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Embarrassing Rescue

"If anyone asks, I rescued you."

A cross between Unwanted Rescue and Save the Villain centering around The Rival or Worthy Opponent being bailed out of surefire death by the hero.

Does the rival or opponent thank the hero for saving them when he didn't have to? Rarely. They instead insist that they could have escaped by themselves, and would have, if he hadn't swooped in and tried to play... well, the hero. Admitting that they owe him one would be a great blow to their ego. At the very best, a patently insincere word of gratitude may be expressed before their speedy departure.

If he's a true All-Loving Hero, he'll shrug it off. If he's not, expect a "why did I even bother saving you" rant to ensue. Or at least, a bitter Think Nothing of It.

Contrast Grudging Thank You, where however much he resents it, the rescued acknowledges that gratitude is due.

See Enemy Mine for the reasoning behind the Embarrassing Rescue. Not to be confused with Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • On Dragon Ball Z, this trope is one of the reasons why Frieza's defeat at the hands of the hero, Goku, was so humiliating. Vegeta being rescued by Mr. Satan during the Buu arc counts as well.
  • Inverted in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist. At the end of the Lab 5 mini-arc, when Ed is forced to make a Sadistic Choice between getting his brother back to the way he was before their human transmutation attempt which would require killing several convicts (who happened to be watching) to do it, and allowing the homunculus Lust to kill his little brother by destroying his blood seal, Scar shows up in a Big Damn Heroes moment and blows up the cylinders of red water needed to perform the transmutation. Ed's reaction? "Shut up! I don't need your help!"
  • InuYasha:
    • When Kagome risks her life to save Kikyo (or at least prolong her stay in the living world, as she's technically dead) despite being her rival for Inuyasha's affections, Kikyo says that she's not going to thank Kagome after Kagome makes it clear that it never occurred to her that there was any other option.
    • Koga also has this with InuYasha after being rescued in Mt. Hakurei.
  • In Naruto, one of the primary reasons behind Sasuke's defection from Konoha.
    • And even after Part 1, part of the Sasuke haters want Sasuke to go through another one, mostly for the "embarrassing" part, the rest want him to die.
    • Worth noting that in the beginning, it was frequently the other way around. Sasuke viewed Naruto as The Load and had to save him about Once an Episode. Because Naruto typically had to be rescued while in the midst of attempting to impress Sakura, he was generally quite embarrassed. The only time he showed any sort of gratitude at all was when he thought that Sasuke had actually died for him. And when the arc was over, he went right back to resenting Sasuke for rescuing him. Naturally, when Naruto started rescuing Sasuke, Sasuke didn't take it well.
    • A more straight example happens with Shikamaru and Temari.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: After Rei saves her life in battle, Asuka emphatically declares that she'd rather be dead.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba was never happy about being rescued by Yugi, whether it was from being held captive in his own virtual reality RPG or turned to stone by a Virtual Ghost. Eventually, someone (usually Jyonouchi) would question why Yugi kept bailing him out when he clearly didn't want it. Of course, he did once thank him for saving Mokuba.
    • His reaction in the turned-to-stone incident was particularly entertaining:
    Tea: Yugi took over when you and Mokuba were turned to stone. Then he combined your deck with his deck, and he beat Noah!
    Kaiba: He dueled using my cards?!
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Gilag of the Barian Emperors seems to come up with a perfect plan to defeat Yuma when Yuma's friends are all angry at each other. He organizes a tournament that encourages teamwork, and convinces Yuma to throw a duel to Kotori and Cathy to give them more inspiration. Naturally, Gilag uses his powers to Brainwash the two girls, giving them a Chaos Xyz in order to take his Numbers. However, his plan blows up in his face by Shark quitting, forcing him to take over as Yuma's partner (a potentially lethal situation for him, as being defeated by a Chaos Xyz is fatal for a Barian, just as being defeated by a Number would be for Astral). He quickly finds that he can't abort the plan or save himself without telling Yuma who he is, and eventually, when Yuma finds out on his own that the two girls are under Barian control, he inadvertently saves them both, humiliating Gilag beyond belief.
  • In Bleach, Nnoitra has a flashback for one time when Neliel saved his life to prevent the Espada from losing a member, partly because he was weaker than she was. Nnoitra, who hates being pitied more than anything, finds this extremely humiliating.
  • Kasuga from Sengoku Basara (picture above) becomes so flustered when rival Ninja Sasuke comes to her rescue that she falls out of a tree trying to get away from him!
  • One Piece has Zoro helping, amusingly, Tashigi. She and Sanji were not amused. The fans were though.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, part of the reason Kotetsu is so antagonistic towards Barnaby at the start of their partnership is because of the humiliating rescue he had to endure upon their first meeting (though episode 22 shows that he's much less disapproving of it in hindsight). The second time it happens he's noticeably less embarrassed...until Barnaby decides to comment on the situation.
    Barnaby: It's been a while since I carried you like this. Have you gained weight?
    Kotetsu: Shut up. Put me down.
  • Ranma ˝: Ranma has been rescued by Akane a few times in the manga. He's never been too happy about it, either.
    Ranma: So, why'd you come, anyway? I could've gotten out by myself.
    Akane: What?! You ungrateful, little...
  • In Rising X Rydeen Takara's team are rescued by his rival since childhood, Mikan, who easily defeats two enemies the team was supposed to capture but instead almost got killed by. They don't even thank her, instead Takara ask why she was in the area to begin with. She tells him it's because their boss told her to assist with their mission when necessary which causes Takara get annoyed and state that they could have handled it on their own. The way the mission was going this couldn't be further from the truth.
  • A variation happens in one episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, where the rescuee isn't ungrateful or angry, but still finds the rescue embarassing: after Kaname and Ren are kidnapped, Sosuke and a group of yakuza barge into the enemy's stronghold to save them... in amusement park costumes. These are enhanced for (and efficient in) combat purposes, sure, but they are still cute mascot costumes repeatedly saying "Fumoffu", which makes for an awesome (and funny) scene, but a pretty embarassing way to be rescued.

    Comicbooks 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Kiara, who was thrilled about finally being able to prove herself on her first hunt, is none too happy that Kovu had to save her from a fire.
    Kiara: Why'd you bring me here? Who do you think you are?!
    Kovu: I think I'm the one who just saved your life!
    Kiara: Look, I had everything under control!
    Kovu: Not from where I'm standing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the horror parody Slither, Nathan Fillion's character is saved from a parasite deer by the whiny teen he's been carrying around, and tells her that if anyone asks, he saved her.
    Bill Pardy: Hey Kylie, why don't you tell Ms. Grant that story 'bout how I saved you from that deer?
    Kylie Strutemyer: (unconvincinvly) Oh yeah. Bill saved me from a deer.
  • Pulp Fiction: Bruce Willis' character saves his adversary from unmentionable gimp rape. The adversary does thank him, but demands the event be kept an absolute secret.
  • The titular character in Forrest Gump saves an injured Lieutenant Dan during a battle in Vietnam and carries him back to friendly lines. Dan, who was hoping to die in combat (something of a running family tradition), was thoroughly upset at being rescued.

    Literature 
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Major Rawne attacks Gaunt on the battlefield, intending to kill him. Gaunt knocks him unconscious and, despite his own wounds, carries him back to safety. His fellow Ghosts are surprised that the rescue did not alleviate Rawne's resentment of Gaunt, but then, they don't know about the attack.
  • Les Misérables: Jean Valjean allows Inspector Javert to escape from the revolutionaries. The unexpected act of mercy is apparently so damaging to Javert's philosophy that he later commits suicide.
  • Inverted in The Merchant of Death. Bobby sees a Bedoowan knight approaching Loor, who is standing by the river. Bobby grabs Loor and leaps with her into the river to escape the knight. Loor tells him she can't swim, so Bobby bravely keeps her afloat until it is safe to go on land again. Once safely on land, Loor chews Bobby out and says the knight is their ally. So the rescuer is embarrassed, instead of the rescuee.
  • In book four of The Wheel of Time, Mat rescues Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve from prison. They chew him out about it and tell him that they had everything under control and would have gotten out of it by themselves. It takes a few more books and prompting from other characters for them to finally apologize and properly thank Mat for saving them.
  • In Harry Potter, when Snape was a student, he was on the receiving end of one by James Potter. He had been trying to find out what James and his friends did every month at the full moon, and had nearly come face-to-face with Remus Lupin in his werewolf state. James dragged him out of there.
  • A variant occurs early in By the Sword when teenaged Kerowyn sets out to rescue her brother's kidnapped fiancee because her brother is near death and there's not a single able-bodied man available for the job. Dierna, the Distressed Damsel in question, is grateful enough to be rescued but very uncomfortable around Kerowyn afterwards, and it's a source of acute embarassment for Kero's brother that his sister had to rescue his fiancee for him.
  • Zigzagged in The Dresden Files; Harry's perennial foes Johnny Marcone and Lara Raith have helped him on several occasions. Harry isn't thrilled at having to accept their help, but his ego is soothed by the fact that they are both self-serving manipulators who always get some benefit from the situation themselves. Whenever they do something that is genuinely charitable, brave or a Pet the Dog moment, Harry wastes no time reminding them that while they might be the lesser of two (or more) evils at the moment, that won't be the case forever. The situation is helped by the fact that all three of them have a Worthy Opponent status with each other, and they all take I Gave My Word very seriously, so sometimes Harry has even asked for their assistance in exchange for some benefit he can give them, because he knows that if they agree to a temporary alliance, they will keep to it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted in Babylon 5; Londo is saved from poison by a blood transfusion from one of his wives, who's spent the whole episode showing her absolute contempt for him and her two co-wives. She asks the doctor not to tell Londo who saved him, as "Neither of us could stand the embarrassment."
    • It's implied Londo actually knows, seeing how she's the one of the three he actually kept after being permitted a divorce from the other two. Even if he didn't know at that time, the novel trilogy about his reign as Emperor makes it clear that he had figured it out by that point, as he flat-out tells Timov that he knows that she was the donor.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Videogames 
  • In the first Vanguard arc of City of Heroes, you're sent to rescue missing operatives from rival organization Longbow. The nameless guy and Sefu Tendaji are grateful for the rescue, but Captain Dietrich insists that she didn't need help, and goes on to complain about you ruining her operation.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, one the main characters, Angelo, saves his brother, who holds a very strong hatred towards him (and made his life miserable), from certain doom. His brother, grievously injured, responds by telling that the next time they meet, he will not hesitate to kill him, and trudges away.
    • This was also an example of Cruel Mercy, as Marcello had just witnessed his entire life's ambition fall to pieces, and his reputation reduced to less than mud. Angelo was completely aware of all this; after saving Marcello, he says: "Now we're even."
  • After going through all sorts of trouble to locate Bastilla Shan and rescue her from a Tarisian swoop bike gang in Knights of the Old Republic, she chooses the moment you're about to liberate her to suddenly break free during a huge fight, using this event as justification in stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that you did anything for her pretty much the entire rest of the game.
    • In a later conversation on Taris, she takes back some of her harsher statements, as she was at the time concerned about the implications of your rescuing her.
  • In the second week of The World Ends with You, you (as Neku) have the choice to save Uzuki and Kariya from a Taboo Noise. Uzuki plays this trope straight, but Kariya actually does try to thank you for the rescue and says he wasn't sure the pair of them could erase it alone.
  • Falco of Star Fox fame basically treats any rescue as one of these. His responses will range from ashamed ("I'm not too proud of what you just witnessed") to full-on Snark ("Gee, I've been saved by Fox, how swell."), depending on the game.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar The Last Airbender: Zhao was humiliated once by losing to Zuko in an Agni Kai, and having Iroh call him disgraceful for his lack of honor. So when a Take My Hand moment comes, instead of accepting Zuko's help, Zhao chooses to drown at the hands of the vengeful Ocean Spirit.
    • Happens again with Zuko in Southern Raiders. Zuko leaps across a room to rescue Katara from falling rocks (ignoring at least three people between them), and she yells at him because she doesn't believe in his Heel-Face Turn yet.
  • Danger Mouse: In "Lost, Found And Spellbound," DM and Penfold travel to a tropical island to search for the missing Prof. Squawkencluck. After getting separated, DM deals with a mischievous witch doctor while Penfold winds up finding the Professor. In making their reports to Colonel K, DM gropes for an explanation of his attempts.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode 'Ties That Bind (Or Miracles Happen)', Kalibak is not happy that The Flash is the one to free him from his cell in the X Pit.
    Kalibak: It is...humiliating to be rescued by one's enemy.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: In "Shriek of the Vulture", the Vulture placed a device on Spider-Man's forefront that rendered Spidey immobile until the device was removed by Flash Thompson. Spidey didn't like being rescued by someone who bullies his alter ego.
  • Kim Possible: In "Ron the Man", Mr. Barkin brought up the fact Ron gets "rescued by a girl" to doubt Ron's manhood.
  • In Pacman And The Ghostly Adventures, the Jerk Jock Skeebo has remained jealous of the way Pac-Man is able to defeat the ghosts and rescue everybody, so in "Heebo-Skeebo," he tries taking up crimefighting himself. He winds up having to be saved by Pac, which makes him even more bitter than before.

    Real Life 
  • Ancient Rome had a decoration for people who would save a comrade about to be killed by the enemy. Around the time of Julius Cesar they stopped awarding it, because none of the rescuees would admit to having been in any serious danger.


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