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I Was Just Passing Through

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Rouge: That was so unexpected. So unlike you, Shadow, to come and rescue me. But your ability to use Chaos Control certainly comes in handy.
Shadow: You know, I didn't come to save you, I came back for the Chaos Emeralds.
Rouge: Yeah, yeah! But then again that's not the whole story, is it?

Sometimes it makes for interesting drama to have The Rival come in and save the day. Being the Foil that he is, there's no way he can just up and admit to wanting to save his rival's life, now can he?

So he needs an excuse. After saving (or trying to save) his rival's life, he passes it off as having done it for his own reasons, such as one of these:

It's different from an Enemy Mine situation because the two characters aren't really enemies... they just really don't like each other that much. The Aloof Ally is also a frequent user of this trope. If someone uses this trope with a stutter, that's a Tsundere with their Love Interest (who may or may not be their rival). Can also be said by a Nominal Hero.

Sub-Trope of Think Nothing of It. Compare Ungrateful Bastard. Contrast Big Damn Villains. Not to be confused with But for Me, It Was Tuesday.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Uryuu's excuse for trying to save Rukia from Byakuya and Renji was that he was on his way home from late-night shopping at an arts and craft store. As a Bad Liar, his lie indicates he only went to the shop so he'd have an excuse to intervene. He only goes to Soul Society because he wants to beat the shinigami that beat him. Nothing to do with rescuing Rukia. Really.
    • Kuukaku claims she was bored enough to go for a stroll when she turns up at the end of the Soul Society just in time to help Yoruichi against Aizen.
    • When Kensei saves his former lieutenant and perpetual annoyance Mashiro from Wonderweiss, he states he's not avenging her, he's just putting a cocky kid in his place.
  • Naruto: Shikamaru does this when after we see Team Ten hiding in the bushes watching Sakura struggle with three Sound Ninja. He tries to convince one of his teammates to step up and do a Big Damn Heroes moment. When they finally do, he claims that it was her idea and he's just going along with it because they're a team. In his case he's not The Rival to anyone (that would be much too troublesome; he's just got a slacker image to maintain and also knows the scene will work out better if everyone including Ino believes it was Ino's idea.
    • Lee saving Sakura, Naruto, and Sasuke during the Chunin Exams and Guy saving Kakashi, Kurenai, and Asuma from Itatchi and Kisame.
  • YuYu Hakusho,
    • Hiei saves Yusuke from Hagiri aka Sniper, fights him to calm him down after losing Kuwabara, and rejoins his team to fight Sensui. His reasoning? "I don't want these C-rank demons running around." Not to mention his excuse after saving Yusuke initially. "I was worried about the trees." Of course, he chose to intervene right after the tree-smashing eighteen-wheeler gunning for our main character had...erm...exploded, but the guy trying to shoot Yusuke was a threat to the trees too.
    • When the temporarily-depowered Kuwabara is in danger of getting attacked by one of Sensui's men, Yusuke, seemingly pissed off that he's potentially in danger, announces that he's leaving and going to an arcade. Genkai is certain that he's really pulling this trope - he's really going to save Kuwabara, that is. Turns out that, nope, he was really going to an arcade to blow off steam.
  • Every time Vegeta comes in and saves Goku in the Dragon Ball Z movies he gives his usual mantra about how "I'm the only one allowed to defeat you." In Movie 12, he says he noticed he got his body back and decided to jump into the fight.
    • Likewise in canon when Android 19 is about to kill Goku. Vegeta steps in and gives a little speech about how nobody else is allowed to kill Kakarot, because "destiny has reserved that pleasure for me." What makes this especially interesting is that Vegeta waited until Goku lost consciousness before rescuing him. Given how Saiyan's pride work he mostly likely did it to save Goku's feelings.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends: Nyanko-sensei often insists that he's serving as Natsume's bodyguard so that he can have the Book of Friends once Natsume bites it. Given that he has yet to give a clear answer as to why he doesn't just eat Natsume and take the book, it's probably just an excuse.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Kouga is fond of this one, although his relationship with the group initially began over his interest in Kagome (the reasons for that interest change from practical to personal).
    • Inuyasha tends to be this way whenever he has to help out anyone initially, but eventually retains this attitude for Kouga in particular, where his preferred excuse is, "I just didn't want those shards in your legs to fall into the hands of the enemy". He continues saving Kouga even after Kouga has lost the shards.
    • This is Sesshomaru's favourite tactic when getting involved in his brother's troubles:
      • When Inuyasha's Superpowered Evil Side goes out of control and even Kagome's voice can't bring him back, Sesshomaru appears and beats Inuyasha into submission before explaining to Kagome how to bring him out of it. When the gang demands to know why he helped, he claims it's because he's the only one allowed to defeat him but there's no point doing it when Inuyasha's too out of his mind to even understand who's defeated him.
      • He rescues Kagome from Mukotsu but claims he's only passing through and the villain got in his way of interrogating Kagome about Naraku's whereabouts.
      • He saves Kohaku from Byakuya, claiming he's only there to cut away an annoying scent, and protects Kohaku for the rest of the story. However, this occurs shortly after Moryomaru insults Kagura's Heroic Sacrifice to save Kohaku as being in vain, leading to Sesshomaru promising himself to make sure her death wasn't in vain.
      • His only subversion is when he goes to a dying Kagura. He first says he was following Naraku's scent but admits he knew it was actually her.
      • His excuses do eventually stop: when everyone's struggling with the most powerful evil in history, Sesshomaru finally openly protects Inuyasha and his friends.
  • In one dubbed episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba actually says "I Did What I Had to Do" to justify saving Anzu/Téa from the enemy. Otherwise he's always helping Yugi out because only he can be the one to beat him, or because Yugi saves his kidnapped brother and Kaiba helps because he "owes him". It gets to the point where the heroes just stop believing him.
  • Non-action example: Kyouya of Ouran High School Host Club once saves a rich woman from being swindled by a shady merchant, claiming that he identified her by her ring as a business associate of his family. The thing is: Haruhi notices that from the angle where he was standing, he couldn't have seen the ring...
  • In the Saiyuki anime, Kougaiji and his group have turned this into something of an art form. The main four aren't above reciprocating, either. They're all very proud to call each other their enemies.
    • Actually, the main four do this so often to the point of parody. Whenever they save someone, they have to point out that they're "doing it my way" or that "we're on our own side." For more specific examples, Gojyo, after rescuing Sanzo from falling off a cliff in the Kami-sama arc, claimed that he did it because he had a "habit of picking things up when they fell." And Sanzo, after taking a near-fatal hit to protect Goku in the Rikudo arc, rationalized that he did it to protect his past self. (Examples from Sanzo can fill the whole page, actually.)
  • In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, when Caren refuses to join up with the Power Trio and berates them at every opportunity, she still randomly pops in and saves them before telling them how much they suck. In one episode, she unknowingly ruins their plan to get the Dark Lovers to "kidnap" Rina, and then states that she was just swimming around... even though she has a deep personal grudge against Rina and wishes she had been caught earlier, which the others note.
  • Ryoga pulls one of these in Ranma ˝ when Ranma has been stripped of all strength by Happosai, and is therefore completely helpless when Mousse, Kuno, Principal Kuno and (Gosunkugi in the manga) gang up on him. Ryoga shows up to save Ranma at the last minute, then explains that it simply offends his sense of justice to see strong people pick on the weak.
  • Haruhi-chan:
    • This happens in a couple of times. Sonou Mori, the maid from the island in "Remote Island Syndrome", once crashes through a window, stands up and smiles at Kyon and Itsuki. She says, "I'm just a maid passing by!" Kyon's response: "You LIE!"
    • In another episode, Arakawa-san drives into the woods after a phone call from Itsuki and says, "I'm just a taxi driver passing by!" Sonou Mori then falls from the sky and says, "I'm just a skydiver passing by!"
  • Downplayed and somewhat subverted when Gamagoori from Kill la Kill gives Ryuuko and Mako a ride when their scooter runs out of gas out of complete happenstance. Despite thinking that both of them are delinquents and enemies, it's his duty as the a member of the Student Disciplinary Committee to help any other student in need off of school grounds, and he takes his duties very, very, seriously.
  • Noir. Kirika is wounded during a hit in a Middle Eastern country, and wakes up to find Mirielle standing over her with a silenced pistol, ready to kill her as it's the only way she'll be able to escape across the border. We see Mirielle working herself up to shoot...then she fires into the pillow instead, claiming that she needs Kirika alive to help her find the answers behind the Soldats. Yeah, right.
  • Luck Gandor from Baccano!! tends to use these rationalizations to explain his more noble actions, such as his Big Damn Heroes scene in Drugs & the Dominoes as well as letting Eve rescue Dallas despite the latter's Moral Event Horizon, to himself.
    He just wanted to let that girl ?be temporarily at ease?, that was all. If he told her the location, she would no longer contact him and his gang. There wouldn't be any more reason for her to bear such pointless grudge against him...Everything was in control. There was nothing worth worrying about.
  • In Transformers: Robots in Disguise, This is pretty much Ultra Magnus's entire schtick. In one episode, he claims he just happened to be napping there.
  • Subverted in Durarara!! where Shizuo literally was just passing through the crowd when he mops up the entire Yellow Scarves. The reason for triggering his Berserk Button? He couldn't keep up with all of the messages on his phone. (Shizuo's Berserk Buttons are, of course, numerous and easy to push.)
  • Rebuild of Evangelion plays this straight. When Unit 03 is shipped in from the US, Unit 02 is locked away into cryostasis and Asuka is suspended. Later on, Unit 03's activation experiment is coincidentally scheduled onto the same day as the meal party Rei is holding in an effort to make Shinji and Gendou reconcile their differences. Seeing that Rei is motivated by her crush on Shinji, Asuka volunteers to be the test pilot instead of Rei, saying that she simply wanted to pilot again. It comes back to bite her in the ass in a major way, though - Unit 03 is infected by Bardiel, the meal party is called off and Shinji is forced to watch from the first row as his Dummy System-controlled Eva brutally tears Unit 03 to pieces, almost killing Asuka in the process while Hideaki Anno plays unfitting music. Judging from the trailer of the third film, she got off with an Eyepatch of Power.
  • After the Time Skip in Claymore, the Seven Ghosts will inevitably declare this whenever they assist other Claymores, claiming that they were not trying to help their former comrades, and the monsters were just in their way.
    • Eventually gets Lampshaded when one of the Claymores who has been working with them for a while informs a group that the Ghosts just rescued that they actually went pretty far out of their way specifically to help the other Claymores out, but the Ghosts will still try to invoke this trope.
  • "They were crowding."
  • Lancer has a pretty big case of this towards Saber in Fate/Zero. Justified in them both being knights who value an honourable, one-on-one duel.
    • Archer also invokes this trope when he rescues Saber from Berserker during the Mion River battle. Berserker had been trying to kill Archer earlier, before switching targets to Saber, and Archer intervenes to save her because he considers Berserker turning his back on him an insult to his pride.
  • In Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns:, Mewtwo prevents a bus accident near his mountain home, sulkily explaining to the other clones that he didn't want attention drawn to the area and that he doesn't care one bit about the humans' lives.
  • Played with in Smile Pretty Cure!. In the fourth episode, Nao catches Miyuki, Akane and Yayoi as Cures and wants to know what was going on. Yayoi ends up uttering out. "We're just passing through superheroes!"
  • In High School DXD, this is the excuse Vali gives out when he and his group rescued Asia from the Dimension Gap. Though this is a Subverted Trope for him because he literally was passing through the Dimension Gap because he wanted to obtain Gogmagog and he just happened to see Asia there.

     Comic Books 
  • Venom (Eddie Brock) has saved Spider-man numerous times during teamups, always with a variation on this excuse or He's Mine!

     Fan Fic 

  • In A New Hope, Han says he couldn't let Luke have all the glory in the Death Star battle.
  • The Proposition ends this way. "No more".
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Sabretooth helps Wolverine take down Deadpool because he wants to kill Wolverine himself, at a later date and in a fair fight.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The so-called brave Sir Robin uses this to gain passage against the three-headed knight. Robin scarpens off while the three-headed knight argue amongst themselves.


     Live Action TV 

     Video Games 
  • Live A Live: Matsu says this at his first appearance in the Mecha Chapter when questioned by a group of people assaulting Akira.
  • In the computer game Advance Wars 2, Hawke kills his boss Sturm to prevent Sturm blowing up his missile on the launchpad and killing everyone. Hawke claims that he only did it to gain control of Sturm's army.
  • The ending of Mega Man Star Force 2 has Solo saving Geo from the Big Bad's exploding base while Geo was out cold after defeating the Load-Bearing Boss. His excuse? "Your body was blocking my way, so I moved it."
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Layton's nemesis Don Paolo makes what he claims is a temporary Heel–Face Turn. Although his overarching reason for helping the heroes is justified — he wants to know the truth about the accident which killed the woman he loved — he invokes this trope when he makes Crazy Awesome modifications to Layton's car (enabling it to do things like turn into a glider). He insists that he only did it for the sake of Layton's adopted daughter, who has been kidnapped.
  • This also happens in the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. With Gengar saving the main character from the Spirit World, and of course insisting that he had no intention of saving them, and just happened to stumble across them.
  • Also happens in Pokemon XD. Zook threatens to pound Jovi into hamburger when she accidentally bumps into him. "Blue", one of Mr. Verich's two bodyguards, steps up with his Alakazam and beats Zook's Zangoose into next week, telling Michael and Jovi that he was simply taking out the trash. Later, at the Cipher Key Lair, Zook goes on a rant about how Ardos (a.k.a. "Blue") tore his Zangoose a new one and chewed his ear off about using Shadow Pokemon in public.
  • In the opening of Part 2 of Solatorobo, Chocolat asks Red if he misses Elh. His emphatic response is that no, he just misses the billion rings' worth of work he was promised! Of course no one actually buys it, but Chocolat drops the subject pretty quick anyway.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, even though they're supposed to be working together anyway, Shadow shrugs off his saving Rouge's life as "saving the Chaos Emeralds." Later, Knuckles does the exact same thing, saying he's saving the pieces of the Master Emerald.
    • In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow also says this to Sonic after you help him destroy the Black Arms soldiers in the Hero mission of Westsopolis.
    • Implied in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). We don't really get to see how Shadow came across Silver attempting to kill Sonic, but nonetheless, Shadow does intervene and lets Sonic go, fighting in his place.
  • In Tales of Destiny 2, Judas saves the party and Phillia from Barbatos in a Big Damn Heroes moment and later tries to slip away unnoticed. Kyle runs after him to thank him, and he gives this excuse, though seeing as it was incredibly difficult to get in to the area they'd all been in, even Kyle can see this is an excuse and calls him out on it.
  • In Tales of Vesperia Duke didn't rescue Yuri from falling off of the Disc-One Final Dungeon; he just went to retrieve his Cool Sword. Never mind him having (mostly) healed Yuri from a bad wound and only leaving once Yuri wakes up a week later.
  • After a disastrous battle in the background fluff of The End Times Vermintide, Markus Kruber is thoroughly depressed and requests leave from his superiors to visit his family, which is denied. The witch hunter Victor Saltzpyre then promptly decides to requisition Kruber to help him escort a dangerous criminal back to Ubersreik for trial.... it's purely coincidence that Ubersreik is where Kruber's family lives.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, this tends to be the excuse Jakob gives whenever he helps most people.
    • Inverted in chapter 17 of the Conquest route. Saizo justifies an Enemy Mine with the Avatar and their forces by claiming that they were just passing through.
    • In chapter 10 of the Revelation route, Leo saves Sakura from Zola, but claims that it wasn't because he believes the Avatar's seemingly outrageous claim that King Garon is being controlled by someone else, but because he happened to be in the area and couldn't abide Zola's dishonorable tactics. Those who played Birthright, and thus know about Leo's true feelings towards the Avatar, can easily tell he's lying though, presumably so he doesn't get branded a traitor to Nohr as well and can work to find his own evidence of the Avatar's claims.
  • Joshua and Natasha's B support in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has Joshua claiming this when he rescues Natasha from a stray arrow. Their A support later has her repeat the claim when Joshua gets hurt, which Joshua doubts but doesn't question too heavily.

  • In Nebula Jupiter's excuse for saving Earth from a meteor was that he was hungry and wanted to catch it.

     Western Animation 
  • Subverted In the Adventure Time episode It Came From The Nightosphere, Marceline insists she's only helping Finn hunt her dad down to get her bass guitar back. After she accomplishes this she did start to leave. Then double subverted as Finn stopped her by playing her private recording from earlier in front of her father.
  • In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Warp abandons Buzz and avoids a fight with some invading aliens, then comes back to save him because he couldn't drive a stick.
  • In the Kim Possible episode 'Mad Dogs and Aliens', Shego helps to stop Warmonga by tricking her with the help of the tweebs. More or less says that Kim is hers to defeat.
  • In Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, Sixknight gives this as a reason for helping the Headmaster Juniors against Hydra and Buster.
  • Averted by Red X from Teen Titans when he lends Robin his aid. In "X", despite having battled each other for most of the episode, Red X tracks Robin down to the villain's lair and ends up saving his life, and proceeds to help Robin save the city.
    Robin: I thought you didn't like to play the hero.
    Red X: Doesn't mean I don't know how.
  • After Bruce saved Terry and a runaway kid in an episode of Batman Beyond, he invokes this trope as an excuse for him appearing out of nowhere in an Absurdly Spacious Sewer to clobber the villain senseless with his walking stick.
    Shriek: [to Batman] At least I get the pleasure of killing you myself.
    Bruce: [appears behind Shriek] Why do they always talk so much?
    Bruce: [to Batman and runaway kid] I just happened to be in the neighborhood.
    [walks off]

  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, while Numbah four is in the process of saving Numbah three from her a Supervillain in a sandcastle who wanted to wed her, he insists she owes him a quarter. Upon meeting her again, she doesn't remember owing him anything.