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Hero Does Public Service

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Detective Kevin Ryan: Your alibi checked out.
Detective Tom Demming: Thank you.
Ryan: [to Castle et al.] He really was coaching an underprivileged youth basketball league.
Demming: Well, for what it's worth, my kids won that night.
Castle (2009), "Den of Thieves"

You know them well. They're people with public service at heart. When they aren't saving the world from evil aliens trying to tear a hole in the space-time continuum, they're helping old Mrs. Reed weed her garden. Their humility is admirable, and they are a lesson for us all.

This can apply to mundane heroes such as police officers just as easily as it can to superheroes. Coaching kids' sports leagues is a very common choice for extracurricular activity since it lets them show off their athleticism while at the same time doing good in the community.

This activity often serves as a plot hook if whomever they're helping by this activity then becomes involved in something pertaining to the hero's day job. For example, cop shows often have the protagonist helping community centers and so forth in poor neighborhoods, and the kids they help often end up entangled with gangs from which the hero must extricate them.

Because good feels good, heroes usually find these activities relaxing and fun and a good vacation from their normally stressful lives.

Expect a Small Steps Hero to do this often, as well as The Paragon and anyone seeking to be A True Hero. Beware of Holding Out for a Hero, though, when the citizens become complacent.

Compare The Real Heroes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sailor Venus, both in Sailor Moon and Codename: Sailor V does this often. Aside from being the one confirmed blood donor of the Sailor Soldiers (having started on-page in Codename: Sailor V, and being seen doing it again in the first anime), she's going to help anyone in need, no questions asked-no matter if she'd just like to go home and rest after having donated enough blood she should be dead, climbed a building, destroyed the Monster of the Week and climbed down in the last ten minutes and is only standing thanks to eight cans of tomato juice (and yes, that specific event actually happened).
  • In My Hero Academia, this is a fairly common view among the more decent pro heroes.
    • All Might makes Izuku clean an abandoned, trash-ridden beach as his first step towards becoming a hero. When Izuku asks why, All Might declares that the original heroes did volunteer work to help communities rather than just punching supervillains. Not only would this exercise make him a proper vessel for One For All, but it would also instill in him the values that every superhero should embody. Showing Izuku's Determinator status, he went above and beyond what All Might wanted him to, cleaning the entire beach and not just one-third.
    • Kirishima and Tetsutetsu's internship with Fourth Kind consisted of doing public service for much the same reason, minus the 'vessel for One for All' bit.
    • The level and amount of contribution to society is one of the main factors for ranking Pros in the Hero Billboard Charts.
    • In the second movie My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising, the hero work is public service. UA sends Class 1A to work as heroes on the small island of Nabu. But since the island is so peaceful, their jobs mostly consist of lifeguard duties, finding lost items, and helping out with household chores.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: In Batman Incorporated (2010), Man-of-Bats is a doctor in his civilian identity who, in his very limited spare time, also does pro bono work and tries to battle alcoholism.
  • Kick-Ass: In Kick-Ass 2, many of the heroes that Dave encounters do what essentially amounts to community service. One superheroine, for instance, devotes her efforts to making sure that young women in her area get home safely at night.
  • New Avengers: The Avengers take time in between adventures with cosmic-level threats to stand on street corners in bad neighborhoods to help make people feel more secure and let small-time crooks know they're not below them.
  • Nightwing (Infinite Frontier): Dick spends his spare time funding and managing the Haven, a multipurpose drop-in center to help all the needy of Bludhaven. It reaches the point where Blockbuster and other criminal elements see Dick Grayson as a greater threat to their control of the city than Nightwing.
  • Red Robin: Tim is very involved in the Wayne Foundation's Gotham Knights program, which aims to open a bunch of community centers in less fortunate neighborhoods of Gotham.
  • She-Hulk:
    • In the The Avengers story arc "The Search for She-Hulk", Shulkie is eventually found helping repair a community devastated by one of her cousin's rampages.
    • In another story, Jen Walters volunteers with Green Cross (an organization devoted to helping victims of the Hulk's actions) to clean up the town that she herself trashed during one of her own rampages. Initially, she works incognito but ultimately comes out as She-Hulk to expose a woman who's trying to use She-Hulk's actions to cover up her murdering her husband.
  • Spider-Gwen: The Earth-65 version of Captain America spends her free time doing volunteer work at the V.A.
  • Spider-Man, Storm and Luke Cage: The anti-smoking miniseries opened with Luke Cage coaching a high school track team (with Peter Parker covering it for the Daily Bugle). The plot (something to do with organized crime and illegal casinos) gets kicked off when he investigates why his star player Brett is suddenly not doing so hot.
  • Superman:
    • Superman is known for this. What makes him special amongst the superhero ranks is that no job is too big or too small for him. One day, he's halfway across the galaxy fighting a universal threat. The next, he's reading books to orphans or planting gardens. In one issue, a little girl is lost in an airport and crying because she can't find her mom. A figure in shadow offers to help her and you assume the worst. Cut to the next page and it's Superman. He calms the little girl and tells her that he'll help find her mom. After carrying the little girl on his shoulders as they float above the people in the airport, Superman picks up the shouts of the girl's mother. After reuniting them, the woman apologizes to Superman for troubling him and saying he must have more important things to do. Superman simply responds with "Honestly? I can't think of anything more important".
    • In Superboy 1949 #43 "The Super-Farmer of Smallville", young Clark Kent rebuilds a whole burned farm.
    • In Supergirl story arc "The Super-Steed of Steel", Kara ploughs a family's entire farmland in gratitude for looking after her horse.
  • Wonder Woman has always had an interest in civic duty, helping out students in most iterations in reading, science, and sports programs. Additionally, she's aided in prison reform studies and helped domestic violence victims who are being stalked and harassed or brutally attacked while on the line with a support center.

    Fan Works 
  • Red Fire, Red Planet: One Infodump mentions that Brokosh, C.O. of the IKS mupwI', started a sort of community center in one of the slums on the fringes of First City on Qo'noS with two other KDF-aligned Lethean mercenaries and a Romulan Republic officer named Makus. Unfortunately, he also doesn't think it'll do a whole lot of good without some help from the Klingon High Council.
  • Child of the Storm: Steve Rogers, being the All-Loving Hero he is, literally rescues kittens from trees when not leading his team against the Monster of the Week. In a slight twist, Loki has created an information network composed of the homeless, taxi drivers, and cleaners, partially because they're everywhere, socially invisible, and see and hear everything, and partially because he does genuinely feel bad about his actions during his Evil Overlord phase. In one go, he can become world-renowned as a philanthropist, genuinely help thousands of people across the world, and set up a network of informants to boot.
  • The Doctor Who fanfiction "Safe in the Knowledge" shows the Seventh Doctor take a break from fighting Eldritch Abominations and Evil Overlords to bend the Laws of Time and save a woman who otherwise would have been beaten to death by a drunken husband that night, who would have sobered up, realized what he did, and killed himself, leaving an orphaned baby girl.
  • Night Shift has doing this be Ladybug's favorite part of the job. Not fighting demons, but using her abilities to help at soup kitchens and deliver presents.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, All Might's Chronic Hero Syndrome makes him help anyone in need. Whether it's stopping a bank robbery, saving people from a burning house, or just helping a cat stuck in a tree, no job is too large or too small for the World's Greatest Hero.
    All Might: Hello there, citizens! I am the man who needs no introduction, but here it is, anyway! I am All Might! The Number One Hero in the world! I'm the guy that everyone can count on to help them out of a jam. House burning down? I'm there! Royal Flush Gang robbing a bank? I'm there! Cute kitty cat caught in a tree? You better believe I'm there!
  • In brilliant lights will cease to burn, Izuku runs all over Musutafu doing random errands for people, whether it's delivering goods, reading to orphans, or translating Latin scriptures, he's widely recognized as the city's gopher. He runs himself ragged keeping his responsibilities once he becomes the Cardcaptor and it's only because of everyone's faith in him that his Secret Identity as the vigilante Deku stays a secret.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku runs out to a grocery shop for a few hours in the sidestory "Charitable Disadvantages". It turns into an all-day affair once his Chronic Hero Syndrome kicks in. He helps a local homeless shelter feed hundreds of people when he saw how overworked its manager was. After this, he helps an old widower with her groceries even though her apartment was opposite the direction of the bullhead shuttle. Then he stops to play with a lonely Faunus boy who aspires to be a Huntsman but is left out of the games the other kids play because of his heritage.
  • With Confidence: After hearing about how a number of Pro Heroes find ways to help people outside their official worknote , Izuku looks around and eventually starts working at a soup kitchen.
  • During Chapter 11 of Glowworm, Captain Marvel (Taylor) and Laserdream serve food to the elderly at a soup kitchen.
  • In the Batman fanfic Spoiler Alert: It Gets Better. Jason and the other Bat-kids run/volunteer at a no-questions-asked style youth shelter called "Robin's Nest". Jason in costume as Red Hood due to his legally dead status and the others under their real names.

  • Played with in the Discworld novel Jingo, where Captain Carrot first appears playing football with disadvantaged kids... where this means two of the nastiest street gangs in the city who are only going along with this because Carrot has that kind of effect on people. Once Carrot's left and the spell wears off, the only thing stopping war from breaking out is how embarrassed they all are by the past hour, so they'd prefer to pretend it never happened.
  • Every last character in the Village Tales novels who's not irredeemably rotten does this. Seaside holiday for the children? The Duke, the Rector, and the Deputy Headmaster have it covered. Hampers of food for those down with 'flu? Lady Crispin will be there, with her maid. Intervening to reform … by any means necessary … a drunkard and spousal abuser? The curate, Fr. Bohun, will step in: less as second-career clergyman than as Sir Gilbert Bohun Bt MC, late Major, the Blues and Royals. Commandeering the brewery to make fruit squash and lemonade for the care home when a delivery goes astray? The Duke and Lady Crispin strike again: enlisted by the Rector. Taking the youths for footy? Senior curate Fr. Campion, enlisting the aid of retired Premier Leaguer and JP, Edmond Huskisson. Even the postman stops on his rounds to change a lightbulb for an old lady with rheumatism.
  • Wars of the Realm: When Drew Carter isn't out playing vigilante and beating up gangbangers in Chicago's slums, he's at the local soup kitchen helping out Reverend Ray.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blue Bloods:
    • When Mayor Carter Poole takes office, he reveals to Frank Reagan that he wants to keep him on as police commissioner partly because, back when he was a kid, there was this white Irish beat cop who coached his basketball team.
    • In season four's "Growing Boys" Jamie is likewise shown coaching basketball in a poor neighborhood. He gets involved in the plot when two gangsters start pressuring one of his players to rejoin the gang and one of them is inadvertently hit by a car when Jamie goes after them.
  • Castle (2009):
    • Exploited in "Den of Thieves". Tom Demming, a detective from Robbery, is briefly suspected by Beckett, Castle, et al. to be the Killer of the Week. Demming alibis out on account he was coaching an underprivileged youth basketball league at the time of the murder.
    • In "Under the Influence" one of the persons of interest is a fourteen-year-old kid with Parental Abandonment issues who already has a pretty big juvie record. At the end of the episode, Detective Esposito starts mentoring him because he had a similar Dark and Troubled Past but was saved by a teacher who took an interest.
  • In Adam-12, Pete Malloy is shown coaching kids' basketball in one episode. It turns into Pete and Jim trying to help a drug-addicted player before it's too late. The kid's brother gets into the guy's stash and dies.
  • In one Christmas Episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, Kensi is at loose ends Christmas Eve, so Deeks brings her along on his "date", which is serving meals at a food bank.
  • Parodied in the Sirens episode "A Bitch Named Karma", where the guys are sent to teach kids CPR, but try to speed their way through it, because they've scored tickets to a game on the same day.
  • On LazyTown, when not actually saving folks from Robbie Rotten's schemes or helping people in danger, Sportacus tends to be a do-gooder about town.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Fausta the Nazi Wonder Woman", Wonder Woman uses a carnival hammer and bell machine to set the goal for a bond drive. She launches the bell into the stratosphere.
    Wonder Woman: The sky's the limit when it comes to buying bonds!
  • Several team members on Criminal Minds also do community service-type things in their spare time. Garcia runs a grief counselling group for families of crime victims (which has become plot-relevant in two episodes), JJ volunteers with new moms, Morgan unofficially mentors a kid back in his hometown of Chicago, and Hotch coaches his son's soccer team with Rossi as an assistant. And if you want to stretch it a little bit, Gideon and Blake both taught at the FBI academy in between cases. It sort of makes you wonder how any of them have time for a personal life.
  • On CSI: NY Sheldon Hawkes, a former MD and ME, volunteers at a clinic and as a medic in Central Park on his days off.

    Video Games 
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, Rean Schwarzer is usually the gofer to help out the student council throughout the games, though that doesn't play this trope straight. What makes him play this straight is after becoming Erebonia's national hero, the "Ashen Chevalier", he still helps out the student council despite Towa insisting that he should rest as he just finished helping out at Crossbell.
  • Final Fantasy XIV heavily enforces this. The player character is always tasked with ending world or large scale threats and are generally more than happy to help random people with their problems or chores such as culling a few monsters blocking the way or retrieving a lost item. Many NPCs that learn of the player character's godly status are amazed and grateful that someone like the player is willing to take a few minutes of their day to help them with menial tasks. Later quests that have the same characters show up will remember the deeds the player character had done for them in the past. Later expansions, particularly involving the Dark Knight job quests, suggest that the player character resents some of the people who ask for his help for the paltry rewards (if any) they get and feel that some people need to do things on their own.

    Web Comics 
  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: On Christmas all of the Batfamily members are out volunteering in Gotham. Some of them are implied to volunteer at the place they're spending Christmas regularly while it's left vague for others.
  • In Supermom, Desert Fox reveals that she regularly volunteers with Habitat for Humanity as she got her fill of destruction in the military.
  • Deconstructed in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip. Humanity realizes that Superman can do more good than random crimefighting by using his superpowers for mundane public services, such as transporting large amounts of food and developing farmland in impoverished countries. After using him to provide free, clean power worldwide for decades (using his super-speed to endlessly crank a dynamo), the world switches to sustainable non-Superman-powered energy to prevent him from dying of exhaustion, and the resulting post-scarcity society has eliminated crime entirely, making Superman completely obsolete.
  • In Strong Female Protagonist, Allison Green (formerly Mega-Girl) is a volunteer firefighter.
  • In We Are The Wyrecats, the team gets its start just trying to make the world a better place. After K.A. wakes up from her coma, she spends a good deal of time playing this role, trying to reclaim some semblance of the ideals she held.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Molehattan" finds Reed, Susan, and Johnny playfully using their powers for the amusement of a kid soccer team until Ben turns up to coach them.
  • Justice League: Wally West's day in Central City is a mixture of helping people paint their fences and punching Captain Cold.
  • Inversion: Powerpuff Girl Blossom is sentenced to public service after she's cornered and has admitted to stealing a set of golf clubs to give to the Professor for Father's Day in the episode "A Very Special Blossom."