Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help
A character is on the run. Very likely, he's been part of a Stern Chase from the word go. The logical course of action would be to do whatever he has to do, while drawing the least amount of attention to himself he possibly can. He won't consider it for a moment. That random stranger over there needs help, and he won't stand idly by for the sake of anonymity. Often leads to detection by the people he's been evading all this time, but not as often as you'd think. This trope is why a Good Aligned character will always blow his cover when infiltrating a Wretched Hive. Depending on what the outcome is, it may result in a Big Damn Heroes moment. Named after Dudley Do-Right, of course. Helping Granny Cross the Street is the definitive, cliché example of this trope. Closely related to Honor Before Reason. See also Samaritan Syndrome. A subtrope of The Drifter and Chronic Hero Syndrome, and supertrope of Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath. When done wrong, can be a form of Hero Ball or Stupid Good. Compare Knight Errant. Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat is the villainous version.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Fate/stay night: Good god, Shirou. Helping people is one thing. Helping little girls out is even better. Helping little girls who were just stabbed in the chest by what is damn near a physical god, at least compared to YOU, is not an advisable course of action. And you HAVE to do it or you get a bad end.
- Kenzo Tenma from Monster will never let an injury go ignored. Ever. At one point, an unscrupulous character wanted to recruit him as an underground physician, but really, that's a good part of what he was doing already. It actually turned out very poorly... because he convinced the patient to turn himself in and didn't even charge him.
- In the second episode of Code Geass, Suzaku abandons his pursuit of the terrorist commander (which, unbeknownst to him, is Lelouch) in order to save a mother and child that had fallen out of a damaged building. This allows Lelouch to proceed to Clovis' apartment, Geass him into stopping the conflict, and then kill him.
- In Muhyo And Roji, Roji fails a test that would allow him to officially advance to First Clerk and stay as Muhyo's assistant, when he takes too long to help carry out an injured fellow student.
- Sin City:
- Dwight does a lot of good for the girls of Old Town despite being wanted for murder.
- Another example would be Marv protecting people while on parole. This often means lots and lots of violent things happening.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe comic Nomad, ex-mercenary Darca Nyl's son was killed by a Dark Jedi, and a dying Jedi handed over his lightsaber and told Darca to kill Lycan. Darca went in pursuit, but found that almost everywhere he went, there were people who saw that lightsaber, thought he was a Jedi, and needed his help. And he gave it. Even at the cost of pursuit time, he gave himself. And it was the first good thing he'd felt in a long time. Eventually he did catch up to Lycan, and was able to kill him. Lycan told him that men were not driven by altruism. Darca swore to prove him wrong... though a later-written comic shows us that Darca failed, bottled himself up in a hut, and became a hermit who obsessively carved statues of his dead wife and son.
- Jubilee of the X-Men broke off her escape from "Operation: Zero Tolerance" to give first aid to a villain she had accidentally injured. This lead directly to her being recaptured for another round of torture.
- In Dragon Age The Crown Of Thorns, it is played perfectly straight by the dwarven noble protagonist, of all people. You'd think that a politician that spawns one plan after another and who has the whole world on his shoulders would be a bit less eager to go into potentially deadly situations with just his dog as help. Turns out that he doesn't think too hard on whether or not to totally go out of his way in the opposite direction (about a day's journey too) and check on Honnleath and if anyone was still alive there, even though [[spoiler:he'd finally seen the first human after roaming the Korcari Wilds for weeks, during which time he almost got killed several times, nearly dyed of starvation and refused a deal with Flemeth that she would not outline until agreed upon. And his armor was so rusted and worn that it didn't even survive the trip to the golem village, although, true enough, the demon shattered most of it. Raonar does reason that it's important to assess whether the horde really reached so far west in such a short time or if it's just a group of stragglers. One would think this is just him looking for justification, but that wouldn't fit with his Brutal Honesty policy that he uses on everyone, including himself, meaning that he manages to play this trope AND avert Honor Before Reason altogether (after all, he had gained some nifty magical abilities to tip the scales).
Film — Live Action
- Lampooned at the end of Cannonball Run, as Captain Chaos turns aside and forfeits his team's victory when a woman screams that her baby is drowning. Said "baby" turns out to be a dog, but his teammate still forgives him for losing the race.
- In the 1993 film The Fugitive, while on the run, Dr. Kimble is in a hospital as part of his search for the one-armed man. He notices that a child has been misdiagnosed and will die if not given immediate surgery. He changes the orders on the kid's chart and saves his life. The problem with this? He was masquerading as a janitor at the time.
- In RoboCop 3, Robo veered off pursuing some insurgents to come to aid of a squad of cops locked in a firefight with a gang of thugs.
- In The Gumball Rally, the car disguised as a police cruiser loses the race when it stops to help a pregnant lady giving birth while stuck on an L.A. freeway.
Kandinsky: Oh, no. Avila, no way. I don't wanna hear it, Avila.Avila: "To serve and to protect", huh?
- In Pee Wees Big Adventure, Pee-wee is on the run after stealing his bicycle back from Warner Brothers Studio. He makes a grand escape, lands a big jump, and is in the clear. Until he sees a fire in a pet store. He even saves a handful of snakes before collapsing outside and being picked up by the police.
- Man of Steel:
- Essentially how we're introduced to Clark. He's forced to Walk the Earth because he's afraid what people will do when they discover his abilities, but he can't blend in for long because of his Samaritan Syndrome. Lois flat out tells him that the only way he'll stay completely hidden is to stop saving people.
- He's hampered in his fight against the Kryptonians by the fact that he's trying to protect human bystanders at the same time.
- When the crew of the Enterprise has to go to a hospital to rescue Chekov in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, McCoy is horrified by what he sees the 20th century doctors doing ("The Spanish Inquisition of medicine") and stops to help patients. Admittedly, the "stop to help" part doesn't take much time (he deals with a woman's kidney failure by giving her a couple of pills) but it still (a) potentially draws attention to what's supposed to be a covert mission and (b) has the possibility of changing history.
- Jean Valjean from Les Misérables. More often than not, his Moments involved throwing himself directly in Inspector Javert's path, rather than merely risking the same.
- Discworld examples:
- In Thief of Time, Lobsang Ludd and Lu Tze are trying to outrun a lightning bolt, knowing that if they fail, the entire world and all of history will be destroyed. Lu Tze falters. Lobsang turns back to help!. As a result, the entire world gets frozen in time. Susan sto Helit lampshades this hard when she finds out.
- Subverted in Lords and Ladies. While competing in a Staring Contest for recognition as a true witch, Granny Weatherwax stops to help a little boy who hurt himself on the protection wards. However, despite technically losing, the audience declares her a winner because a only true witch would sacrifice her pride to help an injured child.
- Harry Potter, the boy with the "saving people thing", is of course prone to this.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the second task of the Triwizard tournament is rescuing a hostage from some mermaids. Harry gets there first, but ends up coming up last because he waits to make sure all the hostages are saved. It's then pointed out to him that it was all part of the contest and nobody was actually in danger, but he gets extra points from the judges for heroism.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Trio enacted an impromptu mass breakout of Muggle-borns in the middle of an undercover mission to pick up a MacGuffin from one of the densest centers of Death Eater activity.
- His need to save people is exploited by Voldemort not once, but twice:
- In Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Voldemort uses the connection between him and Harry to make Harry believe that Sirius is in danger. Harry storming the Ministry of Magic to save him is what gets Sirius killed in the end.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort lays siege to Hogwarts and threatens to kill everyone unless Harry gives himself up willingly. Harry does so, destroying the Horcrux within him and protecting the people in Hogwarts the same way his mother's death protected him—in other words, Harry did exactly what Voldemort expected, but for completely different reasons than Voldemort had expected.
- The O. Henry story, "A Retrieved Reformation", is all about this trope; a safecracker escapes from jail, adopts an alias, heads west, and gets a job as a shoe salesman, and gets engaged to a bank manager's daughter. Just as a police detective shows up in town looking for someone like him, a young child gets locked in the safe. He quickly starts work cracking the safe open, knowing it'll give him away to the cops. At the end of the stories, the detective knows damn well that he's the safecracker he's looking for, but pretends to not recognize him because he's obviously reformed.
Live Action Television
- Alias Smith and Jones: As outlaws trying to earn a "secret amnesty", it's often Dudley Do-Right Stops To Help: The Series.
- The A-Team: The team is always on the run from the military, but never seem to find a reason to flee the country. Instead they travel the country helping people everywhere, sometimes escaping in the nick of time.
- Burn Notice: This is a key element of Michael Weston's personality. No matter how much trouble he is in personally he will still take the time to help someone who needs his brand of help. His friends and family frequently lampshade this but at the same time they are the ones usually bringing these cases to him. At one point Michael has just survived a bomb going off right in front of him and he is still in shock but he realizes that a man is about to step in front of a bus so he saves him. He then finds out that the man is trying to kill himself because some conmen stole the money he needed for his son's medical treatment. Despite the fact that a Mad Bomber is after him Michael does not hesitate to help the man get his money back.
- Farscape: While the team does try to lay low most (well, some) of the time, they do have a tendency to take detours whenever a distress beacon is sent out or they see someone being mistreated. More often than not, said interference tends to bite them in the ass...hard.
- Firefly: Simon Tam, while breaking into an Alliance hospital to steal medicine, stopped to save a man's life from his doctor's incompetence.
- First Wave: The protagonist Cade Foster is on the run from aliens that will one day destroy the world. It doesn't stop him from helping every person with problems that crosses his path.
- The Fugitive: Happened semi-regularly to Dr Richard Kimble. Despite being on the run for murder, he would go to the aid of anyone in medical need. (Of course, The Fugitive was inspired by Les Misérables.)
- The Incredible Hulk: Happened from time to time in this TV show (which was loosely based on The Fugitive which was in turn based partially on Les Miserables).
- LazyTown: Had a similar story where Robbie Rotten disguised himself as Sportacus and the two of them entered a race to show who's the real one. Sportacus was the fastest of the two but stopped to save someone, allowing Robbie to win. Stephanie called Robbie out for not doing the rescuing.
- Merlin: Merlin lives in a world where magic is a crime punishable by death, but he is continually using it to save Arthur's life in pretty much episode, as well as save Camelot almost single-handedly more than once. By some miracle he's managed to keep it hidden thus far.
- Revolution: Most episodes focus on helping the Victim of the Week rather than the overall goal of rescuing Danny. That changed due to Danny being rescued in episode 10 and then Danny getting killed off at the end of "The Stand".
- Who Wants to Be a Superhero?: Stan Lee acknowledged this trope and punished people who didn't in a Secret Test of Character. In a test to change into your super hero outfit and race to the finish line the fastest, there was a little girl crying for her mother mere yards from the goal line. Anybody who stopped to track down the girl's mother or take the girl to the nearby park station automatically got a pass, but anybody who ignored her was a front-runner for the chopping block.
- Due South: Creates what maybe the ultimate example of this in which a uniformed mountie running through Chicago to rescue a character trapped in a safe filling with water (don't ask!) stops many times on the way to perform minor acts of politeness.
Myth and Legend
- In an Irish fairy tale, a girl finds a stolen bag of gold that rightfully belongs to her family and runs off with it, and the witch who stole it naturally gives chase. The girl stops to help several animals and a mill, and they in turn gratefully slow down the witch for her.
- The story of the Chinese Zodiac involves the 12 animals racing for the positions on the calendar. In many versions of the story, the dragon stops to provide assistance to various people and animals in need, thus coming in fifth place when he could have easily made first.
- In The Just Assassins, Camus recounts a legend of Saint George, who on his way to meet God, sees a peasant with a broken cart in a ditch. Ultimately Saint George decides to help the humble peasant and in doing so misses his appointment with God.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: This trope was mentioned in a Gagaga Academia Tospedia issue. Over the course of his journey, "Bujin - Yamato" witnessed people on the surface suffering from the tyranny of the gods and acted on it, strengthening the suspicions of the Kami dwelling in Takama-ga-hara, including the Supreme Kami.
- Fahrenheit, AKA Indigo Prophecy: You're on the run from the police, accused of a murder that you... well, you totally committed it, but you were being controlled by a thousand-year-old Mayan Voodoo priest, see? Though for some strange reason, the cops don't wanna hear about it. On the bright side, having been briefly possessed has unlocked hidden superpowers and limited precognition in you. While secretly meeting your brother in a park in the middle of the winter, you get a warning flash of danger - not to yourself, but to a kid playing on a frozen lake nearby. The ice is gonna break, and he'll either drown or die from hypothermia! With your superhuman speed and powers, you can save him... but a pair of beat cops are patrolling the park, one of them having seen you leave the crime scene - if you make a hero of yourself, he's bound to notice! Dilemma! You can actually choose not to act but it was apparently the worst thing you could possibly do for your Sanity Meter. Fortunately, after you pull the kid out of the ice, the cop rushing to the scene, despite recognizing you, decides to pretend not to notice, figuring that arresting a guy who's just saved a kid's life would be really impolite. If you save the kid, this is referenced later when the cop admits to Carla that he could have made an arrest, but couldn't bring himself to do it right after witnessing such a selfless act. Carla says she probably would have felt the same way in the other cop's shoes.
- In Mass Effect: A full Paragon Shepard, oh so much. Taken Up to Eleven in the sequel. No-one is forcing you to pick every paragon option, whether it's played straight or averted depends on the player. But, then again... One of your squadmates in the second game, Samara, went through a situation like this when chasing down a Nihlus, a Spectre you worked with in the previous game. As he killed a civilian, Samara was dedicated to killing him, due to her Justicar Code. Nihlus escaped by offering the choice of killing him, while an innocent die, or saving the innocent and letting Nihlus escape. The Justicar Code explicitly states that the protection of the innocent outweighs all else, so she saved the individual while letting Nihlus evade her. She considered Nihlus a Worthy Opponent for thinking that up.
- In Quest for Glory III, your character (if you're a Fighter or The Paladin) has to become a member of the local tribe in order to advance the plot. However, your friend Yesufu is also participating in the Initiation Ceremony, and there's only room for one. At a pre-scripted point in the race, Yesufu is hurt and the proper response is to help him up. As it's later revealed that the entire point of the ceremony is to teach a lesson about supporting your friends and tribe, not stopping to help just gets you chewed out and a Non Standard Game Over.
- The main character of Dm C Devil May Cry, while undercover, knocks a can of evil soda of doom out of a little girl's hands, leading to his detection. Of course, to those unaware of the soda being evil this is vile thing to do, and her parents would just buy her another can leading to twice the profits for the demons...
- The Trope Namer is Dudley Do-Right, a Canadian mountie who would always stop to help someone in need, even if he was on his way to help someone else. Often times, Snidely Whiplash would exploit this to further his plans. Not that it ever worked out for Snidely.
- Cars: In the final tiebreaker race, Lightning McQueen gives up winning in order to help Strip Weathers, who had just suffered a serious crash. Lightning comes in last place, but scores the sponsorship he wanted, while the racecar that caused the crash wins, but gets booed and known as a cheater.
- Anytime the cast from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon show actually found a portal home, it was guaranteed that they'd have to turn around to save the character of the week while the portal closed.
- In the Saturday Morning Cartoon version of Mother Goose and Grimm, the title character of the show-within-a-show Karl the Wonder Poodle is temporarily diverted from saving the person who made the original call for help (a kid who fell in the river and is floating toward a waterfall) by the need to deal with a dozen or so other events in need of a superhero.
- A good deal of the episodes of Samurai Jack involve Jack finding a way to travel back to his own time, but passing it up to help a bystander. Indeed, Jack probably wouldn't be Jack without this trope.
- All the time in The Zeta Project. Zeta does this so constantly that it rubs off on Ro, because no one in her life had ever displayed this kind of behavior before.
- The heroes of G.I. Joe: Renegades get this with varying intensity. On one extreme is Scarlett, who is only concerned with clearing the team's good name and resists helping; on the other end is Duke who has to right every wrong he sees. The others fall somewhere between these two ends.
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Fugitives", Wander and Sylvia have to escape a planet before the Watchdogs catch them, but their escape attempts keep being derailed by Wander's need to help anyone in need. Eventually, everyone whom Wander helped returned the favor by aiding their escape.
- In the Arthur episode "You Are Arthur", Arthur tries his hardest to outrun the Brain but falls behind after he stops to help Muffy after she trips and hits the roadblocks. He doesn't win but does get featured in the newspaper, which he considers a better reward thus.
- Scatterbrained would-be do-gooder that he is, Inspector Gadget is all too happy to help any civilian (or, more frequently, unrecognized MAD agent) he sees with any minor problem he even believes he perceives them having, usually completely derailing whatever he was doing before then.