Second in popularity only to the TournamentArc, the RescueArc is one of the most popular plots for {{shonen}} series. It boils down to this: One of the hero's close friends, usually a main character themselves, has been kidnapped by some powerful force, so the hero gathers his TrueCompanions, saddles up his horses, and heads off to get them back, (inevitably) beating the crap out of anyone who tries to stop him.

Usually, the villains of the {{arc}} want to use the friend for some higher purpose or task, but the hero's rescue effort is motivated solely by a sense of duty and friendship. Since [[ThePowerOfFriendship friendship always wins out]], this means that the protagonist usually ends up on the victorious side.

The rescuee is [[SaveThePrincess usually]] [[DamselInDistress female]] and sometimes a [[LoveInterests love interest]], but not always. A bizarrely common thread in these plots is that the rescuee doesn't ''[[UnwantedRescue want]]'' to be rescued (or believes they don't deserve to be), and has to be talked into returning by the hero. Expect lots of shots of them moping about in a cell, {{wangst}}ing about their life.

StormingTheCastle is usually the climax to this plot. RoaringRampageOfRescue may happen on the way to the rescuee.

See also TournamentArc and WarArc.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime ]]

* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' is infamous for its lengthy rescue arcs. The first real arc of the series, the Soul Society arc, revolved around Ichigo and company's attempt to rescue Rukia from the Soul Society before she was executed, and introduced essentially the entire Shinigami society. The arc also included lots of infighting between the Shinigami captains, a murder mystery, and the revelation of TheManBehindTheMan, but the main characters never had more on their mind than the rescue of Rukia. Later that year ([[WebcomicTime in-comic]]), Orihime offered herself as a hostage to save Karakura town, and the Hueco Mundo rescue arc commenced. Notably, the rescue is ''far'' from the end of the arc (not even counting when another arc was started before the Hueco Mundo arc really ended).
* ''{{Naruto}}'' has also been known to use them. The Sasuke Retrieval arc is a variation in that the principle was not kidnapped, but rather [[FaceHeelTurn left of his own free will]], and the heroes were not successful in bringing him back. However, the structure of the arc was the same. The first arc of ''Shippuden'', the Rescue Gaara arc, was a no-frills rescue arc.
** There was one slight frill, [[spoiler:since Akatsuki succeeded in taking Shukaku, thus (temporarily) killing Gaara]].
* ''OnePiece'''s Enies Lobby arc is a rescue arc, with the Straw Hat Pirates saving one of their own from the elite government force Cipher Pol.
** Later on, the series actually manages to do a storyline that is both a Rescue Arc and a WarArc. Luffy storms the World Government's maximum-security prison in order to rescue [[spoiler:his older brother Ace.]] At first it seems like a traditional rescue arc, but it turns out that [[spoiler:Ace isn't even in the prison; his execution is already starting]]. Thus Luffy is forced to [[spoiler:literally drop into the middle of a war zone and join up with Whitebeard's massive armada, who are also trying to storm Marine HQ and save Ace.]]
*** Perhaps the biggest departure from a typical rescue arc is that [[spoiler:the rescue fails. Ace is freed, but is killed shortly afterward.]]
** Movie 10 is a feature-length RescueArc, with a couple of subversions along the way. [[spoiler:First, the rescuee manages to escape on her own before the rescue attempt even begins, but naturally the BigBad can't have that so we get a "for real" rescue during the film's climax. And instead of simply waiting to be rescued the second time, the rescuee goes about trying to sabotage the BigBad's plan.]]
*** The Arlong Park arc was the earliest one in the series, and while there's still quite a lot at stake (The freedom of Nami and the island she grew up on), its almost nothing compared to the [[DarkerAndEdgier more intense, world changing]] examples above.
** The Dressrosa Arc is turning out to also be a RescueArc, at least partially. [[spoiler:While the crew has various objectives, Luffy and Zoro's current goal is to storm Doflamingo's palace and rescue their recently beaten ally, Law.]]
* The manga ''WaGaNaWaUmishi'' is made up of one RescueArc after another, although it's almost never a human being being rescued.
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'''s Duelist Kingdom arc is a rescue arc for both Yugi, the main character, and Kaiba, his [[TheRival rival]] (although they're looking for different people).
* The second half of Season 3 of ''Anime/YuGiOhGX''
* ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'':
** Part I is a long SaveThePrincess arc. [[SubvertedTrope Sort of]].
** Part II has each of the protagonists captured, one after the other, by the invading countries. Along with their {{Love Interest}}s coming to bust them out (or ''finish'' busting them out after they've summoned their Mashin) is a lot of discussion and DefeatMeansFriendship between the girls and their captors.
* ''MahouSenseiNegima'' interrupted its SchoolFestival arc with a short BadFuture mini-arc inversion where the TrueCompanions had to rescue ''[[JamesBondage the hero]]''. Slight Subversion that in the BadFuture, most of the {{wangst}}ing was from the [[http://www.mangafox.com/manga/mahou_sensei_negima/v16/c142/8.html/ jailers]], not the captive; he was keeping a mostly level head while plot bombs were dropped.
** Earlier had a straighter example with [[ExtraordinarilyEmpoweredGirl Konoka]] being kidnapped and used as a MacGuffin to unleash a SealedEvilInACan.
** History repeats itself, as soon as [[spoiler:they figure out that Asuna and Anya have both been captured by Fate]].
* The climax of the first and second halves of ''[[Anime/ReadOrDie R.O.D. The TV Series]]''.
* The entire plot of ''Anime/TokyoUnderground'' is pretty much just one long rescue arc.
* The reason for Kenshiro's WalkingTheEarth in the Southern Cross arc of ''FistOfTheNorthStar'' was to rescue Yuria from Shin.
** Kenshiro's objective during the later ''Shura'' arc is to rescue Lin from the ''Rasho''.
* ''GetBackers''' [[OvertookTheManga anime-only]] final arc was about rescuing Makubex, who was kidnapped by [[TheMole Masaki]] and Brain Trust for knowing too much about the various secrets of the series. Ginji [[spoiler:barely stopped him from making a HeroicSacrifice.]] The ''manga'' has two arcs like this: the goal of the Eternal Bond arc was to rescue [[DistressedDamsel Madoka]] and goals of the final Lost Time arc included rescuing Himiko, Juubei, Toshiki and Sakura.
* Aside from Hiei kidnapping Keiko for one episode, ''YuYuHakusho'' has a short arc (about four episodes) about rescuing Yukina. Unusually, she wasn't a friend of the heroes at the time, but Yusuke's pretty much stuck doing what Koenma says to do and Kuwabara fell in love with her at first sight. (Coincidentally, he ran off and missed [[LockedOutOfTheLoop the biggest not-secret of the series]]: ''[[LukeIAmYourFather Yukina is Hiei's sister!!]]'')
** And in the Sensui arc, with Kuwabara
* The second half of ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikerS'', which also involved rescuing [[spoiler:Nanoha and Fate's daughter as well as Subaru's sister]] in addition to stopping the BigBad.
* The Zoldyck family arc in ''HunterXHunter'' is about Gon trying to rescue Killua from his family. However, unlike most Rescue Arcs, the problem is resolved without much violence.
* Most of the plot of ''Anime/BtX'' works like one of these.
** ''SaintSeiya'', the series Kurumada made before Anime/BtX, was what popularized this kind of arc.
* A good portion of the Phantom Arc of ''Manga/FairyTail'' involves rescuing Lucy after she's kidnapped (twice), with the enemy planning to hold her for ransom for her family fortune.
** The next arc starts off like this, but with Erza being... [[LadyOfWar Erza]], she doesn't play the role of the distressed damsel for very long.
* The beginning of the second half of ''DigimonTamers'', where the Tamers go to the Digital World to rescue [[MacGuffinGirl Culumon]] after he's taken by the Deva.
* ''Manga/FlameOfRecca'' does this twice, both times with Yanagi. And a third time in the TournamentArc, because they had to bet Yanagi to enter, and had they lost, she would have been forfeit to the bad guys.
* A common plot device in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf''. With most of the main cast falling victim to a kidnapping at some point, {{Fanon}} being what it is though has decided it is Akane who was the designated kidnap victim.
* In the Yellow arc of the PokemonSpecial, Red mysteriously vanishes with only his Pikachu returning, so a trainer named Yellow sets out to find him.
** The Emerald arc is a rescue arc as well, though it's not made obvious right away.
** And so is the Platinum arc, with the titular character seeking a way to save her bodyguards, who had been banished to the Distortion World.
* The 'Salvage' arc in SoulEater. The rescuee being Death the Kid, having gotten himself into something of a James Bondage situation after a series of foolish mistakes. The rescuers are Spartoi, with Maka as the de facto leader. Ultimately [[spoiler:he manages to escape on his own, though it takes some convincing from Black Star to get him to actually come back to them.]] The Baba Yaga arc had the secondary objectives of getting back Kim, Jackie, and Crona from Arachnophobia. The first two were being held captive and brainwashed by Arachnophobia but [[spoiler:left willingly in the first place, so they had to be talked into coming back to the DWMA.]] Crona was supposedly kidnapped by Arachnophobia to be a human sacrifice, [[spoiler:but, as Soul had suspected, this was just Medusa lying and she already had Crona back at her base the whole time.]]
* The latter half of the Conviction arc in ''{{Berserk}}'' centers around Guts looking for and rescuing his lover Casca from being executed as a witch by the quasi-Apostle Mozgus.
** {{Berserk}} also has the Griffith rescue arc close to the end of the Golden Age saga. Guts had left the Hawks due to irreconcilable differences between him and Griffith. After Griffith was defeated in their second duel, Griffith, in the throes of HeroicBSOD, paid a visit to Princess Charlotte's bedchamber and had sex with her. This ROYALLY pissed off the King, who had him arrested and sent to the Tower of Rebirth to be put to the torture and had the rest of the Hawks declared outlaw. After the Skull Knight persuades Guts to return, he finds Casca in charge of the Hawks, and together with the Hawks, they head to the Tower of Rebirth to rescue Griffith. The state Guts finds Griffith in sends him into one of the greatest examples of UnstoppableRage in the series, as he kills his way through every last Midland guard standing between them and the way out. Unfortunately for everyone, Griffith has grown to hate Guts during the year that he was in the Tower, and this, along with other factors, would ultimately lead to the events of the Eclipse.\\
Notably, the format diverges from the usual RescueArc as they ''get'' Griffith relatively quickly, and most of the arc's action is centered on the remaining Band of the Hawk escaping from the forces the king sent after them.
* In MarchenAwakensRomance season 4 also known as the ''Ghost Chess arc'', Team MAR have to save [[TheStoic Alviss]] from [[BigBad Phantom]] after he [[DistressedDude gets captured]] and [[HypnotizeThePrincess forced to turn against them via brainwashing.]]
** Before that, Team MAR had to save [[TheChick Snow]] twice. The first time was a minor plot at the beginning of the series and the second time at the end where she gets captured during the semi-finals because of letting her guard down against her opponent.
* ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'' has the Moka rescue arc in which they must break her out of Fairy Tale's flying fortress.
* ''Manga/{{Guyver}}'' had a lengthy rescue arc from books 17-25 involving Sho gathering his one ally, rather weak Hayami, to help him rescue Aptom from Cloud Gate tower. It was a tad long because alongside the rescue arc was another storyline on the other side of the world but all ends well dramatically.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* StarWars is a borderline example where the ending of TheEmpireStrikesBack and the beginning of ReturnOfTheJedi formed the RescueArc.
** The first half of ANewHope focused on saving Princess Leia from the Empire.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/TheSilverChair'' in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'' series
* ''The Castle of Llyr'' from the ''Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain'' has Taran and his TrueCompanions journeying forth to rescue Eilonwy.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ConanTheBarbarian story "Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn", as soon as Valerius finds that Taramis is not possessed by a demon but a prisoner (with a [[FakeKing Fake Queen]] substitute), he goes for this.
* Anything by Creator/DavidEddings.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The first half of ''Series/OnceUponATime'''s second season featured Charming, Regina, Rumple, and Henry trying to rescue Emma and Snow from the Enchanted Forest. The first half of the third season has the Charming family trying to rescue [[spoiler: Henry from Peter Pan]].

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* All SaveThePrincess plots, obviously, by definition.
* ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'''s first arc, before its shift to a GottaCatchThemAll plot, involved Vyse and Aika sneaking into Valua to save Vyse's father and [[MysteriousWaif Fina]].
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' had several arcs where Colette had to be rescued, and one early one where Lloyd himself had to be (although it was still played from his perspective). Towards the end, whichever party member is [[RelationshipValues Lloyd's closest friend]] is possessed by the BigBad and has to be saved before the move to the endgame.
* ''ManiacMansion''.
* ''{{Halo}} 3'': The level "Cortana" is a rescue mission to save the eponymous character.
* The first three games in the ''KingdomHearts'' series. A lot of people forget that all the [[SaveTheWorld world saving]], [[SideQuest side questing]], and [[ContemplateOurNavels philosophizing]] are just byproducts of Sora trying to rescue his friends.
* The ''MegamanBattleNetwork'' series loves this trope. There's at least one or two of these arcs in each game. The last game is especially notable in having ''three'' rescue arcs that involve rescuing player character [[CutsceneIncompetence Megaman]]!
** First arc occurs when Megaman is forced to seal either [[SealedEvilInACan Gregar or Falzar]] (which one [[OneGameForThePriceOfTwo depends on the version]]) within his own body. Cue having to control a friend to find something that helps him fight off the sealed beast and retain control of his body.
** Second arc occurs when some worshippers of Falzar and Gregar capture Megaman. Cue having to control a friend to storm their shrine and rescue him.
** Third arc occurs when the OddlySmallOrganization sets a trap for Megaman and captures him (again). Cue Megaman losing control to the sealed beast and escaping, with you having to control yet another friend to chase him down and hopefully BrightSlap him back into control before they find him again.
* Rescuing the princess in ''DragonQuest'' is one of the two main jobs you do in the game, but it's subverted that you can totally ignore her. Oops...
** A part of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestV'' is about your wife being kidnapped by bad guys.
* The first half of ''BaldursGate II: Shadows of Amn'' is spent trying to rescue the player character's childhood friend Imoen after she's imprisoned together with the BigBad for illegal use of magic. (For those protagonists who aren't inclined to such nice motives, there's the option of going after the BigBad for revenge or to gain power from him, but that leads to the same direction.)
* ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'': After the [[GutPunch Mammon Machine disaster]], you [[SideQuest may]] attempt a RescueArc to save [[spoiler:[[OurHeroIsDead Chrono]](!)]]. Or you can try assaulting Lavos directly, your choice. [[spoiler:If you don't try to rescue Chrono, it's implied that Marle will try to save him herself after the Lavos matter is settled.]] Also, [[spoiler:while you don't get to try rescuing Schala in the original game, you can try rescuing her in the remakes. [[DoomedByCanon You're bound to fail]].]]
** ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'': [[spoiler:''The entire game'' is a RescueArc to save Schala, though it's only made clear in the very last part.]] [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming Seeing her finally saved, many tender tears were shed.]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'': Two examples, and both victims happen to be [[WhiteMage the party healers]]!
** First, Dagger during Disc 2. After returning to Alexandria willingly to settle matters [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen with her mother]], she is promptly captured and [[spoiler:has her Eidolons ripped out]] by Kuja, Zorn and Thorn. After the destruction of Cleyra, Zidane and co. overhear Brahne's decision to execute Dagger when she returns to Alexandria, and the [[TimedMission next 30 minutes turn into a castle siege to find her before it's too late]].
** Secondly, after the [[ThatOneLevel exhausting Oeilvert/Desert Palace Scenario]], Eiko is kidnapped by Kuja, who wants her for the same reasons as Dagger above. A race to another continent, through a DungeonTown, a trip into a volcano and a ClimaxBoss later, she turns out to be just fine.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'': The first fight with Seymour, and the party's subsequent labeling as traitors begins one for Yuna. Your party is scattered all over a desert, sees the destruction of [[spoiler:the Al Bhed's Home by the Guado]], learn Yuna has been kidnapped by them, then you have to pilot the airship (infested with fiends, to boot) to Bevelle and rescue her. [[CantCatchUp It leaves her relatively behind the rest of the group.]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'': Chapter 9, which is dedicated to rescuing Sazh and Vanille from the Sanctum. In a subversion, they decide to stop being TheLoad, and manage to rescue ''themselves'' halfway through, and meet the party in the middle.
* The rest of ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil'' turns into a RescueArc (at least for Jade) after [[spoiler:Pey'j is captured by the Alpha Sections]] at the Nutripils Factory, and even more so when [[spoiler:they come for the children at the orphanage.]]
* The heroic motivation for the first ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' game is as much rescuing the hero's friend Jenna (who's been kidnapped by a group of WellIntentionedExtremists including her brother, thought dead) as it is about preventing the elemental lighthouses from being lit up. [[spoiler:She won't be doing anything until the second game, when she's a party member.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* Done by ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' during the "Dangerous Days," "Vampires," and "A Time for Hair-Raising" storylines.
* The [[http://moltenblade.comicgenesis.com/d/20080809.html second story arc]] in ''Webcomic/MoltenBlade'' takes the form of a rescue arc, although there was surprisingly minimal resistance.
* ''Webcomic/PowerpuffGirlsDoujinshi'' has this with Dexter having to rescue Blossom from Mandark.
* Subverted in [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20090221.html this]] ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' strip.
* The rescuing of Fumbles in ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}''.
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' did this in its Painted Black arc.
* Faen's rescue in ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}''.
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