Created By: SemiCasualObserver on June 9, 2012 Last Edited By: SemiCasualObserver on August 21, 2012
Troped

Recruitment By Rescue

The Hero gathers his party members by helping them out of their jams.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
It's that time of the millenium again, where the Evil Overlord comes out of his can and starts wreaking havoc. No worries, we gave The Hero a call, and he's jumping to it. Now he just needs a team... But there's a problem. Some (or, in extreme cases, ALL) potential allies are:

So what's a hero to do? Fighting the Evil Overlord alone is usually not an option (only losers do that), and neither is seeking out other, less preoccupied allies. That leaves The Hero with the job of rescuing his allies from their difficulties before he can recruit them. Written well, this is a great way to pull off a Debut Queue, introducing the cast while establishing the Hero's magnet credentials. Written badly, you might find yourself wondering why the One-Man Party hero spends so much time and energy trying to get the help of people who cannot or will not help themselves.

This trope has long been a staple of the Role-Playing Game and Action Platformer genres, as well as games in other genres where team-based gameplay is mixed with a narrative. For the action platformers in particular, it's a bit of a tradition that you'll have to complete some challenge with the characters you have to acquire new characters.

See also Sealed Cast in a Multipack, which has an ambiguous relationship to this trope, and Avengers Assemble, its supertrope. Contrast Defeat Means Friendship and Defeat Means Playable, which are roughly the opposite of this trope (although there are some occasions where they overlap).

Examples:

Video Games

--Editors, take heed: there's a lot of these, so try to keep them alphabetical.

  • Many BioWare games use this method of party-gathering.
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions used this trope often, typically by having you stumble onto a potential party member when they were in the middle of a fight.
    • Both Knights of the Old Republic games require you to get most of your party members out of some kind of jam before they'll join you. Often, you'll need to help them in order to accomplish some goal of your own.
    • The Mass Effect games generally have a few characters you can recruit like this, following the KOTOR model of "helping them to help yourself", plus a few party members who will join you for no cost.
    • Dragon Age has about half the party members recruited this way. Of the group, one needs to be gotten out of prison, another has to be unfrozen, a third is missing his wife, and a fourth is stuck in a tower full of possessed mages and won't leave until it's been reclaimed. There's also a poisoned war dog who needs an antidote.
      • Three of the party members for the expansion pack Awakening are also rescued. Oghren (the same one with the missing wife, above) is encountered while fighting too many darkspawn to handle alone, Anders the apostate mage is rescued first from darkspawn and then from templars (it's his seventh escape from the Circle of Magi, and it's implied that they're likely to execute him this time), Nathaniel is busted out of prison (where he was sent for trying to assassinate your Player Character), and Sigrun of the Legion of the Dead is rescued from a Fate Worse Than Death at the hands of the darkspawn (or disgrace and execution as a deserter by her comrades). Dragon Age II only uses this trope with Aveline, who is rescued from darkspawn in the prologue; the other party members get into (abundant) trouble only after you recruit them or in Back Story.
  • Before BioWare, Black Isle used this trope as well.
    • Arcanum had a few characters you'd recruit like this. Most would join if you were sufficiently persuasive, but the more powerful and hard-to-find guys demanded you do a sidequest first.
    • Some characters in Baldur's Gate usually would join with you at the outset, with the expectation that you would help them with a sidequest of their own; if you refused to do the sidequest, they would eventually leave you. Others, like Viconia or Mazzy, needed a more direct and immediate kind of rescue.
    • Planescape: Torment used this a lot. On a few ironic occasions, you'd actually need to rescue your party members from a problem that you, personally, had caused in a previous incarnation.
    • Fallout2 had a healthy number of recruits gathered in this way. Vic needed to be saved from raiders, Sulik needed to have his debts paid off, and Goris had to be broken out of an Enclave prison.
  • John Cooper's crew in Desperados is gathered in this manner. Sam's on the run from an angry landowner, Doc is about to be hanged, Kate fell afoul of some poker players who believe she cheated, and Sanchez needs to be broken out of prison. Only Mia joins the group without being done a favor first, and she's got the excuse of having nowhere else to go.
  • Two of your companions in Diablo III are recruited this way:
    • You rescue Kormac, the Templar, from a demon cultist magical torture ritual and help him get his gear back from said cultists. You then have to help him take down a rogue Templar turned necromancer.
    • When you come across Lyndon, the Scoundrel, he's in a bit of a fix -- the Thieves' Guild of some major city wants a relic that his friend has, and has sent a group of assassins to kill her and take it, and you have to help him fight them off.
    • Karyna, the lady you rescue from the Spider Queen, was also planned to be a companion (before her role as a "mystical" companion was taken by Eirena the Enchantress in Act II).
  • Starting with the big DK alone, you had to rescue the other apes one by one from K. Rool's cages in Donkey Kong 64.
  • Starting with Final Fantasy III, this was the standard way to gather party members. Almost every game since then has had some party members recruited in this way.
  • Also a standard in Fire Emblem. When you're not recruiting characters straight off the battlefield, you're rescuing them from enemy forces, which prompts them to join your roster.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards used this as well. The other characters weren't "party members" as such, but they'd start helping you through levels after you'd gotten them free of the Dark Matter's influence.
  • Mini Ninjas used this; part of the game's backstory is that the Ninja Master sent out each of his more experienced ninjas one by one to defeat the Evil Samurai Lord, until only two were left. With those two, you have to rescue the others on the way to finish their job.
  • Panel Pon / Tetris Attack: All 8 of your friends starts off Brainwashed and Crazy. After defeating them one by one, the party of 9 goes to confront the four actual bad guys, and become playable.
  • Pretty much everyone you recruit into your group in Persona4 has to be rescued from the TV world and their Shadow taken down so that they can gain a Persona to join you in the hunt for the killer who's been throwing people into the TV world.
  • This is one way to recruit pokemon in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.
  • In Puzzle Quest Challenge Of The Warlords, you get half of your party members this way: You rescue Seraphne from an Arranged Marriage, Flicker from minotaur slavers and Patch from assassins. Winter joins you after you help clear his territory of Lord Bane's minions. In the Plague Lords expansion (or the iPhone version, you rescue Galnoth from the Dark Elves. You also first meet Darkhunter when you help him fight off an orc, though he won't join you until after you help him with his current manhunt.
  • In Secret of Mana, both of your allies are recruited this way. The princess joins you after you save her from being cooked alive in a goblin's giant pot, and the other member joins you after you save her from getting the snot beaten out of her by someone she had just swindled.
  • Most of the potential followers in Skyrim will follow you after you have completed a sidequest for them (although not all sidequests involve getting them out of a tight spot).
  • In Sonny, Sonny befriends Veradux as a new travelling companion when he helps the latter defend himself against the soldiers he stole some experimental armor from.
  • In Starcraft II, Ariel Hanson joins for a few missions after the colony she is on is rescued.
  • Invoked often in the Suikoden series.
    • Suikoden II: Ayda is recruited by using one of your Listening Runes on Feather, which triggers an event where the party must help Ayda defend him from a flock of griffons. If you successful, she expresses her thanks and stays behind at the Forest Village, to treat his wounds. Return to your castle and spend the night. Ayda shows up the following day with Feather, in tow, and both join your party.
    • Suikoden V: After a lengthy quest, involving the people of Lordlake, that involves unravling truth behind the uprising, the theft of the Dawn Rune, and finally a naval battle to destroy the Hate Fortress, all of the Lordlake related characters join your cause and your party.
    • The same is true for the people of Sable, who are beseiged by an imposter of the Prince, along with a group of bandits, and the Dragon Calvary, who fail to come to Falena's defense due to Dolph taking over the dragon's den and threatening to destroy their eggs. Each involves a story related quests that require the Prince to come to their aid, after which, they side with his army.

Other Media

Anime
  • This is Captain Luffy's recruitment MO. Pretty much every member of his crew got a Story Arc dedicated to solving some problem of theirs that prevented them from committing fully to Luffy's quest to find the titular One Piece.
  • Ronin Warriors started with all five heroes being sealed away. Mia and Yulie rescued Ryo in the second episode, and then Ryo proceeded to rescue the other four Ronins.

Film
  • In Eraser, Kruger saves people from the mob by faking their deaths and then setting them up in the Witness Protection program, telling them that they'll owe him a favor later. During the film, he pulls in those favors, gathering a team.
  • This is how Leia is recruited in the first Star Wars movie. She went from Damsel in Distress to Badass Damsel as soon as they got her out of the cell and continued to be an active member of the Rebel Alliance and Luke's team of friends.
    • Technically also how Anakin was recruited in the prequel triology, a whole ac was devoted to Obiwan and Qui Gon saving him from Watto's ownership, including a long side quest about how Anakin was the equivalent of a racecar driver, even though he was a slave.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen had this as a plot point, as the Baron revisited the trail of his last adventure.

Live Action
  • Angel: Fred joins the Angel Investigations crew after Angel rescues her from the alternate dimension of Pylea.
  • In a late episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. Brisco & Bowler recruit two of their Magnificent Seven Samurai plotmates in this fashion: they promise Pete Hutter he'll be given a full presidential pardon for all crimes oustanding (he's in prison sharing a cell with a Scary Black Man who forces him to press his pants), and they pick up Whip Morgan as he's in the middle of being lynched by a sheriff for dating (or more) the sheriff's daughter.

Literature
  • The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Dorothy rescues the Scarecrow from hanging in a field, oils the Tin Woodsman to rescue him from rust, and talks the Cowardly Lion out of his insecurities. All of them join her on her journey to the Emerald City.
  • This is how Illyria, the titular queen of the Secret of the Unicorn Queen series assembles her band of outlaws
  • in The Redemption of Althalus, two characters get recruited this way, Eliar is saved from being a prisoner and probable eventual nasty death, and Leitha is saved from being burned at the stake by a corrupt priest..
  • In one of the Dungeons & Dragons novels featuring the iconic characters, Regdar and Jozan end up recruiting Lidda when Jozan decides to save her from being hung by a lynch mob. Then later it's inverted when Naull decides to join them after happening to be in the right place at the right time to save them from being killed by giant spiders.
Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • June 9, 2012
    MiinU

    Video games

    • Invoked often in the Suikoden series. In fact, several characters throughout the series are recruited in this way.
      • Suikoden I: You need to bust Doctor Liukan out of Soniere Prison to recruit him.
      • Suikoden II: Ayda is recruited by using one of your Listening Runes on Feather, which triggers an event where the party must help Ayda defend him from a flock of griffons. If successful, she expresses her thanks and stays behind at the Forest Village, to treat his wounds. Return to your castle and spend the night. Ayda shows up the following day with Feather, in tow, and both join your party.
        • To recruit Rikimaru, you must feed him and pay for his food worth 3000 potch right after the start of the game.
        • Teresa, acting mayor of Greenhill is also recruited in this way. Although she's only playable in war battles, she did contribute to the victory of the Dunan army.
      • Suikoden V: After a lengthy quest, involving the people of Lordlake, that involves unravling truth behind the uprising, the theft of the Dawn Rune, and finally a naval battle to destroy the Hate Fortress, all of the Lordlake related characters join your cause and your party.
      • The same is true for the people of Sable, who are beseiged by an imposter of the Prince, along with a group of bandits, and the Dragon Calvary, who fail to come to Falena's defense due to Dolph taking over the dragon's den and threatening to destroy their eggs. Each involves a story related quests that require the Prince to come to their aid, after which, they side with his army.
      • Frey also has to free Lucretia Merces from Agate Prison, after which she becomes his army's tactician. Cius will join automatically, out of loyalty to Lucretia, as does LeiLei, though it's strongly implied that her reasons are personal.
  • June 10, 2012
    SemiCasualObserver
    If we get a lot more videogame examples, I'm thinking of splitting the trope up into parts: one part for when you recruit the ENTIRE party by rescuing them (as with Donkey Kong 64 or Mini Ninjas) and one part for when you recruit only part of the party by rescuing them (all the rest so far).
  • June 10, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    • Two of your companions in Diablo III are recruited this way:
      • You rescue Kormac, the Templar, from a demon cultist magical torture ritual and help him get his gear back from said cultists. You then have to help him take down a rogue Templar turned necromancer.
      • When you come across Lyndon, the Scoundrel, he's in a bit of a fix -- the Thieves' Guild of some major city wants a relic that his friend has, and has sent a group of assassins to kill her and take it, and you have to help him fight them off.
      • Karyna, the lady you rescue from the Spider Queen, was also planned to be a companion (before her role as a "mystical" companion was taken by Eirena the Enchantress in Act II).
  • June 10, 2012
    MiinU
    Slight correction for the Suikoden V spoiler: it was the Dawn Rune, not the Twilight Rune.
  • June 10, 2012
    BearyScary
    Would RescueMeansRecruitment work as a better title?
  • June 12, 2012
    reub2000
    • In Star Craft, The Sons Of Korhal start out as the heros rebelling against the evil Confederacy. They first enter the story after they rescue the forces under control of the player as well as Jim Raynor from a zerg horde. The rest of the compaign becomes about helping the Sons Of Korhal defeat the Confederacy. Next the Sons Of Korhal rescues Edmond Duke, a Confederacy officer from the zerg, who aids the Sons Of Korhal with valuable intelligence on the Confederacy.
  • June 12, 2012
    Astaroth
    In Mount And Blade games, if you defeat a goup of enemies that are transporting prisoners, those prisoners can be recruited into your own army free of charge.
  • June 12, 2012
    Freezer
    In Puzzle Quest Challenge Of The Warlords, you get half of your party members this way: You rescue Seraphne from an Arranged Marriage, Flicker from minotaur slavers and Patch from assassins. Winter joins you after you help clear his territory of Lord Bane's minions. In the Plague Lords expansion (or the iPhone version, you rescue Galnoth from the Dark Elves. You also first meet Darkhunter when you help him fight off an orc, though he won't join you until after you help him with his current manhunt.
  • June 12, 2012
    Koveras
    • In the Warrior route of Nox, when you battle your way through The Undead besieging the fortress Dun Mir, any Fire Knights you manage to rescue will join you as non-controllable NPCs. Quite helpful, too, since they are all equipped with Fire-enchanted swords, i.e. the only thing capable of killing zombies for good.
  • June 12, 2012
    Damr1990
    this should also be included on How To Gather Characters
  • June 13, 2012
    SemiCasualObserver
    I don't think we should include examples where you get nameless NP Cs aiding you temporarily. That's not really "recruitment."
  • June 14, 2012
    Arivne
    This is a Sub Trope of Magnetic Hero. That page has "save their life" as one of the hero's recruiting methods.

    Literature
    • The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Dorothy rescues the Scarecrow from hanging in a field and oils the Tin Woodsman to rescue him from rust. Both of them join her on her journey to the Emerald City.
  • June 24, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • July 11, 2012
    chicagomel
    I believe this is one way to recruit Pokemon into your party in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, and once you recruit them, they're with you for the rest of the game.
  • July 13, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Pretty much everyone you recruit into your group in Persona 4 has to be rescued from the TV world and their Shadow taken down so that they can gain a Persona to join you in the hunt for the killer who's been throwing people into the TV world.
  • July 13, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Most of the potential followers in Skyrim will follow you after you have completed a sidequest for them (although not all sidequests involve getting them out of a tight spot).
  • July 13, 2012
    Hedgi
    This is how Illyria, the titular queen of the Secret of the Unicorn Queen series assembles her band of outlaws.
  • July 13, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    • In Sonny, Sonny befriends Veradux as a new travelling companion when he helps the latter defend himself against the soldiers he stole some experimental armor from.

    I'd also add the Fallout games to the Black Isle grouping, since it's also common there to have people agree to join you after you either rescue them or agree to help them with a sidequest.
  • July 13, 2012
    abk0100
    Pretty sure this happens in Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, but I'd have to watch em again to know the specifics.
  • July 13, 2012
    SemiCasualObserver
    @Arkady Darrell: There were a few rescues in Fallout 2. I'm pretty sure everyone in Fallout 1 joined you for free. @abk0100: My memory isn't great, but I don't think anyone in Seven Samurai really needed saving.
  • July 13, 2012
    MiinU
    additional entries added to the Suikoden example (parts II and V), at the top.
  • July 13, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    I'm trying to think now. Tycho joins you if you agree to help Killian deal with Gizmo. I think you're right about everyone else, though, in retrospect. I had thought Katja required solving the Adytum quest, but a spin through the wiki shows I remembered wrong. Well, meh.

    Fallout 2 had loads of 'em, though, yeah. (Haven't played any of the games beyond those two, I admit.)
  • July 13, 2012
    Pickly
    • In Starcraft II, Ariel Hanson joins for a few missions after the colony she is on is rescued.
  • July 13, 2012
    abk0100
    Inglorious Basterds: The Basterds recruit famed Nazi-killer Hugo Stiglitz to join their mission to kill Hitler by breaking him out of a German prison.
  • July 13, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Angel: Fred joins the Angel Investigations crew after Angel rescues her from the alternate dimension of Pylea.
  • July 17, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Must it be The Hero doing the recruiting?

    Film:
    • The Wolverine backstory film has Col. Stryker recruit Logan and his brother from a military jail cell after a firing squad fails to kill them.
    • X-Men First Class has Havok taken from solitary confinement by Charles and Erik during their recruitment efforts.
  • August 7, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    Bump? This looks pretty ready to launch, to me.
  • August 8, 2012
    Rognik
    I think if the Video Game section was sorted a bit more, it'd be better. It doesn't have to be into categories, as this is mostly and RPG video game trope, but if they were put in alphabetical order instead of a random heap, it would be better presentation.
  • August 8, 2012
    acrobox
    Anime example
    • Ronin Warriors started with all five heroes being sealed away. Mia and Yulie rescued Ryo in the second episode, and then Ryo proceeded to rescue the other four Ronins.
  • August 8, 2012
    acrobox
    Film Example
    • This is how Leia is recruited in the first Star Wars movie. She went from Damsel In Distress to Badass Damsel as soon as they got her out of the cell and continued to be an active member of the Rebel Alliance and Luke's team of friends.
      • Technically also how Anakin was recruited in the prequel triology, a whole ac was devoted to Obiwan and Qui Gon saving him from Watto's ownership, including a long side quest about how Anakin was the equivalent of a racecar driver, even though he was a slave.
  • August 8, 2012
    acrobox
    ^^^ its common in Video Games in so far as most video games are in the action adventure genre. (narrative-wise, even if not gameplay-wise) It's really an adventuring trope. Someone will have to be saved from the evil forces or busted out of jail before they officially join up at some point.
  • August 8, 2012
    acrobox
    Video Game
  • August 8, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    It does show up in non-Video Games now and then.

    I remember in one of the Dungeons And Dragons novels featuring the iconic characters, Regdar and Jozan end up recruiting Lidda when Jozan decides to save her from being hung by a lynch mob. Then later it's inverted when Naull decides to join them after happening to be in the right place at the right time to save them from being killed by giant spiders.
  • August 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    In Eraser, Kruger saves people from the mob by faking their deaths and then setting them up in the Witness Protection program, telling them that they'll owe him a favor later. During the film, he pulls in those favors, gathering a team.
  • August 8, 2012
    Andygal
    in The Redemption Of Althalus, two characters get recruited this way, Eliar is saved from being a prisoner and probable eventual nasty death, and Leitha is saved from being burned at the stake by a corrupt priest..
  • August 9, 2012
    Mega
    This was in Sonic for Hire with Mario. lol
  • August 9, 2012
    beamerpook
    Games - Secret of Mana, both of your allies are recruited this way. The princess joins you after you save her from being cooked alive in a goblin's giant pot, and the other member joins you after you save her from getting the snot beaten out of her by someone she had just swindled.

  • August 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In a late episode of The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr Brisco & Bowler recruit two of their Magnificent Seven Samurai plotmates in this fashion: they promise Pete Hutter he'll be given a full presidential pardon for all crimes oustanding (he's in prison sharing a cell with a Scary Black Man who forces him to press his pants), and they pick up Whip Morgan as he's in the middle of being lynched by a sheriff for dating (or more) the sheriff's daughter.
  • August 13, 2012
    zerombr
    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen had this as a plot point, as the Baron revisited the trail of his last adventure.
  • August 21, 2012
    Koveras
  • August 21, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    *adds a Just Launch It Already extra hat*
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ca3nip7k442qgkh3cpwyuhz7&trope=RecruitmentByRescue