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Part of being a Hero
is taking up arms to fight the wicked and righting wrongs, even (or perhaps especially
) when no one else will. Some even have to fight the people they want to help
, but a rare few can count on the help
of a Good Samaritan.
The Good Samaritan is a character who, despite owing nothing to the hero helps them when they're at their weakest
, often at risk or cost to themselves.
There are many variations, but they generally follow this form: a wounded hero wanders in
, while others pass him by (or even further harm the hero), the Samaritan takes him in, tends his wounds and extends as much hospitality as she's able. This has the bonus of roping the hero into owing her a debt and giving him a reason to stick around the Adventure Town
and fight off the Corrupt Corporate Executive
threatening the Samaritan. Also, in a pinch, she makes an excellent Love Interest
what with having proven she's got a heart of gold. (Good Samaritans who do not complicate the hero's life like that may come across as a Deus ex Machina
Not coincidentally, the Samaritan is almost always a part of the blue collar or underclass of society. There's almost no such thing as rich Samaritans in fiction. Interestingly, this is despite a pertinent aspect to the original Biblical story that is often overlooked: "No-one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he'd had only good intentions. He had money as well
If the Samaritan follows the protagonist into the mêlée, expect her to be an Action Survivor
to his Action Hero
. Often overlaps with The Chick
, Innocent Bystander
, Determined Homesteader
, and Heroic Bystander
A nasty subversion is that the Samaritan hasn't taken in a Hero, but a Viper
intent on doing him harm. If the villain the Samaritan helps is instead confused
at their generosity, it may lead to the Samaritan becoming their Morality Pet
prior to a Heel Face Turn
A lot of Superheroes
are considered to be Good Samaritans
taken Up to Eleven
The Trope Namer
is one of Jesus
' parables from The Bible
, in which an Israelite is mugged and left injured and naked on the side of the road. Several of his own people (including a priest) simply walk past, and the only person who helps him is a Samaritan. However, this parable carried some racial and cultural baggage lost to modern audiences. To Israelites, Samaritans were a hostile if not enemy people*
. So when the traveler falls on the wayside and the only one to help him is an enemy of his people
, it carried a humanizing message akin to Dark Is Not Evil
; the modern day equivalent might be a Palestinian stopping to help an Israeli
, or vice versa. The closest trope to the above moral
is probably I Was Just Passing Through
. To further complicate the story, the Israelites passed by the wounded man because the Sabbath was beginning and it would be laborious to carry the man to safety
, or in the case of the priest, falling back on the excuse that he could reasonably assume the man was dead and that being in contact with corpses was a gross impurity for a priest. The Samaritan story shows that goodness is more important than blindly following the law
. In many modern uses of this trope, the Samaritan will protect and heal the hero even if the hero is explicitly a hunted fugitive.
of A Friend in Need
. See also Samaritan Syndrome
. Compare with Bad Samaritan
, this character's moral opposite.
Anime and Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Winry's parents were doctors who treated people on both sides of the Ishvalan War. This didn't end well for them. They were the first victims of Scar's Roaring Rampage of Revenge after he woke up surrounded by Amestrians and assumed, incorrectly, that he had been taken prisoner.
- Rin stopped to help Sesshoumaru when he was wounded after a fight with Inu Yasha. He later repaid the favor when his sword, Tenseiga, demanded that he bring her back to life. She became his Morality Pet and he went from full-on villain to Aloof Big Brother.
- Rakushun found Yoko almost dead in The Twelve Kingdoms, and after he helped her they ended up hanging together.
- This is the backstory of Hakkai and Gojyo in Saiyuki. Coming home from the bar one night, Gojyo tripped over a very badly injured Hakkai; Gojyo took him home, got him a doctor, and spent a month nursing him back to health. Unsurprisingly they're good friends now.
- Jaime Reyes encountered one of these just after the events of Infinite Crisis when his Clingy MacGuffin dumped him naked in the desert.
- The origin of the superhero Plastic Man involved a gangster named "Eel" O' Brien who got shot during a robbery and was abandoned by his gang- but was found by a monk who helped him recover in his monastery. By the time he was healthy, O'Brien had changed into a good person who used his newfound powers to fight crime.
- Zeus Carver from Die Hard With A Vengeance doesn't know anything about John McClane other than he's a white man in Harlem wearing nothing but a racist sandwich board sign. Despite being a rather unrepentantly bitter and biased man when it comes to white people, he saves him from a gang. Not that he necessarily wanted him to live, but he was afraid of what would happen if a white guy was killed on his block. Throughout the film, Simon Gruber calls him "The Samaritan".
- Michael in Underworld is a very good samaritan. In the opening firefight he risks leaving safe cover to help a woman who got shot. Later, when Selene basically kidnaps him, holds him at gunpoint, and crashes the car they're in into a river, he pulls her up, swims to shore, gives her CPR and bandages her wound. Is it any wonder they develop an awkward relationship afterwards?
- Firefly: "Shepherd Book always said, if you can't do something smart, do something right."
- The leading male in Cellular helps the female lead simply because he's the only one who can. She randomly dialed out on a broken phone and the odds of her being able to get an actual number again without being caught are slim to none. He then runs around all day, stealing cars, shooting guns, fighting with the Dirty Cop squad, and generally getting "in deep shit!" And he never quits.
- An interesting use in Training Day: The hero stops to rescue a little girl, and gets a Laser-Guided Karma reward for it later. The twist? The hero is an on-duty police officer, and only in the Crapsack World he's just stumbled into could the rescue be considered a noteworthy act.
- The Blind Side has a rare example of a rich samaritan. Leigh Anne helps Michael Oher, a homeless black student at her children's school, by giving him a home, tutoring, and general emotional and vocational support to enter the football team.
- In Treasure Planet, Jim goes to help Bones after he crashlands.
- Parodied in a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look, which reenacted Jesus teaching of the parable to his disciples. One of them interrupts to rail against the implications of Positive Discrimination — of course a Samaritan stopped to help, they're perfectly lovely people, they'd give you the shirts off their backs. Why would you automatically assume that someone from Samaria would walk straight past a man in need?
- Edith Keeler from the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "City on the Edge of Forever" embodies this trope perfectly. She runs a soup kitchen for the homeless and downtrodden in Depression-era New York and truly believes in the inherent goodness of man. So of course, she's fated to die.
- In the Doctor Who serial Frontios, the Doctor is trying to obey the rules about non-intervention when he sees there are wounded.
- Two words: Red Cross. If you put your field hospital or even field medics under the protection of the Red Cross sign, you are obliged to do so.
- During the North African Campaign field hospitals on both sides would treat wounded without distinction by uniform.
- That might be considered Worthy Opponent.
- It's also standard now-most Western militaries will treat enemy wounded.
- It is theoretically standard, now and was then for that matter, but the rules of war are often more an ideal then a practice and North Africa is often noted for chivalrous behavior when compared to other theaters of operations and other wars for that matter. A lot of the reason was circumstances, such as reliatively decent comanders on both sides and the large amount of empty desert with no civilians(meaning no collateral, no foraging, no partisans and so on).
- In Vietnam and a few other conflicts guerrilla forces left their wounded behind as standard policy simply because they had a better chance of surviving in enemy hands.
- Many countries try to encourage this behavior by implementing Good Samaritan Laws. In the United States and Canada, civilians helping people in need are protected from liability if they acted rationally and with good intentions, while in Europe it is a crime to ignore a person in danger.
- In the beginning of Red Dead Redemption, Marston is shot and left for dead in front of a bandit hideout. Bonnie risks her life to rescue him, and then takes him back to her ranch to treat his wounds. Even though she isn't seeking any sort of payment, a grateful Marston spends much of the game repaying her kindness by helping her keep her ranch safe.
- Litchi Faye-Ling in BlazBlue tends to help those who are mostly ignored, such as Linhua when she first arrived to Orient Town and ignored by the majority, or for the Kaka clan who are doomed to extinction with nobody to care about, and especially on Arakune, whom everyone else considers a 'lost cause'. She ends up getting tangled with a Bad Samaritan (Hazama) and was Forced Into Evil, but at that point, when she met a distraught Carl, who is supposed to be none of her business at best, enemy at worst, she willingly lets him cry on her hug until he calms down and calls out Relius' parenting skills when he appears, regardless if he's supposed to be her boss.
- Disgaea 4 - This trope resulted in Artina being executed by her own countrymen because she dared to be nice to Judge Nemo, who was a prisoner of war at the time.
- In Family Guy, in a flashback, Peter was driving down the road when he stopped and a stray dog/bum came up and did his windows. Peter wasn't happy. After talking with the dog, Peter offered to take him home for some dinner. And that is how Brian and Peter met.
- Phineas and Ferb not only often help their friends, but also complete strangers they've only just met.