Aliens have come from outer space. They've landed in the outback of Australia. They proceed to destroy all of the Southeastern Asian region and begin marching through Europe and Africa, but the combined military might of these continents is unable to defeat them.
Guess it's all up to the good ol' US of A.
This trope describes any instance where, because the story was made for American audiences, the writers create a world-wide problem to be solved by Americans (and typically Americans alone). The reason for this is simple. The movies are made for Americans and most Americans want to see other Americans as the heroes; also, most of the available actors are American. Whether or not the problem actually starts in the USA doesn't matter. Americans always save the day when this trope is invoked.
This often happens because the US military pays films to do so. If you show them in a very positive light, they'll let you borrow top notch military planes, ships, and tanks to film, which would normally cost you millions to get access to. So long as you make sure that evil military general is French, and the army that stops him isn't, you go a long way towards making your film within your budget. Not that this is an uncommon practice or restricted to America.
- America attempts to do this at the end of the AKIRA manga but are promptly chased away by the Neo-Tokyoites, who declare the ravaged town to be a new country.
- A recurring theme of Bio-Meat: Nectar, starting with Part II. Subverted or truly the case, sticking mostly to either extreme. Couples with Adults Are Useless.
- Used and tweaked around in Death Note. Most of this Japanese series features a handful of Japanese police working with L to find Kira, though justified by the fact that Kira is in Japan, which L quickly deduces. At the same time, the America-specific version of this trope is invoked by several prominent appearances of American FBI and CIA agents, particularly Raye Penber and Near's SPK task force, who work independently of Japan. Light proves to be aware of this trope as well, as he considers it a crowning victory when the American president finally announces that his country will no longer try to oppose Kira.
- Mercilessly lampshaded in Hetalia: Axis Powers as seen here.◊
- Subverted in Read or Die. At the end of the anime movie the US military shows up to save the day, only to be easily defeated when the villain's naval fortress annihilates their entire force with one shot. The (British) main characters then go on to save the day themselves. Nonetheless, the real rulers of the world (the British Library) seem to assume that America is the World Policeman.
- Subverted in Mark Waid's Empire, where the villain Golgoth begins his world conquest in Australia and continues until only the U.S. remains as a beacon of hope. Then America falls too and everyone is screwed. Justified in that if you're doing world conquest and starting from nothing, it makes sense to build up a powerbase somewhere else first and save the toughest target for last, after you've assimilated everyone else into your forces.
- Played out rather jarring in the Squadron Supreme limited series. The Earth is on the brink of total collapse, but the Squadron is composed entirely of either Americans or otherworldly beings. Creator Provincialism also results in all of the story's events taking place in the United States, with problems elsewhere barely mentioned at all.
- In the Strontium Dog "Max Bubba" story, while Johnny and his Vikings are pursuing Bubba's gang, an American military helicopter from The Vietnam War suddenly appears through a temporal rift. When Johnny explains the situation, the crew decide to help, reasoning that they're Americans, so they have to save the day.
- Though Tintin was a Belgian comic, it had already become considerably popular in America by the time The Red Sea Sharks was written. This has been offered as an explanation for why the plot culminates with the USS Los Angeles coming in to rescue the heroes from submarine attack.
- As a reversal of their being the bad guys of The Shooting Star, perhaps... later editions replace the stars and stripes of the rival ship with an anonymous white star on black. The villain is still a gangster stereotype with Unfortunate Implications given later world events (fat, balding, black suit, little glasses, big nose and lips), but now is not explicitly identified as American.
- Discussed in The Ultimates by the Colonel after his defeat, as he sarcastically asks Cap if he's going to drop any John Wayne quips on him, maybe finish him with a witty barb. Cap's response is to silently stab him through the heart.
- Deconstructed in Truth and Revelations when the Chinese ambassador for the IOA contemplates arranging for the program to be transferred to another nation, such as China. Daniel Jackson points out that the various planets SG-1 has already made alliances with are used to dealing with the U.S. government and military. Thus, another nation will be wasting precious time reestablishing ties to worlds who would be suspicious of them (the fact many of these worlds have only one central government and thus confused why Earth would have another nation-state taking this program over complicates matters).
- 2012 is a subversion of this trope. It is clearly shown that the U.S. cannot prevent the apocalypse single-handedly, and global cooperation is a major, if not very subtle, theme of the movie. The scientists who first discover the coming apocalypse are Indian, and the Arks that allow some of humanity to survive and so rebuild are built by the Chinese. Presidential adviser Carl Anhauser declares that only the Chinese could have got the project built in time.
- Painfully subverted in 28 Weeks Later in which US troops help reinhabit a small portion of London amidst a previously rage infested United Kingdom. Needless to say a sane rage host inadvertently infects her husband, resulting in a mass reintroduction of rage to the barricaded refugee population.
- The trope's presence in Armageddon is sensible (but also heavily Lampshaded). As one of the few space faring nations, only America has the necessary technology and infrastructure to build the equipment necessary to destroy the asteroid. The Russians do provide support in the form of a refueling station. The team NASA sends is purely American, except for the Russian cosmonaut from the station.
- Parodied in A World Gone Mad. After the American military suffers almost total defeat at the hands of an alien invasion, the entire crisis is resolved off-screen, with the solution only being mentioned in a brief newscast as having been "A clever scheme by the Australians involving their local frog population".
- Battle: Los Angeles has American troops discovering the aliens' vulnerability, and transmitting that information to the rest of the world.
- Black Hawk Down: Inverted. The Americans are only able to get their besieged men out of the city with the help of mechanised units from the Malaysian and Pakistani army. Of course, the Malaysian units never make an appearance, and the Pakistani unit is shown to be as useless as possible (which going by the accounts of the people there is Truth in Television - they conducted themselves very poorly).
- Justified in Contact by showing some of the background politicking and controversy over the US dominating the construction of the Faster-Than-Light Travel machine. In an attempt to alleviate this an international committee is used to select Earth's ambassador, but it's mentioned that the Japanese (who are also contributing significantly to the trillion dollar project) are bought off from insisting on their own candidate by promising them a significant percentage of the technological spin-offs from First Contact. Presumably other behind-the-scenes deals were made to ensure an American candidate was sent.
- Armageddon's Dueling Movie Deep Impact also had an all-American crew of astronauts heading out to destroy the world-ending comet, notwithstanding the token Russian cosmonaut. Worse, the smaller comet landed in the Atlantic; that this also affected Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean was passed over in one line of a speech.
- In the 1962 film version of The Day of the Triffids, it's an American scientist (who didn't exist in the original novel) who figures out how to defeat the triffids.
- Independence Day: Everyone who takes part in devising the plan to save the world is American. There is no international committee or involvement of the global scientific community. The capper comes at the end of the movie when the Americans discover how to destroy the alien ships and send the message out to everyone else in the world. When a British officer is informed that the Americans have devised a solution, he snaps, "It's about bloody time!" Many audience members interpret that to mean that the world was just sitting around waiting for America to solve things.
- In Man of Steel, the Kryptonians are clearly a global-level threat, but you wouldn't get the impression that any armed forces exist outside of American ones. No other country's military gets involved at all. This is almost plausible since most of the conflict takes place on American soil, but at one point, a World Engine is deployed on the other side of the globe, and not one non-American military force even investigates it.
- Transformers Film Series: The Autobots work together with the American military during several of the battles, so human soldiers are shown helping to take down several Decepticons. While the first two films require the military to use heavy duty weaponry (6000-degree magnesium burns from sabot rounds in the first film to take down Blackout and weaken others, a railgun to the head to knock Devastator off of a pyramid with the ensuing tumble finishing him off), they gain smaller weapons specifically designed to kill Transformers by the time of the third film to increase their effectiveness in dealing with their alien invaders.
- Stargate: Continuum: Subverted. The American heroes need help from the Russians to reverse the Goa'uld invasion of Earth. President Henry Hayes also notes to Ba'al that the U.S. is just one of many sovereign nations when the latter essentially treats him as humanity's representative.
- Team America: World Police: This trope is mercilessly lampooned as a satire on America's interventionist foreign policy during the 2000s. American forces are shown meddling in foreign affairs, causing in huge amounts of carnage, and then joyously declaring victory while ignoring the wreckage they leave behind.
America, fuck yeah!
Coming again to save the motherfucking day, yeah!
- U571 is vaguely based on events that really happened. The USN did indeed capture a Kriegsmarine Enigma code machine and books from a U-Boat in 1944. They did deliver it and the resulting intelligence did aid the Allied cause materially. However, the movie was based on real life incidents where the British Royal Navy had captured Kriegsmarine Enigma code machines and books in 1941 and 1942, enabling the more efficient decoding of enemy transmissions to begin, and the code had already been cracked by Bletchley Park building off of Polish prewar work.
- In Pacific Rim, although it's shown that there are Jaegers and Jaeger pilots from all over the world, the one to defeat the final enemy and close the Rift is the American Jaeger Gipsy Danger. Downplayed, in that while one of the pilots, Raleigh, is American, his co-pilot Mako is Japanese, and their commander Marshal Stacker Pentecost is British and dies in a Heroic Sacrifice alongside Australian pilot Chuck Hansen.
- Subverted in John Wyndham's Cosy Catastrophe novels The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes in which blaming Russia for the disaster and waiting for America to save the day when you could be planning survival strategies is a bad idea.
- Tom Clancy, being a fan of Eagleland, loves this trope.
- Fully half of the novels in his Ryanverse feature American firepower saving the day. In the other half, it's American know-how, American hard work, or American honesty, as long as they aren't sabotaged by Strawman Liberals. Sometimes a combination of these is thrown in for the sake of variety, and in fairness, other countries do get to help out from time to time.
- In The Bear and the Dragon, the US sends an armored division and a fighter wing to help Russia hold off an invasion from China. It's made plain that the Russians wouldn't have won without US aid.
- Rainbow Six actually subverts this; the guy who ends up saving the day is a Russian who eventually alerts the Rainbow agents of the plot to spread viral agents at the Olympics.
- Also subverted in Red Storm Rising when the USS Chicago is saved from a Soviet attack submarine by the British submarine HMS Torbay.
- Zigzagged in Matthew Reilly's novels, where the most common plot thread is probably "good America saves the day from evil America". In no novels are Americans solely good, while Seven Ancient Wonders is the only one where they're solely bad.
- Discussed in Antti Tuuri's The Winter War, when the war breaks out. There's a rumor that America is coming to Finland's help since they will not have small, free nations attacked like this.
- Inverted in Christopher Ruocchio's The Sun Eater sci-fi (sci-fantasy?) series. The Americans (as well as any other Earth-based) nation no longer exist in the far future, because the Americans accidentally unleashed an A.I. takeover that reduced humanity almost to ashes (only far-flung human colonies weren't annihilated by the machines). The American space empire was by far the largest in human history, but there's such a dim view of them that the name American is forgotten, instead the memory was bastardized and they're known as the Mericanii (and Mericanii colonies have long since been divvied up by the human survivors). It was Great Britain (or rather one of their space colonies) that saved the day with their Windsor royal-in-exile who became the God-Emperor of humanity.
- 24 employs this trope in the sixth season, where the American CTU not only has to save America from terrorists, but also has to recover a device stolen from the Russians by the Chinese, to stop World War III from happening. Yes, really.
- Subverted in the Spetsnaz vs. Green Beret episode of Deadliest Warrior, but played straight in every other encounter.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Doctor Dances": Despite the episode being set in 1941, mere months before the Americans officially joined the Allies and came to Britain's direct aid, the most obvious use of the trope is never discussed. On the other hand, Rose is confident enough that the swaggering (fake) American (from the distant future) will come through that she insists on the Doctor taking a break for a bit so they can dance.
- Subverted in "The Christmas Invasion". When Major Blake informs Prime Minister Harriet Jones that the US President wants to take control of the possible invasion, Jones answers, "You can tell the President and please use these exact words he's not my boss and he's certainly not turning this into a war."
- "Turn Left" subverts it again: After Britain is devastated by the crash of the starship Titanic, America promises a large amount of aid money to help. But then 60 million Americans are turned into Adipose, so they have to focus on recovering from that disaster instead.
- In Helix, this is lampshaded by Dr. Sarah Jordan when she points out to their army liaison that neither the CDC nor USAMRIID should have jurisdiction over an outbreak at an Arctic Biosystems research facility, as its in international territory. Major Balleseros handwaves this away, noting they've been allowed temporary access as the first to receive a distress call.
- A piece of animation on Monty Python's Flying Circus starts with a secretary at her typewriter and is overcome by a sea of Communist Chinese nationals. This leads to a segment that is a commercial by Uncle Sam for American defense which uses an x-ray of a decayed tooth as a metaphor for a small country overrun by Communism (and the ensuing Domino Effect it has on the others) and how American defense fights the decay and protects the tooth. (Which leads to a Crelm toothpaste commercial using two cars which leads to a Shrill petrol commercial...)
- Space: Above and Beyond: The war with the Chigs is a United Nations operation, and the People's Liberation Army, Coldstream Guards, and Finnish Air Force all make appearances. However, the US Navy and Marine Corps forces are both the focus of the series and consistently the most successful combatants.
- Generally played straight with the Stargate franchise, with the US Air Force gathering alien technology and allies to fight in defense of the Earth. At the same time, it justifies this by acknowledging the mistrust, politicking, and power struggles that would occur if other nations learned about it... which is exactly what happens when the Russians start running their own program, and together they let other major world powers in on the secret. Eventually the Stargate program goes international, but it's still supervised by the US, and most of the characters are Americans. Specifically, going from the Stargate Wiki's list of main characters:
- In Stargate SG-1, six main characters were Americans and three were aliens.
- In Stargate Atlantis, six main characters were Americans, one was Canadian, one was Scottish, two were aliens, and a major recurring character was Czech.
- In Stargate Universe, six main characters are Americans and one is Scottish.
- The Battle of Antarctica in the TV movie/two-parter "Lost City" is all about America coming to save the day, as Prometheus and its squadron of F-302s fight the first (and only) straight-up battle against the Goa'uld on Earth.
- Besides hating the Theme Song, another issue some fans had with the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise was that, in its attempt to highlight human enterprise and vessels similarly named "Enterprise", it seemed to only detail American achievements in naval, aerial, and space exploration (excepting the H.M.S. Enterprise). No mention of Sputnik, or even a glimpse of Yuri Gagarin.
- Discussed in Chernobyl: While brainstorming possible ways to source a robot to clear the most radioactive section of the reactor building roofnote , Shcherbina suggests asking the Americans as a last resort. General Tarakanov shoots the idea down, pointing out that even if the Americans had the technology and were willing to lend it, the Central Committee would never stoop so low as to ask their enemy for help.
- In Pandemic, the object of the game is to save humanity from various diseases that have sprung up worldwide. The players start in Atlanta, headquarters of the US Center For Disease Control, implying that they are part of that organization, rather than, say, the World Health Organization.
- The story for ZombieLab is set in a quarantined Hong Kong, yet a civil combat group comes all the way from (the also-endangered) America to help.
- Played so straight in America's Army, to the point that players always see themselves as U.S. Army infantry, while the opposing team appears as terrorists. This isn't surprising given that it's openly a propaganda tool authorized and funded by the United States Army.
- Call of Duty: World at War also subverts this, with the final mission of the Americans being more of a portrayal of rest of the Marines being fortunate enough to survive and go home after a final massive assault against; whilst they spend their missions clearly struggling and being ground down by the resilient and fanatical Japanese defenders. The final mission of the game which better evokes a feeling of victory is won by the Russians taking the Reichstag in Germany. To be technical though, the American Marines chronologically finish the war. On the other hand, the Russians' missions themselves make their front seem pointlessly brutal.
- Subverted in Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour. America virtually defeats the GLA and saves the world during the US campaign. The GLA makes a comeback and drives the US out of Europe during their campaign, and China comes in to save the day during their campaign. That's right, America is handed its own ass and Communist China are the big heroes. All that and it still wasn't enough to keep it from getting banned in China.
- The universe of Metal Gear plays with this trope like a cat's cradle. The times when Snake (any of them) is acting as an American agent, the trope is played straight; when Snake is a free agent as part of Philanthropy, the American military is sometimes portrayed as not helping with or contributing to a problem (like the tanker incident in MGS2), and sometimes as coming to Snake's aid (like the U.S.S. Missouri's Big Damn Battleship moment in MGS4). In the end, the United States is just as much at the mercy of the machinations going on behind the scenes as the rest of the world. What it really boils down to: Snake Saves The Day From The Metal Gear Solid 3 Cast.
- Heavily subverted in the Modern Warfare series of games:
- In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it's the Americans who get screwed over by their "no man left behind" policy. Your character's chopper is turned around to rescue a fellow pilot, which means that your squadron isn't out the blast range when a nuclear bomb goes off. There's also the fact that the entire sequence is played up to show how bull-headed and belligerent the US is compared to the methodical British SAS. It's the British SAS who save the day, though the American military does help some near the end - a joint Marines/SAS mission to avoid nuclear strikes on both Moscow and Washington D.C. The Brits still fire the final shot of the conflict though. There's also cooperation from the Russian Federation's government itself, which aids the SAS in its ongoing Civil War. The Spectre gunship is not normally available to the British armed forces. Fortunately we have allies with a big stick, and leaders who know a good weapon when they borrow one.
- In Modern Warfare 2, it's the British again, this time working on taking down a rogue American general who was in command of the troops that got nuked from the first game. That's right, not only is it American Doesn't Save The Day, it's The British Save The Day From America. Granted, General Shepherd's plan has more-or-less succeeded, and the open war between the US and Russia that he wanted is pretty much a guarantee, but still...
- In Modern Warfare 3, it's played more straight, with the Americans doing the bulk of the fighting throughout World War 3, sending large numbers of US troops over to Europe to help fight against a Russian Invasion, which to be fair, would be Truth in Television in reality. However, the main focus of the plot is once again on the British (assisted by a couple of Russians no less) trying to capture and stop Ultranationalist terrorist Makarov who played a role in the previous games, although the Americans do help on multiple occassions, including rescuing the Russian President. Ironically, the final act of the game, and the trilogy, focuses on a British soldier (Price) fighting alongside one of the before mentioned Russians to finish Makarov off once and for all.
- Again happens in Modern Warfare 2019, as the US is playing a more underhanded role alongside the UK in Urzikistan in assisting a resistance group called the ULF against both a terrorist faction and a rogue Russian Force, both to help in freeing the country and the recovery/destruction of a chemical weapon. Towards the end of the story, officially at least, the US brands the ULF as a terrorist group, leaving British SAS operatives and a few Americans to unofficially assist the ULF in the finale. Yes. It's a Resistance group, branded terrorists by the US, that saves the day, albeit with unofficial assistence. Albeit given the nature of this particular game, it's hard to say if it's really 'saving the day' due to the more underhanded nature of it.
- Saddler hangs a lampshade on this trope in Resident Evil 4, but it's hardly a subversion since Leon, an American agent, promptly kicks his ass and saves the day. This is even more notable because it a game released by a Japanese company... although Americans were the primary intended audience.
- What he actually says is mocking Leon's belief that he's going to rescue Ada and escape the island like a bad Hollywood movie, and he will awaken Leon from his world of cliches, then he goes One-Winged Angel in true Resi baddie fashion. Even more hilariously, the rest of the game from this comment plays out like a Hollywood movie: Ada betrays Leon at the last minute to swipe the sample from him, then the island explodes, forcing him and Ashley to escape on a jetski, and finishes up with Ashley flirting with Leon as the two head off into the sunset.
- Made perhaps more egregious by the fact that Leon's not even there to stop Saddler. He's there to save the president's daughter.
- Though he's also a highly skilled former policeman (who managed to survive and play a major role in stopping a massive biohazard on his first (and only) day on the job) turned special agent who stopped ANOTHER potential viral superweapon in South America. Leon's just that damn good (who happens to be American).
- Resistance: Fall of Man, an Alternate History game based on World War II, with The Virus in place of Nazis and a different timeline. Initially, in the game, the US was an almost totally ineffectual faction whose involvement was restricted to providing supplies due to strong isolationist tendencies. At the last minute, the Americans finally get seriously involved, and have a major role in finally winning things.
- Resistance 2 goes all out with this trope, though; even the main character's superhuman abilities are quickly revealed to be due to experimentation by the U.S. Army, rather than the random fluke they appeared to be in the original game. Although, it's ultimately subverted, as they end up messing up badly.
- Not to mention they get steamrolled, like everyone else.
- Subverted in the original Shin Megami Tensei: the US Army occupies Japan because it's been invaded by demons. In the end, the US ends up nuking Japan, and you play through the rest of the game in the aftermath of the nukes.
- Subverted and attacked in Spec Ops: The Line. Both Konrad (leading the 33rd) and Walker continually disobey their orders in an attempt to help the people of Dubai after a sandstorm strikes the city, but their efforts are driven more by a Power Fantasy of becoming a hero than by any genuine sense of altruism, and ultimately they only succeed in making a bad situation even worse. Meanwhile, the CIA also has a plan to "save the day" in Dubai: namely, killing every survivor of the sandstorm so that the truth of the atrocities the 33rd has committed in Dubai in the name of maintaining order will never get out, for fear of this causing a war between the US and the Middle East.
- Subverted in X-COM, where the manual to the game specifically notes that several national governments attempted to confront the alien threat individually and were ineffective; the X-Com project controlled by the player is therefore, at least initially, an international organization funded and supported by every nation on Earth (and keeping their support is a major part of the game.) The United States does realistically (or at least, realistically in terms of what would likely be possible in such a scenario) contribute more money than any other nation, though.
- Given the similarity of X-Com to Gerry Anderson's UFO, it's not surprising the accents are American.
- Also in the novelization (yes, there is one) one of the main X-Com bases is in Morocco.
- The logic behind this trope - and the downfall of thinking like that - is demonstrated in the backstory. The whole in-universe idea of X-COM originally came from a Japanese unit called the Kiryu-Kai, who were disbanded after five months with no success in intercepting UFOs precisely because the aliens are a worldwide threat that everyone needs to contribute to solving, thus leading to the formation of the multinational X-COM after Kiryu-Kai's disbandment.
- Subverted like crazy in PiLLI ADVENTURE, where more often than not the Americans (usually two NASA agents) show up just as the day is about to be saved and completely and totally screw things up. They also cause the problem on occasion.
- Sardonically referenced in dark comedy podcast, Fat, French and Fabulous. Janel, one of the hosts, is particularly skeptical of American military adveturism, as she herself works with veterens.
Janel: "We have orange juice and tomato juice... and we also have intercontinental death and destruction. Would you like cookies or pretzels? Or a forever war against terrorism?"Jessica:Forever war? Okay, well, I'm going to give you another napkin. That could get messy."
- This is, depending on who you ask, either harshly subverted or simply averted in Survival of the Fittest. Averted because, well, the marines haven't come storming onto the islands to rescue the children at any juncture in any of the three games. However, a subversion could be argued in that, on a number of occasions, a rescue has been teased or hinted at, only for it to prove to be a hallucination or dream.
- Finally played straight in v4.
- Parodied in the American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" where Stan tries to fulfill this trope, even shouting "America to the rescue!" as he does it, but instead ends up crushing the James Bond-style British agent with a snowmobile:
British dude: Smith! I don't need your help!
Stan: Nobody needs America's help! Until they need it!