Created By: HiddenFacedMatt on December 27, 2011 Last Edited By: HiddenFacedMatt on April 25, 2013
Troped

Help Mistaken For Attack

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Trope
This is for when a character or group of characters intends to help another character or group of characters, but because of the circumstances, or because of what it seems like, or the reputations of those who happen to be offering the help, the very characters they are trying to help mistake it for intent to cause harm.

Not to be confused with Stab the Scorpion, as that's typically associated with giving the audience a misleading first impression as well.

Terrifying Rescuer is a subtrope.

Examples:

  • The Rescuers Down Under has Marahoute the eagle trapped under rope, and when Cody arrives to free her, and he takes out a knife, Marahoute seems to (temporarily) interpret this as an attempt to wound or kill her rather than to free her.
  • Karate Kid 2 has Sato trapped under a long piece of wood during a storm, and when Miyagi walks over, Sato thinks the idea is to finish him off while he is trapped, only to find out that Miyaki just wanted to free Sato from the rubble.
  • During Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin returns to his hotel room to find Mini-Me grinning at him while holding up a letter opener. The audience knows that Mini-Me is here because he defected from Dr. Evil (the "help") and that he was just using the letter opener to open some mail, but Austin immediately reads it as an ambush (the "attack").
  • In X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude, the player's space suit is equipped with a repair laser for patching up hull damage (otherwise you have to pay a shipyard to have it fixed, and that can be prohibitively expensive in the early game). Mechanically it works by going through shields and dealing negative hull damage. Thing is, the game still treats it as a weapon, so if you use it on ships you don't own they'll react as if they're being attacked, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Battle Royale Hiroki tries to help save his crush, but the minute he approaches her in the game she shoots him down, mistaking it for attack.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • December 27, 2011
    Omeganian
  • December 27, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Not quite, as that seems to be specifically about saving a character from other living creatures, and does not include examples like freeing someone from rope or from a pile of rubble. Furthermore, there also seems to be some implication that the audience is supposed to mistake this for an attack too, rather than just the characters mistaking it as such.

    It could qualify as a subtrope, though.

    That said, the name is still misleading. I will put proposing a rename for that trope on my to-do list for when the TRS backlog clears up.
  • December 27, 2011
    nman
    Does this only apply if the person(s) being helped mistakes it as an act of aggression, or would third parties be okay? For example, what if Bob is trying to help Alice cross the street, and someone comes along, thinks Bob is a crazy rapist, and attacks him?
  • December 31, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Person being helped is what I had in mind, but if you could name some third party examples I'll decide whether or not to count them. The trope already seems somewhat broad as it is.
  • December 31, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Raiders of Gor: Bosk is under seige in his holding by a rival faction. Samos, a captain who Bosk believes to be plotting against him, arrives and Bosk thinks Samos has decided to use the opportunity to take him out; but Samos is really on Bosk's side and helps him defend his holding, even at the cost of his own holding.
  • December 31, 2011
    Bisected8
    Compare Cassandra Did It for when a warning's mistaken for a threat.
  • December 31, 2011
    MiinU

    Anime

    • The Castle of Cagliostro: near the beginning, there's a car chase that ends with Lupin dangling from a cliff after saving Clarisse from Cagliostro's men. When she regains consciousness, she mistakes him for one of the kidnappers and panics. Thankfully, he calmed her down so he could lower them to safety.

    Video games

    • Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos: Ryu is confronted by Robert at the end of Act I, wherein he informs Ryu of Irene's kidnapping and tells him of the Tower of Lajah. Midway through their dialogue, Robert draws his pistol, takes aim, and fires, startling Ryu. The scene was a call back to the conclusion of Act I in the original Ninja Gaiden, which ended with Irene shooting Ryu with a tranquilizer dart. This time, however, the shot wasn't intended for Ryu. The camera pans, revealing Robert had shot Dando. Thus, saving Ryu's life.

    • Skies of Arcadia: Legends A flashback, late in the Moonfish/ Piastol sidequest reveals the reason she's been hunting Vyse. She'd been asleep at the time Ramirez killed her father and set the ship ablaze, and awoke during the commotion. When she saw the Blue Rogues boarding their vessel, to help them, she mistook them as the ones responsible for the attack, and attempted to kill Aika with one of her dirks. However, Vyse threw himself in front of the blade, resulting in the scar under his left eye.
  • December 31, 2011
    TBeholder
    No point to limit Stab The Scorpion to creatures, IMO
  • March 29, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Bumping after about a year to see how this fares now.
  • March 29, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Maybe add a mention of dramatic irony to the description to point out how the audience usually knows what's up (and how that contrasts with Stab The Scorpion).

    Film -- Live Action

    • During Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin returns to his hotel room to find Mini-Me grinning at him while holding up a letter opener. The audience knows that Mini-Me is here because he defected from Dr. Evil (the "help") and that he was just using the letter opener to open some mail, but Austin immediately reads it as an ambush (the "attack").
  • March 29, 2013
    StarSword
    I like this one. :)

    Video Games:
    • In X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude, the player's space suit is equipped with a repair laser for patching up hull damage (otherwise you have to pay a shipyard to have it fixed, and that can be prohibitively expensive in the early game). Mechanically it works by going through shields and dealing negative hull damage. Thing is, the game still treats it as a weapon, so if you use it on ships you don't own they'll react as if they're being attacked, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • March 29, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Good idea. Noted.
  • March 29, 2013
    TonyG
    The pictures don't really show the trope properly. The fact that Marahute thinks Cody is trying to do her harm is not evident from the frame grabs given.
  • March 29, 2013
    StarSword
    I can try taking a screenshot of myself using a repair laser. Maybe caption the image with, "Shoot him! He has a Repair Laser!"
  • March 29, 2013
    helterskelter
    ^ That's still not a great image. A caption is find to do some of the lifting, but the image should explain most of the trope.
  • March 29, 2013
    StarSword
    ^After I posted, I thought about it further: a chain of shots a la Scope Snipe or the current image. Me using the laser, then the ship shooting at me.
  • March 30, 2013
    StarSword
  • March 30, 2013
    helterskelter
    I honestly have no idea what I'm looking at.
  • March 31, 2013
    StarSword
    I faked up what I was talking about earlier with other ships in X reacting with hostility to you using your repair laser on them.
  • April 2, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    I'm not allowed adding or changing images in YKTTW because of my image pickin' ban. However, I do have mod permission to scrap the current image... at least in this case.

    If you want to choose an image for this trope, do so after it's launched.
  • April 6, 2013
    DracMonster
  • April 7, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Mentioned. @ Drac Monster
  • April 15, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Battle Royale Hiroki tries to help save his crush, but the minute he approaches her in the game she shoots him down, mistaking it for attack.
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