[[quoteright:275:[[Comicbook/{{X-Factor}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bystanders_in_a_superhero_battle.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:275:[-Not much a [[PrettyInMink wealthy]] {{socialite}} and her chauffeur can do here but keep their distance.-] ]]
->''"Hey, I'm just an innocent bystander [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment innocently standing by!]]"''
-->-- '''Hobbes''', ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'', [[Recap/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeriesS1TVM1CalvinsBatmanAdventure "Calvin's Batman Adventure"]]

Ah, the InnocentBystander: where would {{Villains}} be without them to use as {{Human Shield}}s and the heroes to rescue in a HostageForMcGuffin? This noble profession has been much maligned by its [[SortingAlgorithmOfMortality incredibly high mortality rates]] and penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Though similar to {{Muggles}}, the main difference is that the Innocent Bystander is not necessarily clueless or mundane (superheroes, wizards, or mutants can be innocent bystanders in the right, or wrong, circumstances), they just happen to be near a situation most qualified heroes would be [[BringMyRedJacket hard pressed to escape alive.]] Essentially, they are those who must be protected, rescued or saved from a villain who will [[ImAHumanitarian eat,]] [[NotMyDriver kidnap,]] [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]], or kill them. Since they're [[RedShirt pretty expendable]], it's even odds a few will be killed just to show how [[KickTheDog evil the bad guy is.]]

If the Bystander gets dragged along for the ride (be it as a hostage or a press-ganged helper for the hero), they may get upgraded to MauveShirt. If a RunningGag is made of how the same Bystander(s) keep running into the heroes, it's an example of a YuppieCouple. If there's a whole bus full of these, it's a BusFullOfInnocents. Despite their squishiness, they may use a DefiantStoneThrow in the hero's favor.

Quite a few series start with this premise. Arthur Dent of ''Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' is essentially an Innocent Bystander caught up in events he can't understand. By the end of the series he becomes something of a HeroicBystander, though. They do get a chance at the spotlight sometimes though; check out InnocentBystanderSeries, and its cousin trope the LowerDeckEpisode.

Innocent Bystanders are often the targets of:
* CowerPower
* FoeTossingCharge
* FriendlyTarget
* HostageForMcGuffin
* HumanShield
* SadisticChoice
* TestedOnHumans

Compare with the ActionSurvivor (who is essentially an Innocent Bystander as an action movie protagonist) and UnluckyExtra (when the same poor guy shows up multiple times).

Contrast BadassBystander, InvulnerableCivilians. Not to be confused with the LivingProp, who has no bearing on the scene whatsoever besides adding to the scene's atmosphere.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Okajima Rokuro in ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' -- who just so happens to be the main character.
* Subverted in the first episode of ''ElfenLied'' where TheDitz secretary Kisaragi, is beheaded and used as a body shield by the main character Lucy, possibly showing how ruthless and sadistic she is.
** Then again, it's ''Lucy'' we're talking about. The same Lucy who ruthlessly murders whole families simply because she needs a place to sleep. Even if you can get her doing it to the cruel orphanage kids as she both [[BreakTheCutie gets broken]] ''and'' finally gains access to her powers, the Kisaragi deal and the families are... not as justified/understandable/whatever. Even more so when [[spoiler: this also includes Kouta's father and sister.]]
* {{Akumetsu}}, no matter how extreme his plans get, will never let the innocent become involved. It's part of what keeps him from JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope.
* Rushuna's first run-in with the Jester in ''{{Grenadier}}'' is a straight example, with the Jester even doing a bit of LampshadeHanging as he notes that while Rushuna can dodge the blasts of his gun, her less-than-super friend sure as hell can't.
* These sorts of characters are often used in ''ChronoCrusade'' to show just how dire the situation has gotten--or how badly the heroes have screwed up. Near the beginning of the series, innocent bystanders are caught in the rubble after a fight Chrono and Rosette have with demons--luckily, Azmaria has healing powers. Later in volume 5 of the manga, several civilians are caught in a battle [[spoiler:between Aion, Viede, and Chrono in the middle of an UnstoppableRage]]. Many of them are killed because [[spoiler:of CHRONO'S actions, and not the bad guys as much]].
* [[spoiler:Winry's parents]] in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. [[spoiler:Winry nearly becomes one of these herself when she overhears that Scar killed them]].
* Poor, poor [[spoiler: Rangyaku and Keikei]] in ''TheTwelveKingdoms''.
* Saji Crossroads and Louise Halevy from {{Gundam 00}} are cruel [[DeconstructedTrope deconstruction]] of this trope.
* In the ''CowboyBebop'' movie, a convenience store robber takes an elderly customer hostage and demands that Spike and Jet drop their weapons. In an EstablishingCharacterMoment, Jet drops his gun, Spike doesn't, takes aim at the robber and shoots him.
* ''Anime/MawaruPenguindrum'' has Asami Kubo, a young girl whom Kanba meets up with in episode 4. [[spoiler: She's pushed down a metro escalator. She lives to tell, but ends up being given LaserGuidedAmnesia.]]

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[[folder: Fan Fic ]]

* ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'' provides the page quote.

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[[folder: Film]]

* In ''Film/MrAndMrsSmith'', John mentions that he's killed about a hundred people (though he doesn't keep track), and asks his wife not to be intimidated. She interrupts that she's killed five-hundred and sixty-six.
-->'''Jane:''' Some were two at a time.
-->'''John:''' Are you counting innocent bystanders?
%% Jane's number is pulled from thin air, please correct. %%

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* In the climactic scene of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', [[spoiler: Cedric Diggory is murdered simply because he happened to grab the Portkey at the same time as Harry (at Harry's behest). "Kill the spare" is one of the most chilling sentences in the entire series.]]
** ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban The year before]]'', it's revealed [[spoiler:several {{Muggles}} were killed in an explosion Peter Pettigrew caused to [[FakingTheDead fake his death]] and frame Sirius Black. The muggles were mere bystanders]].

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' the character of Jonathan is the go-to innocent bystander whom Buffy saves several times per season until [[spoiler: he decides to become a super-villain himself]].
** Wouldn't you?
* Subverted in ''PrisonBreak'' when [[spoiler:Michael and Lincoln's father]] appears to be an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time when Paul Kellerman is about to try to kill Lincoln. Kellerman gets ready to kill the old man, but can't even turn around before copping a shovel to the back of the head.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Amanda Tanner.
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[[folder: Magazines ]]

* ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'' once did a superhero parody with a character named, literally, Innocent Bystander, something along the lines of: "Officers! The jewel thieves went down that alley! You can easily head them off!" "You've saved the day again, Innocent Bystander!"

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* An early ''{{Peanuts}}'' strip had Linus (then a baby who couldn't walk or talk) getting blamed for something, and another character protesting, "He's just an innocent by-sitter!"

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* You do ''not'' want to be an InnocentBystander in ''FateStayNight''. While the more "good" characters will fight at night and in remote locations to avoid involving you, if you do happen to catch them fighting and threaten to break their {{Masquerade}}? They'll kill you. Even if they aren't villains.
* Civilians in most open-world games can be this, if they get caught in the middle of a mission, a car chase or violent rampage. VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto, CrazyTaxi, SaintsRow, {{Postal}}, VideoGame/{{Bully}}... Some get it worse than others. You'll probably be alright in VideoGame/{{Bully}} and CrazyTaxi, but if you're a pedestrian in {{Postal}} and VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto, and [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential the player's a cruel dick with a love for wanton destruction]]...well, bye.
** ''VideoGame/InfamousTwo'' takes this to the next level, with the evil perk "Bystander Bonus" - each pedestrian takedown gives you a small ammount of XP, making collateral damage quite rewarding in the long run.
* Tourists in the game EvilGenius. If they see something incriminating or get trapped inside your base, they'll panic and raise the international heat on your operations if you don't...pacify them (said pacification ''can'' involve killing them, or simply [[AffablyEvil pampering them until they're too confused to know which way is up]]).

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[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* The creator of ''Webcomic/UnionOfHeroes'' once invited his readers to become InnocentBystanders of his photocomic by sending him portraits which were later included in the story.
* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' the MainCharacters are actually responsible (though usually accidentally) for quite a few InnocentBystanders biting the dust. In fact, once two fans of the strip won the right to have a cameo appearance in the story. Pete Abrams, the writer/artist, honored this agreement, and had them [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever crushed to death by Aylee]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Waterworks}}'': The workers of the eponymous facility, which was invaded by a gang of thugs, are initially this, but they provide the characters with increasing amount of help throughout.
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* The YuppieCouple of ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', Margot and Brendan were frequently made innocent bystanders. It happened so often they even began getting snippy at each other when their ideas for a quiet getaway turn into a run in with monsters or kidnappers or robots or what have you.
** Likewise, the 1970's anime/manga ''UruseiYatsura'' had Mr. Noodle and Miss Soup, who were always trying to have a romantic moment, but were constantly interrupted by aliens, demons, monsters, and teenagers rampaging through.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' episode "Planet of the Capes" exactly one person on a certain alien planet ''isn't'' a superhero; he's named Normal Guy and the planet's superhero population devote themselves to protecting him. AND ONLY HIM. [[spoiler: In the end he becomes a supervillain just to get them all off his back.]]

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[[folder: Real Life ]]
* This trope is what signaled the eventual doom of the cigarette industry. When the health threat of second hand smoke was proven by the 1980s, it was a fact that no PR firm could spin about the need to restrict smoking. After all, the tobacco companies could manipulate their addicts to ignore scientific evidence, but there was no way they could do the same to non-smokers.
[[/folder]]
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