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Delaying the Rescue

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This is when a hero doesn't immediately rescue the Damsel in Distress. He has the means and the ability to do so, but for whatever reason, it's not the right time.

Maybe he has more work to do and doesn't want to be discovered. Maybe the Damsel in Distress is just going to get in his way or complicate matters if she's rescued. Maybe she's actually more insistent that he catch the villain.

Whatever the reason, the hero leaves the damsel in distress (at least for the time being), while he goes off to thwart the villain, find the magical MacGuffin or accomplish some other task.

A sub-trope of Damsel in Distress. Compare Passive Rescue, where someone is given the means to get themselves out of distress, and Something We Forgot, where the hero doesn't immediately rescue someone because they've forgotten about their situation. See also Take Your Time, when seemingly urgent events in a video game can be put off indefinitely by the player while they do other things.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon: As part of a plan to determine where the Dark Kingdom is hidden, Sailor Moon pretends to be feuding with the other senshi and willing to defect. Kunzite and his Monster of the Week pretend to fall for it, opening a portal to their realm, then attack Sailor Moon when she tries to buy time for Mercury to scan the portal. The other girls have to force themselves to remain hidden, even as Kunzite reveals he's aware of their presence and taunts his captive, cruelly suggesting that they don't want to save her.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In Action Comics #1, Superman tells a tied up woman "Make yourself comfortable, I haven't time to attend to it!" and rushes after the villain instead.
    • In Adventure Comics #377, the Legion of Super-Heroes have become heroes for hire as part of a convoluted scheme to capture a band of crooks. One scene has Superboy to refuse to rescue a child stuck up a building until he is paid, and then he takes his time to count the money before catching the falling kid.

    Fan Works 
  • In Torque (Jak and Daxter), once Tess tells Daxter that she has found that Samos is in prison, he decides against telling Keira right away so she won’t be forced to choose between going after her father or prioritizing saving Jak first. He also feels that Samos deserves it as Samos must have known what was going to happen on some level.

    Film - Live-Action 

  • The Bible tells a story of how Jesus was preaching in some town, and he received word that his friend Lazarus was very sick. So he stayed right where he was for two more days before even starting the journey back to Lazarus's house. By the time he finally got there, the poor guy was four days dead, and several people were upset that Jesus hadn't come sooner to heal him. Jesus healed him anyway.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II: The main plot revolves around rescuing Imoen from Irenicus. Before launching your expedition, not only you might spend weeks if not months solving quests and collecting items, you are even advised by Jaheira that it would be wise to take your time, prepare adequately and find allies. It doesn't matter how much time you spend before going to rescue her.
    • Because of the free nature of the gameplay, you can do this with any subquest where you have to rescue someone, without incurring in any consequence. For example, while you are one door before freeing Garren Windspear's daughter, you can leave, complete any other quest and then only come before starting the final mission (Anomen will complain that you are taking too time though, but nothing will happen to her). The same for the prisoner lady in Atkathla's bridge.
  • In one level of Goldeneye 1997, Bond escapes from a cell and has the option to free Natalya as well, leading to an Escort Mission to the control room. Or, he can mow down every single guard in the bunker first, and come back to rescue her once the coast is clear.
  • Leads to a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in Mass Effect 2— when the Normandy's crew is abducted by the Collectors, you can delay rescuing them for one side mission without consequence. Delaying any further will result in some or all of the captives (depending on how many extra missions you did before the rescue) dying before you get to them.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): you can fast travel to any campsite, or simply backtrack, spending your time whenever you want before attempting the rescue in the final section of the game. However, there is a final campsite that warns you that by proceeding you won't be able to come back, warning you of the "point of no return". Before that you can take your time and do anything you want.

    Web Animation 
  • A Sly Cooper animated short had a version of this with Carmalita Fox being left Bound and Gagged while Sly sought out his target.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In "The David Bowie Drinking Game", Rarity gets kidnapped by some diamond dogs. She's a huge masochist and wants to get bound and tortured for a bit, so she asks Spike to wait four hours or so before organizing a rescue party.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Domes of Doom", Gi, Kwame and Linka return to Hope Island after dropping off Ma-Ti to give a present to rising environmentalist Baron Giftus. Wheeler, suspicious of the guy's motives, stayed behind...and turned out to be right when Baron Giftus turns out to be Looten Plunder in disguise, trying to get ownership of Earth's forests. Although Gi, Kwame, and Linka know what Wheeler is in for trouble thanks to Plunder's latest scheme, they focus on finding Ma-Ti instead. As Kwame says, Wheeler is probably fine for the moment, despite being trapped under a dome, whereas they don't know where Ma-Ti is or what happened to him.
  • One "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle had the prince in Sleeping Beauty leave the princess sleep instead so he could make her into a tourist attraction.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    Shaggy: Groovy. Be back for you later.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), April and Irma are captured and tied up. Michelangelo saves them from being kidnapped, but leaves them tied up while he goes off to fight Shredder, prompting April to yell after him "You could at least untie us!"


Video Example(s):


Indy Finds Marion

Upon finding Marion, Indy elects to leave her Bound and Gagged so he can have more time to find the Ark.

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Example of:

Main / DelayingTheRescue

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