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Wait Here

“If the Hero says ‘wait here,’ it really doesn't matter whether you obey him or not. If you stay, you will be captured by the Evil Overlord's henchmen as soon as the Hero is out of earshot. If you tag along, you will be caught by the Evil Overlord's henchmen as you stumble along. Don't agonize over your decision.”

Whenever our hero has to go off and do something important, they first decide to dump off any “dead weight” (such as cute sidekicks or Love Interests) that might slow them down by getting into trouble at precisely the wrong time. He'll tell the person something akin to “Wait here, if I'm not back in an hour, call the police.”

This almost never helps.

If they actually listen to the hero, they'll get captured or Trapped by Mountain Lions the moment he's out of earshot. Half the time, though, they'll ignore the hero's advice and go off to do something incredibly stupid (and inevitably end up in hot water). You'd think they could take five minutes to call the relevant authorities, or failing that get one of the hero's peers to come help before doing something incredibly stupid, but noooo.

As illustrated above, being left somewhere is something of a no-win situation, as the laws of drama necessitate you either getting captured if you stay put or getting captured if you stumble off. If heroes were the least bit Genre Savvy, they'd realize that it's safer to keep The Load where you can keep an eye on them.

Of course, the common subversion of this trope is that it's the hero who ends up getting in over his head. In this case, the buddy/girl will get to be the big damn hero for once and bail him out of a thrashing by the villain's goons. Cue Aesop about The Power of Friendship when the hero complains about them ignoring orders.

Not to be confused with Fine, You Can Just Wait Here Alone.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, this is toyed with when Roy tells Riza to wait for him, but only a day. After that, she is to leave him essentially for dead. Of course, she refuses, and stays at her post. However, at the moment Roy returns, he finds Major Armstrong instead! It freaks him out, but then he realizes that he's been a LONG time, so it wouldn't be too surprising if Riza had gone. She was just at the restroom at the moment though, and returns shortly after.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has an interesting variation in the Watanagashi arc. Keiichi and Rena have gotten Mion actually Shion to confess to the murders and convinced her to turn herself in. She agrees, on the condition that she be given a half hour alone with Keiichi. Keiichi agrees, but (understanding that his friend is a homicidal maniac) tells Rena that if he's not back within the time limit, to call the police. Rena does just this. As a result, Keiichi narrowly avoids having several nails hammered into his hand.
  • In Bleach Ichigo tells Orihime and Uryu to wait for him during the Ulquiorra fight, she doesn't, the resulting crossfire probably saves Ichigo's life… And causes his Super-Powered Evil Side to give Uryu a nearly mortal wound.
  • Lampshaded in the Gag Dub of Ghost Stories.
    “Obeying horror movie rules, I'm going to go out alone. You stay here while I go out looking for help.” - Hajime
    “Okay. God bless him. Leaving me here alone and defenseless in a cemetery. What a guy.” - Momoko

Comic Books
  • Lois Lane is, of course, the queen of this trope in every incarnation she's appeared in. Jimmy Olsen ties a close second.
  • In the original Gold Key Magnus Robot Fighter, Leeja Clane would, on the fairly uncommon times Magnus told her to stay out of harms way, do exactly that. Until something happened that Magnus needed to be urgently told about. Then Leeja would try to find him and only then be caught by the villain. Unlike Star Trek, nobody in North Am thought of personal, portable communications.

Film
  • Parodied in Big Trouble in Little China when Jack Burton tells several Sidekicks: "Ok, you people! Sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn, call the President." Of course, they later go in and get captured.
  • Last Action Hero goes into this at length, but Jack provides a very pragmatic solution: a gun in the glove compartment. Unfortunately, it also gives Daniel enough leverage to follow him… and get captured.
  • Spoofed in Serenity when Mal goes to meet Inara, knowing it's a trap:
    Mal: “If I'm not back in one hour, you take this ship, and you come and you rescue me.”
    Zoe: “What? And risk my ship?”
    Mal: “I mean it. It's cold out there. I don't wanna get left.”
  • Beverly Hills Cop uses the sidekick rescue variant when Axel Foley (lead Eddie Murphy) goes into a warehouse, telling Billy (Judge Reinhold) to stay put, because he doesn't have probable cause. The strictly by-the-book Billy gets increasingly nervous as the Big Bad and his thugs show up then leave with the Love Interest in tow, and finally gets up the nerve to go in. The resulting Big Damn Heroes moment sets up his Character Development arc for the rest of the movie and the sequel.
  • This becomes a Running Gag in The Golden Child, with Chandler Jarrell repeatedly telling Kee Nang to stay put and her coming after him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, at Weathertop Aragorn says he's going to have a look around and for the hobbits to “stay here.” Naturally it doesn't work out exactly as planned.
  • In Ocean's Eleven, when part of the crew goes to steal the “pinch,” George Clooney expressly tells Matt Damon to wait in the van. He can't take the bickering of the two brothers and leaves, which leads to… complications.
  • The Mask. Stanley Ipkiss does this to his dog Milo before going to confront Dorian Tyrell. Of course Milo disobeys, follows him and saves the day.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. When the Red Lectroids break into Buckaroo's mansion, he tells Penny Priddy to stay in his room. Of course she wanders off looking for him, which is both good and bad. Professor Hikita manages to pass the Oscillation Overthruster to her so the Red Lectroids can't get it from him, but then she's captured by them and used as a Hostage for MacGuffin.
  • Ace Ventura tells a character that if he doesn't come back in 5 minutes, just wait longer.
  • In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan tells Carol Ferris to "Stay here" as he goes off to fight Parallax. Considering that the two of them have just witnessed Parallax brutally murder his own minion, Carol readily agrees. But after Hal immediately gets himself into trouble, Carol saves the day.
    • She doesn't do any actual damage to Parallax, but she does provide the necessary distraction that allows Hal to retrieve his Green Lantern ring. Without her distraction, Parallax would have killed Hal without a fight and the rest of the human race would be easy pickings.
  • In The Smurfs, the rest of the Smurfs tell this to Clumsy twice while in modern-day New York City. The second time, he actually does stay behind, which allows him to initiate the No One Gets Left Behind, as Papa had made them all promise not to go back for him — but Clumsy, who wasn't there at the time, never promised anything.
  • Fugitive Bronek says this to his child hostage Gillie twice in Tiger Bay. However, as Gillie is 11 years old, the first time she wanders off to play by the river. The second time, she is discovered by the police.

Literature
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Devil in Iron Conan the Barbarian orders Octavia to do this. It doesn't work.
  • The Temperance Brennan novels, on which Bones was based has this as a very dark Running Gag. Some cop tells Tempe to stay out of trouble, occasionally reminding her she's not a cop, and then circumstances and/or her own curiosity send her into trouble anyway.
  • Harry of The Dresden Files on several occasions tells his apprentice to stay somewhere relatively safe before heading off for his latest confrontation. Unusually, this actually works (the fact his apprentice can turn herself invisible helps).

Live-Action TV
  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "Still Valley". A Confederate scout gives orders to his partner.
    Paradine: “Now you stay here. If you hear a shot, you get back to the lieutenant at a fast gallop…If you haven't heard from me in 15 minutes, you get back there anyway.”
  • Dawn in Buffy the Vampire Slayer often fell into this. (“Dawn's in trouble; must be Tuesday…”) Although to be fair, Xander had this happen to him occasionally (at least twice a season.)
  • Mickey and Rose do this in the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace, wandering off to explore after he just told them not to run off.
    • As shown on the quotes page, the Doctor has been facing this problem for forty years.
    • Of course, the unstated but very obvious reason the Doctor keeps facing this problem is because people who would wait behind when told to are not people he would consider interesting enough as travel companions. The Doctor himself never quite seems to pick up on this.
  • Done several ways in Chuck. Chuck doesn't listen, gets in trouble. Chuck listens, gets in trouble. Chuck doesn't listen, and saves the day.
    • He points this out at the beginning of the season 2 premiere.
    • It's gotten to the point where Chuck heavily lampshades this.
      Chuck: You know what, it's never safe in the car!
  • At every crime scene early in the series, Detective Beckett orders Castle to wait in the car... and he never fails to get mixed up in the final confrontation of the perp. Subverted in "Home is Where the Heart Stops," when he actually does wait in the car... and the perp lands on his windshield and drags him out anyway.
    Beckett: “Wait here.”
  • In Kamen Rider Double's prequel movie, Shotaro's boss Sokichi tells him “don't move a damn step from here” during a dangerous mission. Being an impulsive kid, Shotaro moves, and unintentionally causes Sokichi's death, which becomes his greatest failure.
  • The Outer Limits episodes
    • "Fun and Games". Mike Benson and Laura Hanley are on an alien planet participating in a death duel with two aliens. Mike tells Laura to "stay here" while he goes to check something out. She insists that they stick together, and when he goes anyway she follows him.
    • "Demon with a Glass Hand". Trent has Consuelo climb out onto a window ledge outside the building so she'll be safe from the Kyben. Oddly enough, she actually obeys him and stays there until he comes back.
  • CSI NY 'Point of No Return' has Mac tell Danny to wait by the car while they go in on a bust because Danny forgot his vest. Danny waits, but when the suspect runs out and into another area, Danny follows him anyway and ends up trying to survive a shooting match.
  • Subverted on NCIS: Palmer is ordered to stay in the car and he does...but he drives the car into the perp!:
  • On Orphan Black, Sarah has teamed up with Helena in order to find one of the originators of the cloning experiment. She goes to search through the archives of a church and tells Helena to stay in the car. Unfortunately, she goes to a bar and ends up being arrested and eventually captured by the Prolethians.
  • Spoofed in Stargate SG-1, where Daniel and a Russian attache have separated from the others in an underground maze:
    Russian: I'll go see if I can find the others. Wait here.
    Daniel: [heavily sarcastic] Yes. You go into the dark tunnel, alone, and I'll wait here in the dark room, alone.

Video Games
  • As shown above in the page image, during The Subspace Emissary in Super Smash Bros., Snake has been very clear to Zelda and Peach.
    • Although they don't listen to him, they actually don't get into any trouble and make themselves quite useful. Peach manages to recruit Fox, and they both help out in the fight against Duon, after which Peach adds yet another useful member into the team; Mr. Game & Watch.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • Discussed in Everyman HYBRID. The characters are aware that even if leaving the car means you might meet the Slender Man, staying in the car while the others go looking is never a good idea.

Western Animation
  • Jade in Jackie Chan Adventures lives and breathes this trope. Jackie will say “Stay here,” “Don't play with the Cosmic Keystone,” “Don't try and fight the ancient evil dragon spirit.” And what does she do? The above. It's gotten to the point Jackie should carry chloroform and rope wherever he goes just to subdue her. Or accept she's his Side Kick, train her, and let her be annoying/helpful like a more competent Scrappy.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". When Race Bannon arrives at the title island, he tells Jonny and Hadji to stay and guard the boat to keep them out of danger. Naturally they disobey him, acquire a tractor and ram into the villain's laboratory, thus saving both Jonny's father and Race Bannon from a Giant Spider.
  • Yoda to Padme in Clone Wars. To her credit, Padme does get out of the situation herself by taking out a couple of invisible mooks.
  • April O'Neil does this in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but is at least slightly justified, in that if she listened to the turtles and stayed put, she wouldn't get a story. This was lampshaded in one episode when she trailed some thugs to a warehouse and she calls the turtles for reinforcements.
    April: “I found the hideout. I'm going to check it out.”
    Leo: “No, don't. Wait!”
    April: “Okay. I won't wait.”
  • Disney's Aladdin. While the title character and his monkey Abu are exploring the caves full of treasure, Aladdin tells Abu to “wait here” while he goes to get the lamp. As you'd expect, Abu sees a huge gem and goes to grab it, ignoring the warning they received to "touch nothing but the lamp" and setting off a lava flow apocalypse.
  • Miko from Transformers Prime seemingly has a psychological block against following the directions "Wait here" or "Stay put".
  • Bambi has the titular character's mother telling him to wait while she checks the meadow to make sure its safe.
  • Garfield and Friends: The story "Don't Move" follows Odie as he is told to Wait Here while Garfield attends to some business. Unfortunately for Odie, it goes wrong from the beginning, when a dog-catching truck snaps him up. A series of misadventures ensue, ending when Odie gets deposited just two feet away from the spot where he started. Garfield returns from his errand, oblivious to the events that had happened, then points at Odie and says with annoyance, "You moved."

Real Life
  • This can be Truth in Television for some people. How many times have you been told to wait somewhere and somehow decided to wander off anyway? True, the fate of the world is usually not at stake, but there are people out there who simply don't listen.

Verb This!Stock PhrasesWalk the Plank
Videogame DemakeImageSource/Video GamesSuper Smash Land

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