Rescue Arc

Second in popularity only to the Tournament Arc, the Rescue Arc is one of the most popular plots for shonen series: One of the hero's close friends, usually a main character themselves, has been kidnapped by some powerful force, so the hero gathers the rest of his True Companions and heads off to get them back, beating the crap out of anyone who tries to stop them.

Usually the captive is needed for some Evil Plan. Other times the villain of the arc is a Well-Intentioned Extremist while the hero's rescue effort is motivated solely by selflessness and friendship. Since friendship always wins out, this means that the hero wins out.

The rescuee is usually female and sometimes a love interest, but not always. In some of these plots the rescuee doesn't want to be rescued (or believes they don't deserve to be), and has to be talked into returning by the hero.

Storming the Castle is usually the climax to this plot. Roaring Rampage of Rescue may happen on the way to the rescuee.

See also Tournament Arc and War Arc.


Examples:

     Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk
    • Volumes 10 to 11 near the end of the Golden Age Arc furnish the first example. Guts had left the Hawks due to irreconcilable differences between him and Griffith. After Griffith was defeated in their second duel, Griffith, in the throes of Heroic B.S.O.D., paid a visit to Princess Charlotte's bedchamber and had sex with her. This ROYALLY pissed off the King, who had him arrested and sent to the Tower of Rebirth to be put to the torture and had the rest of the Hawks declared outlaw. After the Skull Knight persuades Guts to return, he finds Casca in charge of the Hawks, and together with the Hawks, they head to the Tower of Rebirth to rescue Griffith. The state Guts finds Griffith in sends him into one of the greatest examples of Unstoppable Rage in the series, as he kills his way through every last Midland guard standing between them and the way out. Unfortunately for everyone, Griffith has grown to hate Guts during the year that he was in the Tower, and this, along with other factors, would ultimately lead to the events of the Eclipse. Notably, the format diverges from the usual Rescue Arc as they get Griffith relatively quickly, and most of this part's action is centered on the remaining Band of the Hawk escaping from the forces the king sent after them.
    • The conclusion of the Conviction Arc, the Chapter of the Birth Ceremony, which begins with Guts having a nightmare about Casca being burned at the stake, finds out that she's missing from the elf-mine where he left her to pursue his vendetta against the demons and Griffith, realizes that he made a huge mistake in leaving her behind, and then goes through hell and high water to get her back, battling his way through demons, evil cultists, fanatical inquisitors and even a Knight Templar high inquisitor by the name of Mozgus.
  • Bleach is infamous for its lengthy rescue arcs. The first real arc of the series, the Soul Society arc, revolved around Ichigo and company's attempt to rescue Rukia from the Soul Society before she was executed, and introduced essentially the entire Shinigami society. The arc also included lots of infighting between the Shinigami captains, a murder mystery, and the revelation of The Man Behind the Man, but the main characters never had more on their mind than the rescue of Rukia. Later that year (in-comic), Orihime offered herself as a hostage to save Karakura town, and the Hueco Mundo rescue arc commenced. However, her rescue is far from the end of the arc (not even counting when another arc was started before the Hueco Mundo arc really ended).
  • Most of the plot of B't X works like one of these.
  • The beginning of the second half of Digimon Tamers, where the Tamers go to the Digital World to rescue Culumon after he's taken by the Deva.
  • A good portion of the Phantom Arc of Fairy Tail involves rescuing Lucy after she's kidnapped (twice), with the enemy planning to hold her for ransom for her family fortune.
    • The next arc starts off like this, but with Erza being... Erza, she doesn't play the role of the distressed damsel for very long.
    • The Alveez Empire arc opens with Natsu's group heading to the continent to retrieve Makarov after he disbanded the guild a year ago. They arrive just in time to keep Zeref from killing him after Makarov finds out Zeref was the emperor of the land.
  • The reason for Kenshiro's Walking the Earth in the Southern Cross arc of Fist of the North Star was to rescue Yuria from Shin.
    • Kenshiro's objective during the later Shura arc is to rescue Lin from the Rasho.
  • Flame of Recca does this twice, both times with Yanagi. And a third time in the Tournament Arc, because they had to bet Yanagi to enter, and had they lost, she would have been forfeit to the bad guys.
  • Get Backers' anime-only final arc was about rescuing Makubex, who was kidnapped by Masaki and Brain Trust for knowing too much about the various secrets of the series. Ginji barely stopped him from making a Heroic Sacrifice. The manga has two arcs like this: the goal of the Eternal Bond arc was to rescue Madoka and goals of the final Lost Time arc included rescuing Himiko, Juubei, Toshiki and Sakura.
  • Guyver had a lengthy rescue arc from books 17-25 involving Sho gathering his one ally, rather weak Hayami, to help him rescue Aptom from Cloud Gate tower. It was a tad long because alongside the rescue arc was another storyline on the other side of the world but all ends well dramatically.
  • The Zoldyck family arc in Hunter × Hunter is about Gon trying to rescue Killua from his family. However, unlike most Rescue Arcs, the problem is resolved without much violence.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth:
    • Part I is a long Save the Princess arc. Sort of.
    • Part II has each of the protagonists captured, one after the other, by the invading countries. Along with their Love Interests coming to bust them out (or finish busting them out after they've summoned their Mashin) is a lot of discussion and Defeat Means Friendship between the girls and their captors.
  • The second half of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which also involved rescuing Nanoha and Fate's daughter as well as Subaru's sister in addition to stopping the Big Bad.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! interrupted its School Festival arc with a short Bad Future mini-arc inversion where the True Companions had to rescue the hero. Slight Subversion that in the Bad Future, most of the wangsting was from the jailers, not the captive; he was keeping a mostly level head while plot bombs were dropped.
    • Earlier had a straighter example with Konoka being kidnapped and used as a MacGuffin to unleash a Sealed Evil in a Can.
    • History repeats itself, as soon as they figure out that Asuna and Anya have both been captured by Fate.
  • In MÄR season 4 also known as the Ghost Chess arc, Team MAR have to save Alviss from Phantom after he gets captured and forced to turn against them via brainwashing.
    • Before that, Team MAR had to save Snow twice. The first time was a minor plot at the beginning of the series and the second time at the end where she gets captured during the semi-finals because of letting her guard down against her opponent.
  • Naruto has also been known to use them. The Sasuke Retrieval arc is a variation in that the principle was not kidnapped, but rather left of his own free will, and the heroes were not successful in bringing him back. However, the structure of the arc was the same. The first arc of Shippuden, the Rescue Gaara arc, a straight forward example. Akatsuki succeeded in taking Shukaku, thus (temporarily) killing Gaara but he was otherwise rescued.
  • One Piece's Enies Lobby arc is a rescue arc, with the Straw Hat Pirates saving one of their own from the elite government force Cipher Pol.
    • Later on, the series actually manages to do a storyline that is both a Rescue Arc and a War Arc. Luffy storms the World Government's maximum-security prison in order to rescue his older brother Ace. At first it seems like a traditional rescue arc, but it turns out that Ace isn't even in the prison; his execution is already starting. Thus Luffy is forced to literally drop into the middle of a war zone and join up with Whitebeard's massive armada, who are also trying to storm Marine HQ and save Ace.
    • Movie 10 is a feature-length Rescue Arc, with a couple of subversions along the way. First, the rescuee manages to escape on her own before the rescue attempt even begins, but naturally the Big Bad can't have that so we get a "for real" rescue during the film's climax. And instead of simply waiting to be rescued the second time, the rescuee goes about trying to sabotage the Big Bad's plan.
    • The Arlong Park arc was the earliest one in the series, and while there's still quite a lot at stake (The freedom of Nami and the island she grew up on), its almost nothing compared to the more intense, world changing examples above.
      • The Arlong arc is also the earliest subversion, as it treats itself as an Anti Rescue Arc for a large percentage. When Luffy and crew go after Nami, they are not aware of any danger that Nami's in. In fact from Nami's words, her departure sounds completely voluntary. All they know is that Nami stole their ship, with a possible objective to try and capture Arlong. Then once they all get to Arlong Park, Nami tells them outright that she only joined the crew to steal from them, and that she killed Usopp! The only reason they stick around, is because Luffy's tired, but really because he doesn't believe what she's telling them. At this point though they know that Nami's is presumably not in trouble, and she has told them she isn't coming back to the crew. Only Luffy's stubbornness kept them on the island, and good thing, because it actually becomes a Rescue Arc not long after the crew, minus Luffy, hears Nami's backstory. In fact, Luffy doesn't even learn about the forced servitude of Nami until after he's already fighting Arlong.
    • The Dressrosa Arc is turning out to also be a Rescue Arc, at least partially. While the crew has various objectives, Luffy and Zoro's current goal is to storm Doflamingo's palace and rescue their recently beaten ally, Law.
    • Whole Cake Island arc becomes a "Rescue Sanji" arc down the line when he it's revealed he voluntarily left with the Capone Pirates after he was summoned as the "groom" to an Arranged Marriage to one of Big Mom's daughters. The Straw Hats split up (Luffy group consisting of Nami, Chopper, and Brook with allies Pedro, Carrot and Pekoms accompanying them) to the island in the hopes of retrieving him. Things end up getting complicated as a result.
  • In the Yellow arc of the Pokémon Special, Red mysteriously vanishes with only his Pikachu returning, so a trainer named Yellow sets out to find him.
    • The Emerald arc is a rescue arc as well, though it's not made obvious right away.
    • And so is the Platinum arc, with the titular character seeking a way to save her bodyguards, who had been banished to the Distortion World.
  • A common plot device in Ranma ˝. With most of the main cast falling victim to a kidnapping at some point, Fanon being what it is though has decided it is Akane who was the designated kidnap victim.
  • The climax of the first and second halves of R.O.D. The TV Series.
  • Saint Seiya, the series Kurumada made before B't X, was what popularized this kind of arc.
  • Rosario + Vampire has the Moka rescue arc in which they must break her out of Fairy Tale's flying fortress.
  • The 'Salvage' arc in Soul Eater. The rescuee being Death the Kid, having gotten himself into something of a James Bondage situation after a series of foolish mistakes. The rescuers are Spartoi, with Maka as the de facto leader. Ultimately he manages to escape on his own, though it takes some convincing from Black Star to get him to actually come back to them. The Baba Yaga arc had the secondary objectives of getting back Kim, Jackie, and Crona from Arachnophobia. The first two were being held captive and brainwashed by Arachnophobia but left willingly in the first place, so they had to be talked into coming back to the DWMA. Crona was supposedly kidnapped by Arachnophobia to be a human sacrifice, but, as Soul had suspected, this was just Medusa lying and she already had Crona back at her base the whole time.
  • Once it's revealed that Asuna's trapped in an MMORPG instead of being in a coma, the Fairy Dance Arc of Sword Art Online becomes this.
  • The entire plot of Tokyo Underground is pretty much just one long rescue arc.
  • The manga Wa Ga Na Wa Umishi is made up of one Rescue Arc after another, although it's almost never a human being being rescued.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Duelist Kingdom arc is a rescue arc for both Yugi, the main character, and Kaiba, his rival (although they're looking for different people).
    • Also season 4, for the Pharaoh.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Yugi and his friends initially enter the Capsule Monster world to rescue Yugi's grandpa.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja has almost back-to-back rescue arcs, firstly in chapters 5-6 (set up in chapter 4) where Naruto and Kakashi are captured by a mad ninja who tortures and intends to publically execute them, forcing Sakura and new teammate Keiji to infiltrate the town where they're being held and stage a massive rescue attempt during their execution, and then again in chapters 8-9 when Team 7 infiltrate Orochimaru's lair to rescue prisoners taken by the Sound forces when they destroyed Konoha, including Hinata.

    Film 

    Literature 

     Live Action TV 
  • The first half of Once Upon a Time's second season featured Charming, Regina, Rumple, and Henry trying to rescue Emma and Snow from the Enchanted Forest. The first half of the third season has the Charming family trying to rescue Henry from Peter Pan.
  • The 100 Season 2 is built around most of the surviving 100 being held captive in Mount Weather, where they're likely to be turned into Human Resources. Once people outside the Mountain become aware of the situation, almost everything that happens is built around the quest to break them out.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The second episode had Buffy and Xander venturing into the vampire lair in the hope of rescuing Xander's cousin, Jesse, who got kidnapped in the previous episode. They seem to have reached Jesse before he was bitten since The Master intended to use him as bait to lure the Slayer to be killed. When the three are cornered however, Jesse vamps out and revealed, nope, they turned him and it was all part of the trap. Buffy and Xander managed to escape however.
    • The season two finale had Buffy and Spike teaming up to save a kidnapped Giles from Angelus (essentially Angel without his soul and completely evil) before he preforms a ritual that'll bring Hell on Earth (something Spike isn't keen on since, while he may be a vampire, it'll interfere with his feeding. Plus it means he'll be pushed to the side while his love, Dru, rules along with Angelus). They manage to save Giles but Angelus gets the information he needs out of him to do the ritual correctly, forcing Buffy to kill Angelus just as the Scoobies had managed to put Angel's soul back into his body, making him good again to close the portal.
    • The finale of season five has the Scoobies (which included Spike by this point) racing to rescue Dawn before Glory uses her as a sacrifice to plunge the world into chaos. They succeed, but not without Buffy sacrificing herself to close the portal. De ja vu much.

    Video Games 
  • All Save the Princess plots, obviously, by definition.
  • Skies of Arcadia's first arc, before its shift to a Gotta Catch Them All plot, involved Vyse and Aika sneaking into Valua to save Vyse's father and Fina.
  • Tales of Symphonia had several arcs where Colette had to be rescued, and one early one where Lloyd himself had to be (although it was still played from his perspective). Towards the end, whichever party member is Lloyd's closest friend is possessed by the Big Bad and has to be saved before the move to the endgame.
  • Maniac Mansion.
  • Halo 3: The level "Cortana" is a rescue mission to save the eponymous character.
  • The first three games in the Kingdom Hearts series. A lot of people forget that all the world saving, side questing, and philosophizing are just byproducts of Sora trying to rescue his friends.
  • The Megaman Battle Network series loves this trope. There's at least one or two of these arcs in each game. The last game is especially notable in having three rescue arcs that involve rescuing player character Megaman!
    • First arc occurs when Megaman is forced to seal either Gregar or Falzar (which one depends on the version) within his own body. Cue having to control a friend to find something that helps him fight off the sealed beast and retain control of his body.
    • Second arc occurs when some worshippers of Falzar and Gregar capture Megaman. Cue having to control a friend to storm their shrine and rescue him.
    • Third arc occurs when the Oddly Small Organization sets a trap for Megaman and captures him (again). Cue Megaman losing control to the sealed beast and escaping, with you having to control yet another friend to chase him down and hopefully Bright Slap him back into control before they find him again.
  • Rescuing the princess in Dragon Quest is one of the two main jobs you do in the game, but it's subverted that you can totally ignore her. Oops...
    • A part of Dragon Quest V is about your wife being kidnapped by bad guys.
  • The first half of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn is spent trying to rescue the player character's childhood friend Imoen after she's imprisoned together with the Big Bad for illegal use of magic. (For those protagonists who aren't inclined to such nice motives, there's the option of going after the Big Bad for revenge or to gain power from him, but that leads to the same direction.)
  • Chrono Trigger: After the Mammon Machine disaster, you may attempt a Rescue Arc to save Chrono(!). Or you can try assaulting Lavos directly, your choice. If you don't try to rescue Chrono, it's implied that Marle will try to save him herself after the Lavos matter is settled. Also, while you don't get to try rescuing Schala in the original game, you can try rescuing her in the remakes. You're bound to fail.
  • Final Fantasy IV: an early part of the game involves rescuing Rosa from Golbez as he takes her hostage in exchange for the earth crystal. Once you do come to save her though, you lose Tellah permanently.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Two examples, and both victims happen to be the party healers!
  • Final Fantasy X: The first fight with Seymour, and the party's subsequent labeling as traitors begins one for Yuna. Your party is scattered all over a desert, sees the destruction of the Al Bhed's Home by the Guado, learn Yuna has been kidnapped by them, then you have to pilot the airship (infested with fiends, to boot) to Bevelle and rescue her. It leaves her relatively behind the rest of the group.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Chapter 9, which is dedicated to rescuing Sazh and Vanille from the Sanctum. In a subversion, they decide to stop being The Load, and manage to rescue themselves halfway through, and meet the party in the middle.
  • Final Fantasy XV: Chapter 13 is centered mostly on rescuing Prompto, who has been kidnapped by Ardyn, after Noctis accidentally throws him off of a train in chapter 11. The chapter however is often regarded as That One Level due to being really long and Noctis temporarily losing his companions and access to weapons.
  • The rest of Beyond Good & Evil turns into a Rescue Arc (at least for Jade) after Pey'j is captured by the Alpha Sections at the Nutripils Factory, and even more so when they come for the children at the orphanage.
  • The heroic motivation for the first Golden Sun game is as much rescuing the hero's friend Jenna (who's been kidnapped by a group of Well Intentioned Extremists including her brother, thought dead) as it is about preventing the elemental lighthouses from being lit up. She won't be doing anything until the second game, when she's a party member.
  • Nearly the entirety of chapter 3 of Bravely Default, combined with War Arc; the party is out to save a POW captured by the rebelling Swordbearers while turning the tide on the rebellion.
  • Ecco's entire motivation in the first Ecco the Dolphin game is finding out what caused the great Storm that stole his pod out of the ocean. Aliens, as it turns out.
  • Batman: Arkham Series Good grief, one game can't go five minutes without this happening.
    • Asylum: Commissioner Gordon is taken prisoner fairly early by Harley Quinn. Then Warden Sharp later on and Gordon again by Joker near the end of the game as well as various officers and staff of the building.
    • City: Catwoman gets kidnapped by Two Face at the start of the game and needs to be bailed out. You gotta rescue Mr. Freeze from the Penguin to progress the game. Then Vicki Vale after her helicopter is shot down from snipers. Batman himself needs to be rescued by Catwoman after being buried under rubble and finally Talia Al Ghul by the Joker at the end of the game though this one he fails to save due to a double switch by Joker catching him off guard. Not to mention various political prisoners and Riddler hostages as well. Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC focuses on Robin having to rescue Batman for half of it.
    • Origins: Surprisingly not that much, you rescue a woman dressed up as Alice from Mad Hatter and Gordon and the warden of Blackgate at the end of the game plus a few hostages during the hotel segment and Deadshot boss fight.
    • Knight: Hoo boy this one goes the mile. Everyone gets a turn: Oracle, Poison Ivy, Robin, Knightwing, Gordon, Jack Ryder and Catwoman as well as various law enforcement officers and hostages that got captured before Scarecrow's threat.

    Webcomics 
  • Done by Sluggy Freelance during the "Dangerous Days," "Vampires," and "A Time for Hair-Raising" storylines.
  • The second story arc in Molten Blade takes the form of a rescue arc, although there was surprisingly minimal resistance.
  • Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi has this with Dexter having to rescue Blossom from Mandark.
  • Subverted in this The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! strip.
  • The rescuing of Fumbles in Goblins.
  • El Goonish Shive did this in its Painted Black arc.
  • Faen's rescue in Drowtales.
  • Played for Laughs early on in L's Empire when Mario tries to rescue Luigi... from Mr L. Obviously, he fails. Later on, there would be two standard ones in the PQ Saga and the SS Saga.
  • Dracula Ruler of the Night: The hunters invade Carfax Abby in search of Dracula, only to unexpectedly come across Lucy's mother, Minerva Westenra, who proclaims she was kidnapped on her coach ride back after running an errand. Thus turning it into a rescue mission for them in the process. But later subverted as it's soon revealed Minerva had been bitten and turned into a vampire long before they had arrived and acting on Drac's orders to kill the hunters when their guard was down. Later a straight one came about after Drac kidnaps Mina.

    Western Animation 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RescueArc