The Dulcinea Effect

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"No matter what she's accused of doing or how mysterious her origins are, the hero will always be ready to fight to the death for any girl he met three seconds ago."

Thinking With The Wrong Head (Hiro Rule), The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Cliches

The Dulcinea Effect is the strange compulsion many male heroes have to champion, quest for, or even die for, girls they met five minutes ago. Dulcinea is the name Don Quixote gives to the (blissfully unaware) woman he has made himself The Champion of, for whom he is willing to risk his life. So much reading of chivalry books left him that crazy. In the Spanish of the time, Dulcinea means something akin to an overly elegant "sweetness". To this day, to refer to one's "Dulcinea" is to refer to the object of one's hopeless devotion and idealized love.

The Knight in Shining Armour is a frequent victim of the effect. Medieval chivalric romances, indeed, portrayed knights who fell in love with a princesse lointaine (faraway princess) merely on hearing her described, without even seeing her.

The Dulcinea Effect is often used to either hook a hero into the story or in a particular plot direction. Championing the Damsel in Distress is often an excuse for the hero to become involved in righting an injustice (or confronting the Big Bad) when he otherwise might have simply passed by. Sometimes it is a transparent excuse for a protagonist who's prone to In Harm's Way. Or alternatively, by application of the effect, the Damsel in Distress becomes the protagonist's Love Interest.

This is not to say that the motivation involved is solely (or even partially) out of lust or love. In championing the girl involved, the hero may have no other motivation than acting in support of an ideal, particularly in older examples of this trope. (Needless to say, this trope is Older Than Print). The Failure Knight may be motivated by a desire to atone.

Additionally, heroes under The Dulcinea Effect in more cynical settings (particularly Film Noir) tend to fall prey to a Wounded Gazelle Gambit set up by a ruthless Femme Fatale or The Vamp, who generally know about this effect and take advantage of it in the most evil way possible.

Seldom gets Gender Flip; after all, Men Are the Expendable Gender.

The Dulcinea Effect is also the main reason that women are put into a fridge in order to cause the male character angst and push him to drive the plot forward. Contrast Magnetic Hero, for a hero's ability to (ahem) pull this on followers. Chronic Hero Syndrome is when the hero does this for any random stranger. If this leads to a highly implausible romance, it's a case of Strangled by the Red String. See also Living MacGuffin. Quite possibly related to Love Makes You Dumb.

Examples of The Dulcinea Effect include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gets a rare Gender Flip in the film Millennium Actress with Chiyoko's lifelong quest through history and a film career to be reunited with the mysterious man of her dreams, although she loves the chase more than anything. Played somewhat straight with the documentarian Genya who follows her through her journey, who repeatedly sacrifices himself for her, although we find out he had saved her life once before, on a film set, and idolized her since.
  • In Full Metal Panic!'s first season, Sousuke goes AWOL and abandons his post under a hostage situation to recover Kaname from the villains. Granted, she was the VIP he was specifically assigned to protect while the rest of the plane's occupants were not (and he had known her for a bit longer than most examples of this trope), but he was still ordered to stay with the other hostages by his superior officer. As to remove any doubt that he was planning to do disobey that order, said officer also states that Sousuke's professionalism meant he'd definitively not do emotional things like charge off after the Damsel in Distress.
    • An interesting female version of this is shown with Grace Weissman (AKA Gray). She hardly knows much about Sousuke (who temporarily joined her team in a mission), yet immediately defends him and, in a way, "champions" for him against her skeptical teammates suspicions about him (who dislike him due to him only being 16, yet being an equal in their mission). Her passionately defending him eventually made one of her teammates ask her if she's going that far because she has the hots for him. Even till the end when she's killed by Gauron, her last thoughts are for Sousuke not to worry about her, and that she hopes he will be able to return safely.
      • Considering Sousuke's track record, it isn't far off in saying Gray might've had at least some attraction to him.
  • Lupin III:

Jigen: (seeing a girl in a little economy car chased by some men in a big black sedan) Who we gonna help?
Lupin: The girl!

Jigen: Typical.
  • In Black Cat, Woodney, Train's imposter, imagines Eve as being a Damsel in Distress "Senorita" he must protect, and is shown continuing to play the Black Cat role and defend her even at the risk of dying.
  • Recca from Flame of Recca is this trope. He's the equivalent of an Anime Don Quixote. He plays at being a Ninja (though later he does become one) and determines, right upon first sight of Yanagi, that he will protect her and follow her every order from now on. He even calls her "Princess," and lets her know that she is now his master.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, Ganta quickly becomes this way with apparent Shrinking Violet Minatsuki, feeling the need to protect her with his life and break out of Deadman Wonderland together with her. However, it turns out that Minatsuki is an Ax Crazy Yandere that actually planned and counted on The Dulcinea Effect kicking in, and tried to use his protectiveness to injure him and make it easier for her to kill him. To put it in her words: "I'm sorry, but the whole virgin knight thing is fucking disgusting."
  • Yukiteru "Yukki" Amano from Mirai Nikki is shown to act this way towards Tsubaki Kasugano, a beautiful and gentle Damsel in Distress from the Omekata cult, quickly jumping in to save her and escape with her despite having just met her. When given a choice to trust her or his partner Yuno Gasai, he chooses Tsubaki (though you can't blame him, because Yuno is a psycho Yandere). It's not until she makes it obvious that she's actually a Manipulative Bitch (mixed with Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds) that wants to kill him that he decides to go back to teaming up with Yuno.
  • Largely assumed to be behind Kuno's obsession with both Akane and the pigtailed girl in Ranma ½.
  • In ×××HOLiC, Watanuki is this all the way - as long as it's a pretty girl in trouble, he's willing to risk his life to help her, even if they just met. In one case, he was shown to even be willing to continue meeting a lady, despite knowing that doing so was slowly killing him, because "she's lonely." (Granted, the lady reminded him of a mother figure he lacked, but still, they had just met and only talked a little.)
    • Note that Watanuki has very little sense of self-worth; he will gladly sacrifice himself for another because he doesn't value himself, at least in the beginning of the manga. He somewhat grows out of it.
    • It's actually a deconstruction because everyone gets majorly pissed at him for this and calls him out. It shows he places no worth on his own existence or how he himself affects the lives of others, which brings him great damage. Example: sacrifices an eye to help Doumeki - even though he did not want help - before investigating his other options.
    • Watanuki is a replacement clone and deep down knows he is not supposed to exist, thus his Chronic Hero Syndrome; he's subconsciously suicidal. A large purpose of him being at the shop was to gain self worth so when the time came, he wouldn't vanish and the Timey-Wimey Ball would remain intact.
  • In one episode of Black Lagoon, Rock speaks out of turn to Balalaika (an act that is generally considered to be somewhere between extremely ill-advised and suicidal moronic) in order to speak out for a girl he just met a few days ago. The girl in question, Yukio Washimine, repays him by trying to have him killed.
    • This is less an example of Dulcinea, and more about Rock having a Savior Complex towards any innocent getting involved with criminal activity.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Tsuna is shown to be willing to die for Kyoko. He hardly ever really talks with her or knows her, and apparently the whole reason he has a crush on her in the first place was because she was the only girl that bothered talking to him in twelve months.
  • In Naruto, immediately after Rock Lee meets Sakura, he asks her to be his girlfriend and promises to protect her with his life, an offer she just as promptly rejects. Less than 48 hours later, he ends up defending her against three Sound Ninja in the Forest of Death, despite her being on an opposing team, and Sakura recognizes that he meant what he said.
  • A Foe Yay/Les Yay version in the first season of Lyrical Nanoha: after her quest for the Jewel Seeds leads her to get blasted into unconsciousness by Fate Testarossa, Nanoha Takamachi seems to make it her sole priority to help get rid of the sadness she saw in the other girl's eyes, with the Jewel Seeds becoming secondary. What Do You Mean It's Not Love At First Sight?
    • Arguably, her getting into the entire quest can be seen as this, as she almost immediately agrees to help Yuuno, whom she's just met on his dangerous quest to gather the Jewel Seeds, although doing it for Yuuno's sake falls by the wayside once she encounters Fate.
      • yes, but Nanoha didn't knew that Yuuno was even human until he return to his original form. You can say she help him because she believed he could die if he fought alone.
    • Touma goes through quite a bit of trouble to help out Lily in Force, breaking into a lab and almost getting incinerated, becoming a fugitive from the TSAB, getting sought after by the Huckebein, and slowly losing control of himself, and gets involved merely as a result of hearing her calling for help.
  • In Baccano!, Jacuzzi receives a ransom note for a woman he met earlier that day. His response is to turn in himself for the money the mob put on his head.
    • Jacuzzi is shown to be like this towards everyone. He was, at one point, more concerned about the safety of some Russo mafia mooks than he was over the fact that said mooks were about to kill him. A truer example would be Claire Stanfield, a man who insists on devoting himself completely and utterly to the first cute girl he finds that doesn't say no. Considering he's the series' resident Ax Crazy Crazy Awesome Sociopathic Hero, Chane now has either the most awesome or the most terrifying boyfriend in existence.
      • Considering Chane's a bit of a Knife Nut herself, I'd say firmly on the AWESOME side.
      • Seventy years later, they're still married (and mortal), and Claire decides Chane doesn't have enough jewelry. So he calls up his grandchildren and says "C'mon, we're gonna be pirates."
  • Slayers, as with so many others, lampshades this. When Gourry first meets Lina, he proclaims it is his duty as a knight to escort and protect Lina, despite knowing nothing about her (largely in part to his own lack of awareness).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. During their first meeting, Simon was prepared to fight a Humongous Mecha on foot since his Lagann was out of commission, just so Nia could get away. Though he was currently near-suicidally depressed due to Kamina's death in the previous episode.
  • Touma in A Certain Magical Index succumbs to The Dulcinea Effect throughout the series. This is even discussed at one point by his Harem, who is mostly made up of girls he's rescued earlier.
  • Edo Phoenix in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX himself is slightly confused when he decides to have a duel to the death with Amon Garam over a woman he doesn't much care about and only talked to once before this because he doesn't realize he's the Anti-Hero in a Deconstructor Fleet that's made a point of demonstrating the absurdity and danger of myriad shonen and Superhero tropes.
  • In King of Thorn, it's revealed that all the survivors (except Kasumi) were implanted with "keys" in their minds - and one of the "keys" was to "protect a weak Japanese woman with your life." Meaning that all the survivors were under The Dulcinea Effect, having the idea ingrained in them that they must irrationally protect Kasumi with their lives, even if they had never met her before.
  • Koyomi Araragi of Bakemonogatari suffers from this, even going so far as to risk his life to save a girl he barely knows when the sole reason she is in trouble in the first place is that she subconsciously wants to kill him.
    • That's the point of the show and that's what girls love him for.
  • Gender inverted in Princess Tutu, where Ahiru is talked into becoming Princess Tutu (and thus roping herself into a fairytale charging straight for a Downer Ending) to restore Mytho's heart after little more than a single encounter. She thinks it's Love At First Sight, but later starts having her doubts and goes on to confess to Mytho's companion Fakir that she doesn't really know why she loves Mytho, other than because he's pretty. The answer to that, of course, is that she doesn't. The girl who does love him that way is actually Ahiru's opponent, Rue/Princess Kraehe, who does pull an Heroic Sacrifice for him and ends up becoming his Princess.
  • In Midori no Hibi, Seiji is shown to be afflicted with this towards... Kouta in a drag. Unfortunately for poor Kouta, such feelings don't transfer over when he's dressed normally as a boy.
  • Hayate Ayasaki's big brother, Ikusa, is a guy who'd always help anybody in need... unless it's his parents, it seems (that said, he'll help out his little brother on those occasions he's around). He's kind of a powered up version of Hayate - he just can.
  • The eponymous character of Rune Soldier Louie is very susceptible to this, and Celessia is exploiting it shamelessly all the time, very much to the annoyance of his female teammates. But he's not very bright to begin with.
  • Durarara!! has Mikado being compelled to save Anri from the delinquents harassing her.
    • Chikage takes this trope to its logical extreme by being willing to risk his life for quite literally any girl ever.
    • Mikado also saves Mika from Celty, no questions asked—until later.
  • In Gundam's Universal Century, one of the Psychic Powers associated with Newtypes is the ability to rapidly establish deep emotional connections with others of their kind. Whilst most Newtypes are pretty sane about this (due to their powers manifesting once they had the emotional maturity to handle that sort of thing), Banagher Links of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn first manifested his powers when he was a young child, meaning that they're a far more integral part of his personality. Then the Industrial 7 incident happens whilst he's marinating in teenage hormones, and he suddenly finds himself up to his ears in pretty young Newtype girls with intriguingly tragic backstories. The results are entirely predictable.
  • Gender flipped, inverted, subverted and deconstructed to hell and back in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Arguably, screwing with this trope might be the entire point of the story.
  • Busou Renkin: Five minutes hadn't even passed in the first episode before Kazuki flings himself in the path of an on-coming homunculus, stabbing him straight through the chest resulting in his immediate DEATH, just to save a girl whose face he couldn't even see clearly, let alone know for three minutes. The kicker is that Tokiko didn't even need to be saved, as she was baiting herself in order to draw out the homunculus and Kazuki was merely in the way. But luckily for Kazuki, Tokiko had an extra kakugane on hand in order to give him a second chance at life: by making his memories of the previous night appear as nothing more than a horrible nightmare. Too bad that Kazuki couldn't just leave it at that.
  • In Hidan no Aria, Kinji inheritated this genetically. It's a side effect of his Super Mode.
  • In the pilot of Gun X Sword, Van saves the town of Evergreen on Wendy's behalf, even though he's known her less than a day. Up to that point (and, to some extent, afterward), most of their interactions consisted of argument.
  • Samurai Champloo zigzags the trope throughout the series.
    • In the first episode, Mugen offers, unprompted, to help Fuu with her teahouse's thug problem... in exchange for food. When said thugs actually threaten to cut off her fingers, Mugen lounges on his table until Fuu promises him an absurd amount of dumplings to save her.
    • However, as early as the second episode, Mugen nearly verges into Always Save the Girl status, barely reacting to the woman who poisoned him until she mentions that Fuu is in danger and killing anyone who gets in between himself and Fuu (including Oniwakamaru, who would have surrendered).
    • Played perfectly straight in the episode eleven with Shino, whom Jin immediately falls in love with.
  • Daphne in the Brilliant Blue: Gender flipped. Shizuka finds a guy injuried near trash cans and quickly becomes attached to and protective of him. The guy's a con artist and calls this his 'lonely engimatic spy routine.
  • In Gundam Seed Destiny, Shinn risks his military career and possible execution to save Stellar, an enemy Super Soldier and Tyke Bomb who he literally met once before he found this out.
  • Played for Laughs in Ouran High School Host Club. While the whole Host Club is protective of Haruhi, Tamaki is the most zealous about it, constantly trying to protect her from people and situations that present no danger to her.
  • In the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji initially refuses to pilot the Eva until Rei is brought in and he realizes that if he doesn't do it, she's going to have to. In a bit of a twist, this does seem to be more from empathy than from misplaced chivalry, since Rei is visibly already seriously injured from an earlier attack.
  • Gender Flip example: This is how Yukari from Sekirei meets Shiina. Shiina is being chased by two sekirei who are looking to capture him and bring him back to their ashikabi to be indoctrinated into his team. Yukari interferes because she believes that pretty boys should be protected.

Comic Books

  • Most of the antiheroes of Sin City are afflicted with this trope to some degree. Marv goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for a woman he spent only one night with in the original graphic novel. Wallace from "Hell and Back" goes through hell and high water to rescue a woman whom he saved from suicide at the start of the story, and Hartigan from "That Yellow Bastard" goes through even worse hell for the sake of a little girl who grows up to be one of Sin City's best known strippers. Dwight McCarthy would also qualify—the woman in question is someone who burned him in the past, but when it turns out she's in danger, Dwight rushes in to save her. But true to the series' Film Noir roots, it all turns out to be a lie, a ruthless Wounded Gazelle Gambit on the part of Ava to get Dwight to murder her husband so that she can get his hands on all his money. It's worth noting that several characters compare themselves to knights, with Dwight being Lancelot, and Hartigan "charging in like Galahad."
    • In Hartigan's case, it's more the fact that this is all Unfinished Business, and until he meets her, it doesn't truly occur to him that's shes no longer a child. Hartigan was more in it to protect the innocent. It just so happen that the innocent was a girl. Dwight's adderance to this trope is lampshaded by his lover Gail.
    • Dwight himself lampshades this weakness in "The Babe Wore Red", when he first finds the titular babe and thinks "One look at her and I know I'm in trouble deep." He, of course, risks his life once more to save this woman.
  • Subverted in the Sandman tale "The Hunt", in which the protagonist travels long and far in order to find a beautiful woman he's only heard about, only to end up returning her necklace and walking away to marry someone else. The tale ends with the wisdom that some goals are better not attained.

Films -- Live-Action

  • Star Wars, and in particular Luke Skywalker, after he sees the hologram of Princess Leia in A New Hope. While trapped in the Death Star, he takes an enormous risk to rescue her. We hope it's because he's noble. Very much.
    • Given that this is the only movie Luke ever mentions Leia being in anyway attractive, I think it's safe to say it's just that Chronic Hero Syndrome starting to pop up.
      • Also, he had been looking for an excuse to get away from Tatooine and find adventure, so that might have played a part in his enthusiasm, which didn't have a lot of time to dry up by the time he found out she was imprisoned in the same station as them.
    • Han Solo manages to avert this by refusing to rescue Leia until told that the princess is very rich. Luke's willingness to rescue the princess contrasts his heroic idealism with Han's cynicism. It's made even more explicit in the Alan Dean Foster novelization of the film:

Luke: She's beautiful.
Han: So's life.

  • Inspector Clouseau in A Shot in the Dark is unshakably convinced that the beautiful Maria Gambrelli is innocent of murder despite the overwhelming mass of evidence that she is the killer. She actually is innocent but Clouseau was certainly acting under the influence of this trope.
  • James Bond acts under the influence of this trope all the time, but somehow always manages to fulfill his organization's objectives in the course of doing so.
    • That's not the only thing he full-fills in the course of doing so...
      • Or the only thing he acts under...
  • This trope is played straight and subverted in The Mask—although given the relevant mask is acting to amplify the impulses of the protagonist, it's probably not idealism driving him.
  • Excalibur: Queen Guinevere stands accused by Sir Gawain of treason by adultery, and was to have Sir Lancelot champion her in trial by combat. Sir Lancelot is late to the field and King Arthur is dismayed when no other individual is willing to champion Guinevere—except for the newly-arrived, unarmored, untrained apprentice Perceval, who asks to champion Guinevere and is knighted by King Arthur for that purpose. He then readies himself to charge a fully-armored, battle-hardened Sir Gawain when (fortunately) Lancelot shows up to prevent it from happening.
    • Justified Trope, perhaps, in that Lancelot was accused of being Guinevere's lover and Perceval was (trying to be) his squire and eventually a knight; he would be unworthy if he just sat there while his would-be boss was condemned.
  • Lampshaded in Constantine:

Midnite: Tell me this is not about the girl.
John Constantine: Definitely... mostly not about the girl.

  • Inglourious Basterds: Zoller's pursuit of Shoshanna. Leads to Stalking Is Love.
    • He mentions that he's been to her cinema many times, presumably over a long period of time. He's obviously been watching her for a long time.
  • Parodied (as one might expect) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: John Cleese's Sir Lancelot receives a desperate message from someone he believes to be a wrongfully imprisoned girl, and he immediately sets out to free the prisoner. Sprinting (several times) across open fields, he singlehandedly assaults and slaughters half the inhabitants of a local castle in the rescue effort, operating under the influence of The Dulcinea Effect. However, the Effect is instantly overcome by the revelation that the girl is, in fact, a guy. A pathetically effeminate guy, but a guy nonetheless.
    • In Spamalot, the same thing happens... only it winds up that Herbert becomes Lancelot's love interest anyway.
  • Daniel Jackson in Stargate. Of course, he had just ended up in an Accidental Marriage with her.
  • Taxi Driver. Might almost count as a deconstruction.
  • Ruthlessly parodied in Shrek, when Lord Farquaad chooses Princess Fiona when she's clearly a princesse lointaine he has never met, only been given a picture and description by the magic mirror. But Farquaad can't be bothered to go on the quest himself, and holds a tournament to select a knight to do the job for him. When Shrek beats up all the knights, Shrek ends up going on the quest (but only to get his swamp back).
  • Can't forget about one of the straightest examples of this, in The Terminator. Kyle Reese volunteers to go back in time to protect Sarah Connor, who he fell in love with only from stories and a picture he was given by John Connor, knowing there is absolutely no way back and that going up against a Terminator programmed to kill Sarah will most likely result in a violent death. The line in question: "John gave me a picture of you once. I memorised every line. Every curve. I came across time for you, Sarah."
    • Though considering the alternative in the future...
    • And one must consider that John Conner gave the picture of Sarah to Kyle specifically to elicit this effect... Kyle being his Father thanks to time Travel, and all.
  • Drives the plot and taken to new levels in Slumdog Millionaire. Jamal scrapes by as an orphan from the slums and gets into some very nasty situations, but never gives up looking the girl he was friends with for a short time during his childhood.
  • In Clash of the Titans, though Perseus didn't know Io for very long he still wished her undead at the end of the film instead of his own family who had died at the beginning of the film. Even after Io (being cursed with agelessness) had pretty much said dying would be welcome.
    • Zeus didn't ask Perseus who he wanted resurrected; he just brought her back on his own. Straight enough in that seemed as broken up by losing her as he did by losing his family at the beginning.
  • In Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd's odyssey to return the briefcase of a woman he drove to the airport (he can be forgiven for thinking with the wrong head, though, given that the other head isn't good for much).
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gives us a straight (but justifiable) male example, but an inversion as well, with the Love Interest herself. Philip shows the most kindness for Syrena after she's taken captive by Blackbeard as a means to harvest a tear for the Fountain of Youth, but as a clergyman you can understand that his acts of kindness are mostly motivated by his view on the value of all life, and he's wary about Syrena possibly killing him since their first meeting was just after the mermaids attacked the entire crew.Once Syrena reveals that Philip has no reason to fear her, she gives a more straight example of this trope by revealing that her "attack" on Philip was an act to save his life, stating that her reasons were that he was different from the other men. And she didn't show up prior to her introduction when the mermaids came about. It's after that moment Philip is willing to risk his life for her.
  • Thor is a particularly jarring example. The movie is mainly focused on Thor and the asgardians, the only relevant human character being Thor's Love Interest. He doesn't know her for more than 1 or 2 days (and they don't spend a lot of time together), yet at the climax of the movie, he says that the reason he is now a different man is because he met her.
    • Not quite. The film tries to imply that and Loki certainly thinks so, but Thor himself doesn't say anything of the sort.
  • In A Knight's Tale Jocelyn makes William feel like a poet even though he doesn't know her name.
  • Anaconda 2: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid: When Gail gets attacked by a crocodile, rather than grabbing a rifle, Bill simply jumps into the water and starts wrestling the crocodile with a knife. Lampshaded:

Sam: That is either the bravest or the stupidest thing I've ever seen.
Bill: It's a fine line.


  • Don Quixote, the Trope Namer, is actually a Deconstruction of this trope. The hero Don Quixote, who believes himself to be a knight, claims to serve a beautiful, virtuous young lady, Dulcinea (really named Aldonza, but Don Quixote doesn't care), who is, in fact, nothing more than a peasant from his home town, and, in some adaptions, even a whore. Interestingly, in the original novel as well as in most adaptions, the actual character Dulcinea makes not a single appearance.
  • Twilight's Edward knows Bella as an actual person and not prey a month maybe before he wants to spend the rest of his (non)-life with her.
    • Bella knows him for even less time and she's absolutely sure she wants to be turned and spend the rest of eternity with him.
    • Let's not forget in Breaking Dawn, Reneesme. The entire plot (if you can call it that) of the latter half of the book was to rally up vampires to protect this one child that none of them even know. All of them agree to put their lives in danger for Reneesme the SECOND they see her, without any logical reason as to why they even should endanger themselves to protect someone they only just met.
      • It's never really explained, but theorized that Renesmee "casts a spell", which causes everyone who sees her to instantly adore her. Given the lack of explanation, one can only assume that it's only because Renesmee is beautiful and charming. Erm... yeah.
      • Then again, the vampires can't have children, but are still roughly human in most aspects, so perhaps they're sentimental. And not all of them do agree to put their lives on the line.
    • Jacob also falls for Bella really quickly, but this is nothing compared to how quickly he falls for baby Renesmee. He wants to spend his life with her seconds after she is born.
  • Platonically, Percy Jackson is awfully quick to label friends he met a few days ago as "family."
    • That's because they ARE family (in a twisted, mythical not-exaclty-blood-relations-cause-that-would-make-romance-squicky kind of way). Virtually every major character in the stories is the decendant of one the ancient Greek gods, who are themelves pretty much one big disfunctional family. The series puts a lot of emphasis on the tragic flaws of heroes so you might have an example of this Trope show up, but it's explicitly stated that Percy's flaw is that he can't make sacrifices when it comes to his friends (male or female), even for the greater good.
  • From the Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe: Ivanhoe champions for Rebecca, a girl who is not his Love Interest. It was a fair exchange, though, since she healed his injuries and was accused of witchcraft for that and for being Jewish.
  • John Lyle gets involved in the revolution against the Theocracy in Robert A. Heinlein's "If This Goes On—" for the sake of girl he barely knows.
    • And the protagonist of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress gets involved in the Lunar revolt for a barely better reason (granted, they had a slightly better chance of winning that one).
  • Rudy Baylor, the protagonist of John Grisham's novel The Rainmaker does this ... even to the point where he tells himself in the first stages of his relationship with Kelly, the Love Interest, that doing so is a bad idea.
  • In Wizard's First Rule, Richard's entire quest starts when he sees some random lady running off in the distance, then sees a group of armed men stalking her.
    • In The Law of Nines, a modern-day "reboot/continuation" of the story, the book ends with the main character being asked by an ally to tell him how the whole conflict started.

"Well, I guess it all started when I met this girl..."
"Doesn't it always?"

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Although fifteen years later he still claims she was the love of his life (and he did go to war for her), there are implications that Robert Baratheon's relationship with Lyanna Stark is this. Her brother Eddard says that for all his talk, Robert barely knew her, and Lyanna had acknowledged before her death that being married to her would not change Robert's womanizing ways.
  • Subverted in The Last Knight, when it turns out that the apparent Damsel in Distress the hero just rescued from the tower is actually a murder suspect locked in the tower awaiting trial. (There's no indication that the hero is attracted to her; he just considers it his duty to help people.)
  • Harry Dresden will pretty much help any woman who asks for it, regardless of common sense.
    • He often set out to help them, even if they haven't asked for help. In the most recent book, he seems to have at least learned to use his brain first and spot when this tendency is being used against him.
      • Despite spotting when this tendency is being used against him, Harry still doesn't seem able to prevent himself from going into auto-chivalrous mode. He recognizes that this tendency is dangerous, possibly lethal...but he can't stop it.
      • It's probably related to his Chronic Hero Syndrome. Willingly or not, he'll help anyone who asks for it (and isn't a Complete Monster) but his common sense doesn't go out the window when the person in trouble is male.
  • Deconstructed in Neil Gaiman's Stardust, an Affectionate Parody of chivalry, where Tristran Thorn goes on a quest to find the fallen star and prove his love to the village beauty, Victoria Forrester, who seems extremely uninterested in him. He ends up realizing that he's not interested in her, either.
    • Yvaine, the star in question. While she is a mysterious girl that Tristran runs into and is in need of help, the first thing he does when he finds her is magically bind her to him and more or less force her to come with him so that he can show her to Victoria, all while she is pissed and sporting a broken leg. He does offer to help get Yvaine back to the sky with a Babylon candle, but he still is rather cheerful considering he's basically making a gift of "an injured, kidnapped woman".
  • Sharpe is very vulnerable to this. Especially in the books where he has it going with several women simultaneously.
  • In Eragon the hero is only too ready to give his life saving a girl he met moments ago, who's spent the entire time he's known her in a coma. All he had to work with was a dream of a beautiful woman behind held in a dungeon.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, Torin warns Ragnar that the conversation he overheard may have been to induce him to assassinate a lord to protect a young woman—and that the woman may have been part to such a plot.
  • The Little Mermaid gives this trope a genderflip. In the original story (like most Hans Christian Andersen stories), it ends badly.
  • Ludmilla of Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler has this on you, Silas Flannery, and Ermes Marana. It's also a running theme in the various novels.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs's heroes have this, bad. In The Gods of Mars, John Carter starts a Gladiator Revolt at the sight of women being thrown to monsters—and most of the gladiators follow him. In Thuvia, Maid of Mars, hearing a woman scream draws Carthoris from his sabotaged air ship.
  • Played straight in The Faerie Queene. Repeatedly. Redcrosse utterly fails at it, at first, but it's his first mission—one doesn't become a Knight in Shining Armor over night. The Sweet Polly Oliver Britomart demonstrates this for her fiancé, too.
  • Ruthlessly attacked in Orlando Furioso, which was a big influence on Cervantes. Sacripant is in love with Angelica and will do whatever he needs to protect her, and she's self-interestedly using him for protection and unwilling to consider his romantic advances because he's an Arab (although she eventually learns her lesson when he converts to Christianity for her). Orlando himself, who is even more devoted to her, goes all ORLANDO SMASH! when he finds out that he can't have her and that she's not perfect.
  • Amadis of Gaul.
  • Played for laughs in the Jeeves and Wooster stories, where Bertie's insistence on gallantry gets him into a lot of trouble. Luckily, he has Jeeves there to extricate him from the soup.
  • In some versions of the King Arthur legend, Sir Gawain takes a knightly vow to be a protector of ladies to atone for having accidentally killed a woman in his youth.
  • Captain Hastings, from the Poirot stories by Agatha Christie, suffers from this a great deal. He will always leap to the assistance of a young lady (especially a redhead), and will generally ignore any evidence pointing to her as the murderer.
  • Subverted in Talking To Dragons. When Shiara and Daystar are trapped in a hedge circle and Daystar is able to get in and out (because he's polite to the bushes), Shiara demands that he tell the hedge to open and let her out. Daystar, who is the son of the very Genre Savvy Cimorene, sensibly points out that it's getting dark and thus impractical to leave at that moment, plus he doesn't know Shiara from Adam and thus is uncertain as to whether or not he actually wants to rescue her. Shiara replies that she had been hoping he was a hero, as one can "talk them into anything".
  • In The Wheel of Time, most romances take a reasonable amount of time, conflict, and angst to work themselves out. Gareth Bryne's chasing down Siuan might count for this trope, though.
    • He certainly believes it does at first, lampshading that he's too old to be chasing after pretty girls, much less when he can't figure out the reason (beyond the money/service she owed).
    • Also, in a gender inversion, the members of Rand's harem are all inextricably in love with him at first sight, though their reactions differ (Min plays this straightest, while Aviendha tries to run in horror).
  • In Peacebreakers, Jackson kills Kiera's stalker, gets her sober, and dies to save her from zombies after knowing her for a few months and dating her for two.
  • In Robert E. Howard's stories "Shadows in Zamboula", "Shadows in The Moonlight", and "The Pool of the Black One" Conan the Barbarian fights for unknown women on little provocation. Then, he's prone to fight on little provocation anyway.
  • In The Arabian Nights, a prince falls in love with a the princess of another kingdom on hearsay alone. Played straight a few other times throughout the novel also. This may be an Ur Example, though there may also be even older mythological examples that aren't on this page yet.
  • Pearl in Falcon Quinn is both a rare genderflip and a rare platonic example, in that she is only too willing to declare herself the "Sworn Friend" of numerous people she's only just met, and vows that she's willing give her life defending them. But being Hot-Blooded is part of her schtick.
  • Proof that nationalism was a lot stronger in the 1890s: if a character in modern fiction drops everything to help out a random stranger who happens to be from his home country, nobody would buy it; but in Sherlock Holmes, that was clearly a reasonable thing to expect.
  • Played with in Rose In Bloom. Mac finds a girl, and tries very hard to help her, even though he's only known her for a few minutes at the time he agrees. She's about two years old, an orphan, and has no other close relatives. Also Lampshaded when he and Rose call her [1] Dulcinea.
  • In Summer Celebration, stoic robber Misha Barkhasid sends away everyone around him to listen to Miriam Helen’s story about how notorious criminal Woldarski seduced her and tried to blackmail her into prostitution. He agrees to help her, despite her story being just one of many stories about Woldarski, and eventually fights him and even takes a knife to the lung and narrowly escapes death for her.

Live Action TV

  • In Heroes, Peter Petrelli often fulfils this trope, given his quest to prevent a viral apocalypse in the second season is really more about saving the life of a girl he knew only briefly.
    • And then... forgot about? Where did she go, exactly? Really, if you're going to rescue your love interest du jour, don't leave her in the future and then change the timeline so that future never happened.
    • And Matt Parkman risks his life—several times—to save a supervillainess he just met yesterday, all because he had a psychic vision of them being married in the future. Not to mention that he later gets Strangled by the Red String.
    • You may be forgiven for thinking that "Hiro Rule" in the page quote refers to Hiro Nakamura. He goes through an awful lot of effort for Charlie, whom he hadn't known for a very long time. Then again, this is pretty in character, given that he seems to view life as a comic book.
      • Also in his case, it may be more a case of simply wanting to save her, because he wants to save EVERYONE (it's what heroes do, after all), and it's only in the process of trying to save her that she becomes more than just another innocent civilian that needs saving. While the Dulcinea Effect is basically falling in love (lust) and then helping, in Hiro's case, he was helping and then fell in love. He followed much the same pattern with Yaeko as well.
  • In an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a boy gets sucked into a pinball game where he has to battle a witch and crown the princess. The princess is represented by a woman he had met at the mall only five minutes ago and who only spoke to him because he was standing in for a repair shop owner. And yet the guy comes to her rescue with the zeal of someone fighting for his true love.
    • Admittedly, he was probably also fighting with all the zeal of someone who just got sucked into a killer pinball machine.
  • Lampshaded on House when Thirteen points out to Foreman how foolhardy he was to risk his medical license on a two-week-old relationship. Where she was the proverbial Dulcinea.
    • Something similar happened with Wilson, when he was unbelievably devastated by the death of his girlfriend, who he had known only for four months, and dated for a few weeks. He asked his best friend of many years (House) to risk his life for her. He's still devastated by her death, about an year later, because she was the only person he had 'loved in a long time'.
      • Keep in mind that season four was shortened, and that if it had gone as the writers intended, they would have been dating for six months or so. Also remember that Wilson deeply attaches himself to girlfriends with pathological ease.
  • Ballard on Dollhouse has this big time for Caroline. Which is strange considering that he's barely met her and has actually been involved with another Doll, November, but refuses to save November when given the opportunity.
    • However, he later opts to request November's freedom instead of Caroline's before agreeing to work for the Dollhouse as a "contractor."
    • Double however, in "Vows", Adelle theorizes that this was because November would get in the way of his Caroline obsession.
    • Victor's feelings for Sierra are, arguably, just as much about this - he tries to save her and take care of her even in personalities that don't know her at all. However, just like Echo and Paul, they eventually fall in love and turn out to be just right for each other. Unusually idealistic for a Joss Whedon series.
  • Averted in the Highlander the Series episode "Chivalry". Richie falls for Kristin, a beautiful Immortal who becomes murderously jealous when jilted, as Duncan knows from past experience. As she plays the weak and helpless damsel when defeated, neither Duncan nor Richie can bring themselves to take her head. That doesn't stop Methos:

Methos: [to Kristin] Pick [the sword] up.
Kristin: Who the hell are you?
Methos: A man who was born long before the Age of Chivalry. Pick it up.

  • In full effect in the Merlin episode "The Lady Of The Lake". Merlin merely glimpses Freya and instantly decides he must risk everything to save her, though the fact she's being persecuted for magic use might have something to do with it.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Requiem for Methuselah", Kirk goes down to a planet where he only has four hours to obtain some material for a vaccine and promptly falls so in love with the girl he meets down there that Spock is forced to erase her from his memory when he's left too heartbroken to go on after being forced to leave her. Even for the notoriously womanizing Kirk, his behavior is incredibly strange in this episode.
    • So is Spock's. He doesn't even consider removing Kirk's memories of Edith Keeler or Miramanee. Many fans argue that Flint somehow manipulated Kirk's emotions artificially justifying both mens' odd behavior.
  • Referenced in the TNG episode 'Q-pid'. Q insists that Picard is still in love with Vash, a woman he knew for one day a year earlier, and proves it by trapping them in a storyline where he has to rescue her. Picard brushes off his claims, pointing out that he'd try to rescue anyone in danger.
  • Much toward Kate in Robin Hood. He takes one look at her and is apparently instantly in love, even though she treats him with mild contempt. All of a sudden, Kate is the centre of Much's universe (not to mention all the outlaws thanks to the Always Save the Girl principle). Oddly though, in a mid-season episode Much laments the fact that Kate has been captured and says: "I'd do anything for her." Yet he doesn't stop what he's doing in order to go and rescue her, so perhaps this is a Subversion.
  • In 'The Lone Gunmen, John Byers gets hit with this hard when he sees Suzanne Modeski. He ends up throwing away his career, his respectability, and most of his illusions about the country he loves in the process. The other two Gunmen see Modeski as little more than a Femme Fatale. The truth is...somewhere between the poles.
  • Another Gender Flip example in Chuck: it may be Sarah's job to protect the Intersect, but her feelings for Chuck provide the motivation for just how seriously she takes his safety. In Season 3, she admits she fell in love with Chuck when he fixed her phone the first time they met.
  • The last season of Twenty Four has this in spades when Jack goes crazy and decides to throw away his moral principles, his life and by extension the safety of his daughter's family to avenge Renee's murder. He had known Renee for a very brief period of time and spent less than forty hours with her in total.
    • So a year and a half is not long enough? Especially by 24 standards. Not including all the time he TRIED to contact her, we don't really know exactly contact they had immediately following season 7.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Warmachines", Ben's brooding is broken up when he sees a man is being a nuisance to Polly. When the man starts a fight, Ben does not back down. (Then, he's brooding because he's on a shore posting, so there may be a touch of In Harm's Way to it.)


  • The song Dulcinea by Isis is about, well, this.


  • The original princess lointaine story dates from the 12th century and describes the Troubadour Joufre's passionate love for the Countess of Tripoli, whom he has only heard described. He eventually journeys to the Holy Land and it must have been a hell of a trip because he arrives dying and expires in her arms. She then enters a convent - over a man she meets briefly and when he is NOT at his best (since he was dying and all). Joufre and Hodierna Countess of Tripoli are historical - the rest of the story not so much.
  • A rare guy on guy version: in the Ramayana, Hanuman devoted himself to Rama after their first encounter.

Professional Wrestling

  • A not-uncommon scenario includes a Heel diva's male manager, friend, boyfriend, tag partner, or stable attacking a Face diva and subsequently being driven away by an otherwise mostly unrelated male face. The rescuer may be in a feud with the male attacker, but the point remains that he's interfering to protect the girl.


  • The quoted musical, Man of La Mancha, as well as the classical novel Don Quixote upon which it was based, parodies this very trope, when the self-considered knight Don Quixote falls instantly in love with a beautiful damsel (in fact, a barmaid moonlighting as a prostitute) and refuses to be convinced by any means that his lady "Dulcinea" (a name he gave her, because certainly her real name, Aldonza, was ill-fitting for a lady of her splendor) was anything less than the beautiful and virtuous lady he imagined her to be. In this particular musical, Don Quixote's high (if misguided) opinion of Aldonza eventually causes her to realize that she is not living up to her potential, and makes it her business to take more pride in herself and become her own Dulcinea.
  • Obviously, Romeo and Juliet. Romeo commits suicide because of the (apparent) death of a girl he met about a week ago. Then she does too.

Video Games

  • As one might garner from the page quote, this trope tends to show up a lot in videogames. However, Hiro from Lunar II: Eternal Blue is the smack-bang-in-the-centre example of the videogame version of this trope. It's even the Trope Namer in The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Cliches, as seen at the top of this page.
  • A rare female example crops up in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World - Marta is infatuated with Emil from the moment he "saves" her - so infatuated, infact, that she sets an ancient guardian monster to stalk him for several months, and when she does reunite with him, offers to hand herself in to be executed in order to spare his village (and his guilt). All for a guy who's name she had learned only an hour or two ago.
  • Xenogears gets away with this by turning it into a part of a larger plot point: the hero not only leaps unreasonably to the heroine's defense, he shouts her name in the process before he's told it. Dun dun DUUUUN!
    • They got away with it because they'd been lovers over several incarnations, the latest being the one we see in-game.
  • Several games in The Legend of Zelda series fall under this trope, as they show Link going off on a quest for Princess Zelda after knowing her for only a few minutes or, such as in the original game, never having met her at all. Although, given that she's his sovereign ruler, it's probably illegal for him not to quest or something. And if he ever did say no, she'd probably just keep asking him.
    • This bites him on the butt at the start of Oracle of Ages, when he goes and saves Impa from some attacking monsters (while he does know Impa, he doesn't seem to know her when he saves her). He then accompanies her to find the girl Impa was looking for. Once they find said girl, it turns out that Impa was actually possessed by an evil sorceress, the girl was the Oracle of Ages, and the sorceress has now possessed her. Well done, Link.
    • Wind Waker and Twilight Princess mostly avert it. In Wind Waker, Link starts his quest because his little sister was taken by a giant bird, and finishes Because Destiny Says So. Twilight Princess has Link trying to save the kids from the village; at first he's helping Midna because she's helping him. Of course, those first three dungeons are by no means short (especially the third one), so the second half of the game, he and Midna have had time to bond. Ganondorf just happens to know how to push Link's Berserk Button at the end.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake devotes himself to saving Meryl when she's only around for one boss battle before she gets shot.
    • Lampshaded in one parody, as seen here.
    • It wasn't one-sided, either - when the two finally meet up Meryl tells Snake that she had been given psychotherapy to destroy her interest in men, and then not ten minutes later the boss from that one battle before she gets shot is telling Snake with his dying breath that he has "a large part" in her heart.
  • Played straight with Sigurd and Dierdre (or Diadora, depending on who your translator is) in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. Gender-swapped in the same game... with Dierdre and Sigurd. Yes, they both immediately fall madly for each other.
  • Justified in Knights of the Old Republic by having the girl the player has never met being his commanding officer and possibly the key to winning the war with the Sith.
    • Gender-flipped in the sequel with Visas and the Handmaiden if the player is male, and played straight with Atton and the Disciple if the player is female. Though certain later events put it in a new context.
  • The 'good' responses during most of Aribeth's dialogue in the first chapter of Neverwinter Nights suggest a male hero is falling victim to this trope. A male hero of Hordes of the Underdark can fall victim to this as well, with either Nathyrra or Aribeth.
  • Most of the 'good' dialogue with Elanee or Neeshka in Neverwinter Nights 2 suggests a male character is acting under the Dulcinea Effect. Especially the decision to help Neeshka in her feud with her former partner, leading to the question: Why, if Neeshka didn't tell the player that if he came to Neverwinter with her he would likely be the target of assassination attempts, does he still trust her?
    • The player can fall victim to this trope with regards to Safiya in the sequel as well, despite the fact that she is of a sect of wizards noted for their brutality, political scheming (read: assassinations and shadow wars), and immorality. Yet the player can completely trust her from the outset (not like you have any choice).
    • A male player in the Neverwinter Nights 2 community module Dark Avenger can behave like this towards Contessa Mignet. Her being madly in love with a Casanova character who is trying to get rid of her for being too clingy doesn't help.
  • Somewhere on Adol Christin's job description is "Risk own life for women you just met, regardless of whether they're the same species as you".
    • Granted, most of those women save his life in the first place because he is almost always shipwrecked at the start of games. Adol's job description also says "After saving those women and making them swoon all over for you, leave for another adventure."
  • While Adell's initial promise to protect and return Rozalin to her father probably doesn't raise any eyebrows at first (he's borderline Lawful Stupid, and clearly feels a bit responsible for her Fallen Princess predicament), The Dulcinea Effect becomes apparent when he insists on keeping it in even the most suicidal circumstances. And he doesn't even like girls.
    • In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Almaz decides that the best way to impress a girl he likes is to descend into hell on a nigh-suicidal mission to defeat the Overlord—for a girl that at least as far as he knows isn't even aware of his existence. Mao finds this all rather very silly.
  • Baldur's Gate allows a justification of the trope, where you find a drow woman being pursued by a member of the Flaming Fist (a mercenary company that acts as law and order for the region). He says she is accused of murder, and he's going to kill her...without the messiness of a trial or any of that. Because she's a drow. She is evil and may well be guilty, but your character can protest that the law should be obeyed. The mercenary comes after you for it, and you get to fight him (with, oddly enough, no loss of reputation, as would happen if you killed almost any other Flaming Fist soldier in the game).
    • You do, however, lose 2 reputation points if you let her join your party.
  • This is the case in the new The Bard's Tale game. The female shows up as an unreal owner of boob, so he immediately works for her although his tasks mess up his life severely. Later we "find" out that she is a demon.
  • Chrono Trigger opens this way, when Crono follows Marle through the mysterious portal triggered by the malfunctioning telepods, after only having met her as little as one minute ago. Although after she disappears, the game prevents you from leaving the scene any other way, so it's pretty much forced.
    • Though it may seem like they've only meet for minutes, considering all the events that you've probably done at the fair, it would probably takes hours if you've done those events in real life. Of course, that probably doesn't exactly justify risking your life.
      • Lucca says it best, when you try to leave: "Crono! You brought her here, you get her back!" And she's kind of got a point, what sort of person would bring a new acquaintance to something that goes terribly wrong - and then just abandon them to who knows what?
        • You could also argue, since Chrono doesn't have a personality in the game, that he is a normal teenaged boy who jumps at the chance of adventure, or at least anything mildly different from his everyday life.
    • It isn't actually strictly true that there is no other way to leave the scene; the player can also exit through the other teleporter, if my memory serves correctly, taking them directly to Lavos.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Zidane, who has the in-game ability 'Protect Girls.' If there's a female in the party who gets attacked, Zidane will jump in front of her and take the hit. This does not, however, prevent him from grabbing the princess's butt while climbing a ladder.

Zidane: Ooh, soft...

    • In Duodecim, talking to Zidane on the world map at one point has him say that collecting the crystals is a pain and he wouldn't do it if Cosmos wasn't hot. He says that he's joking, but Squall doesn't believe him.
  • The Kid in Ever 17 fell in love with Coco at first sight. He then spent the next 17 years of his life learning to imitate his role model Takeshi as exactly as possible. He does this based on a really crazy story that You tells him involving the personification of the perception of time. He doesn't even get the girl because by this point he looks 20 and is actually 32 while she's 14, acts about 8 and considers herself to be the girlfriend of said personification. So yea, threw his life away to save her, doesn't get her, and afterward really has no basis on which to construct a new life. Fridge logic can make this out even worse for him, too.
    • However, the Drama CDs show that after the incident, he got over Coco, got a job, and ended up with Sora, so it seems he's alright.
  • The Nasuverse heroes tend to have this pop up a lot. Shiki at least has an excuse in the Far Side routes where he did know these people, at least. Arcueid? Satsuki? Not so much. Well, Arcueid would have brutally killed him if he didn't, but she considered it even pretty quickly. Shirou has this for every single person he ever sees that has not passed through the Moral Event Horizon too many times within his sight. Watches Gilgamesh easily butcher Berserker, unwounded without even moving? Then he stabs Ilya, a clearly fatal wound? He jumps out and plans to attack. That's right, willing to die for an enemy that was clearly beyond saving. This sort of behavior has bad consequences for him. Sup Archer. Also, he gets called on it a lot.
    • Arcueid would never kill Shiki, the Tohno gland is just too powerful. Ciel's route clearly demonstrates this. She was uncontrollably crazy and Shiki tried to kill her at least twice, once he stabbed her in the neck which made her even more crazy. Yet, she still could not bring herself to even try to kill him. Despite how scary she was, it was quite a sweet moment.
    • Shirou doesn't really count. He's got a massive case of Chronic Hero Syndrome (liberally spiced with Martyr Without a Cause and Determinator), instead. Neither does Shiki, for that matter. His partnership with Arcueid was based on his sense of duty, guilt over killing her, and inbred aversion to monsters, and he explicitly never felt anything towards Satsuki.
  • Star Ocean did this in The Second Story. Claude winds up on an alien planet where he's absolutely not allowed to use his superior technology. The first thing he does is use that technology all over the place to save the cute blue-haired chick.
    • To be fair, you can actually TRY to kill the monster attacking said blue-haired chick with your bare hands, and in fact, Claude DOES start with Good Old Fisticuffs in the manga adaptation. Unfortunately, it does next to no good in either version, so he'll be using his awesome laser gun anyway.
      • Given that he had only just seen her for the first time as she was attacked, wouldn't this be Chronic Hero Syndrome or somesuch?
  • Locke in Final Fantasy VI is very quick to pledge his unfaltering protection to Terra and later Celes, two complete strangers who had once worked for the Empire. The reason for this is tragic. He lost the love of his life, Rachel, in an Imperial attack that he wasn't there to protect her from. Terra's amnesia hits especially close because Rachel contracted amnesia as the result of a trip he took her on. Rachel's amnesia and death are his greatest failures, and so he vows to protect Terra and Celes because he refuses to fail another woman like he did Rachel.
  • Fox and Krystal in Star Fox Adventures. Fox gets a few psychic message things from her and sees her suspended in the Krazoa Palace and he's more than willing to do everything he can and risk his life to save her.
  • Mario from Super Mario Bros. (and to an extent Luigi and Yoshi and any other heroic characters in the series) saves nigh on everyone. It's not just that's he never before met most of the people he saves (even Peach to a degree in the original Super Mario Bros.)... it's that he's only ever heard of them through a letter telling about the troubles in said kingdom from Peach. The Kings in Super Mario Bros 3, Princess Daisy in Super Mario Land, the Jewelry Land royal family in Yoshi's Safari, the entire multiverse in Super Paper Mario (yes, it asks whether you want to save the universe) and pretty much everyone else who's remotely good in the series, including solving the personal problems of entire towns.
  • Leonard in White Knight Chronicles. He had only met the princess, Cisna, once before, when they were kids (and she wasn't even interested in him, but in the butterfly on his head), but, of course, he falls in love with her the moment he sees her again (and she with him) and is willing to rush off and confront a hostile nation searching for destructive lost technology after they kidnap her (dragging his Unlucky Childhood Friend and your Heroic Mime avatar with him).
  • Played straight but with an added Gender Flip in The Force Unleashed II. Starkiller and Juno did spend quite a bit of time together in the first game but their mild flirtations never seemed all that serious and were closer to crush status than actual love. Then in the next game, without having spent any more additional time with each other, both characters are pretty much throwing themselves in front of buses to try and save the other—Starkiller more than Juno but she does some crazy shit too (like trying to stab Darth Vader with a lightsaber!.
  • Leonhardt in Agarest Senki plays this so straight, the first time he does this, he gets killed (curiously, the first time he did this, the girl in question is not a Love Interest seeing as she's just twelve years old). He recovered, though, and does this trope again to two women.
  • A childish innocence is the driving force in Ico: Ico and Yorda are kids. The game's Minimalism leaves a lot open to interpretation, but Ico clearly cares for Yorda, who implicitly trusts Ico with her life. It helps avoid any cliche by the fact that the game is so well done that the player comes to love both Yorda and Ico as much as they love each other.
    • It helps that A) One of the first thing's Ico see's of Yorda is her ability to open locked doors, doors which surround the castle they're trapped in there's also one and the end of the giant bridge, assuming you don't turn around and try to jump back for Yorda the second the queen tries to capture her B) he has a vague idea of why he himself was trapped in the castle, and knows it's a bad idea for anyone to stick around there.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix first meets Maya next to a dead body. He immediately takes her case when she's accused of murder. He does the same for Lana later on (taking her case right after meeting her) and keeps defending her even when the culprit starts personally threatening him. Phoenix is a sucker for Distressed Damsels in general, male or female, whether or not they have any way of paying for his services.
    • In Trials and Tribulations case 5, there is no evidence that Godot had ever met Maya before risking life and limb to protect her.
      • He had a pretty good excuse though: she is his dead girlfriend's sister, after all. That, and the one after her was essentially his girlfriend's arch-nemesis, who was responsible for ruining Godot's life too.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney's backstory, it is revealed that Phoenix basically adopted Trucy almost immediately after meeting her.
  • Lyner from Ar tonelico has no hesitation in helping any Squishy Witch of the Reyvateil race, which consist of only girls. Lyner's keeping up with this trope so much that he will have no hesitation in "saving" a Big Bad in the final battle, who appears to be an over abused Reyvateil.
  • Subverted rather brutally in The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, where you meet an elf girl accused of luring town guards to their death. When you do the investigation it turns out that she was completely responsible. And if you defend her, as "thanks", she'll lead you to an ambush.
  • An instance of this is optional in The Secret of Monkey Island Monkey Island. If Guybrush completes the "Trial of Thievery" last (stealing the Idol of Many Hands from Elaine's mansion), he gets up from attempted drowning by Fester Shinetop (LeChuck in disguise) to see LeChuck's ship disappearing and being informed by Herman Toothrot that Elaine has been kidnapped by LeChuck. Guybrush then proclaims his love for her, even though he mumbled incoherently towards her just prior. If Guybrush doesn't complete the "Trial of Thievery" last, Guybrush and Elaine profess their love for one another and Guybrush still vows to rescue her when she's eventually kidnapped, averting this.
  • Subverted and later justified in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. When you sneak into Rodolfo's mansion, you can suggest saving Xelha, but Kalas just gets annoyed with you if you do. After exploring a bit, he finds a gate he can't figure out how to open. Guess what you have to do.
  • In Gemini Rue, Azriel Odin/Delta-Six has this for Saiyuri/Epsilon-Five. Even multiple mindwipes don't stop him from instinctively trying to protect her, nor do they stop her from trying to do the same for him. It's implied that she was someone important to him in the past.
  • The PK Girl opens like this. The male protagonist just came into the mall for some ice cream. Before he knows it, a girl he's never even met has been kidnapped, and her sister, whom he's also never met and has seen for a maximum of twenty seconds, begs for his help in saving her. To a gamer, however, the choice is obvious. Right?
  • Raz goes down into the lake, fights the Lungfish, enters it's mind to bring it back from being brainwashed by Oleander, and also fights Oleander while there, cures all four asylum inmates to collect pieces for his costume so he can get inside the tower, climbs that hellish tower. All so he can get up to the top and save Lili.

Web Comics / Web Original

  • In Gnoph, Abbey and Will are traveling through a forest when they come across a soldier pursuing a young woman. Abbey is not at all surprised that Will decides to intervene on the woman's behalf, and pointedly refuses to help him in the ensuing fight. In a subversion, the soldier ends up joining the heroes, while the woman is never seen again.
  • Fred from Molten Blade seems perfectly willing to drop everything and break into a government facility on behalf of a girl whom he'd known for less than a day, on the word of Chris, another person who was a total stranger to him twenty-four hours earlier.
  • Gender-reversed in The Order of the Stick. Therkla is a ninja assassin who was ordered to kill Hinjo and his guards, yet when she encounters Elan (on whom she quickly gained a massive crush), she ends up helping him slay some sea trolls that had attacked the fleet. She would end up helping him several more times, the last of which would result in her death at the hands of her master.
  • Twokinds is started this way
  • In Looking for Group, Cale is revived by a priestess (Benny) after being incinerated by Richard the warlock and almost immediately devotes his life to her. He was actually pretty inclined to risk his life for her before being revived (she was being ganged up upon by some thugs and Richard and Cale's ashes (dont know how Cale could see) watched as she fought them off). This ultimately leads to the forming of the group, though we dont see much of Cale's devotion after that unless you count teamwork.
    • In recent developments though the two have become a couple of sorts
      • And Cale would most likely still devote himself in the beginning to a guy. It had less to do with protecting the girl and more to do with his view of ultimate pure good and wanting to help everyone and everything and saving those who save him.
  • Dept Heaven Apocrypha features the gender-reversed version, albeit with a bit of time lag. Even though she's only known about his existence for a few weeks (if that), Meria is still ready to protect Fia's demon from the rest of the school if need be. Her excuse is that he can't entertain her anymore if he's dead, but the demon just acknowledges her for the Knight in Sour Armor she is. (Cue massive flailing and embarrassment on her part.)
  • When the male heroes of Broken Saints find Shandala sealed away in the back of Mars' strip club, naked and helpless, the first feeling each of them has is one of profound shock and despair. None of them have actually met her before, but they recognize her from their visions, and they recognize her aura immediately. It doesn't matter that they have no idea who she is or where she's from, they take her home with them and (by way of a mushroom-induced, Backstory-revealing Dream Sequence), they awaken her from her Heroic BSOD..
  • When Lance from Gold Coin Comics first meets Silvia, they encounter a wolf-boss. He is willing to stand in front of Silvia to protect her, even though they met a few minutes earlier.
  • In the Whateley Universe, Stalwart declares his undying love for Fey only seconds after seeing her. To make it extra-uncomfortable, he does it in the middle of the Whateley Academy quad, while Fey's father is standing right there. Fey throws him across the quad, but he doesn't give up. His Dogged Nice Guy behavior eventually saves Fey's life, and he gets several dates with her.
  • In Wake the Sleepers, she is trying to distract the assassin from him, and Locke has to go and intervene.
  • In Thistil Mistil Kistil, Coal can give no very coherent account of why he rescued Hedda.

Coal: I followed her voice. She was calling for help.
Loki: So?
Coal: So I. . . had to save her.
Loki: Why?
Coal: Because. . . she was calling for help. She wanted to live.

  • Gil from Girl Genius is an interesting case. First time we met him, he jumped on Agatha to save her from an explosion. Later, he is revealed to have rescued Zola many times in Paris. But Gil has absolutely no romantic interest in Zola.
  • Gender-flipped with Jaune Arc in RWBY—several of the (much more skilled) girls around him advise him and/or take him under their wing when he arrives at Beacon Academy.

Real Life

  • A study on gender-integrated combat units seems to invoke this trope. Basically, seeing a female squad member injured would often see the male soldiers going a bit... berserk in response.
    • Similarly, the Sacred Band of Thebes, only without the mixed-sex units.
    • Apparently, the Israeli army had to confront this issue when they found that for integrated squads, the casualty rate for men was unusually high. The men were literally throwing themselves into danger to protect their female comrades, entirely for chivalry's sake.
    • The Truth in Television aspect of this really should come as no surprise: story devices are based on reality (to a degree) and human nature hasn't changed. There are more than likely evolutionary and group-preservation aspects at play here, as the same is observable in many (group-oriented) animals.
      • Especially considering that (genetically speaking) men are just more expendable than women. Though each person is an individual and men and women exist in roughly equal proportions, a population consisting of one man and a hundred women is infinitely more likely to survive than a population of one woman and a hundred men.
    • Also, when men are aroused, it's supposed to release a hormone that makes them crazy protective/territorial of the object of their desires. (Which is probably the human trait Rescue Romance dawns from and why it's such an appealing fantasy for men and women.)
  • Dante Alighieri only saw his "beloved" Beatrice twice in life, probably for a length of time spanning less than an hour, and likely never spoke to her. Yet in his most famous work (in fact all his notable ones) she serves as his spirit guide, muse, etc. At the time of writing, Dante was married to an entirely different woman and had kids by her, yet none of these loved ones merit any mention in his work.
  • Engaging in this practice on an internet forum (or wiki) is derisively called "White Knighting." Doing it is particularly laughable due to most net denizens being aware of GIRL.
  • A particularly pathetic knight (or at least a guy with delusions of knighthood) featured in The Big Book of Losers was obsessed with a Manipulative Bitch of a princess, who at one point ordered him to slice off part of his upper lip because it was a little prominent. And the best part was that the guy had a wife and children.
    • That would be Ulric Von Lichtenstein, prominently featured in the book The Natural History of Love. Very much not pathetic in just about every way one can imagine, but definitely eccentric by modern standards. To get the record straight: he was known as a wise and impartial counselor, and thus a witness / co-signer or many important treaties of his time. Had a very healthy relationship with his wife and many children, and managed his estates well. He was also first-class jouster, possibly a holder of multiple longest winning streaks. At the same time, he took his hobby - courtly love - very seriously, and arranged his affairs to have the maximal possible amount of fun. That is, the maximal amount of longing and suffering with minimal rewards, for the maximal amount of drama. This includes: cutting off an ugly "hare lip", cutting off his finger to make the rumor that he lost it in battle true, falling off a castle wall, dressing up as a leper, etc, etc. Oh, and jousting his was across Europe while wearing a lady's dress. And jousting his way back, in another direction, while wearing a mock costume of King Arthur.
  1. Name her, actually- her mother was too sick to tell Mac her name, and nobody else knew either the mother or the baby.