The Hero has a useful ally who's helping them out on The Quest and may even be a nominal part of their crew or organization. Their goals more or less align with the rest of the cast and they have a decent working relationship, but there's some concern that they might be a Fair Weather Friend. Maybe they're Not in This for Your Revolution or are a Hired Gun who's Only in It for the Money. Maybe they'd love to dedicate themselves fully to The Quest, but they've got some pressing matter that prevents them from giving it their full attention. Maybe their backstory and motivations are mysterious. It's uncertain whether they'll be A Friend in Need when the chips are down... or maybe it is certain that the answer is "no." What to do?
Go on a Loyalty Mission.
This is a mission or Side Quest that's not directly related to The Quest or main mission of the protagonists, but secures the loyalty of one or more members of the group. To them, It's Personal and helping them complete this task converts them from an ally of convenience to a True Companion. Narratively, it also provides a convenient excuse to explore the character's backstory and motivations and/or give them a Day in the Limelight.
Common Loyalty Missions include rescuing or avenging loved ones, saving hometowns, Finding The Cure, retrieving personal Upgrade Artifacts or Ancestral Weapons, taking down personal Arch Enemies, or sometimes several at once. In video games, completing Loyalty Missions may unlock gameplay bonuses for that character.
Commonly undertaken by Magnetic Heroes and/or Character Magnetic Teams. Compare Recruitment by Rescue, when a character is first recruited by rescuing them from danger. A Sub-Trope of Fire-Forged Friends. In video games, it is usually a Companion-Specific Sidequest and may be part of a larger system including Relationship Values and Level-Up at Intimacy 5. Also related to Because You Were Nice to Me.
- One Piece:
- Nami was one of the first to join the Straw Hats (after Zoro), but as a shameless thief who is openly Only in It for the Money, her loyalty is somewhat suspect. It's not until Luffy and the crew free her hometown from Arlong that she truly becomes one of the True Companions.
- Nico Robin follows much the same pattern. She is introduced as a villain and joins the crew under suspicious circumstances. After the Straw Hats declare war on the World Government to rescue her, she reveals her mysterious past and truly joins the crew.
- Han Solo of Star Wars originally joins the Rebel Alliance as a Hired Gun who is Only in It for the Money and the Trope Namer for Not in This for Your Revolution. He has a change of heart at the end of A New Hope, but is still unable to commit fully to the Rebellion due to a bounty placed on his head by Jabba the Hutt, and in The Empire Strikes Back sets off to pay off his debt and clear the bounty but is captured before he can do so. It's not until the debt is... rather forcibly cleared by Luke, Leia, and the gang in the beginning of Return of the Jedi that he's free and clear to kick Imperial ass and woo beautiful princesses.
- Arrow: An example of a failed Loyalty Mission in the first-season episode "Home Invasion." Oliver fails one of these by prioritizing protecting Laurel from a hitman over helping Diggle take down Deadshot, the man who killed Diggle's brother, without so much as a "sorry, buddy, I can't be in two places at once" to give Dig the heads-up that he's on his own, causing Diggle to take a 10-Minute Retirement from the team. However, by the second season he had gotten a lot better at this sort of thing: in "Keep Your Enemies Closer," Ollie drops everything to travel with Diggle to Russia and track down Deadshot. Diggle tells Ollie that he didn't ask for his help, and Ollie replies that he didn't need to. Diggle's look of gratitude says it all. He does the same sort of thing in Season 3's "Corto Maltese," despite having very serious problems of his own to deal with at the same time.
- Mass Effect 2 is the Trope Namer. Every party member has an optional Side Quest that secures their full loyalty and increases their chances of surviving the Suicide Mission at the end of the game. It also unlocks a snazzy new uniform such that if you successfully complete all of the Loyalty Missions, your crew will go from a Ragtag Band of Misfits to a unified fighting force. It's also possible to invert the trope by failing in specific ways, causing you to lose the loyalty and friendship of previously-die-hard crew members, which can be a real Tear Jerker.
- They exist in Mass Effect as well. In particular, helping Wrex obtain his ancestral armor wins his loyalty enough that you can talk him down from potentially turning on you without needing a high enough Paragon or Renegade rank. The fact that Garrus, Tali, and Liara effectively have two loyalty missions explains a lot. So does the fact that Kaidan and Ashley have none.
- Final Fantasy franchise:
- Final Fantasy VI: Several optional Side Quests in the World of Ruin count:
- The Cyan's Nightmare sequence purges all fear and doubt from Cyan's mind and provides closure with his departed wife and son, unlocking all of his SwordTech techniques.
- The player can take Strago to hunt the legendary monster Hidon and avenge his old friend who has been (seemingly) mortally injured by the beast. The fight also gives him the opportunity to learn the Blue Magic "Grand Train," which is on par with Ultima as one of the game's most powerful magic attacks.
- Shadow is a strictly temporary (and usually optional) party member throughout the World of Balance. By making sure he safely escapes the Floating Continent, rescuing him from the Cave on the Veldt, and tracking him down at the Dragon's Neck Coliseum, you can gain his loyalty for the rest of the game and also find out some of his backstory via Dream Sequence.
- Helping Terra free the town of Mobliz from the demon Phunbaba in the World of Ruin frees her from protecting the town and allows her to dedicate herself to the party full-time... and also resolves her confusion over her ability to love and shows her what she's fighting for, doubling the duration of her Morph ability.
- To get Sabin's ultimate Blitz ability "Bum Rush" you have to find his teacher who's been missing and presumed dead since before Sabin's introduction.
- Locke went searching for a cure for his dead girlfriend in the Phoenix Cave. To find him and make him join, you need to find this cure. The treasures Locke gives you when you meet are a nice bonus.
- Final Fantasy VII:
- When Red XIII originally joins the party, he agrees to accompany them only as far as his hometown of Cosmo Canyon. Upon arriving there, he and the party fight through a dungeon full of vengeful ghosts in order to discover the truth about his estranged father. Afterwards, he joins the True Companions permanently.
- Yuffie is a young thief and ninja who joins the party under suspicious circumstances and obviously plots to rob them blind. If the party wanders near her hometown of Wutai, she does just that, leading to a Side Quest involving tracking her down and ultimately rescuing her from Don Corneo. Afterward, she rejoins the party fully committed to their cause, although she still plans to rob them of their Materia after the main quest is over. Completing this quest also gives her the option of taking on a series of challenging one-on-one fights culminating with a duel with her father that unlocks her final Limit Break.
- Final Fantasy VI: Several optional Side Quests in the World of Ruin count:
- Frog gets this twice in Chrono Trigger:
- He first joins Crono and Lucca as a Guest-Star Party Member to rescue Queen Leene, but then retreats to a swamp to mope because he failed to prevent her from being kidnapped in the first place. Fetching the Hero Medal and reforging the Masamune snaps him out of his funk and gets him to join the party permanently.
- Much later, freeing the ghost of his old friend Cyrus from its torment gives Frog additional closure and, incidentally, the Masamune a much-needed power boost.
- Baldur's Gate franchise:
- In the original Baldur's Gate, Minsc joins your party on the condition you help him save Dynaheir. If you do so right away, the two of them join your team permanently (unless dismissed), but putting it off for too long makes Minsc leave the party after some time.
- Nearly every companion in Baldur's Gate II eventually approaches you for help with something and leaves if you fail to assist them. Jaheira has troubles with the Harpers, Anomen receives news that his sister is murdered, etc. Some companions, like Nalia and Valygar, can only be recruited after you complete their respective missions.
- Companion quests in Fallout: New Vegas function this way. They range from helping Boone make peace with his past to upgrading ED-E to convincing Raul to either pick up his guns again and defend the weak or to gracefully accept that his glory days are gone. All of them involve you advising them on a major decision about their life, with each decision effecting a different perk and/or new gear and that characters ending the Modular Epilogue.
- Fallout 4 continues the tradition, with four of your companions having personal quests that unlock when you reach enough Affinity with them. Cait seeks a cure for her addiction to Psycho, Nick Valentine seeks closure on a very personal case, Curie seeks to become human, and MacCready seeks both to get rid of his Gunner harassers and to find a cure for his son. Danse has a variant in that it is instead unlocked while following the main questline with the Brotherhood of Steel and it can end with him being killed if the player doesn't take careful steps to prevent it.
- Dragon Age: Origins uses this for nearly all your companions, except for Dog who does not join you until after you save his life (unless you were a human noble, then Dog starts the game in your party).
- Sten agrees to accompany you after you free him from a cage and save him from Darkspawn. His loyalty can be earned little by little over time, but the only occasion you get to see him smile is after a long and annoying quest to retrieve his lost sword, at which point he makes it pretty clear he respects you as a leader.
- Alistair wants to find his half-sister. This does not work out very well for him, but he really appreciates your helping him out with it. You are given the opportunity to make a serious change to his outlook and personality after you do it.
- Morrigan asks you to investigate her mother, Flemeth, and eventually to steal her book of spells.
- Leliana is attacked by her former lover/partner-in-crime, who you must eventually confront.
- Oghren wants to rekindle a romance with an old flame of his.
- Wynne wishes to make peace with a former student of hers that she scared off during her early days as an instructor.
- As you save the Saints in Saints Row IV, the boss can join them on personal loyalty missions that, when complete, enables them to have superpowers just like the boss. Also, securing the loyalty of your entire crew is required to unlock the Golden Ending.
- The Director's Cut version of the Dragonfall expansion for Shadowrun Returns has loyalty missions for all of the runner members of your crew where you help them resolve issues from their past. Unusually for this trope one of the loyalty missions is not a side quest but one of the main missions of the game that gives the loyalty reward if Dietrich accompanies you.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, most party members had personal quests that could be unlocked by talking to them and learning their backstory, though the rewards were usually little more than Experience Points and resolution to their character arcs.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords steps it up by allowing you to change their class at the end — specifically, by training them as a Jedi. It was also intended to affect whether or not they'd survive the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, but the game's Christmas Rushed release prevented that from being implemented.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, only one of each storyline companions (generally the first companion you get) has actual quests that requires you to go to other places while other characters' storylines simply have you talking to them once their approval is high enough. However, the end of their storylines generally involve them dedicating themselves to you, or at acknowledging that they respect you, generally with the promises of training your successors/heirs.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X has these, called "Affinity Missions." They're your main source of recruiting additional party members, and later ones enable the Player Character to learn the other characters' signature Arts.
- Downplayed in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where several followers will only join you on a permanent basis after you go in a specific side mission with them.
- In the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko has finally made a Heel–Face Turn and joined the Gaang, but nobody fully trusts him since they've been burned by him before (pun not intended). Aang, Sokka, and Katara each then get an episode (or two-parter, in Sokka's case) where they and Zuko go off on their own to deal with personal matters. Lampshaded in the first part of the finale, where Toph immediately offers to partner with Zuko so she can have her own "life-changing field trip".