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Big Damn Heroes / Literature

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  • In the Dale Brown novel Air Battle Force, the Taliban deputy Turabi is about to be killed by an usurper when Chris Wohl in a Tin Man Powered Armor suit shows up and evens the odds in preparation for an Enemy Mine. In Plan of Attack the same chap gets saved again, this time from Russians.
  • In City of Glass Jace saves Clary from being killed by Valentine. Valentine then proceeds to kill Jace seconds after he gives his "World of Cardboard" Speech.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden for his Dinosaur Rescue in Dead Beat, even if he didn't know his people needed rescue.
    • A less major, but still awesome moment is Sanya showing up exactly after an old woman says "Oh God in Heaven, help us!". Bearer of Hope indeed...
    • Also, in Small Favor, Michael arrives in the nick of time to save a train station from an army of dark faeries.
    • Being able to do this fairly regularly is one of the job perks of being a Knight of the Sword.
    • In Changes, the Grey Council arriving to put some good old Norse asskicking into the Red Court.
  • In the 2nd Empire from the Ashes book, Colin appears just as humanity, after a long, hard-fought struggle, is about to be obliterated by Achuultani scouts, with the resurrected ships of the Emperor's personal guard in tow. Curb-stomping ensues.
  • In Bill Baldwin's Helmsman series, the final battle of the first book is the protagonist having to hold off three ships. He actually thinks about this trope, about how the BDH only arrive on time in books. Since this is a book, a few cruisers do arrive — when half his crew is dead and the ship is good for nothing but scrap (and only half an enemy ship remains).
  • Percy, Frank, and Hazel and the Amazons of The Heroes of Olympus during the invasion of New Rome.
    • Jason is also fond of this.
    Leo: Man, you just wasted an 'awesome'' entrance.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy does this enough that in And Another Thing... it's Lampshaded by Ford Prefect who comments on Zaphod's unfailing ability to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
    • Marvin does this in the first book when he connects himself to the cops' ship's computer so he can talk to it. When faced with Marvin's view of the world, the computer becomes so depressed, it kills itself, taking the cops shooting Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian with it by cutting off their life support units.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo rescuing the dwarves from the spiders.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Riders of Rohan turning up to break the siege of Minas Tirith.
    • Happens again in the same battle, when Aragorn arrives with reinforcements on the ships of Umbar.
    • And at Helm's Deep, when the enemy forces were on the verge of completely breaking through the Rohirrim's defences, only for Gandalf to arrive in the nick of time with Erkenbrand's reinforcements and an army of Huorns.
    • In both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this is pretty much the Hat of the Eagles.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The Barghast and the Bridgeburners save Capustan from the army of the Pannion Seer just in time in the third book, Memories of Ice.
    • In Toll the Hounds, right when the forces of Chaos are about to devour those few still dragging the waggon within the warren of Dragnipur, Anomander Rake kills Hood, the to-date God of Death. His soul being sucked into Dragnipur opens the way for his Cavalry of the Dead, which consists of all those who have ever died, to swoop in and close with the forces of Chaos just in time to save the day.
  • In One Of Us Is Lying, Cooper, when Jake catches Addy recording him and decides to kill her. Cooper lays him out with a punch.
  • The Dawnhounds: the Kopek's crew manage to teleport it right into the middle of a city canal, wrecking the ship, but giving the heroes some much-needed breathing room.
  • The Memory Wars:
    • In Locked Within, Nathan crashes an SUV through a construction site to save Cadence and stop the Council of Chains from taking control of the soul eater.
    • In Silent Oath, Nathan and Elena swing in on ziplines to stop Morrigan sacrificing their friends as hosts for a demonic army. Earlier, Elena is this when she saves Nathan from a burning house after Athamar temporarily blinds him and leaves him to die.
  • Happens in The Silmarillion too: Lúthien saving Beren from Tol-in-Gaurhoth is just one of many examples.
  • John Moore's Slay and Rescue opens with hero Prince Charming (that's actually his '''name''') carefully timing the rescue of a princess to achieve this effect. It's part of the job.
  • Probably the Biggest Damn Heroes moment of A Song of Ice and Fire is the sudden and unexpected arrival of Stannis Baratheon and his men at the Wall to fight the wildlings, despite there having been no mention of them coming to the North prior to this moment.
    • Sandor Clegane, of all people, gets a moment of this in A Song of Ice and Fire when he cuts through a mob just in time to rescue Sansa from being gang-raped by the rioters. This, naturally, sets up a Bodyguard Crush on Sansa's part and a great deal of Squeeing among the fans, as rescues are wont to do. How heroic he is the rest of the time is up for debate. Arguably, his first Big Damn Heroic moment is actually in the prior book, when his big brother Gregor is about to hack a stunned and helpless Loras Tyrell in two...only for the Hound to show up just in time to divert the killing blow and defend Loras till Gregor cools down.
    • Jaime Lannister, completely unarmed, leaping into a bear pit to distract said bear from Brienne. Jaime doesn't do much about the bear on his own, but the archers he brought back with him do. Made even better by Jaime's quip, after he asks if Brienne is still a maiden: "Oh, good. I only rescue maidens."
  • In Space Marine Battles, this happens so often it creeps over to Once per Episode territory. The most epic example would probably be the Legion of the Damned, for whom "showing up when the situation is the most dire and saving the day" is pretty much a job description.
  • Malik ibn Ibrahim does this from out of nowhere in the second story in the anthology Wandering Djinn.
  • In the 5th Young Wizards book, this happens when the Lone Power is giving Nita Its Evil Gloating speech. She's ready to give in...when her wizard partner Kit bursts in in the nick of time. "Fairest and Fallen, one more time...greetings and defiance." You can practically hear the epic music.
  • While Chip was not in direct physical danger during his trial in The Rats, the Bats, and the Ugly, the rape charge based on a (falsified) deposition was both the strongest and most likely to have him hanged. Then the supposed victim unlocked the courtroom doors with a chainsaw and kicked them open before declaring Chip's innocence.
  • Odd example in The Chronicles of Amber that straddles the line between this trope and Villainous Rescue: Corwin, the hero, is the one doing the rescuing—and he only decides to pitch in the moment he gets there. Prior to that, he intended to attack Amber himself.
  • Near the end of Terry Pratchett's Discword novel Monstrous Regiment when the Ins and Outs are about to be packed off and safely out of the officers' hair. Sgt Jackram bursts through the door to defend his "little lads". What with him being larger than life and having about 40 years of blackmail material in his head, he begins an epic verbal beatdown of the general staff to free his troops.
  • The Secrets of Droon—So, the kids are trapped in a room with rising water filled with poisonous serpents. They're all resigned to their fate. And then, Young Galen appears out of nowhere and magics the serpents out of existence.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "A Witch Shall Be Born", Conan the Barbarian arrives just as a fight between the usurper's forces and the loyal subjects who just learned of the Fake King is breaking out.
  • The Landreich forces in Fleet Action, during the Battle of Terra, jump in at the last minute to save Earth from being made uninhabitable by "dirty" nukes.
  • The Time Scout series loves these:
    • In Time Scout, Kit and Malcolm come to 16th century Darkest Africa to rescue Margo and Kynan from Portuguese soldiers.
    • Subverted in Wagers of Sin when Skeeter crashes the Porta Romae just in time to rescue Marcus after a mad dash across La La Land. Also present is Lupus Mortiferus, who brutally clubs Skeeter down.
      • Played straight a few weeks later when Skeeter finally rescues Marcus and takes him home.
    • In Ripping Time, Armstrong shows up just in time to save Jenna from Jack the Ripper.
    • In The House That Jack Built, Kit and Skeeter catch up to Paula Booker and some guides being pinned down by native bandits outside Denver.
    • Also in The House That Jack Built, Skeeter tracks down his new adopted family after many weeks of searching so that he can help rescue them from The Syndicate.
  • At the end of Wrath of the Lemming Men, Space Captain Smith returns to his comrades on New Luton with the Vorl as his new allies, turning his hard-pressed colleagues' struggle for survival into a Curb-Stomp Battle against the enemy.
  • In the Northland Series, when a Mongol Horde is coming your way crushing everything in its path, who shows up but the Dragon of the East and a friendly Chinese army?
  • In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Belicia (Oscar's mother) ran afoul of someone powerful in Trujillo's regime in her adolescence and some secret police thugs tried to force her into their car. She barely managed to call for the help of her old boss, a Chinese immigrant named José Then, as he was passing by. When he saw what was going on, he was on the thugs in an instant, handgun pressed against one's skull and with the determination to use it, personal danger be damned. Beli later told her daughter, "Mis chinos saved my life."
  • Chief of Police James Colby does this near the end of Sacreya's Legacy.
  • Harry Potter
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Firenze arrives just in time to save Harry from the ominous figure drinking unicorn blood in the Forbidden Forest after Draco and Fang flee and leave Harry on his own.
    • Hagrid was able to save Firenze when his herd chose to execute him in Order of the Phoenix for being willing to work for wizards by interfering after the execution had already begun.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and co. are caught by Death Eaters and about to be killed unless Harry gives the Prophecy orb to them. Cue The Order of The Phoenix arriving just in time to even the odds.
    • A few in ‘’Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’’ :
      • Dobby arrives to rescue Harry and his friends minutes before Voldemort is due to arrive
      • While things are already going pretty well at the Battle Of Hogwarts, the arrival of reinforcements from Hogsmeade, and those summoned by Hermione with her D.A coin, really turns the tide in favour of the good guys.
  • A Brother's Price: "We Whistlers have an unbreakable rule — you mess with one of us, you mess with us all!" Played with, though, in that they weren't so much late as they were following the Big Bad, so that when she found the imperiled heroes, they would find them too.
  • Several times in the Mediochre Q Seth Series. Early on in The Good, the Bad and the Mediochre, Joseph Carrion turns up Just in Time to take down Isobel the pyromancer from behind. Towards the end, Mediochre catches up to Charlotte Just in Time to prevent Maelstrom from killing her. In the short story Born to Raise the Sons of Earth, Mad Lex Gunpowder dramatically breaks down the door of the cellar within which Joseph has been tied up, just when Joseph required a distraction to escape.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • In The Honor of the Queen, there is an interesting Double Subversion: thanks to the decision by her subordinate and the admiral leading the rescue to remove the hyper generator safety interlocks, Admiral White Haven's battlecruiser squadrons manage to show up in Grayson literally an hour before the final, fatal encounter between Harrington's not-quite-crippled heavy cruiser and the Masadan's battlecruiser, and soon enough to intercept the latter before it gets range on the planet. Unfortunately, the not-quite-crippling of Harrington's ship includes the complete destruction of its comms and the crippling of its sensor suite, and as a result she doesn't know ... meaning that White Haven is reduced to firing broadsides of missiles at the enemy from light-seconds out of range and praying for the proverbial Golden BB.
    • In the short story "The Service of the Sword", Midshipwoman Abigail Hearns is trapped dirtside on a planet with a handful of Marines and a lot of really nasty pirates. Cue her really fucking angry Captain, Michael Oversteegen, charging to their rescue, having kicked the everloving crap out of three heavy cruisers with his single cruiser and punctuated his victory by destroying the fourth and final cruiser with a single salvo. Bad. Ass.
  • The Exile's Violin: Gunslinger incites a crowd to riot in order to rescue Jacquie and Clay from a public execution.
  • In the first book of The Kingdom and the Crown a raider has attacked the camp of a wealthy Jerusalem family and is dragging the daughter toward a tent to have his way with her, when the local Zealots decide to intervene, driving the bandit off.
  • When the Aes Sedai have Rand trapped near the end of the sixth book in The Wheel of Time Lord of Chaos, a massed force of Aeil, soldiers under Perrin's command, wolves and Asha'man appear to save him.
    • Similarly, in A Memory of Light, when the trollocs are about to crush Elayne's forces Logain and the remaining loyal Asha'man appear and crush the trolloc hordes.
    • Again in AMOL, as Rand's forces at Shayol Ghul are away to be overrun, Elyas Machera and his wolves arrive to pull them back.
    • In The Shadow Rising, Perrin forces Faile to leave before the Last Stand at Two Rivers because he doesn't want to see her killed. However, she comes back. In the middle of said Last Stand. ''With reinforcements.''
  • The House of Night:
    • In Marked, Stevie Rae volunteers to be “the refrigerator” for Aphrodite’s ritual so that she can then pass on the location of the ritual to Damien and the Twins, so that when everything goes pear-shaped all four of them could step up and help Zoey save the day.
    • At the end of Hunted, just as Zoey and half her friends have just escaped from the House of Night, with Raven Mockers, Kalona, and Neferet closing in fast, with barely enough time to get a ritual circle in place, the other half of Zoey's friends show up and, by The Power of Love, defeat the bad guys.
    • When Neferet tries to mind control Stark, he decides to Take a Third Option and ends up almost killing himself rather than hurting Zoey.
  • In Beautiful Creatures, Macon interrupts Lena's trial in the gymnasium and verbally destroys pretty much everyone who dares to try to defend their persecution of Lena.
  • In the climax of The Way of Kings, first book in The Stormlight Archive, Dalinar Kholin, his son, and most of his army have been trapped on a plateau, pinned between two massive enemy armies, after his ally betrays him and pulls out with all of the portable bridges that allowed access to the plateau in the first place. One of the slave crews that runs such bridges has managed to get themselves "lost" and have a perfect opportunity to escape, but they sacrifice that chance by using their bridge to give Dalinar a way out.
    • This mirrors a scene from earlier in the book, when the bridge crew was being ambushed by enemy soldiers. Even though the bridgemen were intentionally expendable Dalinar rode in and saved them at the last moment, cutting down almost fifty enemies alone. He parted by showing the downtrodden bridgemen a respectful salute before leaving.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, in Clara the Chocolate Fairy's book, Lizzie the Sweet Treats Fairy arrives to change the chocolate floor into toffee.
  • Subverted in Warp World: Alicia shows up just in the nick of time to save Ethan from Jett, but then proceeds to debate whether or not she should kill Ethan herself.
  • Horatio Hornblower: In Lieutenant, the Spanish prisoners in Renown escape and make a very effective attempt to capture the ship in the middle of the night, taking the crew totally off-guard. Buckland is captured in bed, the sleeping crew is mostly unarmed and unable to fight back, and Bush takes over a dozen wounds before collapsing. Then Hornblower crashes the Spanish prize vessels into the Renown and sweeps across the deck with their fully armed crews, rallying the British sailors and retaking the ship.
  • The Radiant Dawn has the titular character pulling this off twice.
    • One incident is when the Marines have run out of ammo and the helicopters have backed off. Everyone's retreated back into the tunnel. The transport helicopter is here, but the landing zone is overrun by undead. Dawn unleashes all the magic she's absorbed from the undead over the course of the battle and blasts the entire enemy army all at once.
    • The other is remotely. The Swiss defenders are watching the undead army mobilizing, three million strong. Then a laser starts sweeping across the undead and killing half of their force in under two minutes.
  • How the Marquis Got His Coat Back: Peregrine pulls this off twice, much to the Marquis' chagrin.
  • In Of Fear and Faith, Phenix's sound thrashing by Sorrow is interrupted by North, August and Elin bailing him out of danger and taking on the enemy themselves. Although the three of them don't fare too much better.
  • In Devils Cape, after seemingly being killed, Sam Small retires, and even after his honorary niece takes up superheroing, only helps train and mentor her. When she is under attack and her Powered Armor is failing, though, he arrives just in time to intercept her attacker and rescue her.
  • Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy features a textbook Big Damn Heroes moment in the second book's climax. One of the two halves of the Ensemble Cast is kidnapped and held under the threat of death by extremists who believe their reproductive experiments are an affront to nature. They are rescued in a classic Big Damn Heroes scene by the other half.
  • In Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl Ani/Isi is alone at the mercy of people who have been trying to kill her for the last 250 pages, but just as they've finally decided how to play this, the Prince, the King, and the royal guard, who overheard everything burst out from a hidden passage. And then Ani's "Goose Guard" in the form of her fellow animal-workers show up.
  • Journey to Chaos: During Looming Shadow, Hasina arrives Just in Time to save Eric from death and Annala slavery at the hands of Nulso. Then Tasio has to save her when Nulso ups the ante.
  • In Heart of Steel, Alistair Mechanus rescues Julia from her crazy cyborg ex with a small army, including a lot of flying combat drones and three packs of dire wolves.
  • Divergent:
    • In Divergent, Tris's mother shows up to save her from being executed.
    • In Insurgent, Tobias leads a counter attack just as Tris is rebelling against her captors.
  • At least one moment per book in TimeRiders, when half the team is at its worst in some historical screw-up, the other half leaps into action back at the base to put things right. Later on in the series, this happens the other way round too.
  • In the Doctor Who novel "Engines of War", the Doctor (crash)lands on top of several Daleks and Degradations, saving Cinder's life.
  • Llane has one in Eludoran when he arrives to rescue the hostages at the last moment. So does Pendarynn later on.
  • In The Hunger Games, Thresh saves Katniss from being killed by Clove, on behalf of her relationship with Rue. If he hadn't intervened, it's almost certain that Cato would have won the Games.
  • In Shaman Blues, Vulture swoops in at the last moment to save Witkacy when the latter is about to be put through Body Horror routine by the Old Ones.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, when Vader has eliminated the other Jedi from the fight on Kashyyyk and is facing Padawan Olee Starstone alone, Roan Shryne pulls off a dramatic rescue, leaping from the Drunk Dancer's dropship, grabbing a fallen lightsaber with the Force, and killing Vader's chief stormtrooper in one motion, while Archyr picks off other troopers next to him, Guns Akimbo.
    • Aside from the prologue, Ben's first appearance in Star Wars: Kenobi has him charging in on his eopie to rescue Annileen and Kallie from a runaway dewback that has blundered into a sarlacc field. He grabs Kallie when Annileen hands her off, and then—unseen by either Calwell, but noticed by A'Yark—uses the Force to keep the dewback from crushing Annileen when it finally trips and falls.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, there's a small chain of this.
    • When the Imperial Army seems to be at the brink of defeat by the horde, the Fugitive Legion suddenly appears, turning the battle's tide to the point that the horde's leader finally deigns to intervene.
    • When Karyl is locked in combat with said leader and the latter is at the verge of murdering him, out bursts Shiraa, who promptly turns Raguel into a chew toy.
  • Graystripe from Warrior Cats saves a young kit and later his best friend Firestar from Darkstripe in The Darkest Hour.
    • After being found as a Dark Forest Spy in The Last Hope, Ivypool is ganged up on by Hawkfrost, Thistleclaw, and Snowtuft. Fortunately for her, Hollyleaf arrives and fights all three of them off. But Hawkfrost gives her a killing blow in return.
  • White Fang: The titular wolf-dog (as a pup) tries to invoke this when he encounters humans for the first time, by yelping when he's in pain so that his mother would arrive. It backfires, for the men recognize the she-wolf as a wolf-dog who used to live among them.
  • The Witchlands: the climax of the second book has Iseult come to Aeduen's rescue when the latter is about to be killed.
  • Captain Reed saves Sefia and Archer from Hatchet's crew thanks to a timely arrival in The Reader (2016).
  • Thanks to the mobility of her Not Quite Flight, Vin of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy gets a couple in the first book. The first interrupts an assassination, the second rescues a rescue attempt.
  • Nina Tanleven: Occurs in all three main books.
    • In The Ghost in the Third Row, a bellowing Pop comes to Nine’s rescue.
    • In The Ghost Wore Gray, a furious Captain Gray himself comes to aid Nine and Chris when they’re threatened by a gun-toting villain in the graveyard.
    • In The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed, Cornelius Fletcher appears inside his house for the first time since he’s died when he’s called, and saves Nine and the others from another gun-toting villain by stripping the wallpaper from the bottom floor of the house and using it to bind the villain.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Sid, on multiple occasions. Starting the night he first came back to life and saved Georgia from a child molester.
  • Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner:
    • After Sera commands Bat to drop her, she is saved from falling to her death just at the nick of time from Cielo and Lupa.
    • Gale and Cielo attempt to do this at the end of the second volume. When the black ooze started devouring everyone in the base, they tried to save as many people as they could, only to find that a very small pocket of survivors was left. Out of them, everyone except one person was devoured before their eyes, and the last guy commits suicide. And the worst part is, as Gale was yelling at the people he was trying to save to hitch a ride on Cielo and get out, he was thinking that bringing even one more person with them would mean their deaths.


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