Wait, they're on land? Crap.
In fiction, dolphins will be portrayed primarily as heroic and helpful creatures. They're a marketable species of hero, partly because they're cute
and partly because of real-life stories of dolphins saving human lives, either by guiding them to shore, fending off sharks or helping them to remain afloat until help arrives.
Sometimes overlaps with Friendly, Playful Dolphin
, or Sapient Cetaceans
, or both.
- The comics based on the Ecco the Dolphin game series make Ecco's noble nature clear in no uncertain terms though his somewhat◊ dark◊ methods of fighting enemies may make him seem like a bit of an Anti-Hero.
- Porm, the dolphin who acted as a surrogate mother to Aquaman.
- Ghost Rider was saved from a killer shark by dolphins, while he was trying to rescue them from a misguided man obsessed with revenge.
- In Grant Morrison's Animal Man, one story features Animal Man saving dolphins from murderous Scandinavian townsfolk who kill them for fun. At the end, one of the dolphins saves an evil townsperson from drowning.
- Subverted in an issue of The Punisher War Journal. A Hawaiian "kahuna" controls sealife to rescue Frank from being stranded in the sea, and he thinks to himself that he didn't know that dolphins rescuing humans was true. When he gets back to the shore, she reveals that she actually used a shark to help him.
- In Jaws 3D, Cindy and Sandy rescue Kay and Mike from a shark after attempting to keep them out of the Galleon.
- Alpha and Beta from Day Of The Dolphin.
- Both animated Titanic movies have them: the first has talking dolphins that are trying to stop evil whalers, and the second has dolphins who don't talk, but help save people from the sinking ship.
- Willy from Free Willy is this in the second and third films and the animated series. And yes, orcas are technically dolphins.
- Animorphs combines this trope with Sapient Cetaceans - not only do the team morph dolphins early and often, but dolphins themselves are depicted as more or less the heroes of the seas. Cassie gets a dolphin as the cover morph of her first book, The Message.
- Venus Among the Fishes is about Coral and her brother Snapper who are sent on a journey to save their pod from orca attacks.
- In Journey of the Dolphin King House Rinaldo the leader dolphin of a band of dolphins and his goal is to help his dolphin pod find a new home.
- Dolphin's Dance is about a man reincarnated as a dolphin. One of the events in the story involves him saving a college student who was in a surfing accident.
- The Tempests Roar is about a white dolphin named Apollo whose destiny is to save whalekind from destruction on this planet man calls Earth but whales know as Planet Ocean.
- In The Roman Mysteries book The Dolphins of Laurentum, a dolphin rescues Lupus after he nearly drowns from staying underwater too long while diving. It is also strongly implied that the same dolphin discouraged Lupus from deliberately leaving behind another diver who had been trapped by a giant octopus, though in fairness to Lupus he had a good reason for wanting the trapped person to die. The same scene is also in the Live-Action TV adaptation. The book also references several examples of the use of dolphins in Classical Mythology, including stories of shipwrecked sailors being rescued by dolphins.
- The cyber hacker dolphin from Johnny Mnemonic.
- Dolphin Way Rise of the Guardians has a dolphin protagonist who must break his civilizations rules to save his friends.
- Dolphins of Expedor is about Timothy Shore, a yellow, fourteen year old 'talking' dolphin, gets sucked into a whirlpool adventure to save his city 'Expedor' from certain destruction
- Dolphin Journey has a dolphin protagonist and hero that goes out on a journey to create a song that will keep other dolphins from being trapped in nets.
- Dinotopia - Dolphins were responsible for bringing all shipwreck survivors to the island.
- In the first Age of Fire book, dolphins rescue a drowning baby dragon and help him to land. A few months later and considerably larger, the dragon sees fishing boats attempting to capture the dolphins...
- In Carl Hiaasen's Native Tongue, Dickie the Dolphin isn't strictly friendly, (or perhaps overly so, as villian Pedro Luz finds out) making this perhaps a Double Subversion.
- There's a book called Dolphin Song which is the second book in The White Giraffe series. The main character, a girl called Martine - who holds a special gift with animals - falls overboard during a storm while on a school trip aboard a boat. Several other students also fall overboard, and they are all rescued by a pod of dolphins who remain friendly to them throughout.
- The Ingo series written by Helen Dunmore is about Mer-folk, and dolphins in the series are portrayed as a friendly, noble race who are strong allies with the Mer and help the main characters throughout. It is also a great taboo for a Mer to kill a dolphin, and likewise for a dolphin to kill a Mer.
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish has dolphins responsible for replacing the Earth and all of the people on it after it was destroyed by Vogons.
- In The Magic Treehouse Annie saves one from being eaten by pirates. Later it pops up to save Jack, leading him to Annie, and ultimately saving the day.
- A cynical take in Pyramids, which in a discussion of survival strategies various animals have evolved, gives the example of a dolphin's tendency to rescue drowning humans if there's a chance biting them in half might be noticed by other humans.
- Invoked in Baywatch, where the "Search and Rescue" lane features a spinner with a helpful dolphin.
- Some editions of Dungeons & Dragons have depicted dolphins as sentient Good-aligned creatures with their own patron goddess.
- In one Traveller sourcebook a story is told of some uplifted sapient dolphins who helped bring to light a scandal involving the secret enslavement of an intelligent species by a megacorporation.
- In Rifts' Underseas, players can in fact choose to play as a Dolphin (or an Orca or even Humpback Whale).
- The board game Escape from Atlantis (recently reprinted with the name Survive!) has dolphins which give swimmers a boast of 3 spaces per turn rather than the usual 1.
- Ecco the Dolphin : Humans aren't even present, at least not in the Genesis games, but Ecco saves not only his family, but the world as a whole, from being consumed by aliens. The other dolphins also bravely show up en masse to battle the Vortex aliens at the end of the second game, and the Resistance dolphins from Defender show some courage in helping Ecco overthrow the Clan, a group of violent, militaristic dolphins who have taken over that particular reality.
- Played straight with the empathic, pacifist Liir race from Sword of the Stars...until you attack them, at which point they'll declare you Suul'Ka and never stop killing you until your entire race is just a fading memory. Liir soldiers are called "Black Swimmers" and are never permitted to interact with civilian Liir, lest their murderous tendencies corrupt the entire species.
- As far as the planet-bound Liir are concerned, the Black Swimmers are all dead to them. They hold a funeral service for each Liir who signs up to join the fleet.
- Mike rescues a dolphin in the second stage of StarTropics. It returns the favor at the end of the game.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is set to include dolphins with sonic weapons as seagoing infantry for the Allies, and the 3rd political party in the USA, the Federalists, adopted the Dolphin as their symbol. Of course, dolphins are already Allied sea units in Red Alert 2 as anti-giant squid weapons.
- Super Mario World features a few levels with Scuba-wearing Dolphins that jump out of the water regularly and can be used as platforms to reach far away areas. They can be eaten by Yoshi too.
- Of course, Romhacks like to use them to lift Mario up into spiked ceilings and similar obstacles, so the trope can swing both ways.
- The Shoot 'em Up Aero Fighters has a playable character who's a dolphin that's also a fighter jet pilot. And he can speak and understand human language.
- Burning Rangers has a dolphin play a prominent role in the second level actively carrying our heroes through underwater passages as way of thanks for saving it from suffocating.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja story Death Volley has the implication of dolphins getting revenge on Agent Bearclaw. His story: "One time I swam out to sea, and pretended to be injured so that dolphins would swim up to rescue me. I did this so that I could kill them with my bare hands."
- Averted with Bogleech. Dolphins are the villains of anything he's written.
- Subverted in The Simpsons, when Bart, Homer, Flanders and his kids stranded at sea and being approached by dolphins. Flanders is relieved, stating that dolphins always help people lost at sea. The dolphins merely chitter that they are all going to die, giggle a bit, and then leave.
- Averted with Dr. Blowhole in The Penguins of Madagascar; he is one of the main villains of the show.
- Brainy Smurf mistakes shark fins for a school of porpoises in The Smurfs episode "Never Smurf Off Till Tomorrow".
- Flipper And Lopaka: Flipper is a quick-witted, agile, loyal and friendly bottlenose dolphin, whose parents are the rulers of Quetzo. When trouble arises in the underwater city (usually thanks to Dexter), the citizens of Quetzo turn to Flipper for a plan. And he never fails them.
- Moby Lick from Street Sharks, who is a human turned into an orca.
- It has become increasingly popular in non-fictional media to portray dolphins as Always Chaotic Evil, due to cases of dolphins killing their own young, but in practice it is unclear what percentage of dolphins are like that, etc... at the very least, it should be regarded as depending on the individual dolphin. Dolphins have also been known to rescue humans, after all.
- One of reasons why dolphins are so popular may be exactly that similarity to humans in that they are capable of doing very... erm, humane deeds, as well as things completely opposite of these.
- It's been suggested that the Real Life stories of the Heroic Dolphin pushing humans to land or somewhere they can be rescued, is a selection effect. The situation may be a Fridge Horror version of the Friendly, Playful Dolphin: the Dolphin wants to play with him, and pushes him in any direction. The ones who live to tell the tale are pushed toward safety (just by chance). The ones who don't, aren't.
- Inverted in the recent case of a dolphin coming to a human diver for help.
- Moko, a wild New Zealand bottlenose dolphin, was hailed as a hero for leading two trapped whales to safety.