot Jane. A long discussion about the possible consequences of each action, and which is preferable, ensues. It doesn't help that the terms keep changing.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy offers to let the Nazis keep the Ark in exchange for Marion, threatening to destroy the Ark if they don't comply. Belloq calls his bluff and Indy gets captured.
    • Of course, until the Ark is opened, Indy doesn't believe it has any supernatural powers; he just thinks it's an ancient artifact. A very valuable artifact of immense cultural significance, but still just an artifact... until the faces started melting.
  • The King in Spaceballs sacrifices himself and the entire population of his home planet, just so the princess doesn't get her old nose back.
  • Parodied in D.E.B.S., where the girl doesn't want to be saved as she's in a Girls Love relationship with the villainess.
  • Subverted at first in The Spy Who Shagged Me where Austin decides to save the world and let the Girl of the Week die, but later Double Subverted when he lets Dr. Evil escape so he can use Evil's time machine to save her.
  • James Bond
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, 007 chooses to defy his superiors to save Anya Amasova from the villain's lair, which is about to be torpedoed by the navy. Considering that she said she would kill him as soon as the mission was over, this proves that he really did love her.
    • In GoldenEye he subverts this trope by telling Janus to go ahead and kill Natalya, but this is actually a Batman Gambit. Of course, he ends up saving her.
  • A gender flip of this occurs in the 2010 version of The Wolf Man. Gwen protects Lawrence from the police in the hopes of finding a cure... even though this almost certainly means someone innocent is going to get killed or savaged by a werewolf.
  • Subverted in Plunkett and Macleane when despite Plunkett's warnings he'll be captured, Macleane attempts to to go back and save Lady Rebbecca despite the risks. It is a trap and General Chance is waiting to arrest him.
  • In The Sorcerers Apprentice, despite knowing the consequences of doing so, |Dave gives up the Grimhold and Merlin's ring to save Becky. Despite the consequences, Balthazar admits that he would have done the same.
  • A Boy and His Dog averts this pretty darned hard in the last ten minutes. It makes for one of the best movie endings ever put on film.
  • In I Robot, Detective Del Spooner's (Will Smith) hatred of robots stems from a traffic accident where his car and the car of a little girl and her father was thrown into a river. A passing robot leapt into the river to help. The girl's father was killed on impact and both cars were rapidly filling with water. The robot choose to save Spooner as he had a higher chance of survival (34% to 11%) than the girl had. Saving Spooner was the "logical" choice, something that Spooner, to put it mildly, didn't agree with. In a Flash Back, Spooner can be seen begging the robot to save the girl instead of him.
    • During the film's climax, Sonny is faced with a similar choice, with Spooner screaming "save the girl!" As further proof that Sonny has evolved beyond the Three Laws, Sonny rejects the logical choice in favour of the emotional one, crystallising his humanity in the eyes of Spooner.
  • Predators: Royce is a Combat Pragmatist who doesn't hesitate to abandon any one of the team that gets injured or falls behind, unless it's lone female Isabelle. The fact that he shrugs and moves on any time she deliberately stays behind to help the others makes it seem more like a spinal reflex on his part than adherence to any kind of honor code.
  • In Peter Jackson's King Kong, one of the members of the rescue party makes the perfectly reasonable observation that Anne is probably dead already, that a good number of the rescuers have just died, and the rest of them will probably either get killed or get left behind, since their ship will sail without them if they are not back in time. He is immediately accused of being a Dirty Coward by The Hero, and since the character has been an arrogant douchebag for the entire film, we are presumably meant to hate him even more for the heinous crime of not wanting to die horribly for an almost certainly lost cause.
    • In fact, the character's Scrappyness for the rest of the film his Big Damn Heroes Crowning Moment of Awesome notwithstanding, almost seems to have been inserted specifically to make the audience hate him enough to disagree with him as a matter of principle. While he does not put forward his case particularly well, the points he makes are completely valid, and would likely have many members of the audience agreeing with his argument if it had been put forward by a more likeable character.
      • His point is still valid even though Anne is brought back alive; of the 17 people who die on the island, 15 were killed trying to find her. No matter how much you might love Anne, is that really a price you want to pay?
  • In the MST3Ked film The Magic Sword, a young prince leads a band of knights on a quest to rescue his lady love. All the knights are killed along the way. At no point does anyone even mention that fact that several good men have died to save a single life and several more are likely to before the thing is done.
    • Pretty much the same thing happens in Krull. At least the prince manages to kill a horrible beast that would likely murder countless people if not stopped in the process (and a few of his allies survive), but it's clear that he's only in it to save the princess.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Played with in the Percy Jackson series, where Athena accuses this of Percy:"You would give up the world to save your friends". Played straight, when Percy realizes this is his heroic flaw, and subverted when "It would seem you have managed to save both."
  • Subverted in Adam Hall's Spy Fiction The Sinkiang Executive. British spy Quiller murders an opposition agent that has him under routine surveillance, breaking the unwritten rule of the intelligence services and jeopardising the secrecy of the Bureau. Apparently the agent had a peripheral involvement in the death of a local girl who helped Quiller on a previous mission; she was captured and an exchange offered—Quiller for the girl. Quiller agreed, the girl was released but Quiller didn't keep his side of the bargain, jumping on a plane to Austria instead. The girl was then tracked down and killed by the opposition in an act of revenge.
  • Discworld
    • Subverted hard with Captain Carrot, who says "Personal isn't the same thing as important." and, while he wanted to get Angua back, joined Vimes's group to stop the war in Jingo instead of going off by himself after her. Of course, Angua is a werewolf, and Carrot knows it, so he rarely thinks she's in any actual danger.
    • Played somewhat more straight in The Fifth Elephant: though there wasn't a crisis in Ankh-Morpork that needed dealing with, he immediately resigns his commission and goes after her when she leaves the city. But also subverted there in that he informs the proper authorities first. He's not rash, even when he is doing the romantic thing.
    • Subverted again with Susan and that whole time-crisis bit, although it was an old man, and Time and Existence were almost destroyed because of it. (Apocalypse averted?)
  • Subverted in Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm novels. The hero's professional standards don't allow him to jeopardize the mission for "irrelevant females."
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker is very protective of Mara Jade. Much to her annoyance. So much so to the point that when she dies, Luke actually considers suicide and Ben has to (rather bluntly) talk him out of it.
    • Apparently, Luke's overprotectiveness rubbed off on his student, Jacen Solo. It doesn't annoy his girl, Tenal Ka, as much.
  • The Acts of Caine. Caine says it straight in Heroes Die: "I'd burn the world to save her."
  • From The Dresden Files, when a Red Court Vampiress is referring to Harry Dresden's Love Interest, Susan, who was already half-turned into a vampire herself:

Bianca: You would risk war between the Wizards and the Red Court for one person?
Harry: (slams his staff down on the floor) For one person! For one life! For one soul!

    • Earlier, when Bianca smugly thinks she's got Dresden cornered and is going to force him to sacrifice an innocent life, asks him logically if one woman is worth the price of war. He just responds quietly "I love her."
      • Harry is Genre Savvy enough to see that a policy of appeasement to the Red Court would only postpone the inevitable and result in the deaths of even more innocents.
    • Painfully subverted in Changes. Susan has crossed the line and become fully vampire. Harry uses her as a human(ish) sacrifice to wipe out the Red Court entirely, winning the war and saving countless lives the Reds would have ended in the future. Not that there was much in the way of better options at the moment.
    • Also from Changes, not a Love Interest, but instead a daughter Harry makes it very clear he'd let the world AND HIMSELF burn if it means he can keep Maggie safe.
      • In fact, the entire plot of Changes (as well as most of the preceding books' Red Court-related events) only happens because of people taking advantage of this trait of Harry's. His being the handiest Unwitting Pawn around is a major reason people he cares about get in danger.
    • In Ghost Story Uriel calls attention to the consequences his actions in Changes have had for just one other person he cares about to point out that, basically, this trope is a really stupid approach, while Harry considers some of the global effects of his actions that he might have avoided if he'd been less reckless.
  • From My Dead Body, fifth book of the Joe Pitt Case Files, Titular Anti-Hero and Vampire Joe Pitt goes through maiming torture, starves himself to the point of death, and starts a war between vampires, other vampires, and eventually the human world, just for a chance to save his girlfriend, who he hasn't seen for a year.
  • In the Harry Potter series, this trope basically sums up how Snape responded to Lily being in danger. He was happy being a Death Eater until Voldemort targeted Lily (and her husband and child, but he wasn't concerned about them). In this case, the trope worked for good, motivating Snape's Heel Face Turn as Voldemort could not have been expected to spare Lily since Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
    • Subverted in Deathly Hallows. Harry worries about Ginny's safety while she's at a Hogwarts run by Death Eaters, but resists the urge to go find her because finding the last horcruxes were more important. Played with later, when Harry pauses in chasing Voldemort to save Ginny from Bellatrix after the latter nearly hits the former with a killing curse. Before he can do anything, Molly Weasley takes down Bellatrix.
  • In David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series, subverted when Nimashet Despreaux is kidnapped by mobsters. Roger leads the assault on the Imperial Palace whilst some of his ex-SWAT allies rescue her. To be fair though, he did need some convincing to follow this course of action.
  • In A Hard Day's Knight, renegade knight Stark plans to hand Excaliber over to an evil incarnation of Merlin—one who's already decimated his own world, and will invade ours if he gets the sword—in exchange for the resurrection of his dead wife. He eventually subverts this trope, but only because his wife's ghost calls him out on it, insisting that she'll kill herself again if he buys her life at such a price.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The BBC's Robin Hood, when the outlaws and Marian are all taken hostage. Take a wild guess who Robin's the most afraid for. (Poor Much.)
    • Happens again in Season Three in which all the outlaws abandon a house that has caught on fire in order to rush off and save Kate. One can only assume the villagers were not too impressed.
  • Kira in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine found out about Odo's feelings about her when she encountered an alternate future where she had died when the Defiant crashed on a planet and the crew formed a town. The cast were subject to The Time Traveller's Dilemma as going back to change things would result in those being born in the town never existing. Odo pretty much committed chronocide, not just on himself but on the crew of the Defiant and their descendants without even thinking about it. Unlike many instances of this trope, however, Kira's knowledge of this would create a rift between them that would take months to heal.
    • Worf in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fails to save a Cardassian dissident because he goes back to save an injured Jadzia Dax (who dies anyway a few episodes later).
  • In Firefly, one of the villains presents Zoe with a Sadistic Choice between a captive Mal and Wash. She surprises the villain by immediately choosing her husband over her captain/war-buddy before he can even finish. Subverted in that, while Wash does qualify as The Chick, she did it for the coldly logical reason that Mal will survive the villain's "gentle" ministrations long enough for her to rescue him as well.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor, particularly Ten, puts his companions (who are usually, if not always, young and female) before anyone else. Also the new Doctor Who series suggests that his companions represent his humanity in a universe full of mass death; as seen in "The Fires of Pompeii" when Donna convinces him to go back for one family among all those destroyed in Pompeii. It's mentioned some times that he feels responsible for them because it's his fault that they are in danger, since he brought them to wherever it is they are.
    • As of Eleven, the Doctor has sacrificed three of his lives for a companion, two of them female.
    • Then you have Rory:

The Doctor: All of creation has just been wiped from the sky. D'you know how many lives have now never happened, all the people who never lived? Your girlfriend isn't more important than the whole Universe.
Rory: (punches him) She is to me!

    • River Song takes this trope to extremes, disintegrating Time itself to keep from killing the Doctor.
    • Amy gets in on it too. To hell with time and space, Amy Pond wants to be with her husband.
  • A mild version in Torchwood, which might even count as a somewhat Out-of-Character Moment for Captain Jack Harkness. In the third miniseries, Children of Earth, Jack is facing the alien menace 456 and is prepared to lead humanity in a war against them to protect the children of the Earth. Then the 456 releases a virus in the building, while Jack's love interest Ianto is in it. When it's apparent Ianto can't escape and will be killed by the virus, Jack recants and begs the 456 to spare Ianto in return for his surrender. By then it was too late and Ianto died in Jack's arms. It's unknown whether Jack really would have given up protecting humanity's children in exchange for Ianto's safety, or whether he was just bluffing in an attempt to save Ianto's life.
    • makes it doubly ironic then that Jack later gives up his grandson's life for the sake of humanity's children. Ianto had at least signed up for the danger. Jack's grandson hadn't.
  • Farscape makes this brutally clear at around the middle of the fourth and final season. Scorpius is on the ship and John is convinced he's only there because he craves the wormhole knowledge in John's head. So far over past seasons, Scorpius threatening John, his family, even the entirety of Earth hasn't made John give in. Meanwhile Aeryn, angry that she has done everything she can think of to tell him that she wants a relationship with him, confronts him on his emotional deadness... and John performs a neat trick that shuts down the comms long enough for him to explain that, yes, he'd let anything else be destroyed, but Aeryn and her child? Not in this universe. But if Scorpius knew that, he'd come after her immediately and he won't let that happen.
    • Next episode, she gets kidnapped by Scarrans with similar designs on wormhole knowledge, forcing Crichton into a deal with Scorpius—trading the wormhole knowledge for his help in rescuing her. Whoopsidaisy.
      • Incidentally, Crichton (and some fans) seem to believe that Scorpius wasn't fooled by the comm trick, and engineered the whole thing from beginning to end. Certainly he got all the information his big brain needed to puzzle out the truth during that same episode.
  • Subverted in an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: the Evil Alien Computer put Buck through having to choose between Wilma Deering and Hawk (an alien from a Proud Warrior Race of birdmen). He chose Hawk because he guessed that Wilma was really a double put in by the Evil Alien Computer because the real Wilma Derring wouldn't have been such a wuss.
  • Supernatural is a rare subversion where the heroes are more concerned with their Heterosexual Life Partner than with any Love Interests. Especially the moment in "All Hell Breaks Loose" where the hellgate opens: Sam, Ellen and Bobby try and shut it; Dean gets pinned to a grave by the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and Sam immediately goes to save his brother, leaving Ellen (who is a woman, but not a Love Interest) to try and shut one door by herself.
  • Pushing Daisies: Ned keeps Chuck alive fully knowing someone else will die instead.
  • In One Tree Hill there is such an amazing frequency of Lucas saving Peyton that it is even acknowledged by her saying "You're always saving me" repeatedly.
  • John Connor in The Sarah Connor Chronicles finds Cameron—his Terminator love-interest—with her chip missing. Ignoring Judgment Day's impending arrival and his mission to stop it, he leaves his mother, and joins forces with a rogue T-1000 (liquid metal Terminator), jumping to the future in order to rescue her. In jumping after Cameron, John seems to have erased himself from the timeline, veritably sacrificing himself and his position of mankind's savior to save the "woman" he loves.
  • In the first season finale of Dollhouse Omega!Echo allows Alpha to escape in order to retrieve Caroline's original wedge.
    • Also a fundamental part of Paul Ballard's personality; first he saves Mellie, then he gets to work protecting Echo from everything.
  • On House, Foreman secretly switched Hadley from the placebo to the real drug in the drug trial he was working on, something that could end his career if it became known. Hadley was a bit weirded out by this, as they had only been dating for a couple of weeks.
    • When the drug gave Hadley a brain tumor and turned her blind he was all set to openly tell his supervisors about it. They got better.
  • Bill Adama does this twice in Battlestar Galactica, first to save his surrogate daughter Kara Thrace in "You Can't Go Home Again", then to save the woman he loves, President Laura Roslin, in "Sine Qua Non". Both times he's called on it by his colleagues and (eventually) realises they're right; fortunately fate rewards Adama's determination and returns both women to him.
  • Angel nearly makes this choice when he learns that the only way to save Fred is to let hundreds of thousands of people die in her place. He initially spits out an angry "to hell with the world" and storms off to perform the ritual as the scene cuts away. When it returns, though, he's still standing at the threshold, unable to actually go through with it, and he finally, sadly turns away.
  • Buffy, meanwhile, is willing to let the entire world die in torment to save Dawn. It doesn't fit on the surface, but Word of God says that Dawn was intended to fill the dramatic role of Love Interest from Season 5 on out.
  • On The X-Files, this isn't even a thought for Mulder in terms of Scully; he seems to do it on pure instinct. Mulder is so predictable when his partner is taken, that the villains of the story exploit it. In the 1998 movie Fight the Future, one of Syndicate suggests that instead of killing Mulder, they must "Take away what he holds most valuable. That with which he can't live without." with the next scene showing Scully staring off into the horizon. True to form, Mulder doesn't hesitate to save her, even when it includes going to Antartica and breaking into a top-secret space craft.
    • It works the other way around, too, in which Scully will risk everything to save Mulder. She doesn't even let being pregnant get in the way of heading her own private investigation into his abduction, which involves driving cross-country and confronting alien replacements. In fact, it is Skinner who tries to convince her that Mulder wouldn't want her to do this if he had known her condition.
  • 24 loves playing with this trope; both Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida are put into Sadistic Choice scenarios at different points during the series run, and their differing reactions are part of what make Tony such an effective Foil for Jack. Jack does absolutely everything in his power to Take a Third Option on Day 1, but his wife ends up being killed anyway. When Tony's turn comes two seasons later, he breaks down completely at the prospect of losing his wife and proceeds to play this trope 100% straight, despite it being presented in-universe as morally and legally indefensible. Agonizingly, it's Jack who has to force Tony almost literally kicking and screaming into taking a third option, despite knowing firsthand what kind of grief is in store for Tony if it doesn't work.
  • In Flashpoint the rules against team members dating are there for this specific reason. During a dangerous situation the team and civilians could be put in danger if one of them breaks protocol to try and save their Love Interest.
    • In one episode an undercover cop falls in love with a gangsters girlfriend. He then tips her off about the upcoming city wide bust so she is not arrested. As a result another cop gets shot, the gangster escapes, the undercover cop's career is ruined and the girl gets killed.
  • From Merlin we have Guinevere on the one hand, and Camelot on the other. For Arthur, Merlin and all the Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere always comes first.
  • Given a few twists in Babylon 5: The Vorlons send the Inquisitor to see if Delenn has the right stuff to be one of the Chosen Ones in the fight against the Shadows. At the end of the episode the Inquisitor puts the life of her love interest, John Sheridan, on the line, saying that she can only save him by giving up her fight against the Shadows. She chooses to save him... and it turns out this is exactly what the Vorlons were looking for: "How do you know the Chosen Ones? No greater love hath a man than he lay down his life for his brother. Not for millions. Not for glory, not for fame... For one person."


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Alpha Protocol allows you to either plays it straight or subverts it. You even gets tailored answers about it, calling you out or congratulating you about it.
    • One particular option (Rome) is to either save the day, or save the girl. If you save the day, everyone tells you that you did the right thing, but Mike is still racked with guilt about it. If you save the girl, everyone tells you that you did the wrong thing, including the girl that you saved. And Mike is racked with guilt about it. And The Bad Guy Wins either way.
  • Prince of Persia (2009). Depressingly so, especially since it's subverted after the end of the DLC.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil decides to hand over the last remaining crystal that Golbez needs for world domination in order to save Rosa's life. Turns out there are four more crystals after that, but he didn't know that at the time. And he didn't even do the exchange right.
    • Meanwhile, in Final Fantasy VIII, Squall clarifies his priorities after being confronted with the possibility that, as a sorceress, Rinoa could end up going insane or being possessed by the Big Bad: "Rinoa... Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your knight." Unlike the FFIV example, in FFVIII the issue is mostly hypothetical (aside from certain Epileptic Trees), but Squall does choose to free Rinoa after she voluntarily surrenders herself to be imprisoned in order to keep the Big Bad from using her to attack others.
    • Earlier in the game, Rinoa finds herself hanging on the edge of a deadly fall in the middle of a large-scale battle and Squall prioritizes saving her over helping to defend Balamb Garden. He has to be talked into it, but it's the first case of his desires overcoming his previously insurmountable sense of duty.
    • It's also implied that this is why Seifer is helping the Sorceress Edea, at least at first; he sees himself as the heroic knight protecting the princess, and says as much to Squall.
    • Les Yay example: Fang in Final Fantasy XIII would do anything up to and including causing the apocalypse -- twice -- if it meant keeping Vanille safe.

Fang: I'm not kidding when I say the world can burn if that's what it takes to save Vanille.

    • This is actually a gameplay mechanic in Final Fantasy IX. One of Zidane's talents gives him a 50-percent chance to take damage in place of a female party member.
  • In one of the more poignant scenes in Tales of Symphonia, it is established that Colette will have to sacrifice her life and become an angel to save their world. Lloyd doesn't like this, and is just barely convinced by everyone, including her, that this is for the best. A subversion? Not quite. After several plot twists and a Boss Rush, Lloyd and party run off with Colette after all. And if that wasn't enough of a double subversion, Lloyd argues in a skit that because he was willing to sacrifice Colette for the sake of the entire world, he's a horrible person and a hypocrite.
  • Taken to a literal extreme in the ending of 2008 version of Prince of Persia, where the Prince releases the very same god of darkness he just sealed in order to revive his female sidekick Elika -- who was the person he was helping to seal that god in the first place.
    • Not only that, but the whole reason they were doing anything to begin with is that he was not the first person to do that.
    • Nearly every line the Prince says in the Epilogue is him trying to justify what he did. As well as the above, he says that Elika's powers have grown, and if Ahriman didn't think she was a threat why is he pursuing them? The Ahura had been beaten before they rallied and sealed him away; if they could just repeat that somehow... For most of the epilogue, Elika doesn't listen, but at the end she leaves the Prince, saying she can't do it alone - she has to find her people.
  • A moment in Metal Gear Solid 4 which garnered a lot of fan hatred towards Otacon was when Snake has just forced his way past the microwaves and is not only half-dead but screaming Otacon's name, and Otacon doesn't react. The second Naomi shows up in the video, Otacon starts crying hysterically and performs a symbolic hand-touch with her image. He'd known her for a week at absolute maximum and most likely a day, they'd had a one-night stand, and she'd then screwed him over royally and was betraying her actual partner to do it - yet Snake had been unfailingly and fiercely loyal to him ever since the moment they'd met nine years ago. It seemed powerfully unfair for sudden romantic love to be held in higher esteem than an incredibly deep and loving friendship that had been developed over the course of the series.
  • The end of the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog has Elise debating whether to destroy the time-destroying evil sun god if it means she'll never meet Sonic, who thankfully assures her that the world's more important.

Amy: If I had to choose between the world and Sonic, I would choose Sonic!

  • In Kingdom Hearts, Sora commits a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save Kairi. However, "saving her" is equal to "recreating the Big Bads opportunities to end the world, which he just foiled a few minutes ago". Especially stupid, because Sora's also the only one who could stop this End of the World as We Know It, since he's the one with the Keyblade. In the manga adaptation, he at least throws Donald the Keyblade before committing suicide, so his friends can take over the task. Turns out to be pointless, because it disappears as soon as he's gone anyway.
    • This persists in Chain of Memories, where Sora tells Namine to shatter his heart and memories if it will mean saving her from harm at the hands of Marluxia, and that he'll still protect her even without his memories. Marluxia is amused at the naivete of this strategy, saying that Sora will be comatose if he loses his memories and unable to do anything. Of course, then something happens that challenges this claim, so it's unknown exactly what would have happened had Sora followed through with his initial plan.
  • In Famous outright averts this when offered a sadistic choice by the villain to save Trish or a building full of doctors saving the girl is the evil choice to make and sacrificing her for the good of the many is the good one.
    • Not only that, there's literally NO WAY to save her -- you go to save her, she's a decoy and the real Trish is among the doctors. You save the doctors, she's the real Trish.
  • Partially subverted in The Dig. When Maggie Robbins dies towards the end of the game, Boston Low can resurrect her using the crystals against good sense, and breaking your promise to her. If you choose to do this, she will commit suicide, die again and hate your guts forever. At the end of the game, the Cocytans will resurrect her and Brink, and her attitude towards you will depend on your choice.
  • Deconstructed in Mass Effect. After making the Sadistic Choice on Virmire, if the person you saved was your Love Interest, they will call you out on this, blaming their relationship with you for the other's death. This becomes a Funny Aneurysm Moment with Ashley, as one of her letters to her sister explicitly warns her not to get into that situation.
    • And if you start a new game in Mass Effect 2 without importing a save, the default is always the crewmember of the opposite sex being saved.
    • And Paragon!Shepard is a lot nicer about it than most examples of this trope, possibly giving Ashley a bit of a speech on how she shouldn't blame herself for Kaidan's death, but should blame Saren instead for forcing you to choose.
  • In Yo-Jin-Bo, the guys often mention how they are More Expendable Than You and are willing to sacrifice as many of their own lives as are necessary to save yours. Sayori, of course, is less than pleased with this.
  • In Armored Core 4, this is Gender-swapped, Fiona Jarnefeldt is hinted at being in love with the Player Character- but this is made clear if you're doing poorly on a particular mission on Hard Mode—the enemy has sent forces to destroy the city that you're trying to protect, and you can't use your radioactive Primal Armor, or you'll risk harming the innocent civilians of the city... if your AP falls below 25%, she'll choose to save you instead, and activate your Primal Armor anyways.
  • In Chrono Cross, the flirtatious but practical harlequin, Harle, can ask the player character which he would choose: the world or her. If he chooses her, she is visibly affected and thanks him for saying so, even if it's only a kind lie.
  • Lost Magic for the DS has one of the most obnoxious examples of this. The Big Bad asks the character to hand over the MacGuffins or else she'll kill the girl. If the player refuses, the girl disappears and the hero goes mad over her loss, gets brainwashed by the Big Bad, starts working for her, and hands over all the MacGuffins he had, all by the end of the next cutscene. The player then has to go around killing people and doing the Big Bad's bidding.
  • The Force Unleashed: Starkiller disobeys a direct order from his master, Darth Vader, and rescues Juno Eclipse from The Empirical.

Juno: I've been branded a traitor to The Empire. I can't go anywhere, do anything.
Starkiller: I don't care about any of that. I'm leaving The Empire behind.

    • In The Force Unleashed II, Starkiller is called out several times by Rahm Kota about how he doesn't care about the war between The Empire and the Rebel Alliance, he just wants to rescue Juno.
  • Dragon Age has a heartbreaking example, though it can be avoided by multiple ways, like accepting the deal that Morrigan offers near the end of the game. Still, if a female Warden romanced Alistair, he chooses to deliver the final blow to the Archdemon, killing himself in the process because he won't let the woman he loves die. And no, he can't be persuated out of his decision.
    • The sequel lets your Player Character do this, if you romance Anders. You can let him live after he blows up the Chantry...despite all the fallout that comes with the decision, such as Sebastian swearing vengeance.
  • It's very easy to see this in StarCraft 2, as Jim Raynor's interal conflict about what to do about the controlled/infested Kerrigan is obvious, and thus even though the Queen of Blades "murdered 8 billion people" as Raynor says himself, he is still haunted by the propect of getting her old self back. That is, until Raynor's Raiders and the Moebius Foundation manage to use a Xel'nagan artifact to cure Kerrigan, and infestation is normally 100% incurable because it "mutates too fast".
  • Golden Sun gives us Felix's big Establishing Character Moment of Awesome at Venus Lighthouse: standing up to the endbosses over Sheba (at Level 5!), then jumping off the top of the Lighthouse to save her when she falls off, endangering himself and the mission to restore Alchemy to the world twice for the sake of some girl he implicitly just met.
  • .hack//GU has this as a central theme in the story. Anti-Hero Haseo makes it clear right from the beginning that he intends to revive his comatose girlfriend Shino and doesn't care what he has to destroy in the process. This causes a LOT of problems, though Haseo mostly doesn't care... at first. Haseo's own character arc is, briefly put, his learning that although saving Shino is still important his friends and the other players matter too. Ironically, not only did Shino see him as Just Friends, he probably doesn't even end up with her anyway.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the entire plot is centered around Junpei saving Akane from dying as a child, to the point where she set it up that way. Though to be fair, if Junpei succeeds in this, it leads to the ending where every single person who possibly can be saved is saved.
  • At the Road Cone in Radiata Stories, Jack can choose to play this straight or avert it. Deciding to help Ridley brings about the destined end of humanity but leaves Jack with Ridley, while deciding to stay behind to aid the kingdom saves the human race at the cost of Ridley's life and Jack deciding to wander the earth a bit.
  • In Fable III, at the beginning of the story you can choose between saving your childhood friend and/or lover, or saving a group of protesters who are dissatisfied with your older brother's regime. To make things worse if you're considering choosing the former, your childhood friend will practically beg you to choose him/her, while the protesters will grovel for their lives as you make your decision.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • Fate Stay Night, in spades. For Shirou, protecting the woman he loves (whether he's aware yet that he loves her or not) trumps everything else. We see it with Saber and Rin in the first two routes, but above all with Sakura in the third route, Heaven's Feel. In this storyline, the girl in question presents an enormous danger to the world, and Shirou must choose between killing her (to save many others) and protecting her no matter what destruction she causes (in violation of his cherished ideals). Assuming you don't go for the Bad End, Shirou chooses the girl.
    • To make things worse, she knows and realises this, and is desperately torn between wanting Shirou and wanting Shirou to be happy. Inevitably she can only sit and watch as he throws away his ideals in order to save her. He does end up both with her and happy, though, in the true ending.

"I... I broke him"


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In YU+ME: dream, Fiona's decision to attempt to go back into the Dream World to find Lia at the cost of never coming back to the real world.
    • To be fair to Fiona, look at her life in the real world: no friends, poor relationship with her family, ostracized at school. Oh, and her mother had tried to kill her. Even before the dream with Lia in it, she'd only been happy when she was dreaming. Yes, she's giving up her real life, but I'd call this more of a Screw Destiny.
  • Girl Genius averts it here:

Gil: How can I justify letting all that death and destruction happen again -- just because I fell in love?

    • Oh, and plays it straight here (same girl).
    • Straight again, different girl.
      • Next panel, Gil choose to protect the most vulnerable girl rather than the one he loves. Agatha takes care of herself, but she doesn't like to watch Gil rescuing Zola.
    • In the first case, the choice is not between Agatha and Europa, but between kidnapping Agatha so that Baron Wulfenbach can ensure that she isn't the Other, probably killing any chance of a relationship, and taking the chance that she is (in which case both Europa and relationship are doomed) in order to preserve the chance to have a relationship with her if she isn't. Of course, he ends up Taking a Third Option.
  • In the beginning of The Dreamer, Alan infiltrates Gen. Howe's ship and rescues Beatrice.
  • City of Reality averts it in an Imagine Spot: Todo would always go for the Bus Full of Innocents.
  • Parodied in Boy Meets Boy. Cy, while having a Tuxedo and Martini-flavored dream, is given the choice to either save his "obligatory Love Interest" from a Death Trap or stop the villain's doomsday device. Since he knows that it's All Just a Dream, he decides to go with the Love Interest, figuring that he can at least get some action before the world ends. Unfortunately for him, he soon learns that his dream has cast Skids as the LoveInterest.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The first volume of John Dies at the End ends with David Wong explaining that the forces of darkness have "checkmated" him now that he is in love with Amy. The shadow people drive this point home by demonstrating how easy it would be for them to retroactively kill Amy if he ever steps out of line.
  • Averted in Yudkowsky's The Sword of Good, when Selena is testing Hirou's resolve.

Hirou: It's not exactly a difficult question! Calling it 'the Choice between Good and Bad' kind of gives away the answer.
[...]
Selena: What if the Lord of Dark had me prisoner, and threatened to kill me unless you -
Hirou: Good.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In one Family Guy episode, Peter's reckless time-traveling lands him in an alternate reality in which he never married Lois. Gore is president; Bush the younger, Cheney, Osama bin Laden and Karl Rove are dead; people are healthier and living longer, the environment and economy are both in great shape, and America's generally a much happier place to be, all because Peter didn't marry Lois. And of course, Peter doesn't give two craps about the state of the world (I don't know who any of those people are); all he cares about is that he gets Lois in the end. (This is not even taking into account that Lois and Peter both married well in this alternate universe.)
  • In one arc of the '90s X-Men series, time-travelers kill the young Professor X, resulting in a Bad Present where all mutants are constantly at war with the Sentinels... and the Future Even-More-Badass Storm and Wolverine are married. When Bishop comes from the future to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, Wolverine initially refuses to help, somehow knowing that fixing the past would prevent him and Storm from getting together. When Bishop straight up asks if Wolverine is really willing to allow the devastating war to happen so he can be with Storm, Wolverine says yes without hesitation. After things are set right, there's hints that they both realize something happened, but nothing comes of it.
  • In the animated movie Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix, Ben willfully activates the omnitrix to save Gwen, When he is warned that doing so will speed up the destruction of the universe he answers "I don't care!"
  • In the recently released Wonder Woman DVD, Steve Trevor saves Diana (a.k.a. Wonder Woman!) from certain death at the hands of Ares, the God of War. She then slaps him, tells him she would rather have died and he saved the world, and sulks.
  • Batman the Animated Series
    • A villainous example in "Deep Freeze"; Mr. Freeze encounters a crazed mogul, Grant Walker, who wants to use his technology to freeze the entire planet, killing everyone except those on his island. In exchange for his cooperation, Walker offers to revive Freeze's wife. Freeze is willing to go along with the plan until Batman points out that Nora would be waking up to a cold, dead world, whereupon Freeze releases Batman and Robin and helps them defeat Walker.
    • Another episode has Harley Quinn try to invoke this as a Sadistic Choice, telling Batman he can either catch her, or save Catwoman from a Conveyor Belt O' Doom. Batman pulls the factory's power switch.

Harley: Good choice. Help.

  • In "Justice League," Morgaine le Fey attempts to manipulate the Martian Manhunter into betraying his new world and his allies for the promise of restoring his dead world - and with it, his wife and children. Subverted in that only when his psychic assault on Etregan causes him to see how Jason Blood had fallen for a similar offer, and been betrayed, did he realize that the offer was false and foil Morgaine's plan.
  • Code Lyoko: Jérémie rescues Aelita from drowning. Ulrich, the most athletic of the group, is there the entire time.
  • While obviously not a Love Interest, the Legion of Super Heroes animated series has Superman's Darker and Edgier clone from the future (further in the future than the setting of LOSH) protecting a boy who is being targeted by assassins. Turns out they're from the future, too. The boy will grow up to be largely responsible for the existence of Big Bad Imperiex. It was to show how ruthless "Superman X" isn't anymore, when he decides the ends don't justify the means and chooses saving the kid over preventing Imperiex's rise.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This mindset is used as the US Army's policies against both Fraternization (relationships between soldiers when one is subordinate to the other) and women joining combat-heavy MOSes. In the former, a superior's decisions could possibly be affected by a conflict of interests, and in the latter, the belief is that men are prone to protect women even if the situation doesn't warrant their protection.
    • Likewise, medical professionals are generally expected to step aside and let a colleague treat their own loved ones, as this trope can easily compromise their clinical judgment.
    • This is also why legal professionals (judges, lawyers, etc) are strongly advised by the canon of ethics not to represent their family/friends, but there's no actual rule against it.
  • The Greek city state of Thebes invoked this trope as official military doctrine everyone in the army was in a relationship with the other members and were supposed to be incredibly protective of their lovers.
    • More specificly, that was the Sacred Band of Thebes. They were 300 strong, pairs of homosexual lovers selected out of the army. They (with light cavalry support) defeated 1500 Spartans at Leucratea. Their final battle was epic. When the theban army faced a much bigger force, the thebans ran for it, except the Sacred Band. They made their last stand on a small hill, surrounded at attacked from all sides. The unit was never remade.
  • Many parents will go above and beyond to protect their child(ren), regardless of gender - see Papa Wolf and Mama Bear for details. However, many parents are more likely to worry about a daughter than they are a son, as seen when a girl's significant other gets the If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... speech.
  • Spoofed in a comedy routine (cannot remember the comedian's name). He said his girlfriend asked if he would fight to protect her. His answer was "No. I wouldn't even fight to protect myself. But we can hold hands while we run away if you think that will be romantic."