Alice has a handicap or deformity. And we're not talking inspirationally
disabled here. We're not playing it for quirkiness or to make her stand out. This disability is a genuine handicap which makes Alice's life harder, and perhaps even affects her self-image and sense of worth. For purposes of illustration, let's say Alice has no hands.
Bob loves Alice, and is dismayed by her sadness over her handicap. So Bob takes Alice's face tenderly in his hands and tenderly tells her "Do not worry, I will be your hands."
And Bob makes good on his promise. Bob feeds Alice, he applies her make-up, he writes her letters, dresses her. Hell, he becomes so familiar with Alice's quirks and behavior that he can even anticipate her, cupping her mouth when she yawns, holding a finger to her nose when she's about to sneeze, scratching her where she itches before she even tells him.
This trope is a character compensating for another character's disability or deformity by basically becoming the appendage the other person is lacking. This altruistic attitude is usually attributed to, at least, a bond of friendship, and often is borne out of genuine love, be it brotherly, parent-child or romantic.
Compare The Caretaker
. Not to be confused with Helping Hands
(although it's entirely possible for Helping Hands
to be a Handy Helper
Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, Chopper, the medic, is unable to move very much after after using Monster Point so Robin helps him with medical duties, by moving him around.
- Used and brought to a mentally scarring twist ending in Franken Fran.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Mustang fights Father while blind, with Lieutenant Hawkeye serving as his eyes.
- At the end of El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, the hero and the chick cooperate like this — he wields the sword while she helps him with her ability to see through illusions of the Big Bad.
- In a chapter of Black Jack, an aspiring sushi chef is accidentally hit by a truck driver and loses his arms. To make amends, the driver offers to help the chef by serving as his hands. However, in a cruel twist of fate, the truck driver is himself killed in a traffic accident. Black Jack ends up grafting his arms onto the sushi chef.
- In Gensokyo 20XXV, a toddler Youmu plays this role to a near-blind Reimu, guiding her around. It genuinely sweet, even if Youmu is a bit young to understand the situation fully.
Live Action TV
- In The Sharing Knife series, Dag is one-handed. Normally this isn't a problem for him, but when he breaks his other arm, his then-fiancée Fawn ends up acting as his hands.
- In the Little House on the Prairie series, Mary is stricken blind and her sister Laura becomes her eyes by describing everything she sees for Mary's benefit whenever she asks.
- Gathering Blue provides a proposed mutual example. Kira's father turns out to be alive despite his being Left for Dead before Kira was born and now lives in a village where people with disabilities all live this way. He is blind and offers Kira the chance of coming with him to his village, with Kira as his eyes and him as her legs (Kira has a deformed leg).
- In The Book of Exodus, Aaron serves as his brother Moses's speaker, since Moses has a speech disability.
- Magpie and Dog in Fox by Margaret Wild. Magpie's wing was injured in a forest fire, and Dog has only one eye, so Magpie rides around on Dog's back being his binocular vision, and when he runs it's almost as good as flying.
- Ben Hur has a mutual example. When Simonides and Malluch meet in the dungeons and are both released, Simonides acts as Malluch's tongue and Malluch acts as Simonides' legs.
- In the film version (not sure if it's in the book) Simonides says "together we make a considerable man".
- Freak the Mighty (and of course the movie adaptation, The Mighty) is a mutual example of this. Freak is brilliant and outspoken but frail, while Max is big and strong but none too bright; together they can face down just about anybody.
- At the end of the Mage Storms trilogy, Karal's eyesight is burned out. He can only see through his mind link with Altra. When Natoli writes to ask him to return to Valdemar, she says: "I can be your eyes too." (not literally, as she doesn't have any Psychic Powers).
- Invoked in Fate/Zero; when Kayneth becomes crippled as a result of getting shot by Kiritsugu's Origin Bullet, Sola-ui offers to become Lancer's new master, whether forcefully or otherwise.
- One episode of MacGyver has MacGyver and his boss, Peter, working together. Peter has been temporarily blinded and MacGyver can't use his hands. Together... they can operate a golf cart!
- Invoked in an episode of The Mentalist where Jane gets a millionaire to let him drive his car while blindfolded — Jane steers by having the person's hand on his shoulder, responding to his tension as Jane drives.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation Riva a diplomat is deaf from a hereditary genetic deficiency, but has his "chorus", an entourage of three people in telepathic communication with Riva and able to enunciate his thoughts. This trope is repeated in the same episode when Riva's "chorus" is killed and Data must read his sign language and translate for him This happens in another episode of Next Gen where LaForge and a Romulan lose the use of some of their senses due to interference from the planet Galorndon Core, and compensate for each other's lost senses.
- Red Dwarf:
- Spoofed in season I when, after being brought back to life as an hologram Rimmer asks Lister to be his hands. Lister refuses on the grounds he knows the type of things Rimmer liked to touch.
- In a season VII episode Lister has lost an arm, so Kryten does everything for him, including things he could still do, like wiping his mouth with a napkin.
- In Firefly Simon Tam is River's Amygdala built for two.
- Sue Thomas' dog in Sue Thomas FBEYE.
- Downplayed, since the impairments aren't permanent, in an episode of M*A*S*H ("Lend a Hand"): Hawkeye and a visiting surgeon (played by Alan Alda's real-life father Robert) who he's been butting heads with get injured during a bombing raid, leaving one with a sprained wrist and another with a broken arm. They work side-by-side, each as the other's missing hand, to save the life of a soldier.
- Speechless begins it's pilot with the DiMeo family transferring schools so that J.J., who has cerebral palsy and communicates with a laser-pointer and word-board, can have a full-time interpreter in his classes.
- Subverted in Dungeons & Dragons — The naga are a race of snake-headed humans and most of them cope just fine, either through dextrous mouths or magic. However, they do notice the trope and consider it a proof that they are a superior race — after all, they are best suited for thinking, while lesser creatures serve as their limbs — so this must be the intended natural order.
- In King Lear, Glouscester's faithful son Edgar (under the guise of Poor Tom) leads his father around after his eyes are plucked out on Edmund's orders.
- BIONICLE: In the Mata Nui Online Game, Takua becomes Pohatu's eyes when the latter was blinded by a Nui-Jaga.
- In Wurr, the resident Ill Guy Sinjal is carried around on his packmates' backs.
- Goblins has a double example; Pan the Ogre is blind, while his companion Yala the Kobold is mute and has had her legs amputated. Pan permits Yala to ride on his head, and in return Yala acts as his eyes, touching his head to indicate which direction she thinks he should walk and warning him of danger.
- One of the The Land Before Time sequels had villains Dil and Ichy, a near-blind crocodile and a bird, respectively. Ichy would act as Dil's eyes.
- The Classic Disney Short: Morris the Midget Moose is about a tiny moose with normal-sized antlers. He meets up with a normal-sized moose with tiny antlers, and the two combined themselves to make one complete moose.
- An episode of The Smurfs had Brainy lose his glasses, so he is forced to rely on Clumsy, whom he had earlier derided as being useless.
- A cop sees a car driving erratically, pulls it over on suspicion of drunk driving. Turns out the driver is blind. He's driving because his passenger is drunk (so he's acting as Designated Driver), but the drunk passenger is giving the blind man driving directions because the man is blind.
- Service dogs; depending on what type they are they act as their handler's eyes, ears or even hands (well, in a manner of speaking).
- There's a famous pair of World of Warcraft players, one of whom is a veteran who lost his sight in Iraq. His clanmate acts as his eyes using macros and sound cues. Blizzard found the duo so inspiring that they put out two in-game items named after their characters.