"It's tough to do a good deed. Just look at your professional good deed doers. Your Lone Rangers, your Superman, your Batman, your Spider-Man, your Elasticman. They are all wearing disguises, masks over their faces. Secret identities. Don't want people to know who they are. It's too much aggravation. 'Superman, yeah thanks for saving my life, but did you have to come through my wall? I'm renting here, I've got a security deposit. What am I supposed to do?'"
Heroes never get in trouble for plowing through buildings, demolishing half the city, killing seventeen people and injuring three, taking things that do not belong to them, or jaywalking, as long as they're being heroic. The necessary explanation seems to be that they've got very, very good insurance, that will take care of everything, including the costs of cleanup, repair, and presumably fat settlements for the people who want to sue the hero's spandex-clad bottom off.
At worst, the hero will face an Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving speech at the end, but often there's not even that. Morality doesn't come into play, as the consequences of the hero's actions are all but ignored. This is why even The Cape can get away with gross negligence for the safety of innocent people; it's assumed that somehow, nobody will get hurt, and the property damage tab will gladly be picked up by someone else.
It's even more obvious when the hero actually fails to prevent the villain's crimes — this will only add to the sense of urgency the hero faces, instead of making people think that the hero should be taken to task for doing such a poor job.
This trope often occurs with Mis-blamed, in that peoples' anger is wrongly directed at the hero, rather than at the villain who caused the trouble in the first place. Civilians who whine about rescues they don't like can often come across as Ungrateful Bastards when it doesn't seem to occur to them that they could end up enslaved, dead or worse if The Bad Guy Wins and the hero doesn't stop them.
This is sometimes handwaved with the heroes actually mentioning that they've got insurance that will cover this — and is actually a specific rule featured in the old Comics Code— but it's unclear how any insurance company could do this and still turn a profit. Logically, they shouldn't be able to pay for the on-panel destruction unless they are also collecting mammoth premiums from many other superheroes who don't make big claims. So whenever Superman punches through a wall, somewhere, a less-violent hero like Oracle sees her premiums go up? That money has to come from somewhere!
This is a popular subject in Deconstruction, where destructive heroes are often portrayed as not much better than the villains they're fighting. In less serious works, this trope can be lampshaded with Action Insurance Gag.
However, many countries do have laws in place that prevent someone from being held liable for damage caused while saving someone's life. In the USA they are known as Good Samaritan laws. Such laws probably wouldn't apply in some of the more extreme cases of "heroic" destructiveness but is likely an easy enough excuse in situations where the damage caused is minor or where the threat stopped is sufficiently important. However, in some cases like bank robberies and other types of theft, stopping the villain always ends up costing more than just writing off what was stolen.
At times, the Reset Button and Status Quo Is God will pay for most damages and unless Hilarity Sues and Plot Armor prevents this trope, heroes will never ever ever have to pay.
A subtrope of Saved by the Awesome. See also Never Say "Die", A-Team Firing, No Endor Holocaust. Compare Designated Hero, Wrongful Accusation Insurance, Pay Evil unto Evil, and Paying for the Action Scene. Contrast Hilarity Sues. A real concern for the Walking Disaster Area. Commonly subverted by having the rescued begin Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like.
Averted on at least one occasion where Edward finishes a battle that causes impressive collateral damage, only to be made to clean up after himself by irate shopkeepers. Fortunately, he lives in a setting where powers are as good at fixing messes as they are at making them.
In another instance, he wrecks a woman's balcony during a big fight. He apologizes mid-battle, and promised to come back and fix it. Later he does fix it, although given his sense of...style, it's debatable whether it's better than it was before.
Double-subverted when he and Roy have a Wizard Duel. Mustang and Edward end the episode cleaning up the damage with shovels, no alchemy in sight.
In Cowboy Bebop the reason why the Bebop crew is always starving is because the cash they make off of their bounties is used to pay for the damage they cause.
Averted in One Piece. The heroes are pirates to begin with, so if they destroy buildings the Navy will respond to it. Normally, the Straw Hat Crew is able to survive their encounters with the Navy. However, if they do commit a serious crime their already large bounties note Excluding Chopper could increase.
Averted in Moldiver, where not only does the city have to pick up the tab for repairs after superbattles, it contracts them out to the lowest bidder — who happens to be the Big Bad in his civilian identity, and who is driven to distraction by the escalating levels of damage cutting into his profit margin.
The titular robot from The Big O, a Humongous Mecha whose pilot is sometimes guilty of causing just as much damage, if not more, while fighting the Monster of the Week than the monster could cause all by itself. Sometimes entire blocks are razed, but the massive destruction is never really brought up. It's lessened a little by the fact that Paradigm City is fairly underpopulated — a lot of the buildings are entirely deserted, or ruined anyway.
It's not just fighting monsters either. The act of just deploying Big O and returning it to it's "hangar" causes huge thousand-feet-deep craters to be dug all over the place, and nobody seems to care.
The manga version of The Big O hangs a lampshade on it: Beck's flunkies, who lack Offscreen Villain Dark Matter, are seen working construction repairing some of the damage afterwards in order to make some quick money.
Hinted that the main reason Dastun wants to find out the identity of the black Megadeus is to put an end to the constant damage.
I thought this was the job of all those maintenance men during the Season 2 finale arc who fix the near completely ruined Big O before the final battle. It would certainly explain why damage never carries over, given how fast they are! It's implied that constantly having to dig out from under rubble is why a lot of people have jobs in that universe.
That doesn't do anything for all the times Big O makes a huge hole in the road, though...
Lampshaded in Sailor Moon episode 13 when Sailor Mars wants to blast some airplanes being used by the villain and Luna replies that she could never afford to pay for the damage. The joke actually made it through to the DiC English dub.
Despite not quite being the genre for this, He Is My Master subverts this by having the main character's lack of Hero Insurance driving the plot.
Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light. After Anubis' defeat, Kaiba leaves in a huff, and Grandpa says, "I'm glad he didn't bring up the damage you all did to his Duel Dome, because I really don't think his insurance is gonna pay for it!"
Lampshaded in Dai-Guard, where the company that owns the title giant robot is responsible for all collateral damage the robot causes, and numerous insurance-related forms have to be signed before it can be deployed. It's FURTHER lampshaded in one episode where by the time all the paperwork is completed, Dai-Guard has already been deployed and beaten the Monster of the Week. And when one considers that the only other way to destroy the monsters besides the eponymous giant robot is with nukes, the insurance complaints seem rather inane. In-story they're still cleaning up after the first monster's rampage twelve years later.
Vash The Humanoid Typhoon from Trigun. However, it's not without its Lampshade Hangings. Two of the characters are insurance society representatives who stick around to keep an eye on him and fail miserably at keeping him out of trouble, and in the fifth episode of the anime, a character mentions that "Class G Property Damage" contributed to Vash's enormous bounty.
In the end, the Bernardelli Insurance Company just washes its hands of Vash, and declares any and all damage caused by him "Acts of God."
Justified, since he accidentally blew a chunk out of one of the moons; at that point, you can't really call him anything else.
This trope is arguably deconstructed, alongside the Technical Pacifist trope, with the July 5th incident, the primary source of the bounty on Vash's head. Vash somehow managed to avoid killing a single soul when he blew up an entire city... but it probably would have been kinder if he had vaporised the population, because almost every last man, woman and child either died of thirst/starvation or was murdered for their supplies by their desperate fellows.
Usually averted in Dragon Ball. Particularly in the movies. While battles usually take place in remote areas by default, Goku has often made a point of taking a fight outside of the city to prevent this kind of thing.
Played straight when Androids 19 and 20 aka Doctor Gero come calling. Goku tries to get them out of the city out of concern for the civilians. Android 20 destroys the city with his Eye Beams. Leading to this exchange:
Goku: How could you do this?! Leave these people out of it!
The titular Dragon Balls are a sort of ultimate insurance company as they can be wished for complete reparation of any damage caused during battles (including destroyed PLANETS), and are more than once used for just that.
Announcer: Please don't destroy the arena again.
In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, explosive destruction of the first Anti-Spiral ship causes significant damage to the surrounding city, blame falls on Simon for destroying it. Subsequent confrontations involve increasingly elegant ways to prevent said damage from occurring. It wasn't a problem before that either, as there were no cities and most fights were in giant deserts/wastelands like the old Transformers cartoon, and latter in space.
Averted in the most mean-spirited manner in Bokurano: After learning that their first giant robot battle has killed two thousand people and levelled a mountain, several of the children get notably upset by it and want to break the masquerade and tell people about it.
Averted in GaoGaiGar; the villains realize early on the potential of handicapping the heroes by bringing fights to populated areas. The heroes respond by inventing a device to create a pocket dimension in which to fight the villains.
That said, if the story of the episode needed to have more of a rousing conclusion, GGG does have a small army of Tool based robots ready to repair any damage done.
Subverted in New Getter Robo, where a big deal is made of the property damage when a battle moves into the city.
And again in the manga. When Shin Getter Robo accidentally blows up a city and puts one of its pilots into a coma from the trauma, people aren't happy.
Though played straight afterwards, as even though Neo Getter run on plasma energy, they still cause property damage while fighting monsters and are never called on it.
Check the end of the second Project A-Ko film. The kind of use would be a spoiler.
Check the beginning of any episode. A-Ko causes massive damage just by running to school.
Averted in Linebarrels Of Iron, the main character ends up not only destroying large parts of the city, but believes that he is a "hero of justice" and as such gets very miffed when the authories cover up the battles as malfunctioning mecha. He eventually blows over about this, destroying more of the city with his humongous mecha whilst demanding why no one will praise him for saving their lives, oblivious to the fact that he his in fact being a bigger threat to people's safety than the bad guys. After his friend is killed by another humongous mecha, he goes into a rage and nearly obliterates the city in his rampage. Later he is called out on his behaviour, being told to his face that his selfish actions have done more harm than good, and that if anyone is to blame for his friend's death, it's him.
Averted in X, the good guys create a barrier/parallel dimension to protect the battle zones which in this case can't be considered collateral damage, tearing down the buildings is the primary objective of the bad guys. If the good guys die, the area retains the damage from the battle.
Note that the good guys have an unimpressive track record for "winning". Also, it's not just "death" that dissolves the barrier. Loss of Heroic Spirit, like that endured by Subaru still results in the damage being permanent. Also, in the manga, one holy site gets blown up without the heroes ever showing up.
Horribly messed up in Shakugan no Shana battles take place in barriers similar to X but the writers can't make up their mind about whether time passes normally outside the barrier or not, after the battles end, human lives are consumed to repair the collateral damage.
Depends on who wins. Bad guys use human lives to repair the damage. Good guys use the bits inside "Torches" (the remnant echos of humans whose existence has been consumed by the bad guys).
Generally averted in Bleach where the Shinigami have the ability to stand on air, which they generally use to keep their battles high above the cities to lower the collateral damage. In the latest arc they've even gone as far as replacing the town with an exact replica of it so they can have an all out war without worrying about breaking anything.
They have broken things before, like during Ikkaku's fight with the arrancar Edorad Leones. However it was mentioned that Soul Society fixes everything afterwords, with the costs being taken out of the budget of the squad responsible. (Though that does beg the question on who pays for damages caused by Ichigo's fights...)
Mahou Sensei Negima! does a Hand Wave saying that the people of the magic world in a city known for its dueling and gladiator fights are used to this sort of thing and have measures in place to deal with it. Apparently up to and including buildings being chopped to pieces. Naturally, this doesn't stop Negi from worrying about it anyway.
The implication seems to be that the loser(s) of the fight is made to pay for the damages. One has to wonder what happens if the loser ends up dead, if that's the case.
Averted in Basquash!. In his attempt to bring back basketball with his mecha, his attempt at a slam dunk being blocked by Iceman ends up destroying a good chunk of the stadium, landing him in jail for a year. Cue Time Skip and Dunk Mask becoming Shrouded in Myth.
Slayers. Though, the poor innocent villagers probably would make Lina pay for the damage... if they could catch her.
Averted; in fact it's a running gag. She's basically what you get if you turn Vash the Stampede into a sorceress and take away the insurance girls. While the audience/readers and her close friend know she is a hero, her path of destruction has made her a feared villainess in her world, to the point a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist got away with arresting her with the charge of being Lina Inverse. Even when she does something truly heroic and redeemable, she blows it by losing her cool and nuking the town she just saved. She rarely gets to claim her reward because it will likely be the down payment on rebuild the town from the ground up around the huge crater she just made.
Ranma ½: Soun Tendo is on the city council, but one has to wonder if that really helps given the amount of destruction his "son-in-law" and friends dish out on a regular basis. Even though there are those "Do Not Smash Wall" and "Do Not Crush Pole" signs everywhere.
In Fan Fiction a common nickname for Ranma and friends is "Nerima's Wrecking Crew" or "Demolition Crew". Joke stories often have companies that want to renovate call Nabiki Tendo to have set up a fight between Ranma and some rival that takes place in their building. Allowing them to collect the insurance money, and renovate.
One Fan Fiction even featured the Nerima Building Crew trying in subtle ways to help save their best source of business.
In s-CRY-ed, Alter powers can't not cause damage, as they rely on the surrounding matter for both energy and mass to make the Alter forms, and the Alter Users don't have much control over what matter gets used.
Averted in Zambot 3 about as far as it can go. Many battles happen in cities that had been destroyed in previous battles and the people of the Japan don't take too kindly to the heroes.
Nanoha flees the scene of her first battle when she hears sirens, not wanting to get in trouble for the damage caused by the Monster of the Week. Averted when after the final battle of A's, the TSAB works on repairing the damaged areas of the city.
Deconstructed (like everything else) in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The series often lampshades how often that not only are the EV As really costly to repair and maintain (it costing about enough money to bankrupt a small country to repair a severely damaged EVA after one battle), but how much time, effort, and money it takes to repair New Tokyo-3 as well as disposing the dead Angels (Ramiel sits in the middle of the city for weeks on end rotting before it gets completely disposed of).
End of Evangelion opened to the image of Tokyo-3 after all of the battles had come to an end. With funding drying up, Tokyo-3 hasn't seen any repairs recently and most of the civilian population has fled.
It's not even a question of funding. The destruction of Eva-00 was a bigger explosion than any of the previous battles. We know Shinji's friends fled, but it's also a case of Inferred Holocaust, even with the population in shelters.
There's almost nobody living in the city to begin with. Misato appears to be the only person actually living in her building, most wide shots of the city show little, if any, traffic, and almost every classroom in Shinji's school is empty...and this is before things start getting bad. Dialogue halfway through the series suggests that the population is down to actual NERV employees and a few diehards. It's only in the Rebuild movies that Tokyo-3 is ever depicted as having an appropriate population level for a city that size.
Justified in Durarara!!: It turns out that someone actually does pay for all that property damage Shizuo causes: his manager (not Tom, but another guy above both of them), who docks it from Shizuo's salary in return. Shizuo's honestly surprised that he still gets paid at all (or that he even still has a job).
Both Played for Laughs and somewhat deconstructed in Chrono Crusade, depending on the chapter/episode. Sister Rosette is a Hot-BloodedDestructive Savior, so she's quite often shown crashing her car into the sides of buildings, destroying buildings—heck, the very first storyline shows her crashing a ship into the Statue of Liberty. However, it's shown that her supervisor in the Order of Magdalene constantly chews her out for it (even saying they could write a book based on her damage reports), and it's explicitly mentioned that the Order has to help pay for the damages as well as bribing the local media not to mention their involvement with the damage. Also, when civilians are shown badly injured in the aftermath of one of her battles, she's shown being shocked and upset.
Panty and Stocking must have this in spades considering how destructive their fights with the Ghosts are. Then again, everyone in this universe appears to be Made of Iron.
Subverted in Gundam SEED Destiny. While seemingly played straight with Kira getting off scott-free with all the destruction he causes in the Battle at Orb, Shinn's family are revealed to have been killed in collateral damage, and this is the cause of all his malice towards Kira as the pilot of the Freedom throughout the series.
Exaggerated in Dirty Pair. The Lovely Angels' recklessness in their cases mingles with Finagle's Law to frequently cause the destruction of cities, if not entire planets; nevertheless, the Central Computer of their employer infallibly clears them of blame every time. Which isn't enough to keep them from being hated and feared by most of humanity.
At the end of the LXE arc of Busou Renkin, Kazuki attempts to reach Victor's regeneration capsule before he awakens by using Sunlight Heart to rocket to the roof of his school, blasting through floors in the process, as he was inside when he came up with this idea. Because of this, Kazuki ultimately caused more property damage than the entire LXE.
Aversion: As a result of the numerous destructive car chases in Gunsmith Cats, Rally "The Wrecker" has been blacklisted by every auto insurance company in Illinois.
Averted for laughs in the Kochikame action based episodes and TV specials. Kankichi Ryotsu defeats the villain and saves the day, but gets billed by the owners for property damage he caused or blamed for it. Notably the Fuji TV station (the show's broadcaster) being destroyed multiple separate times. Thanks to Negative Continuity or possibly Ryotsu's gambling winnings, everything's back to normal and forgotten in the following episode.
Averted in Tiger & Bunny. Damages incurred by a superhero must be paid for either by his/her sponsor company or the hero him/herself. In the very first episode Kotetsu, the protagonist, is berated for damaging a monorail track in order to stop a hijacker. And in episode 5 he is brought before a judge who rules that his company be fined for the property that was destroyed during one of his rescue attempts in episode 4.
To be precise, the city pays for any damage deemed necessary for the hero to capture a criminal and/or protect civilians. However, anything the city deems unnecessary is billed to the hero's sponsor company. So a hero who pulls a chunk out of the road in order to stop a bystander being shot would not be charged, but a hero who stomps a car's roof in when he could have just run around it would be charged. All of the heroes in the show are employees or owners of companies which use the hero's "brand" to generate money, so that they don't personally have to pay these charges (and also to generate a living wage for them, as they aren't directly paid to be heroes). One of the reasons co-protagonist Wild Tiger is nicknamed the "Crusher for Justice" is due to his habit of smashing things up with his super strength and earning himself a constant stream of large bills for his sponsor company to pay. The show actually begins with his original sponsor company going out of business due to the large bills he receives. The only reason he agrees to be in a partnership with Barnaby is because the next company to hire him tells him to do it or quit, and implies that no other sponsor company would agree to take on a hero who's fame (and ability to generate money) is waning but continues to rack up such large bills.
In Zettai Karen Children Kaoru, a special ESPer working for a government agency, is requested a help from a Friendly EnemyWell-Intentioned Extremist organization to help them in a particular task. When they damage a passenger plane to drive one of their evil enemies out of it, Kaoru freaks out for them being so reckless and for gambling with the passengers' lives. When they point out to her that she does the same thing regularly when going on missions, she replies that in that case she is backed up by the said government agency which controls and compensates the damage.
Heck, how is D.Gray-Man not in here yet? Averted when Allen gapes at a massive hole Lavi puts in a building using his Size-Shifting Hammer and Lavi carelessly mentions not to worry about it and that Komui will 'foot the bill.' Apparently the Vatican have very deep pockets, considering the damage the Exorcists tend to create during their fights.
One of the reasons Train and Sven from "Black Cat" are so poor is because most of their bounty money is used to pay for damage they cause when catching criminals.
The other series involving demons and exorcists, Blue Exorcist tends to gloss over this kind of thing, though it does happen. Arguably, since the True Cross Order has been established for about two thousand years, they probably have this kind of thing down pat.
Actively brought up in an early episode. Since Rin is the half-breed Son of Satan, even before his awakening he was very strong. Combing this with his Hair-Trigger Temper and his Nice Guy tendencies, and you get a few scenes of of Shiro yelling at him for costing him money. Not to mention he couldn't hold a job due to this...
A short omake at the end of episode 13 shows Mephisto confronting Amaimon on the destruction he caused in his fight with Rin. Scratch that, he was just upset over the now-headless statue of him. The wrecked rollercoaster and ball pen are totally over looked.
Kingdom Come addresses this in the novelization. Heroes are impoverished and uncontrollable, so there's no way to deal with the destruction superheroes cause. No one owns automobiles due to the skyrocketing insurance, and public monuments tend to be left where they lie. Yes, there is suffering.
Spoofed in the late 1980s in Scott McCloud's Destroy!!, which consisted of nothing but one-frame pages depicting a battle between two superhumans which effectively totals the city around them.
Lampshaded by Marvel Comics with their Damage Control series — a comic book about the company which cleans up after super battles. D.C. has been shown to clean up very specific examples of property damage, enlisting the help of subcontractors. In the after-effects of the Civil War, it's created-for-the-story new CEO is shown to have helped caused damage so the company gets hired to fix it. And they also dealt with the aftermath of World War Hulk, explaining why New York wasn't rubble just days after it was smashed.
Marvel has also at times claimed that, despite having probably caused more property damage than Godzilla, the Hulk hasn't actually killed any civilians during his rampages. Ever.
Amadeus Cho even claimed that Hulk didn't kill any military, either!
In one issue, Hulk and his teammates devastated a space launching bay because they didn't want America to interfere with Hulk's son. When called about it, Banner told they killed no one, and rebuilding all of this would create jobs! (Artistic License - Economics: if bombing expensive high-tech construction was a good way to create jobs, terrorism would fix economies).
In one issue of Superman, Superboy has a nice big fight scene with a robot, and then attempts to fly away. Lex Luthor of all people calls out from the crowd, asking why he thinks he can just leave Metropolis with the cleaning bill. Superman arrives and actually sides with Lex, saying that he always sticks around to clean-up after battles.
Superman himself has actually been shown cleaning up after his particularly destructive battles. After Superman got his powers back post-Infinite Crisis and he and Lex Luthor had a huge smash-up in Metropolis, Supes was shown clearing debris and doing minor construction work (i.e. welding some support beams to the side of a slightly-damaged building to prevent it collapsing) potentially saving the city millions of dollars and months or years of work fixing the damage.
In the Golden and Silver Age stories, more often than not, he would repair even minor damages with super speed after he caused it.
In one Superman/Batman storyline, Smallville was trashed in a superfight at the climax. The next storyline began with the entire Justice League pitching in to rebuild the town.
In Action Comics #700, most of Metropolis was reduced to rubble after Lex Luthor's missiles were set off. In the aftermath, Superman promised Lois he would help rebuild the city, brick for brick. He had already begun on his promise by starting with the Daily Planet globe which he and Perry White viewed as a symbol of hope for the city.
In DC Vs. Marvel, Superman and The Hulk are teleported to the Grand Canyon. Superman is relieved since it means no one will get hurt, and no collateral damage will occur. The Hulk doesn't care, with a "Let's just get ON with it" punch.
This was a major plot point in a Flash storyline where Wally gets legally barred from Keystone City because of all the collateral damage that results from his everyday crime fighting. In order to make their case the city authorities even have accountants following him around and calculating the damage done in front of him.
Vastly earlier issue 56 of The Avengers where accountants were talking to the team, trying to account for all the damage caused during a fight with elemental golems. Most of the Avengers were dismissive about it, Thor left a bag of gold, Iron Man reminded them that he was Tony Stark and could pay for it, and Cap... Cap handed over the parking ticket and the badge number of the officer who had ticketed the Quinjet when he'd made an emergency landing in an illegal zone. And the paperwork for having taken something out of a prison without filling in forms beforehand. The accountants loved him.
An Avengers annual had the heroes touring a construction site. The Genre Savvy employees knew villains would not be far behind (it -is- a construction site) and indeed, they showed up. Without the heroes knowing the employees put the smack down on all the bad guys.
In an issue of Marvel Adventures: Avengers the team fights itself because of a hate ray, throwing some cars around and inflicting minor damage in the process. Once they are done the mayor of New York scolds them, sentencing them to... community service. Well, they are the Avengers. Fighting the next threat probably counts.
A Silver AgeSuperman story has Superman being charged with, and convicted of, incredibly minor crimes that add up over the issue until almost keeping him in jail long enough for his accuser to perpetrate his evil plan. Not sure what you'd call this...playing with a subversion?
In the "Guardian Devil" arc for Marvel Comics character Daredevil, DD mentions that New York City has a billion-a-year insurance policy on damages caused by superheroes.
In the comic book series The Boys, a CIA subdivision is set up to take superheroes to task for the damages they incur. One character's girlfriend was graphically killed in front of him by a speedster throwing another superhuman into her, right after they traded "I love yous" for the first time.
Of course, The Boys is, depending on who you ask, a deconstruction or just one long bitchfest about superheroes in general. While heroes in other genres might at least make token attempts to minimize property damage or justify it with equal contributions, the superpowered jerkasses of The Boys just don't care and would slaughter a million civilians to apprehend a jaywalker.
The Authority, which takes a rather cynical view of superhero conventions, actually has the Authority helping out before and after supervillain attacks.
Also somewhat unique in that the Authority often acknowledges that what they're doing will cause property damage and probably cost civilian lives. The characters justify it with the excuse that the bad guys would have done much worse if nobody had stopped them, but the fact that they openly acknowledge the cost of what they do is unique in itself.
There was an amateur comic in Svenska Serier where villain and a Designated Hero, both musclebound bricks, bust out against each other at a high-class party, tearing the place up in the process. The destruction soon turns to ludicrous levels until suddenly calling it off and donning their civilian disguises. The manager of the party at the introduction, now the only apparent survivor who is sobbing on his knees in the midst of the destruction, is then approached by two surprisingly muscular suits who inform him that the insurance policy they provide would be excellent should something like this happen again.
Subverted with Batman as, being rich, he actually can afford to pay for damage. Was mentioned in the video game of Batman Begins, in which Batman damages a large section of water mains to chase away some corrupt cops from a scene. As he makes his plan, Alfred notes that Wayne Enterprises will likely be making a donation to the water board the next day.
In the after-effects of the Green LanternSinestro Corps War, the dozens of alien lanterns who ended up on Earth decide to stick around for a bit and clean up their messes. John Stewart, a long-standing human GL - and more importantly, an architect in his day job - cleans up the skyscraper damage in Coast City all by himself.
Discussed again in the first New 52 issue of Green Lantern Corps, when Guy Gardner can't get a job as a high school football coach, largely because simply having him on school grounds on a regular basis would send the school's liability insurance rates through the roof. In the same issue, it's played with a bit again in John's scene, where he tries to convince the company that hired him to design a new building to incorporate expensive measures to minimize damage if it happens to get caught in a supervillain attack or real knock-down-drag-out hero/villain fight. They disagree about whether the added expense is worth it.
In Miracleman, the title character tosses a car at the villainous Kid Miracleman in a futile attempt to stop him. Recalling the battle, Miracleman says that his defenders claim the car was empty. "I'm sorry, but that simply isn't true."
Even worse, it wasn't a car. It was a school bus full of children.
The "superhero kids" comic PS238 tries to handle the social consequences of superpowers realistically, and has brought up the concept of the "Super Samaritan Laws," which were lobbied for and passed to give superheroes some legal protections from the occasionally destructive consequences of super fights, considering the fact that if they didn't intervene, worse damage would likely happen. It helps that, in the PS238 'verse, many supers have gone into private and public work that doesn't involve crimefighting, and the Mega Corp. Clay Industries (founded by a metahuman super-intellect) is explicitly mentioned at one point to create 'instant-buildings' used to rapidly re-build urban areas damaged by superhero battles.
It was specifically mentioned that everyone was so happy to see a new team of heroes, that the metalworkers unions weren't going to sue their pants off for doing union work. Citizen V even remarks alluding to the fact that superheroes cleaning up after themselves is usually not appreciated by those who would otherwise be paid to do it. Definitely a bit of lampshading for this trope.
There was a comic in which She-Hulk decided the Thing needed some stress relief, so she took him out to a bar for a few drinks and started a fight with him. However, the city block destroyed in the process was scheduled for demolition. In fact, the workers hired to demolish that city block spent most of the comic sitting on the bar roof cheering — their contract said they got a hefty bonus if demolition was completed early, it didn't say the workers had to be the ones doing the demolishing.
In another story, She-Hulk works as a volunteer for Green Cross, an organization dedicated to clean up the damage caused by the Hulk and other gamma-radiation cases. The Green Cross leader and founder later reveals that he was the one who dared Rick Jones to sneak into the gamma-bomb testing area, so he feels responsible for the very creation of the Hulk.
Similar, in the first issue of JMS' Spider-Man, Spidey levels down a building scheduled for demolition, to work out some anger issues, and the wrecking crew just call it a day.
Deconstructed in The Ultimates, where one of the Hulk's massive rampages results in many deaths and millions of dollars in property damages — and Bruce Banner on trial for crimes against humanity.
In the Doctor Strange miniseries The Oath, after Night Nurse finishes operating on Dr. Strange after he is shot by an intruder, Strange jokes that he might still be covered under the Defenders' group health insurance plan. For reference, the Defenders were a somewhat mismatched superhero team-up that included the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner.
In the Luna brothers' The Sword, the collateral damages of Dara Brighton's battles with Zakros and Demetrios are treated realistically: the public at large reacts as if the world is ending.
In Supergirl #12 new hero Terra (now called Atlee) helps Supergirl take out a giant dinosaur; after the battle she uses her earth powers to repair the streets and even fix a fire hydrant. It is later revealed in the Terra miniseries that she apparently does this after every battle.
Subverted in a barfight between Colossus of the X-Men and the Juggernaut, where Cain actually pays for damages afterwards.
Speaking of X-Men, Cyclops always advises the team to avoid collateral damage (ie, no throwing random cars at bad guys), or at least cut a check to affected parties afterwards, since a mere diversionary tactic could mean years of debt for a civilian.
Also sort of lampshaded by Rogue in an issue of Xtreme X-Men, where she comments that "the X-Men may cause more collateral property damage than God," but they don't kill innocents.
Periodically lampshaded in Astro City. Characters will sometimes make passing references to the city's "great public works" program, usually in the wake of yet another superhero battle. The introduction to the "Local Heroes" TPB includes a newspaper clipping that mentions Honor Guard using alien Applied Phlebotinum to repair damage after one of their fights.
Likewise, the first issue of the Homage run, "Welcome to Astro City" shows that years of these events have actually caused much of the city's populace to bond together in an extremely intense way, to the point that few (if any) avoid pitching in for clean-up and rebuilding.
The Mighty Magnor hangs a giant lampshade on the trope. The two comic book writers who accidentally unleashed Magnor are on the hook for his ever-increasing property damages—balanced only by the ever-increasing licensing fees offered by Hollywood agents.
Lampshaded in the Sleepwalker comics when a city accountant is examining all the property Sleepwalker has bent and twisted with his warp beams and trying to determine how much money Sleepwalker's efforts are costing the city. Detective Cecilia Perez, head of the NYPD task force assigned to investigate Sleepwalker, justifies the trope when she points out that crime is down 70% in the areas Sleepwalker patrols, and notes that getting rid of him might cause more problems than it solves.
The ongoing Superboy series begins with the wide-spread destruction of Smallville and the surrounding farms due to the titular character's battle with Parasite. Superboy recognizes that this might very well spell doom for the entire town, as the collapse of the area farms will lead to massive unemployment, work migration and bankruptcy, so he arranges the first ever Superboy vs. Kid Flash Race to raise money for repairs.
Averted in the Don RosaScrooge McDuck story "The Cowboy Captain of Cutty Sark". While selling bulls to the sultan of Djokja during his cattle days, Scrooge is forced to retrieve said longhorns from thieves, and the resulting destruction, including 'a Scottish cowboy steaming into a port on a run-aground ship', is so costly that he's forced to give up every penny from his sale.
Shortly before Ultimate Spider-Man death, the Shield pointed out how dangerous an uncontrolled Spider-Man was when a battle between him and boomerang did almost one million dollars in damages, when Boomerang was just robbing a jewelry for a few dozens of thousand dollars.
Averted in Kirkman's Invincible several times. Fairly early in the series, a duel between Invincible and Omni-Man shatters entire skyscrapers, killing thousands - so even when Invincible manages a Pyrrhic Victory, he can never reveal his secret identity for fear of criminal charges or even assassination attempts against his family.
The trope is averted several times later in the series as well. You'd think that a guy who publicly saved the Earth from annihilation multiple times would be forgiven when a moment's hesitation results in a city being vaporized.. but that's not how humans think.
Played straight in an issue of Iron Man, when Tony Stark and Sasha Hammer have an all out brawl in the middle of a busy highway, destroying a few passing cars in the process. Made absolutely hilarious when Pepper shows up and smacks Sasha with one of the destroyed cars, saying the owner gave her permission to use what was left of his car to beat the crap out of Sasha.
Consciously averted in Marvel's Official Parody book Not Brand Echh, in a story where the Thing and the Hulk fight for six pages before an angry inspector from the Comics Code Authority comes and chews them out, listing all the damage they have caused. Because the Hulk reverts to Bruce Banner just before the inspector shows up, the Thing ends up taking most of the blame, and gets stuck with the responsibility for repairing the damages.
The story Eiga Sentai Scanranger lampshades this, saTony Stark and Sasha Hammer take a high speed ride down the interstate while Tony barely bother to glance at the road. Later, when this devolves into your aveying the rangers' backers also supply the people and resources to fix everything that gets broken during their fights.
Somewhere out there exists a fanfiction that explains that selling Power Rangers merchandise pays for all the damage done in monster attacks. This includes therapy sessions.
Mentioned (for laughs) in DC Nation where Roy Harper is bitching about having to take out additional insurance for a rented Winnebago because he is a publicly-out "cape." Turned out he NEEDED the coverage when six rogues, a corresponding number of Titans, Wonder Woman, and a Green Lantern show up at his location (middle of nowhere Arizona) for a throwdown.
Touched on in The Girl Who Loved, where it turns out that most Tokyo based Supers donate the profits from their toy deals to charity to keep people from coming after them about property damage.
Megamind acknowledges the Trope. After all of the destruction caused by Titan, Megamind's Brainbots are repairing all of the damage.
The setup for the film The Incredibles is, roughly, that superheroes in general were forced to go into hiding specifically to avoid litigation for collateral damage. That was basically the cost of the government providing them Hero Insurance.
Films — Live-Action
One just has to wonder how much of the budget for the James Bond movies is set aside for stuff for Bond to drive through.
He seems to have it in The World Is Not Enough, but his allies in the Russian underworld do not, even if he is involved. After Zukovsky's caviar factory is demolished by Elektra King's henchman (who were trying to kill Bond), Zukovsky shouts, "Insurance company is never going to believe this!"
Lampshaded in Lethal Weapon 3 were they got demoted after Riggs blew up a building when he tried to defuse a bomb.
In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs and Murtaugh are promoted and given desk jobs because the city lost its insurance. It didn't help they caused even more damage.
The Fantastic Four featured the Thing tossing a car at Dr. Doom. We don't hear from the car's owner and he doesn't get called on it, but he did ask to borrow the car first.
The movie Hancock has its protagonist as a Jerkass superhero whose penchant for massive collateral damage gets him a lot of flak from the residents of LA in the beginning of the movie, to the point of nearly getting him an eight-year prison term. Later, he gets asked for help by the police, who grant him a bit more lenience for collateral damage to stop the crimes.
Demolition Man: The reason John Spartan (and thus the film) is actually called "Demolition Man" is specifically because he tends to destroy buildings on the job. Because of this the public was all too willing to believe that he's responsible for the deaths of the hostages that landed him a cryo-sentence.
News reporter: How can you justify destroying a $7,000,000 mini-mall to rescue a girl whose ransom is only $25,000?
Girl: Fuck you, lady!
John Spartan: Good answer.
In Back To The Future Part III, Doc and Marty hijack a train at gunpoint to push the DeLorean up to eighty-eight miles per hour, in the process running the train off the edge of a ravine, causing it to explode. Everyone is apparently okay with this to such an extent that they rename the ravine after Marty.
Neo from The Matrix Reloaded destroys what looks like a good chunk of a city in his hurry to save Trinity, and before that they destroy a power plant causing a mass blackout, and before that cause numerous car accidents on a highway. And let's not forget the helicopter they smash into an office building back in the first movie. The property damage inside the virtual reality of the Matrix probably doesn't mean much, but people who get killed die for real. Of course, Neo is only the "hero" from his and his associates' point of view, while to the Matricians they are terrorists, and the justification they could provide for their destructive streaks is dubious at best, hence why they don't bother to provide it.
The titular female lead of I Love You Beth Cooper commits dozens of crimes during the movie, including fleeing the scene of an accident she caused by reckless driving and intentionally ramming a stolen car through a house wall in front of dozens of witnesses. Through sheer luck she doesn't actually hurt anyone but there is no suggestion at the end of the film that she is going to face any consequences at all for the thousands of dollars worth of property damage she inflicted during the film.
In the book version it is mentioned that she only just gets away with it thanks to Tracee's dad being a lawyer.
This blog suggests that the law might have made a legal defense difficult.
Danny: He only took your badge because you destroyed more of the city than usual.
Speed is also a nice example of this. The amount of destruction caused by keeping the bus at its required speed looks like it should cost the city at least 100 times what paying the ransom would have cost. The airplane at the end alone... Note that the bus is owned by the City of Santa Monica, but Jack Traven is a City of Los Angeles police officer, and the woman driving the bus has a suspended license and isn't even an employee of either. Interesting to see who would get sued.
Played straight and averted in both Ghostbusters films. At the beginning of Ghostbusters II, it's explained that the damage they caused at the end of the first film got them sued by every local official in New York, but at the end of the film they're back to being heroes again.
Averted in District 9, where the guy who hacked into MNU's databases and helped expose their illegal experiments on the aliens is arrested for his computer crimes.
Averted in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The Joes are among the most responsible heroes in fiction, and cause almost no damage to public property. The problem is that Cobra MARS COBRA isn't — and guess who's still in the area when the dust settles? After the Joes save Paris, the French beat them up, wreck their gear, and slap them with a permanent travel ban. Eagleland is nicer; after Ripcord saves D.C. all they do is hold him overnight before sending him back to the Pit. Of course, the President has been replaced by Zartan; he probably didn't feel like testing the disguise.
Played pretty straight towards the end of Fast Five, downtown Rio De Janeiro was nearly leveled by that vault.... Though they're already wanted criminals, and they just leave the country.
Played with in the Transformers Film Series. The US government is implied to cover any Cybertronian-related damage. Unfortunately, the Autobots cause a lot of collateral damage in their fights. To the point that the President sends a government official to express his concern to Prime and his team. The third film also implies that civilians are not exactly happy with all the damage inflicted on their homes and businesses (poll results show that half the world would feel safer without the Autobots; they aren't exactly in the wrong here). Additionally, Sam's dad says the government will pay for the damages to their house (caused by Bumblebee shooting at some Allspark mutations). Sam's mom decides to exploit this by demanding a hot tub to be built in the backyard.
At the end of The Avengers, a New York City official is demanding, in an interview, that the superheroes be held responsible for the damage caused by the Chitauri invasion, claiming that it was "their fight". It's entirely possible that Tony might get sued (considering his is the only name known by the public of all the Avengers and he's the only one who can afford to pay for the damages). There's also the fact that the Stark Tower (and its ARC reactor) were used to open the portal.
In Déjà Vu the protagonist, ATF agent Doug Carlin, drives half-blind down a busy freeway bridge to see the route their terrorist suspect took (It's a Long Story) causing multiple car wrecks by doing so, which probably result in severe injury and death. Except for helpfully saying "Send paramedics" nobody brings this up again, and he faces no legal consequences.
In Taken 2, the hero (and his daughter) cause a considerable amount of destruction in battling the vengeful surviving members of the human trafficking ring from the first film. Some of it includes police or government property. Hell, some of it includes an officer. (He was in league with the bad guys, but still.) You'd expect the number of crimes they commit would mean they'd be in prison until the next ice age, but we end with no talk of legal trouble.
This extends to Smallville too. Its downtown is almost leveled by the fight there and includes an explosion at a gas station.
Superman fights Zod and/or his warriors in Smallville and later Metropolis despite being outclassed, and so a lot of damage happens. His attempts at knocking or throwing them away are invariably countered, at one point reaching Earth's orbit. Most of the time he's smashed into buildings by their attacks but sometimes he does the same (granted, into apparently empty or unfinished ones). The damage is compounded by attempts by the US military to intervene. Superman later also willfully trashes a multi-million dollar spy drone that has been snooping on him to make a point to the military to get off his back.
In fairness, most of the destruction is caused by Zod's forces or machines. Superman causes comparatively little damage.
In Pacific Rim the Jaegers cause probably billions of dollars worth of collateral damage. However, considering that it's them vs. the apocalypse, you can see why people tolerate them.
At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Nova Corp gives the Guardians amnesty for all their many, many past crimes. They are very careful to emphasize that it only covers past crimes, and is no protection for any they might commit in the future.
Rocket: Let's say that somebody has something that I want more than they do, and I take it. Would I— Rhomann: You would be arrested for that. Rocket: But what if I really want it? Rhomann: It's illegal. You'd still be arrested. Rocket: No, sir, you don't understand, I really do want it more than they do— [is shoved away] Hey! What's the matter? Can't I have a decent conversation with this gentleman- Drax: Say someone irks me. And I rip out his spine. Would I be arrested? Rhomann: Th-that's murder, one of...the worst crimes there is, and also illegal, so...yes, you would definitely be arrested for that. Drax:[genuinely surprised] Huh.
In a The Man From Uncle novelization, Solo and Kuryakin actually give a woman UNCLE's insurance agency's card, to pay for the hole they cut in her floor.
Only to save their own hides. Other Death Eaters would've seen the damage and known where they were.
The Spider-Man book "Secret of the Sinister Six" features a radio advertisement for metahuman insurance, including testimonials from people who had the Hulk thrown through their kitchen.
The Dogs of War. The mercenaries planning a coup in a small African republic are told to take out insurance for a short sea voyage from Europe to Africa. Any survivors would swear that the covered party fell overboard, or lost a limb due to shifting cargo during a storm.
In The Lives Of Christopher Chant, when Christopher's magic first emerged, it did so rather spectacularly, trashing his teacher's house in the process. His teacher then spent the next month forcing him to fix everything that he broke.
In Dealing With Dragons a famous hero is mocked because, when he threw a rampaging giant into a lake to drown it, the resulting flood actually did more damage than the giant itself would have.
Averted in Simon R. Green's Nightside, where the protagonist, John Taylor, is now classified under Acts of Gods by the insurance companies.
When the Wraiths start a Bar Brawl as phase one of their latest Zany Scheme, they actually pay for the damages to the bar. Or more accurately, they rob the soldiers they had beaten up and use that money to pay for the damages.
Lampshaded in Charmed. In Billie's first battle with a demon, she hits an empty seat in a movie theater with a fireball, and wonders, "Now help me out here, I'm new at this. Who pays for that?" But mostly averted with the No Personal Gain rules, the sisters must cover damage done to the home out of their own pocket. They lampshade it by noting one window repair man likes their business.
Also Lampshaded in Angel: after a Super Window Jump he comments that the demons were now good guys who "own a number of restaurants with pretty expensive windows"
The Power Rangers were bad about this. In the never ending series of the same name, the protagonists often leveled up to a quarter of the city they live in while fighting of some random mooks. Building destruction has been greatly toned down since 9/11, though.
It has also often been lampshaded throughout the show's run. Early on, battles took place in the "abandoned warehouse district", presumably because abandoned warehouses are just begging to be blown up (or possibly because the city residents wisely abandoned the district when they noticed how often megazord battles took place there). Additionally, one warehouse was apparently still in use, as its smokestack was destroyed every week by the Dragonzord, yet it was remarkably good as new the next week - perhaps they really did have hero insurance?
Partial aversion in Power Rangers RPM. When Sociopathic HeroCreepy Twins Gem and Gemma bust down the door to a candystore to stop a petty criminal, they are forced later on to repair the door themselves. They are, however, still off the hook for any damage incurred fighting the minions of the Big Bad, however.
Averted regularly in the latter half of Power Rangers S.P.D.. The SWAT Megazord's finisher involved flying the criminals' giant robots into low orbit, then turning into a cannon and blowing them away - presumably because SPD doesn't want that kind of ordnance going off within city limits.
Also it has been shown that when the zords are on the move the Pink Ranger takes care of crowd control by directing traffic away from the combat zone.
And the premiere shows the B-Squad's status by showing them cleaning up the wreckage from the A-Squad's mecha battle. Presumably when A-Squad goes AWOL and B-Squad takes over Earth's defense, they have lower-ranked cadets cleaning up their messes.
Lampshaded in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Flooded". While assessing the damage after yet another fight with a demon has caused extensive damage to her house, Buffy asks: "I've trashed this house so many times. How did Mom pay for this?"
This later doubled as the reason that the furniture was apparently made of balsa wood. The good stuff was broken just as easily in fights, so she had replaced it as cheaply as possible.
Lampshaded earlier in "Ted" when the gang worries what punishment Buffy will receive for killing the titular character who turns out to be not dead, since he was a robot
Cordelia: I don't get it. Buffy's the Slayer, shouldn't she have—
Xander: What, a license to kill?
Cordelia: Well, not for fun, but she's like this Superman. Shouldn't there be different rules for her?
In Band of Brothers, during Operation Market Garden, Easy Company comes across a Dutch bell tower that the Germans are using to conceal their tanks from the advancing Allies. They ask a British tank commander to fire through the tower, which would destroy the buiilding but also hit the German tank on the other side. The British commander refuses, citing that they are under orders to minimize collateral damage in friendly countries. This ends up costing the British tank crew their lives, as they are sitting ducks once they round the corner into German crosshairs.
House: Dr. House in Real Life would have his medical license stripped and face multiple malpractice suits, if not actually be in prison. Members of his staff and the hospital would also find themselves in trouble. The hospital actually earmarks a portion of the budget for House-related lawsuits.
Averted in the NCIS: Los Angeles episode "LD50", when the mall where the heroes stopped botulimin from being released billed the organization for the fish that died from their method of stopping the botulimin (holding the broken vial in the tank).
Hetty: The Koi fish in that fountain went belly up from the botulimin. Oh dear, when one so rarely uses that phrase literally. Anyway, the mall has billed us $72,000. Kensi: For fish? Hetty: Yes. Kensi: (to Callen) Do you know what I could buy with that?
In Doctor Who, the Doctor causes destruction and mayhem on a regular basis, on one occasion draining the River Thames, and he never sticks around to clear up the mess. It is kinda hard to charge him for damages considering he can simple escape by jumping around through time and space. Not to mention changing his appearance every now and then. Easily explains his mixed reputation among those people who know about him, though. This is why the original Torchwood had him listed as an enemy in their charter. They were founded when Queen Victoria saw him in action; she knighted him for his heroism then banished him for his crimes (and for being to damn cheerful about the deadly werewolf attack).
In Common Law, one of the leads foils a convenience store robbery... by driving his car through the front of the store. Doesn't seem cost effective.
The Finder: In the second episode, Walter shot a Dirty Cop so that, when the medics found the bullet, they'd also find the bullet that'd expose the Dirty Cop as a murderer. He explained that, if he went through bureaucratic methods to force the Dirty Cop to reveal the bullet, it wouldn't be found in time to clear the name of an innocent man framed for one of the murders before execution. That justification cleared him for shooting the Dirty Cop and stealing the gun from another nearby cop.
Elementary: Holmes and Watson break into multiple people's homes, hack or steal their phones, etc. to gain evidence. Not only are these felonies for which they could face time in prison, but since they consult with the police, all that evidence could be suppressed against defendants if this were revealed. However, aside from in one episode this never becomes a problem.
The Mutants & Masterminds setting Freedom City has something of an explanation — Freedom City has its own guardian spirit, Doc Metropolis. In addition to serving on the local hero team, he also uses his powers over the city to fix whatever damage is wrought by superpowered battles.
GURPS Powers has a table for you to roll on to decide how many dollars of collateral damage were dealt during a fight. It's up to the GM who exactly has to pay for it.
Exalted: During the First Age, the Solars' Hero Insurance is backed by the authority of Sol Himself and the rest of the Heavens. Whole Cardinal Direction obliterated in your fight? Doesn't matter, things can be rebuilt and the Sidereals make sure that the collateral victims reincarnate into a favorable life. Like everything else heroic, this is ultimately Deconstructed — the Solars eventually don't even see mortals as real people.
Player characters in virtually all tabletop RPGs owe most of their ability to get away with literal murder and other less-than-virtuous activities (except where the GM thinks it would be entertaining) to this trope in the name of escapism and saving valuable playtime. It's all just imaginary damage anyway, so if the group doesn't feel like dealing with it there's no actual harm (save possibly to the players' willing suspension of disbelief) in simply ignoring it and moving on. Handwaves optional.
Subverted in City of Heroes with the Faultline zone, the victim of a massive earthquake attack by a tectonics-controlling villain, which for years remained as a giant deserted fissure in the ground. Faultline only started being slowly rebuilt a year or two ago.
There are billboards in the city advertising insurance for damages caused by hero/villain struggles, but there are a lot of hazard zones which are just decimated sections of town still, so...
Desert Strike and the rest of the Strike series penalizes you for killing civilians and destroying their buildings, usually by deducting points from your score at the end of the mission. At worst, you'll be ordered to return to the frigate, berated for your actions, and forced to do the mission all over again (this also happens on other conditions).
ESP Ra De, on multiple occasions, makes civilian buildings and vehicles in Tokyo-2 fair game—such as parts of Houoh High School, and the cars on the street just before fighting the "Izuna" Assault Tank in the shopping mall stage. There's no penalty, in-game or story-wise, for doing so.
Averted with J-B 5th though, as his backstory says it's not only the Yaksa after him, but the Japanese Self-Defense Force as well.
Aversion: in X-COM Apocalypse, you have the option of paying for any collateral damage you do while cleaning buildings from aliens. If you don't, the owners may attack you the next time you have to go in.
And there are also relationship hits from damaging buildings from the outside, which may require financial compensation for staying friends with the specified organization. It seems X-COM doesn't pay for repairing its own buildings on the outside (although this might be justified, since the expensive stuff is underground, the above ground stuff is just a damage buffer. However, all the organizations have their own fund sources and reserves and it is very much possible to drain those, thus depleting their ability to replenish their weaponry etc. - which basically means that consequent raids are worth less if you also do damage to the buildings. Raiding for experience and items seems to be fine, although it also decreases the finances of the organization.
In the original X-COM, you can, thanks to the miracle of modern agricultural insurance, burn an entire farm to ashes with no repercussions, although you are a UN task force and it's not like anyone in the area is still alive to sue. For that matter, burning down a section of a major city has no consequences beyond a minor point loss for civilians killed or troopers caught in gas station explosions.
Subverted in the video game Mega Man Legends, where any town structures that get damaged or destroyed in battle has to be paid for by the player through donations, regardless of who actually wrecked them. Repairs do not take place until the player starts donating, and buildings don't get fully repaired unless the player has maxed out his donations.
Played with in Mass Effect, in which Shepard is a Spectre and has broad operational authority to do whatever the heck he/she feels like but still gets chewed out by his/her superiors for any collateral damage.
Sparatus, the Turian Councillor, particularly isn't amused when Shepard detonates a nuke to destroy Saren's cloning facility on Virmire. Although technically, the nuke idea came from the Salarian Special Tasks Group and Shepard just helped them infiltrate the facility to deliver the payload.
At the end of the last piece of DLC for Mass Effect 2, s/he (both Paragon and Renegade) was forced to destroy a mass relay to slow down the Reaper invasion. It went supernova, wiping out an entire solar system and killing 300,000 batarians. Admiral Hackett notes that while he knows s/he did it for the right reasons and will try to slow down the fallout, s/he will have to face trial for mass murder and terrorism, and it's doubtful that the Council (who don't believe him/her about the Reapers) or Udina (who hates Shepard) are going to give him/her any protection. There are limits even for Spectres. It all becomes moot before the third game begins, since the Reaper invasion took out the entire Batarian civilization in the first hours.
Subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All. After Phoenix breaks down the door to the summoning room in the Fey Manor, he later gets a bill for the door, despite breaking it to protect Maya and find out about the gunshot heard in the room. Of course, the owner of the door was an accomplice of the murder that was happening, and by entering, Phoenix was interfering with the plans. Plus, if you read some of the tapestries in the school, as well as in the exhibit in the third game, they all discuss methods of making money. The Kurain school of mysticism would gouge anyone for a nickel.
In at least one instance, burning through a door has the inhabitant of the house pay you.
I don't remember any actual penalties for impromptu demolitions in Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Of course, with a title like that... Being in a war zone might mitigate this, although there's still penalties for killing civilians off, no matter how annoying or stupid.
There aren't. Unless you blow up either a keep-it-upright mission objective, or someone's HQ ...in the words of the intro, you can level half of North Korea and not be bothered, as long as you only harm soldiers and structures. Killing civvies and reporters, however, does carry a stiff fine.
The sequel keeps it the same - unless you murder civilians, where money is deducted in the forms of bribes. Your Voice with an Internet Connection will complain about having to do the bribing to smooth things out.
Many light-gun games even encourage you to shoot up the scenery of the location you're trying to save, with rewards including bonus points, powerups, and secret rooms. Apparently glass windows are #3 on the Most Wanted list.
It's actually less egregious than other examples because he very rarely breaks physical stuff - Lan mostly sneaks somewhere he is not allowed to be in pursuit of of the current villain. And because he manages to save the day, officials can let it slide.
The sequel series Mega Man Star Force lampshades hero insurance in the 2nd game, Omega-Xis mentions being considered a hero is something to be proud of, and that because of it, people won't mind if they cause damage.
In Superman Returns, as Superman is invincible, the life bar is that of collateral damage done to Metropolis. Which is a brilliant idea in a shitty game.
While the first Red Faction was notable for allowing the player to break stuff up to and including the level geometry itself, the sequel looks to be taking this to ludicrousextremes. Not only does the ultramodern architecture give way like wet tissue paper, the protagonist effectively levels an entire city to protect the citizens of said city.
In the 2009 Ghostbusters game, it's revealed early on that the Ghostbusters no longer work for the people of New York, but for the city of New York, with a contract to take care of any and all paranormal disturbances. In addition, the city has a lucrative insurance contract for damage due to either paranormal entities or paranormal "investigations". In fact, the mayor got the insurance policy after the Ghostbusters endorsed him in the election campaign, and it's outright stated by Ray that it probably won the election for the mayor. In addition, there's an oversight committee, headed by the ever-lovable Walter Peck, called the Paranormal Contract Oversight Committee.
And the icing on the cake: the game TRACKS how much property damage the Ghostbusters incur.
Subverted in Super Paper Mario, where Mario breaks Mimi's vase and is forced to work off the debt for the rest of the chapter - of course, since Mimi is working for the Big Bad, it's all just a scheme.
Lampshaded in the 2001 enhanced remake of Spy Hunter: in the first half of the game, you fail a mission objective if you cause too many civilian casualties (about 4), but they don't prevent you from moving on to the next mission. In the second half of the game, it's explained the agency's insurance provider has altered their policy, and ANY civilian casualties are no longer acceptable (although if you complete enough of the other objecties, you can usually advance).
Deconstructed in Fallout 3, two superpeople known as the Mechanist (Hero who fights alongside an army of robots) and the AntAgonist (Villain who fights alongside an army of giant ants). The residents of Canturbury Commons, the town in which they stage most of their dramatic battles, fear for their lives and property. They generally wish that BOTH of them would just go away, except for the town's only child. He thinks they're Crazy Awesome and actually has suggestions on how you could join them as a third superperson, complete with your own army.
In Freedom Force, collateral damage incurs a prestige loss. Prestige is used to recruit new superheroes to your team and keep score, and therefore smashing up things too much and letting civilians get KOed will reduce your hiring rate and your high score. There are no other penalties.
Even though what they do is to take back their cities from bad guys, player tank in Seek And Destroy never needs to pay for whatever damage he cause to those cities, and they are miraculously restored right after the hero troop conquer them.
Lampshaded in A Day in the Life of a Super Hero, where the main character assures an irate truck driver that his Super Hero Insurance "will definitely cover stuffed toy elephants crushed beneath [him] by being hurled from a bridge."
Demonbane: entire city blocks are wiped out in every single battle, yet life in Arkham City continues as though nothing is wrong, and only cursory attention is paid to the damages and loss of life. The fact that the hero is working for the Hadou Group, which effectively owns the city and is rich enough to do whatever they want, explains why they are never held accountable, though it is mentioned several times that the people of the city are uncertain as to whether Demonbane is truly a "hero of justice" or just another rampaging threat. Finally subverted after Cthulhu's summoning, which results in Arkham City getting wiped off the face of the Earth, though most of the population survives via underground shelters.
At the end of Space Quest V, Captain Roger Wilco triumphantly returns to StarCon after saving the galaxy from yet another threat. Space Quest 6 begins with a court-martial, where none of Roger's accomplishments are mentioned, and only his violations of regs are brought up and used to strip him of his rank. The fluff implies that the mother of Captain Raemes T. Quirk, whom Roger is forced to kill to end the threat, pushes for Roger to be found guilty.
Mentioned in League of Super Redundant Heroes, Laser Pony apparently has insurance which covers damage to blimps. Just as well, considering he has shot down two of them so far.
Referred to in The Hero Business, where the eponymous marketing agency appears, at least, to have a tab with the municipality.
The fact that heroes seem to get away with massive property damage gets thoroughly skewered, among other things, in thisShortpacked! strip.
Parodied in Evil Inc.. One of the services the titular company provides is "Battlefield Location and Booking" which seeks out abandoned locations for villains and heroes to battle to avoid lawsuits from any property damage and casualties. This could also be considered an inversion since, as the name of the company indicates, it's the supervillains who are in charge of this service.
If there's one thing supervillans probably will hate more than superheroes, it's lawyers.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has an unorthodox approach to hero insurance. Because the populace acknowledges that McNinja's vigilantism is actually beneficial to the community despite the crimes he commits in the process, he and the police have worked out an agreement: After committing a crime, Dr. McNinja needs only to return to his office and call "base" in order to have his crimes absolved.
In Spinnerette Benjamin Franklin mentions that the super hero organization he founded handles damage compensation, legal help, medical help, etc through a combination of money from bank interest from the 1700's to merchandizing super hero memorabilia.
Super Temps has literal Hero Insurance — the Supers Union actually pays a large chunk of their various merchandising and media profits to the government to pay for collateral damage. Since super-antics actually drive the economy in a cycle of media sales, merchandising, and job creation to handle the damage... this makes perfect sense in a Fridge Logic kind of way.
Darths & Droids brings this a couple of times, most notably in this strip where the entire party gets chewed out for how much collateral damage their latest adventure caused.
Captain Hammer, of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog practically defines the trope. In his introduction alone, we see him jump onto a remote-controlled van, break its autopilot, jump off to flirt with a beautiful bystander, and all but abandon the vehicle to terrorize the streets. He also completely fails to prevent the theft of the goods inside the van, due to flirting with a yet another woman. Hence the only thing he actually accomplishes is needlessly endangering bystanders. And everyone loves him for it anyway due to his manly charisma. Did we mention that Dr. Horrible is a deconstruction of super heroes vs. super villains?
Averted in the Whateley Universe. An early story features an English class which specifically mentions that insurance and damage laws have evolved to address superhero-supervillain battles. Also, one of the major purposes of the school is to teach enough self-control that the kids are not destroying everything in sight while fighting the villain. And finally, in a novel set over Thanksgiving of first term, the kids find out that a brutal battle years ago in New York City has led to the point that everyone at school has to have a Mutant Identification card filled out in a meeting with the Mutant Commission Office, or they can't return to the school.
Subverted in The Mad Scientist Wars. Xyon City has an "abandoned warehouse district" that is paid for by a tax on explosives. When old abandoned warehouses are destroyed, new ones are built. The reasoning seems to be that if people are going to blow stuff up, it might as well be in a designated area away from the important stuff. Played straight in that this doesn't always work.
A storyline invovles the characters trying to run a group of heroes out of town, partially because of this trope.
Contractors in the city give discounts depending on the number of times your house has been destroyed.
Subverted in a early arc of How to Succeed in Evil. It is openly stated that Superhero Insurance dosen't exist because it would be too damn expensive. Dosen't stop Edwin from selling (and by selling we mean threatening into submission) it anyways.
Subverted in Trinton Chronicles, the city isn't really too fond of the vigilantes (heroes) fighting each other in the city with out rules..after all, it's a whole world full of super-powered people...even they have rules against over-use!
Played straight in Skyway Mechanix where the state super-hero tells a police officer to send a bill to the "World Hero Alliance - Hero Insurance Department" after the chaotic neutral protagonists destroy a motel and blow up a gas station.
Discussed in Worm after the bank robbery. When the Undersiders villain team robs the bank, Kid Win, part of the Wards hero team sent to stop them, ended up using an energy cannon during the fight that inflicted serious property damage - damage that inflicted costs that actually exceeded the amount of money that the Undersiders stole from the bank, and not counting other damages from the fighting. He is given a severe talking down by Director Piggot as a result of his misuse of the weapon and the costs of the damage he inflicted. However, issues of property damage are only brought up for "minor" villain confrontations. When Class S threats like the Endbringers or the Slaughterhouse Nine show up, all issues regarding property damage go right out the window and everything gets thrown at the threat until it is destroyed or driven off.
Spoofed in the Robot Chicken premiere. After a battle, Optimus Prime congratulates the Autobots: "Megatron was defeated with only 50 humans killed in the crossfire, a new record!" Everybody cheers.
Megas in Megas XLR regularly destroys significant chunks of the vicinity while he smashes the Monster of the Week. It's mostly Played for Laughs since Coop's a loveable buffoon, and the stuff he destroys often has signs that say things like "Conveniently Empty Building" and "We Were Going to Tear This Down Anyway". Plus it takes place in New Jersey, where such destruction might actually serve as an improvement...
There was an episode where a Gatchaman / Power RangerExpy group fought Coop, after watching some videos of his blunders at piloting the robot, under the idea he was a villain. Even the team's own villain thought Coop was evil. They eventually realized Coop is a good guy, just really clumsy, and became allies.
The Powerpuff Girls don't seem at all concerned about how much collateral damage they cause defeating the monsters that invade Townsville — the monsters alone would probably cause less damage. The citizens of Townsville have apparently gotten used to this... but Citiesville, where the girls temporarily move to, is not so understanding:
Citiesville Mayor: At what time did it seem like a good idea to blow up the Citiesville Bridge? Do you realize that the bank robbers you captured stole approximately $400? Do you realize you did several million dollars IN PROPERTY DAMAGE TO THAT BRIDGE?!!"
In another episode, when the girls' class has Career Day, Hanut's father comes in. In a deadpan style, he says that he insures buildings in Townsville from damage... and that he is a veeeeeery busy man.
And then there is The Movie of the girls' origins, in which they almost destroy pretty much the entire town. From playing tag. Professor Utonium is actually arrested over this, and there is talk of the girls being incarcerated.
Said movie also shows that Townsville pre-Powerpuffs is a horrifying dystopia of crime and violence where criminals run rampant and the police seemingly never leave their favorite store, the Donut Thing. The Powerpuffs might cause a lot of property damage, but Townsville seems to think that the reduced crime rate is worth it.
In still another episode, the Professor is horribly worried about the girls' getting injured, and so builds a Humongous Mecha for them to use. They refuse to...until they come up against a bigger monster that even they can't handle. They win... but level virtually all of Townsville doing it. The Mayor thanks them, then asks them whose stupid idea the big robot suit was. When they say it was the Professor's, he decides he'll let them off as long as they promise never to use it again. They're only too happy to agree, as the thing was damn finicky to work with.
The suit returns in a later episode after The Mayor unwittingly activated the autopilot, and it's just as destructive as before
Yet another episode has a garbage man praising their destruction because it's keeping him in work.
Underdog had a Catch Phrase for whenever he was confronted with the vast destruction caused during the episode: "I am a hero who never fails./ I cannot be bothered with these details." For fairly obvious reasons, this was quietly dropped early in the show.
In the universe of The Venture Bros., fully-certified membership with the OSI includes a literal license to kill.
Danny Phantom: Danny apparently has no Hero Insurance since he actually feels bad about any collateral damage he causes while capturing ghosts, especially when people he knows bear the brunt of it. When he accidentally destroys a section of the mall, Tucker comments, "I sure hope they're insured." This could be either because, or partly why, Amity Park is an Untrusting Community.
Mayor:Thank you, mysterious heroes! The value of the Gemerald you saved is slightly greater than the cost of the damage you caused to this museum: A net gain for our great city!
Leela also gives the reason for having secret identities: so they can only charge the "hero" persona for any resultant damages.
Subverted in The Tick. Arthur's attempt to break through the Sidekick Glass Ceiling ends with a climactic battle with the Tick, in which a restaurant was partially trashed. The episode ends with the reunited heroes fixing the same restaurant, with the maitre d' profusely thanking them: "When most superheroes have their brawls, they just leave a mess."
When The Tick went to Europe for a hero exchange program, he was prevented from Roof Hopping due to damaging historically important buildings.
At one point, he's vetoed from starting a fight with a supervillain in the supervillain's evil... Apartment?... On the basis that the supervillain will lose his cleaning deposit if it gets messed up. They decide to go fight on the roof instead.
At the end of the Marvel/Supes battle, Superman even offers to repay the cost of the damage from the Justice League coffers. Apparently they have a very large stash of money somehow.
Somehow? Batman is a member! Superman even glances at him for confirmation before saying that.
Squeezing coal into diamonds is one of Supes' powers.
Merchandizing. JLA gets royalties for every movie, action figure, poster comic, talk show,etc they do. They actually mention this as one source of income. And then there's Batman using his super computer systems for insider trading through dummy accounts to set up hundreds of discrete accounts they can draw funds from.
In the Superman-Darkseid fight, Metropolis actually had been evacuated. You can see people watching the Superman-Darkseid fight, but a lot of people don't leave a city that has been evacuated. Also, given the fact Darkseid had pretty much invaded Earth in full force at this point, well...if they're gonna get killed, might as well enjoy the superhuman slugfest beforehand.
Also, see the fight against Solomon Grundy in Wake The Dead. Supes makes his appearance by punching Grundy through a line of cars, into the distance and into a gas line, and, while he chats with the League about strategy, there's a gigantic explosion far away in what is apparently a populated urban area. This just marks the fight getting more and more out of control and, of course, more collateral damage, almost all of the big things involving Superman.
Of course, this isSuperman we're talking about here. The guy can literally punch someone a mile, use his telescopic and X-Ray Vision to examine the spot they're going to land for civilians, zip off to move any inconvenient bystanders clear at Super Speed, and return to the scene of the battle to chat with his allies before anyone other than The Flash had even noticed he'd gone anywhere. It takes a lot of work to look that reckless (without actually killing anyone).
However, there is a subversion in "The Greatest Story Never Told". After the League's battle with Mordru leaves whatever city they're in utterly demolished by collateral damage, the League helps clean up.
Lampshaded when Superman was supposed dead and Lobo showed up to fill the vacancy. Showing why he's not the best replacement for the realFlying Brick, his strategy for defeating a baddie is by simply piling cars on top of him. When the rest of the League waves him off from adding another one once the villain surrenders, a dejected Lobo tosses it over his shoulder and into a building.
Earlier in the Superman animated series, Bizzario tries to help save the city, except doing more harm then good, such as "saving" a building being demolished by throwing the wrecking ball away (which almost landed on a wedding), "fixing" a draw bridge (that a tanker was about to pass under), and "saving" Lois Lane from the real Superman (by knocking over the Daily Planet globe).
In Superman: Doomsday, Supes throws Doomsday through a building on more than one occasion, and eventually defeats him by taking him to orbit and slamming him into the ground in the middle of Metropolis hard enough to level the entire block. In real life, Supes would've racked up a higher death toll than all the villains in the movie put together with that move. And he may well have, as this being a direct-to-DVD release rather than a TV episode, people were being explicitly killed in the show...but he was "dead" at that point, and he did stop Doomsday, who had wiped out entire worlds on his own.
To put this in perspective, Metropolis is essentially in the same place as New York City. In the comic arc that this was based on the Justice League engaged Doomsday in central Ohio, and would have been completely wiped out if Superman hadn't shown up when he did. The battle between the two stretched over a third of the country, and left more than a thousand dead in its wake. The government's position was that anything that could take that kind of punishment was a serious enough threat that even losing most of Metropolis would have been a justifiable price for putting it down.
Lampshaded in Transformers Animated. When Optimus Prime crashes into a truck, he apologized and says he heard something called "insurance" will cover that.
Inverted in one episode with Henry Masterson stealing yet another autobot body. Powell, the guy who sprung Masterson from jail and gave him a job, gave his employee what amounts to Villain Insurance by pointing out that the damage was done on his company property (it was the company's ship, and the company's goods that were damaged) and that hijacking an Autobot body was not a crime, as there were no laws concerning autobots, leaving Fanzone unable to arrest Masterson since the latter technically didn't commit any crimes.
Also played with a little bit in the live-action movie. In most cartoons, the Transformers trot around human areas with little to no difficulty. The movie shows just how destructive having giant, heavy robots mill about your back yard would be, even if they were trying to be not just careful but stealthy.
Played with further during one scene showing Optimus Prime running along a busy road; his feet chew giant holes in the tarmac, but he doesn't hit a single car.
This never came up in the Generation One series because they mostly fought in desert areas and even the city locations didn't have too much collateral damage. But Transformers Animated tries to balance it out considering the Autobot heroes are occasionally seen helping to put the city back together after a battle. Robot Chicken had a segment that mocked this trope, however.
They also get called on it more than once, especially Gentle Giant Bulkhead. It's not fear that makes public opinion towards them someone ambivalent—it's the fact that they keep breaking stuff.
One episode of Darkwing Duck had this factor into public opinion about him, with one member of the public complaining that he stepped on her foot and a construction worker complaining he somehow knocked a building out from under him. Not bad, for someone without any actual superpowers.
Cyborg from Teen Titans once used a building against Plasmus. Perhaps The Abridged Series' line that "This city already has its own destructive jerks - the Teen Titans!" was closer than you'd think.
And how many cars has Raven telekinetically thrown at villains?
Raven has Cyborg beat in "Birthmark", where pretty much the entire city, frozen in time mind you, becomes her weapons. She used two buildings to try to crush Slade, who had superpowers at the time and survived unscathed. It's hard to believe that those buildings, or even half the cars, were empty.
They put several holes in several buildings and wreck a road chasing a jewellery thief.
One of Commander Feral's main points when speaking out against the SWAT Kats to the media is the amount of collateral damage they cause. The Mayor/Deputy Mayor accept that the big Villain of the Week will cause more damage with the huge mecha/giant spider/ultratank/whatever else if left unchecked. Because the Enforcers can't stop them using Feral's tactics to 'minimize damage'. Not that Feral cares. He's tried to have them arrested several times and tried to hold them accountable for city damage.
VeggieTales: In a radio interview, Larry-Boy complained about how he has a really high insurance deductible, even though most of the things he breaks while fighting crime are only worth about five dollars.
In the premiere of Sym-Bionic Titan, the giant robot/giant monster battle creates a huge crater in the middle of the city. The heroes are dismayed by the destruction and resolve to fight future battles in remote, unpopulated areas (with limited success at keeping to that resolution). In the very next episode, we see that the city has already completed a long viaduct right through the middle of the crater and is starting to erect new buildings. A few episodes later, a drag race takes place in the construction zone, and we see that considerable progress has been made in the rebuilding. Now, just imagine if New York City had instantly begun building new roads and towers on Ground Zero after 9/11. And consider that the destruction zone here was much, much larger — and given that people actually do die in this cartoon, it's unlikely that entire sector of the city had been conveniently evacuated. One must conclude that the people of this city are remarkably unsentimental.
While Hong Kong Phooey isn't so destructive given he doesn't have superpowers, he's so popular everyone who directly suffers from a fair share of his destruction is pleased for this.
Averted in The Legend of Korra: Korra catches a trio of gangster benders and she's arrested along with the thugs for causing far more damage than the thugs would have if left unchecked. Chief Bei Fong explicitly tells Korra that the fact that she's the Avatar means squat to her.
Subverted. Tenzin steps up and offers to cover the damages as part of the agreement for Korra's bail. Another part of the agreement was that Korra would immediately be sent home, but Tenzin later changes his mind. Though not happy with the decision, Chief Bei Fong accepts it as long as Tenzin keeps an eye on Korra.
Double Subverted later on. After Lin sees the danger the Equalists, she is more or less lenient about Korra's way of handling things.
Poor Derpy, on the other hand, gets some serious scorn heaped onto her by Rainbow Dash, for whom causing severe damage to buildings is part of the daily routine, after she inadvertently trashes City Hall. Hilariously though, it's Applejack who ends up going out to earn the cash to fix it.
Nick Logan of Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends causes a lot of damage while pursuing/running from aliens. Since he's part of a secret organization they have a team dedicated to keeping it all under wraps, either by suppressing knowledge or arranging for someone else to take the blame.
Most states and nation-states have laws protecting the police and fire departments from being sued for damages inflicted in their jobs. Of course, they have to do a MASSIVE amount of paperwork after any action, partly to show any damage to property was legally justified, and they can be sued if their actions weren't.
American law actually turns this on its head: if you intentionally or negligently cause injury to another, then you are liable for any injuries suffered by anyone rescuing them. In other words, everyone has Hero Insurance, on a small scale, in that the hero can actually sue the person who caused the danger in the first place for damages. To quote Judge Benjamin Cardozo, who first formulated the rule (Wagner v. International Ry. Co., 133 N.E. 437 (N.Y. 1921)):
Danger invites rescue. The cry of distress is the summons to relief... The wrongdoer may not have foreseen the coming of a deliverer. He is accountable as if he had.
Making the rule even more peculiar: in most states, this rule by statute does not apply if the person rescuing you is an on-duty professional rescue worker (e.g. police and firefighters). In other words, not only does everyone have Hero Insurance, the insurance available to ordinary people is better than that available to professionals. As an example, if Bob is caught in a burning building set on fire by Charlie and Alice rescues Bob:
If Alice is not a firefighter, then she can totally sue Charlie for any injury she suffers.
If Alice is a professional firefighter, but isn't on-duty (e.g. she was at home and lives nearby, she was on her way from work, the building was next to a bar she was at with her friends, etc.), she can also sue (usually).
If Alice is a professional or trained volunteer firefighter and was called in to rescue Bob, she cannot sue Charlie. Typically, the fire department covers firefighters' injuries (e.g. through workers' compensation for a professional).
On the other hand, if you aren't a professional rescuer, and you make things worse for the person you're rescuing, then the rescuee can sue you.note That said, Mr. Incredible still should have won his case; courts will reject "he saved me while I was committing suicide" as a theory in tort as a matter of law, and will refuse to award damages no matter how bad your injuries are. On the other hand, the dick who watches someone drowning and doesn't even throw them a rope isn't liable (in America). You are also technically liable for any injury you cause to third parties or their property in the course of saving someone, but in practice there are a number of defenses, to say nothing of the fact that if the injury is relatively minor or is to property, the jury will see the plaintiff as a total dick (one of the few times juries in tort cases can reasonably be assumed to be on the side of the defendant).
The United States Military, particularly during and since World War II. The military back then didn't have cruise missiles that could fly down chimneys, take three right turns and land in the enemy's lap; fire support was limited to heavy artillery barrages and saturation bombing, and strategic-bombing was limited to dropping big bombs (to shake things up) and lots of little, incendiary bombs (to set entire cities ablaze in firestorms). This displeased the French and Italian survivors of numerous urban skirmishes, as they had assumed that the USA and the Allies wouldn't be as liberal with fire-support as the Germans and the Axis were. The Allies were, in all fairness, focused on winning battles and minimising their own military casualties rather than minimising civilian deaths. Almost no complaints of this were heard on the eastern front of the European theatre, wherein the 20 million Soviet and 5 million German casualties (to 1.5 million for the Allies) meant that a few (hundred-)thousand more civilians lost due to friendly-fire were just a necessary drop in the ocean.
Somewhat ironically, as technology has advanced to the point that the USA practically DOES have (insanely expensive) bullets that can turn corners and hit 'bad guys' of their own volition, the complaints about collateral damage have only increased. To be fair, US forces are notorious for being trigger-happynote Not in the 'liking to fire guns' sense, but rather the 'shooting anyone/everyone who looks like they might be a threat, just in case' sense and far too eager to use fire-support in (heavily) populated areas so as to save mere handfuls of their own people from injury or death. This is the logical conclusion of the 'politics of military casualties', which see the USA trying to lose as few of its own people as possible regardless of the drop in operational efficiency or rise in (foreign, of course) civilian casualties that entails. It's not a one-to-one trade-off either, as the use of (somewhat imprecise and extremely lethal over wide areas) fire-support to assist in the infantry actions that are the essence of anti-guerilla warfare arguably results in far more (civilian) casualties and deaths than a more precise (but military-casualty-heavier) approach. Following on from this, the argument is essentially that the USA should be more noble and demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice (more of) its soldiers in order to avoid killing drastically larger numbers of innocent civilians by accident. Much like Britain, France, etc, the USA 'does' at least apologise more often than not and try to compensate the surviving family members of the deceased (just you try getting such treatment from Russia, for instance). This is also a major reason Israel has taken flak recently - in the same week as they did a pinpoint bomb dropon a moving car to kill a Hamas' military leader, another airstrike wound up killing 11 civilians, including 4 children.