"Thy necessity is greater than mine."
—Sir Philip Sidney, as reported in his friend Fulke Greville's biography
A character insists on someone else getting attention — usually medical, sometimes water or evacuation — before he does, even though he is in need himself.
It can be a logical request, if the other person really IS more in need, and mostly means that the character cares about others even when he's in a bad situation himself. On the other hand, it can be a stupid move by a Martyr Without a Cause
who's letting heroism get in the way of sensible triage — or by a wounded character in too bad a stage of shock to understand, where The Medic
may have to persuade the insisting character to accept any treatment — or (worse) that the other character is dead and so past help.
If both characters are conscious, it can lead to a More Hero Than Thou
In military situations, it is especially likely to occur when the Officer and a Gentleman
or A Father to His Men
must insist on it for his troops (see The Men First
), but can also occur between those of equal rank. The Power of Friendship
can power it, but it can also occur between strangers — a subtrope of A Friend in Need
Can overlap with No One Gets Left Behind
and Fire-Forged Friends
. If the "need" is based on how important one character is as opposed to another, it's a form of More Expendable Than You
. See Men Are the Expendable Gender
for when men are expected to automatically consider the needs of women and children greater than their own, and some of the narrative consequences of this.
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Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball Z, at the end of the Buu saga, Goku has Dende cure Vegeta of his wounds first, because he was the most damaged of them all.
- Bulma from the future timeline wanted a world where the androids didn't exist and everyone she love is still alive. To that end, she built a time machine knowing that even if they fixed the past, it would not change their timeline and they would still be stuck with the androids.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Negi and Asuna find themselves injured after a fight. There's only one Super Healing Macguffin. And Negi insists that Asuna get it.
- Fushigi Yuugi presents us with an example in the sixth and seventh episodes. After Miaka stabs herself to save Tamahome, Hotohori and Nuriko from the evil Mirror-Miaka, Tamahome and Hotohori donate blood to her—from the chest and the wrist, no less. The group is then taken to Mount Taikyoku so they can send Miaka home, but their injuries had to be healed first. Although Miaka's wound was far worse and nearly fatal while Tamahome and Hotohori didn't even bleed much, she insists that the two men be taken care of first.
- Similarly, this is one of Takiko's biggest character traits in Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden — and one of the reasons why she earns the respect of her Seishi.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has an episode featuring a flashback to when Yugi's grandfather forfeited a duel over some water because his opponent was dying.
- One Piece: One of the core character traits of Monkey D. Luffy. It doesn't matter what condition he's in, his friends come first.
- In the Drum arc, he begs for an ill Nami and injured Sanji to be saved while he himself is freezing to death.
- Inverted in Impel Down. Luffy is injured, frozen, and has been horrifically poisoned. His ally, Bon Clay, was injured protecting Luffy. Luffy still begs Bon Clay be helped, despite his need being obviously greater. It's this very fact that gets them both help.
- Fate/stay night: Shirou has a bad habit of being mostly dead. Frequently. Nevertheless, he makes damn sure that everyone else is okay before he passes out from blood loss. He's so self-sacrificing it actually pisses off Saber, who thinks his heroics border on suicidal.
- In Maiden Rose, Azusa invokes this in a reverse of The Men First after he and Klaus were found at the riverbank. Though it makes sense due to the greater severity of Klaus' injuries, it's notable because the medics/troops were more keen to help him in spite of being lower in rank and less seriously injured.
- In the showdown of the Record of Lodoss War TV series, Spark tells Garrakk that he will charge Naneel and take the hit of her deadly magic, so his friend can get close enough to her to kill her. Garrakk does not object to his plan, but when Spark counts down from three, he doesn't wait for him to finish and charges first, as it was his special mission to keep the other one alive at all cost.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, after Roy kills Lust he insists that Havoc be treated before him.
- At the end of one of the botched timelines of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka uses her last Grief Seed to save Homura instead of herself. Then again, she knows that Homura is able to travel back in time and prevent her sacrifice from being necessary, but still.
- After Byakuya rescues Rukia from Zommari, Isane and Hanatarou heal Rukia first. Byakuya had deliberately cut the tendons in his left arm and left leg during the battle, but Rukia had been brought to the point of death by Zommari's colleague Aaroniero. Even after Rukia has woken up, is almost completely healed and is concerned about her brother's injuries, Byakuya tells her to stay put until Isane and Hanatarou have finished healing her completely, despite the fact he's still bleeding merrily away. Although it's never overtly mentioned, the fact Isane and Hanatarou are healing Rukia means Isane must have healed Hanatarou first before both of them worked on Rukia's injuries, as a possessed Rukia had badly injured Hanatarou before Zommari was killed by Byakuya.
- Unmasked reveals that, after the battle at Karakura Town was over, Harribel's badly injured fraccions insisted Orihime heal Harribel before touching their own injuries.
- When Rogue first joined the X-Men Wolverine was bitterly furious about it. However, after she and he went up against some enemies, and she took an attack meant for him and Mariko and was dying, he forced her to absorb his own healing factor — over her objections, as she pointed out he was injured, too.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark has essentially killed himself at least twice for the sake of Steve Rogers:
- During the Red Zone arc in The Avengers, Red Skull (who immunized himself) unleashed an airborne poison and trapped Steve Rogers inside of a room with it. Tony Stark, despite being safe inside of his suit due to the air filters in it, takes off his helmet to give Steve mouth-to-mouth in order to keep him alive long enough for the super-soldier serum to fight off the effects of the poison, even though Tony was well aware that he'd most likely end up dying by doing so. In his mental dialogue, he even says that Steve is far more important than he himself is. Don't worry, to the shock of all of the readers, they both get better.
- At the climax of the Execute Program storyline in the Iron Man title, Steve is caught by the last of the rogue Iron Man armor and is about to be crushed. Without a single moment of hesitation (beyond a token yell of "STEVE!" ), Tony stops his own heart in order to shut the thing down, thus saving Steve's life at the cost of his own. Almost. He's dead for about half an hour, but then he's...well, fine.
- It is worth noting that no one, Tony included, knew that he would get better or why.
- A long-ago story arc in the Star Wars Expanded Universe comics involved a planet that was dying as its life-support systems failed. The missing component had been presented to an underworld boss years earlier by Han Solo (who thought it was junk, not knowing its purpose at the time), telling him it was an award from the Alliance for his courage. Lando & Han hatch an elaborate plan to steal it back, only to be captured. Upon finally learning what they were doing with his prized trophy and why, the crimelord tells them they must take it back. It was the one thing he'd had ever gotten for doing the right thing and he could not sully it by keeping it when others needed it now.
- Subverted in Origin Story. After Bullseye's attack on their car causes a crash, grievously wounds Louise, and seriously injures Nico Minoru, Alex Harris takes the injured women to a hospital emergency room. While they are being treated, another doctor tries to corner Alex, pointing out that she (Alex) is covered in blood. Alex refuses his help, revealing to him that, as a Kryptonian, it would take a lot more than a car crash and a psychotic assassin to hurt her. The blood she's covered in all belongs to either Louise or Nico.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, Ragnar carries an injured Space Marine from a fight and gives him over to the priests for his injuries to be cared for. One priest inspects Ragnar's own injuries. Ragnar tells him to care for the other Space Marine — realizing it sounded stupid even as he said it — and the priest assures him that the man is being cared for and (gently) orders him to accept treatment.
- In Louisa May Alcott's Little Men, the schoolboys capture their handyman and demand that he tell them a story. He tells them about his American Civil War experience; this includes the time he insisted that the wounded Confederate next to him be taken to the doctors first, because his injuries were worse.
- In The Dresden Files book Small Favor, during the rescue at the book's climax, Gentleman Johnnie Marcone insists that the first person to be evacuated be the Archive, a wounded and unconscious twelve-year-old girl. Harry Dresden remarks that it's stuff like this that makes it hard for him to file Marcone under "scumbag, criminal" and hate him.
- During a drought in the Warrior Cats novel The Fourth Apprentice, Jayfeather suspects that Longtail is giving his water to Mousefur because he thinks she needs it more.
- Clan leaders tend to do this a lot, seeing as they have nine lives to spare and their Clanmates only have one. It is even stated at one point that the whole reason they are given nine lives in the first place is so that they can be the first to charge into battle and the last to take food or medical treatment. Notable examples include Bluestar, Firestar, Crookedstar, Cloudstar, and Redstar.
- In Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel A Little Princess, the heroine is very hungry and finds a coin in the street. With it, she buys six buns, and gives all but one to a beggar child who is starving.
- Trout in Chanters of Tremaris stops his friend from using her healing magic on his arrow wound and directs her to a teammate who has been stabbed in the chest with a spear.
Live Action TV
- The M*A*S*H episode "A Full Rich Day" in which a guy comes in with his wounded buddy, and holds the E.R. hostage until the buddy is taken care of. "You save my buddy or everyone here dies" kinda thing.
- Truly becomes an example of this trope when the doctors serve him up an angry What the Hell, Hero? speech upon saving his buddy, and he collapses on the floor front of them. The doctors then discover he was just as badly wounded as his friend.
- In the pilot movie of the original Battlestar Galactica, in which Socialator Cassiopeia (basically a space hooker) insists "There are others in greater need than I" when Starbuck tries to get her medical attention for her broken arm.
- In the ending of The War of the Gods arc, Apollo takes a blast for Count Iblis meant for Sheba. Of course, he got resurrected by the Beings of Light soon after.
- After the control room of Atlantis in Stargate Atlantis is blown up (again), Col. Sheppard finds Ronon sitting on the ground with a large shard of glass sticking out of his shoulder. Sheppard asks him why none of the medics are attending to him, and Ronon says he wouldn't let them, because others in the room need help more. Shepherd immediately calls BS on this, and orders one of the medics to see to Ronon's injuries. Ronon actually loves to pull this when he gets injured. Which isn't very often, actually.
- More surprisingly, in the season 5 premiere, McKay is pulled out of the rubble of a building after an explosion so Dr. Keller starts tending to his injuries. McKay immediately tells her to tend to Major Lorne who has a broken leg. Keller is initially surprised (and jokes that he's Not Himself) since he tends to be selfish and a hypochondriac.
- In Dept Heaven Apocrypha, Meria has been repeatedly using this excuse to avoid having her friends pry into the physical and emotional problems that landed her in the hospital. Then again, those friends are rape survivors and a stowaway demon, so...
- In For The Spirit Of Creation, homeless Magical Girl Sara Aldred refuses food unless everyone else has eaten, and sleeps on the street so as not to deny someone else a bed at the homeless shelter. Luckily, her powers protect her from the physical effects of malnutrition and sleeping outside in freezing cold, but she still feels just as cold and hungry as anyone else would.
- There's an achievement in Left 4 Dead for healing someone when your own health is critical.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution You meet up with your boss, David Sarif, who's a Cyber Punk CEO in the last level, and he tells you that he has wounded and that you have to move them out first.
- In Mega Man 10, Roll comes down with Roboenza early in the plot, but saves her medicine in case another robot needs it. Sure enough, after defeating all 8 bosses, Dr. Wily takes all the medicine... and then Mega Man comes down with Roboenza and there is no medicine. Roll gives Mega Man her own medicine.
- Frederick Banting, the man who discovered insulin, died in a plane crash. He died because he insisted on saving the life of the pilot instead of treating his own wounds.
- As Fulke Greville recounts in his Life of Sir Philip Sidney:
...being thirstie with excess of bleeding, he called for drink, which was presently brought him; but as he was putting the bottle to his mouth, he saw a poor Souldier carryed along, who had eaten his last at the same Feast, gastly casting up his eyes at the bottle. Which Sir Philip perceiving, took it from his head, before he drank, and delivered it to the poor man, with these words, Thy necessity is greater than mine. And when he had pledged this poor souldier, he was presently carried to Arnheim.
- An even more heroic example came from the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the Potomac River when one of the men in the water kept passing the rescue helicopter rope to other people. He tragically perished, but a nearby bridge was renamed in his honor.
- The group of people who give the highest percentage of their income to charity? Not the rich, but the working class. Similarly, poor individuals, including those actually below the US federal poverty limit, contribute more volunteer hours than any other class.
- During a spate of severe flooding in the 1990's, the United Kingdom received charitable donation... from the people of Mozambique, which had itself experienced far more deadly floods earlier the same decade. This aid was offered, it seems, in gratitude for the offering of British Aid during their own natural disaster.
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand tried to get medical attention to his wife after they were shot. They both died nonetheless.
- Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe. A Franciscan friar in Poland and ex missionaire, he was a bold critic of Those Wacky Nazis which, coupled with him opening his friary to Jewish refugees, got him sentenced to Auschwitz. While there, he often stepped out of the ration line when rumors broke that they were running out. In July, 1941, an escape happened, and ten men from the escaped man's block were to be randomly chosen to starve to death in punishment. When one of the condemned (a Polish sergeant named Franciszek Gajowniczek) broke down in tears over never seeing his wife and children again, Kolbe volunteered to take the man's place. Kolbe lasted three weeks, tending to the other condemned as best he could. The man whom he replaced? Gajowniczek survived Auschwitz and lived long enough to see Kolbe canonized in 1982.
- Tibor Rubin was a Corporal in the USA Army during the Korean War. He was captured and placed in a POW Camp. Barely given any food and seeing his fellow soldiers, this man who survived the Holocaust risked his own life to help his comrades. This excerpt narrating his actions comes from the ceremony awarding him the Medal of Honor:
"Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners. Corporal Rubin's gallant actions in close contact with the enemy and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army."