It's that [[ExtyYearsFromNow time of the millennium]] [[ViciousCycle again]], where the EvilOverlord comes out of his [[SealedEvilInACan can]] and starts wreaking havoc. [[AngstWhatAngst No worries]], we gave TheHero a CallToAdventure call, and he's [[JumpedAtTheCall jumping]] to it. Now he just needs a {{team}}, but there's a problem. Some (or, in extreme cases, ''all'') potential allies are:

* A) Captured by the EvilOverlord, either for reasons unrelated to the Hero and his quest or specifically to keep them from helping,
* B) Mired in their own personal problems,
* C) Busy doing ThatOneSidequest, or
* D) Some combination of the above.

So what's a hero to do? Fighting the EvilOverlord alone is usually not an option (only [[IneffectualLoner losers]] do that), and neither is seeking out other, more preoccupied allies. That leaves TheHero 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 DebutQueue, [[RescueIntroduction introducing]] the cast while establishing the Hero's [[MagneticHero magnet]] credentials. Written badly, you might [[FridgeLogic find yourself wondering]] why the OneManParty hero spends so much time and energy trying to get the help of people who cannot or will not [[ItsUpToYou help themselves]].

This trope has long been a staple of the RolePlayingGame 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. Games also sometimes flip the tables on {{Player Character}}s by having their future allies rescue ''them'' from some kind of predicament (such as an execution by the EvilOverlord) in order to recruit them into LaResistance or whatever HeroesRUs they come from.

Compare SealedCastInAMultipack, AvengersAssemble, MagneticHero.

Contrast DefeatMeansFriendship and DefeatMeansPlayable, which are roughly the opposite of this trope (although there are some occasions where they overlap) as well as RecruitedFromTheGutter (where the act of taking someone into a group saves them).


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': This is [[MagneticHero Luffy's]] recruitment MO. Pretty much every member of his crew got a StoryArc dedicated to [[LoyaltyMission solving some problem of theirs]] that prevented them from committing fully to Luffy's quest to find [[MacGuffinTitle the titular One Piece]].
* ''Anime/RoninWarriors'' started with all five heroes being sealed away. [[TheConfidant Mia]] and [[TagAlongKid Yulie]] rescued Ryo in the second episode, and then Ryo proceeded to rescue the other four Ronins.
* Many of the Anime/{{Pokemon}} Ash and his friends catch want to come with them due to this trope.
* Attempted by Lelouch to Suzaku in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' several times, and failed each time. He recruited Tohdoh and the Four Holy Swords this way, though - and, really, his original team as well, in the first couple of episodes.

* In ''ComicBook/TheAutumnlandsToothAndClaw'' Dusty heals an ailing goat, Dirty Aelbert, who begrudgingly tags along with he and Learoyd to the mountain peak that is their shared destination.
* Franchise/{{Batman}} recruited what was essentially his own Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}} in ''ComicBook/TheDarkKnightStrikesAgain'' by rescuing ComicBook/PlasticMan, ComicBook/TheAtom, and other heroes from government prisons.
* Dust of the ComicBook/XMen was recruited after Fantomex rescued her from slavers.
** Professor Xavier rescued ComicBook/{{Nightcrawler}} from a mob carrying TorchesAndPitchforks, prompting Nightcrawler to join the team out of gratitude.
** Earlier in X-Men history, ComicBook/{{Magneto}} rescued Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch from a similar angry mob and coerced them into joining his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
* Klara Prast of the ComicBook/{{Runaways}} joined the team after Karolina and Molly tried to save her from her abusive husband.

* In ''Film/{{Eraser}}'', Kruger saves people from the mob by faking their deaths and then setting them up in the WitnessProtection program, telling them that they'll owe him a favor later. During the film, he calls in those favors, gathering a team.
* This is how Leia is recruited in the first ''[[Film/ANewHope Star Wars]]'' movie. She went from DamselInDistress to ActionGirl as soon as they got her out of her cell aboard the Death Star, taking charge of her own rescue mission and continuing to be an active member of the Rebel Alliance and Luke's team of friends.
** Technically also how Anakin was recruited in the prequel trilogy. A whole arc was devoted to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon releasing him from Watto's ownership, including a long side quest about how Anakin was the equivalent of a race car driver, even though he was a slave.
* ''Film/TheAdventuresOfBaronMunchausen'' had this as a plot point, as the Baron revisited the trail of his last adventure and rescues his old partners on the way.
* In the movie adaptation of ''Film/TheShadow'', the titular character's entire network was recruited thus.
-->'''The Shadow''': You're Dr. Roy Tam, a professor in the Science Department at N.Y.U.\\
'''Dr. Tam''': Yes.\\
'''The Shadow''': I've saved your life, Roy Tam. It now belongs to me.\\
'''Dr. Tam''': It does?\\
'''The Shadow''': You'll become one of my agents -- like dozens of others all over the world.
* In ''Film/{{Maleficent}}'', Maleficent saves Diaval's life. He doesn't like the rescue, but does offer his service to her to pay the debt.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''{{Series/Angel}}'': Fred joins the Angel Investigations crew after Angel rescues her from the alternate dimension of Pylea.
* In a late episode of ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr'' Brisco & Bowler recruit two of their MagnificentSevenSamurai plotmates in this fashion: they promise Pete Hutter he'll be given a full presidential pardon for all crimes outstanding (he's in prison sharing a cell with a ScaryBlackMan 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/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz''. 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, and they return the favor when the Wicked Witch of the West kidnaps her.
* This is how Illyria, the titular queen of the ''Secret of the Unicorn Queen'' series assembles her band of outlaws
* in Literature/TheRedemptionOfAlthalus, two characters get recruited this way, Eliar is saved from being a prisoner and probable eventual nasty death, and Leitha is saved from being [[BurnTheWitch burned at the stake by a corrupt priest.]].
* In one of the ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' novels featuring the iconic characters, [[TheBigGuy Regdar]] and [[GoodShepherd Jozan]] end up recruiting [[LovableRogue Lidda]] when Jozan decides to save her from being hanged by a lynch mob. Then later it's inverted when [[BlackMagicianGirl 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 Spider}}s.
* This is roughly how Gustav Andermann of the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series acquired his capitol of New Berlin. While technically Gustav conquered the world by force, the colonists were thrilled at being conquered, since it meant that he would find some microbiologists to get rid of the bacteria that were killing off all their crops.
* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', Ward needs to run away, anyway. He just helps a runaway slave while he's at it. Later, his brother, whom he saved from a suicide attempt joins them. There are some group members who just tag along because they like Ward, but he does acquire some additional allies by rescuing them from the main villain later.

[[folder:Video Games]]

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

* Many Creator/BioWare games use this method of party-gathering.
** Both ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' 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 ''Franchise/MassEffect'' games generally have a few characters you can recruit like this, following the [[VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic KOTOR]] model of "helping them to help yourself", plus a few party members who will join you for no cost.
*** Used and lampshaded in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', where, as Mordin is explaining the task he wants out of Shepard as a condition for his recruitment, Shep quips, "Just once I'd like someone to say, 'sure, I'll help, no strings attached'".
** ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' 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, if you're playing anyone other than the Human Noble.
*** Four of the party members for the expansion pack ''[[VideoGame/DragonAgeOriginsAwakening 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 PlayerCharacter), and Sigrun of the Legion of the Dead is rescued from a FateWorseThanDeath at the hands of the darkspawn (or disgrace and execution as a deserter by her comrades). ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' 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 BackStory.
* Before Creator/BioWare, Creator/BlackIsleStudios and Creator/TroikaGames used this trope as well.
** ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura'' 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 ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' 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.
** ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' 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.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' 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.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'', several of your companions are recruited in this manner:
** Nick Valentine is recruited this way, having been captured by Skinny Malone and his gang and taken to the vacant Vault 114.
** Strong is recruited when the Sole Survivor rescues him and Rex Goodman from his Super Mutant brethren.
** Preston Garvey is a technical example, as he is the only Minuteman remaining to protect a group of settlers from a band of marauding Raiders. He doesn't officially join you until you officially join the Minutemen, however.
* The ''VideoGame/MountAndBlade'' series allows you to recruit soldiers you rescued from imprisonment by an enemy army. Doing so is free and allows you to replenish your army during prolonged wars, or at least get some free cannon fodder in the form of rescued bandits.
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' 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.
* John Cooper's crew in VideoGame/{{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 and artisans in ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'' 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.
** When you come across Covetous Shen, the Jeweler, in Act II, he's been trapped in a barrel in the Caldeum Aqueducts by an unscrupulous friend who wants the Crucible both of them are after.
** Myriam, the Mystic artisan, is rescued from a literal pile of bodies early on in Act V as you're fighting the Death Maidens and destroying their Soul Crucibles. She accompanies you on your journey to destroy the other crucibles.
** 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).
* Inverted in ''VideoGame/{{Dishonored}}'', where anti-Regency LaResistance recruits Corvo Attano, the Empress' former bodyguard framed for her murder, by breaking him out of death row on the eve of his execution.
* Also inverted in ''VideoGame/DreamfallChapters'', where LaResistance rescues the disgraced [[TheEmpire Azadi]] operative Kian Alvane from summary execution in order to make use of his combat and infiltration skills against his former countrymen.
* Starting with the big [[Franchise/DonkeyKong DK]] alone, you had to rescue the other apes one by one from K. Rool's cages in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64''.
* Starting with ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIII'', this was the standard way to gather party members. Almost [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV every]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV game]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI since]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII then]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII has]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX had]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyX some]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII party]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII members]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics recruited]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance in]] [[Franchise/FinalFantasy this way.]]
** Variation in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', whose large character roster is a Venn diagram of characters who are ''originally'' recruited via this trope, those who are ''re''-recruited via this trope in the World of Ruin as Celes [[PuttingTheBandBackTogether puts the band back together]], and those who are recruited this way both times.
*** Terra is first recruited into the Returners when Locke rescues her from Imperial enslavement and MindControl in the game's opening minutes, although she doesn't "officially" join up until she runs into a ButThouMust a bit later. In the World of Ruin she doesn't get her fighting spirit back until she and the party have freed the town of Mobliz from the threat of Phunbaba, a roving monster.
*** Cyan is recruited when Sabin (and possibly [[OptionalPartyMember Shadow]]) help rescue him from an Imperial attack on his homeland.
*** Locke, who definitely has a "[[ChronicHeroSyndrome saving people thing]]," recruits Celes to the team by saving her from her own Imperial captivity.
*** Mog is taken hostage by a desperate thief, and his attempt to break free results in both of them clinging desperately to a cliff face. The party can choose which one to save; saving Mog recruits him, saving the thief gets you a rather crappy Relic. (Not to worry, the thief survives the fall.)
*** Relm and Strago are recruited after the party saves Relm from a burning building. They are re-recruited after the party helps Relm exorcise a haunted painting and Relm snaps Strago out of a Cult-of-Kefka-induced stupor respectively.
*** Sabin is re-recruited in the World of Ruin after Celes relieves him of the burden of holding up a collapsing building by rescuing the child trapped inside.
*** Edgar is re-recruited after you help him rescue Figaro Castle from [[ItMakesSenseInContext being trapped underground]].
*** Shadow doesn't join the party permanently until you rescue him from the Cave on the Veldt in the World of Ruin, where he's been injured searching for a legendary weapon (which [[PowerUpLetdown winds up being kind of lame anyway]]).
* Inverted in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', where both Frog and Ayla are (separately) recruited after ''they'' save ''you''.
* Also a standard in ''Franchise/FireEmblem''. When you're not recruiting characters straight off the battlefield, you're rescuing them from enemy forces, which prompts them to join your roster.
* ''VideoGame/Kirby64TheCrystalShards'' 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 [[EldritchAbomination Dark Matter's]] influence.
* ''VideoGame/MiniNinjas'' 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.
* ''VideoGame/PanelDePon[=/=]Tetris Attack'': All 8 of your friends starts off BrainwashedAndCrazy. 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 ''VideoGame/{{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. With the exceptions of your two starting party members, all of them were thrown into the TV world by the killer. The only playable character who does not have to face his or her Shadow is the protagonist, and that's because [[spoiler:he got his power to manifest Personas directly from Izanami, along with Namatame and Adachi, the two main villains]].
* This is one way to recruit pokemon in ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeon''.
* In ''[[VideoGame/PuzzleQuest Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords]]'', you get half of your party members this way: You rescue Seraphne from an ArrangedMarriage, 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 [[IOSGames 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 ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana'', this is inverted with your first party member, who is recruited a bit after she saves you from being cooked alive by goblins.
* Most of the potential followers in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' will follow you after you have completed a sidequest for them (although not all sidequests involve getting them out of a tight spot).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Sonny}}'', Sonny befriends [[CombatMedic Veradux]] as a new travelling companion when he helps the latter defend himself against the soldiers he stole some experimental armor from.
* In VideoGame/StarCraft, The Sons Of Korhal start out as the terrorists 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.
* In ''VideoGame/StarcraftII'', Ariel Hanson joins for a few missions after the colony she is on is rescued, as does Gabriel Tosh after his first mission, and even [[spoiler:Valerian Mengsk and Horace Warfield, prince and general of the Dominion you're opposing respectively,]] join your team when you get far enough.
* Invoked often in the ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}'' series.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenII'': [[NatureHero 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.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenV'': After a lengthy quest, involving the people of Lordlake, that involves unravling truth behind the uprising, [[spoiler: 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 besieged by an impostor of the Prince, along with a group of bandits, and the Dragon Calvary, who fail to come to Falena's defense [[spoiler: 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.
* ''VideoGame/TearsToTiara2'': Hamil rescues first Artio then Elissa and Daphnis from slavers working for TheEmpire. They quickly join the party, though not for this reason alone.
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood'' and ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations'', Ezio recruits new Assassins from the oppressed populace in this fashion. When you encounter an NPC who's being harassed by guards, you can fight off the guards and the grateful NPC will gladly join the fight against tyranny.
* In ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'', the Boss recruits Oleg, Kinzie, Zimos, and Angel by saving them from a tight spot.
* In ''VideoGame/MarvelUltimateAlliance'', for some reason ComicBook/{{Blade}} is trapped in an oversized claw game in [[AmusementParkOfDoom Murderworld]]. After the heroes rescue him, he joins them (and becomes a playable character).
* In the flash game [[ Vertical Drop Herozes]], the villains are explicitly stated to have trapped the heroes (standard fantasy classes) to prevent them from interfering. You play as them when you rescue them.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity'', Tommy plans to rob a bank and asks Ken for help recruiting crew members. Ken's about to suggest Cam Jones, but then remembers he's been arrested. Tommy's solution: break into jail and bust Cam out.
* The UpdatedRerelease of ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' for the UsefulNotes/NintendoDS has the player start out with Yoshi, who was [[GoodMorningCrono sleeping]] and has to rescue Mario, Luigi and Wario in order to get through Peach's castle.
** ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' DS as well had the Yoshis collect the baby superstars (that's literally what they're called) who are kidnapped by Kamek. Even Baby Bowser joins in, because he wound up in a jungle whilst [[TimeTravel Bowser from the future]] was trying to kidnap all the heroes who'd oppose him in the future.
* Inverted twice in the ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series. Disney/PeterPan and [[Film/{{Tron}} Tron]] will both join the party after helping ''them'' escape from the ArcVillain at the beginning of their respective worlds (Neverland and Space Paranoids). [[ZigzaggedTrope For the latter]], however, upon returning to Space Paranoids, Tron won't rejoin the party until you rescue ''him''. Twice!
** [[Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean Jack Sparrow]] does this as well in ''Kingdom Hearts II'', when he frees the party [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg and Elizabeth]] from being tied up after a TeamRocketWins moment for Pete, and rejoins the party ([[RequiredPartyMember as a mandatory character]]).
** It is still played straight in other cases throughout the franchise. In the first game, in Agrabah, you need to rescue Disney/{{Aladdin}} from the Heartless before he joins the party. In ''Kingdom Hearts II'', in Olympus Coliseum, you must obtain a certain item to save [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyX Auron]] from being controlled by [[Disney/{{Hercules}} Hades]]. In ''Birth by Sleep'', in Enchanted Dominion, Aqua will help free [[Disney/SleepingBeauty Prince Phillip]] from Maleficent's dungeon before they both escape to fight the evil fairy.
* In ''VideoGame/SpyroYearOfTheDragon'', each world has one such character; rebels against [[BigBad the Sorceress]]' cause, who [[TheQuisling Moneybags]] has locked up. Spyro has to [[CashGate stump up]] every time in order to have Moneybags release them, and each of them will ally themselves with Spyro [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent as playable characters]] when this is done ([[VeryPunchableMan after they've taken their revenge on Moneybags, of course]]).

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* This trope in a nutshell is how the Heroes' League got formed in the backstory of ''WebComic/WhiteDarkLife''. Author!Luigifan has not released all of the details ([[ScheduleSlip more due to laziness and constantly finding other things to do than anything else]]), but the gist of it is: Bowser came up with a plan to eradicate the Mario Bros. by [[VillainTeamUp joining forces with several other villains]] to crush all the heroes who would dare oppose them. Mario, Luigi, and Luigifan set out to counter this plan by chasing after the growing LegionOfDoom and joining forces with said heroes, usually arriving JustInTime to prevent Bowser's planned slaughter. When all was said and done, Mario, Sonic, Pipsy, Kirby, Bomberman, and all of their friends were heading up a HeroesRUs organization.