A profound test of character: someone is in trouble and in need of help. Will you stand by him? Help him? Give him moral support? Let others know that you do so, and face their contempt?
It will cost you. It may cost you a great deal.
While pre-existing friendship is possible, demonstrating The Power of Friendship in a Friendship Moment, the character may also be a Mentor, an acquaintance (perhaps nothing more than someone they are Lonely Together with), or even a stranger who sees the character in need and trusts him. It can create friendship and even the True Companions, and it is certainly the point at which a character knows he has friends. (If they are Vitriolic Best Buds, this may be the point at which the audience realizes they are friends.)
It can also be the way the Worthy Opponent demonstrates his worthiness, and the Friendly Enemy his friendliness, by some act such as acting as Character Witness for The Hero, or preventing him from being stabbed In the Back. In a Betty and Veronica triangle, Betty is the one who will come through — often the point at which Oblivious to Love trope stops.
Chronic Hero Syndrome is a tendency to a certain type of this trope.
Super-Trope of Good Samaritan, I Got You Covered, Changed My Mind, Kid, Financial Test of Friendship, Gondor Calls for Aid, and Greater Need Than Mine. Compare Fire-Forged Friends. Contrast Fair-Weather Mentor and Fair-Weather Friend. In a more cynical series villains or even protagonists may wind up Dying Alone instead. Also cynical if the person in need happens to be a true odd man out.
- The Flash. He was desperately worried about his dying wife, but he had to look after his two children — until Arsenal cleverly brought his daughter to the League tower. This distracted the Flash's children enough so that Arsenal could look after them all, and Flash, after calling him a friend in need, could join his wife.
- Omaha the Cat Dancer has a scene when Omaha returns to Mipple City when she learns that her boyfriend, Charles Tabey Jr., has had a mental breakdown. When she visits him at the mental hospital, he is barely coherent with meds and she is extremely upset. On the trip to see him again a bit later, Omaha has a moment where she complains it's not worth visiting him. That's when their mutual friend, Huddle, responds "Well, I guess that depends on whether you are his friend." When Omaha protests, citing their relationship, Huddle answers, "Yes, you are his lover, but are you his friend? Are you prepared to stick with him, even when you don't get anything? If not, then we might as well turn back and go home now." At that, Omaha ponders the point and tells Huddle to keep going to the hospital.
- Peter and many characters in Spider-Man, including Mary Jane and Flash. Even random people of New York show surprising courage and humanity when things get tough.
- After Morbius the Living Vampire is infected with the blood of a demon and is resurrected as an undead, soulless being, one of his oldest friends decides to separate himself from the madness that is Morbius' life. He is chewed out by Werewolf by Night, who tells him Morbius now needs them more than ever. "I guess we see who Morbius's real friends are now."
- And the inverse: when Werewolf by Night is infected with the zombie virus during an A.R.M.O.R. mission, Morbius goes against strict orders that state infected teammates are to be terminated immediately. He smuggles A.R.M.O.R. equipment to his lab and sends others on a dimension-hopping mission to collect blood samples so he can devise a way to cure him, which he eventually does.
- In Astro City, M.P.H. tries to help Beautie in one of her distressed periods. He ends up lecturing her creator about how she is failing her.
- Twice, Samaritan goes out of his way to offer help to a superpowered character who doesn't want to either fight or commit crime.
- Robin (1993): When Tim learns Ives has cancer he goes out of his way to make sure he's there for him and even gets back in contact with Ives very quickly in Red Robin after cutting everyone but his sister out of his life and leaving Gotham.
- In Prickly City, Carmen feels small, lost, and rudderless — Winslow offers to carry her for a time — and she feels big.
- A defining characteristic of Taylor in Bird is her willingness to reach out to some of the less agreeable patients at Alchemilla. Mimi, in particular, badly injures her when her power rages out of control, and is confused and touched when Taylor doesn't take it personally.
"Usually, when I burn someone, they, they never want anything to do with me anymore."
- Loved and Lost: Twilight's loved ones don't hesitate to return to Canterlot in order to save her from the Changelings, even though they have all become hated pariahs and Luna — correctly, as it later turns out— points out that they could be walking into a trap. The dishonored heroes acknowledge this, but go through with the plan anyway, seeing it as their only chance to make amends with Twilight.
- In The Lion King Adventures: Simba risks his life many times in order to protect Nala and Haiba, his best friends.
- A Growing Affection: Naruto's Nakama doesn't hesitate to go AWOL to rescue him after he is kidnapped. Even after Hinata tells them about the Fox Demon, all but one of them are still on board after only a few minutes of discussion.
- The Dragon That Will Pierce the Heavens: Besides the canon examples, the protagonist Hikari runs on this trope. If you are ever in trouble or need help, she will never hesitate to help and will go through a frankly absurd amount of punishment to see it through. This is seen as early as the first chapter, where she joined Luffy and fought to protect him from Alvida without hesitation, and is highlighted in their journey to help Vivi save Alabasta, where she signs up without so much as a second thought and puts herself through stabbings, cuts, broken bones, internal injuries, and an EXPLOSION to see Vivi's country survive.
- This is turned on Hikari twice: first in the Drum Island Arc, where she was bitten by the Kestia Tick and becomes deathly ill. Despite her protests, the Straw Hats don't hesitate to find her a doctor, even if it means facing giant carnivorous rabbits or climbing a sheer rock-face to do so. The second is in Skypiea, where she is thoroughly beaten and kidnapped by Eneru, and the Straw Hats do not consider even searching for Shandora without her, immediately coming up with a plan to save her and beat up the 'God' for daring to hurt her.
- Nosflutteratu: Although she usually subsists on blood leftover from the hospital blood bank, occasionally vampire Fluttershy needs to drink fresh bloodwhich her friend Rainbow Dash is more than willing to provide.
- Thirty Seconds over To-ki-rin: After carrying out the airstrike, Dusk Skyshine discovers that his best friend Dash Firehooves is wounded — and flying a damaged fighter plane. Dusk must shepherd him in to a safe landing, at considerable risk to himself.
- Mortality: Watson risks a lot to rescue his best friend. Heck, he even screws the rules to save Holmes.
- Off the Line: Yuffie/Treasure Princess and Nanaki/Red XIII risk themselves getting killed and looted when they help Cloud/Rainstorm escape bounty hunters.
- Sasha and the Frogs: Sprig repeatedly helps Sasha, regardless of her troubles.
- Harriett Potter in The Rigel Black Chronicles warns Hermione that she's going to do something illegal, and offers to let Hermione remain ignorant if she wants. Hermione isn't having it.
Hermione: I certainly won't look the other way, you idiot! If I'm not looking, I can't help you. I can't promise to keep my mouth shut if I disagree with you, Harry, but I will never betray you. If you do something you think is morally questionable I want to know about it, so I can help you figure out another way, if there is one, or support you, if there isn't. Now stop being dramatic and just tell me what's going on.
- "Lean on Me", by Bill Withers. The lyrics are shown in the illustration on this page.
- "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel, from Bridge Over Troubled Water
I'm on your side/When times get rough/And friends just can't be found
- "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King from Tapestry
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
- "Black Saturday" by Soundgarden takes this in morbid ways. The narrator remembers all the time his friend helped him, while also asking if he could provide a Mercy Kill in case he becomes a really inept person when old.
- "Hey Brother" by Avicii:
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you
There's nothing in this world I wouldn't do
- Cher Lloyd's "Oath" is all about this, especially these lines:
Wherever you go, just always remember
That you got a home for now and forever
And if you get low, just call me whenever
This is my oath to you
- "Carry You Home" by Ward Thomas acknowledges that life will sometimes have rough patches and promises the listener that they will support them in various ways when that happens.
- Bobby Heenan: Famously twisted in so many ways especially since one of his most famous sayings was A friend in need is a pest!
- Timon of Athens plays with this trope. Timon is very generous to his friends at the start of the play— he gives one friend money so he can get married, and bails another friend out of an execution sentence. When Timon goes bankrupt, you expect his friends to repay their debt, but they don't. This act of betrayal is so great Timon becomes a misanthropic hermit and swears to never be kind to anyone ever again.
- Like the Literature example, Grantaire of Les Misérables is one of the last revolutionaries to die, alongside Enjolras, whose idealism he frequently spurns. The fact that he's at the barricades at all despite quite vocally mocking Enjolras and his cause shows that he feels this for all the revolutionaries.
- In Hamilton, Jefferson accusing Hamilton of subverting this by not helping France in their revolution (and therefore, not helping their mutual friend Lafayette bring freedom to the people of France after Hamilton explicitly promised he would in "Yorktown", although it's unclear how Jefferson would have known this). Hamilton points out that the official treaty they made with France was made with the King (who was one of the first to go in the Reign of Terror), that France doesn't quite have a clear leader at the moment, and that Lafayette is smart enough to figure out a way to survive the revolution (he does, but he's also imprisoned for most of it by the revolutionaries, so it's not like he was doing well for himself).
- On Cinema: Joe Estevez is this to Tim. Even in Tim's darkest moments such as a burning accident caused by his vapor addiction and his role in a music festival disaster that killed 20 people, Joe is always trying to help support Tim even when others won't (though Tim's harsh and sometimes downright abusive treatment of others is a big reason for that).
- When somebody starts sabotaging Ella's entry for a competition to win a prestigious internship in University Ever After, all of Ella's friends pitch in to help her, even when the sabotager starts blackmailing them.
- After an argument with Danny, Sam inadvertently wished they never met, causing a nearby Literal Genie to grant it; Danny ends up losing his powers and memories of her. With a ghost on the loose, Sam goes to great lengths to restore Danny back to normal, struggling since she only has herself to pull the whole thing off, not to mention Danny's great reluctance. He's grateful by the end.
- The song, "A True, True Friend" from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 3 finale is basically all about this trope. In order to break the destiny-switching spell, Twilight has her friends help each other out and rediscover what their true destinies are in the process.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: In "The Computer Walks Among Us," Velma is expelled from school after her computer goes on a crime spree. Scooby Doo is the only other member of the gang who never once doubted Velma's innocence.
- Superman: The Animated Series:
- "Heavy Metal": As soon as he sees Superman is in danger due to Metallo's kryptonite heart, John Irons/Steel steps in and helps Superman the best he can.
- "Legacy": Darkseid brainwashes Superman and sends him to conquer Earth under his own symbol. While Lois manages to snap him out of it, she can't do so before he's become a pariah to most of the world. Jimmy proves his status as Superman's friend by defending the disgraced hero on public television, standing alone against every other person interviewed to insist he get a second chance.
- Niccolò Machiavelli recommends this in The Prince. It is tempting to sit on the sidelines or try to claim neutrality if an ally is attacked, but doing that (rightly) makes you look weak and unreliable.