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Kid Amid the Chaos

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"Never get involved... except when children are crying."
The Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Beast Below"

When a town or city faces disaster, there will be a small child, usually but not always under 10 years of age, that for whatever reason will have become separated from their parents. Luckily, someone steps in the way and saves the child before they get hit/shot/whatever.

Not to be confused with the Littlest Cancer Patient, who is often the focus for (often) an entire episode. A Kid Amid the Chaos is only on screen for a few seconds. Although they both try to make the audience go "Aww, that's sad".

See also: Empathy Doll Shot, Abandoned War Child, Bystander Action-Horror Dissonance.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This happens in the first season finale of Attack on Titan when Eren, in his Rogue Titan form, does battle with Annie's Female Titan in the Stohess District, during which several innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire and crushed. During the battle, we see a small child, crying and bloodied, staggering through the war-torn streets all alone as the Titans continue to fight around her.
  • Yoshino and Lilamon have to rescue a girl who's fallen on the floor from a Boarmon who's about to stamp on her in episode 21 of Digimon Data Squad.
  • This happens twice in Digimon Tamers. In one episode, a toddler has to be rescued from a train that's being attacked by the snake Deva. In another, Musyamon attacks a little girl who pursues her wayward balloon. Don't ever chase your toys into the street, kids.
  • Subverted in Eureka Seven when when the Coral Monsters are attacking a town. A little boy starts to cry, and his mother suffocates him to get him to be quiet. They all die anyways.
  • During the Android Saga of Dragon Ball Z, when Goku stops Android 20 from destroying the city, we see a little girl crying until her mother pulls her to safety from falling debris.
  • Gakuen Alice: The penultimate episode has a little boy being threatened by a lion. Sumire scares it out of the way.
  • This occurs in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's during Yusei's battle with Aporia - the Duel Lane had been destroyed and their duel had moved onto the city streets. When Aporia launched a direct attack, Yusei noticed a child in the road ahead of them. Fortunately he was able to stop his D-Wheel in time and block the attack, giving them a chance to escape.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, when Yahiko has to fight a crazed Kujiranami to protect Tokyo while Kenshin is having his Heroic BSoD after Kaoru's "death" at Enishi's hands, one of his objectives is to save a crying kid who got separated from his dad during the chaos.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • Saitama saves one in the opening pages, grabbing her just as the bad guys are about to squish her. He does so again in Episode 5, saving a crying boy from a car sent flying by Sonic's rampage.
    • Genos does it in the season finale as a Bookend, saving a kid in the midst of some ruins from the rampage of Pluton while Saitama takes care of the monster.
  • During the Ishvalan Massacre in Fullmetal Alchemist, a crying Ishvalan girl can be seen.
  • In the first chapter of Spy X Family, Twilight has a flashback to his own childhood as a war orphan crying in the middle of a destroyed city, surrounded by tanks, rubble, and dead bodies.

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman: Birthright, during an assault on Metropolis, Superman saves a kid with a giant Superman shield.
  • Batman: No Man's Land: When much of Gotham is destroyed by an earthquake, Poison Ivy actually collects more than a dozen orphaned children and cares for them in the city park, which she has taken over as her private domain. At the end of the arc one of the children is dying, and Poison Ivy gives herself over to the police so that the girl can get medical attention.
  • Armageddon 2001: A little girl getting caught in the crossfire of the Peacekeepers and their target, as well as being threatened with jail time for jumping in to save her were half of what ultimately turns Matt Rider against the Monarch's government.note 

    Films — Animation 
  • The climax of Ark, when Chancellor Baramanda hijacks the titular mech to destroy the Storrian kingdom. A crying little girl can be seen during the rampage, and whether she made it out or not isn't made clear (considering the film ends with Anyone Can Die...)
  • In the mythology-themed "The Pastoral Symphony" segment of Fantasia, as the characters flee a violent thunderstorm, a frightened baby unicorn is scooped to safety by one of the female centaurs.
  • In the Memories segment "Stink Bomb", a man named Nobuo takes a pill and accidentally becomes a Typhoid Mary. One scene features people trying to evacuate Tokyo in droves, with a shot of crying children at an airport.
  • In the opening of The Prince and the Pauper, a small child is shown crying alone while Pete's men riot and steal from the civilians. A woman, presumably his mother, picks him up and runs away with him.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, many Egyptian children are shown suffering as a result of the plagues being unleashed upon Egypt, to which Moses has an internal moral dilemma over.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film Agora, there is a Tear Jerker scene that is also the Moral Event Horizon for the Christians of the story where the Jews of Alexandria are being attacked, and inserted in among scenes of death, destruction, mass murder and rape is a shot mere seconds long of a girl sobbing.
  • The protagonists of The Andromeda Strain discover one of the two alien disease survivors, a small baby, by hearing his crying, and it (the crying, not the baby) turns out to be a plot point.
  • Godzilla (2014): A boy named Akio is separated from his parents shortly before the male MUTO shows up and starts causing destruction. Ford saves him from a fall which would have at the very least injured him when the MUTO chews into the train they're on.
  • A major plot point of the second half of the John Woo movie Hard Boiled involves evacuating the babies of a hospital's maternity ward and getting them to safety once the patients that didn't get killed by the bad guys are evacuated. Tequila's love interest, Teresa Chang, who played a major role in the evacuation of the patients, is placed in charge of getting the kids out of there with the help of the SWAT team, with the bad guys trying to stop them every step of the way. Eventually, every one of the babies are evacuated, but there's just one more baby that she missed, which she charges Tequila himself with the task of saving. And man, does he ever.
  • Connor’s adopted daughter Rachel in Highlander. Connor got into a fight with Those Wacky Nazis and was able to rescue her during the shooting due to not dying very easily. The scene was cut from the American theatrical cut for violence but later was restored in one vhs and most dvd releases.
  • He isn't crying, but in Iron Man 2 a lone child, a young Peter Parker to be more specific, finds himself in the path of a Hammer Drone and needs to be saved by Tony.
  • The beach shootout from The Killer (1989). Here, the kid does get shot, forcing the title character to grab her and take her to the hospital in an effort to save her. This is the first clue to the Cowboy Cop tracking him that this guy is not like other assassins.
  • In the original King Kong (1933), while Kong is attacking the native village on Skull Island and the inhabitants are fleeing, there's a brief scene with a small native child who's been left behind. A woman (probably the mother) rescues the child.
  • There is one of these in the 1945 Nazi propaganda film Kolberg: the heroine rescues an adorable child who was separated from his family when their village is shelled by the vicious French.
  • The scene in Matthew where King Herod orders all the baby boys to be killed. Done heart-wrenchingly with a little boy stumbling around in the streets wailing among all the chaos. But in this case, he doesn't get rescued.
  • In one of the movie adaptations of The Odyssey, during the fighting in Troy scene, Odysseus spots a little boy crying (or just standing there looking petrified) with blood on his face. Odysseus makes his way to the boy, picks him up and either carries him out of the battle or puts him in the arms of another adult.
  • Pacific Rim has a flashback sequence to Mako Mori after she lost her parents in a Kaiju attack, wandering the streets of Tokyo alone and carrying her lost shoe. Understandably, she's crying about the situation, especially when the Kaiju starts chasing her.
  • Towards the end of Peace Hotel, when the titular location is besieged by Ding-Moon's bandit gang, and the hero Wong Ah-Ping leads whatever ragtag forces he have to fend off their assault. One of the hotel's regulars is a single mother and her child, and the boy wanders around during the carnage until Wong pulls him out of the way while slicing up mooks.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: When Captain Barbosa opens fire on the port, a little boy can be seen crying. A woman pulls him out of the way before he is blown up by the cannon fire.
  • Happens during the battle on Jedha in Rogue One - Jyn spots a very young girl caught in the crossfire between Stormtroopers and rebels, and dashes in to get the child out of harm's way. The city is detsroyed by a test of the Death Star shortly afterwards meaning the girl was almost certainly killed anyway.
  • In Rumble in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's character saves the oblivious little girl at the beach while the hijacked hovercraft head in its path and tosses the girl to her mother before getting run over.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • The first Spider-Man film: at the parade, a gigantic balloon is about to fall on a child. Spider-Man whisks him out of the way just in time. Although said child isn't so much "crying" as he is "standing in place like an idiot." Even Spidey gets a little exasperated at the kid's inability to simply run in any given direction.
      Kevin Murphy: Uh, Kid's Mom? Are both your legs broken or something?!
    • The second film also does this with Spider-Man rescuing a pair of kids about to be hit by a bus.
  • Star Trek: Generations: During the evacuation to the saucer section, several small children are left behind. Geordi La Forge and a female engineer rescue them.
  • A deleted scene from the theatrical release of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace has Nuclear Man create a tornado, only for a girl to get caught up in it, leaving Superman to rescue her. It's much, much, much more Narmy than it sounds.
  • Played straight in the 1943 Nazi version of Titanic (1943), in which Petersen saves a child that was abandoned in a First Class cabin.
  • Titanic (1997):
    • Subverted. Jack and Rose are trying to find a way out and find a small child screaming in the hallway. Another man (presumably the kid's father) finds them, shouts at them in a language they can't understand, and likewise he doesn't understand their warnings not to go that way because the hall behind that door is flooded...
    • Played straight with Cal. After his attempt to buy a seat on a lifeboat fails, he finds a crying, abandoned child and gets past the "women and children first" officer by saying "I'm all she has in the world." Done for selfish reasons, of course.
  • Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey: In one of the most disturbing moments ever to come from the Ultra Series, at one point of the movie a little girl is crying over her mother's dead body, before Ultraman Tiga - revealing his true nature as a Dark Giant - suddenly squashes the child with his fist. Thankfully that was all part of a Dream Sequence that never actually happened!
  • Played with in War of the Worlds (2005). Ray is distracted by an argument with his son in the middle of a battle, and misses the fact that his daughter has wandered off. An elderly couplenote  try to take her with them, assuming that her parents are dead, but fortunately Ray realizes what's happening.
  • Willow invoked this, but for Willow's own child, who stood crying in the middle of the village until Willow grabbed her and they made a run for it, getting to safety before the monster dogs could kill them. Strangely enough, this is one of the few versions where the toddler was not carried to safety - both Willow and daughter ran. This, because they're both midgets little people, and it wasn't possible for him to lift her and run to safety at higher speed than they would both run together.
  • A scene in Windtalkers is set in a ruined, partially destroyed village, where several children are seen, including a crying little girl who witnessed the horrors of war.

  • In Goldfinger, the book, not the movie, the plot is to poison the water supply (rather than spray gas from the air, as in the movie), Bond reaches the city Fort Knox and hears total silence except for babies crying, because they were given milk, not water, to drink.
  • Dawn of War: In Chris Roberson's Dawn of War II, one squad happens on two boys searching for their mother. They bring them back all the way. Part way through, one Marine pragmatically suggests leaving them, to have Thaddeus declare that any Marine who says that will be left himself; Thaddeus looks at the boys who are not crying, though they have tear tracks. They realize their mother is almost certainly dead, and want Revenge; when Thaddeus suggests they could be Blood Ravens, they are eager for it.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • It happens in the backstory, but Iron Fist mentions a riot which was "controlled" by means of stormtroopers arriving and opening fire on the crowd. Castin Donn saw a young mother get shot right in front of him and saved her baby before he could get shot or trampled.
    • During Galaxy of Fear Tash and Zak give up their seats on an Escape Pod to reunite a mother separated from her two-year-old by a panicking mob.
    • In a later book, Tash manages to use the Force to keep a falling rock from hitting another little girl.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One public information film (sort of the British version of Public Service Announcements) about the dangers of drunk driving featured just one close-up shot of a little girl crying while, off-screen, her mother screamed and shouted at her father, who apparently killed a small boy while driving under the influence.

  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Dragonfire", as the villain's forces overrun the planet, there's a shot of a little girl who has lost her mum.
    • The most obvious example is probably the screaming girl in "The Runaway Bride". Stands in front of an incredibly slow-moving electricity weapon and is pushed out of the way just in the nick of time.
    • Subverted in "The Fires of Pompeii", when Donna is trying to warn the Citizens of Pompeii not to go to the beach because they'll die. She grabs a little kid who has been separated from his parents; she tries to tell him how to survive, only for his mother to show up and grab him off Donna before she can impart her life-saving knowledge.
    • Also, providing the page quote, in "The Beast Below", the Doctor only starts investigating because he notices a crying girl.
    • Not shown on screen, but forms the backstory of Lorna in "A Good Man Goes to War". There was a disaster in her home of the Gamma Forest when she was a little girl, and the Doctor found her and helped her escape. Years later she repays the favor, dying to protect his friends from the Headless Monks. The Doctor comforts her as she passes by reminiscing about their first meeting, but it's clear he either doesn't remember her or it hasn't happened for him yet.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In episode 2 of Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro is forced to eject from the cockpit of Den Liner to pull a little girl out of the way before she gets hit by it. Then in episode 4, a contract holder doesn't make it to a music audition because he sees a little girl crying on the floor having lost her parent(s) and has to take her to the police station. Later when they go back in time, Ryotaro makes Hana take the girl to the police so that the contract holder can get to his audition on time. Then in the third movie a girl ends up kneeling on the ground crying during the fight between the Taros Imagin and Shiro's cronies and is nearly hit by a cart until Ryuutaros yanks her out of the way.
    • In episode one of Kamen Rider Decade, Natsumi nearly does this to a boy (and his mother) running away from a fireball... until Wataru stops time.
    • In Kamen Rider OOO, Eiji's backstory is almost always represented by a flashback to a little girl in the middle of a war zone. He had failed to save her, and this along with other consequences of the war have deeply traumatized him as a result.
  • A trailer for Korean tokusatsu Rayforce features one of these.
  • Three-year-old Lana Lang became this in-universe in Smallville, where her crying face was the cover image of a Time magazine issue about the meteor disaster (actually the break-up of Krypton and the arrival of Kal-El).
  • Sort of spoofed in the reality show Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, where one of the very first challenges of the first season is race where the true goal is to help the lost crying child. Those who raced past the little kid to the finish line lost.

  • On Lou Reed's LP Berlin, you can hear a child crying (way up in the mix) throughout the track "The Kids". Could be an effective method of contraception, particularly on "repeat".

    Video Games 
  • Kyrie and Nero save a crying little kid from an invading demon army at the beginning of Mission 2 in Devil May Cry 4.
  • Happens after an attack on a Tribal village in Jet Force Gemini, with one of the Tribal kids.
  • In the opening scene of Blaze Union, corrupt merchant Norn introduces himself by attempting to kidnap a panicky little girl so as to sell her. Unusually for this trope, the girl in question continues to make appearances in the story, and eventually becomes an important character.
  • Fatal Frame has a tragic example in the backstory to the second game; Chitose Tachibana was nearly blind and when all hell broke loose in her village, she hid in a cupboard, crying and hoping to be rescued. She wasn't rescued and in the present she's one of the most pitiable (if annoying) bosses you fight in the game.
  • Raid on Taihoku takes place during a bombing based on real, historical events, no less, and there are stages requiring you to run through bombed-out cities to seek shelter. In one stage you find Ru, a crying little girl caught in the explosions, and naturally you'll need to guide her to a shelter before helping her locate her mother. She becomes a recurring NPC afterwards in later levels.

  • Subverted in Looking for Group. During a huge fight between some well-meaning missionaries and Richard's villagers, who happen to be undead, one of the missionaries spots an innocent toddler wandering around the chaos so picks her up to take her to safety. She rips his heart out.
  • Pacific Rim: Amara: The second issue expands on the flashback to Amara's family's deaths in Pacific Rim: Uprising. After they were killed on the pier five-year-old Amara was left to fend for herself in the rushing crowd.
  • Unsounded: In the ruins of Ethelmik while Bell's butchers are slaughtering the populace a little girl is seen crying over her mother's corpse, with a wright approaching her hands glowing with pymary as she's about to become the next victim to Bell's lust for power.

    Western Animation 
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man has a crying little girl whose mother pushes her out of the way but is still in danger herself. Spidey swings in and saves the mom, then drops her back in front of her child, sort of inverting the trope.
  • One episode of Teen Titans (2003) has a villain threatening a child and her mother with his robotic dog until Starfire shoots it out of the way.
  • The opening credits of Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) feature a brother and sister getting this whilst being chased by Sentinel robots. Wolverine rescues them (well, he is the titular character).
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • An episode has a pair of kids and their dad nearly get crushed by a falling statue. Luckily Blue Beetle steps in and uses his shield to protect them.
    • Another episode has a robot about to stamp on a little girl who was dropped her stuffed bear. Her mother pulls her out of the way just before she's stomped upon.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series has an entirely straight example with a girl needing to be saved from a falling building but follows it up with Wolverine exasperatedly saying "this kid's crying... do something" before handing her to Jubilee.
  • This is how Simon Petrikov and Marceline met in Adventure Time — he found her crying in the ruins of a city during World War III.
  • The Daffy Duck short "Ain't That Ducky?" has a child duck throughout the cartoon looking into a satchel and crying his eyes out. Daffy and the hunter chasing him (a caricature of actor Victor Moore) get hold of it at the conclusion and look inside at what the issue is — a slip of paper that says "The End".

    Real Life 
  • One well-known picture of the aftermath of the Rape of Nanking during the Sino-Japanese War showed a crying baby, all alone amid the devastated cityscape.
  • Similarly, one of the most infamous images of the Vietnam War was "Napalm girl" - real name Phan Thi Kim Phuc - who'd suffered third-degree burns from a South Vietnamese napalm strike.
  • Another famous photo taken during the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia showed a child crying in a puddle while a city burns in the background. According to story, he was playing quite happily when the photographer came up and slapped him, thus getting the iconic shot.

Alternative Title(s): Crying Little Kid, Kid Amidst The Chaos