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Embarrassing Rescue

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"If anyone asks, I rescued you."
Seto Kaiba after being rescued by his little brother Mokuba, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series

A cross between Unwanted Rescue and Save the Villain centering around The Rival or Worthy Opponent being bailed out of surefire death by the hero.

Does the rival or opponent thank the hero for saving them when he didn't have to? Rarely. They instead insist that they could have escaped by themselves, and would have, if he hadn't swooped in and tried to play...well, the hero. Admitting that they owe him one would be a great blow to their ego (though the resistance is understandable if the hero immediately gloats about the rescue, or rudely demands that the saved show their gratitude before they have a chance to do so on their own). At the very best, a patently insincere word of gratitude may be expressed before their speedy departure.

If he's a true All-Loving Hero, he'll shrug it off. If he's not, expect a "why did I even bother saving you" rant to ensue. Or at least, a bitter Think Nothing of It.

Compare Entitled Bastard, where the beneficiary has no sense of gratitude whatsoever and may even complain about minor inconveniences associated with the rescue (the two may overlap if the hero is annoyed enough to deliberately embarrass the jerk he's duty-bound to save) and Ungrateful Bastard, where the beneficiary actually attacks the rescuer over something related to the rescue. Contrast Grudging "Thank You", where however much he resents it, the rescued acknowledges that gratitude is due.

See Enemy Mine for the reasoning behind the Embarrassing Rescue. Not to be confused with Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri is almost obsessed with the idea of being Suzu's protector, and even once she joins him in battle he has to fight his instincts to treat her as an equal. When he ends up Brought Down to Normal and rescued by Suzu, Matsuri's silently ashamed of himself. It isn't helped by their opponent saying Suzu "is like a hero rescuing the heroine".
  • In Bleach, Nnoitra has a flashback for one time when Neliel saved his life to prevent the Espada from losing a member, partly because he was weaker than she was. Nnoitra, who hates being pitied more than anything, finds this extremely humiliating. It also didn't help matters that he not only hates being seen as weak, but he especially hates being weaker than a woman.
  • On Dragon Ball Z, this trope is one of the reasons why Frieza's defeat at the hands of the hero, Goku, was so humiliating. Vegeta doesn't like being rescued either, and mentions that one of the many reasons he dislikes Goku is the fact that Goku has saved his life in the past.
  • Inverted in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). At the end of the Lab 5 mini-arc, when Ed is forced to make a Sadistic Choice between getting his brother back to the way he was before their human transmutation attempt which would require killing several convicts (who happened to be watching) to do it, and allowing the homunculus Lust to kill his little brother by destroying his blood seal, Scar shows up in a Big Damn Heroes moment and blows up the cylinders of red water needed to perform the transmutation. Ed's reaction? "Shut up! I don't need your help!"
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu has an episode where Kaname and her classmate Ren (who turns out to be a Yakuza Princess) get kidnapped by a group who opposes her father's zaibatsu. Their rescue comes in the form of Sosuke leading the Mikihara Zaibatsu into battle wearing Bonta-kun suits; for the uninitiated, these are theme park mascot costumes that Sosuke converted into Powered Armor (looks like Mickey Mouse, fights like RoboCop). Kaname is grateful for the rescue but still finds it embarrassing, while Ren says that she thinks they're adorable.
  • Inuyasha:
    • When Kagome risks her life to save Kikyo (or at least prolong her stay in the living world, as she's technically dead) despite being her rival for Inuyasha's affections, Kikyo says that she's not going to thank Kagome after Kagome makes it clear that it never occurred to her that there was any other option.
    • Koga also has this with InuYasha after being rescued in Mt. Hakurei.
  • In Naruto:
    • This is one of the primary reasons behind Sasuke's defection from Konoha. In the beginning it was frequently the other way around. Sasuke viewed Naruto as The Load and had to save him about Once an Episode. Because Naruto typically had to be rescued while in the midst of attempting to impress Sakura, he was generally quite embarrassed. The only time he showed any sort of gratitude at all was when he thought that Sasuke had actually died for him. And when the arc was over, he went right back to resenting Sasuke for rescuing him. Naturally, when Naruto started rescuing Sasuke, Sasuke didn't take it well.
    • A more straight example happens with Shikamaru and Temari.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: After Rei saves her life in battle, Asuka emphatically declares that she'd rather be dead.
  • One Piece has Zoro helping, amusingly, Tashigi. She and Sanji were not amused. The fans were, though.
  • Ranma ˝: Ranma has been rescued by Akane a few times in the manga. He's never been too happy about it, either.
    Ranma: So, why'd you come, anyway? I could've gotten out by myself.
    Akane: What?! You ungrateful, little...
  • In Rising × Rydeen Takara's team are rescued by his rival since childhood, Mikan, who easily defeats two enemies the team was supposed to capture but instead almost got killed by. They don't even thank her, instead Takara ask why she was in the area to begin with. She tells him it's because their boss told her to assist with their mission when necessary which causes Takara get annoyed and state that they could have handled it on their own. The way the mission was going this couldn't be further from the truth.
  • Kasuga from Sengoku Basara (picture above) becomes so flustered when rival Ninja Sasuke comes to her rescue that she falls out of a tree trying to get away from him!
  • In Tiger & Bunny, part of the reason Kotetsu is so antagonistic towards Barnaby at the start of their partnership is because of the humiliating rescue he had to endure upon their first meeting (though Episode 22 shows that he's much less disapproving of it in hindsight). The second time it happens he's noticeably less embarrassed...until Barnaby decides to comment on the situation.
    Barnaby: It's been a while since I carried you like this. Have you gained weight?
    Kotetsu: Shut up. Put me down.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba was never happy about being rescued by Yugi, whether it was from being held captive in his own virtual reality RPG or turned to stone by a Virtual Ghost. Eventually, someone (usually Jonouchi) would question why Yugi kept bailing him out when he clearly didn't want it. Of course, he did once thank him for saving Mokuba. His reaction in the turned-to-stone incident was particularly entertaining:
    Tea: Yugi took over when you and Mokuba were turned to stone. Then he combined your deck with his deck, and he beat Noah!
    Kaiba: He dueled using my cards?!
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Gilag of the Barian Emperors seems to come up with a perfect plan to defeat Yuma when Yuma's friends are all angry at each other. He organizes a tournament that encourages teamwork, and convinces Yuma to throw a duel to Kotori and Cathy to give them more inspiration. Naturally, Gilag uses his powers to Brainwash the two girls, giving them a Chaos Xyz in order to take his Numbers. However, his plan blows up in his face by Shark quitting, forcing him to take over as Yuma's partner (a potentially lethal situation for him, as being defeated by a Chaos Xyz is fatal for a Barian, just as being defeated by a Number would be for Astral). He quickly finds that he can't abort the plan or save himself without telling Yuma who he is, and eventually, when Yuma finds out on his own that the two girls are under Barian control, he inadvertently saves them both, humiliating Gilag beyond belief.

    Comic Books 

  • In NUMB3RS story Twas a Dark and Stormy Night, Don feels this way a little bit, as he and his team of trained FBI agents are held hostage by one of the criminals they are after and Charlie bluffs having a gun on the hostage taker, though he doesn't really care, as he would rather being humiliated alive then being dead.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Kiara, who was thrilled about finally being able to prove herself on her first hunt, is none too happy that Kovu had to save her from a fire.
    Kiara: Why'd you bring me here? Who do you think you are?!
    Kovu: I think I'm the one who just saved your life!
    Kiara: Look, I had everything under control!
    Kovu: Not from where I'm standing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The titular character in Forrest Gump saves an injured Lieutenant Dan during a battle in Vietnam and carries him back to friendly lines. Dan, who was hoping to die in combat (something of a running family tradition), was thoroughly upset at being rescued.
  • Pulp Fiction: Bruce Willis' character saves his adversary from unmentionable gimp rape. The adversary does thank him, but demands the event be kept an absolute secret.
  • This happens in the climax of Shazam! when Freddy, now a superhero, is saving the people stuck on the collapsing Ferris Wheel. When it’s time to save the Breyer brothers, he rescues them while giving them suitcase wedgies. The very same type of wedgie they gave to him earlier in the film.
  • In the horror parody Slither, Nathan Fillion's character is saved from a parasite deer by the whiny teen he's been carrying around, and tells her that if anyone asks, he saved her.
    Bill Pardy: Hey Kylie, why don't you tell Ms. Grant that story 'bout how I saved you from that deer?
    Kylie Strutemyer: (unconvincingly) Oh yeah. Bill saved me from a deer.

  • Zigzagged in The Dresden Files; Harry's perennial foes Johnny Marcone and Lara Raith have helped him on several occasions. Harry isn't thrilled at having to accept their help, but his ego is soothed by the fact that they are both self-serving manipulators who always get some benefit from the situation themselves. Whenever they do something that is genuinely charitable, brave, or a Pet the Dog moment, Harry wastes no time reminding them that while they might be the lesser of two (or more) evils at the moment, that won't be the case forever. The situation is helped by the fact that all three of them have a Worthy Opponent status with each other, and they all take I Gave My Word very seriously, so sometimes Harry has even asked for their assistance in exchange for some benefit he can give them because he knows that if they agree to a temporary alliance, they will keep to it.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Major Rawne attacks Gaunt on the battlefield, intending to kill him. Gaunt knocks him unconscious and, despite his own wounds, carries him back to safety. His fellow Ghosts are surprised that the rescue did not alleviate Rawne's resentment of Gaunt, but then, they don't know about the attack.
  • In Harry Potter, when Snape was a student, he was on the receiving end of one by James Potter. He had been trying to find out what James and his friends did every month at the full moon, and had nearly come face-to-face with Remus Lupin in his werewolf state. James dragged him out of there.
  • A variant occurs early in By the Sword when teenaged Kerowyn sets out to rescue her brother's kidnapped fiancée because her brother is near death and there's not a single able-bodied man available for the job. Dierna, the Damsel in Distress in question, is grateful enough to be rescued but very uncomfortable around Kerowyn afterward, and it's a source of acute embarrassment for Kero's brother that his sister had to rescue his fiancée for him.
  • Les Misérables: Jean Valjean allows Inspector Javert to escape from the revolutionaries. Javert responds: "You annoy me. Kill me rather." The unexpected act of mercy so damages Javert's philosophy that he later commits suicide.
  • Inverted in The Merchant of Death. Bobby sees a Bedoowan knight approaching Loor, who is standing by the river. Bobby grabs Loor and leaps with her into the river to escape the knight. Loor tells him she can't swim, so Bobby bravely keeps her afloat until it is safe to go on land again. Once safely on land, Loor chews Bobby out and says the knight is their ally. So the rescuer is embarrassed, instead of the rescuee.
  • Brother Thomas in Prioress Eleanor saves Hugh from drowning after Hugh had been captured by the villain. This is especially embarrassing for Hugh because earlier he punched Brother Thomas as he believes Brother Thomas raped the son of one of Hugh's friends. In reality, this is a False Rape Accusation.
  • Fireheart in Warrior Cats saves Sandpaw from falling into the gorge. Considering that up until this point Sandpaw has done nothing but insult Fireheart and call him useless, it's not surprising that she's angry at him for saving her — and pretends that she didn't need the help.
  • In book four of The Wheel of Time, Mat rescues Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve from prison. They chew him out about it and tell him that they had everything under control and would have gotten out of it by themselves. It takes a few more books and prompting from other characters for them to finally apologize and properly thank Mat for saving them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted in Babylon 5; Londo is saved from poison by a blood transfusion from one of his wives, who's spent the whole episode showing her absolute contempt for him and her two co-wives. She asks the doctor not to tell Londo who saved him, as "Neither of us could stand the embarrassment."
    • It's implied Londo actually knows, seeing how she's the one of the three he actually kept after being permitted a divorce from the other two. Even if he didn't know at that time, the novel trilogy about his reign as Emperor makes it clear that he had figured it out by that point, as he flat-out tells Timov that he knows that she was the donor.
  • Doctor Who: Early in "World War Three", Mickey rescues Jackie from one of the Slitheen. Jackie has spent the past year demonizing Mickey because she thought, on no evidence, that he'd murdered her daughter Rose (who had been traveling with the Doctor and subject to a Year Outside, Hour Inside situation). Resulting in the following exchange:
    Jackie: You saved my life. God, that's embarrassing.
    Mickey: You're telling me.
  • The Partridge Family: In "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati," Keith tries doing a one-and-a-half gainer with a twist-off a diving board to impress a girl, but ends up bellyflopping and needing to be pulled out of the water by Danny.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • In the first Vanguard arc of City of Heroes, you're sent to rescue missing operatives from rival organization Longbow. The nameless guy and Sefu Tendaji are grateful for the rescue, but Captain Dietrich insists that she didn't need help, and goes on to complain about you ruining her operation. And then she naturally charges into the next group of foes without any plans and gets killed.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, one the main characters, Angelo, saves his brother, who holds a very strong hatred towards him (and made his life miserable), from certain doom. His brother, grievously injured, responds by telling that the next time they meet, he will not hesitate to kill him, and trudges away. This was also an example of Cruel Mercy, as Marcello had just witnessed his entire life's ambition fall to pieces, and his reputation reduced to less than mud. Angelo was completely aware of all this; after saving Marcello, he says: "Now we're even."
  • After going through all sorts of trouble to locate Bastilla Shan and rescue her from a Tarisian swoop bike gang in Knights of the Old Republic, she chooses the moment you're about to liberate her to suddenly break free during a huge fight, using this event as justification in stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that you did anything for her pretty much the entire rest of the game. In a later conversation on Taris, she takes back some of her harsher statements, as she was at the time concerned about the implications of your rescuing her.
  • Falco of Star Fox fame basically treats any rescue as one of these. His responses will range from ashamed ("I'm not too proud of what you just witnessed") to full-on Snark ("Gee, I've been saved by Fox, how swell."), depending on the game.
  • In the second week of The World Ends with You, you (as Neku) have the choice to save Uzuki and Kariya from a Taboo Noise. Uzuki plays this trope straight, but Kariya actually does try to thank you for the rescue and says he wasn't sure the pair of them could erase it alone. The best part is that Neku does this entirely on purpose. "Let's do it. They'll hate it."


    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Zhao was humiliated once by losing to Zuko in an Agni Kai, and having Iroh call him disgraceful for his lack of honor. So when a Take My Hand! moment comes, instead of accepting Zuko's help, Zhao chooses to drown at the hands of the vengeful Ocean Spirit.
    • Happens again with Zuko in Southern Raiders. Zuko leaps across a room to rescue Katara from falling rocks (ignoring at least three people between them), and she yells at him because she doesn't believe in his Heel–Face Turn yet.
  • Danger Mouse: In "Lost, Found And Spellbound," DM and Penfold travel to a tropical island to search for the missing Prof. Squawkencluck. After getting separated, DM deals with a mischievous witch doctor while Penfold winds up finding the Professor. In making their reports to Colonel K, DM gropes for an explanation of his attempts.
  • Used as a joke in Danny Phantom when the titular hero rescues Skulker from a bunch of pink, man-eating unicorns that the Box Ghost released on him.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ties That Bind (Or Miracles Happen)", Kalibak is not happy that The Flash is the one to free him from his cell in the X Pit.
    Kalibak: It is...humiliating to be rescued by one's enemy.
  • Kim Possible: In "Ron the Man", Mr. Barkin brought up the fact Ron gets "rescued by a girl" to doubt Ron's manhood.
  • In Pacman And The Ghostly Adventures, the Jerk Jock Skeebo has remained jealous of the way Pac-Man is able to defeat the ghosts and rescue everybody, so in "Heebo-Skeebo," he tries taking up crimefighting himself. He winds up having to be saved by Pac, which makes him even more bitter than before.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: In "Shriek of the Vulture", the Vulture placed a device on Spider-Man's forefront that rendered Spidey immobile until the device was removed by Flash Thompson. Spidey didn't like being rescued by someone who bullies his alter ego.
  • Time Squad, Buck Tuddrussel gets into a tough bind in ancient China that requires immediate rescue before Kubla Khan has him executed. Larry and Otto can't do it, so who do they call for to bust him out? None other than Tuddrussel's ex-wife, Lieutenant Sheila Sternwell. He's not happy to see her, and the whole time she's around he acts humbled, and incredibly intimidated by her calm prowess.

    Real Life 
  • Ancient Rome had a decoration for people who would save a comrade about to be killed by the enemy. Around the time of Julius Cesar they stopped awarding it, because none of the rescuees would admit to having been in any serious danger.
  • If you need bailing out by an authority figure with help you feel you shouldn’t need, there’s a good chance it’ll be this.


Video Example(s):


You May Release Me Now

She-Hulk casually helps Doctor Strange survive a fall by picking him up, bridal-style.

How well does it match the trope?

4.58 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / CasualHighDrop

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