Created By: TwoGunAngel on July 10, 2012 Last Edited By: TwoGunAngel on July 11, 2012

Cannot Save Anyone

Some heroes can't seem to save anyone they set out to rescue.

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Rescues. Probably the quintessential heroic act, performed by classic heroes and Anti Heroes alike. Sure, some people might be less than grateful for being bailed out of their trouble and they may not succeed every time, but delivering the innocent from evil is in the job description of many heroes.

But for some heroes, the rescue missions they embark upon always seem to end badly. Whoever they try to save (especially if it's someone they love) has a depressing tendency to die or suffer a Fate Worse Than Death by the time the hero gets to them. Maybe the villain is especially sadistic, or the hero is especially incompetent. Maybe the hand of cruel Fate is at work (this is especially common in horror and other works on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism). Whatever the case, whoever the hero in question is trying to save is doomed.

In order to qualify for this trope, a hero has to fail to save anyone he or she sets out to rescue during the course of the work or series. One or two significant failures during the course of a work are not enough to qualify, unless the failures mark his or her only attempts to rescue someone. It also doesn't count if the hero rescues someone only to have them get recaptured later on and fail to save them on a subsequent rescue mission (though such a hero may certainly feel like this).

This is a common trait of the Failure Hero, but not restricted to that type -- even if a hero fails to rescue people, he or she can still be a hero in other ways (such as stopping the villain from carrying out his Evil Plan).

See also You Are Too Late, one of the ways this situation is frequently brought about.

Suggested Indexes: Hero Tropes, Cynicism Tropes, Index Failure
Community Feedback Replies: 3
  • July 11, 2012
    • Nicholas Christian, Harry's old partner in The Dresden Files, specializes in cases of missing children with a supernatural bend. Throughout many years he saved exactly two--and he is proud to have done at least that much.
  • July 11, 2012
    • Elric by Michael Moorcock manages to kill everyone he tries to help, sooner or later.
  • July 11, 2012
    Splendid from Happy Tree Friends is very helpful and tries to save people. But he often accidentally kills somebody in the process of saving somebody else. Even then, the person he was attempting to save rarely survives.