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Helpless Good Side
So Bob has the heroes on the ropes. They've given everything they had, and it hasn't been enough. Worse, it seems to have just ticked him off more. Things are looking grim. But just as Bob prepares to finish them off, something happens. Suddenly, Bob backs away, first looking confused, then scared. Within moments, Bob has curled into the the fetal position and started crying, begging for mercy, and referring to himself as Tim. Wait, Tim? Congratulations, you've just met the Helpless Good Side.

Sometimes, when a character has a Split Personality, or two people sharing a body, one of them is a total wimp. This can range from merely being incompetent in a combat situation to being unable to take care of their own basic needs, such as feeding themselves and not wetting themselves in public. Regardless, when these come out in a combat situation, the character tends to be royally screwed. If they're on a team, this can transform them from a Badass into The Load. When the Big Bad does this, they may become a Zero-Effort Boss.

Compare Good Is Impotent. Contrast Superpowered Evil Side, which sometimes goes hand in hand with this. Sometimes appears as a result of Easy Amnesia. In a world where Passion Is Evil, the Good side will be passive or emotionless.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lunch/Launch of Dragon Ball spends half her time as a hyper-competent, incredibly violent criminal specializing in dramatic robberies. The other half of the time, she's a ditzy, gullible, physically weak woman who is so different from her counterpart that it's hilarious.
  • Animerica's Big Bad Kiyone is revealed to be this, having been intelligent but physically weak compared to his older, stronger, and much favored twin, which made him vulnerable to his Superpowered Evil Side. He is so much so that he is put in a Driven to Suicide state, believing that he has no chance of redemption after all his actions in Season 2, and his now Enemy Without demon sees this as an opportunity to attempt to take him over again.
  • Lucy of Elfen Lied is a psychotic murderer who can kill things with telekinetic "hands" called vectors that she can extend in a two meter radius around her. However, after taking a bullet to the head, she becomes Nyu, an innocent amnesiac girl who initially doesn't even know how to use a restroom. However, as time goes by, they start switching back and forth. This is strange, but becomes more reasonable when later it is revealed that she's actually got a THIRD personality already, the one that is a bugfuck insane genocidal monster. The genetic programming to assimilate or murder all of mankind that Lucy has been struggling with all her life.
  • Mibu Kyoshiro of Samurai Deeper Kyo initially appears to be this. Subverted, however, as he is later revealed to be a better swordsman than even Demon Eyes Kyo! He just doesn't like to fight.
  • Code Geass
    • Chigusa, the side of Villetta Nu that arises as a result of amnesia.
    • R2: After the first showdown at the Sword of Akasha, the immortal C.C.'s personality reverts to that of herself at the age of ten. Complete with all the skills and confidence of a ten-year-old. Making matters worse, C.C. was born in the Dark Ages, so she's not just a child, she's a slave who doesn't understand the modern world and whose primary skills include cooking, sewing and the ability to count to twenty.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • The spirit of the Ring uses Bakura as a part-time body parasite; Bakura generally has no clue what's going on. Bakura is friends with the heroes, while the spirit of the ring is trying to kill them.
    • To a lesser extent, Yugi and the Pharaoh, until they come to an agreement.
  • In the Rockman Zero manga, Zero has this in the form of an energy conservation mode. It also takes away his helmet and weapons.
  • One episode of the Ranma anime features the Jusenkyo Preservation Society, which sends enforcers to punish Ranma and the others who "abuse" the Jusenkyo curse. One of them is a hulking man named Kinnii, who use a two-handed Chinese sword with devastating power. However, he's also a victim of the Spring of Drowned Buddhist Priest (Fūshannīchuan), so whenever he gets hit with cold water he transforms into a frail, tiny, pacifist monk who's Friend to All Living Things.
  • In Sailor Moon S, Hotaru is still present in the mind of Mistress 9 after she takes over her body. She fights against her constantly as she grows weaker and weaker. When her light finally peters out, Mistress 9 announces triumphantly to Usagi that Hotaru has died.

    Comic Books 
  • A Batman villain known as the Ventriloquist has this... sort of problem. He seems like a decent-but-timid person, but he expresses his sociopathic side through a ventriloquists' dummy he carries called "Scarface." Scarface is dressed and acts like a miniature version of Al Capone, often giving the impression that he's actually holding his Ventriloquist hostage. If Scarface is destroyed, the Ventriloquist will usually surrender, often expressing relief that the dummy he was talking through and manipulating is gone. However, it's definitely his own problem and not the dummy being an Artifact of Doom or something (and there are times you'll really start to wonder). He's been separated from the puppet a number of times, but always winds up with him again in the end. This is typical of Batman's Rogues Gallery — fixing Two-Face's appearance doesn't fix Two-Face for long, etc.

    Literature 
  • Orion in The Atlantis Complex, up until he saves everyone.
  • Animorphs had a variant of this when Rachel morphed starfish and was split into two Rachels. Her 'Nice Rachel' side was this trope, weak, scared, freezing up under stress, not good for much of anything. However, unlike most examples of this trope, her 'Bad Rachel' side was just as big a liability because she couldn't think of anything more complex than "hit it till it falls over". Both of them realized that as much as they didn't like the other, they needed each other. They worked together, and eventually recombined of their own free will.
    • Interestingly, "Nice Rachel" is the one who got her sense of duty, which helped counteract this trope and kept her from slipping completely into Good Is Impotent - much as she hated to fight, she had a duty to defend the Earth and her friends, so she had to.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ed Norton's character in Primal Fear is at first revealed to have a (not super-powered) Superpowered Evil Side that was probably the one responsible for the murder. After their stunt in the courtroom, with the trial finished, Richard Gere's lawyer character suddenly suspects it was the other way around, that the psycho killer in fact had a Helpless Good Side and he's now helped that psycho use his good side to get out of real jail time. Turns out that's not quite right either as there never was any good side at all, the whole thing was just the psycho doing an act and playing everybody (including a mental health professional).
  • The Cell: Catherine Deane enters the mind of the serial killer Stargher, she encounters his weak innocent side, and his stronger evil side. In the end she has to kill both of them. The innocent side tells her to do it as a Mercy Kill.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Lex Luthor's good side, a boy who goes by "Alexander".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ben's presence almost saved their lives as they transformed back into him just before Buffy would have dealt the killing blow and she leaves him alive instead. Too bad for him that Giles is Genre Savvy enough to just take care of the Dirty Business and Shoot the Dog.
  • In Doctor Who, the episodes "Human Nature/The Family of Blood", in order to escape the titular Family, the Doctor uses a Chameleon Arch to turn himself into the mild-mannered, meek, human, named John Smith. Upon discovering who he really is, John Smith is terrified of his true self, given how people describe the Doctor as being "like Fire and Ice and Rage". Eventually, John Smith elects to "die" to become the Doctor once more. Cue the Family meeting one furious Timelord.
  • In Sanctuary, Adam Worth is the inspiration for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Adam (Jekyll) side isn't exactly helpless, but at least he doesn't want to beat Magnus to a bloody pulp like the Hyde part.
  • Averted in Jekyll. While this version of Hyde is not only psychopathic, but also has explicit superpowers, Tom Jackman (the Jekyll side) is a highly intelligent and resourceful man in his own right. Consequently, he was able to keep Hyde in check for a long time, and set up a system of surveillance, communication and scheduled changes to which he forced Hyde to adhere under threat of turning himself in, which let him ensure that Hyde didn't do anything too terrible, and had a restraint chair built that he could trap himself in to punish Hyde if he broke the rules. Notably, despite all his displays of contempt for his "daddy", Hyde never doubted that Jackman did have it in him to hurt them both, and when their shared Papa Wolf instincts get triggered, Hyde recognises that he is stronger when he combines with Jackman's greater maturity and self-control.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Wraith The Oblivion, player characters have their dark nature, the Shadow, balanced by their light side, the Eidolon. While the Shadow is usually incredibly proactive about their attempts to defile, corrupt and destroy you, the Psyche, so they can take over and become a Spectre, the Eidolon typically has no will or personality of its own, but can provide bonus dice to resist the Shadow's actions. However, you can't do anything with it unless you spend character points on the relevant Background.
    • In Spectres, the Psyche-Shadow relationship is inverted, with the Shadow dominant and the Psyche acting as a conscience, trying to nudge the Spectre towards redemption.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Darkwing Duck combines this with Ghost in the Machine — each character has a "little hero" in them, but villains have said hero Bound and Gagged.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, when the Tiger Talisman splits Jackie into two sides, Jackie's light side, often referred to as Pussycat by his darker side, acts much like this. Case in point, he cried when he stepped on a bug. However, as Jackie was Jackie, he's still able to kick ass.
    Light!Jackie: (just after he kicks Dark!Jackie, he speaks in a genuinely friendly tone) Dropkicking little girls is not nice.
    • Fully averted in an episode where Captain Black is being possessed by an oni mask, and the Tiger Talisman is used to draw out his light side; said light side isn't whiny, ineffectual, or overly apologetic in the slightest. However, some fans contend that the Talisman only separated Captain Black from the Oni Mask's consciousness, instead of separating Captain Black's own light and dark sides.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, Ventriloquist is portrayed in a similar manner in the comics. There's a creepy scene at the end of his first episode that shows him making a new Scarface dummy to replace the one that was destroyed earlier, showing that he still has a problem. The trope is averted in his last appearance. Unlike other times the doll is destroyed, Wesker finally gathers enough willpower to destroy the Scarface doll himself. The episode ends with Wesker finally moving on with his life and Scarface is never seen again.


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