->''"I made a mistake... focused on big picture. Big picture made of little pictures. [snip] Hard to see big picture behind pile of corpses."''
-->--'''Mordin Solus''', ''VideoGame/MassEffect2 and [[VideoGame/MassEffect3 3]]''

This sort of hero will always choose doing an immediate good even if it means allowing a later or distant evil. For example, [[SadisticChoice saving an innocent versus stopping the Big Bad here and now]]. [[AlwaysSaveTheGirl Even if they know this will doom more people later on, this hero will still save the person.]] They won't stop doing what's right just because [[VaguenessIsComing something bad will happen in the future]], even if it brings cataclysmic disaster. Even if the distressed person is [[TrappedByMountainLions something very irrelevant to the grand scheme of threats]], they must be saved. [[HeroBall There's good to be done, and whatever obscure threats arise from it are a problem for another day.]]

How this pays off varies.
* The IdealHero always TakesAThirdOption which solves both the immediate and larger problem. In a plot with SaveThisPersonSaveTheWorld or a KeystoneArmy, their small heroic step directly solves the big picture. Also justified with the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil, ExperiencePoints, and when the VictorGainsLosersPowers, as doing each act of heroism in itself makes the bigger picture less insurmountable. Doing this one act of good could also cause a HeelFaceTurn or inspire UndyingLoyalty that will help avert the future crisis in the first place via Powers of [[ThePowerOfLove Love]], [[ThePowerOfFriendship Friendship]] or [[ThePowerOfTrust Trust]]. In stories where RightMakesMight, doing the right thing, no matter how seemingly foolish, will often grant enough power to solve both problems.
* In a CrapsackWorld, the FailureHero [[NiceJobBreakingItHero dooms a greater number of people than they saved]] or the good they did is [[ShaggyDogStory immediately undone by the evil they left alone.]] Even worse, they may cause TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished -- looks like somebody should have paid more attention to their [[GenreBlind genre.]]
* Somewhere in the middle, they may have a PoisonousFriend willing to [[IDidWhatIHadToDo "Do what is necessary"]] behind the hero's back. Alternatively, the hero may fail this time but look for a way to avoid this situation from ever happening again by defeating the villain responsible after the fact, [[NextTierPowerUp growing more powerful]], or [[GondorCallsForAid asking for help]]. The hero may also disregard [[FalseDichotomy an "either or" choice altogether]] and try to minimize the damage by saving as many people as they can, or failing that, finding a ResetButton or WorldHealingWave.

May overlap with AlwaysSaveTheGirl, in which the small good the hero does relates to someone they're personally connected to. See also ChronicHeroSyndrome, which is often fueled by this personality.

As mentioned before, a common target for a SadisticChoice. This character's natural enemy is the TotalitarianUtilitarian.

The polar opposite of the WellIntentionedExtremist, UnscrupulousHero, and TautologicalTemplar. This hero shuns OmniscientMoralityLicense. If TheHero changes their mind from moment-to-moment, this may turn in to a FrequentlyBrokenUnbreakableVow. This trope [[EnforcedTrope Enforces]] the "Unavoidable" side of the SlidingScaleOfUnavoidableVersusUnforgivable.

[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* Goku from ''Anime/DragonBallZ''. The only time Goku is willing to let someone die for his cause is when he's sure they can come BackFromTheDead, if they've made up their own minds to do so, or if he has no other choice. Other than that, he will try to save ''everyone''. He has also only killed a total of ''two'' villains in the series. The previous series ''Dragon Ball'' was a different case. [[OneManArmy When he was a kid he slaughtered an entire army single handed.]]
* Koyomi Araragi, the protagonist of ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}''. Araragi is an impulsive FailureHero combined with a DeathSeeker. He considers [[HeroicSacrifice dying for the sake of someone]], anyone, the highest virtue he can aspire to. The problem with this is that he [[LeeroyJenkins rushes into fights]] that he can't win, or takes direct actions where more subtle or more gradual ones would be necessary. At one point, we even learn that his death could possibly cause TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt, because [[BarrierMaiden his life is the only thing]] keeping a HumanoidAbomination with enough power to destroy the planet from regaining her full strength.
** Interestingly, also RECONSTRUCTED, as while he is a FailureHero, he also tends to help bring about salvation by inspiring others.
* ''SailorMoon'': Especially prominent in the Anime (Usagi was willing to get [[GoodIsNotSoft a bit rougher]] in the Manga), but while SailorMoon is willing to perform HeroicSacrifice after Heroic Sacrifice herself, she's loath to see anyone ''else'' die to save the world. Despite [[FridgeLogic the would-be sacrifice often being every bit as willing and eager as she usually was]], ''and'' [[WeCannotGoOnWithoutYou when she knew full well that]] [[TemporalParadox Crystal Tokyo depended on her survival]].


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Franchise/{{Superman}}:
** In general, if he chose to, Superman could solve every problem on the planet if he risked a ZeroApprovalGambit or just [[MightMakesRight forced everyone to do the right thing]]. But he chooses not to because he doesn't see himself as a greater judge of morality than the earthlings he protects. He will gladly sacrifice himself or let a GodOfEvil like {{ComicBook/Darkseid}} escape justice if it means he can save just one human life.
** In FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightStrikesAgain'', Superman actually ''rejects'' this philosophy in the end, accepting that pretending to be a man is wrong when it's ''clear'' you aren't one, and that with great power... [[ComesGreatResponsibility yadda yadda]].
** This was combined with SuperDickery in the classic ''TheDeathOfSuperman'' story. Superman is chasing Doomsday (an unstoppable juggernaut that can level ''cities'' in seconds flat) while a family is trapped in the burning ruins of their house. The issue ends with Superman intentionally blocking out a boy's pleas for help to continue his pursuit. The next issue, however, opens with Superman stating that he was hoping one of the Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}} members would have woken up from their Doomsday-delivered ass-beating. He's about to turn around and go help the family anyway when Doomsday sucker punches him. Luckily, the League ''does'' wake up. In the follow up arc, the boy feels terribly guilty, and wonders if Superman would still be alive if he hadn't tried to get his attention.
** In the animated adaptation it becomes a chilling case of OOCIsSeriousBusiness. Superman rescues a cat from a tree as per usual but proceeds to deliver an ominous almost threatening lecture about how he can't be wasting his time with little things like this. [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]]. It was an evil clone.]]
* Franchise/{{Batman}}:
** This trope is actually one of the things he looks up to Superman for. Superman is far more of an idealist than Batman is, so Batman usually takes the role of PoisonousFriend in relation to him. But even on his own, Batman qualifies as this archetype. As one of the richest men on the planet, he could potentially solve even ''more'' problems than his friend if he stopped being Batman for a significant amount of time and put all of his effort into running his company, but that would mean that somewhere, there's a call for help that's being unanswered.
** One strong example of this trope is in ''Videogame/BatmanArkhamCity'', where Talia is taken hostage by SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker while Hugo Strange is executing a citywide [[WouldBeRudeToSayGenocide "purge"]]. Batman calls Alfred for back up and calls Oracle to get a fix on Talia's position, but ''both of them'' [[WhatTheHellHero refuse to help him.]] They flat out force him to skip [[AlwaysSaveTheGirl saving the girl]] and save the city at large.
* ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, more often than not. He thinks more like a soldier than your typical superhero, though he puts TheMenFirst and is quite unwilling to sacrifice anyone. Case in point, during the ''ComicBook/SecretWars2015'' arc, he was flatly ''against'' destroying other universes and the countless lives in them in order to save the MarvelUniverse.
-->''"Victory '''is''' possible. And even if it wasn't...we [[HeWhoFightsMonsters do not fight what is monstrous by becoming monsters ourselves.]]"
* Comicbook/{{Nova}}. Examples include: ignoring warnings about [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong changing time]] just to save ''one'' life, refusing to save himself (or the collective intelligence of his galactic order) just to give a population enough time to evacuate before ComicBook/{{Galactus}} [[PlanetEater ate their planet]], and refusing a RePower chance because the [[DatingCatwoman person who offered it]] [[PunchClockVillain works for HYDRA part-time]]. In the last case, keep in mind that he was ''dying'' without his powers, [[GeniusLoci Ego The Living Planet]] had taken over the Nova Corps, and the [[VillainessesWantHeroes scientist crushing on him]] ''desperately'' wanted to save his life.
* ComicBook/SpiderMan is usually this. An example comes in ''{{Ultimatum}}'', where ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan stays behind in Manhattan, rescuing any civilians drowning from the flooding of New York. Virtually every other hero quickly left New York to fight Magneto and Doctor Doom and save the world. Spider-Man was diving fathoms deep into the flooded streets of New York just to find one person to save and then diving right back down to find another. Watching Spider-Man do this is what finally convinces Ultimate Jameson that Spider-Man truly is a hero.
* Originally, this was what separated [[Comicbook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]] from his ArchNemesis, SelfDemonstrating/DoctorDoom. In most {{Alternate Timeline}}s in which Doom has conquered the Earth, he eventually creates a {{Utopia}}. However, he initially creates it through fear, tyranny and sometimes outright atrocities. Reed refuses to take this method and usually acts heroically even when he knows it's logically unsound (sometimes at the coaxing of [[TheChick his wife]]). However, later depictions of Reed have abandoned this outlook.
* ComicBook/RisingStars has Matthew Bright, one of the Specials, [[MassSuperEmpoweringEvent a group of people granted great power by a falling meteor]]. Due to their great power, Specials are forbidden from working in any government jobs, which includes law enforcement. Matthew, however, wants desperately to help people and be a police officer, so he fakes an identity and joins up that way, keeping his powers a secret. However, during an investigation, a bomb goes off and traps several of his fellow officers inside, where they will likely die. If Matthew uses his powers to save them, he outs himself as a Special, will be fired from his job, potentially even sent to prison, unable to help anyone ever again. Or he can let those men die and preserve his secret. Matthew's thoughts says it all.
-->'''Matthew:''' "I signed on to save lives. If I meant that, then I had to do what was necessary. Or it was all a lie. Whoever did this was smart, all right. Lead me on a wild goose-chase. And now my men are trapped inside the building I didn't search. I can't let them die. I refuse. Damn the exposure, '''I refuse'''.
* DC's [[{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]] is most definitely this. He does his best to save as many people as he can, but doesn't impose his will on the world. He's seen the dangers of what happens when someone like Black Adam loses touch with their humanity and starts acting like a god. This was especially made evident in the animated WesternAnimation/SupermanShazamTheReturnOfBlackAdam . When Adam has a hostage, Cap is willing to turn back into his moral form if Adam will spare her life, knowing that doing so will mean his own death. Unfortunately, Adam tries to kill Billy and the hostage, but luckily Superman makes the save. Unluckily for Black Adam, [[BewareTheNiceOnes that also made Billy]]. [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown It didn't end well for Adam]].
* Invoked by Marvel comic book villain, [[ComicBook/{{Daredevil}} the Kingpin]]. He has a pattern of paying some costumed supervillain to menace the citizens in Location A, while a much more low-key operative undertook a theft from Location B. The heroes have become aware of the pattern, but aside from teaming up more frequently to 'be in two places at once' they've found it a hard move to counter.


[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', the eponymous hero fits this trope perfectly:
** He [[JumpingOnAGrenade jumps on a grenade]] during ''boot camp'' just to save the other recruits. Thankfully it was a fake grenade.
** He was fully prepared to let an escaping Nazi shoot him to protect a small child.
** Almost let said Nazi get away with the SuperSerum that created him, just to save that child from drowning. Subverted when the child yells, "I can swim! Go get 'im!"
** Rescues 400 soldiers on what is essentially a SuicideMission.
** In ''Film/TheAvengers'', he's the one on the ground protecting civilians and directing the law enforcement while everyone else is fighting waves of aliens or the BigBad himself.
* In ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay''. When his mother turns {{Vigilante}} and decides to kill the man responsible for the foretold Robot Apocalypse, John demands that the Terminator take him to stop her, even if his death could save billions.
-->'''Terminator:''' This is tactically dangerous.
-->'''John:''' Drive faster.
-->'''Terminator:''' The T-1000 has the same files that I do. It knows what I know. It might anticipate this move.
-->'''John:''' I don't care. We gotta stop her.
-->'''Terminator:''' Killing Dyson might actually prevent the war.
-->'''John:''' I don't care! Haven't you learned anything yet? Haven't you figured out why you can't kill people?
* In ''Film/ManOfSteel'', Clark ''refuses'' to not help people, even if it [[DudleyDoRightStopsToHelp means blowing his secret]]. Though he agrees with his father that keeping his secret is ForTheGreaterGood, he will risk it for something as "small" as stopping a drunk from leching an unwilling woman.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', this is a big part of how Harry Dresden's ChronicHeroSyndrome manifests itself and gets him in trouble, to the point his enemy mockingly gives him a gravestone with the epitaph reading "He died doing the right thing." It's most noticeable in [[Literature/GravePeril the third book]], when he was given said gravestone by the big bad, when he's forced into a SadisticChoice between stopping a vampire from sacrificing an innocent girl that would also [[spoiler:unmake a holy sword that contains one of the nails that pierced Christ and once given the name ''Excalibur'']] and starting an all-out war between two of the most powerful magical factions on earth. He chooses to save the girl, and the resulting war is a central plot element for the next eight books in the series.
* Explicitly stated to be the duty of a {{Samurai}} in ''The Hagakure: Book of the Samurai''. Amongst other virtues, a samurai is supposed to always act for the sake of justice without any hesitation (making a decision "within seven breaths"), and to [[NotAfraidToDie never show any fear of death]]. Thinking of the consequences of their actions, and thus failing to act, is said to be shameful. However, the "heroism" here is relative--samurai were also expected to [[MyMasterRightOrWrong obey and serve their masters no matter what]], even if they found the task objectionable.
* Blake Thorburn, the protagonist of ''Literature/{{Pact}}'', attempts to embody this. Driven to do good in repayment for the kindness that others have shown him, and aware that he is [[YourDaysAreNumbered fated to die]], he clashes with the GreyAndGrayMorality of [[MagicalSociety practitioner society]], which does such things as allow the AnthropomorphicPersonification of European Colonialism to rule over Toronto, torturing and enslaving those practitioners that get on its bad side, for the sake of stability. Though he accomplishes good by defeating monsters and freeing the Lord of Toronto's slaves, it's not without its consequences-his successful overthrow of [[HorsemenOfTheApocalypse Conquest]] sends Toronto into chaos, and [[spoiler: his premature attack on a bound demon that was steadily eroding its binding, which nobody else would confront before it broke free, got him [[OurHeroIsDead severed from the world]] and made an {{Unperson}}.]]
* One interpretation of the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant from ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''. Every Radiant swears "Journey Before Destination", and this is explained to mean that the Radiant must never use the ends to justify the means. What matters is not where you are trying to go, but where your journey actually takes you.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/DoctorWho'': A repeated weakness of the Doctor. Threatening an innocent is an almost 100% foolproof way for a villain to protect themself from him. Stated most explicitly in an episode of ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'' when the Doctor opts to save Clyde and Rani rather than chase the BigBad, TheDragon (who purposely put Clyde and Rani in danger because she knew it would happen) remarks "when given the choice between saving the universe and saving the children, the Doctor goes the wrong way." However, the Time War, in which the Doctor intentionally wiped out all the Time Lords and Daleks in existence to stop them from destroying the universe, is a notable aversion on his part.
** A number of times during Matt Smith's run, he's stated that if he pretty much didn't do this, then he wouldn't be able to call himself The Doctor. In "The Beast Below", since he can't figure out how to TakeAThirdOption, he's preparing to lobotomize a peaceful, intelligent creature that's been enslaved since it was in pain and he believed freeing it would kill the surviving population of Great Britain.
** Averted in "The Day of the Doctor", where it is revealed he [[TakeAThirdOption took a third option]] and with his 12 other incarnations he saved Gallifrey with a TrickedOutTime gambit that destroyed nearly all the Daleks.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': Charlie Matheson is prone to this. "[[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower The Dark Tower]]" had her convincing her mother Rachel Matheson that they can try to save [[spoiler: Nora Clayton]] and turn the power on at the same time.
* The main protagonists of ''Series/StargateSG1'', FirstContact team SG-1. They were supposed to only be explorers, whose primary mission was to fight the Goa'uld, a race of {{Puppeteer Parasite}}s who liked to rule over everybody else. The main characters were very aware that they shouldn't get involved with a lot of the problems out in the galaxy, but could never say no to someone asking for help. They themselves often [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] their own weakness in that regard.
--> '''O'Neill''': Carter, if I ever get the urge to help someone again, shoot me.


[[folder: Tabletop RPG ]]

* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''' "Book of Exalted Deeds" (a 3.5 Edition supplement) explicitly states that it's the duty of a good character to ''never'' do an evil act. Any evil act. Period. The rules state unambiguously that ends never, ''ever'', justify the means, no matter how small the evil was and how beneficial the results were.
* Both ''TabletopGame/{{Champions}}'' and ''TabletopGame/DCHeroes'' stated that heroes were expected to rescue innocents even if it meant letting the villain(s) get away.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* It must be noted: Despite providing the page quote, Mordin Solus of ''Franchise/MassEffect'' is NotAnExample of the trope, though he describes it succinctly. Mordin is perfectly fine with making sacrifices if necessary, but he simply believes he made a mistake before and sacrificed too much.
** Its fully possible to play Shepard this way, especially a Paragon Shepard. Give a soldier a proper burial instead of using the corpse for research, send allies to help hotspots and take more fire without them and making sure civilians have room despite shortages are all possibilities. Thanks to the mechanics of the third game, doing some of these can make it harder to save everybody.
* The protagonist of ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', Yuri Lowell. Don't get it wrong--Yuri is a shining example of GoodIsNotNice and will gladly say ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight even if it means [[PayEvilUntoEvil Paying Evil Unto Evil]]. However, if he's faced with sacrificing just one innocent life to save the world or enforce justice, he will not do it. The quote below sums it up best:
-->"You can't deny that lives were saved because those bastards were put down! You'd rather tell people, 'sorry you have to die today, I promise we'll change things soon'?"
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'': Even before Yuri Lowell, there was another Tales protagonist who would compulsively put saving a single innocent life above the overarching quest to save the world. A man who never looked the other way when he saw people suffering. A man whose gentle idealism gave everyone the courage to [[TakeAThirdOption look for another way to save their world without having to sacrifice their dear friend]]. That man's name? Lloyd Irving.
* This is the gameplay mechanic that ''VideoGame/UltimaIV: Quest of the Avatar'' resolves around. The PlayerCharacter is forced to perform small amounts of good and avoid bad deeds in order to fulfill the Eight Virtues. Future games, ''especially'' ''[[VideoGame/UltimaVIII Pagan]]'', {{deconstruct|ion}} the hell out of this trope.
* Vyse of ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia''. In particular, he will willingly give up the {{Mac Guffin}}s that control the DoomsdayDevice to protect innocent people.
* Connor from ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'' will always fight the Templar present at the moment, regardless of whatever "greater good" that Templar claims to be pursuing.
** In fact, he frequently gets in trouble with his mentor about his apparent shortsighted view of things. His mentor advocates secrecy, stealth, and operating in small degrees to affect large changes (which has been the way the Assassins have operated for centuries), while Connor, when given the choice, prefers to take the direct path, and, at one point, advocates approaching [[spoiler: Washington directly to inform him of the Assassin/Templar conflict]], despite being told that it would be disastrous.
* DefiedTrope in ''Videogame/MetroidFusion'', where Samus is ready to make a HeroicSacrifice to defeat the X-Parasite that threatens the galaxy, but is called out on it by "Adam", her A.I. commanding officer.
-->'''Adam:''' "How foolish. Even if you are successful in destroying the station, you'll only remove the one thing between the X and total universal domination: yourself."
* Archangel Tyrael in ''Videogame/DiabloIII'' discusses an instance in which, during a battle between heaven and hell, he had Azmodan, Demon Lord of Sin, at his mercy, but chose to spare him in order to answer a plea for assistance from one of his lieutenants. This discussion takes place as Azmodan is laying siege to Bastion Keep, causing him to wonder if killing him and leaving his lieutenant would have been better.
* ''Videogame/FalloutNewVegas'': Despite the [[WorldHalfFull Mojave Wasteland's]] attempts to create a world of GrayAndGrayMorality where you sometimes need to compromise your morals ForTheGreaterGood, you can play your [[PlayerCharacter Courier]] this way instead. For example, you can expose Chief Hanlon for falsifying reports at Camp Golf, thus destroying NCR morale, and you can save a family trapped in the radioactive Vault 34 at the cost of dooming the nearby NCR farms that provide food to the nearby settlements.
* ''Videogame/FableIII'' attempts to set this up near the end. You are a king with foreknowledge that the BigBad is going to attack at a certain time, and you need to amass funds for your defense. However, you're often faced with choices that basically boil down to spending money to help people or making money by screwing them. So you can [[SadisticChoice be a benevolent ruler and have your citizens die or be a tyrant to protect them]]. Or [[TakeAThirdOption become a real estate mogul]] and finance the kingdom's defense out of your own pocket.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack has two main goals: [[TheresNoPlaceLikeHome return to]] [[FishOutOfTemporalWater his own era]], and defeat [[BigBad Aku]] ([[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong preferably in the past to prevent]] the BadFuture) however, while in said future, he will never ignore a call for help, and will ignore, decline or downright sabotage any possibilities for returning to his past (even if it OnlyWorksOnce) in order to save people.
* Sergeant Slaughter advocates this in ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeTheMovie'', where he refuses to leave a comrade behind even if it means he or the rest of the team will all die.
-->"We all go home, or ''NOBODY'' goes home!"
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender:'' Katara, as laid out in an early episode of Book 3. The Gaang stumbles across a small village in the Fire Nation who rely on the lake they live on, which has been polluted by the local factory. Despite them being crunched for time (or so [[ObsessedAreTheListmakers Sokka claims]]), Katara intentionally makes it so that they stay long enough for her to help them. Then the local military unit blame the villages for their supplies going missing, and their factory going up. Katara refuses to leave the villagers be, even when Sokka insists otherwise.
-->''I will never turn my back on people who need me!''
* In ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra''. Korra helps the villain unleash a major SealedEvilInACan just because he was holding one of her friends hostage.
* Lion-O in ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'', multiple times. This is one of the major themes of the series, and Lion-O seems to be aware that in the long run, when it comes to seeing the big picture, all these small good deeds will help him succeed against Mumm-Ra.