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Unbroken Vigil

Bender: You were in the best coma I've ever seen!
Amy: [Leela, you were out for] two weeks. Fry never left your side for a minute.
Zoidberg: And he talked nonstop, like a parrot of the sea, he was!
Fry: I thought if you heard a familiar voice, it might help you wake up.
Leela: *Hugs Fry* You could really use a shower.
Fry: You, too.
Futurama — Episode 4012, "The Sting"

If a character, often a hero, is in a coma, unconscious, ill beyond lucidity, has had their soul stolen, has just had major surgery or whatever, then the odds are that they will have a friend or family member who refuses to leave their side. Ignoring all distractions and necessities, they will keep watch over them. Other well-meaning characters may urge the watcher to go take care of themselves, but their efforts always fail. As long as their charge is helpless, the watcher isn't going anywhere.

The watcher may keep their vigil until they pass out from exhaustion, usually slumped over their charge's bed. Sometimes they'll be reawakened only when their charge comes to. Other times they're found by a third party who was just coming to see if they could talk the watcher into going home and resting this time. You might well find this trope in a Sick Episode or Fever Dream Episode (though in the latter it can be tricky to tell what's going on...)

Occasionally emotion has nothing to do with it. Maybe the unconscious is the primary witness in a murder case, and the watcher is a detective waiting to spring the second there's a flickering of consciousness, for example.

Sometimes they are trying to save the unconscious person from the terror of Dying Alone.

Sister trope to Converse with the Unconscious, which often occurs in conjucture with the Unbroken Vigil.

See also Dude, She's Like in a Coma.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mikiya Kokutou visits Shiki every damn week for two years that she spends in coma in Kara no Kyoukai. This even earns him the nickname "Puppy-kun" among the hospital staff.
  • Berserk subverts this when Guts leaves Casca in the elf mine, where Rickert and Godo are supposed to look after her while he is off slaying demons and avenging the Hawks. Turns out that was maybe not such a good idea, as Casca, insane as she is, has left off on her own, starting the Rite of Birth arc. When they do reunite, the mine, one of the last safe havens they had, is destroyed and their relationship has become quite sour.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya herself did this for Kyon after he gets stabbed but she thinks he fell down the stairs. It's complicated.
  • Mazinger Z: Sayaka to Kouji in episode 52, when he was hospitalized after being badly wounded in a battle (she was also feeling guilty, since they had got a fight before -they bicker constantly, but this time it was serious- and she had refused backing in battle). And Kouji to his little brother Shiro in Mazinger-Z versus Great General of Darkness when he fell into coma after a ceiling crumbled onto him.
  • The titular character of Ranma does this, in female form, for a sickly young boy. He had nearly died the night before because he would only accept his medicine if she delivered it with a kiss, and she felt responsible for the situation. Predictably, by the time he wakes up she has fallen asleep on his bedside, so the first thing he does is try to kiss her again, and gets a pounding for his efforts. He never did find out that it was the doctor who gave him the medicine.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Fate wakes up from having her Linker Core absorbed and discovers her familiar Arf asleep at her bedside; Lindy, who is still awake and has recently arrived, notes she has been there since the previous night.
  • In SHUFFLE!, when Asa wakes up in the hospital in Episode 20 after collapsing at the fend of the previous episode, Rin is asleep at her bedside.
  • This happens in Player Kill, when Yonggi spends the night at the hospital after Gihoon gets blinded by Harata for sparing him.
  • Repeatedly done by Asuka and Rei for Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion several times throughout the series (Shinji does a lot of waking up in the hospital). The tension that results when Asuka does it makes for some of the show's best scenes.
    • Also, Shinji remained by the side of a comatose Asuka in End of Evangelion. However it's subverted rather harshly.
  • Whenever Naruto is in the hospital, Shikamaru is inexplicably sitting in his room. The first time, it was coincidental; he was there to visit Choji, who had been hospitalized for overeating. The second time, it was more likely intentional, as he presumably was also visiting the other injured members of his five-man team.
  • Yomiko in the Read or Die OVA does this with Nancy.
  • In Kanon, Yuiichi is staying by Makoto's bed, as she's supposed to die that night from high fever. He falls asleep, and wakes up in the morning thinking she died and he wasn't there for her - only for her to crack a smile at him.
  • In Soul Eater after Maka is paralyzed, she has to tell Soul to go home. The scene seems to imply that he hadn't left her before them.
    • Similarly, after Soul had his torso bisected by Chrona Maka stopped short of doing this for him (and was implied to have stayed by his side while he was unconcious after surgery).
  • In Claymore, Clare suffers a serious injury after a fight against a very strong yoma and as a result she is Asleep for Days. During this time Raki stayed by her side praying for her to wake up.

    Comic Books 
  • Happens in a Star Trek: The Next Generation Annual. Including the falling asleep by his side thing. Understandable in that not only is Data his closest friend, but Geordi's the one trying to repair him so it's probably better that he sticks around.
  • In Excalibur, Nightcrawler keeps a constant vigil with Rachel/Phoenix after she lapses into a coma following the defeat of Necrom.
  • In NYX, Kiden finds her former teacher nearly dead in a bathtub after a suicide attempt, and after getting her to the hospital, stays by her side until she regains consciousness.
  • In the last arc of Runaways, Molly keeps a vigil over Klara after the latter is magically knocked out.
  • In Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Hollis Mason stays by the Scout's side as the poor kid dies from radiation poisoning.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In a Code Geass continuation C.C watches Lelouch, waiting for him to wake up from his first death. Found here''Comic
  • A lot of Ace Attorney fanfic has Mia acting like this to Diego, before eventually giving up.
  • In The Private Diary Of Elizabeth Quatermain, Elizabeth grows seriously ill and falls into a coma. Her love interest takes a seat next to her bed and will not leave.
  • In Kyon Big Damn Hero, after Kyon had a bullet surgically extracted, Haruhi, Yuki, Mikuru and Tsuruya stay the night in the hospital keeping him company, even if Yuki had already healed him. As a bonus, both Haruhi and Yuki sleep in the bed with him.
  • Most fanfics that start after the Castle season 3 ending have Castle doing this for Beckett.
  • In Weightless, Shepard, without eating or resting, spent 7 days watching over Garrus until she has to go to Normandy SR-1 on Alchera.
  • Contrary to the canonical example above, a lot Berserk fanfics centering on Casca getting cured of her insanity involve Guts never leaving her side until she awakens (since in most of these fics, Casca goes into a coma-like state as part of the healing process).
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Memories Born Of Fire, Spock plants himself by Kirk's side after the captain is poisoned on Altair VI, only leaving (reluctantly) when Kirk orders him to get some rest.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Little Mermaid, after the final battle against Ursula, Eric lies motionless on the beach for a long time. Ariel sits on a rock and watches for him to wake up, finally causing her father to realize that she really does love the guy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Matrix Reloaded. Neo falls unconscious after destroying several Sentinels.
    Maggie: He's in some kind of coma, but his vitals are stable. What about you?
    Trinity: I'm fine.
    Maggie: You could use some rest.
    Trinity: No, I'm gonna stay with him.
  • Rocky II, when Adrian falls comatose from stress over her husband's return to the ring and having to work while pregnant, Rocky begins a vigil broken only by visits to the church to pray, neglecting his training for the big rematch against Apollo.
  • Steel Magnolias: Shelby is in a coma after rejecting a transplanted kidney. Her mother M'Lynn refuses to leave, even as her husband urges her to. Even when Jacksonnote  visits, she's pacing outside the room, waiting for her daughter to wake up.
  • In Goodbye Lenin, Alex is seen falling asleep while watching over his comatose mother in hospital.

  • Happens multiple times in Lord of the Rings. "He's hardly left your side these last three days."
  • Edward in Twilight doesn't leave Bella's side while she's in the hospital for several broken bones and loss of blood and maybe a few more things.
    • Nevertheless, he's perfectly willing to leave her AFTERWARDS.
  • Caitlin to Bran in A Song of Ice and Fire. She goes pretty mad with grief, but her madness, and his dire wolf saves his life from the hired idiot of a killer Joffrey sent.
  • Subverted when Jaime Lannister guards the body of his father Lord Tywin for seven days without rest. It's actually atonement for having indirectly caused his death.
  • In Warrior Cats, Cloudtail does this with Brightpaw in A Dangerous Path when she gets attacked by dogs. Eventually the medicine cat has to order him to eat and rest.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Fracture, Clark stayed by Chloe's bedside when she is "dead" after healing Lex from a near-fatal injury until her Resurrective Immortality revived her.
  • In the Bones season 3 finale, the team's commitment to their intent to constantly watch over their injured co-worker Zack leads them to assigning shifts. In doing this, they unwittingly prevent him from escaping, as he was working with the Serial Killer and had engineered the explosion that injured him.
  • Done in an episode during the first season of Titus, Erin refuses to leave Christopher's side after his dragster crashed, leaving him braindead. Played for laughs in that her refusal to even let go of his hand leads her to almost drag him completely out of bed.
  • Ghost Whisperer: After he's injured by a gunshot wound, Melinda stays by her husband Jim's bedside for hours while he's recovering from surgery, to the point where she falls asleep. When she awakens, Jim lovingly says hello unfortunately it's because he's trying to explain as gently as possible that he's died of an aneurysm.
  • Played straight and subverted in Hannah Montana where Billy Ray promises to be awake and smiling when his daughter wakes up only to predictably fall asleep. The subversion comes when Jackson tells him that there's pie in the cafeteria. Not only does this wake him up instantly, but he runs off instantly and doesn't come back until after she's left the hospital.
  • Series 5 of Doctor Who has what might be the best example: Auton!Rory spends almost two thousand years protecting the Pandorica that holds Amy, becoming the legendary Last Centurion in the process.
  • Often on The X-Files whenever Mulder or Scully got hurt, though the vigil was not unbroken all the time. The one who was unharmed also had to finish the investigation sometimes or avenge the partner for the wound.
  • The West Wing: When Donna Moss is critically injured in a bombing in Gaza, Josh Lyman drops everything (keep in mind he is the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the United States) to go to Germany and be with her. He stumbles into the hospital exhausted from the flight and refuses to leave her bedside until she wakes. It takes these two a further season and a half to get together.
  • Not a completely unbroken vigil, but an episode of Mysterious Ways has a man continue to visit his comatose wife every day for sixteen years.
  • In the Torchwood season 1 finale, Gwen will do a vigil when Jack is assumed dead.

  • Ianto to Jack in the Torchwood radio play "The Dead Line".

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom is frightened after testifying against Injun Joe, and Aunt Polly sits next to his bed on at least one night to comfort him.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 3 liked this one: first, it was Yukari watching over the Main Character during his week-long coma after he first summoned his Persona, saving her life in the process. Later in the game, Junpei would utterly refuse to leave Chidori's side throughout her hospitalization/confinement, despite her own insistence. In fact, it's because of this dedication that Chidori warms up to him, then realizes that her life is worth something to someone, which goes against everything she believed in while she was a part of Strega.
    • Aigis herself takes this to a rather creepy extreme, watching over the Main Character all the time, to the point of timing herself on how fast she can pick the lock to his room each night.
  • Squall Leonheart in Final Fantasy VIII did this for Rinoa, when possession by Ultimecia left her in a magically-induced coma. Frustrated that he was getting nowhere watching over her at Balamb Garden, though, he took the vigil on the move by carrying her across the world to Esthar.
  • Carlos does this for Jill in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis after she gets infected with the T-Virus by Nemesis. While you don't get to actually see it, it's stated that Carlos spent two days watching over Jill until she woke up.


    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • One episode has Leela fall into a coma, and Fry stays by her side for weeks talking to her. When she wakes up, they hug, and then:
    Leela: (whispers) You could really use a shower.
    Fry: (whispers) So could you.
    • There was also Fry's puppy, who grew old and fossilized waiting for his master to come back. Thanks to Time Travel in the movie Bender's Big Score, he actually spent the rest of his life with a time-loop duplicate of Fry, before being flash-fossilized in an explosion.
  • In ReBoot, Enzo keeps a vigil over AndrAIa after she falls into a coma from having part of her code stolen by a Web Creature.

    Real Life 

Unbalanced By Rival's KidLove TropesUndercover as Lovers
Coronation StreetImageSource/Live-Action TVThe Cosby Show

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