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Chronic Hero Syndrome

"Some doctors have the Messiah Complex - they need to save the world."
Wilson, House

Chronic Hero Syndrome is an "affliction" of cleaner heroes where for them, every wrong within earshot must be righted, and everyone in need must be helped, preferably by Our Hero him- or herself.

While certainly admirable, this may have a few negative side-effects on the hero and those around them. Such heroes could wear themselves out in their attempts to help everyone, or to become distraught and blame themselves for the one time that they're unable to save the day. A particularly bad case of this may develop into a full-blown Martyr Without a Cause. May also be a thin veil over the In Harm's Way trope.

If they aren't smart about their heroism, and they have a tendency to intervene without getting the whole picture, then they're liable to just make things worse. Their predictable heroism also makes them particularly prone to manipulation by certain devious villains. Interestingly enough, as Don Quixote lampshades, this syndrome was noticed by Chivalric Romance writers and they devised a temporary cure: The Damsel in Distress must simply ask the hero not to engage in any other adventure until he has finished hers (which may enter Jerk Sue territory).

This is extremely common in video games as a way to make the player deal with plot threads like Fetch Quests when they should have more important things on their minds. The characters are just too darn heroic to leave people to suffer so time to go wander around in caves for a while.

Small Steps Heroes tend to suffer from this. A related disorder is Samaritan Syndrome, where the hero bemoans that their duties leaves them no free time for their personal affairs.

The exact opposites of this are Bystander Syndrome and True Neutral. Also, contrast with Chronic Villainy and Changing of the Guard. If they get paid for this kind of work, it's We Help the Helpless. When it's because the victim is female, the diagnosis is The Dulcinea Effect. Someone with Chronic Hero Syndrome who travels from place to place is a Knight Errant. This type of hero never fails the Leave Your Quest Test. An inactive one will Jump At The Call.

See also A Friend in Need.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

  • Pokémon
    • Ash Ketchum. Every One-Shot Character with a problem that he encounters gets his help. Unless in the case of older pretty girls, Brock beats him to it.
    • Diamond of Pokémon Special. Even when Team Galactic is not affiliated to them in any way, he still wants to stop their Evil Plan.
  • Goku from Dragon Ball. Every time someone, human or animal is in danger, be it genocide by evil alien overlord, a man trying to find water for his village, or a storm threatening to crush some dinosaur eggs, Goku has to help. This eventually rubs off on his son Gohan.
  • Every Gundam protagonist ever.
  • All Super Robot series protagonists with varying degrees.
  • Dr. Tenma in Monster will not ignore any chance he sees to apply his medical skills for another's benefit, even if he's a fugitive on a manhunt. To the point where in the end he saves the life of the man he's been trying to kill for the entire series. This is the SECOND time he's saved his life, the first time being his first encounter with Johann and the reason he felt he had a duty to kill him.
  • Yuuri Shibuya of Kyo Kara Maoh not only goes all out to save random strangers, but also people who have outright tried to kill him!
  • Mytho in Princess Tutu has not a great case of this. He literally loves everyone, and wants to protect them — so much that he shatters his heart to seal away the Raven. After he does this, he's an emotionless shell and an Extreme Doormat, wandering lifelessly and completing any orders given to him... except when someone weak is in danger. Then he suddenly becomes the prince he once was and rushes to save them with no thought to his own safety. This includes jumping out of a window to save a baby bird and injuring his ankle to catch a clumsy girl who tripped.
  • Trigun's resident pacifist Vash the Stampede. To the point that when someone kills a spider to let the butterfly it was going to eat go free, he flips out at them: "I wanted to save them both!" Played for drama in later episodes as this former Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass with Improbable Aiming Skills gradually becomes incapable of saving anyone.
  • A Certain Magical Index's Touma Kamijou just can't contain his tendency to save people. Even if he just met them, he will go out of his way to help them even though he will gain nothing from it and will usually end up in the hospital. All of Touma's stories involve him saving someone in some way.
    • In a bit of Fridge Brilliance, after the first book/arc Touma loses his memory and the only thing he knows is that he saved this girl. Then in the next book/arc he has to save another girl and just figures that this was a common occurrence before he lost his memories.
    • To a lesser extent, Shiage Hamazura. Lampshaded by Birdway later in the series, as she points out that Hamazura may not want to help her out, but his nature means he's going to anyway.
    • Misaka Mikoto is also a sufferer of Chronic Heroine Syndrome. Deconstructed on a personal level— when it's her who really needs Chronic Heroes to solve her situation (such as during Sisters arc), she won't let anyone jump into it. A more mundane example is her friend Saten Ruiko, who is Chronic Muggle Heroine.
  • Bleach.Chad, sometimes bordering on All-Loving Hero.
  • Allen Walker from D.Gray-Man. An All-Loving Hero that wishes to save everyone — humans and Akuma alike. If anyone is in danger while he's around, count on him to jump in and save them.
  • Deconstructed in Revolutionary Girl Utena, where Dios feels compelled to save everybody. This is taken to such an extreme extent that he utterly ruins his relationship with his younger sister by constantly neglecting her in favor of everyone who "needs him", and physically exhausting himself almost to the point of death.
  • Oz in Pandora Hearts has a terrible case of this, compounded by a dollop of Martyr Without a Cause.
  • Shinkurou from light novel/manga/anime series Kure-nai exhibits this. It literally is his job.
  • Shakugan no Shana: This trope was to prove the ultimate undoing of Yuri. Of course, Margery isn't without blame for this...
  • InuYasha:
    • Kagome has it bad and goes out of her way to rescue people, as she did with Mayu, Kikyou, and Jinenji and countless others. She also tends to persuade Inuyasha to help people in danger. It normally always works.
    • Inuyasha doesn't always need Kagome to tell him to save people - he's saved everyone from two orphaned kids to his own romantic rival from whatever threat they were facing; in the first case the psychic demon he was fighting even commented on his heroic instinct. By the end of the series he's more distressed when he fails to save Kohaku and Kikyou than when he's forced to save someone.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: It has been shown in at least one chapter that he has a compulsion to do anything for anyone who needs help. 1,000,000 yen for an apartment for two days? After paying off other people's loan sharks, broken vases (by a child who shouldn't have been carrying something like that anyways) and literally helping every single person he comes across with the money, he's stuck with nothing and considers sleeping on a bench. Hayate IS this trope.
  • Digimon Xros Wars has Taiki Kudou, who tends to overexert himself while helping out random clubs. When the story starts, this compulsion has reached a point where his friend Akari follows him around with a bag full of energy drinks and a cushion for him to land on when he faints from exhaustion. Later on it's revealed that this compulsion stems from an incident in his childhood where he offered help to a boy who was sitting on the side of the street and cradling his head, but was rebuffed. After Taiki took that at face value, it turned out that the boy had been injured in a football game and had to be hospitalised for half a year. His catchphrase, "I just can't turn my back on him/her!" (or Hottokenai!) is based from this personality, and that even other people and Digimon (Wisemon and Nene) soon caught it.
  • Claus Valka from Last Exile is this trope due to Jumped at the Call. He feels morally inclined to become involved with the war based on his belief that it is the right thing to do. This means rescuing or otherwise helping just about everyone in his path ranging from his Unlucky Childhood Friend to his playfully sociopathic rival.
  • The protagonists of Yu-Gi-Oh! and its sequel series, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds must help and become friends with everyone they meet through dueling. All three have their moments of failure, but Judai of GX gets the short end of the stick.
  • Sailor Moon: Usagi Tsukino, the title character. In fact all the Sailor Senshi. After the Dark Kingdom arc when everyone but Usagi has been returned to their normal lives, all of them happen to be at the same location when a monster appears. Even though they don't have their powers, even though they don't even remember being Sailor Senshi, they all leap into the battle.
  • Bakemonogatari: Araragi Koyomi will do what ever it takes to help anyone, whether it be the aloof Sugar and Ice Personality he just met, the demon-possessed Yuri who also wants to kill him who has been stalking him or even the Vampire who also tried to kill him and currently lives off his blood.
    • Deconstructed at the end of the second season, where Kaiki tells Araragi that he cannot do anything to help Nadeko, and in fact, his insistence on trying to help her is holding her back more than anything. Araragi seems unable to accept this idea.
    Kaiki: Sometimes love makes people stronger, and sometimes it makes them useless. Senjogahara has grown a bit stronger thanks to you, that's true, but if you continue to associate with Sengoku, she will become useless. You are not the right person to help her.
  • Madoka of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. While she isn't under contract she continually wants to become a Magical Girl despite knowing firsthand just how much it sucks to be one, something which causes Homura to finally crack her stoic front and no end to her grief. While she IS under contract in previous timelines she is always trying to encourage others to fight on,note  not to mention her wish was to save a cat that got hit by a car. On top of that, as the Witch Kreimhild Gretchen her goal is to bring everyone into her care in order to end pain and suffering.
    '''Homura''' (after Madoka nearly contracts for the third time): (in tears) Why...Why must you always sacrifice yourself?
  • Kuro Karatsu from The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, at one point taking it so far as to sign up for a volunteer help program in Iraq during the second Gulf War so he can return a client (an illegal immigrant) to his family there (and for no pay, of course). Sasaki lampshades it almost immediately after meeting him.
  • Nanatsu No Taizai: Elizabeth is the female version of this trope. Elizabeth will do anything to help innocent people, even if it could mean being arrested, beaten, or killed by it.
  • Naruto: Naruto Uzumaki. If there's a cause, Naruto will fight for it. The guy refuses to give up his quest to save Sasuke, despite Sasuke stating he wants to kill him, was willing to forgive the man who killed the closest person he had to a father figure, and — fortunately for the Shinobi Alliance, as it turns out — refuses to stay out of the war, despite being placed in hiding, because he can't bear the thought of his friends dying to protect him while he's hidden away in a safe place. Once on the battlefield, he sends clones to help every division, despite the risks it presents to his health, and has basically taken it upon himself to win the Fourth Ninja War. Itachi calls him on this, telling him he should rely more on his friends. The advice seems to go unheeded up until Neji's death.
  • Karasawa and the nameless Student Council Vice-President in Daily Lives of High School Boys both have this. When the student council's "odd jobs operation" had extended to student outside their school, Motoharu asked them to have a backbone and say "no"... in which they promptly said "no" to.
  • Quon of Towa No Quon. He has to save every single Attractor that he can, and is distraught whenever he fails to do so.
  • Yugo Hachiken of Silver Spoon. To the point he become "The guy who won't refuse you."
  • Salaryman Kintaro, an ex-biker (bancho), was still implied to have had a strict moral code, but now, being reformed, helps/saves a lot of people and solves the problems his own way.
  • This is the defining character trait of Nanami from Kamisama Kiss. If somebody is in trouble and she is around she will make it her business to save that person.
  • Reiner Braun of Attack on Titan suffers from this, as noted by Connie. This takes on a whole new meaning when he's revealed to be The Mole.
  • Eita Touga of 12 Beast will not refuse anyone in need—regardless of their ability to compensate him and his army. It's a very good thing that most of his troops follow him out of honour or a sense of personal debt.
  • Averted with the main characters of One Piece, being pirates. Luffy even goes as far as saying he does not want to be a hero, even if he respects them, because he wants to avoid this trope. They still end up helping people anyways.
    • On the other side of the law there is Marine Captain T-Bone, whose personal motto is "A hundred good deeds a day". During their brief fight Zoro even recognizes T-Bone's sense of justice as respectable compared to all the corrupt Marines they had run into thus far.

    Comic Books 
  • The Samaritan from Astro City, whose constant super-heroing leaves him with only a few hours of sleep every night and nearly no time to relax. Having a bio-organic computer that constantly monitors the news doesn't help.
  • Superman: It's what earned his "Big Blue Boy Scout" nickname. This facet of his personality is played with often, depending on what powers he has at the time. He always has "super hearing," but exactly how super tends to vary wildly; sometimes he can hear whispers from far across the city, and sometimes he can hear everything. Showing surprising depth, writers have included this into his character; if he can literally hear everything, then every panel of him doing something mundane means that we are seeing Superman make a deliberate decision to not help somebody, since there is always somebody who needs help somewhere and he has to hear them crying or screaming. Mention is often made that had to learn to "tune out" what he has to, since he has accepted that even he cannot be everywhere for everyone, and has to accept that some people need to be ignored.
    • It's taken to an extreme in Superman: Red Son, where at one point he has to leave a diplomatic reception to put out a fire at a chemical plant hundreds of miles away. When he becomes leader of the Soviet Union, his people eventually become either unwilling or incapable of taking care of themselves, since they know Superman will always show up to save them.
    • This leads him to Heroic BSOD in the Neil Gaiman one-shot comic "Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame" when he and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) visit Hell and Superman's supersenses force him to hear and see everyone suffering there in excruciating detail. Almost as bad is his realization that they are in Self-Inflicted Hell and don't want his help.
    • This tendency almost got him killed the day before his wedding with Lois when he decided to stop a few crooks in an alley. Normally, this would be an incredibly easy feat for him, but at the time, he had completely lost his powers.
  • Spider-Man. Whenever he feels that something is not his problem, he remembers what his uncle Ben taught him: "With great power comes great responsibility".
    • This is often subverted, in that many times he'll bust his ass to get to the scene of a crime only to discover that one of New York's many many other superheroes already took care of it in the time it took him to get there.
    • Mary Jane showed a bit of this too, even against supervillains she would try to disrupt, derail or delay their plans, if not as a Spanner Inthe Works at least a fly in their ointment, relying on her charm and wit to protect her until a superhero (usually Spidey) could take over. If those all failed her, she still never regretted trying.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man, in particular, feels the need to insert himself in any potentially hostile situation. While he generally does more good than harm, he also gets his butt kicked and makes a lot of things worse. Ultimate Team-Up shows what happens when he doesn't know what's going on very well.
  • The Flash also has this problem pretty badly. He is convinced that with his speed, it should be possible to be literally everywhere at once, and fix every problem he encounters. When a fire breaks out and cripples a woman in Keystone City, Flash is so disturbed by this that he goes to fellow speeder Johnny Quick to obtain Johnny's source of speed upgrade. The results are pretty predictable, and lessons are learned by all.
    • This is taken to its logical extreme in Kingdom Come, as the Flash quite literally becomes the speed force and as a result is EVERYWHERE in Keystone City. As a result of this, he's forever turned Keystone City into a crime free ghost town, and has lost his sense of self entirely, becoming not one Flash, but a strange mix between Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West.
  • Depending on the story, most of the cast of Archie Comics could count. Betty Cooper got this once. Her nice girl/girl next door personality kept her exhausted with volunteer work and kinda turned her into a doormat.
  • Empowered, despite the fact that nearly everyone treats her like a joke. Any time she finds out about a problem, she will get involved, without fail, even if she knows she's in over her head.
  • Batman shows this too. Sometimes he may be an overly pragmatic jerkass or just accept that lives will be lost, other times he will NOT give up on saving everyone and everything, even at the cost of his own life. In Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?, two stories like this are told. In one, he passes a baby to Harvey Bullock and then is swept away by flood waters and drowns, and in another he throws a bomb and himself into Gotham River to explode so no one else is hurt.
    • This is a big part of why Bane's plan worked during Knight Fall. Even though he was sick (which Bane knew) he felt compelled to not get one minute of rest until he'd rounded up every single criminal Bane had busted out. At one point his body gave out on him and he collapsed on a random rooftop and getting him the only rest he'd get for that entire arc.
      • It also played a role in the follow up Knightsend when Batman's successor went crazy. Send Robin and Nightwing after him? Call in the Justice League? No. Clearly the only option is to physically rehabilitate after using surgery to recover from months of partial paralysis and retrain his body and skills with the help of one of his deadliest enemies, Shiva so that he could take down the new Batman himself.
  • Nightwing has this pretty bad, to the point where he's a lawful policeman by day and a vigilante by night. This obsession eventually costs him his relationship with Barbara Gordon. Then Blockbuster uses this against him, taunting him by saying he can kill everyone that Nightwing is close to. Even when his own life is threatened, Nightwing is concerned more with protecting the baddie than anything else.
  • In X-Men Noir, Thomas "The Angel" Halloway's entire life revolves around heroism — to the point that Professor Xavier diagnoses him with a completely new type of pathology, "heropathy". This is illustrated in their first encounter; Xavier asks Halloway why he cares about the X-Men. Halloway tells him that a woman, Jean Grey, is dead, the police aren't investigating her murder because she was with the X-Men... and he can't live in a world where a killer isn't brought to justice.
  • Patoruzú and Patoruzito are the most blatant Argentinian examples of this trope. The tagline of his comic book goes: "Courageous to the point of fearlessness. Altruist to the point of sacrifice. Brave to the point of heroism. But modest to the point of sainthood, and hilarious to the point of comedy."

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in Twisted Toyfare Theatre, where Mego Spider-Man just wants to go home and watch TV, but he continually saves the day because he literally has no choice.

    Fan Works 
  • In the The Tainted Grimoire, there is Luso, other members of Clan Gully have joked about it.
  • This is the very reason things kick off in the Bleach fanfic To Fight and Protect Ichigo will help because he can help. Even if it's Aizen.
    • In fact it is because of this that things aren't as bad as they could be - Ichigo's helping hand has gathered an eclectic bunch of unlikely allies all who will follow him, no matter what.
  • Blackjack of Project Horizons. Whenever she fails to save someone, she tends to take it very hard.
  • In the fan-manga of A Certain Magical Index A Certain Bug Zapping Princess, Touma's Chronic Hero Syndrome is exaggerated for laughs. Touma will save any girl who needs help...even if it means abandoning the girl he was in the middle of saving.
  • Mary Jane Watson simply can't help herself from trying to fight supervillains and protect innocent bystanders as Spider-Woman. The problem with this is that Mary Jane pushes herself too hard as a Triple Shifter, and always ends up feeling extremely guilty whenever she feels like she's neglecting some of her responsibilities...even if it was because she was tied up dealing with something else. It's no wonder she eventually suffers a stress-induced Heroic BSOD when everything comes crashing down.
  • Sleepwalker is a subversion. Fighting evil and protecting the innocent is his race's whole reason for existing. His life would be completely meaningless if he couldn't do it.
  • In The Powers Of Harmony, this is a driving part of Pinkie Pie's characterization. The desire to help others is why she became Zecora's apprentice in the first place, and when she learns about the Healing ability granted to her by the Element of Laughter, she goes out of her way to put it to good use.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Neville accuses Harry of having this. He admits it, saying "Every time someone cries out in prayer and I can't answer, I feel guilty about not being God." He says it's a problem and he's working on it — but doesn't mention that by "working on it" he means "trying to become God".
  • In the fanfic Tails Of The Old Republic, a crossover/ Fusion Fic between Sonic the Hedgehog and the videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, this is Tails' perennial MO. It very nearly gets him killed in Chapter 029, where he gets ripped to shreds by a rakghoul swarm trying to save some Outcasts, and Tails laments his inability to help everyone on Planet Taris, what with needing to Save The Galaxy and all that.
  • In Crowns of the Kingdom, Mickey grapples with this, as sometimes he's so willing to do things himself he doesn't know when to let others help or even when to rest.
  • This trait appears quite often in many fandoms (including Harry Potter and Naruto in particular), yet one of the most surprising recipients to this behavior is Anakin Skywalker. It's become a common fandom interpretation (Particularly in stories that have him give a A Reason You all Suck Speech to the Jedi Council) that Anakin joined the Jedi with the belief that they should work to help everyone in the galaxy, and that it was the fact that he kept being prevented to do this that eventually caused him to snap. YMMV on this.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. The fact that he's forbidden by law from engaging in vigilante heroism is a major source of stress for him. His desire to go help a mugging victim eventually leads to a disastrous confrontation with his boss at Insuricare. In the DVD special features, the National Super Agency's file on Mr. Incredible lists this as one of his weaknesses. In the opening scene, as he rushes to his own wedding he has to stop to help in a police chase, then while on his way to do that he stops to help a woman get her cat out of a tree. Fortunately, said tree also came in VERY handy in stopping the car the criminals involved in said police chase were driving! His hero syndrome even shines through as an insurance worker. He is as helpful as possible to clients when company policy demands that he be as unhelpful as possible.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the main source of dramatic tension in Watch on the Rhine—the hero, a member of La Résistance in Nazi-occupied Europe, has made it safely to America with his family. But when a leader of the anti-Nazi underground is reported to have been arrested, the hero feels duty-bound to go back and rescue him.
  • Mr. Nice Guy: The title character had absolutely nothing to do with the main plot until it stumbled across him.
  • George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life systematically sacrificed every dream he had to help the people of Bedford Falls, and it ended up being all for naught when his uncle misplaced the money needed to keep George's business afloat. And if you think that's the end of the story you need to watch more movies.
  • The Fugitive: Richard Kimble gives himself away by ensuring a misdiagnosed boy gets the proper treatment when posing as a janitor at a hospital. He's not caught, although the sighting does tip off the US Marshals who are following him... and hints to them that he's a nice guy really.
  • Kick-Ass not only has this — watch the way he charges into a fight with three bigger, tougher guys to defend the guy they're beating up, despite having no training and no weapons besides a pair of sticks — but he manages to justify this by shaming the thugs, the gawking bystanders and the audience for not having Chronic Hero Syndrome.
    Thug: What the fuck is wrong with you, man? You'd rather die for some piece of shit that you don't even fucking know?
    Kick-Ass: Three assholes laying into one guy while everyone else watches, and you wanna know what's wrong with me?! Yeah, I'd rather die! NOW BRING IT ON!
  • This is the fatal flaw of Daniel Rigg, the protagonist of Saw IV. In fact, his tests are designed explicitly to try and cure this. The first of them tells him to walk away from a woman in a trap, only for his attempting to save her anyway to, first, start the trap, then upon freeing her, she attempts to kill him because her instructions were that the police officer who tried to save her would put her in prison for the rest of her life. His ultimate test goes so far as to invert Just in Time, in that busting in at the last second Big Damn Heroes style was the absolute worst thing he could've done.
  • John McClane's tendency to be the Right Man in the Wrong Place leads to this - and this hurts, hurts, hurts. He even discusses this in the fourth movie.
  • Played straight and then averted with Commissioner Gordon in the third act of The Dark Knight. He slowly begins to slip into this trope after The Joker takes over Gotham, even beginning to ignore Batman's advice for the first time in the series, but quickly snaps out of it when he finds out that Harvey Dent has become Two-Face and is holding his family hostage.
    Gordon: Dent is in there with them! We have to save Dent! I have to save Dent!
  • Robin and Marian: The central problem for Robin. He returns from the wars in France intending to settle down but cannot resist being drawn back into his old conflict with the Sheriff. In an interview Richard Lester, the director, compared this version of Robin to Don Quixote, consumed by the fantasy of romantic heroism.

    Literature 
  • The Gone series. Brianna, or "Breeze". She spends most of her time rushing off to impress people with her powers and will, whenever trouble arises, blindly try to take out the threat herself - which nearly gets her killed several times. This is deconstructed during her POV chapters in Fear; the "stain" means she will not be able to use her powers, and she's afraid of being a disappointment to Sam if she doesn't kill Drake before that happens.
  • Harry Potter: Harry.
    • Lampshaded in the fifth book when Hermione points out that he has a "'saving people' thing" and that he could be walking into a trap. He's furious about that comment, pointing out that they didn't see an issue with that when he saved their lives before. Deconstructed when his hurry to save Sirius leads to the death he was trying to prevent.
    • Voldemort himself sums it up in Deathly Hallows:
      "Neither of you understands Potter as I do. He does not need finding. Potter will come to me. I know his weakness, you see, his one great flaw. He will hate watching the others struck down around him, knowing that it is for him that it happens. He will want to stop it at any cost. He will come."
    • Also brought up during Goblet of Fire during the Second Task when Harry is charged with rescuing the person who is most important to them at the bottom of the school lake. Harry insists on trying to take back every hostage, even those that weren't his, misunderstanding that Dumbledore had taken every precaution necessary to ensure that no one gets hurt during the Triwizard Tournament. Harry gets high marks when it was decided that his insistence to save everyone was based on chivalry.
    • It's significant character development in Deathly Hallows when Harry knows exactly what Voldemort is up to and where he's going—and for once deliberately doesn't move to stop him, despite Voldemort gaining a valuable magical artifact in the process. (It works out for Harry in the end.) Also, Voldemort is right about Harry sacrificing himself, but he's not entirely correct about Harry's motivations. Harry has motives other than simple altruism: Harry himself has a fragment of Voldemort's soul within him, making Harry a de facto Horcrux. He is making the sacrifice to protect his friends, though—the same way his mother protected him.
    • At one point his enemies successfully pick him out in a sea of doubles simply because he's the only one suicidal enough to put in the extra effort to use disarming spells in a real battle when everyone else is fighting for keeps.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden. Dresden has it bad. And he's Genre Savvy enough to know and admit it — and then still do it anyway. Just ask him about a Damsel in Distress.
    • In Grave Peril, Harry attends a Villain Party and is given a very interesting party favor, a gravestone and perpetually open plot. The inscription on the stone reads "He died doing the right thing." A few minutes later, he is given the choice between walking away and risking his life to save one innocent, which will also destabilize the vampire/wizard truce. The gravestone wasn't an insult, it was a hint. His response?
    Bianca: "You would flirt with chaos, destruction—with war. For the sake of this one wounded soul?"

    I smote my staff on the floor, reaching deep for power. Deeper than I've ever reached before. Outside, in the gathering morning, the air crackled with thunder.

    Bianca, even Ortega looked abruptly uncertain, looking up and around, before focusing on me again.

    "For the sake of one soul. For one loved one. For one life." I called power into my blasting rod, and its tip glowed incandescent white. "The way I see it, there's nothing else worth a war for."

    • In Turn Coat, Lara can tell he is sheltering Morgan because that's what Harry does: people in trouble come to him, and he helps them.
    • In the short story Warriors he attempts to bill an Archangel: even if he's working for Good, he's got to eat. He threatens to not come next time he hears the call. The Archangel immediately laughs at the implausibility of Harry turning away from those in need.
    • When we finally see his formative slugging match with He Who Walks Behind, we get this piece of solid gold:
    It.
    Wasn't.
    Right.
    No, it wasn't. But the world wasn't a fair place, was it? And I had more reason to know it than most people twice my age. The world wasn't nice, and it wasn't fair. People who didn't deserve it suffered and died every single day.
    So what? So somebody ought to do something about it.
  • Heralds of Valdemar
    • Deconstructed in Mercedes Lackey's world of Valdemar with the magical sword Need before she awakens to full sentience. Nasty things happen because the stupid bloody thing will NOT allow its wielder to let a woman come to harm, no matter what. Nasty for the wielder, because the sword has no concept of things like "impossible odds" (or "paying job"); occasionally nasty for the rescuees because it has no concept of "disproportionate response." And also that "no matter what" includes enemy women who have their own swords and are busily trying to hack Need's current wielder into pieces.
    • More normally, one of the qualities common to those Chosen to be Heralds is at least a little Chronic Hero Syndrome, and if they don't already have it when they're Chosen, they're all but guaranteed to develop a case along the way. They have Psychic Powers and normal people don't, so they have to use them to help those people, goes the thinking. Vanyel especially had it bad: as the most powerful Herald-Mage of his time, and eventually the only one left, no one else could protect The Kingdom the way he could.
    • Healers too, substituting Healing Hands for Psychic Powers. This version's only a real problem if a Healer comes across a plague or such beyond her resources, and attempts to fight it anyway rather than leave to get help.
  • From Predator things of the Century by Strugatski Brothers: "I'll get crazy for this. So many people — and I'm alone. I'm exactly like you, people — except I want to help You, and You don't help me..."
  • Deconstructed in Discworld.
    • In particular, Thief of Time has Susan angrily call the protagonist "you... hero!" for going back to help his wounded mentor rather than saving the world; he at first takes it as a compliment until he recognises her tone. It should be remembered that Discworld heroes aren't exactly the brightest of people — many jokes are made throughout the series along those lines — so Susan, a teacher and great believer in common sense, won't think highly of them.
    • Indeed, most of the genuine "heroes" of Discworld, like Granny, Vimes, Susan and Moist are highly cynical and jaded people. More traditionally heroic characters are usually treated as fools (with the possible exception of Carrot, who manages to have it both ways). And then there's Rincewind....
  • In the Geronimo Stilton book, "The Mouse City Marathon," Geronimo is continually waylaid from running in the eponymous marathon because he keeps stopping to help people: getting a lost mousling back to his mom, stopping a purse-snatcher, even jumping off a bridge to rescue a fellow runner who fainted. Yet he still manages to come in first!
  • Keladry of Mindelan in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet... she can't help but do exactly what the series name suggests, completely unable to turn down a cry for help from anyone smaller or weaker than herself (protecting animals as often as human beings) much to the exasperation of her friends and colleagues who feel obligated to help her.
  • Wandering Djinn: The main character of the anthology seems unable to not try and save people.
  • Safehold: Merlin Athrawes of the series has a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, which is subsequently lampshaded. Merlin himself notes that it tends to cause more problems than it solves. In particular, Merlin's actions have the potential to catastrophically effect his efforts to brig technology back to Safehold because the far above-average abilities he uses to enact his rescues can be interpreted by foes as demonic involvement.
  • In the Parrish Plessis series, the titular character has a bad case of this. Unfortunately, as a Doom Magnet living in a Crapsack World, her efforts to help backfire more often than not.
  • The Knight in Rusty Armor at first is this, particularly about saving princesses and going to crusades (he does go to knight tournaments with as much enthusiasm, however). Rather than heroism, he does this to prove his courage and goodness to others.
  • In the Hand of Thrawn duology, Mara Jade accuses Luke Skywalker of occasionally suffering from this.
    Mara Jade: You didn't think. You reacted, eager to save the world and to do it alone.
Later in the New Jedi Order series, she goes out of her way to explain to Anakin Solo how Luke (now her husband) hasn't exactly outgrown the mentality and even infused it into many of his students.
  • Don Quixote: Subverted and played for laughs; the protagonist is afflicted with this syndrome. The rest of the world reacts in the way we would expect them to in real life. The book not only lampshades this syndrome when Dorotea, (a beautiful woman impersonating a princess who really is trying to send Don Quixote home) but uses a temporary cure: the Damsel in Distress must simply ask The Hero The Promise:
    "Then what I ask," said the damsel, "is that your magnanimous person accompany me at once whither I will conduct you, and that you promise not to engage in any other adventure or quest until you have avenged me of a traitor who against all human and divine law, has usurped my kingdom."
  • The Stormlight Archive: Kaladin has a major case of this syndrome, he's always trying to save people and gets horribly depressed when he can't save/protect everyone, to the point of very nearly being Driven to Suicide several times.
  • In A Dance with Dragons from A Song of Ice and Fire Tyrion suggests that Danaerys has this. Consequently he recommends that Aegon, instead of showing up on her doorstep asking her to marry him, invade Westeros. He can't win, so she'll have to go to rescue him. This would not only put her own indefinitely delayed invasion plans back on track, but is also more likely to make a good first impression.
    • Jon Snow definitely has a case of this as well, especially after he is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He repeatedly goes out of his way trying to save everyone, no matter how unlikely the chances of it working are.
  • Knight Errant Michael Sevenson from the Knight and Rogue Series has a problem with this, and will on occasion put himself in harms way to help those who'd much rather see him in harms way.
    • It's more that he consciously tries to do this, because it's how a Knight errant should act. Several times per book he is shown demonstrating that he's naturally much more clever and subversive, but has to kick himself into it. This is the inverse of his sidekick, who tries to be a criminal and is good at it, but is constantly slipping and doing heroic things without thinking, and kicking himself for it afterward.
  • For all of Honor Harrington's debatable Mary Sue-ness, her major character flaw is her lack of self-assertiveness. She spends most of the series nigh-incapable of prioritizing her own needs over those of others, and it is used to the advantage of her political foes when they figure it out.
  • Derek Huntsman of the web-novel Domina is perfectly willing to risk his life to save a man he's known for less than an hour.
  • Witt in The Thin Red Line volunteers for each and every available mission, because he believes that his presence may may a difference for the better.
  • Since we've mentioned Merlin from Safehold and Honor Harrington from her own books, we might as well finish out the Weber trilogy with Bahzell of The War Gods. Everyone who meets the hradani pretty much instantly recognizes it. The entire series starts off when he can't ignore a servant being raped, even though he knows his intervention could mean war and tries to argue himself into why he should just walk away.
  • Bertie of Jeeves and Wooster suffers badly from this. He'd do anything to help anyone, friend or enemy, no matter how little sense it makes or how much others may take advantage of it. As a random example, in Thank You, Jeeves he decides to help his friend Chuffy, who likes a girl but won't make the first move, by kissing the girl in front of him to instigate Operation Jealousy. He fully expects to be beaten senseless by Chuffy for doing so, but this doesn't matter to him as long as his friend ends up happy.
  • The Journey to the West would not have taken nearly so long if Xuanzang didn't insist on helping everyone they met along the way. Although we find out at the end that the Buddha commands that they go through one more trial before reaching true enlightenment because they were one shy of the true ordained number.
  • Mike from the Psmith series, generally at his own expense. Psmith sums it up nicely in the second book.
    'This habit of taking on to your shoulders the harvest of other people's bloomers,' he said meditatively, 'is growing upon you, Comrade Jackson. You must check it. It is like dram-drinking. ...'
  • This is an obvious consequence of the First Law of Robotics: "... or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."
  • Jace Wayland suffers from this in The Mortal Instruments ,especially when the end result will end up benefiting Clary.
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Will Herondale. According to Jessamine, Will thinks he's Galahad. And it's true.
    • Jem Carstairs. Also, according to Jessamine. Not as much as Will, though.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Protagonists in series about Walking the Earth generally have this trait:
    • The Fugitive: Dr. Richard Kimble could probably have done a better job of hiding from the law if he hadn't constantly insinuated himself into strangers' problems. But of course he invariably saved the day, one way or another.
    • The same goes for David Banner in The Incredible Hulk, whose metamorphoses into the Hulk were both the reason he had to remain on the lam, and the only way he was able to save himself and those around him week after week.
  • Andromeda: Being an idealist from a more idealistic time dropped into a Craspack Universe, Dylan Hunt often suffers from this. Much to the annoyance of his more cynical/pragmatic crewmates.
    Tyr Anasazi: I trust Dylan to be Dylan. When the universe collapses and dies, there will be three survivors: Tyr Anasazi, the cockroaches...and Dylan Hunt, trying to save the cockroaches.
  • Angel: The title character. Angel feels eternally guilty and constantly feels the need to save everyone. If he doesn't, he is burdened with guilt. Spike too, after season 5.
  • Being Human: Despite being a Cute Ghost Girl occasional ditz, Annie winds up saving people a number of times. She saves the humans that the vampires were using as a food supply, and saves Mitchell and George from their assailant at the end of the second season. She doesn't even care that whoever is in charge of the afterlife is angry at her for doing so, she wants to make sure her friends are safe. A slightly less impressive (but still valid) moment would be when she and George go to save Mitchell from the vampires, using a lot of screaming and flailing to take down one vampire.
  • Blue Bloods: Invoked Trope by Erin Reagan, who warned Jamie that an awful lot of cops are like this and end up breaking themselves, and that his personality made him especially vulnerable to it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The main heroine constantly suffers from this as well. Buffy is the Slayer so she feels responsible for everyone around her. Deaths particularly make her blame herself.
  • Community: Jeff. He lampshades it at one point, saying he "reluctantly accepts the mantle of leadership as no one else will". This despite Troy clearly being an adequate leader until this point, making Jeff's Chronic Hero Syndrome look thoroughly petty. Most of the time, Jeff is a thoroughly reluctant example of this trope; having spent most of his life being a self-involved Manipulative Bastard, his experiences at Greendale and the close friendships he's found himself making have resulted in him gradually becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who ends up helping everyone around him despite himself.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor, the Doctor, dear GOD the Doctor. And boy does he suffer for it. Again and again and again, in every single reincarnation.
      • When The Doctor thinks he's destined to die soon he decides to give up his heroism, devoting his last remaining days to himself, but he's really bad at it. When he realises people need help, he walks towards the TARDIS, repeatedly reminding himself it's not his problem, as soon as he reaches the door, he turns around and heads off to save the world. Realising that being a hero is what really made his life worthwhile.
      Doctor: Not noticing, just going. Not noticing, just going. Not noticing, just going!... STOP IT! Am I noticing? No! I am not! What I am not doing is scanning around for electrical fluctuations. Oh shut up you! I'm just dropping in on a friend, the last thing I need right now is a Cortina full of teleport energy! I am going! Do you hear me, going! Not staying, going! I am through saving them! I am going away now!
      • What Could Have Been: Douglas Adams came up with an idea for a script tentatively called "The Doctor Retires" which would have been about the (Fourth) Doctor attempting to retire from travelling but constantly being baited back into heroics. It was popular with the production team, but vetoed by the producer, who saw it as mocking the premise of the show, and instead Adams bashed out "Shada" in four days. Steven Moffat has often expressed his interest in "The Doctor Retires" as being a brilliant concept and used it as the basis for his episode "The Snowman" (as well as using minor elements of the concept, and concepts from "Shada", in "Day of the Doctor").
    • The TARDIS itself could also qualify, since it's an intelligent machine that always seems to plunk the Doctor down exactly when and where he's needed most, whether he wants to be there or not.
    • The Companions tend to have a touch of this as well.
      • A particularly extreme companion about this is Ian Chesterton, who is incapable of leaving anyone suffering alone, no matter how much it involves screwing himself over to do it or how much it's somebody else's problem. The other TARDIS travellers moan at him about this tendency, too, especially Barbara. Just a couple of more extreme examples: "The Reign of Terror" shows him getting sidetracked saving an English spy when Barbara and Susan are going to be guillotined and the Doctor, his only hope of returning to his own time, is missing. In "The Planet of the Giants", he spurs everyone into bringing justice to a murder he witnessed, even though they've all been shrunk to an inch tall thanks to a TARDIS malfunction and Barbara is poisoned.
      • Donna and the Doctor spend most of The Fires of Pompeii bickering about what to do about the fate of the people there — he insists that it's a fixed point in history, and they can't do anything to stop it. She feels that they should save at least one person. She finally convinces him to save a family of four.
  • Dollhouse:
    • Echo. Her desire to save the world, fight injustice and/or rescue the innocent is so deeply ingrained it survives repeated applications of Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Also, Agent Paul Ballard, combined with The Dulcinea Effect. Perhaps why they make such a good couple.
  • Early Edition: Gary, who has made it his mission to prevent every tragedy spelled out in the magic newspaper. He spends his time charting his day's activities for maximum efficiency, so that he can squeeze a coffee break between missions.
  • Firefly:
    • Malcolm Reynolds will steadfastly deny this to his grave, but deep down he suffers from a near-terminal example of this disease, to the point that it ended up with him on the opposite side of a psychotic crime lord and the Alliance's Operative.
    • In "Ariel" Simon, who until becoming a fugitive with his sister was a brilliant surgeon, goes to save a dying man while in the middle of the heist in a busy hospital, paying no mind to the risks of recognition and capture. He has a "save lives first, ask questions later" mentality that he also displays in "Bushwhacked" and "Safe". You can see him visibly suppressing it in the pilot when he refuses to treat Kaylee unless Mal runs. He would have helped that man regardless of whether River was screaming or not.
  • Heroes:
    • Peter Petrelli. Although this may simply be the writers constantly giving him the Idiot Ball. In Peter's defense, he does go out of his way to save the world. Or at least, Central Park, and sometimes very close friends. In Volume 5, he also hunts down Nathar/Sythan/Frankenstein's Monster and takes a nailgun to his hands and...other body parts to get his brother back.
    • Inversely, Nathan Petrelli (who happens to be Peter's politician big brother), who seems to love the phrase "it's somebody else's problem." God help the soul who tries to hurt his daughter, though.
  • Highlander: Duncan MacLeod is happy to solve anyone else's problems. Even if they didn't ask. Conveniently, they can often be solved by cutting off an immortal's head, which happens to be his specialty.
  • House:
    • When Wilson's second wife was showing House around a condo she said about Wilson, "He’s just so knight-in-shining armor, you know? Always there to support you, until he’s not, but by then you’re hooked." He stopped being there for her because he needed to be there for House.
    • And it works reciprocally as well: House is always there for Wilson, from when they met (at a medical convention when Wilson was a zombie from a failed marriage) to when Wilson, an oncologist, came down with an ultimately untreatable cancer, to the series finale, where House fakes his own death rather than go back to prison for six months when Wilson has only five months to live, effectively exchanging the rest of his life for the rest of Wilson's life.
  • JAG: Harmon Rabb, Jr. He even manages to acquit a defendant from a Decoy Trial in the episode "Defenseless".
  • Justified: God help the criminals that cross Raylan Givens' path. He's basically the only person keeping Harlan, KY from being a complete hellhole.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Richard from the TV adaptation of Sword of Truth does this a lot.
  • In Lois and Clark, this tendency almost breaks the eponymous couple apart in late season two. Clark keeps suddenly dropping out of conversation with Lois and disappearing at the worst possible moment because there is someone out there to be rescued. Naturally, Lois grows more understanding when she learns that Clark has a perfectly good reason for these disappearances (namely, being Superman).
  • LOST: Jack. This is a big plot point in the later seasons where Jack's "think first, ask questions later" brand of heroism eventually leads to many people being worse off than they were before they were "saved".
    • This is even his Establishing Character Moment in the pilot, coming onto the beach in a daze from the crash and immediately rushing to help every single person in need. Only after everyone else is safe, does he go to treat himself for his own injuries, revealing to Kate that he's had a bit of shrapnel in his back the entire time.
  • Mash:
    • And Hawkeye, for God's sake, Hawkeye.
    • Was an Informed Attribute of Trapper. One of Hawkeye's letters home mentions him providing various forms of aid to the local people in exchange for (to them) small consideration (although a gallon a fresh milk was a nice thing to get). Being the sidekick, he didn't get it shown as much.
    • BJ had this as well, although he also had the problem of being the sidekick. He did get an entire episode dedicated to his heroic efforts to help a local family, who fled shelling at the end of the episode. Hawkeye comments at the end that they'll go back to camp, BJ will eat a lousy meal, have a bad night's sleep, and start looking for someone else to help tomorrow. BJ questions this, but Hawkeye affirms it, and BJ agrees he's right.
  • Merlin:
    • From the BBC series of the same name, to the point that it becomes a joke in The Torch Online's Facebook-style recap of episode 2x9:
    Gaius: (to Merlin) You know how I'm always telling you not to rescue people, but then you go ahead and rescue them anyway, behind my back? Seriously, don't do that this time.
    • Arthur is very much afflicted, as well.
  • Dwight Schrute from The Office is a particularly aggressive example, bringing pepper spray and assorted ninja weapons to work. Usually whenever Jim, Pam or someone else needs Dwight's help, he manages to create a new problem:
    Dwight (weeping due to a faulty can of pepper spray): Every day for 8 years, I have brought pepper spray into this office, to protect myself and my fellow employees. And everyday for 8 years, people have laughed at me. Well, who's laughing now?

    Jim and Pam come home and find Dwight and several renovators tearing their kitchen apart.
    Dwight: I couldn't find your I-Pod.
  • In Person of Interest, when the Machine is under the weather, we find that Reese is still listening to police scanners so that even if he can't see trouble before it comes anymore, he can take action as soon as it does. Also, we find out that he gives most of the hefty sum Finch regularly pays him to charity. (Despite that, he still has enough to always have his trademark suits.)
  • Power Rangers:
    • All Power Rangers get this the first time they morph and don't lose it until at least they stop being rangers, and perhaps longer. There's an awesome scene at the end of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, where the villains are beaten once and for all and the team is preparing to go their separate ways... when a fire truck goes by. Our heroes look at each other, grin, and run after it, not even stopping to reclaim their morphers (their chief is behind them yelling "Hey, you forgot these!").
    • This also goes for all the Super Sentai teams and most Kamen Riders as well.
    • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, several of the former Rangers aren't letting their lack of powers stop them from doing what they can. One doesn't even let being dead stop him.
  • Primeval: Nick Cutter runs into a burning building to rescue his wife Helen. Not so unusual, but the building is on fire because she blew it up in an attempt to kill him and everyone else. He saves her after all that, and then she kills him.
  • Prison Break: Michael Scofield. It's explained by him having Low latent inhibition, combined with his genius IQ and his childhood being full of abandonment and abuse, he is unable to block out other people's suffering. This made him extremely empathetic and altruistic towards other people's emotions and he constantly puts others above himself. Interestingly, as the series has a rather dark setting, Michael often has to ignore it, which eats at his conscience. Furthermore, it's also shown to be a flaw of his, as he is downright obsessed with bringing down The Company, seemingly putting it above getting a normal life back, in contrast to the other characters.
  • Quantum Leap: Had this built into the premise: Dr. Sam Beckett couldn't proceed to his next Leap without putting right what once went wrong. The final episode of the series heavily implies that Sam himself has been subconsciously causing his leaps out of a desire to help people and make the world a better place.
  • Revolution: Charlie Matheson has shown signs of this, like in "The Children's Crusade", when she wanted to save a young man named Peter from being taken away by the Monroe militia, and Miles Matheson had to remind her that they can't save everyone. Of course, Miles turns around later and helps in saving the young man and a lot of other children, so it undermines his point. Later on, Rachel Matheson and Aaron Pittman embark on a journey to the Tower. Aaron shows signs of this as well. It comes to head in "The Longest Day", where Rachel knocks out a man Aaron was trying to help and urges him to just leave him and continue on their journey. Her reasoning is unsympathetic (she's not trying to turn the power back on for the greater good, she just wants her son's death to be avenged), but she does have a point about being unable to save everyone.
  • Royal Pains: "No worries with Hank around. He has a hero complex." "It's not a complex. It's a neurosis."
  • Scrubs: Dr. Percival Ulysses Cox. Examples here, and here. In case the name didn't tip you off. At one point he tells J.D. that this is a slippery slope, because you start blaming yourself for deaths that aren't your fault. Later in the same episode, he succumbs to that very fate.
  • Sliders: Most plots in the first few seasons are driven by Quinn Mallory needlessly rushing to the aid of anyone in earshot, only to embroil himself and his friends into the troubles of whatever alternate reality they're in.
  • Smallville: Read Superman's description in the comics section, raise the Angst Up to Eleven, and you have his Smallville character. Chloe once asked Clark if he was afraid that if Lana learned self-defense then she wouldn't need a knight in shining armor to keep rescuing her from Smallville's dangers. He thinks he has to rescue her and everyone else too.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Inherited from the original film, Daniel Jackson was this which often put him at odds with the more pragmatic Jack O'Neill. Initially, Samantha Carter was given a feminist-oriented aspect of this which the writers quickly realised wasn't going to work for the show. As the series developed (and went down a drama to drama-with-comedy to comedy-with-drama route) the feminism angle was dropped from Sam, Daniel was given character development to give him a more pragmatic edge, and this trope became less relevant. At one point, however, it did essentially apply to the entire SG-1 team with different characters encouraging the team to "do the noble thing" in different episodes.
    • Similarly, this shows up to some extent in most of the main characters of Stargate Atlantis, depending on the situation. Sheppard definitely has it the worst, though.
  • Star Trek: Many Starfleet captains habitually encourage their crews or the alien of the week that it's sometimes okay to break a rule or two in order to do what's right.
  • Supernatural: Sam Winchester has this whenever he's not otherwise occupied.
  • The Tomorrow People: In the 2013 incarnation, Stephen Jameson seems to have this. He tries to help everyone, even if it could expose his people.
  • In 24, where do we find Jack at the beginning of "Live Another Day?" Despite everything he's been through, everything he's lost, and the fact that the authorities (and the Russians) would still love to see him in a cell, we find him trying to stop another terrorist threat, working in secret with some others, and he resurfaces when he needs the authorities' help to do it. It's not been his job in ages, it's not been in his best interests in longer... but Jack just can't stop knowing bad guys are still out there. It's not like one of his old Big Bads resurfaced; he has to watch for trouble and take action when it shows up; it's just who he is.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan Salvatore. He feels the constant need to try to save people and if he doesn't save them, he'll end up burdening guilt. Stefan might do this, not only because it's who he is as a person at his core, but possibly to atone for his dark past as a Ripper.
    • Stefan lampshades this in the Season 4 finale: When Damon chastises him for ignoring the current plot threat, Stefan replies "You're right. How selfish of me to be indulging in these precious moments with my formerly dead best friend. I should be sacrificing my own happiness for the good of others, right? I should be upstairs grooming my hero-hair." Damon later references this line in ep 5x21 after listing the things he needs to do to stop the current plot villain.
  • The West Wing: President Bartlet. Given his job as head of a country with 270 million inhabitants and major international responsibilities all over the globe, he is also chronically unable to fulfill his syndrome's needs. This often sends him into dark depressions, unable to get out until Leo or his wife tells him to stop being so egotistical as to think he can solve all the world's problems.
    Mrs. Bartlet: Ah, yes. [He's gone to] pistol-whip the trucking industry... because he can't save a gunshot victim and he can't stop a hurricane.

    Multiple Media 

    Music 
  • "The Weight", by The Band, notably covered by many including Joan Osborne, is about this trope.
  • Majorly subverted in the Hatsune Miku song "Boss Death". She is a chronic hero, but only because she's lost all faith in humanity or the world itself.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Every single knight in the Arthurian myths seem to suffer this. "Questing" was all about going out and looking for trouble.
    • For example, at one point the knight Yvain has to be at a very specific location tomorrow in order to rescue a damsel, Lunete, from being burned at the stake. With plenty of time, he stays at a castle the night before, only to discover that the castle is being held to ransom by a giant; if no one can slay the giant, the next morning he will kill all the lord's remaining sons and have his minions rape the lord's daughter in front of everyone. Yvain tries to say "look, I do have this prior appointment and an innocent will die if I don't get there, so I'm afraid this isn't my problem"... but he turns back out of guilt, kills the giant, doesn't stay for congratulations, and runs off just in time to save Lunete... effectively pulling off two last minute Big Damn Heroes moments in a row.
  • Every knight errant ever created from King Arthur on down. In a variety of Contractual Genre Blindness, Knights errant were bound to Walk the Earth until they found a worthy quest to devote themselves to.
  • In some versions of their myths, some Greek heroes are like this. It varies, though. Perseus comes out all right, and most of Heracles's moments of jerkiness are Hera invoked, but Theseus "has a way" with the daughters of the bandits he kills on the way to Athens, at one point kidnaps Helen when she was a young teen, tries to help a friend kidnap Persephone and also abandons or banishes a large number of other women. Odysseus is a little bit better, given that he is kept by women rather than forcing himself on them, but he is still a pirate (granted, that was normal for the time).

    Pro Wrestling 
  • John Cena, in spades. Whether it's saving a Diva in distress, turning the tide of a three-or-four-or-10-against-one battle, or chasing bad guys off, John is your man. Probably the only reason he doesn't show up in every single segment to battle the villains and right the wrongs is that he gets too distracted chasing whatever bad guy caught his eye first.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the pitfalls of a high Compassion virtue in Exalted. Indeed, the rulebook's example of a circumstance that requires you to make a Virtue roll is a high-Compassion character falling victim to a mixture of this and Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help. Even worse, failing to satisfy this urge may drive up the character's Limit and trigger the Great Curse.
  • The Charity Virtue in the New World of Darkness encourages you to act like this in exchange for Willpower. The sample blurb for the virtue discusses a woman who's investigating a ritualistic Serial Killer... and who stops to pick up a hitchhiker with a broken arm (in real life, a favorite trick of Ted Bundy), even though she knows it could be a trap, because she fears he could end up a victim.
  • Paladins in most editions of Dungeons & Dragons are contractually obligated to follow this trope, being Lawful Good and bound by a code of honor. Good-aligned characters in general may do this depending on the player.

    Theater 
  • In Fiorello, one of his law office employees complained about LaGuardia's tendency to drift into this trope while working "On the Side of the Angels:"
    That bench stays crowded
    It's a regular wailing wall
    Penniless and helpless
    Ignorant and scared
    He collects 'em all!
  • Elphaba, initially. It never works out for her, and she eventually realizes that she simply cannot win the approval of the world.

    Video Games 
  • Some of the more Open-worldy sort of games allow the player to choose for themselves, either helping out every poor bastard who's dropped a ring in a sewer grate, ignoring everyone so you can get on with your business, or killing the asker for daring to ask for your aid.
  • Similarly, RPGs with large numbers of side quests irrelevant to the main plot can have the main character coming off as someone with Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • Virtually every MMO steers the player's character into having Chronic Hero Syndrome. The character will often be sent out against a great evil... but on the way, they'll have to protect random people from threats, take shifts as a game warden, help gather materials for various building projects, and sometimes even be a relationship counselor, for everybody whose path they happen to cross.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Yuna of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, as lampshaded by Shinra after Yuna gets the Gullwings involved in yet another third party's request for help: "Hero. Summoner. Doormat." In fact, the other characters just love to lampshade this about Yuna, so much so that it pretty much becomes a Running Gag.
    • Tidus also qualifies. It is especially noticeable when the party hears about a monster eating chocobos. Tidus insists that they help defeat the monster but other members of the party point out that it isn't their problem.
    • Auron at one point tells Tidus that Jecht used to get his pilgrimage companions into all kinds of trouble when trying to help people because "it's the right thing to do". This includes trying to kill the Chocobo Eater.
    • Locke Cole of Final Fantasy VI is a Chronic Hero to every distressed damsel he meets, largely because of his dead girlfriend issues.
    • Zidane of Final Fantasy IX, whose motto is "I don't need a reason to help people"
    • Snow from Final Fantasy XIII has this pretty bad. Lampshaded by Lightning in one scene:
    Lightning: But going out of his way to help someone? That's Snow all over.
  • Common in BioWare RPGs. Typically, you have a party member who recommends you help out whenever asked to and one who makes snide remarks along the lines of "Ooh, let's solve every little problem in the entire village! The Darkspawn will be so impressed!"
    • An Open Palm Spirit Monk in Jade Empire meddles in people's lives for the better, most of the time. A Closed Fist Spirit Monk is much less helpful.
    • The Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins can fulfill this trope to such a degree that Morrigan will complain about it.
      • You can even earn an "Easily Distracted" award if you complete most of the sidequests.
    • Hawke of Dragon Age II gets drawn into other peoples' business just as frequently, though the results are more "mixed" than usual. The Sarcastic personality is particularly self-aware about this.
    • Commander Shepard in Mass Effect is also constantly being drawn in to other people's problems, and Paragon Shepard fulfills the trope by doing his or her best to help... although the player also has the opportunity, playing Shepard as a Renegade, to ignore them or make things worse.
    • Lampshaded in the second game, where you can pass by a couple you helped in the first game having a problem. One of them jokingly says, "Maybe we should ask random people off the street what they think."
    • The Light-side player character in Knights of the Old Republic.
  • A Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3 with positive karma likely suffers from this affliction, as he or she will never, no matter what, turn down an offer to help others. Of course, this being Fallout, seemingly nice things have a tendency to come and bite you in the ass, whether it's being hunted by bloodthirsty mercs, the whole "Tenpenny Tower" sidequest, or a certain unnamed Megaton settler.
  • Fallout: New Vegas
    • The Courier also suffers form this, however it ends up paying off as the factions who likes him/her ends up coming to his/her aid in the end game battle, also gives him/her lots of cool stuff.
    • Deconstructed by the Followers of the Apocalypse. They are truly noble, and do genuinely want to help people in the wasteland, but their own selflessness winds up screwing them over in almost every possible way in almost all of the endings, the only good ending they achieve is with the NCR.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario and Luigi basically do all of the hero work in their universe. And they aren't limited to that, either.
  • The Player's character in the Fable series, in basically every quest you end up saving somebody from something, even more so in II with the DLCs, even when taking the routes to "Chaotic Evil" you still save the world, and a lot of random people along the way.
  • Link from The Legend of Zelda. Especially the Bomber's Notebook from Majora's Mask. Interestingly, the Bombers themselves aspire to be this.
  • Samus Aran from Metroid, particularly in the Prime series. Outside of the Prime series, though, she's usually working for the government, which probably helps how she never has time to bounty-hunt.
  • Fox from Star Fox, a mercenary group that doesn't seem terribly interested in money. Only two games mention anything about payment, and the later starts out with the Great Fox in such a state of disrepair that it seems the team has just been waiting for another opportunity to play heroes, with the exception of Falco, who left the team.
  • Adol from the Ys series. Even though Sealed Evil in a Can gets unsealed wherever he goes, he will always risk his neck to save the community he just came by. Adol is an interesting example since it's not entirely a coincidence that he ends up in places in need of saving: he went to Ys in the first place specifically because he heard it was under attack. Most people with Chronic Hero Syndrome end up helping the people around them because they can't help themselves, despite all the damage and disruption it causes their normal lives. Adol, by contrast, was told that there were still people in the world that were being eaten by dragons and enslaved by sorcerers at an impressionable age and decided then and there that somebody needed to do something about that.
  • Marona from Phantom Brave. Oh so very much.
  • Yuri Lowell from Tales of Vesperia is an odd version of this trope. It's both shown many times and stated many times that Yuri cannot ignore a innocent person in need. Of course, it's also been both stated and shown that he takes it a little too far. Not that those on the receiving end of Yuri's Justice didn't deserve it after what they did...
    • Flynn is also like this, though he prefers to use more diplomatic means of solving problems. Like Yuri, he sometimes takes things too far.
  • According to the first game, Sora from Kingdom Hearts is not supposed to meddle in the affairs of other worlds, except for fighting off Heartless. He pretty much completely ignores this fact, as he just cannot help helping people. By the second game, the whole "not supposed to meddle" thing is essentially forgotten, and Sora is even more of a chronic hero than ever. It's lampshaded by almost every single one of the game's more cynical characters.
  • Ōkami's Amaterasu is constantly getting distracted from her grand quest to save the world from the forces of evil because the cherry trees aren't blooming, a kid has lost his dog, and a girl wants to dig up something in Sasa Sanctuary's bamboo grove. All of these are necessary to advance the plot and Amaterasu herself. She's a goddess in mortal form, but she has been severely weakened over time. The accumulated praise she receives from helping people allows her to rebuild her power and enhance her abilities. Those seemingly small and insignificant acts of kindness and generosity are as integral to the saving the world as defeating Orochi.
  • Raymond Bryce from Disaster: Day of Crisis. The very objective of the game is to save as many people as possible. To quote Ray: "I still want to same them. Save you, save Lisa, save everyone".
  • Anyone in World of Warcraft with the Loremaster achievement. Requiring 2,843 quests to be completed ("only" 2,705 for Horde players), you're not only helping anyone who needs help with anything, you're hunting down every last person who might need so little as a mug of ale from a nearby brewery.
  • Guilty Gear: Ky Kiske. One of the reasons why the Post-War Administrative Bureau find him so easily manipulative is his overwhelming sense of justice that he feels the need to save everyone he can. Still, he's a very nice guy to have along as a friend. Just gullible. In the Drama CD, this one trait... got him killed.
  • Justified in Dragon Quest IX: the hero is a Celestrian whose primary role as a Guardian is to help mortals and collect the benevolessence they unknowingly exude afterwards. In short, having Chronic Hero Syndrome is a flapping job requirement.
  • The protagonists of Persona 3 and Persona 4, who, in the course of making friends across their respective towns (and saving the world from Anthropomorphic Personifications of the human collective unconsciousness), end up helping everyone they meet with their personal issues, from the girl who ran away from home to the young man with the terminal disease to the nurse who despises her life to the classmate with the dying father. Of course, one of them is explicitly a Messianic Archetype and they're both All-Loving Heroes, so it's not really surprising.
  • Every Golden Sun protagonist ever... not that they have much of a choice. And in Dark Dawn, it gets lampshaded:
    "How did we arrive in this situation, exactly?"
    "Because Matthew can be talked into anything, that's how."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic always helps out anyone in trouble stating that helping those in need is pretty much the only thing he slows down for.
  • Fire Emblem Jugdral
    • Sety. In his own words, he simply cannot turn away when he sees someone in trouble, and boy does he get in problems due to it. And for better/worse, when Celice helps him whack the Distress Ball away in Chapter 8, he beats himself up due to not being able to rescue all the kids caught in the child hunts. "I'm no hero, sir. I'm a coward, if anything".
    • Hawk, being Sety's expy/replacement if Fury has no kids, suffers of exactly the same Fatal Flaw.
  • Red Dead Redemption's John Marston can be this if going for high honour. The game even keeps track of how many people you help. Everything from rescuing women and stopping thieves to stopping a carriage robbery in between trying to capture his former outlaw brethren. In fact, a late-game mission plays with this; during the Beecher's Hope ranching section of the game, while John is busy tending his new herd of cattle, a train races by under attack by outlaws, and John must choose whether or not to stay with the herd or intervene.
  • The Allied Nations in Red Alert 3: Paradox are sort of defined as a whole by their Chronic Hero Syndrome, but this causes serious problems because not everyone agrees with their definition of heroic action, which tends towards For Your Own Good on a national scale.
  • Doom
  • The title character of NieR may be The Unfettered in his desire to keep Yonah safe, but that doesn't mean he won't stop to assist with such diverse problems as helping a merchant get started, a family get enough to eat, finding a lost dog, or getting a bartender rare supplies. Weiss snarks about it, but Nier says he can't afford to turn down any available odd job since it's what he and Yonah live on. Later, it's because it's what he's always done, and the occasional distraction keeps him sane - though one quest-giver opens up with (paraphrased) "Hey, you're that guy who'll do any job no matter how degrading, right?" It helps that Nier's usually not on a hard deadline for anything.
  • Star Ocean The Last Hope has Edge Maverick. Though his job is to find a new habitable planet suitable for humans, he quite quickly ends up trying to save a village of people he doesn't know, destroy a certain race to prevent them invading planets and then accidentally destroys a planet in a different dimension when he was only trying to help it, leading him to mentally break down and blame the entire thing on himself despite everything his friends try to say to him.
    "DAMN IT ALL!!!!"
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio's primary goal in Constantinople is to recover the keys that he needs to access the library at Masyaf, but along the way he keeps getting roped into the fight against injustice, and not unwillingly. As he needs help from the Assassins in the city, he winds up working to bolster them in their fight against the Templars. He also befriends Suleiman, the future Sultan, whose father and uncle are involved in a war for the succession of the Sultanate. Further, he meets and falls in love with a librarian in his search for the keys and is eventually forced to protect her from his enemies. At this point in his life he is bone-weary of the constant struggle, but as long as he remains an Assassin, he must keep fighting it.
  • In Resident Evil 6, Leon shows some hints of being this when he notices two men via security camera calling for help, before being overrun by zombies. He even attempts to go there to save the men, although Helena convinces him that it's already too late.
  • If Max Payne ever gains a whif of a serious crime or conspiracy, he sees it through to the end, consequences be damned. It's a plot point in Max Payne 2, as Vlad knows full well how Max would never just walk away, even when it's not something that directly involves him. In Max Payne 3 he even puts his life repeatedly on the line for a bunch of people that, most of which, he doesn't particularly even like that much.

    Visual Novels 
  • The heroes of the Nasuverse tend to have this very, very badly.
    • Tsukihime: Tohno Shiki spends much of "Far Side" investigating the disappearance of Satsuki, who he barely knew.
      • And Mikiya in Kara no Kyoukai, who is in some ways a prototype version of Tohno Shiki.
    • Fate/stay night heavily deconstructs this with the protagonist Shirou Emiya. His need to try to save everyone is borne from a lack of a sense of self, wherein he can only find happiness as a result of other people's happiness. Many different characters comment on how messed up it is, and the Unlimited Blade Works route spends a majority of its time forcing Shirou to confront this in the form of his cynical Future Badass counterpart Archer, while the Heaven's Feel route is focused on him learning to overcome it.
  • Demonbane protagonist Kurou Daijuuji will help anyone, no matter the cost to himself. This is commented on several times, with many characters asking why Kurou goes to such lengths for people, even when they sometimes don't even want it themselves. His response is always a vague sentiment of "it would leave a bad aftertaste if I didn't". It eventually turns out that, over hundreds of thousands of time loops, he has been steadily molded into "the perfect hero" by Nyarlathotep, who needs such a human in order to enact its plans. Unfortunately for the Crawling Chaos, it failed to consider that this means Kurou would eventually come to oppose it as well.

    Web Comics 
  • Elliot from El Goonish Shive is one of these, starting out before the start of the strip with beating up bullies that were picking on people, and growing from there. Susan comments on it in this strip.
  • Girl Genius
    • Agatha claims to Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! that she's uninterested in heroism. Immediately afterwards, she rushes out to defend the circus from an attacking Jägermonster. Clearly she won't be leading a normal life any time soon.
    • About Othar himself, reading his twitter shows that he's made of this trope. It also helps that he's completely nuts.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach appears to be inflicted as well. While suffering from a gunshot and hallucinations, the only way to get him on his feet is to invoke the Damsel in Distress trope and make him think Zola needs her butt saved yet again.
    • Gil’s tendency to constantly save people is deconstructed several times, mostly with Agatha. He has problem understanding that someone may not want or need saving at all.
    • And Gil's father, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, has Chronic Anti-Hero Syndrome. He's generally on the side of good, but with ruthless Well-Intentioned Extremist methods, including conquering much of Europe in order to save it from itself.
  • Antimony from Gunnerkrigg Court is constantly going out of her way to help unusual creatures and/or her classmates, from her first week in the Court onward. A later Flash Back reveals that she's been doing this sort of thing since she was six years old.
  • Ronin Galaxy: Cecil absolutely MUST save the day when there is a girl involved.
  • Supermegatopia's Weasel Boy series theorizes that heroism is "an instinct that makes people do good things before they can even begin to think about the consequences." Weasel Boy himself suffers from this in spades, even getting himself killed because he tries rescuing a little girl from a burning building just after being hit with a fast-acting poison.
  • Mr. Mighty from Everyday Heroes. On the first day with his new team, he helped a little old lady fix a flat tire, retrieved a truckload of chickens that were blocking traffic, saved a bus load of orphans from a speeding freight train, and foiled a bank robbery... all before he even got to the office. His biggest worry was being an hour late to work.
  • Todo from City of Reality suffers from this. It really interferes with his love life, as shown in this part of Chapter 6. Fortunately he manages to make it up to AV after she comes to accept that it's just how he is.
  • The title character of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! can be counted on to do his even best to help anyone he encounters who's in serious trouble, whether that means facing off against a giant space monster or rescuing a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds from herself. (Other incidents like stopping the bigfoot war don't quite count, since the threats endangered him, too.) His one attempt at being a Knight Errant when he got super powers went badly.
  • Elysia from Rumors of War exhibits symptoms of Chronic Hero Syndrome, going out of her way to help a young woman who's misplaced her lover. Of course, it's shown that her initial reluctance to help out meant she was unable to prevent a chain of events that culminated in the girl's disappearance, the torture of a (presumably) innocent (if somewhat creepy) man, and a violent confrontation with the girl's father.
  • Keychain of Creation, an Exalted webcomic, features in the character of Misho a person who perfectly embodies the benefits and drawbacks of a high Compassion Virtue. He cannot pass a scene of suffering and not offer to help, and while he's got more than enough power to do the job, it comes at the cost of possibly revealing himself as a Solar, which causes problems for the group thanks to the Wyld Hunt. The other problem with it is aptly demonstrated in these strips.
  • Rikk from Fans! has this in spades. It's surprising that the villains don't use it against him more often.
  • Freefall: Florence Ambrose has a case of this; it almost got her killed at one point, in a Shoot the Shaggy Dog incident at that. Of course, her grand objective is to prove that her species is too valuable to be allowed to go extinct, so it's probably a good thing, assuming she survives future heroism and doesn't get on the wrong side of the company that created her. (The company, Ecosystems Unlimited, is a Mega Corp. which would reach positively Shinra levels of villainousness if they could only find their rear with both hands, so this may be harder than it looks.)
  • Sir Coffee from Oglaf is a play on this. (WARNING: Sir Coffee's comic is worksafe. The rest of the comic is not.)
  • In Tales of the Questor, an exhausted and injured Quentyn has to be prevented from going to try to help people who would turn on him.
  • Tiffany Winters from Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks. She's an Idiot Hero who fails to notice the obvious and got convinced it's her duty to stake vampires and burn witches despite evidence for this being rather shaky, and the evidence for necessity of such behaviour being absent... except that's not what really happens. She's driven to help people and saves a vampire girl from Mirror Monster. Then becomes the best friend of another vampire girl. Then saves a witch from her Smug Super schoolmate, and for a good measure befriends her too, ignoring the glaring evidence of her being a witch. Then saves said schoolmate from fatal consequences of her own smugness.
  • John Egbert of Homestuck is totally unable to conceive of not throwing himself between other people and danger, no matter what the risk to himself is. Tellingly, upon gaining guaranteed immortality unless he dies in a just or heroic fashion, he immediately begins hatching heroic plans that relied upon abusing the immortality he would forfeit by carrying out heroic plans.
    • Aimless Renegade is shown to be similar with his obsession with law and justice. His very first reaction upon seeing John unconscious on a falling meteor is to immediately pull what he thought would be a Heroic Sacrifice and he goes into fits over people breaking any crime or potentially harming something else. It gets him killed at the end of Act 5 when he hesitates to blow up a teleporter out of fear of harming Wayward Vagabond, thus giving Bec Noir the opportunity and reason to decapitate him.
  • Harv from Warrior U.
  • Sebastian of True Villains suffers from this, and a sense of honor. He's a villain now, so it's rather... superfluous.

    Web Original 
  • Egg of AJCO will feel sorry for and help literally anybody if they are in genuine distress, even when she knows that she will get no thanks and the person she is helping will only turn around and backstab her at the first chance they get. She is aware of the fact that this will probably get her killed one day.
    • She even protects and guards A_J, her primary rival, when it would have been incredibly easy to leave her alone in the wilderness or just plain shoot her. This is the A_J who had expelled her from the Silo moments before with the firm belief that she would die.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Lewis Lovhaug is seen to have this. Mostly because he is willing to defend anyone (examples include MarzGurl, Film Brain, and Iron Liz) leading to many heartwarming moments. It's kind of gotten to the point where someone being flamed/trolled and Linkara not showing up is odd!
  • Phase of the Whateley Universe. He was brought up in a filthy rich family where the motto is 'Goodkinds don't complain, they fix things'. And even though he has been kicked out of the family for turning into a mutant, he still tries to fix things for everyone around him. Even if some of them tell him to stop it.
  • Skitter in Worm. She tries to save people, even when it means going up against a gang leader who can literally turn into a dragon. She keeps this trait even after she becomes a supervillain. Scion spends all his time doing nothing but this, mostly because he's literally got nothing better to do and is following Kevin Norton's orders while trying to figure out his purpose. Eidolon also suffers from this, saying outright that "I live for this." In his case, though, the eventual realization that he may be (unconsciously) responsible for the creation of the Endbringers, which have killed hundreds of millions of humans over the last couple of decades hits him so hard he's left in a Heroic BSOD that he never recovers from.

    Western Animation 
  • The title character from Disney's Aladdin, especially in the animated show, where characters, often Iago, are able to use the knowledge that he'll always help people in need to get him to go along with things. Lampshaded by Genie: "Saving people that you might not like. It's a good guy thing!" At the time, he was saying it about himself, not Aladdin, but lampshading things is what Genie does.
  • The title character of Captain Planet and the Planeteers once lampshaded his own Chronic Hero Syndrome habits when one of his enemies asked him for help.
    "This is the bizarre thing about being a superhero — you've even got to save the bad guys."
  • Kim Possible practically defines this trope. She put up a website to bring in odd jobs like babysitting and got into fighting supervillains too. When asked why she doesn't turn down more requests, she replied "I'm not programmed that way."
  • South Park: Kyle Broflovski, but only when he's the protagonist to Cartman's antagonist (which happens quite a lot sometime after season five).
  • Samurai Jack: Jack who feels compelled to right wrongs at everywhere he goes. If he'd been able to kill Aku in episode one, then most of the wrongs he comes across would never have happened in the first place — this drives him.
    • Jack's Chronic Hero Syndrome is so pronounced that it frequently hampers his ultimate objective, to go back in time and prevent Aku's Dystopian future for ever occurring. The irony being that if Jack ever succeeded in his goal, the people he gives up his many opportunities to go into the past to help would in all likelihood never exist anymore.
  • Many Optimus Prime's from Transformers are often portrayed in this light. Hot Rod seemed to have a case of this in the first animated feature film. He keeps trying to be a hero even after he gets an important Autobot killed in the process. Many fans agree that this is the source of most of his problems during his stint as Prime.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Used for laughs. The Dark Knight is burning rubber to make it across town to stop a mobster from demolishing an old building (with people inside) when he sees a city bus shoot past him, completely out of control. Batman can't leave them to die, but he reacts the same way one would if they had just hit a red light.
    Batman: Perfect. Just perfect. (alters direction to save them)
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold. His friends call him out on it and he decides to stop helping people. Then it turns out that, without his help, everyone's life goes to hell.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Katara, so very much. She even says once that she will "never, ever turn [her] back on people that need [her]". Thankfully, the other members of the group are better at recognizing that they can't always get distracted, and are more pragmatic.
    • Aang is kind of a mixed bag, since he ran away from home when he found out he was the Avatar and accidentally froze himself in an iceberg for 100 years. He continues heroism-avoidance at first, but once his Avatar superpowers start developing, he can hardly stop himself.
  • Dib from Invader Zim, who will constantly battle with Zim (and investigate any other paranormal threats that may present themselves) despite the fact that his classmates and family won't show any appreciation for it. One episode has him almost choose to let Zim subject his whole class to a horrible fate, even though he would suffer too; this is presented as the better option in some ways, though he decides against it in the end. It's hard to tell whether his primary motivation is love of humanity or hatred of Zim.
  • The protagonists of Street Sharks. One of the first things they do, after mutating into shark creatures, is save a woman from a car accident.
  • Finn from Adventure Time. He explains that he was abandoned as a baby and nobody stopped to help him, so he doesn't want anyone else to go through that.
  • Wild Kratts runs on this. Poor Martin and Chris just can't seem to catch a break.
  • Duke from G.I. Joe: Renegades, to such an extent that Scarlett not only starts to lampshade it, but eventually says its easier to just go along with him than try to argue.
  • Yugo of Wakfu can't bat an eye at a person in need without throwing his life on the line to help them. It's eventually lampshaded, mocked, and then outright discouraged by his companions, since he inevitably winds up making their quests over twice as long as they need to be, but he's too nice of a kid to back down.
    • It's not just him: Evangelyne once attempts to lead the group away from one such problem, since they are on an urgent quest, but finds herself unable to leave them to their fates.
  • While Ben Tennyson has been portrayed with different attitudes in his various series, this remains his most definite trait: Ben has a strong desire to help everyone in need, to the point it was the very first thing he thought about when getting the Omnitrix.
  • Homer Simpson is a very flawed person, but he is always willing to help his friends, close or not, if they are in trouble. In the movie, his selfishness overpowered his hero syndrome, but he ultimately did the right thing when he realized he was alienating his family by being selfish.
    Grampa: Homer? What the hell are you doing now?
    Homer Simpson: Risking my life to save people I hate for reasons I don't quite understand. Gotta go!
  • In "Super Pink," The Pink Panther tries to be a superhero, but his attempts at aiding a little old lady—be it rescuing her cat from a tree to averting potential disaster—ends in disaster.
  • Ilana from Sym-Bionic Titan often has a compulsive need to help people in trouble, much to the frustration of Lance (and lesser so, Octus) as he believes protecting her comes first. The Shaman's Mind Rape takes advantage of this, causing her to believe that her planet's people need her and it's her fault that they're dying. She also feels this way towards the people of Earth, as the Mutraddi are there because they are searching for her.
  • The titular Wander of Wander over Yonder feels the need to help out aliens he meets on all the planets he and Sylvia visit. This turns out to be his downfall in "The Fugitives" when he and Sylvia are wanted fugitives on a planet; she wants to escape, but her plans keep getting botched when he wanders off to help people. In "The Good Deed", all of his good deeds done to one person (or people) turn out to be the misfortune of others.
  • Lion-O in ThunderCats (2011) is compelled to help anyone in need he comes across, with varying results. In one case, he tries to exterminate a swarm of insects stealing food on his own, but this disrupts the ecosystem, allowing an even more destructive creature to wreak havoc. Lion-O learns not to rush head first into things, but he doesn't stop trying to help anyone he can, and there's a good justification for that; as a king of a fallen people, Lion-O doesn't help people just because it's right, but to prove to the other races of Third Earth that the Cats aren't all that bad. The best example of this is when, against the advice of his friends, Lion-O goes to save some lizards who are to be executed for trying to desert Mumm-Ra's army. He's aware of how risky it is, and how it isn't vital to their main quest, but it's something he knows he must do to make things better in the long run.
    • To a lesser extent, WilyKit and WilyKat, but more so Kit, who is shown to be more idealistic than her brother.
  • On Doc McStuffins, almost inevitably, any "hero" toy that is made to rest by the Doc after getting injured will ignore doctor's orders if they see another toy in trouble. This will then lead to them getting injured again and Doc having to fix them again, followed by what passes from her as a stern talking-to about obeying doctor's orders.

    Real Life 
  • Elliot Ness had a major case of this. In a famous example, while having dinner with his wife, he heard police sirens and jumped to his feet to join the chase. Since he now happened to have a nice selection of police with him, he decided to keep on going and lead them to bust a drug operation he knew of. His wife was simply left to wait at the restaurant.

The Chains of CommandingResponsibility TropesComes Great Responsibility
Career Building BlunderMotivation IndexConcepts Are Cheap
Chronic Backstabbing DisorderCharacter Flaw IndexClaustrophobia
Chaotic GoodSelflessness TropesContagious Heroism
A Chat with SatanMorality TropesChronic Villainy
Chronic Backstabbing DisorderIndex SyndromeChuck Cunningham Syndrome
Children Are InnocentCharacterization TropesChronic Villainy
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Beauty Equals GoodnessImageSource/Web ComicsEasy Communication

alternative title(s): Hero Complex
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