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Conscience Makes You Go Back

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Paul: You can't just walk away.
Jarvis: You did.
Paul: [sighs] How did I end up with Jiminy Cricket? [turns the car around]

Someone is about to walk away from those in need, but then have a moment when they realize it's wrong. So they go back and help.

Say our hero, or lancer, Bob isn't interested in helping Alice. Either he did his job already, or he owes nothing to her. It's not his problem, and he's Not in This for Your Revolution, or maybe she's even his enemy who is actively trying to kill him. So Bob just walks off... And then about thirty seconds to a few minutes later, Bob's face shows he can't do this. He has to go back and help. He's annoyed, or even angry, but he does go back. No new information has come to light to make Bob go back. Bob just realized on his own that he has to return.

This can overlap with 10-Minute Retirement, or Changed My Mind, Kid. The key is that we have to specifically see these characters stopping on their way, and realizing that they have to do this.

Even villains can do this, because of course Even Evil Has Standards. When forced to own up to why they did it, the character may gripe that Being Good Sucks; an otherwise hostile character may claim that I Was Just Passing Through.

Keep in mind that new information is not what makes this trope. It is characters changing their mind with the information they already have.

Can also overlap with What You Are in the Dark if nobody would know if you didn't go back.

Compare Contagious Heroism, Everyone Has Standards, and Returning to the Scene. For the romance/gender-related version after Unsettling Gender-Reveal, see If It's You, It's Okay.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: After Frieza is sliced into quarters by his own energy disc, Goku has every intention of leaving him to die with the planet he destroyed. Then Frieza starts pleading for his life. For several seconds, Goku is frozen in place, conflicted about what he should do, and yells at Frieza for asking for mercy when he never gave it to anyone. After several more seconds, Goku gives into his conscience and gives Frieza enough energy to leave the planet. Unlike most examples, Goku immediately regrets it given that Frieza is an Ungrateful Bastard who mocks him for his mercy and then tries to shoot him in the back. Goku, already out of patience with Frieza, responds by obliterating him.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Iggy was more than content to leave a boy who was about to be killed by Pet Shop, but ultimately doesn't have it in him to let a dog lover die and comes to his rescue.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: After Koichi dismisses Rohan about his claims that Cheap Trick is on his back, he felt an uncomfortable feeling and decided to check back. Upon seeing Rohan go out of his way to make sure nobody sees his back, he concludes Rohan was being honest.
  • In the manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, Maple steals the Rod of Seasons, but her magic broom, acting on her innermost thoughts, brings her back to Link.
  • When Ed and Ling are trapped inside Gluttony's pocket dimension in Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed tries to abandon his friend when he (Ling) decides he's too tired and hungry to go on. This doesn't last, and Ed ends up carrying him.
  • In Naruto, this happened with Kakashi in his backstory. When his teammate Rin was captured by the enemy, he abandoned her to continue the mission. His other teammate Obito called him out on this, and although Kakashi refused to try to rescue her at first, his conscience eventually got the better of him and he went back to help Obito save Rin.
  • MÄR: Loco was nearly considering letting Chaton get crushed after putting up with her obnoxious antics, until she realizes that she did enjoy their time together and steps in to save her.
  • In the Monster Rancher anime, when Hare is introduced to the series he completely humiliates Tiger in a tournament match by using a dirty trick (in the original version, this dirty trick was to pass a huge fart to knock Tiger out by smell; in the dubbed version, the dirty trick is that Hare sobs for mercy so Tiger will turn his back on him, and then he sucker-punches Tiger for a knockout when his guard is down). After that, Hare apologizes for the dirty trick and treats our heroes to dinner...and then steals their money and leaves them stuck with the bill. After all of this, Hare finally gets into a mess when he almost falls off a cliff and is left dangling by a broken bridge's rope. Hare begs Tiger to save his life, and Tiger retorts that Hare humiliated him in front of thousands of people, and then stole from them on top of that, so perhaps Hare should explain why Tiger should help him at all. Hare can't come up with a good answer, but Tiger's conscience eventually causes him to save Hare anyway. A good move, since Hare then joins the group to aid them in combat.
  • SSSS.DYNɅZENON: Upon seeing Inamoto's husband in a wreckage, Koyomi considers leaving him until he recalls telling Inamoto he helps people in need and decides to rescue him.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Jaden is racing to a class he's late to and runs past Ms. Dorothy, who's having car trouble. He quickly decides to go back and help her, as he'd never make it to class on time anyway. This works out in his favor, as Dorothy repays him by giving him a pack of powerful cards for his next duel.
  • In the Korean manhwa, Couple happens several times to Yung Ho, the male lead. The first time, after a stint in the army, he's ready to go to university and is moving into his apartment, when he overhears the unsympathetic land lady kick out another student, Yu Mi, who says her security deposit/first month's rent was stolen. When Yung Ho comes back that night, in the middle of a thunder storm he finds Yu Mi, unconscious with a fever outside the apartment complex. He tries to ignore her, but decides to bring her into his apartment so she can stay dry. When she comes to the next day, she begs him to let her be his roommate, saying that as soon as she gets a job she'll chip in, but he refuses, and offers to buy her a train ticket so she can go back ho the her family's farm. When Yu Mi says she'll get a job at a club Yung Ho knows moonlights as an illegal brothel, he tries to talk her out of it, but decides that she can do what she likes since they have no personal connection. Eventually he decides to go look for her, but when he gets beaten up for his trouble, he finds out Yu Mi was barely on her way to ask for a job, and he tells her they can share the apartment so long as they split rent and utilities 50/50. The second time, Yung Ho finds a party girl passed out near the apartment building, and decides to ignore her, but he soon comes back and brings her into the apartment so she can sleep it off. Just as he decides to go ahead and cop a feel, Yu Mi returns and beats the crap out of him.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In the Carl Barks story "The Horseradish Story," Scrooge McDuck does this when he has to Save the Villain: as the swindler Chisel McSue dangles helplessly from the side of Scrooge's raft, Scrooge spends three panels ranting about how he has no reason to save the guy who's trying to take all of his money, and if he doesn't save McSue, all his troubles will be over... Then, at the last second, he rushes to the rescue.
      Scrooge: Oh, phooey! I'm a soft old fool! I can't let the rat down!
    • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: Played with in The Prisoner Of White Agony Creek, where it looks like Scrooge is going back to rescue Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid from being swept down a waterfall after being trapped on breaking spring ice. It then turns out he's just there to rescue their sled dogs, and abandon the criminals to their fate. They survive anyway after the ice they're trapped on crashes into Soapy Slick's riverboat beneath the falls.
  • Spider-Man: In one early story where Parker's high school nemesis Flash Thompson is abducted by Doctor Doom while impersonating Spider-Man. When the real deal discovers this, he happily thinks how now he'll just wait until Doom finishes Flash off and he'll never have to worry about him again. He immediately follows this up by thinking, "Oh, who am I kidding?" and suits up, ready to save his tormentor.
  • Supergirl:
    • "Supergirls Big Brother": Supergirl is about to stop Biff Rigger from plundering a sunken ship when she stumbles upon a pile of Kryptonite rocks. Biff is about to making off with his loot when he remembers Kara saved him from being crushed by a car. Unable to silence his conscience, Biff goes back and takes Supergirl away from the Kryptonite.
    • "Bizarrogirl": The titular character gets scared and runs away when the group faces up to the Big Bad. Afterwards she manages to take courage to return and help out.
  • In Superman storyline "The Third Kryptonian", Karsta Wor-Ul runs away during Amalak's initial attack, leaving Superman and his family to their own devices. She makes it to her ship, and is on the verge of leaving the Solar System as her Kryptonian kin keep Amalak busy, when she decides to return and help them fight him off.
  • Loki of all people in Young Avengers. He successfully tricked Wiccan into giving him his power while the team faced a cosmic horror, and Wiccan took his advice on plan B. Loki could have very easily just run and actually considered that, but his conscience literally talked him out of it, in the last second to interrupt Wiccan and save the team.
  • Zig-zagged in the Batman story "Half an Evil". Two-Face leaves Batman to drown on a sinking ship, utterly unrepentant because his two-headed coin came bad side up for the Dark Knight. He doesn't reconsider that action, but Batman points out that the ship contains an innocent tramp - another potential victim, requiring another coin flip. Two-Face tries to ignore the tramp, but his compulsion and/or conscience eventually wins out - and sure enough, the coin comes good side up this time, forcing him to go back.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Masha and the Bear: In the first episode, the Bear gets rid of Masha by dumping her deep enough in the forest and seemingly is fine with it... until night falls. He then realizes she will likely be endangered alone in the dark forest and goes back to search for her in vain... then it's revealed she made her way back to his house, much to his relief.

    Fan Works 
  • In Three Strikes, during her first encounter with Mr. X an already angry Trigger gets even more pissed when the other Spares, except Tabloid, run off but she in particular calls Count a coward. It isn’t clear if it was the insult or perhaps the fact that Trigger had taken a missile for him in the last mission that convinces him to come back and help.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Aristocats, O'Malley starts to bail on the stranded Duchess upon learning she has kittens, but repents and goes back to help them.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle runs away from the castle and is beset by ravenous wolves, whom the Beast fights off at a significant cost. In the aftermath he can only look at her and collapse in the snow, suffering deep wounds. Belle moves to her horse to mount it and continue fleeing, but ultimately she pauses, recognizing Beast's sacrifice, and instead returns with him to the castle to tend to his wounds.
  • In Chicken Run, on the morning that Rocky "the Flying Rooster" was supposed to teach the hens fly and escape, it's revealed that he didn't know how to fly, but his circus act involved getting shot out of a cannon, and fled from the Tweedys' chicken farm in the middle of the night. Once the hens get over their Heroic BSoD, they begin building their flying machine in order to escape before the sabotaged chicken pie machine is fixed. Meanwhile, Rocky is celebrating his newfound freedom by riding a tricycle, while "the Wanderer" plays on a transistor radio, but when he sees a billboard advertising "Mrs. Tweedy's chicken pot pies" he stops, and decides to turn around.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Pacha warns Kuzco not to go out into the jungle alone. Kuzco ignores him and Pacha has every intention to let him get killed, since that would solve all his problems once and for all. He starts walking away, but can't bring himself to continue and goes after Kuzco. This trope also helps kick off the whole plot; Kronk dumps the bag holding the unconscious llama Kuzco into a river, but then rushes back for him at the urging of his shoulder angel.
  • Played with in Home (2015), Oh has a minor Heroic BSoD when he tries to get Tip to go onto the Boov dropship to save her and fails before going himself. He does return, though. However, if he hadn't gone, the Boov mothership would have been destroyed by the Gorg, killing all the Boov and the Gorg likely would have destroyed Earth out of spite.
  • In The Iron Giant, Hogarth sees the Giant get caught in some electrical wires, roaring as electricity runs through him. At first Hogarth runs away, but then senses that somehow this metal thing from outer space is suffering, so he runs back and turns off the power station, saving him.
  • In Olive, the Other Reindeer, Martini almost bails on Olive for the North Pole when the Postman is about to arrest her for forged mail fraud, but ultimately goes back to save her before they quickly get back on the bus just in time.
  • In Ratatouille, Colette returns to the restaurant to help Linguini and Remy after remembering her idol Gusteau's motto: Anyone can cook.
  • Played for Laughs in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, where Peter B. Parker has basically decided to abandon Miles Morales, who sits down on the side of a building in despair. Peter goes back to check on him and asks what he's doing, to which Miles replies, "Making you feel guilty, is it working?" Peter talks to himself and demands that he not give in to some kid's manipulation, even screaming into his arm to try to get out of doing it, but then, ultimately tell Miles to follow him.
  • Toy Story: Downplayed. After Woody and Buzz escape from Sid and race for the moving van, Buzz gets stuck in the fence. Woody, already safe aboard the van, hesitates only a moment before racing back to help him. According to the directors, originally Buzz was supposed to call for Woody's help, creating a bit of tension over whether Woody would run to save him or not. But they realized that by now the characters' friendship had already been well established, and instead Woody runs to help Buzz after being told "I'll catch up".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It happened twice with Laurel and Hardy.
    • The classic short Going Bye-Bye! had a man warning the boys to leave the town immediately before Butch will break their legs off and tied them to their neck. Because the Butch is like an elephant, He will never forget.
    • In their final Hollywood film The Bullfighters when Hot Shot Coleman told Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy to get out of Albuquerque New Mexico before Richard K. Muldoon will skin them both alive. Because Richard K. Muldoon is like an elephant, He will not forget.
  • Lampshaded in the film Necessary Roughness when Paul quits over an argument with the coach, and he picks up Jarvis who doesn't want his father to keep buying his grades. Paul says he can't just walk away from his problems. When Jarvis says that's what Paul did, Paul says the line in the page quote before turning around.
  • In X-Men, after Wolverine finds Rogue stowed away in his truck, he's about to leave her by the side of the road until he realizes he can't.
  • Ray Liotta in Cop Land does this, and then practically screams at his conscience over knowing he has to go back and help.
  • Pulp Fiction: Butch, a boxer on the run from gangster Marsellus Wallace for failing to throw a fight for him, is captured alongside Marsellus by a store owner and his hick cop buddy. While the sickos rape and beat Marsellus in the next room, Butch escapes his bonds and makes for the door, but stops when he hears Marsellus screaming. After a brief pause, he reluctantly searches for a weapon, picking a katana, and heads back downstairs, where he saves his enemy and his conscience.
  • Black Dynamite is leaving the White House when he decides he just has to go apologize to first lady Patricia Nixon for hitting her. Even though she was shooting at him. She really thinks he was perfectly justified but appreciates the apology anyway.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Captain Jack Sparrow abandons his ship and his crew to the Kraken's mercy but then returns in the crucial moment and saves them all.
  • In The Kid (1921), the mother drops her baby off in a randomly parked car. She changes her mind soon after and frantically rushes back for him, but the car is already gone.
  • In No Country for Old Men, Llewelyn sees the aftermath of a firefight, and just takes whatever's not nailed down, ignoring the survivor begging for water and leaving the car door open against his wishes out of spite. That night (when the man couldn't possibly have been alive), he feels guilty and brings a gallon of water to the site; things kind of go downhill from there.
  • Saw:
    • In a flashback in Saw III, Amanda goes to Mercy Kill Adam after John seals him inside the bathroom to die at the end of the first film because she feels immense guilt for bringing him there in the first place. She puts him out of his misery via suffocation, saying she's going to "free him" and sobbing as he tries to fight back.
    • Two deleted scenes of Saw III really help expound on why Amanda would feel this awful:
      • The first scene, which takes place before the bathroom trap, is of her in the lobby of Adam's apartment building, seemingly there to scope out the layout for when she comes back to abduct him. He walks down the stairs and sees her, and although he doesn't know her, he strikes up a conversation; he compliments her hair, invites her to a Wrath of the Gods concert, and asks if he can take her picture, to which she smiles shyly and agrees. He went out of his way to be friendly and kind to her, honestly hoping to "see her around", and she paid it back by abducting him for John.
      • The second scene, which takes place after the bathroom trap, is her having a vivid nightmare of hearing something go bump in the night while she's the only one awake in the Nerve Gas House — when she goes to investigate, she sees an apparition of Adam, who speaks in a garbled moan, which, when played in reverse, is him asking, "How could you do this to me?" She immediately bolts awake, sweaty and hyperventilating.
    • In Jigsaw:
      • In the past, Carly robbed an asthmatic woman of her purse. Upon discovering her inhaler in the bag, she felt guilt over it and tried to return it to her. Unfortunately, she came back to find the woman already died of stress. This didn't stop Carly from keeping her money afterwards, which is probably one of the main reasons John tested her.
      • When Ryan is faced with the dilemma of losing his leg to save Anna and Mitch from the Grain Silo Trap, he adamantly refuses at first. After hearing enough of their desperate pleas, however, Ryan caves and gives up his leg.
  • In The Film of the Book version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry almost allows Cedric to be devoured by the maze during the third task, choosing instead to run to the Triwizard Cup while he has the chance (possibly due, in part, to the maze's quasi-demonic influence over whoever enters, but also possibly due to the fact that he is so close to winning). He ultimately decides to run back to pull Cedric free.
    • Unfortunately, this leads to a case of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, as this allows them to claim the trophy together resulting in Peter Pettigrew killing Cedric.
  • In District 9, protagonist Wikus van de Merwe has a small chance of escaping his mercenary pursuers. He gladly abandons his Fire-Forged Friend, the alien Christopher, and runs for it... and then Wikus overhears the mercenaries' plan to execute him. What follows is awesome.
  • In An American Werewolf in London, David and Jack are walking on the road in the middle of the night when suddenly Jack gets attacked by a large werewolf. David runs away in fear. Realizing that he can't leave his friend to die, he decides to go back and help him. It doesn't go quite well for either of them...
  • At the end of The Wild Bunch the remaining bandits failed to save their friend from the local warlord and are now getting ready to leave with their money. However, they realize that their conscience won't allow them to let the warlord get away with murdering their friend like this and their go back for a final Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • One of the staff member briefly does this in Titanic (1997) when Jack and Rose come to a locked stairwell and see him on the other side trying to head to the upper deck. He nearly leaves them there, but ultimately turns back to try to unlock the door. However, he drops the keys in the quickly flooding water, gives a quick apology and leaves them, forcing the two to search for the keys and unlock the door themselves.
  • Star Trek (2009): McCoy does this when the fleet is preparing to confront the Narada. Kirk has been suspended from duty and isn't allowed on board, and McCoy has declined to help. He's a few seconds into walking off when he realizes he can't just leave Kirk behind.
  • The climax of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory pivots on this. Charlie Bucket has just learned that he will not receive the promised lifetime supply of chocolate from Willy Wonka because Mr. Wonka knew he and Grandpa Joe stole the Fizzy Lifting Drinks (up to this point, they thought they were Karma Houdinis), and Grandpa Joe's attempt at a damning speech doesn't work. But there is another way to claim a fortune — all they have to do is give the prototype Everlasting Gobstopper that Charlie received earlier to Mr. Wonka's candymaking rival Slugworth, who intends to copy it. As Grandpa Joe and Charlie begin to head out of the room, Charlie stops and decides he cannot break the promise he made to Mr. Wonka not to give the Gobstopper away, and leaves it on his desk by way of apology for what he already did. An overjoyed Mr. Wonka reveals Mr. Slugworth was an actor in his employ carrying out a Secret Test of Character on the kids. Charlie has passed and won the jackpot, and the real grand prize is not the year supply of chocolate. But the entire chocolate factory. In which Charlie is the new owner. Wonka stated that he can't run the factory forever (And does not want to try) .
  • Crossing Over: Max Brogan does this when Mireya gives him her landlady's address and begs him to look after her son. Under the razzes of his fellow ICE enforcers for having shown compassion, he crumples the paper and drops it on the ground. At 3 a.m. the next morning, he returns to the deserted parking lot and turns over every bit of paper until he finds it.
  • The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit: When Gomez has his turn with the suit, he goes through with his plan to skip town with the suit. But the guilt of betraying his newfound friends gets the better of him, and while he makes it to the station, he later arrives back at his apartment.
  • The Suicide Squad: After destroying the facility where Starro (and more important to Waller, the files connecting Starro's capture and experimentation as a possible weapon to the United States government) is being held, and inadvertently setting him free, the squad are ordered to return now that the mission is complete; Starro's rampage over Corto Maltese are of no further concern to them. Bloodsport takes a few steps toward the extraction point before realizing he can't leave all the innocent civilians to die, and heads back into the city to fight Starro, with the other squad members following suit. Waller is furious that they're disobeying her command and tries to detonate their Explosive Leashes, but is knocked out by one of her aides who realized that Task Force X were in the right.
  • Nicholas Angel from Hot Fuzz flees Stanford after finding a murderous cult which includes the chief of police. When he stops at a gas station, he sees a DVD rack with some of the cop movies his partner made him watch, which inspires him to go back and get his Cowboy Cop on.

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Huckleberry Finn is prepared to betray the escaped slave Jim, having been taught that it's the right thing to do. However, he quickly changes his mind and helps his friend, ironically believing that he's doing the wrong thing.
  • Discworld:
    • In Sourcery, Rincewind has this, when what he really wants to do, and really thinks that he should do, is flee for his life, but his conscience forces him to try to stop the all-powerful wizard Coin from destroying the universe. He even argues against his conscience. End result: Rincewind goes up against Coin with a brick in a sock. and inadvertently succeeds in stopping the destruction of the universe by accidentally inducing a Heel–Face Turn in Coin.
    • Happens in The Light Fantastic; Twoflower declares he's going to go back to make sure Cohen's alright, and Rincewind says he's not going along. Cut scene to the two of them tied up, having been ambushed on the way back. In this case it was a mixture of conscience and The Luggage.
      Twoflower: I thought you'd come back.
      Rincewind: I don't want to talk about it.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Highprince Sadeas betrays Dalinar and leaves him and his army to be slaughtered by a vastly larger number of Parshendi. Kaladin, who originally wants to use this as a way to escape from Sadeas ends up deciding (with encouragement from Syl) to return with the bridge and save Dalinar and his men because somebody has to do the right thing.
  • In Neverwhere Richard is left behind on the insistence of Marquis. A bit later Door overrules him and comes back.
  • In Seeker Bears: The Quest Begins, Toklo is furious with Ujurak for turning into a salmon and nearly getting eaten by two adult bears, so he leaves the shape-shifting cub. But thanks to remember the last cub who was in trouble (his brother Tobi on his deathbed), Toklo decides to go back and look after Ujurak until the latter's ready to look after himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lennier in Babylon 5 has had a serious crush on Delenn the entire series, but she married John Sheridan. Near the end of the series, Sheridan gets trapped in a sealed hallway filling with poisonous gas, and Lennier who could easily save him (and the unconscious Ranger that Sheridan was trying to save). Instead, he leaves so the gas can Murder the Hypotenuse. However, he says to himself that he can't go through with it. Sheridan saves himself, and upon seeing this, Lennier flees in shame.
  • Done by the villain of the week in Burn Notice, of all people. Sam created a ruse where he was held captive by a security guard so the bad guy could get away and be caught by law enforcement later. Instead, thanks to a story Jesse told him earlier, he decided that No One Gets Left Behind and drove back for Sam.
  • This is played with a bit in Casey Jones for the episode "Death Rides the Tender.'' Pete, who works as the wood maker for the Midwest and Central, learns his son has been arrested for murder after Casey identities him as the killer. Since his son would be bound for the noose when Casey testifies against him, Pete decides to stick dynamite in one of the logs set for the Cannonball's next trip tomorrow, which would explode upon it being tossed into the firebox. When the train leaves the next morning, Pete starts to feel guilty when he remembers the words Casey Jr. told him about his own father, and he rushes on horseback to catch up to the train and toss the offending log out of the cab before Wally can pitch it into the firebox.
  • In the pilot of Constantine, John Constantine sees a possessed woman in the asylum he's currently residing in. Since he had himself committed precisely to get away from the occult dealings, he starts to leave but then realizes he cannot just abandon her, returns and exorcises the demon out of her.
  • In episode 15 of Crash Landing on You Seung-joon has a ticket out of North Korea in his hand and is at the airport—but he gets a phone call that bad guys have kidnapped Dan. He goes back to save her, and pays with his life.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Waters of Mars": The Doctor is leaving Bowie Base One and its crew to their unalterable fates. He can hear their frantic efforts to survive turn to failure as more and more of them fall to the waterborne virus, culminating in the self-destruct of their shuttle. Then he remembers his own words: "I'm not just a Time Lord, I'm the last of the Time Lords." And he returns to save those he can.note 
    • Played for Laughs and straight in "Closing Time", when the Doctor, having just paid a visit to his friend Craig, heads out to leave... and the lights start flickering. On the way back to the TARDIS, he loudly insists to himself that he is leaving, not staying, just going, not noticing the flickering lights, ignoring the local mysterious disappearances, not scanning for electrical fluctuations, he is going, he's leaving, he's not getting involved, he is going...cue Gilligan Cut to Craig meeting him again the next morning. Literally no one is surprised, given the Doctor's Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jaime was willing to leave Brienne to her fate at first, but couldn't go through with it and managed to convince his escorts to go back to Harrenhal for her. Although to be fair he did initially think she was going to be ransomed and went back to force the issue at once when he heard that Locke had refused the ransom offer.
    • At first, Stannis makes it clear he has no problem leaving Davos to rot in a cell and letting Melisandre sacrifice Gendry. He changes his mind and releases Davos to give Davos a chance to convince him to spare Gendry.
  • In the pilot of The Invisible Man, Darien Fawkes is robbing a safe when an old man walks in and get a heart attack over explosion of the safe. It sets off alarms, and Darien attempts to run away but stops in the door. Then he goes back and tries to give the other man CPR. That doesn't end well.
  • In The Last Man on Earth, Phil tries to leave Todd out in the desert, he keeps stopping and screaming at himself, but eventually decides not to. Later, when Phil suggests that he and Todd leave Phil(2) out in the desert, it dawns on Todd that Phil was trying to do this to him.
  • In Korean Drama Who Are You?, Moon-shik the Dirty Cop is being whisked out of the country by the smugglers he's been helping. Unfortunately Moon-shik's fellow cops and friends Si-ohn and Gun-woo track him to the rendezvous point right before the smugglers arrive at that same point. Moon-shik leaves for the smuggler boat that will take him to safety—only to go back and try and save his colleagues from the smugglers. The Mook in charge of getting Moon-shik out of the country is astonished.
    "Are you going to ruin your life over a bit of conscience?"
  • The Mandalorian: This is how the main conflict of the series is kickstarted: Mando is given a bounty for a person who turns out to be an alien infantnote . He turns the Child over the Client alive after having to fight off numerous other bounty hunters who had been instructed to kill the kid instead. Mando tries to bury himself in his work so he doesn't have to think about what he's just done, but seeing the metal ball from the control panel lever that the Child was playing with earlier spurs him to immediately go back and rescue him.

  • In Tupac Shakur's song "Brenda's Got a Baby," the eponymous Brenda gives birth at school after being abandoned by her boyfriend (who was also her 20-something cousin), and not being sure what to do next, leaves the baby in the trash. But she hears the baby crying, and can't bring herself to abandon it, so she takes it out and attempts to raise it, but it does not end well.

  • In the Sister Act musical, Dolores goes to stay with Eddie after her ex realizes she's hiding at the convent. She decides to go back because the nuns wouldn't be able to perform for the pope properly without her.

    Video Games 
  • In Corpse Party, Ayumi and Yoshiki are returned to the classroom by one of the ghost children as thanks for returning her tongue. Ayumi wants to go back and save their surviving friends. Yoshiki, if you choose to object (or allow Yuka to be caught by Kizami) will do so and Ayumi will return alone after an argument. Yoshiki, however, is reminded of how much his friends mean to him and begs the ghost girl to send him back. It still leads to a Wrong End, though.
  • In Dragon Age II, if you manage to get Isabella's friendship/rivalry meter high enough, she will return the Qunari relic to the Arishok rather than save her own skin.
  • In Scratches, the protagonist, Michael, is about to leave the haunted mansion but decides to stay until he purges the curse of the mansion, fearing that something terrible might happen to someone in the future if he leaves just like that.
  • In Solatorobo, when Elh is captured by the Kurvasz, Red seriously considers leaving and declaring the whole issue out of his hands. Especially since Elh did betray them and tried to sacrifice him in the Rite of Forfeit. Chocolat agrees with him initially, but it's all a ploy to get him to realize that they should turn around and go rescue Elh.
  • In Clock Tower, you can find a car and try to drive away. The game will actually ask you if you want to leave your friends and save your own life. But in any case, if you manage to drive away, you will eventually get a bad ending, so the only way to obtain the good ending is to stay in manor and try to save your friends.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Drachma abandons Vyse, Aika and Fina in the desert town Maramba, feeling their quest to find the Moon Crystals has gotten in the way of his own personal hunt for Rhaknam. A short while later, he's seen alone aboard the Little Jack contemplating whether he did the right thing or not. When he spots the Valuan Admiral Belleza's ship preparing to ambush the other protagonists, he turns around and arrives just in time to save them.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, Catwoman agonizes over whether to walk away with her loot or save Batman from Protocol Ten. You can actually make her walk away with the loot, at which point the credits roll, though after a minute the game rewinds and lets you make the "right" choice.
  • During the climax of Bioshock Infinite, we find out that Booker experienced this many years ago. Young, recently widowed, and left to raise his baby girl completely on his own, he was approached by Robert Lutece on behalf of Zachary Comstock, who offered to take his daughter off his hands. Booker agreed and gave her away, only to quickly regret it and chase Robert down to get her back; he attempted to wrestle her away from Comstock, who was on the other side of the interdimensional portal he was trying to pull her through, but she slipped from Booker's grasp and was taken. Consumed with regret, he tattooed her initials on the back of his hand as to never let himself forget his mistake.
  • Final Fantasy X: There is a point in the game when Seymour, gone into one of many One-Winged Angel forms, confronts the party. Kimahri volunteers to hold him off so that everyone else can escape. Yuna, distraught at the prospect of losing her oldest friend, eventually stops everyone and invokes this. Both her and Tidus' words convincing Wakka, then Rikku, then Lulu and then Auron to turn tail and go back to help him.
  • Root Double: Before Crime * After Days has this happen early on in Root A when you're told to leave the scene of a fire so people who know what they're doing can quell it. You can either argue to stay anyway (which is the right choice) or follow orders and leave. Leaving gives the MC a bad feeling and has him attempt to return, though he doesn't arrive in time to point out an explosion that the other characters missed before it happens.
  • Sonic Adventure 2: When Rouge gets trapped in Prison Island's facility with a ticking time bomb, Shadow initially seems unconcerned, but after having a flashback of Maria, curses Rouge under his breath and turns back. He later claims that he just wanted to save the Chaos Emeralds Rouge found.
  • In the "Warriors Season 2020" cinematic for League of Legends, Kai'Sa saves Ezreal from being overrun after his attempt to swipe the Tear of the Goddess from an ancient temple unleashes a massive horde of Voidlings. Ezreal is just about to escape, leaving Kai'sa to die, when he hesitates at the entrance, drops the Tear, and turns around to save her just before she's overwhelmed, the two of them blasting their way through the horde together.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: In "The Circus", Blitzo ties Stolas to a bed, ostensibly because he's a dominant. But it's actually to steal the grimoire that will allow him to go to the surface world. When Blitzo is just going to sneak out with the book, Stolas starts rambling about how lonely and miserable he has been and calling Blitzo his "first friend", which makes Blitzo feel bad for Stolas and turn back around for some Pity Sex.

    Web Comics 
  • Miss Cummings from Birthday Gift comes back for Miss Cox, after initially declined because she wants to "stick it to the men". It was a trap.
  • Stunt does this in a strip of Dominic Deegan when he briefly considers not saving someone who he hates for being a slaver poacher and, possibly worse, a woman.
  • Lab Rat takes place between Portal and Portal 2. Doug Rattman makes it to the surface after GLaDOS has been defeated, but decides to go back into the Enrichment Center after seeing Chell dragged in by the Party Escort Robot. After all, he was the one who set her first in line for testing.
    Companion Cube: Then you really are crazy.
  • Murphy's Law: When the party fights Tinder, Matt runs away at first. Then, when the battle turns bad, he starts to question whether letting them die is okay, eventually going back after Tinder talks about planning to eat Radic.
  • In The Order of the Stick, team leader Roy has a crisis of conscience and realizes that he can't abandon a helpless innocent and still call himself Lawful Good. He's later called out on this after he's died and getting judged, with the deva saying that if he hadn't gone back, he'd have been labelled "True Neutral" right then and there. But while abandoning the innocent was a bad move, he did end up going back and saving them, which she counts as redeeming himself of that particular sin. It helped that later, he also saved that same person by wearing a gender-reversing belt.
    Roy: Please don't mention that incident within earshot of my father. I'm begging you, here.
  • In Red's Planet, Red's refusal to take Tawee is undermined by the pathetic sight of him sitting there as she walks away.
  • Tower of God: Khun helped Bam in his second test because he "ended up caring again". Good for him, their friendship is something to behold.
  • Unsounded: Jivi escapes the slavers holding him captive, who have cut open the others they've had longer to smuggle first silver in them, and starts sneaking away only for one of the younger kids to quietly beg "Anders" not to leave him. Jivi groans and turns back to try and save the others.
  • In Weak Hero, Teddy overhears that Ben is about to be targeted by a group of thugs- however, with no-one picking up their phone, the only way to pass on that information is to run all the way to the far-off cram school. Initially he shrugs his shoulders and walks off, telling himself that he already did his best by trying to phone ahead... but then he remembers Ben thanking him for protecting his best friend, and starts running to the school in a huff.

    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Graham leaves Jamie behind at the mall because of his job and is haunted by his conscience for his entire workday. He thus decides to go back to find Jamie and is visibly in distress until he find the boy again.
  • In The Spoony One/Noah Antwiler's web video series Counter Monkey, he mentions that this is one of the few ways you can get away with playing an Evil character. Spoony says that while an Evil character might temporarily abandon their friends, he wants them to have "that moment of 'aw, dammit' and turn back". Spoony also advised that an Evil character needs to promise "I will be Evil, except to my party" in the same breath.
  • In the first Episode of "Gary and His Demons" Gary tries to commit suicide only to be interrupted by a vision of Hentley being attacked by the shapeshifter demon from earlier, he tries to rationalize not going to help by saying it's Hentleys own fault for forgetting to bring his gun only to realize he took Hentleys gun to commit suicide with.
  • In Critical Role's second campaign, Caleb Widogast while on watch ponders that he doesn't like or trust his allies, that his gamble for knowledge from the Cobalt Soul has failed exposing an important part of his hidden backstory and how he should really just walk away now. Then he finishes his watch and goes to sleep. Spoony's example above proves merit here, as Caleb was initially Lawful Evil and transitioned to True Neutral over the story.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In season 5, Princess Bubblegum saves the musically-talented Lemonhope from his abusive home in the Earl of Lemongrab's castle. In the two-parter "Lemonhope: Part 1" and "Lemonhope: Part 2" , Lemonhope rankles against the idea that he has to be the one who saves his siblings from the Earl's tyrannical rule and runs away to be "free". A series of guilt-ridden nightmares drive Lemonhope to go back and confront the Earl, but he leaves again once he considers the debt repaid.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "Win, Lose and Kaboom", Team Earth has won Intergalactic Showdown and is free to go home safe. But Jimmy realizes he can't break the alliance he made with April to cancel Meldar's show and stop him from destroying all the planets, so he reprograms their new AstroCar to fly back to the show so they can save the other teams.
  • Amphibia: In "The Root of Evil", Anne Boonchuy and the others understandably want to leave the village at the first opportunity after their last encounter with Gary, only to be convinced to help them out fighting off the robot strike team by Hop Pop's guilt over accidentally leading them to their hidden village.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender When Avatar Aang finds out that Prince Zuko is the Blue Spirit his initial reaction is to turn and run from the soldiers chasing both of them and leave the unconscious Zuko behind, of course being Aang he goes back.
    • Katara and Sokka also invoke this trope after Aang hides a map that informs them of their father's location. Upon discovering this, they angrily leave Aang and seek out their father. Their conscience kicks in soon after and they decide to go back.
  • The Cuphead Show!: In "Root Packed", Cuphead is quick to blow off looking after Elder Kettle's garden and going to the movies, but decides to stick around after Mugman points out that they should stay and look after the vegetables because Elder Kettle looked after them when they were babies.
  • Curbside used this in the Sidney the Elephant segment, where Stanley, Cleo, and an unnamed hippo try to run away from the jungle and leave Sidney to stop the unbalanced rock from falling alone, but Cleo has a change of heart and insists that the three of them go back to help Sidney.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Forbidden Fountain of the Foreverglades!", Goldie intends on abandoning Scrooge and making off with the youth water by herself, but seeing a helpless Louie causes her to change her mind.
  • Futurama: Fry is about to leave Leela, who is chasing him, trapped in a cryogenic chamber for a thousand years. His conscience gets the better of him, and he changes it to five minutes.
    Fry: You owe me one.
  • Harley Quinn: After Harley and Batgirl get captured by the Mad Hatter, Harley talks Hatter into letting her go and starts to leave without Batgirl to continue her own plans. Harley's conscience (represented by Harleen Quinzel in her psychologist coat) shows up in a reflection and talks her into going back to save Batgirl before Hatter kills her.
  • In the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Christmas Episode, Skeletor kidnaps a pair of Earth children and after much pleading from them, finally takes along the lost puppy that they found. Although this is likely due to him being influenced by the Christmas spirit, it's also possible that Even Evil Has Standards and he can't stomach the idea of leaving a helpless animal to freeze/starve. (Remember that despite his evil ways, he has consistently shown genuine affection to his own dogs)
  • In an episode of the The Legend of Zelda animated cartoon, Link feels spurned and rejected by Zelda in favor of the prince. Link leaves the castle but hears Zelda's screams for help after the Prince refuses to help her. Link thinks to himself before turning back to aid her saying "Bah, I'm such a sucker".
  • In Looney Tunes, two examples involves around Bugs Bunny:
    • Subverted in the short Bugs Bunny Rides Again. Bugs has tricked Yosemite Sam into walking off a cliff. Suddenly he runs down to the bottom and puts down a mattress, explaining to the audience, "Sometimes me conscience kinda bothers me... but not this time!", and pulls away the mattress at the last minute.
    • Played straight in Frigid Hare, when a penguin he's been trying to get rid of gets captured by an Eskimo. At first he goes "Oh, well. I'm not my penguin's keeper" and sets back to his hole. Moments later, he pops back up with a horribly guilt-stricken look on his face and goes back to save him, but not before he tries to explain himself to the audience.
  • Mad Jack the Pirate: Played for Laughs, Mad Jack's Conscience tells him to go save Snuk the rat. While Mad Jack is not convinced due to the concept of a conscience and what it proposes new to him, his conscience threatens to making loud noises unless his saves Snuk.
  • In episode 24 of the second season of Mia and Me, Mia discovers that the elf Varia is actually her rival Violetta. As Mia tries to convince Violetta to return to her own world, she ends up accidentally getting stuck in some sticky grass. Violetta initially leaves her stuck there and steals her friendship ring so she won't reveal her identity to the other elves, then lies to Yuko and Mo about not knowing where Mia went. However, Violetta soon regrets not telling the truth and decides to go back.
  • In several episodes of The Penguins of Madagascar, Max the stray cat will attempt to abandon the Penguins to save himself, only to talk himself into going back because the Penguins are the only friends he has in the world.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Brain Drain", after Perry foils yet another of Doofenshmirtz's plans he is about to walk off, but then he realizes he left Doof in a position that would humiliate both him and his daughter. Perry goes back to fix it.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: While on a crumbling cliff, Fred nearly catches The Freak, but The Freak kicks him away and leaves him to die. Just as Fred is about to fall and cries out for help, The Freak goes back and grabs him before he falls, saving his life. The Freak is later revealed to be Fred's own father.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • In the opening two-parter, "Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion", the Ghost crew stage a rescue of a number of Wookiee slaves at a Kessel spice mine. One of the Wookiees is sent fleeing into the mines, pursued by a Stormtrooper, but Ezra ignores it in order to evacuate with the others. Eventually, however, the desperate cries of the Wookiee's parent spur him to race after it and rescue it.
    • In "Imperial Supercommandos", Fenn Rau, a prisoner of Phoenix Squadron, accompanies Ezra and Sabine to Concord Dawn to find out what's happened to the other Journeyman Protectors. After finding out that they've been wiped out and the party responsible, the Imperial Supercommandos, are returning, Rau is sent to retrieve the Phantom II, and takes the opportunity to steal the ship and escape. He's nearly ready to jump into hyperspace when he eventually decides to go back, rescuing Ezra, Sabine and Chopper in the nick of time.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "The First Order Occupation", Kaz and BB-8 help pirate Synara San escape from the Colossus by sneaking her onto a shuttle, then running off so the stormtroopers chase them. Synara chooses to go help Kaz escape the troopers, which cuts off that method of escape when the shuttle takes off before she can get back to it.
  • Steven Universe: In Season 5, Lapis leaves Earth when she learns the Diamonds might be returning, taking the barn with her. As the season progresses, the story checks in on her revealing she couldn't bring herself to abandon them and was living at the Moon base. Ultimately, Lapis decides to return near the end of the season to help them.
  • This happens to Gordon in one episode of Thomas & Friends. After Henry gets sick after taking the regular coal instead of the special coal, Gordon initially kept quiet about his condition and is focused on setting the record for pulling the Express on time, but as he was seconds away from the station he is guilt-stricken and decides to go back to help Henry.
  • The Venture Bros.: This is subverted in the episode "Now Museum -- Now You Don't!". When a massive brawl breaks out at his brother's museum gala, Dr. Venture gathers his family and heads for his plane to leave. Just before takeoff he learns that apparently a bomb is about to blow the whole place up, too. Moments later, he tells the pilot Brock they have to go back and help. Brock is surprised at this, since Doc hates his brother, and he's hardly the heroic sort. After a beat, they both start laughing, and Brock admits that for a moment he actually believed it.


Video Example(s):


Loona Searching for Via

After being told to find Octavia, Loona merely wanders LA in her Human Disguise, checking her phone and doing little else. When she sees several Sinstagram posts from Octavia, Loona has a brief moment of internal conflict before she decides to go after Octavia as Blitzo asked her to.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConscienceMakesYouGoBack

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