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Heroic Dolphin

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"Here to lend a helping fin!"
In fiction, dolphins will be portrayed primarily as heroic and helpful creatures. They're a marketable species of hero, partly because they're cute and partly because of real-life stories of dolphins saving human lives, either by guiding them to shore, fending off sharks or helping them to remain afloat until help arrives.

Sometimes overlaps with Friendly, Playful Dolphin, or Sapient Cetaceans, or both. Compare Warm-Hearted Walrus, Sweet Seal, and Playful Otter. Contrast Devious Dolphins.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Orcamon in Digimon are kind-hearted lifeguards known for being The Reliable One in their communities. In Digimon Ghost Game, a pair of Hawkmon digivolve into it and help save their partner as well as multiple other children from the Monster of the Week Petermon.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Adventure in the South Seas introduces a new ally, Ruffin the dolphin, who is the heroic pirates' pet, saving Nobita and Jack when they fell over a waterfall and pulling a Big Damn Heroes at the end by getting a dozen other dolphins to save the main characters from the villain's Collapsing Lair. What's even better is that Ruffin the Dolphin is actually an animal cop from the 22nd Century, sent to the past to investigate the villains who evaded future authorities by hiding in the Golden Age of Piracy.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, during the last battle, Jolyne uses Stone Free to have Emporio grab onto a dolphin to rescue him from Pucci, knowing that the dolphin will take Emporio somewhere safe while she stays behind to take on Pucci.
  • Kuugo Sakamata, a.k.a. "Gang Orca" from My Hero Academia is the ranked 10th pro hero and, if you can't tell from his hero name, is an orca-themed hero. His face is literally that of an orca's, and it's unclear how much of him is orca and how much is human.
  • ∀ Gundam: There is a healthy population of dolphins and whales in the Moon's canal system. Loran's hometown friends marshal quite a number of them to help the Turn A fight the Mahiroo squad so that the battle won't cause collateral damage.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Comic: In Ecco the Dolphin stories, the comics make Ecco's noble nature clear in no uncertain terms though his somewhat dark methods of fighting enemies may make him seem like a bit of an Anti-Hero.
  • The DCU:
    • Animal Man: One story features Animal Man saving dolphins from murderous Scandinavian townsfolk who kill them for fun. At the end, one of the dolphins saves an evil townsperson from drowning.
    • Aquaman: Porm, the dolphin who acted as a surrogate mother to Aquaman. She raised the young Arthur and taught him to survive, and was beloved by all her dolphin children.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Ghost Rider: In one story, the Rider is saved from a killer shark by dolphins, while he's trying to rescue them from a misguided man obsessed with revenge.
    • The Punisher: Subverted in an issue of The Punisher War Journal. A Hawaiian kahuna controls sealife to rescue Frank from being stranded in the sea, and he thinks to himself that he didn't know that dolphins rescuing humans was true. When he gets back to the shore, she reveals that she actually used a shark to help him.
    • Lesser known series Brute Force (Marvel Comics) featured Surfstreak/Dr. Echo, an uplifted dolphin in Powered Armor that acted as The Smart Guy of the titular team.
  • Asterix: In Asterix and the Actress, Asterix is rescued by a dolphin after he ends up on a rock in the sea, and tries to swim back to shore during a storm.
  • Lieutenant Echo the Dolphin from Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) is a member of the Meropis Royal Guard who, alongside the Chaotix, helped rescue Princess Undeena from pirates.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The titular hero of Ajooba was cast into rough seas as a baby by the villain who murdered his parents, and would've drowned if not for a bottlenose dolphin saving him and bringing Ajooba to a nearby fishing village. In the film's events, the adult Ajooba will occasionally seek help from his old dolphin friend, usually as a messenger; and late into the film the same dolphin managed to summon a Giant Crab to save the hero who's about to be executed.
  • In Jaws 3-D, Cindy and Sandy rescue Kay and Mike from a shark after attempting to keep them out of the Galleon.
  • In The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Don Knotts plays Henry G.Limpet, a meek, mild-mannered bookkeeper in WWII who wishes to turn into a fish, and does, turning into a dolphin.
  • Both animated Titanic movies have them:
  • Willy from Free Willy is this in the second and third films and the animated series. And yes, orcas are technically dolphins.
    • Let's not forget that in the first film, he saves protagonist Jesse from drowning when the boy falls into his tank after sneaking into the aquarium after hours. Jesse spends the rest of the film trying to return the favor.
  • The titular character in Orca: The Killer Whale starts out as this, saving a scuba diver from being devoured by a great white shark. If only this hadn't been witnessed by a certain greedy fisherman.
  • In Tentacoli, a giant octopus that has been terrorizing a nearby resort town is dispatched Lassie-style in the climax by a pair of orcas after it makes the mistake of endangering their trainer.
  • Moon Warriors has the hero, Fei, a swordsman-turned-fisherman whose pet is an orca, saving it's master's life after Fei was mortally injured by the villains and left to drown. The movie came out six months after Free Willy, so no prizes for guessing where they got that idea.
  • Batman: The Movie: Batman and Robin are saved by a porpoise who sacrifices his life intercepting a torpedo launched from the Penguin's submarine.
  • Johnny Mnemonic features a friendly cybernetic dolphin hacker. It's one of the stranger parts of the film.

  • The Fighting Fantasy underwater adventure, Demons of the Deep, have you assisting a dolphin in a battle against a Great White Shark. The dolphin will show you a clue after the battle is over, and later in the adventure, you can hitch a ride on the same dolphin to reach the pirates' hideout.
  • Ship of Ghouls have this among the few good endings in the Lost at Sea B-plot. You might end up stranded at an atoll, but make the right choices and a school of passing dolphins will save you.

  • Animorphs combines this trope with Sapient Cetaceans — not only do the team morph dolphins early and often, but dolphins themselves are depicted as more or less the heroes of the seas. Cassie gets a dolphin as the cover morph of her first book, The Message.
  • Venus Among the Fishes is about Coral and her brother Snapper who are sent on a journey to save their pod from orca attacks.
  • In Journey Of The Dolphin King House Rinaldo the leader dolphin of a band of dolphins and his goal is to help his dolphin pod find a new home.
  • Dolphins Dance is about a man reincarnated as a dolphin. One of the events in the story involves him saving a college student who was in a surfing accident.
  • The Tempests Roar is about a white dolphin named Apollo whose destiny is to save whalekind from destruction on this planet man calls Earth but whales know as Planet Ocean.
  • The Roman Mysteries: In The Dolphins of Laurentum, a dolphin rescues Lupus after he nearly drowns from staying underwater too long while diving. It is also strongly implied that the same dolphin discouraged Lupus from deliberately leaving behind another diver who had been trapped by a giant octopus, though in fairness to Lupus he had a good reason for wanting the trapped person to die. The same scene is also in the Live-Action TV adaptation. The book also references several examples of the use of dolphins in Classical Mythology, including stories of shipwrecked sailors being rescued by dolphins.
  • Dolphin Way Rise Of The Guardians has a dolphin protagonist who must break his civilizations rules to save his friends.
  • Dolphins Of Expedor is about Timothy Shore, a yellow, fourteen year old 'talking' dolphin, gets sucked into a whirlpool adventure to save his city 'Expedor' from certain destruction
  • Dolphin Journey has a dolphin protagonist and hero that goes out on a journey to create a song that will keep other dolphins from being trapped in nets.
  • Dinotopia: Dolphins were responsible for bringing all shipwreck survivors to the island.
  • Age of Fire: In the first book, dolphins rescue a drowning baby dragon and help him to land. A few months later and considerably larger, the dragon sees fishing boats attempting to capture the dolphins...
  • There's a book called Dolphin Song which is the second book in the Legend of the Animal Healer series. The main character, a girl called Martine — who holds a special gift with animals — falls overboard during a storm while on a school trip aboard a boat. Several other students also fall overboard, and they are all rescued by a pod of dolphins who remain friendly to them throughout.
  • Ingo: Dolphins are portrayed as a friendly, noble race and strong allies with the Mer, and they help the main characters throughout. It's also a great taboo for a Mer to kill a dolphin, and likewise for a dolphin to kill a Mer.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish has dolphins responsible for replacing the Earth and all of the people on it after it was destroyed by Vogons. Previous books also tell that they tried to warn humanity about Earth's imminent destruction, but the humans mistook it for their usual tricks.
  • In The Magic Treehouse Annie saves one from being eaten by pirates. Later it pops up to save Jack, leading him to Annie, and ultimately saving the day.
  • Pyramids has a rather cynical take on this. In a discussion of survival strategies various animals have evolved, the narration gives the example of a dolphin's tendency to rescue drowning humans if there's a chance biting them in half might be noticed by other humans.
  • Dolphin Trilogy: In Destiny and the Dolphins, John, Vinca, and Syn have been captured by diamond thieves who plan to torture John, rape Vinca and Syn, and kill all three of them as revenge for the fight they put up earlier. But as the thieves are dragging them through the water to the beach, John, Vinca, and Syn all send out a dolphin distress call. Within minutes, dozens of dolphins have arrived to kill the criminals.
  • Maddy's Dolphin: The human Maddy and her dolphin friend Indigo met when Indigo rescued her after she fell off a boat when she was two. Ten years later, Indigo and the other dolphins play a crucial role in rescuing the president's daughter after she's kidnapped by terrorists.
  • In Dolphin Island, Johnny is Lost at Sea floating on a packing crate after his hovership sinks. Dolphins push him across 100 miles of ocean to Dolphin Island, where he can finally receive medical treatment after 30 hours of dehydration and sunburn. A year later, Professor Kazan falls ill with pneumonia right after a hurricane destroys the island's medical supplies and radio transmitters. Johnny, who has trained two of the dolphins to tow a human on a surfboard, has them take turns pulling him to mainland Australia so he can summon help.
  • In Real Mermaids Don't Sell Seashells, Jade is attacked by a tiger shark, but a pod of dolphins comes to her rescue by ramming into it and chasing it off.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Invoked in Baywatch, where the "Search and Rescue" lane features a spinner with a helpful dolphin.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Achilleid, Thetis has a team of titan-bred dolphins that she prefers to ask for help instead of the gods she knows. The poem even takes a second after this to wax poetic about how dolphins are the most beautiful and human animals in the ocean.
  • In Chinese mythology the Baiji (river dolphin) was once a girl who was almost raped by her father, saving herself by drowning in the Yangtze. She became the goddess of the river, a symbol of peace and prosperity.
  • From Classical Mythology, there's the tale of Arion the musician, whose music attracted a herd of dolphins who saved him once Arion was cast into the seas by marauders, besides giving him a lift home.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Some editions have depicted dolphins as sentient Good-aligned creatures with their own patron goddess.
  • Middle-Earth Role Playing: Dolphins and porpoises, or Ulmodili ("Friends of Ulmo"), are noble creatures who serve the sea-lord Ulmo directly rather than his servant Ossë. They thus avoided being corrupted during Ossë's temporary fall into evil, and remain allies of the free people and of the Teleri Elves in particular.
  • Pathfinder: Ekekehs are benevolent, civilized dolphin-like fey who build grand cities beneath the ocean and seek to match the land-dwellers' achievements in culture and edification.
  • Traveller: One sourcebook has a story where uplifted sapient dolphins help bring to light a scandal involving the secret enslavement of an intelligent species by a megacorporation.
  • Rifts: In Rifts Underseas, players can choose to play as a dolphin (or an orca or even humpback whale).
  • Escape From Atlantis has dolphins which give swimmers a boast of 3 spaces per turn rather than the usual 1.

    Video Games 
  • The Shoot 'Em Up Aero Fighters has a playable character who's a dolphin that's also a fighter jet pilot. And he can speak and understand human language.
  • Burning Rangers has a dolphin play a prominent role in the second level actively carrying our heroes through underwater passages as way of thanks for saving it from suffocating.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: The Allies use specially trained attack dolphins as underwater scouts and counter unit to Soviet mind-controlled Giant Squid by sonic weapons.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 includes dolphins with sonic weapons as naval units for the Allies. They can also leap over the water to avoid enemy attacks from the sea.
  • Dolphin Blue, a Run-and-Gun video game, have the player's steeds being dolphins which carries them in missions where they destroy enemy bases, blasting apart mooks on speedboats while having the dolphin leap around to avoid enemy attacks.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Humans aren't even present, at least not in the Genesis games, but Ecco saves not only his family, but the world as a whole, from being consumed by aliens. The other dolphins also bravely show up en masse to battle the Vortex aliens at the end of the second game, and the Resistance dolphins from Defender show some courage in helping Ecco overthrow the Clan, a group of violent, militaristic dolphins who have taken over that particular reality.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn: Kirby can transform into a Dolphin in select water stages, granting him a Spin Attack and faster mobility.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduced the Pokémon Palafin, a cute dolphin who when switching out of battle undergoes a change into a form resembling a costumed superhero with its Attack stat more than doubling. It's said to rescue drowning people and Pokémon while being strong enough to lift a cruise ship with one fin.
  • Played straight with the empathic, pacifist Liir race from Sword of the Stars... until you attack them, at which point they'll declare you Suul'Ka and never stop killing you until your entire race is just a fading memory. Liir soldiers are called "Black Swimmers" and are never permitted to interact with civilian Liir, lest their murderous tendencies corrupt the entire species. As far as the planet-bound Liir are concerned, the Black Swimmers are all dead to them. They hold a funeral service for each Liir who signs up to join the fleet. And as for the Suul'Ka themselves, the Eldritch Abomination Abusive Percursors everyone lives in quiet fear of? They're Liir Great Elders gone mad with power and the fear of death.
  • Mike rescues a dolphin in the second stage of StarTropics. It returns the favor at the end of the game.
  • Super Mario World features a few levels with Scuba-wearing Dolphins that jump out of the water regularly and can be used as platforms to reach far away areas. They can be eaten by Yoshi too. Of course, Romhacks like to use them to lift Mario up into spiked ceilings and similar obstacles, so the trope can swing both ways.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja story Death Volley has the implication of dolphins getting revenge on Agent Bearclaw. His story: "One time I swam out to sea, and pretended to be injured so that dolphins would swim up to rescue me. I did this so that I could kill them with my bare hands."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos: Dolphins helps the team catch Devilfish, Claw's Psycho for Hire in "Deadly Dolphin".
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Aquaducks," dolphins help Scrooge, Launchpad, Gyro and Doofus escape the Lost City of Atlantis.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Brainy Smurf mistakes shark fins for a school of porpoises in The Smurfs (1981) episode "Never Smurf Off Till Tomorrow".
  • Flipper and Lopaka: Flipper is a quick-witted, agile, loyal and friendly bottlenose dolphin, whose parents are the rulers of Quetzo. When trouble arises in the underwater city (usually thanks to Dexter), the citizens of Quetzo turn to Flipper for a plan. And he never fails them.
  • Moby Lick from Street Sharks, who is a human turned into an orca.
  • When Jem is drowning and about to be attacked by a killer whale, a dolphin pushes her out of the way and brings her up to the surface.

    Real Life 
  • It has become increasingly popular in non-fictional media to portray dolphins as Always Chaotic Evil, due to cases of dolphins killing their own young, but in practice it is unclear what percentage of dolphins are like that, etc. At the very least, it should be regarded as depending on the individual dolphin. Dolphins have also been known to rescue humans, after all.
    • One of reasons why dolphins are so popular may be exactly that similarity to humans in that they are capable of doing very... erm, humane deeds, as well as things completely opposite of these.
    • It also helps that things that seem morally reprehensible to us are, when it comes to animals, practically always a case of Blue-and-Orange Morality. Actions such as eating your own (or a rival's) offspring are present in many animals, for instinctual reasons we can't always understand easily. When it comes down to it, dolphins are still one of the select wild species in which empathy and playful behavior are consistently observed, including species other than their own - things such as going to great lengths to help stranded fish, whales, or even humans. The idea that dolphins are in any way more "immoral" than any other animal seems to be based on the higher expectations people have for dolphins, but they are still wild animals. Hard as it is to reconcile the image of Flipper the friendly dolphin playing with kids and saving stranded people from wrecks with the same animal that will eat its young, aggressively fight other sea creatures and sometimes even "rape" them, they are still wild animals, and some of their actions will inevitably come off as savage and ruthless to humans.
  • It's been suggested that the Real Life stories of the Heroic dolphin pushing humans to land or somewhere they can be rescued, is a selection effect. The situation may be a Fridge Horror version of the Friendly, Playful Dolphin: the Dolphin wants to play with him, and pushes him in any direction. The ones who live to tell the tale are pushed toward safety (just by chance). The ones who don't, aren't. There are, however, reported cases of dolphins deliberately doing things clearly intended as life-saving, including chasing off sharks to defend others.
  • Inverted in the recent case of a dolphin coming to a human diver for help.
  • Pelorus Jack was a wild New Zealand Risso's dolphin who was famous for escorting ships through the notorious French pass from 1888 until his supposed death from old age in 1912. After a (potentially drunken) sailor abord the SS Penguin shot at him, Jack became protected under New Zealand law, making him the first individual sea creature to achieve such a feat. According to legend, Jack no longer helped the Penguin after the incident which led to its shipwreck in 1909. In his honor, New Zealand had two military mascot bulldogs named after him aboard the HMS New Zealand in World War I, and since 1989 Jack has been the mascot for the Cook Strait InterIslander ferry service.
  • Moko, a wild New Zealand bottlenose dolphin, was hailed as a hero for leading two trapped whales to safety.
  • While they are apex predators and thus prone to a bit more of the Predators Are Mean trope when it comes to public perception, Orca arguably fit this trope better than a majority of other dolphin species. Pods are extremely protective of one another, they've been known to team-up with humans to hunt other whales, and despite having more than enough intelligence and strength to do so, there has never been a confirmed case of an orca hunting a human; even the recent cases of orcas ramming and/or sinking boats off the Iberian coast are theorized by at least some biologists to be instances of overblown play behavior. All cases of orca killing a human are captive individuals with dubious mental health or the deaths were accidents. And yes, despite their nickname of "Killer Whale", orca are indeed the largest species of true dolphin.
  • In the summer of 2023, video surfaced (no pun intended) of a young orca approaching a group of boaters for help in freeing an adult orca, presumably its mother, who was entangled in a fishing net. After a rescue team was called to the scene, the calf guided them to the trapped orca's location, allowing them to free it. The video can be seen here.


Video Example(s):



Graceful marine mammals bred for military service. Their sonic weapons can shake ships apart.

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