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Determined Doctor

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West Africa, 2015, during the Ebola outbreak

"I'm a doctor. You're my patient. That's all I need to know."
Dr. Julian Bashir, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "The Wire"

A somewhat common trait among characters who are doctors or clerics, when their desire to cure is their first (sometimes only) priority; it doesn't matter if the character they're trying to heal is a villain, a monster, doesn't want to be healed, or is just plain rude; the medic will not give up on trying to help them.

Can be an indication of a tragic Backstory, where the character lost someone close to them, and vowed to never let that happen to anyone else.

Can be a case of Stupid Good, when the patient they refuse to give up on will probably kill them or go on to murder a lot of people after the medic saves them.

The care needed by the patient need not necessarily be urgent. The trope can simply show that no matter how much verbal or physical abuse the patient might throw at the healer, and however fed up the healer might get with the patient, the healer will not retaliate by leaving the patient to his fate.

Compare Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath where a healer is obligated to render aid in situations where they ought to hesitate, and The Medic, who has a good chance of also being this trope.


No matter what happens, I promise you...

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the Modus Operandi of Black Jack. Black Jack is an unlicensed doctor whose healing abilities are unparalleled. He'll charge exorbitant prices for his services when dealing with the rich and takes meager offerings from the poor, but once he takes on a patient, he will do everything in his power to fully treat them.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Winry's parents were doctors from Amestris who worked tirelessly to save lives in the so-called Ishvalan Civil War, a genocide perpetrated against the Ishvalans by Amestris. As humanitarians of the nation, they were owed protection by the Amestrian military. Viewing this as a waste of resources, especially since saving Ishvalan lives ran contrary to the whole point of the war, the military instead targeted them for assassination, but ultimately they were murdered by one of their own patients in a fugue just before it could be carried out. Even Kimblee, their intended assassin, expresses his respect for them sticking to their principles in the middle of a war zone.
  • Ranma ½: Dr. Tofu is the medic of the Furinkan high school and a close friend of Tendo's family. On one occasion, he heals one of Ranma and Akane's enemies. When she complains, asking why he did that, he responds that his work is to heal humans, no matter which side they're on. Also, he took Shampoo (Akane's Arch-Rival) under his wing as his medical assistant for a while.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Outside of her act of "rebellion" in Batman: War Games, which was later retconned anyway, Leslie Tompkins is completely dedicated to her role as a doctor. Bruce giving her a free clinic on the worst street in the worst neighborhood of Gotham to run is something she treats as the best present ever.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Due to the fact that they've dedicated their immortal lives to healing and have access to magiteck medical advancements the doctors of Paradise Island do not give up on healing a patient even after they'd be declared dead in most situations. They only seem to be willing to set back if it's the patient's wish or the patient's brain has suffered significant damage/decay.
  • New X-Men: Academy X character Elixir is determined to help and heal as many people as he can while his powers are running properly. This imperative vanishes if his power is corrupted or damaged, but returns when his powers are restored to normal. Triage has similar powers to Elixir but has not shown the "must heal no matter what" compulsion.

    Fan Works 
  • In Alice, Girl from the Future fanfics:
    • In Those That Creep in the Night, Alice behaves like this towards her Friendly Enemy, who insists his injuries (third- or fourth-degree burns) will quickly heal by themselves and tries to fight off her attempts to treat them. She just finds a first-aid kit, tells him to be quiet and gets to work.
    • A similar situation involving the same characters (only with the enemy having turned friend for good and the injury in question being a broken rib) takes place in Disappeared Ships, Carrots and All the Rest.
      Alice: Breathe out all the air, please. And all the nastiness as well.
  • The Halo fanfic ''From Harvest to the Ark introduces the OC Athos Patrikos, battalion surgeon for the UNSC Marine Corps' 9th Force Recon, who's sufficiently badass to survive the entire (30-year) Human-Covenant War and continues looking after the wounded during the glassing of New Alexandria, helping oversee the evacuation of patients to a fallout shelter beneath the hospital.
  • Holidays with Holmes: In one entry, Mrs. Hudson burns her hand while baking. Watson, despite his injured leg and the landlady's protests, races up the stairs two at a time to fetch his medical kit.

    Films — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: Baymax is programmed to be this. He literally cannot shut down until sufficient aid has been rendered.
    Baymax: I cannot deactivate until you say 'I am satisfied with my care.'

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hacksaw Ridge tells the real-life story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss who nonetheless became a combat medic for the Americans in WWII. He was resolved to save as many lives as he could on the battlefields of Okinawa, even if there was just a remote chance of helping them, until he either collapsed or died trying. He even treated Japanese soldiers who were too weak to fight back to the death.
  • Red Beard: Few things can stand in the way of Dr. Kyojou Niide, aka Red Beard, administering aid. If a dozen or so armed hoodlums try to prevent him from taking a 12-year-old feverish girl to his clinic, he'll just beat them all up with his bare hands. If the same girl refuses to take her medicine, he'll just try again and again with patience and kindness. The fact that seeing peasants for free leaves him poor himself means little to him and he's more concerned with the lack of funds to properly care for so many sick people.
  • In The Fugitive, Richard poses as a janitor to sneak into a hospital and steal records. While there, he's told to move a young patient, realizes that the boy has been misdiagnosed, and forges orders to get him emergency surgery. He nearly gets caught as a result, but it's later mentioned that he saved the kid's life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Dr. Franklin is exactly this kind of doctor. Unfortunately, while it often helps him with critically injured patients, it also gets him into trouble more than once:
    • In the first-season episode "Believers", Franklin insists on doing life-saving surgery on a boy from an alien species whose religion says that cutting into the body, even to save a life, allows the soul to escape. The boy's parents promptly conduct a purification ritual that ends with the boy's death, because his body is now just a soulless shell, even if it's still alive.
    • In the third season, Franklin's determination to be the best doctor he possibly can leads him to become addicted to stims, and his arc for the season consists of his descent into, and recovery from, this addiction.
  • Firefly:
    • When Simon leads an infiltration of a high security Core hospital, he sees a resident messing up a patient's care, intervenes to save the man's life, gives the resident a dressing down, and then goes back to the heist as if nothing had happened. Fortunately, displaying his medical skills and yelling at a resident help to cement his cover as a doctor, rather than breaking it.
    • Two episodes after Jayne sells out River and Simon, he finds himself on Simon's table with an injured spine. Simon reveals that he knows about the betrayal, but he has decided he's going to trust Jayne because they all have too many enemies to make enemies of each other. He states that Jayne will always be safe on his table because he's a doctor and Jayne is his patient. Jayne is a little freaked out by Simon's kindness.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Dr. Keller adopts the attitude toward Rodney during an episode where a growing brain parasite has rendered Rodney symptomatic of developmental impairment and will eventually kill him. Even while all of Rodney's other friends, family and colleagues have accepted that there is no saving him and want to make the most of the time he has left, Keller desperately refuses to give up hope of saving him. Her determination is complicated by personal feelings which make it difficult for her to let go, but her resolve becomes critical when she has to try and perform brain surgery in an irradiated cave to remove the weakened parasite before Rodney dies.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dr Bashir, to an extreme. In the early seasons, he comes off as like a bit of a fop or a lightweight, but put a life in danger or under his care and it's a near instant transformation to Determinator badass.
      • In the very first episode, the Cardassians attack the station, and several people are wounded on the Promenade. Even as debris is raining down around him, Bashir kneels down to treat one, grabs Odo, and tells him to put pressure on a severed blood vessel to keep the woman from bleeding out. When Odo starts to protest, Bashir fixes him with a look that would freeze a sun and says "Hold. It. There."
      • In "The Wire", Bashir is forced to endure lies and verbal abuse from Garak while the latter is suffering from psychological and physiological complications brought on by a malfunctioning implant in his brain. Despite the vicious and constant vitriol from Garak, Bashir never wavers in his determination to heal him.
      • Another one from Garak. When the crew's transporter patterns are cached in the holodeck during "Our Man Bashir", turning a silly game into a serious "kill the character, kill the person" scenario, Bashir shoots Garak to prevent him from endangering the others. It's deliberately ambiguous as to whether Bashir intended to merely graze Garak or go for a kill shot if needed.
      • In "Hippocratic Oath", Bashir attempts to cure the Jem'Hadar's dependence on Ketrecel White, a drug used to maintain their loyalty to the Dominion — his obsession with doing is such that O'Brien has to physically sabotage his work snap him out of it.
      • In "The Quickening", Bashir's unshakeable will to heal actually results in the first child born without "the Blight" in a society where literally everyone is born with and dies from the disease, despite not actually curing the disease. Even after this minor success, he still endeavours to find a cure, long past the episode where it is introduced.
      • There's also at least one occasion when Julian proves that his commitment to medical care includes knowing when to stop. In "Life Support", against all the odds, he's able to save the life of an important Bajoran religious leader who has been badly injured in an accident, installing positronic implants to compensate for the brain injuries he received. However, when it proves to be only a partial and temporary solution, Dr Bashir makes the call that further medical intervention is not in the patient's best interests: his quality of life is already poor, and replacing any more of his brain anatomy with artificial substitutes would result in Death of Personality. He explains this to Major Kira, who is very close to said patient and distraught at the thought of losing him, with commendable sensitivity and professionalism.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Determination to render medical care no matter what goes all the way back to the original series and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Understandable, given that McCoy's whole character largely focuses on morality and preventing harm whenever possible.
      • In "Mirror, Mirror", Despite Kirk having had to knock Mirror Spock out when he risked interfering in their plan to return home (and Mirror Spock's increased ruthlessness as compared to their Spock, befitting the universe he comes from), McCoy insists on saving him — which would pay off for them in the end.
      • In "Friday's Child", McCoy persists in treating Eleen, the pregnant wife of the late local leader, despite her irritation about it. Ultimately, he slaps her to get her to cooperatenote  and goes back to work.
      • This also puts him at odds with Kirk from time to time, given the captain's tendency to horrify McCoy by staying on his feet as long as possible during a crisis.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: You want to get between Dr Beverly Crusher and a sick or injured anything that needs help? Good. Fucking. Luck. In one episode she leaps into the fray to treat victims of a terrorist attack; when Picard contemplates beaming her up for her own safety regardless of her protests, Riker only quips, "I wouldn't wanna be in the transporter room to greet her."
  • On M*A*S*H, all of the competent surgeons treat the most wounded patients that come in to the 4077th first, whether they are Allied soldiers or enemy POWs; or as Hawkeye Pierce says to Frank Burns, "When they come in here, the uniforms come off." This dedication to the Hippocratic oath is why first Col. Blake and then Col. Potter tolerate (and sometimes cover for) the shenanigans of Trapper, BJ, and Hawkeye; it's also what enables Hawkeye, BJ and Charles to work together despite vast differences in personality. In fact, the above mentioned Major Burns is unique as the sole Inversion of this trope amongst the regular cast.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Emu Hojo starts out as naive, but determined pediatric intern, who took this attitude from his idol, Kyotaro Hinata, a surgeon who saved his life after a childhood incident. Patients are always his first priority regardless of who they are and he is very much annoyance-proof when it comes to their behavior. The most notable example is when Emu finds out that the current Big Bad is ill and about to be taken to prison when he will probably die and convinces everyone from authorities to his teammates to let the man be treated first.
    • Other doctors on team initially have a nasty tendency of throwing everything out to fight each other, but they learnt from Emu to be more professional just as he learnt to be more realistic.
  • House gets away with all his shenanigans and curmudgeonly personality because he is a brilliant diagnostician who will not stop until he diagnoses and successfully treats his patients, even though most of the time he doesn't even like them. He's even not above doing things like lying to or insulting patients if he believes it will benefit them medically in the long run.
  • All Creatures Great & Small (2020):
    • Siegfried Farnon, MRCVS. The moment an animal is hurt, sick, or in pain, it's goodbye bombastic, mercurial eccentric and hello unswerving, unwavering, utterly professional and absolutely awesome veterinary surgeon who will stop at nothing to heal and/or comfort his patients.
    • James Herriot, natch, whose character-defining quote is probably "Every problem has a solution. I just need to find it."

  • In The Black Book and Schwambrania by Lev Kassil, the narrator's father is a doctor and readily admits an injured criminal into his hospital. Even when a crowd gathers outside, prepared to lynch that criminal, he continues to treat him. The mob still lynches him after he is cured and discharged.
  • In The Sorcerer's Daughter, Rothbart is cursed to become a monstrosity if he ever heals three people without magic. Nevertheless, he says that he will never hesitate to come to any sick or wounded person's aid. When the plague breaks out, it is clear he has told the truth as the only thing he thinks about is saving the people, without any thought of how it would affect him.
  • In The Year of the Rat, Ryska insistently helps a very bad-tempered drugged and wounded rat Alk (actually, a human in rat form), despite the latter (initially) only wishing to die.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Apocalypse World: The Angel playbook (a.k.a. the dedicated healer) has a move called "Battlefield Grace", which gives them massive Damage Reduction when they administer medical aid in the heat of battle. In other words, it encourages them to exemplify this trope.
  • Dungeons & Dragons supplement Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia.
    • The Celtic deity Diancecht will heal both friends and enemies during combat.
    • Any Celtic cleric of at least 12th Character Level has a 10% chance of summoning Diancecht if they go on a year-long pilgrimage to heal all injured creatures, including enemies of opposite Character Alignment.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: Litchi Faye-Ling, the resident doctor, is determined to turn her old friend Arakune to normal, even if she has to make questionable decisions along the way, or even if Arakune himself warned her not to go too far and told her to stop. Eventually, she meets Arakune's disembodied soul (Roy) who insists to her that he prefers staying that way, saying that the two have been playing a game of "who's more selfish", which apparently he won.
  • Implied for the player character in Cold and Flu Invasion: His job is throwing healing pills to the sick sprites and the instructions end in inspirational slogans such as "You can do it and you know it!". He's also described as making his tough job look easy when the player wins and every time the player clears a level, he shouts, "Yippee!".
  • Florence Nightingale in Fate/Grand Order is summoned as a Berserker, which causes her to have a compulsion to heal anyone she can no matter what due to the Mad Enhancement. It is to the point that she will threaten her own patients if they are being uncooperative and generally disregards her own health if it means saving someone.
  • Pretty much any of the playable doctors in Trauma Center have multiple cases of doing this:
    • Derek convinces rude teenager Linda Reid to operate on her, though her rude behavior was caused as a side effect from GUILT.
      • In general, he will always operate on the Big Bad of any of his game entries, as they all harbor the deadliest viruses that need to be eradicated while ensuring they live.
    • CR-S01 has some extreme conditions to operate on Alyssa, who suffered grave injuries from a bomb hidden in a teddy bear meant to kill Nozomi instead, due to running out of time on being allowed to perform surgery.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series: In "Albatross", McCoy keeps up his status as a medical Determinator from the original series when Spock conducts a jailbreak so he can Find the Cure! for the plague that ravaged the planet and is currently killing the Enterprise crew. McCoy immediately tells Spock to take him back to the Enterprise despite the high odds against him (only he and Spock are still fully capable) and the reality that he'll contract the plague and die as well if he fails.
    McCoy: I'm a doctor, Spock. A doctor. Get us beamed aboard!

    Real Life 
  • Justified in the books that describe veterinary medicine:
    • Gerald Durrell describes the huge trouble of treating wild animals. In particular, some of his patients firmly resisted treatment — such as a bittern that tore the bandages off its broken wing every morning, so that Durrell and his wife had to put them back over and over again.
    • In the works by James Herriot, there is often the matter of overpowering the patient (in cases such as castrating huge bulls or treating awful-tempered dogs) and/or struggling with the patient's owner (for example, the recurring character Mr. Biggins who adamantly refuses to pay for modern and effective treatment, preferring something old-fashioned and cheap).
    • To say nothing of the thousands of vets who, every year, adopt special-needs patients whose medical diagnoses would otherwise mark them for euthanasia at humane shelters, then provide necessary treatments out of their own labor and pockets.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite having been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 (nearly 40 years as of 2021), has been at the forefront of almost every major infectious disease you've ever heard of, like AIDS, SARS, and swine flu. He also personally interacted with Ebola patients and conducted research on the disease when it first arrived in the U.S. to get a really good idea on how the virus worked, and to reduce the risk of exposure to his fellow doctors. In 2020, he continued to work tirelessly to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, despite being constantly disparaged by then-President Donald Trump and having his life threatened.
    • That is nothing compared to his work on the AIDS crisis ever since its emergence in the 1970s, when it was political suicide to even acknowledge it (since it was the 'gay virus'), much less work on it. Dr. Fauci has been working on AIDS treatment for almost 50 years, and for 20 of those years was one of the most cited scientists in the world because of his research.

...I will not let you die today!