Chronic Hero Syndrome
"Some people have a Messiah complex. They need to save the world."
—Dr James Wilson, House on something completely different.
Chronic Hero Syndrome is an "affliction" of particularly idealistic protagonists which renders them unable to say "It's Somebody Else's Problem". Every wrong within earshot must be righted, and everyone in need must be helped, preferably by Our Hero him- or herself.
While certainly admirable, this can have some negative side-effects on the hero and those around them. Such heroes tend to wear themselves out in their attempts to help everyone, or to become distraught and blame themselves for the one time that they're unable to save the day. A particularly bad case of this may develop into a full-blown Martyr Without a Cause. May also be a thin veil over the In Harm's Way trope.
If they aren't smart about their heroism, and they have a tendency to intervene without getting the whole picture, then they're liable to just make things worse. Their predictable heroism also makes them particularly prone to manipulation by certain devious villains—but at the end of the day, they're the hero most likely to Save the Villain, too. Interestingly enough, as Don Quixote lampshades, this syndrome was noticed by Chivalric Romance writers and they devised a temporary cure: The Damsel in Distress must simply ask the hero to not to engage in any other adventure until he has finished on hers.
This is extremely common in video games as a way to make the player deal with unimportant plot threads like Fetch Quests when they should have more important things on their minds. The characters are just too darn heroic to leave people to suffer, though, so time to go wander around in caves for a while.
A related disorder is Samaritan Syndrome, where the hero bemoans that their duties leaves them no free time for their personal affairs.
The exact opposite of this is Somebody Else's Problem, naturally. Characters like this may need to be told that it is not their fight from time to time. Also, contrast with Chronic Villainy and Changing of the Guard. If they get paid for this kind of work, it's We Help the Helpless. Can be a result of being Lawful Stupid. When it's because the victim is a chick, the diagnosis is The Dulcinea Effect. Someone with Chronic Hero Syndrome who travels from place to place is a Knight Errant. This type of hero practically never fails the Leave Your Quest Test.
Anime and Manga
- Mytho in Princess Tutu has a bad, bad case of this. He literally loves everyone, and wants to protect them—so much that he shatters his heart to seal away the Raven. After he does this, he's an emotionless shell and an Extreme Doormat, wandering lifelessly and completing any orders given to him... except when someone weak is in danger. Then he suddenly becomes the prince he once was and rushes to save them with no thought to his own safety. This includes jumping out of a window to save a baby bird and injuring his ankle to catch a clumsy girl who tripped.
- Goku from Dragon Ball. Pretty much every time someone, human or animal is in danger, be it genocide by evil alien overlord, a man trying to find water for his village, or a storm threatening to crush some dinosaur eggs, Goku has to help. This eventually rubs off on his son Gohan.
- Dr. Tenma in Monster will not ignore any chance he sees to apply his medical skills for another's benefit, even though he's a fugitive on a manhunt. To the point where in the end he saves the life of the man he's been trying to kill for the entire series. This is the SECOND time he's saved his life, the first time being his first encounter with Johann and the reason he felt he had a duty to kill him.
- Every Gundam protagonist ever.
- Every Super Robot series protagonist ever.
- Yuuri Shibuya of Kyo Kara Maoh! practically breathes this trope. He not only goes all out to save random strangers, but also people who have outright tried to kill him!
- Cowboy Bebop. Every episode, Spike and crew wander into some situation that really isn't their problem and has nothing to do with the main story, and yet they feel compelled to help. It's justified for Jet, what with him being a retired cop, but there's no excuse for Spike. They even get three new crew members this way.
- Trigun's resident pacifist Vash the Stampede. To the point that when someone kills a spider to let the butterfly it was going to eat go free, he flips out at them: "I wanted to save them both!" Played for VERY dark laughs in later episodes as this former Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass with Improbable Aiming Skills gradually becomes incapable of saving anyone.
- A Certain Magical Index's Touma Kamijo just can't contain his tendency to save people. Even if he just met them, he will go out of his way to help them even though he lacks any sort of real fighting skills. All of Touma's stories involve him saving someone in some way.
- Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach, especially in the early arcs. He insists that he will only kill hollows that threaten his family, but still manages to get involved in many, many problems. Whoops.
- Actually, it crops up in just about every arc.
- Allen Walker from D Gray Man. The Messiah that wishes to save everyone—humans and Akuma alike. If anyone is in danger while he's around, count on him to jump in and save them.
- Deconstructed in Revolutionary Girl Utena, where Dios feels compelled to save everybody. This is taken to such an extreme extent that he utterly ruins his relationship with his younger sister by constantly neglecting her in favor of everyone who "needs him", and physically exhausting himself almost to the point of death.
- Suzaku in Code Geass has this, due to his status as The Atoner. Lelouch also has elements of this where his friends (and especially his sister) are concerned. Euphemia could be considered an example of this trope as well.
- Oz in Pandora Hearts has a terrible case of this, compounded by a dollop of Martyr Without a Cause.
- Shinkurou from light novel/manga/anime series Kure-nai exhibits this. It literally is his job.
- Shakugan no Shana: This trope was to prove the ultimate undoing of Yuri. Of course, Margery isn't without blame for this...
- Liar Game: Nao wants to save everyone else in the game by using her winnings to pay off their debts, no matter how cruel and deceptive they were towards her earlier.
- Inu Yasha: Kagome has it bad, except instead of a compulsion to help people in danger, she has a compulsion to persuade Inu-Yasha to help people in danger. It always works.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: It has been shown in at least one chapter that he has a compulsion to do anything for anyone who needs help. 1,000,000 yen for an apartment for two days? After paying off other people's loan sharks, broken vases (by a child who shouldn't have been carrying something like that anyways) and literally helping every single person he comes across with the money, he's stuck with nothing and considers sleeping on a bench. Hayate IS this trope.
- Ranma ½:
- Akane Tendō. While she has a Hair-Trigger Temper and is easy to anger, she's extremely kind and helpful towards anyone who needs help—whether they are her bitter enemies, random people on the street, or ill girls collapsed on the road. Once, while kidnapped by Pantyhose Tarō, she even dressed his ragged and bloody injury with a makeshift bandage as best as she could (in her own, clumsy way, but still...) to say nothing of the many times she stuck her neck out for Shampoo, Ukyō, and even Kodachi, none of whom ever returned the favor.
- Ranma has this as well, even going so far as to help his enemies like Happōsai or Herb. He also has difficulty turning down requests from crying women. His many fiancées figure this out to manipulate him.
- Digimon Xros Wars has Taiki Kudou, who tends to overexert himself while helping out random clubs. When the story starts, this compulsion has reached a point where his friend Akari follows him around with a bag full of energy drinks and a cushion for him to land on when he faints from exhaustion. Later on it's revealed that this compulsion stems from an incident in his childhood where he offered help to a boy who was sitting on the side of the street and cradling his head, but was rebuffed. After Taiki took that at face value, it turned out that the boy had been injured in a football game and had to be hospitalised for half a year. His catchphrase, "I just can't turn my back on him/her!" (or Hottokenai!) is based from this personality, and that even other people and Digimon (Wisemon and Nene) soon caught it.
- Claus Valka from Last Exile is this trope due to Jumped At the Call. He feels morally inclined to become involved with the war based on his belief that it is the right thing to do. This means rescuing or otherwise helping just about everyone in his path ranging from his Unlucky Childhood Friend to his playfully sociopathic rival.
- The protagonists of Yu-Gi-Oh and its sequel series, Yu-Gi-Oh GX and Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds must help and become friends with everyone they meet through dueling. All three have their moments of failure, but Judai of GX gets the short end of the stick.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Winry, up to the point of saving an injured Scar's life, even when she knows he killed her parents.
- Sailor Moon: Usagi Tsukino, the title character. In fact all the Sailor Senshi. After the Dark Kingdom arc when everyone but Usagi has been returned to their normal lives, all of them happen to be at the same location when a monster appears. Even though they don't have their powers, even though they don't even remember being Sailor Senshi, they all leap into the battle.
- Bakemonogatari: Araragi Koyomi will do what ever it takes to help anyone, whether it be the aloof Sugar and Ice Personality he just met, the demon-possessed Yuri who also wants to kill him who has been stalking him or even the Vampire who also tried to kill him and currently lives off his blood.
- Kuro Karatsu from The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, at one point taking it so far as to sign up for a volunteer help program in Iraq during the second Gulf War so he can return a client (an illegal immigrant) to his family there (and for no pay, of course). Sasaki Lampshades it almost immediately after meeting him.
- Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger from Tiger and Bunny takes his job as a superhero more seriously than any sane man ought to. Not only does he do borderline suicidal things to protect or save others (running into a burning building to save a single man while unpowered and unarmored, insisting on joining the Girls' Team in taking back Sternbild while still internally bleeding, Taking the Bullet for Barnaby etc.), but he preoccupied with it enough that his boss has to order him to use his vacation days so as not to violate the city's labor laws.
- Naruto: Naruto Uzumaki. If there's a cause, Naruto will fight for it. The guy refuses to give up his quest to save Sasuke, despite Sasuke stating he wants to kill him, was willing to forgive the man who killed the closest person he had to a father figure, and -- fortunately for the Shinobi Alliance, as it turns out -- refuses to stay out of the war, despite being placed in hiding, because he can't bear the thought of his friends dying to protect him while he's hidden away in a safe place. Once on the battlefield, he sends clones to help every division, despite the risks it presents to his health, and has basically taken it upon himself to win the Fourth Ninja War. Itachi actually calls him on this.
- This is treated as an actual character flaw in Medaka Box. While taking up the mantle of The Messiah was definitely an improvement over the borderline Empty Shell she was in her youth, Medaka's ability to form relationships without relying on the shounen convention of Defeat Means Friendship is practically non-existent. She literally has no identity outside that of The Hero role.
- Karasawa and the nameless Student Council Vice-President in Daily Lives of High School Boys both have this. When the student council's "odd jobs operation" had extended to student outside their school, Motoharu asked them to have a backbone and say "no"... in which they promptly said "no" to.
- Quon of Towa no Quon. He has to save every single Attractor that he can, and is distraught whenever he fails to do so.
- Yugo Hachiken of Silver Spoon. To the point he become "The guy who won't refuse you."
- The Samaritan from Astro City, whose constant super-heroing leaves him with only a few hours of sleep every night and nearly no time to relax. Having a bio-organic computer that constantly monitors the news doesn't help.
- Superman: It's what earned his "Big Blue Boy Scout" nickname. This facet of his personality is actually played with quite often, depending on what powers he has at the time. He always has "super hearing," but exactly how super tends to vary wildly; sometimes he can hear whispers from far across the city, and sometimes he can hear everything. Showing surprising depth, writers have included this into his character; if he can literally hear everything, then every panel of him doing something mundane means that we are seeing Superman make a deliberate decision to not help somebody, since there is always somebody who needs help somewhere and he has to hear them crying or screaming. Mention is often made that had to learn to "tune out" what he has to, since he has accepted that even he cannot be everywhere for everyone, and has to accept that some people need to be ignored.
- It's taken to an extreme in Superman: Red Son, where at one point he has to leave a diplomatic reception to put out a fire at a chemical plant hundreds of miles away. When he becomes leader of the Soviet Union, his people eventually become either unwilling or incapable of taking care of themselves, since they know Superman will alway show up to save them.
- Spider-Man. Whenever he feels that something is Somebody Else's Problem, he remembers what his uncle Ben taught him: "With great power comes great responsibility".
- This is often subverted, in that many times he'll bust his ass to get to the scene of a crime only to discover that one of New York's many many other superheroes already took care of it in in the time it took him to get there.
- Ultimate Spider-Man, in particular, feels the need to insert himself in any potentially hostile situation. While he generally does more good than harm, he also gets his butt kicked and makes a lot of things worse. Ultimate Team-Up shows what happens when he doesn't know what's going on very well.
- The Flash also has this problem pretty badly. He is convinced that with his speed, it should be possible to be literally everywhere at once, and fix every problem he encounters. When a fire breaks out and cripples a woman in Keystone City, Flash is so disturbed by this that he goes to fellow speeder Johnny Quick to obtain Johnny's source of speed upgrade. The results are pretty predictable, and lessons are learned by all.
- This is taken to its logical extreme in Kingdom Come, as the Flash quite literally becomes the speed force and as a result is EVERYWHERE in Keystone City. As a result of this, he's forever turned Keystone City into a crime free ghost town, and has lost his sense of self entirely, becoming not one Flash, but a strange mix between Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West.
- Depending on the story, most of the cast of Archie Comics could count. Betty Cooper got this once. Her nice girl/girl next door personality kept her exhausted with volunteer work and kinda turned her into a doormat.
- Empowered, despite the fact that nearly everyone treats her like a joke. Any time she finds out about a problem, she will get involved, without fail, even if she knows she's in over her head.
- Batman shows this too. Sometimes he may be an overly pragmatic jerkass or just accept that lives will be lost, other times he will NOT give up on saving everyone and everything, even at the cost of his own life. In Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, two stories like this are told. In one, he passes a baby to Harvey Bullock and then is swept away by flood waters and drowns, and in another he throws a bomb and himself into Gotham River to explode so no one else is hurt.
- Nightwing has this pretty bad, to the point where he's a lawful policeman by day and a vigilante by night. This obsession eventually costs him his relationship with Barbara Gordon. Then Blockbuster uses this against him, taunting him by saying he can kill everyone that Nightwing is close to. He even lampshades with when his own life is threatened, Nightwing is concerned more with protecting the baddie than anything else.
- In X-Men Noir, Thomas "The Angel" Halloway's entire life revolves around heroism—to the point that Professor Xavier diagnoses him with a completely new type of pathology, "heropathy". This is illustrated in their first encounter; Xavier asks Halloway why he cares about the X-Men. Halloway tells him that a woman, Jean Grey, is dead, the police aren't investigating her murder because she was with the X-Men... and he can't live in a world where a killer isn't brought to justice.
- Patoruzu and Patoruzito are the most blatant Argentinian examples of this trope. The tagline of his comic book goes: "Courageous to the point of fearlessness. Altruist to the point of sacrifice. Brave to the point of heroism. But modest to the point of sainthood, and hilarious to the point of comedy."
- Parodied in Twisted Toyfare Theater, where Mego Spider-Man just wants to go home and watch TV, but he continually saves the day because he literally has no choice.
- In the The Tainted Grimoire, there is Luso, other members of Clan Gully have joked about it.
- This is the very reason things kick off in the Bleach fanfic To Fight and Protect Ichigo will help because he can help. Even if it's Aizen.
Films -- Animation
- Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. The fact that he's forbidden by law from engaging in vigilante heroism is a major source of stress for him. His desire to go help a mugging victim eventually leads to a disastrous confrontation with his boss at Insuricare. In the DVD special features, the National Super Agency's file on Mr. Incredible lists this as one of his weaknesses. In the opening scene, as he rushes to his own wedding he has to stop to help in a police chase, then while on his way to do that he stops to help a woman get her cat out of a tree. Fortunately, said tree also came in VERY handy in stopping the car the criminals involved in said police chase were driving!
Films -- Live-Action
- Mr. Nice Guy: The title chracter had absolutely nothing to do with the main plot until it stumbled across him.
- George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life systematically sacrificed every dream he had to help the people of Bedford Falls, and it ended up being all for naught when his uncle misplaced the money needed to keep George's business afloat. And if you think that's the end of the story you need to watch more movies.
- The Fugitive: Richard Kimble gives himself away by ensuring a misdiagnosed boy gets the proper treatment when posing as a janitor at a hospital. He's not caught, although the sighting does tip off the US Marshals who are following him... and hints to them that he's a nice guy really.
- Kick-Ass not only has this—watch the way he charges into a fight with three bigger, tougher guys to defend the guy they're beating up, despite having no training and no weapons besides a pair of sticks—but he manages to justify this by shaming the thugs, the gawking bystanders and the audience for not having Chronic Hero Syndrome.
Thug: What the fuck is wrong with you, man? You'd rather die for some piece of shit that you don't even fucking know?
Kick-Ass: Three assholes laying into one guy while everyone else watches, and you wanna know what's wrong with me?! Yeah, I'd rather die! NOW BRING IT ON!
- This is the fatal flaw of Daniel Rigg, the protagonist of Saw IV. In fact, his tests are designed explicitly to try and cure this. The first of them tells him to walk away from a woman in a trap, only for his attempting to save her anyway to, first, start the trap, then upon freeing her, she attempts to kill him because her instructions were that the police officer who tried to save her would put her in prison for the rest of her life. His ultimate test goes so far as to invert Just in Time, in that busting in at the last second Big Damn Heroes style was the absolute worst thing he could've done.
- John McClane's tendency to be the Right Man in the Wrong Place leads to this - and this hurts, hurts, hurts. He even discusses this on the fourth movie.
- Harry Potter: Harry.
- Lampshaded in the fifth book when Hermione points out that he has a "'saving people' thing" and that he could be walking into a trap. He's furious about that comment, pointing out that they didn't see an issue with that when he saved their lives before. Partially deconstructed when his hurry to save Sirius leads to the death he was trying to prevent.
- Voldemort himself sums it up in Deathly Hallows:
"Neither of you understands Potter as I do. He does not need finding. Potter will come to me. I know his weakness, you see, his one great flaw. He will hate watching the others struck down around him, knowing that it is for him that it happens. He will want to stop it any cost. He will come."
- Also brought up during Goblet of Fire during the Second Task when Harry is charged with rescuing the person who is most important to them at the bottom of the school lake. Harry insists on trying to take back every hostage, even those that weren't his, misunderstanding that Dumbledore had taken every precaution necessary to ensure that no one gets hurt during the Triwizard Tournament. Harry gets high marks when it was decided that his insistence to save everyone was based on chivalry.
- The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden. Dresden has it bad. And he's Genre Savvy enough to know and admit it—and then still do it anyway. Just ask him about a Damsel in Distress.
- In Grave Peril, Harry attends a Villain Party and is given a very interesting party favor, a gravestone and perpetually open plot. The inscription on the stone reads "He died doing the right thing." A few minutes later, he is given the choice between walking away and risking his life to save one innocent, which will also destabilize the vampire/wizard truce. The gravestone wasn't an insult, it was a hint.
- In Turn Coat, Lara can tell he is sheltering Morgan because that's what Harry does: people in trouble come to him, and he helps them.
- In the short story Warriors he attempts to bill an Archangel, since if he's working for good, like any other client they should be billed. He threatens to not come next time he hears the call. The Archangel laughs since he knows Harry can't. Harry takes a drink since he knows he can't either...
- Heralds of Valdemar
- Deconstructed in Mercedes Lackey's world of Valdemar with the magical sword Need before she (re)awakens to full sentience. Nasty things happen because the stupid bloody thing will NOT allow its wielder to let a woman come to harm, no matter what. Nasty for the wielder, because the sword has no concept of things like "impossible odds" (or "paying job"); occasionally nasty for the rescuees because it has no concept of "disproportionate response." And also that "no matter what" includes enemy women who have their own swords and are busily trying to hack Need's current wielder into pieces.
- More normally, one of the qualities common to those Chosen to be Heralds is at least a little Chronic Hero Syndrome. They have Psychic Powers and normal people don't, so they have to use them to help those people, goes the thinking. Vanyel especially had it bad: as the most powerful Herald-Mage of his time, and eventually the only one left, no one else could protect The Kingdom the way he could.
- Healers too, substituting Healing Hands for Psychic Powers. This version's only a real problem if a Healer comes across a plague or such beyond her resources, and attempts to fight it anyway rather than leave to get help.
- From Predator things of the Century by Strugatski Brothers: "I'll get crazy for this. So many people -- and I'm alone. I'm exactly like you, people -- except I want to help You, and You don't help me..."
- Deconstructed in Discworld.
- In particular, Thief of Time has Susan angrily call the protagonist "you... hero!" for going back to help his wounded mentor rather than saving the world; he at first takes it as a compliment until he recognises her tone. It should be remembered that Discworld heroes aren't exactly the brightest of people—many jokes are made throughout the series along those lines—so Susan, a teacher and great believer in common sense, won't think highly of them.
- Indeed, most of the genuine "heroes" of Discworld, like Granny, Vimes, Susan and Moist are highly cynical and jaded people. More traditionally heroic characters are usually treated as fools (with the possible exception of Carrot, who manages to have it both ways). And then there's Rincewind....
- In the Geronimo Stilton book, "The Mouse City Marathon," Geronimo is continually waylaid from running in the eponymous marathon because he keeps stopping to help people: getting a lost mousling back to his mom, stopping a purse-snatcher, even jumping off a bridge to rescue a fellow runner who fainted. Yet he still manages to come in first!
- Keladry of Mindelan in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet... she can't help but do exactly what the series name suggests, completely unable to turn down a cry for help from anyone smaller or weaker than herself (protecting animals as often as human beings) much to the exasperation of her friends and colleagues who feel obligated to help.
- Wandering Djinn: The main character of the anthology seems unable to not try and save people.
- Safehold: Merlin Athrawes of the series has a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, which is subsequently lampshaded. Merlin himself notes that it tends to cause more problems than it solves. In particular, Merlin's actions have the potential to catastrophically effect his efforts to brig technology back to Safehold because the far above-average abilities he uses to enact his rescues can be interpreted by foes as demonic involvement.
- In the Parrish Plessis series, the titular character has a bad case of this. Unfortunately, as a Doom Magnet living in a Crapsack World, her efforts to help backfire more often than not.
- The Knight in Rusty Armor at first is this, particularly about saving princesses and going to crusades (he does go to knight tournaments with as much enthusiasm, however). Rather than heroism, he does this to prove his courage and goodness to others.
- In the Hand of Thrawn duology, Mara Jade accuses Luke Skywalker of occasionally suffering from this.
Mara Jade: You didn't think. You reacted, eager to save the world and to do it alone.
- Later in the New Jedi Order series, she goes out of her way to explain to Anakin Solo how Luke (now her husband) hasn't exactly outgrown the mentality and even infused it into many of his students.
- Don Quixote: Subverted and played for laughs; the protagonist is afflicted with this syndrome. The rest of the world reacts in the way we would expect them to in real life. The book not only lampshades this syndrome when Dorotea, (a beautiful woman impersonating a princess who really is trying to send Don Quixote home) but uses a temporary cure: the Damsel in Distress must simply ask The Hero The Promise:
"Then what I ask," said the damsel, "is that your magnanimous person accompany me at once whither I will conduct you, and that you promise not to engage in any other adventure or quest until you have avenged me of a traitor who against all human and divine law, has usurped my kingdom."
- The Stormlight Archive: Kaladin has a major case of this syndrome, he's always trying to save people and gets horribly depressed when he can't save/protect everyone, to the point of very nearly being Driven to Suicide several times.
- In A Dance with Dragons from A Song of Ice and Fire Tyrion suggests that Danaerys has this. Consequently he recommends that Aegon, instead of showing up on her doorstep asking her to marry him, invade Westeros. He can't win, so she'll have to go to rescue him. This would not only put her own indefinitely delayed invasion plans back on track, but is also more likely to make a good first impression.
- Jon Snow definitely has a case of this as well, especially after he is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He repeatedly goes out of his way trying to save everyone, no matter how unlikely the chances of it working are.
- Knight Errant Michael Sevenson from the Knight and Rogue Series has a problem with this, and will on occaison put himself in harms way to help those who'd much rather see him in harms way.
- For all of Honor Harrington's debatable Mary Sue-ness, her major character flaw is her lack of self-assertiveness. She spends most of the series nigh-incapable of prioritizing her own needs over those of others, and it is used to the advantage of her political foes when they figure it out.
- Derek Huntsman of the web-novel Domina is perfectly willing to risk his life to save a man he's known for less than an hour.
- Since we've mentioned Merlin from Safehold and Honor Harrington from her own books, we might as well finish out the Weber trilogy with Bahzell of The War Gods. Everyone who meets the hradani pretty much instantly recognizes it. The entire series starts off when he can't ignore a servant being raped, even though he knows his intervention could mean war and tries to argue himself into why he should just walk away.
- Bertie of Jeeves and Wooster suffers badly from this. He'd do anything to help anyone, friend or enemy, no matter how little sense it makes or how much others may take advantage of it. As a random example, in Thank You, Jeeves he decides to help his friend Chuffy, who likes a girl but won't make the first move, by kissing the girl in front of him to instigate Operation: Jealousy. He fully expects to be beaten senseless by Chuffy for doing so, but this doesn't matter to him as long as his friend ends up happy.
- Michael Scofield in Prison Break. It's explained by him having Low latent inhibition, combined with his genius IQ and his childhood being full of abandonment and abuse, he is unable to block out other people's suffering. This made him extremely empathetic and altruistic towards other people's emotions and he constantly puts others above himself. Interestingly, as the series has a rather dark setting, Michael often has to ignore it, which eats at his conscience. Furthermore, it's also shown to be a flaw of his, as he is downright obsessed with bringing down The Company, seemingly putting it above getting a normal life back, in contrast to the other characters.
- Duncan MacLeod of Highlander the Series is happy to solve anyone else's problems. Even if they didn't ask. Conveniently, they can often be solved by cutting off an immortal's head, which happens to be his specialty.
- Peter Petrelli. Although this may simply be the writers constantly giving him the Idiot Ball. In Peter's defense, he does go out of his way to save the world. Or at least, Central Park, and sometimes very close friends. In Volume 5, he also hunts down Nathar/Sythan/Frankenstein's Monster and takes a nailgun to his hands and...other body parts to get his brother back.
- Inversely, Nathan Petrelli (who happens to be Peter's politician big brother), who seems to love the phrase "it's Somebody Else's Problem." God help the soul who tries to hurt his daughter, though.
- Stargate SG-1: Inherited from the original film, Daniel Jackson was this which often put him at odds with the more pragmatic Jack. Initially, Samantha Carter was given a feminist-oriented aspect of this which the writers quickly realised wasn't going to work for the show. As the series developed (and went down a drama to drama-with-comedy to comedy-with-drama route) the feminism angle was dropped from Sam, Daniel was given character development to give him a more pragmatic edge, and this trope became less relevant. At one point, however, it did essentially apply to the entire SG-1 team with different characters encouraging the team to "do the noble thing" in different episodes.
- Jack in Lost. This is a big plot point in the later seasons where Jack's "think first, ask questions later" brand of heroism eventually leads to many people being worse off than they were before they were "saved".
- Doctor Who
- The Doctor, the Doctor, dear GOD the Doctor. And boy does he suffer for it. Again and again and again, in every single reincarnation.
- The TARDIS itself could also qualify, since it's an intelligent machine that always seems to plunk the Doctor down exactly when and where he's needed most, whether he wants to be there or not.
- The Companions tend to have a touch of this as well. For example, Donna and the Doctor spend most of The Fires of Pompeii bickering about what to do about the fate of the people there—he insists that it's a fixed point in history, and they can't do anything to stop it. She feels that they should save at least one person. She finally convinces him to save a family of four.
- When The Doctor thinks he's destined to die soon he decides to give up his Chaotic Good heroism, and become Chaotic Neutral, devoting his last remaining days to himself, but he's really bad at it. When he realises people need help, he walks towards the TARDIS, repeatedly reminidng himself it's not his problem, as soon as he reaches the door, he turns around and heads off to save the world. Realising that being a hero is what really made his life worthwhile.
- Scrubs: Dr. Percival Ullyses Cox. Examples here, and here. In case the name didn't tip you off. At one point he tells J.D. that this is a slippery slope, because you start blaming yourself for deaths that aren't your fault. Later in the same episode, he succumbs to that very fate.
- Mash: And Hawkeye, for God's sake, Hawkeye.
- Malcolm Reynolds will steadfastly deny this to his grave, but deep down he suffers from a near-terminal example of this disease, to the point that it ended up with him on the opposite side of a psychotic crime lord and the Alliance's Operative.
- We didn't get to see much of it (insert obligatory bitching about Fox here) but in "Ariel" Simon goes to save a dying man in the middle of the heist in a busy hospital paying no mind to the risks of recognition and capture. "Saving people thing" at its finest there. Simon, like Hawkeye, is a doctor. He has a "save lives first, ask questions later" mentality that he also displays in "Bushwhacked" and "Safe". You can see him visibly suppressing it in the pilot when he refuses to treat Kaylee unless Mal runs. He would have helped that man regardless of whether River was screaming or not.
- Angel's title character.
- Gary in Early Edition, who has made it his mission to prevent every tragedy spelled out in the magic newspaper. He spends his time charting his day's activities for maximum efficiency, so that he can squeeze a coffee break between missions.
- Royal Pains: "No worries with Hank around. He has a hero complex." "It's not a complex. It's a neurosis."
- President Bartlet in The West Wing. Given his job as head of a country with 300 million inhabitants and major international responsibilities all over the globe, he is also chronically unable to fulfill his syndrome's needs. This often sends him into dark depressions, unable to get out of until Leo or his wife tells him to stop being so egotistical as to think he can solve all the world's problems.
Mrs. Bartlet: Ah, yes. [He's gone to] pistol-whip the trucking industry... because he can't save a gunshot victim and he can't stop a hurricane.
- Merlin from the BBC series of the same name, to the point that it becomes a joke in The Torch Online's Facebook-style recap of episode 2x9.
Gaius: (to Merlin) You know how I'm always telling you not to rescue people, but then you go ahead and rescue them anyway, behind my back? Seriously, don't do that this time.
- Jeff from Community. He lampshades it at one point, saying he "reluctantly accepts the mantle of leadership as no one else will". This despite Troy clearly being an adequate leader until this point, making Jeff's Chronic Hero Syndrome look thoroughly petty. Most of the time, Jeff is a thoroughly reluctant example of this trope; having spent most of his life being a self-involved Manipulative Bastard, his experiences at Greendale and the close friendships he's found himself making have resulted in him gradually becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who ends up helping everyone around him despite himself.
- Despite being a Cute Ghost Girl occasional ditz, Annie from Being Human (UK) winds up saving people a number of times. She saves the humans that the vampires were using as a food supply, and saves Mitchell and George from their assailant at the end of the second season. She doesn't even care that whoever is in charge of the afterlife is angry at her for doing so, she wants to make sure her friends are safe. A slightly less impressive (but still valid) moment would be when she and George go to save Mitchell from the vampires, using a lot of screaming and flailing to take down one vampire.
- All Power Rangers get this the first time they morph and don't lose it until at least they stop being rangers, and perhaps longer. There's an awesome scene at the end of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, where the villains are beaten once and for all and the team is preparing to go their separate ways... when a fire truck goes by. Our heroes look at each other, grin, and run after it, not even stopping to reclaim their morphers (their chief is behind them yelling "Hey, you forgot these!").
- Primeval's Nick Cutter runs into a burning building to rescue his wife Helen. Not so unusual, but the building is on fire because she blew it up in an attempt to kill him and everyone else. He saves her after all that, and then she kills him.
- Invoked by Erin Reagan in Blue Bloods, who warned Jamie that an awful lot of cops are like this and end up breaking themselves, and that his personality made him especially vulnerable to it.
- Smallville: Read Superman's description in the comics section, raise the Angst Up to Eleven, and you have his Smallville character. Chloe once asked Clark if he was afraid that if Lana learned self-defense then she wouldn't need a knight in shining armor to keep rescuing her from Smallville's dangers. He thinks he has to rescue her and everyone else too.
- House: When Wilson's second wife was showing House around a condo she said about Wilson, "He’s just so knight-in-shining armor, you know? Always there to support you, until he’s not, but by then you’re hooked." He stopped being there for her because he needed to be there for House.
- Supernatural's Sam Winchester has this whenever he's not otherwise occupied.
- Sliders: Most plots in the first few seasons are driven by Quinn Mallory needlessly rushing to the aid of anyone in earshot, only to embroil himself and his friends into the troubles of whatever alternate reality they're in.
- "The Weight", by The Band, notably covered by many including Joan Osborne, is about this trope.
Myths & Religion
- Every single knight in the Arthurian myths seem to suffer this. "Questing" was all about going out and looking for trouble.
- For example, at one point the knight Yvain has to be at a very specific location tomorrow in order to rescue a damsel, Lunete, from being burned at the stake. With plenty of time, he stays at a castle the night before, only to discover that the castle is being held to ransom by a giant; if no one can slay the giant, the next morning he will kill all the lord's remaining sons and have his minions rape the lord's daughter in front of everyone. Yvain tries to say "look, I do have this prior appointment and an innocent will die if I don't get there, so I'm afraid this isn't actually my problem"... but he turns back out of guilt, kills the giant, doesn't stay for congratulations, and runs off just in time to save Lunete... effectively pulling off two last minute Big Damn Heroes moments in a row.
- Every knight errant ever created from King Arthur on down. In a variety of Contractual Genre Blindness, Knights errant were actually bound to Walk the Earth until they found a worthy quest to devote themselves to.
- In some versions of their myths, some Greek heroes are like this. It varies, though. Perseus comes out all right, and most of Heracles's moments of jerkiness are Hera invoked, but Theseus has a way with the daughters of the bandits he kills on the way to Athens, at one point kidnaps Helen when she was a young teen, tries to help a friend kidnap Persephone and also abandons or banishes a large number of other women. Odysseus is a little bit better, given that he is kept by women rather than forcing himself on them, but he is still a pirate (granted, that was normal for the time).
- John Cena, in spades. Whether it's saving a Diva in distress, turning the tide of a three-or-four-or-10-against-one battle, or chasing bad guys off, John is your man. Probably the only reason he doesn't show up in every single segment to battle the villains and right the wrongs is that he gets too distracted chasing whatever bad guy caught his eye first.
- One of the pitfalls of a high Compassion virtue in Exalted. Indeed, the rulebook's example of a circumstance that requires you to make a Virtue roll is a high-Compassion character falling victim to a mixture of this and Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help. Even worse, failing to satisfy this urge may drive up the character's Limit and trigger the Great Curse.
- The Charity Virtue in the New World of Darkness encourages you to act like this in exchange for Willpower. The sample blurb for the virtue discusses a woman who's investigating a ritualistic Serial Killer... and who stops to pick up a hitchhiker with a broken arm (in real life, a favorite trick of Ted Bundy), even though she knows it could be a trap, because she fears he could end up a victim.
- Paladins in most editions of Dungeons & Dragons are contractually obligated to follow this trope, being Lawful Good and bound by a code of honor. Good-aligned characters in general may do this depending on the player.
- Some of the more Open-worldy sort of games allow the player to choose for themselves, either helping out every poor bastard who's dropped a ring in a sewer grate, ignoring everyone so you can get on with your business, or killing the asker for daring to ask for your aid. Realistically, this third option tends to cause problems, but if you can kill the people who have a problem with it too, the problem eventually evaporates. Possibly along with every living being.
- Similarly, RPGs with large numbers of side quests irrelevant to the main plot can have the main character coming off as someone with Chronic Hero Syndrome.
- Virtually every MMO steers the player's character into having Chronic Hero Syndrome. The character will often be sent out against a great evil... but on the way, they'll have to protect random people from threats, take shifts as a game warden, help gather materials for various building projects, and sometimes even be a relationship counselor, for everybody whose path they happen to cross.
- Final Fantasy
- Yuna of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, as Lampshaded by Shinra after Yuna gets the Gullwings involved in yet another third party's request for help: "Hero. Summoner. Doormat." In fact, the other characters just love to lampshade this about Yuna, so much so that it pretty much becomes a Running Gag.
- Tidus also qualifies. It is especially noticeable when the party hears about a monster eating chocobos. Tidus insists that they help defeat the monster but other members of the party point out that it isn't their problem.
- Auron at one point tells Tidus that Jecht used to get his pilgrimage companions into all kinds of trouble when trying to help people because "it's the right thing to do". This includes trying to kill the Chocobo Eater.
- Locke Cole of Final Fantasy VI is a Chronic Hero to every distressed damsel he meets, largely because of his dead girlfriend issues.
- Zidane of Final Fantasy IX, whose motto is "I don't need a reason to help people"
- Snow from Final Fantasy XIII has this pretty bad. Lampshaded by Lightning in one scene:
Lightning: But going out of his way to help someone? That's Snow all over.
- Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics is a Reconstruction. He's determined to help the common people, even as said people believe the propaganda that Ramza's a heretic and traitor. By contrast, his friend Delita is an Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain who backstabs his way to the top. Delita ends up king, Ramza ends up blown up and his companion gets executed for trying to tell the people Ramza saved the world. But the epilogue indicates that Ramza survived, shows Delita getting a severe Was It Really Worth It? moment, and the true story gets out four hundred years later.
- Common in BioWare RPGs. Typically, you have a party member who recommends you help out whenever asked to and one who makes snide remarks along the lines of "Ooh, let's solve every little problem in the entire village! The Darkspawn will be so impressed!"
- Open Hand Spirit Monk in Jade Empire meddles in people's lives for the better, most of the time. Closed Fist Spirit Monk is much less helpful.
- The Grey Warden in Dragon Age can fulfill this trope to such a degree that Morrigan will complain about it.
- Commander Shepard in Mass Effect is also constantly being drawn in to other people's problems, and Paragon Shepard fulfills the trope by doing his or her best to help... although the player also has the opportunity, playing Shepard as a Renegade, to ignore them or actually make things worse.
- Lampshaded in the second game, where you can pass by a couple you helped in the first game having a problem. One of them jokingly says, "Maybe we should ask random people off the street what they think." But you get rewarded for this in Mass Effect 2: if you go on side quests for every member of your team, and you do it full Paragon (or full Renegade) you can save every member of your party in the final stage.
- The Light-side player character in Knights of the Old Republic.
- A Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3 with positive karma likely suffers from this affliction, as he or she will never, no matter what, turn down an offer to help others. Of course, this being Fallout, seemingly nice things have a tendency to come and bite you in the ass, whether it's being hunted by bloodthirsty mercs, or the whole "Tenpenny Tower" sidequest.
- Fallout: New Vegas
- The Courier also suffers form this, however it ends up paying off as the factions who likes him/her ends up coming to his/her aid in the end game battle, also gives him/her lots of cool stuff.
- Deconstructed by the Followers of the Apocalypse. They are truly noble, and do genuinely want to help people in the wasteland, but their own selflessness winds up screwing them over in almost every possible way in almost all of the endings, the only good ending they achieve is with the NCR.
- Super Mario Bros: Mario basically does all the hero work for the universe all on his own. Sometimes Luigi helps, too.
- The Player's character in the Fable series, in basically every quest you end up saving somebody from something, even more so in II with the DLCs, even when taking the routes to "Chaotic Evil" you still save the world, and a lot of random people along the way.
- Link from The Legend of Zelda. Especially the Bomber's Notebook from Majora's Mask. Interestingly, the Bombers themselves aspire to be this.
- Samus Aran from Metroid, particularly in the Prime series. Outside of the Prime series, though, she's usually working for the government, which probably helps how she never has time to bounty-hunt.
- Fox from Star FOX, a mercenary group that doesn't seem terribly interested in money. Only two games mention anything about payment, and the later starts out with the Great Fox in such a state of disrepair that it seems the team has just been waiting for another opportunity to play heroes, with the exception of Falco, who left the team.
- Adol from the Ys series. Even though Sealed Evil in a Can gets unsealed wherever he goes, he will always risk his neck to save the community he just came by. Adol is an interesting example since it's not entirely a coincidence that he ends up in places in need of saving: he went to Ys in the first place specifically because he heard it was under attack. Most people with Chronic Hero Syndrome end up helping the people around them because they can't help themselves, despite all the damage and disruption it causes their normal lives. Adol, by contrast, was told that there were still people in the world that were being eaten by dragons and enslaved by sorcerers at an impressionable age and decided then and there that somebody needed to do something about that.
- Marona from Phantom Brave. Oh so very much.
- Yuri Lowell from Tales of Vesperia is an odd version of this trope. It's both shown many times and stated many times that Yuri cannot ignore a innocent person in need. Of course, it's also been both stated and shown that he takes it a little too far. Not that those on the receiving end of Yuri's Justice didn't deserve it after what they did...
- According to the first game, Sora from Kingdom Hearts is not supposed to meddle in the affairs of other worlds, except for fighting off Heartless. He pretty much completely ignores this fact, as he just cannot help helping people. By the second game, the whole "not supposed to meddle" thing is essentially forgotten, and Sora is even more of a chronic hero than ever. It's lampshaded by almost every single one of the game's more cynical characters.
- Okami's Amaterasu is constantly getting distracted from her grand quest to save the world from the forces of evil because the cherry trees aren't blooming, a kid has lost his dog, and a girl wants to dig up something in Sasa Sanctuary's bamboo grove. And all of these are necessary to advance the plot. Once the player gets involved in sidequests, they might end up delaying the destruction of the Lord of Darkness so that they can go fishing or race people up and down the beach. Albeit, the sidequests not only advance the plot but Amaterasu herself. She's a goddess in mortal form, but she has been severely weakened over time. The accumulated praise she receives from helping people allows her to rebuild her power and enhance her abilities. Those seemingly small and insignificant acts of kindness and generosity are actually as integral to the saving the world as defeating Orochi.
- Raymond Bryce from Disaster: Day of Crisis. The very objective of the game is to save as many people as possible. To quote Ray: "I still want to same them. Save you, save Lisa, save everyone".
- Anyone in World of Warcraft with the Loremaster achievement. Requiring 2,843 quests to be completed ("only" 2,705 for Horde players), you're not only helping anyone who needs help with anything, you're hunting down every last person who might need so little as a mug of ale from a nearby brewery.
- Guilty Gear: Ky Kiske. One of the reasons why the Post-War Administrative Bureau find him so easily manipulative is his overwhelming sense of justice that he feels the need to save everyone he can. Still, he's a very nice guy to have along as a friend. Just gullible. It Got Worse in the Drama CD as this one trait... got him killed.
- Justified in Dragon Quest IX: the hero is a Celestrian whose primary role as a Guardian is to help mortals and collect the benevolessence they unknowingly exude afterwards. In short, having Chronic Hero Syndrome is a flapping job requirement.
- The protagonists of Persona 3 and Persona 4, who, in the course of making friends across their respective towns (and saving the world from Anthropomorphic Personifications of the human collective unconsciousness), end up helping everyone they meet with their personal issues, from the girl who ran away from home to the young man with the terminal disease to the nurse who despises her life to the classmate with the dying father. Of course, one of them IS explicitly The Messiah and the other one qualifies in everything but name.
- Golden Sun: Both sets of protagonists have this in spades. In fact, the games pretty much require it in several places. And in Dark Dawn, it gets lampshaded:
"How did we arrive in this situation, exactly?"
"Because Matthew can be talked into anything, that's how."
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic always helps out anyone in trouble stating that helping those in need is pretty much the only thing he slows down for.
- Fire Emblem Jugdral
- Sety. In his own words, he simply cannot turn away when he sees someone in trouble, and boy does he get in problems due to it. And for better/worse, when Celice helps him whack the Distress Ball away in Chapter 8, he beats himself up due to not being able to rescue all the kids caught in the child hunts. "I'm no hero, sir. I'm a coward, if anything".
- Hawk, being Sety's expy/replacement if Fury has no kids, suffers of exactly the same Fatal Flaw.
- Red Dead Redemption's John Marston can be this if going for high honour. The game even keeps track of how many people you help. Everything from rescuing women and stopping thieves to stopping a carriage robbery in between trying to capture his former outlaw brethren. In fact, a late-game mission plays with this; during the Beecher's Hope ranching section of the game, while John is busy tending his new herd of cattle, a train races by under attack by outlaws, and John must choose whether or not to stay with the herd or intervene.
- The Allied Nations in Red Alert 3 Paradox are sort of defined as a whole by their Chronic Hero Syndrome, but this causes serious problems because not everyone agrees with their definetion of heroic action, which tends towards For Your Own Good on a national scale.
- Although Word of God asserts that he's an AFGNCAAP, the Marine has Chronic Hero Syndrome in both Doom II and The Plutonia Experiment. In the former, he volunteers to lead the strike force (consisting of only himself) to recapture Earth's spaceport and evacuate the planet's remaining citizens, and then he voluntarily dives back into Hell to reverse the invasion. In the latter, he cancels his hard-earned vacation just so he can be the point man to retake another captured spaceport.
- Inverted in TNT: Evilution, where in the second secret level he returns to Earth in the middle of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge for a vacation, thinking "Maybe someone else can kick Hell's ass next time around." Unfortunately for him, Hell had already sent some demons to the same tourist trap.
- The title character of Nie R may be The Unfettered in his desire to keep Yonah safe, but that doesn't mean he won't stop to help such diverse problems as help a merchant get started, a family get enough to eat, or get a bartender rare supplies.
- Star Ocean: The Last Hope has Edge Maverick. Though his job is to find a new habitable planet suitable for humans, he quite quickly ends up trying to save a village of people he doesn't know, destroy a certain race to prevent them invading planets and then accidentally destroys a planet in a different dimension when he was only trying to help it, leading him to mentally break down and blame the entire thing on himself despite everything his friends try to say to him.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio's primary goal in Constantinople is to recover the keys that he needs to access the library at Masyaf, but along the way he keeps getting roped into the fight against injustice, and not unwillingly. As he needs help from the Assassins in the city, he winds up working to bolster them in their fight against the Templars. He also befriends Suleiman, the future Sultan, whose father and uncle are involved in a war for the succession of the Sultanate. Further, he meets and falls in love with a librarian in his search for the keys and is eventually forced to protect her from his enemies. At this point in his life he is bone-weary of the constant struggle, but as long as he remains an Assassin, he must keep fighting it.
- The heroes in the Nasuverse tend to have this very, very badly.
- Tsukihime: Shiki spends much of "Far Side" investigating the disappearance of Satsuki, who he barely knew.
- And Mikiya in Kara no Kyoukai:, who is in some ways a prototype version of Tohno Shiki.
- Fate Stay Night: One Shiro Emiya is like this, thanks to his lack of a sense of self. The sheer ridiculous degree of his selflessness actually forms a large plot basis across the three routes. People actually call him on it, too.
- Tsukihime: Shiki spends much of "Far Side" investigating the disappearance of Satsuki, who he barely knew.
- Elliot from El Goonish Shive is one of these, starting out before the start of the strip with beating up bullies that were picking on people, and growing from there. Susan comments on it in this strip.
- Girl Genius
- Agatha claims to Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! that she's uninterested in heroism. Immediately afterwards, she rushes out to defend the circus from an attacking Jägermonster. Clearly she won't be leading a normal life any time soon.
- About Othar himself, reading his twitter shows that he's made of this trope. It also helps that he's completely nuts.
- Gilgamesh Wulfenbach appears to be inflicted as well. While suffering from a gunshot and hallucinations, the only way to get him on his feet is to invoke the Damsel in Distress trope and make him think Zola needs her butt saved yet again.
- Antimony from Gunnerkrigg Court is constantly going out of her way to help unusual creatures and/or her classmates, from her first week in the Court onward. A later Flash Back reveals that she's been doing this sort of thing since she was six years old.
- Ronin Galaxy: Cecil absolutely MUST save the day when there is a girl involved.
- Supermegatopia's Weasel Boy series theorizes that heroism is "an instinct that makes people do good things before they can even begin to think about the consequences." Weasel Boy himself suffers from this in spades, even getting himself killed because he tries rescuing a little girl from a burning building just after being hit with a fast-acting poison.
- Mr. Mighty from Everyday Heroes. On the first day with his new team, he helped a little old lady fix a flat tire, retrieved a truckload of chickens that were blocking traffic, saved a bus load of orphans from a speeding freight train, and foiled a bank robbery... all before he even got to the office. His biggest worry was being an hour late to work.
- Todo from City of Reality suffers from this. It really interferes with his love life, as shown in this part [dead link] of Chapter 6. Fortunately he manages to make it up to AV after she comes to accept that it's just how he is.
- The title character of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob can be counted on to do his even best to help anyone he encounters who's in serious trouble, whether that means facing off against a giant space monster or rescuing a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds from herself. (Other incidents like stopping the bigfoot war don't quite count, since the threats endangered him, too.) His one attempt at being a Knight Errant when he got super powers went badly.
- Elysia from Rumors of War exhibits symptoms of Chronic Hero Syndrome, going out of her way to help a young woman who's misplaced her lover. Of course, it's shown that her initial reluctance to help out meant she was unable to prevent a chain of events that culminated in the girl's disappearance, the torture of a (presumably) innocent (if somewhat creepy) man, and a violent confrontation with the girl's father.
- Keychain of Creation, an Exalted webcomic, features in the character of Misho a person who perfectly embodies the benefits and drawbacks of a high Compassion Virtue. He cannot pass a scene of suffering and not offer to help, and while he's got more than enough power to do the job, it comes at the cost of possibly revealing himself as a Solar, which causes problems for the group thanks to the Wyld Hunt. The other problem with it is aptly demonstrated in these strips.
- Rikk from Fans has this in spades. It's surprising that the villains don't use it against him more often.
- Freefall: Florence Ambrose has a case of this; it almost got her killed at one point, in a Shoot the Shaggy Dog incident at that. Of course, her grand objective is to prove that her species is too valuable to be allowed to go extinct, so it's probably a good thing, assuming she survives future heroism and doesn't get on the wrong side of the company that created her. (The company, Ecosystems Unlimited, is a Mega Corp which would reach positively Shinra levels of villainousness if they could only find their rear with both hands, so this may be harder than it looks.)
- Sir Coffee from Oglaf is a play on this. (WARNING: Sir Coffee's comic is worksafe. The rest of the comic is not.)
- In Tales of the Questor, an exhausted and injured Quentyn has to be prevented from going to try to help people who would turn on him.
- Atop the Fourth Wall: Lewis Lovhaug is seen to have this. Mostly because he is willing to defend anyone (examples include Marz Gurl, Film Brain and Iron Liz) leading to many heartwarming moments. It's kind of gotten to the point where someone being flamed/trolled and Linkara not showing up is odd!
- Phase of the Whateley Universe. He was brought up in a filthy rich family where the motto is 'Goodkinds don't complain, they fix things'. And even though he has been kicked out of the family for turning into a mutant, he still tries to fix things for everyone around him. Even if some of them tell him to stop it.
- The title character from Disney's Aladdin, especially in the animated show, where characters, often Iago, are able use the knowledge that he'll always help people in need to get him to go along with things. Lampshaded by Genie: "Saving people that you might not like. It's a good guy thing!" At the time, he was saying it about himself, not Aladdin, but lampshading things is what Genie does.
- Kim Possible practically defines this trope. She put up a website to bring in odd jobs like babysitting and got into fighting supervillains too. When asked why she doesn't turn down more requests, she replied "I'm not programmed that way."
- South Park: Kyle Broflovski, but only when he's the protagonist to Cartman's antagonist (which happens quite a lot sometime after season five).
- Samurai Jack: Jack who feels compelled to right wrongs at everywhere he goes. If he'd been able to kill Aku in episode one, then most of the wrongs he comes across would never have happened in the first place—this drives him.
- Jack's Chronic Hero Syndrome is so pronounced that it frequently hampers his ultimate objective, to go back in time and prevent Aku's Dystopian future for ever occurring. The irony being that if Jack ever succeeded in his goal, the people he gives up his many opportunies to go into the past to help would in all likelyhood never exist anymore.
- Optimus Prime from Transformers is often portrayed in this light. Hot Rod seemed to have a case of this in the first animated feature film. He keeps trying to be a hero even after he gets an important Autobot killed in the process. Many fans agree that this is the source of most of his problems during his stint as Prime.
- Batman the Animated Series: Used for laughs. The Dark Knight is burning rubber to make it across town to stop a mobster from demolishing an old building (with people inside) when he sees a city bus shoot past him, completely out of control. Of course, Batman can't leave them to die, but he reacts the same way one would if they had just hit a red light.
Batman: Perfect. Just perfect. (alters direction to save them)
- Hey Arnold!: Arnold. When his friends call him out on it and he decides to stop helping people. Of course, then it turns out that, without his help, everyone's life goes to hell.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Katara, so very much. She even says once that she will "never, ever turn [her] back on people that need [her]". Thankfully, the other members of the group are better at recognizing that they can't always get distracted, and are more pragmatic.
- Aang is kind of a mixed bag, since he ran away from home when he found out he was the Avatar and accidentally froze himself in an iceberg for 100 years. He continues heroism-avoidance at first, but once his Avatar superpowers start developing, he can hardly stop himself.
- Dib from Invader Zim, who will constantly battle with Zim (and investigate any other paranormal threats that may present themselves) despite the fact that his classmates and family won't show any appreciation for it. One episode has him almost choose to let Zim subject his whole class to a horrible fate, even though he would suffer too; this is actually presented as the better option in some ways, though he decides against it in the end. It's hard to tell, though, whether his primary motivation is love of humanity or hatred of Zim.
- The protagonists of Street Sharks. One of the first things they do, after mutating into shark creatures, is save a woman from a car accident.
- Finn from Adventure Time. He explains that he was abandoned as a baby and nobody stopped to help him, so he doesn't want anyone else to go through that.
- Wild Kratts runs on this. Poor Martin and Chris just can't seem to catch a break.
- Duke from G.I. Joe: Renegades, to such an extent that Scarlet not only starts to Lampshade it, but eventually says its easier to just go along with him than try to argue.
- Yugo of Wakfu can't bat an eye at a person in need without throwing his life on the line to help them. It's eventually lampshaded, mocked, and then outright discouraged by his companions, since he inevitably winds up making their quests over twice as long as they need to be, but he's too nice of a kid to back down.
- While Ben Tennyson has been portrayed with different attitudes in his various series, this remains his most definite trait: Ben has a strong desire to help everyone in need, to the point it was the very first thing he thought about when getting the Omnitrix.
- Elliot Ness had a major case of this. In a famous example, while having dinner with his wife, he heard police sirens and jumped to his feet to join the chase. And, since he now happened to have a nice selection of police with him, he decided to keep on going and lead them to bust a drug operation he knew of. His wife was simply left to wait at the restaurant.
- It's a chronic condition amongst many firefighters, peace officers, and paramedics. They'll sometimes claim it's due to professional knowledge because they know how critical time is in an emergency and waiting for on-duty personnel to arrive might take too long. The reality is they can't help it because helping people is what they do.
- Not necessarily professionals, too. Actually, with a certain upbringing and even basic medical knowledge one can develop this syndrome.
- For a good deal of these professionals, this syndrome is the very reason they're in the jobs they chose, so it's kind of self-fulfilling.