Follow TV Tropes


Bedouin Rescue Service

Go To
Dink dink!

"Neither of us said anything. We just watched the Hanjii ride out of sight into the line of the horizon, an undulating line of black against the brown. The sun beat down on our heads, reminding us of its presence, and I wished it was a god.
Because then we might reason with it.
Del turned to face me squarely. She waited.
I sighed. 'We walk.' I answered her unasked question, 'and hope we're found by a caravan'."
Jennifer Roberson, Sword-Dancer

Our heroes are in the desert and they are without food or water for some reason. Maybe they are escaping from the Big Bad, who has stolen their supplies. Maybe their vehicle broke down, and they had to abandon the water for some reason. Or maybe it's been a long trek under the glaring sun and the water is just spent.

Anyway, our heroes have been walking for days without drinking a single drop. They faint and fall face down in the sand and the screen fades to black. This is the end of our heroes, right?

Wrong: It turns out that our heroes were rescued by a traveling caravan, which revived them and nursed them back to health, even though they were strangers, and the heroes are safe again.

This happens often enough that one may wonder whether dying people are a magnet for Bedouins. Of course, a Doylist will point to the Anthropic Principle as an explanation.

If not in a desert, substitute: friendly Noble Savage natives on the American plains or in the jungle, Sherpas or Buddhist monks in the Himalayan mountains, Aborigines in Australia, Inuit or Aleuts in the frozen north, or Bushmen in South Africa. In Speculative Fiction, any Fantasy Counterpart Culture for the above can fill in. Any of these groups may try to teach the hero something as he recovers. For shipwrecked people in the ocean, native fishermen or even dolphins might pitch in.

When the Bedouins or other firstcomers are actually just there to rob our heroes blind, they're Desert Bandits.

Note that actual aloof, practical, eccentric but ultimately noble Bedouins in modern settings have been supplanted in pop culture and the minds of western audience by Kalashnikov-waving insurgents or Mujahadeen, for however accurate or inaccurate that might be. Also, notice that this trope has its roots in real life; since in harsh environments a person never knows when they might fall in need of help, it is in society's interest to have such a code.

Often goes hand-in-hand with a Wandering Culture.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga  
  • Happens to the photojournalist Rocky in the Area 88 manga after his helicopter is shot down.
  • In Dragon Ball's Red Ribbon arc, Goku's plane crashes in the frigid north. He would have frozen over or been discovered by the Red Ribbon Army if he hadn't been rescued by Suno, who took him to her mother's house to recover (he didn't sustain any injuries thanks to his Nigh-Invulnerability). Notably, Suno takes a very obvious interest in Goku which would influence later filler characters.
  • In the backstory of Fullmetal Alchemist, when Hohenheim is aimlessly wandering the great desert in Heroic BSoD after unwittingly destroying his homeland of Xerxes, he's rescued by a caravan of Xingese traders, with the implication he was taken back to Xing and taught them alkahestry.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in My-Otome, where a foot traveler in the desert collapses in sight of a large, train-like vehicle passing by...which does not stop. The traveler leaps to their feet, complaining that they had planned on getting rescued so they wouldn't have to walk all the way to town.
  • Sis saved Sara in Now and Then, Here and There.
  • Happens in the Saiyuki manga. Twice.

    Comic Books  
  • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner was rescued in the Arabian desert at one point by a local sheik who then became the Arabian Knight almost as a side-effect of this.
    • This is almost routine for Banner. The Hulk spends a lot of time jumping around deserts, then reverting back to Banner in the middle of nowhere. Someone always comes along before Banner dies.
  • At the end of the DCU's Infinite Crisis, all that's left of the robot Red Tornado is a head that can only say "52!" which lands in Australia. He is not only found by aboriginals, but taken to an auto repair shop/metalworking studio where the local welder attempts to build him a new body.
  • In Lady Mechanika: The Tablet of Destinies #4, Mechanika and Winifred are rescued from a gang of slavers by a group of Desert Wraiths.
  • The first few issues of Legends Of The Dark Knight has a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne rescued from a blizzard by natives. He returns the favor years later.
  • In the Lucky Luke episode The Singing Wire, thanks to sabotage Luke and the telegraph workers he was escorting are stuck without water in the salt desert. Just when Luke is about to engage on a desperate suicide mission to find help they are found by a caravan of Mormons. However this was no happenstance; Brigham Young knew of their coming and sent the caravan to assist them.
  • Nero: Happens a lot in this comic strip too.
  • Suske en Wiske: Also a popular trope here.
  • In Sojourn #24, Arwyn is betrayed and abandoned in the desert, but rescued by the local desert nomads.
  • This is how the Rusty meets Sam in Sunnyville Stories. While exploring the wilderness around Sunnyville, newcomer Rusty finds it big and unfamiliar and Sam encounters him while she's walking in the woods. Not only does Sam get him out of the forest, but she also befriends Rusty, takes him home to feed him and even arranges for a party to introduce his family to the townspeople!
  • In Tintin: The Crab with the Golden Claws, Tintin and Haddock are rescued by mounted police troops after falling unconscious in the Sahara desert.
  • Zig-zagged in White Sand. When Kenton is dehydrated and buried under sand, he's rescued by a passing caravan of Khriss and her entourage. However, Kenton is the "bedouin" of the setting, while Khrissalla and her men are the hapless tourists.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures of Pluto Nash when Pluto, Dina and Bruno wander off on foot after they crashed when fleeing the villains in a moon car chase. Pluto and Dina pass out when their suits ran out of oxygen and Bruno's battery dies. They are rescued by a smuggler driving by.
  • Hilariously featured in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: the three protagonists are stuck in the Outback after their bus breaks down on a cross-country trip. They're in the middle of rehearsing their drag show when one of them suddenly turns and notices an Aborigine called Alan watching them. They both scream, but Alan ends up helping them out.
  • Subverted in Bran Nue Dae, when the Aboriginal characters are dumped in the outback by their previously gullible marks, one of them uses "magic" to make their van break down. To the surprise of everyone.
  • In Cast Away, Chuck is saved by a passing container ship close to his position just short at dying at sea in a tiny raft.
  • Clash of the Titans (2010) has a variant: Perseus and his allies are facing a losing battle against giant scorpions in the desert when they are rescued by the Djinn — sorcerers with Tuareg-esque indigo veils, who replace their bodies with living wood — who pacify the scorpions and heal Perseus with magic.
  • The English Patient: When the protagonist crashes down in the Sahara at the beginning of the story.
  • Subverted in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), the nomads prove to be hostile. It's suggested these particular Bedouins are outcasts manning a raiding party, and therefore more likely to be malevolent.
  • Subverted in Gladiator, when Russell Crowe's character is "rescued," but then sold into slavery.
  • In Invention for Destruction, Hart is trapped on the bottom of the sea when his diving suit runs out of oxygen, but is saved by the arrival of the reconnaissance sub from the World Fleet.
  • In Jungle, local fisherman pull Kevin's barely alive body out of the river and take him back to their village. Yossi is not so lucky and spends three weeks hacking his way through the jungle.
  • Invoked in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum - this is the only way to meet the Elder, the man who sits above the High Table, and it's up to him whether someone is rescued or left to die.
  • Subverted in Lawrence of Arabia, in that Sherif Ali kills Lawrence's guide but offers to bring Lawrence to Prince Feisal so he will not be lost in the desert. And then Lawrence refuses, getting himself safely to Wadi Safra and the Prince.
  • In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max is sent off into the desert by the inhabitants of Bartertown after facing the Wheel, and is rescued by a band of children.
  • Passion in the Desert opens with Bedouins discovering a dehydrated and injured Augustin lying in the desert and taking him back to civilization for medical treatment. The rest of the movie shows how he ended up in that situation.
  • Interestingly treated in The Proposition: Charlie, while on a mission into the Australian Outback to kill his brother, gets "speared by a savage! How extraordinarily quaint!" The rescue service comes in the form of... his brother. Awkward.
  • In Quigley Down Under the heroes are left to die in the outback by the Big Bad, but are rescued by a group of Aborigines and nursed back to health. Possibly justified, since they were later established to have a mole in the villain's employ.
  • Sands of the Kalahari: After being driven into the desert at gunpoint by O'Brien, Dr. Bondarahkai is saved by a group of Kalahari Bushmen.
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope C-3PO and R2-D2 are "rescued" in the desert by Jawas who want to sell them.
    • This scene is parodied in Spaceballs, by the Dinks who rescue Lone Starr and company and take them to see Yogurt.
  • Valdez is Coming: After his ordeal on the cross in the desert, Valdez awakes his friend Diego's ranch. Diego tells him that he heard the dogs barking and found him crawling in the desert and brought him home. Valdez later learns that it was Davis who cut his ropes.
  • In Walkabout a girl and her brother, stranded in the Australian outback, are rescued by an Aboriginal boy on walkabout.
  • White Sun of the Desert, several times.
    Sukhov: Why you're here?
    Said: Heard the shots...

  • In The Courts of the Morning, Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded on the slopes of a South American mountain after a plane crash and are at the ends of their endurance when they're found by a group of native warriors. It turns out not to be an entirely chance meeting: the warriors are working with Luis de Marzaniga, another of the heroes who had been previously established to have a rapport with the local tribes, and were in the area looking for the same thing Archie and Geordie had come looking for when their plane crashed.
  • Aeriel is rescued by desert nomads in The Dark Angel Trilogy after the Icarus attacks her and leaves her for dead. Slightly more defensible in this version, as the Pendarlon brings them to her instead of them just stumbling across her.
  • In Dune, Jessica and Paul Atreides are rescued by Fremen. They take advantage of a rumour The Missionaria Protectiva had deliberately spread, of a Bene Gesserit who'll give birth to a future messiah so any stranded Bene Gesserit can take advantage of this belief to get help. Jessica still has to beat up the chieftain to get to this point however.
  • Earth's Children: This happens twice to Jondalar and Thonolan during their travels in The Valley of Horses.
    • The first time, they're attacked by a woolly rhino in an area unfamiliar to them; they're both injured but Thonolan in particular is seriously hurt. They are found by a group of Sharamudoi who bring them back to their village, treat their injuries and let them stay with them. The brothers become close to the Sharamudoi, with Jondalar moving in with a local widow, while Thonolan ends up Going Native after falling in love with the camp leader's adopted daughter.
    • Later, they're trying to reach Mamutoi territory when they get lost in a swamp and Thonolan gets stuck in the mud. They are rescued by a passing band of Mamutoi hunters, who let them shelter at their camp and give them directions. They offer to let them stay at their lodgings, but Thonolan (who is going through grief and depression) refuses and Jondalar decides to stick with his brother. In the following book, Jondalar (who has been staying with the Lion Camp of the Mamutoi for around a year) meets up with the camp again at the Mamutoi Summer Meeting.
  • In the Earthsea book The Farthest Shore, Ged is badly wounded, and the heroes run out of water. They are stranded in the middle of the ocean, but fortunately, there is a tribe of nomadic raft dwellers who happen to pass nearby.
  • Flyaway by Desmond Bagley. The protagonists are stranded in the Sahara when the villains come across their 4WD, emptying the fuel and water tanks. Their only recourse is to walk across the desert to a camel track in the hope of getting picked up. When they finally get there, the main character collapses in the sand, thinking they just have to wait till someone comes along. He's told to get to his feet, as they have to spend all night walking back and forth across the trail, as a camel train is so quiet they can go past without anyone noticing. As it happens he finally bumps into a camel after half the train has already passed them.
  • In A Good Clean Fight by Derek Robinson, an RAF fighter pilot crashes in the desert in North Africa. The Bedouin, of course, pick him up and care for his injuries. Being Greek, he's able to blend in with them better than a fair-skinned Brit would...which doesn't stop a German patrol finding him and shooting him for a spy anyway.
  • Played with in the Discworld novel Jingo!, where Vimes and his men are lost in the deserts of Klatch and run into the notoriously hostile D'regs, who fortunately are feeling nice enough to give them the traditional three days of hospitality before trying to kill them. Then, because of Carrot...
    • Vimes later rescues a native Klatchian... technically. The son of Mr. Gorif from back home, who had moved his family back to Klatch in order to escape anti-Klatchian sentiment, had been conscripted into the army and sent into the desert to fight the D'regs. Side-switching ensues.
  • Played with in the Highlander Tie-In Novel Scimitar. Abandoned by his guide in the Arabian desert, Duncan MacLeod travels on, hoping to find the tribe of Bedouins he's searching for before he dies of thirst. He doesn't quite make it, but being Immortal, he revives none the worse for wear just as a band of tribesmen find him.
  • Lone Survivor: After his team is killed in a horrendous fight with the Taliban, Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrel is rescued by Pashtun villagers, for whom Sacred Hospitality is literal. They take their obligation so seriously they defend him against said Taliban. Since most of the Talib recruits are drawn from the ultra-conservative Pashtun, it is very likely they were opposing their own kin to protect Luttrel. Why? Because they promised.
  • Merkabah Rider: In "Hell's Hired Gun", the Rider gets caught in a blizzard while heading into the mountains, but is saved by a crazed old religious hermit.
  • This happens to two characters in A Study in Scarlet. Just after they resign themselves to dying of thirst they are rescued by a caravan of Mormons heading west to Utah. The evil Mormon leader however only agrees to help them if they convert to his religion.
  • Sword Dancer: Jennifer Roberson's Tiger and Del, who provide the page quote, are rescued by one desert tribe after being stranded by another, though not until the sun has left them badly burned and ill.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Talon Karrde - the calm, information-brokering successor to Jabba the Hutt - is traversing space in his ship when he finds Luke Skywalker adrift in his X-Wing. He poses as this, agreeing to save and transport the Jedi for a small fee, and usually he'd be perfectly happy to do that, but Grand Admiral Thrawn has just put out word that Luke is adrift in this general area and there is a substantial reward. Karrde is generally honorable and doesn't like Thrawn, but he can't directly antagonize the head of Imperial forces - Thrawn is the absolute best at figuring out who did what. Karrde ends up imprisoning Luke so he can decide what to do, and things proceed from there.
    • Karrde outright states he was hoping to avoid that situation, but his second, on a hunch, dropped out of hyperspace near Luke's X-Wing to take a navigational reading—a remarkable coincidence that he believes was more than such (as a light-year of space, where Luke was known to be lost in, is not small by any means). Said second (Mara Jade) turns out to be Force-sensitive; additionally, she has it in for Skywalker, and desperately wants to kill him. At least, that's what she thinks....
  • A Witch Shall Be Born. Conan the Barbarian is left crucified in the desert to be eaten alive by vultures. A tribe of nomad desert raiders rescue him, but only because they figure he'd be a good addition to their ranks. If Conan hadn't been tough enough to make it to their camp after being taken down from the cross, they'd have left him where he fell. At the end of the story, Conan delivers the same fate to the man who had him crucified, and the nomads just ride off and leave him there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Branded (1965): In "Survival", McCord rescues a man named Colbee he finds near death in the Thirsty Desert and the pair strike out together to attempt to make the next town before their water runs out. Colbee a family man with a wife and daughter and his fear of not seeing them again forces him to steal the horse and water and leave Jason in the desert. After he collapse from dehydration, McCord is rescued by a elderly Navajo who takes him to the town so he can have his revenge on Colbee.
  • Played utterly straight in the Hamish X series, where some of the heroes, captured by the evil Grey Agents, find the helicopter they're in shot down with a rocket launcher in the middle of the desert, and then get rescued by a Bedouin group, with a footnote explaining the Bedouin's sense of duty to this trope. The leader of the caravan - the same guy who shot down the helicopter, because everyone hates the Grey Agents - becomes a core ally of the heroes from that point on.
  • JAG: In "The Black Jet", Bedouins have seized the downed jet, but proves to be helpful, and while Harm takes off in the downed jet, Mac and Keeter manage to sneak out of Iran with the aid of the Bedouins.
  • Strangely subverted in Lost, when Ben teleports into the Tunisian desert and get harassed by two AK-47-wielding Bedouins who Ben promptly kills.
    • It happens in season 5 episode: "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham". Locke teleports to that same place, but his leg is broken and the pain immobilizes him. He's left there all day and then only at night do the AK-47-wielding Bedouins come and save the day, albeit they seem to have been working for Mr. Widmore, who knew Locke had arrived by setting up surveillance at the "exit", as he called it.
  • The X-Files: Mulder gets buried under rubble in the desert but is rescued by Native Americans. They knew he was out there and saw the cause of the trouble coming in to begin with. The episode even did the whole "Mulder's spirit communicating with his ancestors to determine if he should stay in this world or move on to the next life." thing.
  • Towards the beginning of season 2 of Tyrant (2014), Bassam is rescued by Bedouins after being dumped in the desert by Jamal.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The introduction of The Black Pullet, an 18th century grimoire, explains that the nameless author was a French military officer left for dead following an ambush during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. He was found by an old Turkish man and nursed back to health in a secret chamber in the Pyramids, where the old man shared with him magical teachings that were saved during the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu. This can happen in "The City Without A Name" adventure in the supplement Curse of the Chthonians. After the investigators leave Irem, if they run out of camels and water in the desert they can be rescued by a small band of Bedouins.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Lizardmen. After Will and Hisspak are treacherously abandoned in the desert, they are rescued by a group of Desert Rider lizardmen.
  • Traveller Classic adventure Duneraiders by Gamelords. The Player Characters's orecrawler vehicle will be disabled or destroyed during the adventure, forcing them to travel through the desert to return to civilization. The referee (gamemaster) is ordered to have the PCs meet the title duneraiders (desert dwellers) so they can be rescued.

    Video Games 
  • Scheherazade in the visual novel 1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum is assisted several times by Rashad, an actual Bedouin man, and, in one adventure, is rescued from hostile German treasure-hunters by the men of Rashad's tribe.
  • In Age of Empires 2 Saladin campaign's narration begins with a crusader knight lost in the desert being rescued by a band of Saracen horse archers.
  • In a rather nasty twist, during the opening to dungeon-crawler Brandish 2: The Planet Buster, protagonist Ares faints in the middle of the desert and wakes up in a prison cell!
    • Chun-soft later ripped off this intro frame-for-frame in their own dungeon crawler Furai no Shiren GB2.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, at the end of the "Old Wounds" level, Alex Mason and his companions are left to die in the Afghan desert. After lying there, unmoving, for several hours, Mason sees none other than Viktor Reznov ride up on a horse to save them, only to disappear as mysteriously as he appeared right after. However, Mason is still under the effects of the brainwashing he underwent at Vorkuta in the first Black Ops, so it's possible it was someone else that Mason thought was Reznov; that's how Woods sees it, at least.
  • Attempting to enter the Corel Desert in Final Fantasy VII without a chocobo and wandering around for a few screens ends up with you passing out and being rescued by a chocobo-driven caravan. You also get picked up by a mountain man when trying to find Gaea's Cliff for the first time and failing.
    • Don't forget the not-so-subtly named Al Bhed from Final Fantasy X, who do indeed rescue Tidus, although it's doubly subverted in that this one rescue actually occurs underwater, and that Rikku initially wants to kill Tidus (he looks like a fiend).
  • Fire Emblem 7 starts with the player character passing out from exhaustion and being rescued by Lyn, the last survivor of a nomad tribe. She even lives in a yurt.
  • Justified in Jak 3, as Jak happened to be carrying a homing beacon used by the Wastelanders who rescued him.
  • In both STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl and STALKER: Clear Sky, your character is rescued by these. They're about as close to "natives" as the Zone gets. In Shadow of Chernobyl, it's just one guy hauling you to a safe place, while in Clear Sky, it's members of the Clear Sky faction, who could use all the help they can get.
  • Subverted in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The Bedouins really don't rescue Nate in the whole "We found you unconscious and near death in the desert" thing. They find him in an abandoned city, nearly kill him, and it's only grudgingly that they admit even enemies get some hospitality and take him to their place. Even then, they do not trust Nate, only helping him because they both have a common goal of stopping the bad guys from reaching Iram.
    • It's played straight in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves when Nate passes out in the mountains of Tibet and is rescued by a local Tibetian man.

  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, dolphins fill in this role for stranded CIA agent Bear Claw, despite the fact that he once murdered dolphins with his bare hands to prove how macho he was. He's initially suspicious of the rescue, but warms up to the dolphins when they bring him to an island. Then the dolphins shoot him.
  • Justified in a Wandering Ones sidestory: the rescuer had been following the victim all day to see if he could survive in the desert on his own.

    Western Animation 
  • Gazpacho acts as one for Chowder and Scraps in the Chowder episode "Chowder Grows Up".
  • A Liliputian variation appears in the The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack episode "Lost at Land"
  • The Seaponies of the original My Little Pony cartoon do this with Applejack and Megan, though not without first telling the plot to take five while they treat the duo to a Disney Acid Sequence. Applejack and Megan are just as confused as the audience.
  • Subverted in The Wild Thornberrys: Eliza succumbs to altitude sickness after hiking off on her own in the Andes and nearly dies, but wakes up to find herself in an igloo and being handed hot cocoa by a friendly Inca, and is soon joined by her ever-chipper father Nigel. A few scenes later, discussing her continued annoyance with Nigel with the llama and how he didn't help her, the llama tells her that he did, finding her nearly-frozen and building the igloo himself with only a shovel and his bare hands. It's inverted, too, when it turns out that the Incas were lost and in danger of freezing, too, and took shelter with them.

    Real Life 
  • Averted in the story of shipwrecked sailor James Riley. In 1815 he and his crew were stranded in North Africa and captured by a tribe of Bedouins. It was their custom to take sailors as slaves, and proceeded to brutally mistreat the crew who survived by drinking camel urine. Riley and some of his crew survived and were eventually ransomed, but some of the crew were murdered, died, or separated from the group and never seen again. Whether being taken as a slave counts as a "rescue" is a matter of interpretation.
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the famed author of The Little Prince, actually crashed in the middle of the Sahara desert with little food and water on him. He was rescued by a traveling caravan run by literal Bedouins.
    • Happens in quite a few biographies and histories of westerners in the Middle East and N. Africa, as can be expected when you have a significant group of constantly traveling nomads and a relative clear view (other than dunes and mountains) for a considerable distance. While many are from fiction, just look at how many search results from Google you get.
  • It was discovered that crashed U.S. Navy pilot Scott Speicher, shot down at the beginning of the Gulf War, had been found dead by a group of Bedouins who gave him a dignified burial.
  • On a similar note, U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was sheltered from the Taliban by a friendly village. Interestingly, the Taliban knew where he was (and took an opportunity to beat the half crippled hero and Break Him by Talking) but they were bound not to kill him. For details see his book "Lone Survivor."
  • In 1932 two German aviators, Hans Bertram and Adolf Klausmann, ran out of fuel after losing their way in a storm and crashed in Australia's sparsely populated Northern Territory. They were on the point of dying of starvation when local Aboriginal Australians found them and nursed them back to health until they could be 'officially' rescued by a police search party which had already arrested several natives on suspicion of having murdered the aviators, and were congratulated by the authorities and press for having saved them from imminent death from 'hostile' natives.
  • Some testimonies of people who survived the Armenian Genocide explain that Bedouins had rescued (and even adopted) some Armenians who had escaped the death marches, mostly children.
  • The British military (and probably others) has a policy of issuing aircrew or Special Forces with a couple of thousand dollars in gold bullion, and sometimes a note in the local language to the effect of "Bring this person back to the nearest Army camp alive and we will give you a very large amount of money", just in case honour alone is insufficient.
    • The generally-accepted name for a local-language note requesting help for the bearer is a "blood chit." Blood chits date back to (or even pre-date, see below) the very beginning of military aviation, and almost all air forces have used them. The most famous example is the blood chit of the Flying Tigers, US aviators who volunteered to fly in China during World War II. The Tigers liked to sew the chits onto the back of their flight jackets, a memorable visual detail that has been and will be included in every movie ever made about them.
      • According to legend, the very first blood chit was a letter written by George Washington in 1793. It was for French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who was experimenting in the US and didn't speak English. Washington's letter entreated all citizens to help Blanchard return to Philadelphia if he crashed.
  • Bedouins in Israel are well-known for helping stranded motorists get back on the road; they'll happily change your tire, look at your engine, arrange a tow, etc. (It's considered good form to give them a little something for their trouble, of course.)