Terrifying Rescuer

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It's OK, Sarah, he actually is on your side this time.

The Damsel in Distress and/or Dude is sitting in their cell with head in hands, or hanging by a thread from a cliff, when suddenly, the door is broken down, or a head peeps over the cliff edge. Joy turns to terror as he or she realizes it's the villain (who unbeknownst to them has made a Heel Face Turn,) an Eldritch Abomination, Fluffy the Terrible, a Killer Robot... and so on.

Usually it'll only be temporary until someone fills the rescuee in on current events, although it may lead to Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like. Sometimes it'll turn out they actually are in worse danger now such as with a Villainous Rescue or Destructive Savior.

A Dark Messiah can be this on a global scale.

Compare Stockholm Syndrome, Unwanted Rescue, Embarrassing Rescue.

Examples of Terrifying Rescuer include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Magi Labyrinth of Magic, Aladdin's djinn Uugo tends to scare the crap out of whoever he's rescuing or protecting, what with him missing his head and all.
  • Tenchi Muyo GXP: Protagonist Seina is only rescued from the Space Pirate Tarant Shank (Knight of Cerebus.[1] and Knife Nut) by the Betty of his Love Dodecahedron, Kiriko -- covered in the blood of every mook between her and Seina. His first reaction is terror—which upsets her, and Seina spends most of his screentime in the rest of the episode upset at himself for being scared of his childhood friend/crush when she'd just saved his life.
  • Done a lot in One Piece. We have Monster Point Chopper in the Enies Lobby arc, inadvertently saving many of his True Companions while also trying to kill them. Aokiji saves Robin in her backstory, while killing his own ally right in front of her. Crocodile gets Luffy out of Impel Down and—while that had a reason; he wanted out too—he later takes blows for Luffy and orders Mr. 1 to do the same as they attempt to rescue Ace. This is partially because he's done a... well, a "Heel Neutral Turn," and partly because Luffy just has that much charisma.


  • A Justice League Unlimited comic has Blue Devil suffer a Heroic BSOD when he tries to save a child who's too scared of his demonic appearance to go with him. Dr. Fate tries to cheer him up by telling him that Superman actually had the same problem once, while trying to save a girl from a flaming plane wreck.
  • In one Hellblazer story, a little girl is kidnapped by a demon and kept caged inside his body. John is allowed to see her, and as he's being removed, reaches towards her yelling "We're coming to get you!" and wondering why she's backing away as far as the cage allows. Only later does he realize that what the girl saw was an indistinct shape covered in slime reaching towards her yelling "We're coming to get you!"
  • In the New 52, Superman has a sad flashback of a time when he saved a little boy from getting hit by a truck. The boy was utterly terrified of him and struggled to get out of his arms. The neighborhood immediately forms an angry mob and attack him, and he is forced to flee to avoid harming them.


  • In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Sarah Conor is in the middle of escaping the psychiatric ward she's confined in, when suddenly a Terminator steps out of the elevator she's waiting for. She screams and runs back toward the doctors chasing her until he holds out his hand and says Come with Me If You Want to Live.
  • Zig Zagged in the original Shrek movie: at first, Fiona is not happy about being rescued by an ogre, but then comes to like Shrek. Then a gang of a handsome Robin Hood-wannabes attack them, ostensibly with intent of saving Fiona from the "beast", but she dislikes him even more than she disliked Shrek. However, instead of calling for help, she dispatches all the attackers herself, leaving Shrek awed.
  • Subverted in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Princess Leia: Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?
Luke Skywalker: Huh? Oh! The uniform... I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you.
Leia: You're who?

  • During The Great Raid (both the film and Real Life) some of the prisoners did not recognize the uniforms of their rescuers, and had to be coaxed out of their huts. One even hid until after the raid was over.
  • In Tarzan, Jane falls off a great height as she is chased by baboons and Tarzan catches her. She looks up at the half-naked wild man grabbing her by the waist and lets out a scream.


  • Early in The Wheel of Time, Perrin is captured by Whitecloaks and sentenced to execution. When Lan violently bursts into his tent and cuts down his guards, Perrin inadvertently tries to scream a warning to his captors.
  • In Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives, Mo describes being rescued from terrorists by a SWAT team:

You ever had two guys point assault rifles at your head, so close you could see the grooves on the inside of the barrels? You just lie there very still and try very hard not to look threatening.

  • In Wywern's Spur an old adventurer told the stories of Cole Wyvernspur. One of the stories was about the carpenter's daughter who refused the mad red wizard and then was kidnapped and imprisoned by him. Cole who jumped to the rescue "looked so fierce when he arrived that Bette mistook him for one of Yawataht's minions and smacked him on the head with a hammer". In another Cole entered a hydra's lair unarmed and when he left a hour later, the monster was "everywhere"—in pieces. He was turned into a big wyvern.

Live Action Television

  • In the Bones episode "The Woman in the Car", where the child Booth was rescuing was terrified until Booth told him his father's code word (Paladin).

Video Games

  • In Resident Evil 4, Ashley attacks Leon when he first comes through the door.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Star Wars the Clone Wars, Obi-wan is disguised as a slave trader, and the alien he's trying to rescue is terrified of him until he removes his helmet.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Heroes", the hero Magma terrifies a little girl when he rescues her from kidnappers.
    • In the episode "Unmasked", Batman tries to pull a kid out of a burning building, but the boy keeps crawling away and accuses him of being a monster. Batman has no choice but to remove his mask to make the boy take his hand.

Real Life

  • There have been many cases of kids, raised with Stranger Danger, getting lost but then hiding from their rescuers. One case had the child sighted within a couple hours, but it was a few days before the child was finally rescued, because he kept fleeing.
  • A fully suited up firefighter can be very scary to children if they aren't prepared ahead of time, which has lead to some children hiding from their rescuer. Field trips and open houses at the fire station include introducing kids to a firefighter in the whole kit to help avert this.