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No One Gets Left Behind
aka: Leave No Man Behind

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"ʻOhana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten."
— The motto of the Pelekai ʻohana, Lilo & Stitch

Two characters are escaping from something. One of them falls down, breaks a leg and says "Leave me, I Will Only Slow You Down". The other one says, "I won't leave without you!" and takes his wounded friend with him. Possibly even requiring, as soon as they reach some degree of safety, that the wounded character gets evacuated first.


In more hard-pressed situations, the character must stand over the fallen friend and fight off enemies, all the way up to the grim Last Stand. In case of close comrades, such as Blood Brothers, or beloved commanders, this may be done even if the fallen friend is dead and not just wounded, and the heat of battle may make it impossible to tell whether the fallen character had just been wounded or had died. And if the dead character has Royal Blood or Blue Blood, this may have a grim necessity: they need to be able to prove that the character died to ensure that the succession goes smoothly in time of crisis.

This trope is often used to generate drama in a situation that calls for a Heroic Sacrifice. See Shoot the Dog.

Can lead to Antagonist in Mourning when the characters had been hostile to each other before. Extra points if they had just become Fire-Forged Friends.


Savvy villains will exploit this rule to great effect by wounding their enemies, thereby pinning or slowing down their comrades.

If it really is impossible, the wounded soldier may plead for death rather than just being left.

On the other hand, if the wounded soldier can prevent the enemies from chasing his comrades, You Shall Not Pass! may justify leaving him. The soldier will probably insist on volunteering despite his comrades' protests.

When they must Bring News Back, the characters who stay behind often do it to buy the others time to get away. Those who must go on may find it hard to flee while others fight, but generally their sense of duty is up to it.

In many ways, this is Truth in Television, although without the dramatic clichés. Many armed forces units, especially the U.S. Navy SEALs and U.S. Army Rangers, pride themselves on never abandoning a wounded or dead soldier. Others, like the SAS, make a rule to leave wounded men for The Medics.


Often portrayed as a subtrope of Honor Before Reason. In real life, there is a perfectly cold-blooded reason to still do this: people are expensive and difficult to train and replace. Better (and cheaper) the guy with potentially years of experience spends some time in a hospital than you stick some neophyte right out of a rushed training course in to replace him.

Contrasts We Have Reserves and Restricted Rescue Operation.

Has nothing to do with No Child Left Behind.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, people do extreme things to take their comrades off the field with them. Ling carries his wounded servant Lan Fan out of a battle and has a fight while carrying her - allowing a pretty heinous villain to mock him relentlessly. Roy cauterizes Havoc's wounds (his own as well) to help Havoc get safely out of the battle and to enable himself to go and rescue Al and Hawkeye.
    • This is lampshaded later on when Roy tells two of his men to leave him behind if he gets hurt. They instantly agree. Surprised by their response, tells them that the correct answer is for them to reply "Never! I'd follow you to the depths of hell!" One of the men responds, "Screw that. I've got a family!" While the other says it's stupid to "commit double suicide like that." Roy answers with a knowing smile.
  • God Eater: In episode 1, Lenka refuses to leave behind the guy who tells him to get away so he can live.
  • Averted like hell in every staircase sequence in Saint Seiya — if two or more of Athena's Saints arrive at the battleground with a new opponent, one of them will insist on staying behind to fight, just so the other can press onwards to save the goddess. And then, if the first Saint's Cosmo fades, the other(s) will stop, look back and think about how their friend has just possibly died, and then continue their climb instead of going back to help. Then again, the Saints' utmost priority is to protect Athena, even at the cost of their own lives, so they earnestly believe that continuing the mission is far more important — even if they have to leave everybody behind.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, so much - Kurogane cuts off his own arm to keep Fai from being left behind in the closing world of Celes.
  • This gets averted in the first Ranma ½ movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron, when Ranma's party fragments a little bit more in every miniboss encounter, as members will stay behind to hold off their own tailor-made opponents.
  • In the Pokémon Adventures manga, Green and Sabrina are handcuffed together and fighting Lorelei. Green is knocked out and Sabrina is hanging on the edge of a cliff. Lorelei suggests that Sabrina save herself by cutting off Green's cuffed hand and letting her drop. Sabrina responds that, even though she and Green were once enemies, they are allies now and that she never abandons an ally.
  • In Naruto this is exemplified by the father of Hatake Kakashi, Hatake Sakumo. While on a critical mission for Konoha during the Third Ninja War, Sakumo given the choice of rescuing his teammates or completing the mission, Sakumo chose to save his team. Unfortunately, the failure of the mission was not well received. While Sakumo prior was respected on the same level or even above the Sannin, the mission's failure caused such catastrophic losses, that he became reviled afterwards. The stress was so extreme that he committed suicide in front of Kakashi. Kakashi from this experience became an ultra-strict rule follower and general jerkass who would also put the mission first. Later Uchiha Obito would naturally adopt this attitude and pass it on to Kakashi. After Obito's death, Kakashi would adopt this to the extreme adopting the directive that he wouldn't let anyone on his team die.
    • Naruto of course has taken this to the extreme doing everything in his power in the second part of the story to bring back Sasuke and save him from himself and his revenge.
  • Parodied in Excel Saga. In two episodes, Menchi escapes and makes new friends. Every single friend she meets eventually tells her to go on without them and makes a heroic sacrifice to save Menchi. The final time this happens, the villain says, "What an out-of-character way to die." (Although it turns out that this one character is Not Quite Dead.)
  • Lampshaded and played with in Van Dread. Dita tries pulling one of these when Gascogne gets stuck. Gascogne is more Genre Savvy.
    Gascogne: "This isn't a third rate soap opera! You go and you come back with help and get me!"
  • An interesting variation is done in the Alabasta arc of One Piece: After Luffy defeated Crocodile, he carried both the king of Alabasta and antagonist Miss All-Sunday (AKA: Nico Robin) out of the crumbling room they were in. The latter was wishing for death, but Luffy didn't listen and saved her anyway. She eventually paid him back by joining his crew.
  • In Transformers Armada, Hot Shot and Wheeljack were in a platoon on Cybertron during a battle with the Decepticons when the two, isolated from the others, were engulfed in an inferno, and Wheeljack was trapped under debris. Hot Shot left him, vowing to get help, but when he reached the other Autobots, his commander forbade him to go back for Wheeljack, because he didn't want to lose more troops. Hot Shot disobeyed him and tried to go back anyway, but by then the flames were too intense and unable to reach Wheeljack, Hot Shot believed his friend had perished. He would discover years later on Earth that he was wrong - that Wheeljack had survived - but it wouldn't be a happy reunion.
  • Don't Meddle with My Daughter!: Seen in chapter 5, when Point Blank ambushes Risa, Kisara, and Jun by shooting down their patrol chopper. Then guns them down as they're trying to get each other to safety. Clara tries to come to their rescue, creating a brief Hope Spot but ends up being gunned down with them. Point Blank continues to fire on her even after she falls unconscious. It takes Athena's intervention to finally make him stop. All four are later seen in the infirmary.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Shun Kurosaki grew up in a war zone where many of his people were captured by the enemy. He gives a big speech that he will never abandon his comrades and will do everything in his power to save them. This extends to his dueling; he has cards that can recover his monsters if his opponent gains control of them.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, when his friends tell him to abandon them for the sake of winning over Alexander the Great, Yugi violently refuses and is adamant to stand by them, even if it means losing.
    • When the gang return from the Capsule Monster world, Alexander's good half hitches a ride with Solomon and attempts to quell his evil side.
  • In the 2015 anime of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Arslan refused to leave Elam behind, when Elam's horse was shot and Elam was surrounded by Lusitanian soldiers. The fact that Arslan risked his life to save Elam, who was a servant and not an important subordinate, cemented Gieve's respect for him.
  • My Hero Academia: In an anime-only episode, Momo Yaoyorozu is trapped by Saiko Intelli, a student from a rival school, who decides to make sure she won't pass the Provisional Hero Exam as revenge for out-gambitting her. She didn't expect that the others would refuse to take the chance to pass themselves in favor of rescuing Momo and ensure they would all pass the exam.
  • In the anime of Sengoku Basara, Hisahide kidnaps some Date men to force Masamune to give up his six swords. Despite being badly injured earlier and against Kojiro's insistence, Masamune is determined to rescue his men, on the grounds that the Date army can't afford to lose anyone.
  • In The Promised Neverland, at the end of the Goldy Pond arc, the critically injured Oliver and the other seniors volunteer to be abandoned so that the rest can escape quickly without needing to worry about them (and in particular, get Emma proper medical aid). Unsurprisingly, Lucas and the others object and in the end, all of them, including the injured, were able to make it to safety.

    Comic Books 
  • If you're a hero in the Marvel Universe and you're hurt in battle, don't fret, Good Ol' Cap will go through Hell or high water to get you home safe.
  • During the Marvel Comics run of G.I. Joe there was a particularly tragic example where Dusty flashes back to meeting a fellow Joe's family and promising to keep an eye on him. He ends up carrying his friend's dead body for miles through a desert because "he promised."
  • In Gotham City Garage, Big Barda was actually instructed by Granny Goodness to abandon her partners. So she refuses to leave Silver Banshee behind during the chase across the Canyons of Clay because that's what Granny would want her to. She tells Kara to keep driving and goes back to rescue her.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Golden Age Steve Trevor was usually on solo missions or paired up with Diana, but he absolutely refuses to leave anyone behind and on missions to locate captured troops this has gotten him caught and/or injured on multiple occasions.
    • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: The main character of "Rescue Angel" earns the call sign "Wonder Woman" for her refusal to leave any men behind after her convoy gets ambushed and insistence on pulling guys out of the line of fire even after she's hit.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 comic book Bloodquest, Leonatos and his men are sent on the titular quest to recover an important relic to the Blood Angels' chapter. While completing their mission is paramount, the group is extremely protective of each other. When a Daemon Prince offers them safe passage through his domain in exchange for their dying companion, they'd rather fight their way out than willingly abandon their brother to darkness. After one of their own members is lost inside a Slaaneshi city of pleasure, one of the others has to be convinced to not go back and storm the place in his search. Finally, after the two surviving members succeed in returning the sword as the third one makes a last stand to ensure their escape, they embark on a new quest to rescue their brother.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Yahn Rgg messed with Marvel's armor, and he was incapacitated by pain. Hawkeye proposed to go on and leave him behind, but Reed and Sue helped him to his feet and helped him to go with them.
  • In the second Contest of Champions, Carol Danvers (by then under the codename Warbird) invokes this trope as the reason why she saved Rogue from the Brood Queen, despite having serious past issues with the former. This leads to a handshake between them.
  • My Boyfriend Is a Monster: Dicey sets out to rescue Jack alone, in spite of the others' protests.
    Baron: "We have a saying in the game. 'Never split the party.'"
    Dicey: "Guys, Jack is my party."
  • Subverted in Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga. In the first issue, the Legionnaires have just taken a Servant of Darkness down when a dimensional portal opens up, letting another Servant rush into the place. It looks like he's come to rescue his partner, but he grabs the relic she failed to steal and flies back into the portal, alone. To add insult to injury, their Master Darkseid instantly collapses the space warp despite that his defeated Servant was rushing towards it.
  • Magik: Averted. When Illyana and Cat were running, Illyana fell to the ground, incapable of going any further. Cat was willing to leave her behind, alone against a nearby monster... forcing Illyana to stand up and run even more.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars:
    • This is one of the rules of the Avalon Imperial Army: they never abandon a comrade. Their motto is "Numquam Soli. Semper, Sumus Legio", which means in Latin "Never Alone. Always, We Are Legion".
    • In chapter 75, Misato doesn't manage to find Kensuke after a bomb goes off near him. Asuka tells her to keep looking because they don't leave anyone alone.
      Asuka:"You should have two minutes before the next salvo arrives. Misato, any sign of Aida?"
      Misato:"Nothing. No beacon, no comms, nothing at all. We can't even locate a wreck."
      Asuka:"Keep looking. We don't leave anyone on the battlefield alone. Never alone."
      Misato:"Roger. We'll find him."
  • From Bajor to the Black, Part II: Another ship in the USS Kagoshima's formation is disabled by a parting shot from a dying Borg cube.
    Acting Captain Kanril Eleya: Prophets… T’Shar, drop facing shields and lock onto life signs! Anyone we can bring aboard, get ‘em!
    Petty officer at sensors: Captain, I’m picking up an imminent core breach in the cube! We don’t have time!
    LTJG. Tess Phohl: You’re relieved!
  • In the Shadow of Gods: Chief's attitude towards Cortana, which puzzles Shepard and her companions, since Cortana is an AI, and AIs are regarded with fear and suspicion in the Mass Effect universe.
  • A Voice in the Wilderness:
    • Unusually for Starfleet, actually averted after Bajor's warp drive is crippled and the Damage Control teams can't fix it. Eleya makes plans to evacuate whomever she can in the shuttles, but they can only get about 150 crew of over a thousand out that way. She prioritizes cadets, stable wounded and medical staff, and any pregnant females; everyone else draws lots. Turns out not to be necessary when The Cavalry arrives.
    • Two Vaadwaur ships are damaged during the final fight scene and prepare to go on a suicide run to cover the escape, but Overseer Harn refuses to leave them behind. Eleya gets them to lower their aft shields so she can beam the crews off.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji and his family instill this philosophy in their troops after the War. There are several instances where one of their soldiers refuses to leave a comrade behind, declaring that they NEVER abandon anyone.
  • Subverted in Children of an Elder God. When Rei wants to stay inside the final Eldritch Abomination to control it and protect her friends, they refuse to leave her behind. She insists until they cave.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: When Nakajima and Fuuka manage to secure an aircraft to run away from the Geofront, Fuuka refuses to take off right away because she'll not leave Misato and the remaining pilots behind.
  • A Brighter Dark: When offered possible rescue from Nohrian bandits, Sakura refuses to leave without first ensuring Mozu goes with them, much to her rescuer's annoyance.
  • A Prize for Three Empires: Back when she was a CIA spy, Carol Danvers was captured by enemy agents. Her bosses decided a rescue operation was too risky so they wrote her off. Wolverine and several more partners didn't agree, so they went and got her out.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening story Golden Threads Tie Us, Laurent gets wounded and tries to talk Severa into leaving him behind, but Severa will not even entertain the notion.
    Laurent: Severa. I don't believe you understand the gravity of the situation. We're not yet far enough up to not be highly vulnerable to enemy Risen. If you assist me with walking, the chances of both of us escaping with our lives decreases substantially.
    Severa: I don't care, and I'm not leaving you behind.
  • Blood Moon: After escaping their cage, Katara makes Hama stay until they've freed all the other waterbender prisoners.
    Katara: But what about the others?
    Hama: We don't have time.
    Katara: We'll make time! We can stop the Fire Nation! We can stop anyone! We'll stop whoever who gets in our way.
  • In the Discworld, The Price of Flight by A.A. Pessimal expands on the canonical fighting in Lancre and the Chalk against The Fair Folk (from The Shepherd's Crown). Scattered mentions of the war with the Gentry having an aerial dimension are expanded into an account of how the Ankh-Morpork City Air Watch played its part as a combat Air Force. People on the ground are absolutely adamant that if an Air Witch is shot down, they will find her and rescue her. or at the very least bring the body back. Olga Romanoff and Kiiki Pekisaalen, who had to crash-land when the power cut out on their broomsticks during an air battle, are appreciative of this.
    • And when strained relationships between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch spill over into what was afterwards called "a regrettable misunderstanding", a Pegasus and three Air Watch members are believed to have been shot down by a surprise attack over a remote part of the Klatchian continent. Lieutenant Irena Politek is boiling with rage and sets up a rescue mission to retrieve two Air Witches and a Feegle. This will carry maximum firepower, just to make the point to the Klatchian Air Force.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Captain Janeway hands herself over to the Caretaker as a specimen for his private archive in exchange for Voyager using the Portal Network to get back to Earth. But that means renegade officer Chakotay is now The Captain, and he has no problem ordering Voyager to return and rescue her. When Janeway rips into her senior officers over the eight crewmen who died as a result, Chakotay cites a comment she made earlier about one of the rules of being The Captain is "never abandon a member of your crew".

    Films — Animated 
  • Early during Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show Ed is bitten on the leg by Rolf, who then attempts to drag him out of the car the Eds are escaping in. Ed tells his friends to go on without him and remember him. Right as Ed finally loses his grip and is pulled out, Double D and Eddy reach out and grab him by both arms and pull him out of Rolf's grip back into the car.
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie: Sgt. Slaughter explicitly lines it out: "It's time you learned we're a team, Red Dog. We all go home or nobody goes home."
  • The line as quoted on the top of the page goes "nobody gets left behind or forgotten" in Lilo & Stitch (not "no one gets left behind or forgotten" like many people tend to misquote it as, so it narrowly misses out on Trope Namer status), but the titular alien learns the lesson and goes to rather dramatic extremes to make sure that Gantu does not leave Earth with Lilo.
  • Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas: Zeke tells Daniel all about how his father saved his life in "the war" by selfishly carrying him out of danger, despite the risk to his own life.
  • Toy Story:
    • Sarge and his men have this attitude. "A good soldier never leaves a man behind!". And whatever the movie he might be in, what is R. Lee Ermey if not a good soldier?
    • Later, when Woody and Buzz are making their escape from Sid's house, the rocket strapped to his back keeps Buzz from being able to fit under the fence. Though Buzz says "Go on, I'll catch up", Woody jumps down off of the van (where Andy is) and runs back to help Buzz.
  • In the opening of Trolls, King Peppy leads the Trolls on a daring escape through collapsing tunnels. When he hears that a couple Trolls are trapped, he risks his own life to go back for them declaring "No Troll left behind!" Against all odds, he succeeds. In the present, when some of Poppy's friends are captured by Chef, King Peppy decides not to go after them since he's too old to go off on a Roaring Rampage of Rescue. Poppy refuses to abandon them to be eaten and goes after them herself.
  • Zootopia: Judy gets her leg ripped up on a tusk while running away from Mayor Bellwether. She tells Nick to leave her and get Doug's Nighthowler pellet gun to the authorities, but he refuses.
    Nick: I'm not gonna leave you behind. That's not happening.
    Judy: I can't walk!
    Nick: Just... we'll think of something.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Invoked and then defied in Air Force One - the titular plane is going down too quickly for the rescue mission to save everyone, so the last para-rescue trooper says his orders are to take President Marshall off now. Marshall furiously demands that they try, but is brought up short by Major Caldwell.
    Marshall: No! We're all going.
    Rescue Trooper: That's impossible, sir! I have to take you!
    Caldwell: Mr. President, it's time to get you off this plane! Go, sir, go!
  • Most of the plot of Cloverfield, with Rob and companions trying to save Beth as the monster flattens Manhattan. Later lampooned when Hud, probably the least intelligent of a rather dim group, goes back to retrieve the camera from the helicopter wreckage, only to get bitten in half by the monster.
  • Averted in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Part of the pirates' code is "Whoever falls behind is left behind." Many of the characters, both good and bad, follow this. On one occasion they do subvert it, the crew handwave it by saying they viewed that part of the code as "more guidelines than actual rules".
  • The main character of Con Air follows this as a former Ranger. He does so as a combination of Rambo and Jesus.
  • Parodied in Little Miss Sunshine: Frank says this line after Olive is left at a gas station.
  • In Forrest Gump, Gump earns the Medal of Honor for rescuing his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. At times, Lieutenant Dan wishes that he had lost his life instead of his lower legs. Ironically, the one soldier that Forrest failed to save the life of was the one he originally went back to help. He kept stumbling on other wounded comrades and brought every one of them back because he felt he "couldn't just leave them there, frightened and hurt."
  • Saving Private Ryan:
    • When Captain Miller and his squad are ordered to venture deep into German-occupied France to recover a lost soldier who may already be dead, he and his squad are naturally not too thrilled about this. The rest of the movie then shows their struggle between deciding whether to find Ryan or just leave him behind.
    • The villain version of this trope is used as well. A German sniper purposely shoots and incapacitates an American soldier, hoping that it will draw out other soldiers into the open in an attempt to help the downed man.
  • Subversion: In Canadian Bacon, the Omega Force sent to locate the protagonist is running along the Canadian wilderness when one of them falls down and clutches his foot. Another one approaches, and the guy on the ground says "It's just my toe." Boom.
  • This is basically the plot of Black Hawk Down (the film's tagline is downright "Leave no man behind"), based on the Battle of Mogadishu. In the analysis in the book, the commanding general's decision to not leave a man (or body) behind is examined, with the idea that the general, not wanting to leave a body for the Somalis to desecrate, ended up giving them an overwhelming opportunity to inflict casualties on the American forces, and also gave them a prisoner, resulting in a significantly worse overall outcome than if he had just left the bodies behind.
  • Subverted with a Verbal Backspace in Muppets from Space.
    Kermit: We will never leave one of our own behind!
    Fozzie: Hey, we left Bunsen and Beaker back at the gas station!
    Kermit: * pause* From this point on, we will not leave anyone behind!
  • The Rock:
    • Averted with dastardly repercussions in the Back Story. General Hummell's request to send in troops to extract at least 15 marines on a Black Operation from the combat zone are denied by his superiors, forcing him to leave them to die.
      Marine: They're not coming for us, are they, sir?
    • The last straw is when the government refuses to pay the families of the dead soldiers due to plausible deniability, which drives Hummell to go rogue.
  • In Full Metal Jacket the VC sniper uses their knowledge of this to sucker the U.S. troops to try to rescue their wounded comrades.
  • Subverted in Courage Under Fire, where a character is first shown yelling at a trainee never to leave his wounded comrades behind. It later turns out that he'd done just that to his wounded commanding officer after she'd threatened to court-martial him.
  • Supervolcano (2005). The protagonist is trapped in an abandoned Air Force base. The only airman there says they have to walk out, as no-one is coming to save them. The protagonist asks what happened to "Leave no man behind", and is informed that's the Army's slogan.
  • Averted in Resident Evil. When Kaplan is trapped by zombies he tells the rest of the party to leave him behind. Alice refuses, but Kaplan insists, and they do so.
  • The Guns of Navarone. Both played straight and Subverted with Major Franklin: first Captain Mallory refuses to leave him behind, then does leave him behind with the Germans after feeding him false information about the nature of their mission in the hope the Germans will use Truth Serums to get it out of him.
  • Notably averted in When Trumpets Fade: the film opens with Private David Manning trying to carry his badly wounded friend Bobby through the woods to safety, but he has to stop to rest. Bobby tells him that he can't even stand to be carried any further, and begs Manning to stay with him so that he doesn't have to die alone. Not only does Manning refuse to stay, he shoots Bobby. In a later scene, now-Sergeant Manning specifically orders one of the soldiers under his command to drop the body of a fallen comrade saying simply "Leave him! He's dead!" The film ends with Manning himself badly wounded and being carried to safety by Sanderson.
  • In The Smurfs, after Papa Smurf gets captured, the rest of the party goes back to rescue him, against his orders.
  • Happens in The Matrix. After nearly being caught by Agents, Morpheus attempts both a Heroic Sacrifice and You Shall Not Pass! in order to allow Neo and the others time to escape. Afterwards, the surviving crew members contemplate pulling the connection from Morpheus, which would kill him but also prevent the Agents from learning access codes to Zion, the last human city. Neo invokes this trope and instead attempts to rescue Morpheus.
  • The firefighters in Backdraft have this as part of their code of honor. "You go, we go."
  • In Aliens, after the Colonial Marines learn that some of the ones left behind in the escape are still alive, Vasquez says "Then we go back in there and get them. We don't leave our people behind." They end up not trying to do so after Ripley points out "You can't help them! You can't. Right now they're being cocooned just like the others."
  • Averted early on in Stalingrad (1993). During an assault on a factory, one of the Heer soldiers breaks down in fear and huddles in a foxhole. Wölk briefly attempts to pull him out, but Corporal Rohleder commands him to grab the man's dog tags and leave him. The straggler is promptly killed by artillery.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Chekov is critically injured while fleeing The Great Politics Mess-Up in the form of American aircraft carrier personnel and sent to a hospital where, in the hands of 20th-century medicine, he is not expected to survive. With the clock ticking on their ability to rescue the whales they need to save the future, Bones insists on going to save him. Spock immediately agrees. Kirk asks if it's the logical thing to do, and Spock (who had questioned their decision to save him at the cost of so much) that it's not, but it is the human thing to do.
  • A variation occurs in Star Trek Into Darkness. Bones and Carol are on a planet examining a torpedo when something goes wrong and it closes, trapping Bones' hand inside. Since attempting to beam Bones up will result in the torpedo coming too, Bones tells them to just beam Carol out instead. She flat-out refuses, telling them that if she leaves, he'll die. At the last second she simply rips the controls out, stopping the detonation and saving them both.
  • Averted in the opening of Skyfall when Bond has to leave a fellow agent to bleed to death, in favour of pursuing the man who shot him and stole a microchip containing the identities of NATO undercover agents. The Big Bad turns out to be another SIS agent who was abandoned after he went rogue.
  • Serenity:
    • Discussed after Mal first shoves a man off their hovercraft who was trying to hitch a ride to escape a Reaver attack, then Mercy Kills him before the Reavers can have their way with him. Zoe gives him a What the Hell, Hero? for the former as Serenity is heading skyward, which Mal rebuffs with, the Mule couldn't fly with the extra weight, none of his crew are expendable, and they plain couldn't afford to dump the cargo either.
      Zoe: Sir, I don't disagree on any particular point. It's just ... in the time of war, we would never have left a man stranded.
      Mal: (bitterly) Maybe that's why we lost.
    • Parodied later.
      Mal: Zoe, the ship is yours. If I'm not back in one hour, you take this ship and you come and you rescue me!
      Zoe: What? And risk my ship?
      Mal: I mean it! It's cold out there, and I don't wanna get left!
  • Only two people involved in Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve has just pulled his childhood friend Bucky out of a Hydra lab, and they're attempting to escape as the building self-destructs. Bucky crosses an impossible-to-jump pit of fire on an improvised bridge that collapses behind him. Steve tells him to get out; Bucky yells back "No, not without you!" Of course, since it's Steve, he makes the jump.
    • Steve's entire rescue mission is this since he goes in despite his CO expressly stating that there would be no way to complete the rescue mission without getting the prisoners and the rescuing soldiers killed. Steve refuses to accept this, goes behind enemy lines ALONE, rallies the prisoners, and comes back with everyone who didn't die during the escape, and their were only a few on-screen casualties. If the lab hadn't exploded and incinerated everything, he probably would've brought the bodies back, too. After that, there was no doubt amid the soldiers that they were truly in the presence of Captain America!
    • Steve does this again in Captain America: Civil War when he breaks into The Raft to free his entire team. And he does this without any shield or gear. Super-Soldier indeed!
  • Iron Man strongly believes in this, while even Cap above will lament "we can't save everyone", Tony, on the other hand, will do everything in his power to make sure nobody is left to die. For example in Iron Man 3 when Air Force One has it's hull blown open by The Dragon and thirteen people are falling to their deaths, Tony (despite being only able to carry four) makes a Chain of People and uses his thrusters to make sure they all land safely in the water.
    • Also in Avengers: Age of Ultron while most civilians are shepherded off Sokavia, Tony detects a family in one of the buildings and flies in there to save them, even though the building itself is collapsing.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Drax even says so himself when Peter is in trouble: '...we're family. we leave no one behind.'note 
  • The Finest Hours: Bernie refuses to head pack to port until everyone is off the Pendleton.
  • Averted in the 1982 Australian/Taiwanese movie Attack Force Z. A member of a World War II commando force is wounded while landing on a Japanese-occupied island. After exchanging overly casual banter and a cigarette the commander shoots him, so he won't be captured and give away the mission under torture.
  • Silent Running. After being stranded in a spacecraft past Saturn, a radio message from Earth points out that they can't rescue him that far out, and suggests suicide. The protagonist refuses, not mentioning he killed his crewmates and deliberately stranded himself out there. Later it turns out a rescue mission is launched, but the protagonist kills himself rather than face judgement as a murderer.
  • The Dogs of War. In the Action Prologue, the mercenaries are escaping a Central American country on the last plane out. They insist on bringing everyone, even after it's pointed out that one of the mercenaries is dead.
    Official: This man's dead! Get him out!
    (mercenary removes the pin from a grenade and wraps the dead man's fingers around it.)
    Mercenary: He's live, you pimp!
    (fingers loosen slightly on grenade — official backs off)
    Mercenary commander: Everybody who comes with me, goes home.
  • Subverted in Kong: Skull Island. This appears to be Lieutenant Colonel Packard's motive for going to rescue a soldier in a crashed helicopter, but it becomes apparent that his main reason is to get hold of the munitions the helicopter was carrying so he can kill Kong, an obsession which puts the lives of all his men in danger.
  • This is Sam's attitude in High Plains Invaders. He is insistent that all of the survivors get of town alive. When Rose suggests that they might be able to crawl out past the Bugs, Sam rejects it because Serena's broken leg means that she cannot crawl.

  • Older Than Feudalism: A frequent occurrence in The Iliad: while a fallen warrior's friends try to carry his corpse off the battlefield, his enemies try to take his armor as a trophy. This usually leads to more casualties on both sides and sometimes more fights over more corpses.
  • In Dragon Bones Ward is manipulated to leave his group by reminding him that his aunt, who trained him in swordfighting, wouldn't approve of leaving someone behind, while one group member is absent. It's a trap.
  • Subverted by Sheriff Bell in No Country for Old Men. After the rest of his squad was hit from a mortar shell annihilating the farmhouse they were monitoring radio signals in, he manages to ready up the squad's 30. cal machine gun to attack Germans advancing in his direction. He shoots at them and pins them down, but all the while, he is said to have heard groans from his squad, indicated at least some were alive. He then chooses to abandon the position and flee after the day goes dark, and remains haunted on how he was the only survivor, getting a Bronze Star he didn't want to accept (he assumes the brass wanted to scrap something out of how their position was lost.)
  • A brutal example of this being used against a character occurs in a story from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire world. At one point in the bloody history of Westeros, a rebellion was led against the current king by one of his bastard half-brothers. Legend has it that at the decisive battle archer Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers intentionally critically wounded one of the twin sons of the rebellion's leader with an arrow, knowing that the father would not leave his son's side on the battlefield while he was alive. Rivers then proceeded to kill the father with numerous shots, and the second of the twins as well when he picked up his father's sword and tried to lead the army.
  • Featured prominently in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, and realistically gets a lot of characters killed, as observed - and justified - by the characters. "Men are not potatoes."
    • Indeed, one of Rico's instructors at OCS claims that it's "mathematically provable" that they should invade an enemy planet in full force to recover one lost infantryman. According to Heinlein, soldiers cannot fully commit themselves to the service of their society if they don't know that the society is equally committed to them. Said math is not shown, of course, so we have to take his Author Avatar's word for it.
  • Also in Heinlein's Space Cadet, Dodson's training cruise on the Aes Triplex has the mission of searching for the missing Patrol ship Pathfinder in the asteroid belt. They find it with all hands dead but the cadets reflect that the Patrol would have brought them back alive if they hadn't been killed by a meteor puncture of the ship. Later, after the cadets and their superior officer are marooned on Venus, Jensen comments that the Patrol will eventually find them but they need to work towards their own rescue since that would be expected of them.
  • Subverted in the StarCraft novel Speed of Darkness, where the main character intentionally shoots a dying (flamethrower-armed) Firebat, forcing the enemy to stay back. Though some of his squadmates give him a hard time for it, the vets acknowledge it as necessary, even effective.
    • In fact, the Lieutenant of the main's group points out that their standard ammunition is designed to cripple, not kill, saying that "if you maim an enemy on the field it takes four of his friends to haul him back from the battle and even more of his friends to patch him up and care for him. Kill an enemy and you decrease the force against you by one. Maim an enemy and you decrease the force against you by ten." Pity the hive-minded Zerg never try to recover the wounded.
      • Or that the super-advanced Protoss are hardcore and will fight to the bitter end. (And if they get crippled, they will become Dragoons and Stalkers so that their crippled BODIES can fight to the bitter end.)
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, the Ghosts try to keep to this.
    • When Domor is wounded and blinded in First & Only, although his wounds will prove fatal without adequate medical attention, Gaunt tells him he's coming if he has to carry him himself.
    • In Traitor General, the inability to bring Feygor with them because of his illness strikes all the Ghosts very bitterly.
    • In His Last Command, when Maggs is thrown through a Chaos warp gate, Mkoll cites this and jumps after him. Although the scene is both bitterly cold and impossible, and breaks down Maggs, he gets them both to another gate and out — alive, although covered with frost.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, when Ragnar and other Marines were sent to bring news of a nest of Chaos Space Marines, one of them is wounded. Ragnar (who had just realized that he does not, and should not, want Revenge on the wounded man) orders the others on while he tends the wounded. When they are attacked again and he gains more injuries, Ragnar finally carries him to safety.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Uriel is reluctant to leave behind even hopelessly tortured victims he could not save; later, Vaanes leaves behind the others of their band in a torture chamber, and Uriel and Pasanius stay to free them. Later still, the mortally wounded Colonel Leonid has a hard time convincing Uriel to leave him behind, and Uriel finds it Dirty Business — but Leonid succeeds, and through a Heroic Sacrifice buys them more time.
  • The cover of the Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand features Cain heroically helping a wounded cadet through enemy fire. This really happens in the story itself, the only difference being that Cain was using a laspistol instead of a bolter. Cain briefly considered leaving the cadet behind out of pragmatism and self-proclaimed cowardice, but he knew doing so would damn him in the eyes of the other cadets.
  • The villain reaction is used in Robert Asprin's M.Y.T.H. Inc. In Action. Guido and Nunzio, two Mob bodyguards, join the Army and are not impressed with the training or equipment. During target practice, Guido puts three crossbow bolts into a dummy's shoulder, and the drill sergeant asks, "If you can shoot that well, why not shoot him in the head?!" Guido, forgetting he's not in the Mob anymore, replies, "ANY idiot can kill somebody, but it takes SKILL to leave 'em in a condition where they can still give information, OR pay protection, OR..." Nunzio tries to avert disaster by explaining that what he MEANT was that wounding an opponent takes three men out of the action since two have to carry the wounded one.
    • In an earlier book in the series, Aahz forces his apprentice Skeeve to promise that if Skeeve can rescue the person they're there for, he needs to get out and go, even if Aahz is in trouble. Naturally, this very situation comes up, and Skeeve does try to abide by his promise, but everyone else on the team flatly refuses to budge; Skeeve is not unhappy to be outvoted.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars/Barsoom novels.
    • In Chessmen of Mars, Gahan at first hesitates to abandon Ghek, even though he can not escape with them; only Ghek's pointing out that they will kill Tara lets him overcome this (with some help from Men Are the Expendable Gender). Later, Gahan briefly convinces himself that Tara hates him when he is left prisoner without her aid.
      but presently both my heart and my judgment told me that Tara of Helium could not have deserted a companion in distress, and though I still am in ignorance of the facts I know that it was beyond your power to aid me.
    • In The Gods of Mars, John Carter is frantic when the Mobile Maze cuts him off from Tars Tarkas. A prisoner asks him when he is trying to get back to where the monster is.
      "Because my friend fights there alone."
    • In Thuvia, Maid of Mars, a Master of Illusion convinced Carthoris to go on with an illusion of Thuvia, and Thuvia that Carthoris had asked her to stay behind, but Thuvia rejects the charges that he fled without her because:
      "You lie!" she said quietly, "the Heliumite knows less of disloyalty than he knows of fear, and of fear he is as ignorant as the unhatched young."
  • In the Brotherband book Slaves of Soccorro, a mistake during a reconnaissance mission to the slave market results in Ingvar being actually taken as a slave. While Hal allows it for the moment (as his group is outnumbered and unarmed), he makes it clear to the remaining members of the group (especially Lydia, who's furious at this turn of events) that he does not intend to leave Ingvar imprisoned.
  • Subverted in John Hemry's The Lost Fleet where Captain Geary tries to make good on this only to realize that several ships are clearly not going to make the escape from the enemy until another ship (commanded by his grandnephew) performs a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • However in the rest of the series, they try their damnedest to save any escape pods and liberate any POW camps. This attitude leads to them saving an Syndic colony that was left to die. This leads to a Syndic CEO have a Heel–Face Turn because her brother was on that colony and she helps the Fleet get home.
    • In Invicible, Geary orders Tulev to sweep the human wreckage from space — all the ships' parts, and above all, all the human bodies. Tulev quotes the trope name, though the motive here is to avoid letting the aliens discover anything about them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the X-Wing Series novel Iron Fist, Phanan is shot down over an Imperial-held planet. Face followed even though he was squadron leader at the time, telling the others to regroup without him. He found Phanan badly wounded and tried to take him to the nearest settlement, but it was pretty obvious that they wouldn't make it. Face was about to call the Imperial forces out looking for them because even though they'd be imprisoned by their enemies this would mean medical treatment, but Phanan talked him out of it before dying. Then Face went back to his starfighter, destroyed his friend's body, and returned to the Wraiths guilt-ridden. Wraiths and Rogues in general try very hard to avoid their teammates Dying Alone.
    • Exploited in I, Jedi. When the Space Pirates whom Corran Horn has infiltrated unexpectedly run into a New Republic fleet (including his home unit, the elite Rogue Squadron), he orders the other fighters with him to use their ion cannons on enemy fighters so the other side will be slowed down by search-and-rescue, allowing Corran and the others to escape.
  • In Andre Norton and A.C. Crispin's Witch World novel Gryphon's Eyrie, Joisan stands over her fallen husband to keep him from shadow creatures, but when she, being pregnant, realizes that the creatures are after her baby, she is afraid that it will mean she must leave him.
  • In Andre Norton's Science Fiction novels, this trope is occasionally invoked as an ironclad rule of space travel: No One Gets Left Behind on a strange planet, no matter if he's your worst enemy.
    • In Android at Arms, this leads to the protagonist and some of his companions searching for an untrustworthy fellow traveller until they find his body.
    • In Dread Companion, Bartare wants the other three to go. Kilda talks with her but thinks even as she does so that she can't leave Bartare behind.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales includes the story of how Théoden's son had died, just before Gandalf and company's meeting with Théoden in The Lord of the Rings. After he fell fighting orcs, his men fought to keep his body from them; having fought them off, they discovered he was still alive, but he lived only long enough to tell them to bury him there.
    • At the Battle of Dale (which took place around the same time of the Battle of Minas Tirith), King Dáin II Ironfoot dies defending the body of King Brand of Dale outside the gates of the Lonely Mountain, after the people of Dale have fled there.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, after Tsu'gan's Pride ensured his captain's death, Tsu'gan refuses to let anyone near his body
    maintaining a cordon of protection that no one could breach and live.
    • After the fight, a comrade reassures him that his battle-brother will live — having assumed he was protecting the still living Dak'ir.
  • Subverted in one of Mack Reynolds' United Planets spy stories. Section G's top operative, Ronny Bronston, takes a new agent on a training mission to an enemy planet. Ronny is wounded and tells the newbie to kill him so the enemy won't capture him. The rookie instead helps Ronny to their escape vehicle. The subversion comes because Ronny wasn't that badly wounded; it was an impromptu Secret Test, and by not being ruthless enough to kill his comrade, the new guy failed and gets washed out of field agent training. Ronny's boss points out that the rookie was trying to save Ronny's life. Ronny replies flatly that saving his life wasn't the mission.
  • In C.S. Goto's Dawn of War trilogy, having discovered reason to believe Rhamah was still alive, the Blood Ravens engage in a deeply risky maneuver in warp, as the only way to retrieve him.
  • Subverted in Bravo Two Zero, which is Andy McNab's re-telling of the famed S.A.S. mission. The troop of eight men were given strict orders to leave any man who was seriously wounded as it would hinder the mission or their escape if they were compromised. This is actually standard procedure for many British spec-ops. However, McNab goes out of his way to show the soldiers' reluctance to do just that, and just how much they couldn't bear to leave a mate behind. There were several points in which the opportunity arose that they had to leave a bloke behind, but they couldn't bring themselves to do it, and McNab himself says he often wonders about what would have happened if they left the man behind, but whatever the case "you make a decision and get on with it, whatever it is".
  • Subverted in the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, where Patrick McLanahan decides to go against orders to rescue two of his downed crewmen, and while he succeeds, gets into serious trouble with the high command for it. However, it's less because they don't care about the crew and more because Patrick nearly started an intercontinental war that could easily have gone nuclear to save them. It's not the first or the last time he does this, either.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's novel Diplomatic Immunity. Admiral Vorpatril has this attitude, which was one of the factors leading to the escalation of the diplomatic incident that Miles has to sort out. Vorpatril had been left behind himself, by Miles' father, when Vorpatril was a junior officer during the failed Escobar invasion. Miles realizes that the quaddies have a different perspective on the incident.
    "So," said Miles gently, "after we shot up the police station and set the habitat on fire, what did we do for an encore?"
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Moving Pictures has the two dogs, Laddie and Gaspode, set fire to the Odium to destroy the film-creature. When Gaspode's leg goes, Laddie picks him up and carries him, despite Gaspode's protestions that there's no time, and he's just going to get them both killed.
  • Subverted in Night. During the march from Birkenau to Auschwitz, anyone who moves too slowly is shot. Rabbi Eliahou can no longer manage to run, and loses his son in the crowd, but is determined to find him. Eliezer declines to tell him that said son abandoned him after seeing him limping, and prays to God for the spiritual strength never to abandon his own father. He doesn't get it, and is ultimately too cowardly to help his dying father.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Devil in Iron", Octavia starts to explain not leaving Conan as this, and then switches to she had nowhere to go.
  • In Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, Thursday went back to get the wounded against orders. If the press hadn't gotten wind of it, she would have been court-martialed.
  • The Left Behind book series averts this trope with the Rapture of faithful Christians at the beginning of the series. However, those who are left behind to face the Tribulation and become Christians do get supernatural help from God. Also, by the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, the raptured Christians come back with Jesus Christ in time for the Curb-Stomp Battle of Him versus Nicolae Carpathia and the Global Community army.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry brings Cedric's body back to his father after he's killed by Wormtail.
    • Earlier in the book, he also retrieves not just Ron, but the abandoned Gabrielle from the bottom of the lake (although, it turns out she wasn't in any real danger- didn't really think that one through).
  • In the Loic Henry's Military Science Fiction book Loar, this his how planet Bihan keeps or buys the loyalty of its spies: If one spy's cover is blown, they'll order as many spies as necessary to blow their own cover and escape with the first spy (they'll still have a few dozen spies left in the place afterwards anyway).
  • Death to the French: Subverted leading to Dodd's separation from his unit and subsequent adventures that result from him trying to rejoin them.
  • In Noob, Athéon has to make a point of enforcing this, being the leader of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits guild in a MMORPG in which Continuing is Painful. Otherwise, two of his guildmates would be all too happy to continue while leaving the other behind.
  • The Finnish soldiers' attitude in The Winter War by Antti Tuuri. For example, a horse gets lifted up from a hole in river ice, under artillery and machine gun fire, to make sure a wounded soldier gets into treatment in time. Also extends to the fallen ones.
  • This is a strict rule for the titular Heroes "R" Us organization in The Mouse Watch. Lampshaded when rookie Bernie Skampersky volunteers to be left behind because I Will Only Slow You Down, but one of her teammates sets her straight.
    Alph: We never, ever leave an agent behind, Skampersky. Don't you forget it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Lano and Woodley . Col and Frank are fleeing their psychotic ex-boss who is trying to kill them. Frank trips and this exchange ensues:
    Frank: I've sprained my ankle! You'll have to go on without me!
    Col: OK! (makes to leave)
    Frank: No, hang on! That's not how it goes! You're supposed to say "No, I cannot possibly, for you are my friend."
    Col: OK, let's try again.
    Frank: You'll have to go on without me!
    Col: No, I cannot possibly, for you are my friend.
    Frank: I insist!
    Col: Alrighty.
  • Used in the Angel episode "Underneath" to highlight the increasing moral ambiguity of the heroes. Team Angel go to rescue an opponent who might have useful information from a prison dimension, but the spell requires that someone has to stay in his place. Gunn volunteers and the others don't object much, because Gunn was indirectly responsible for the death of a much-loved team member, Fred Burkle. On their return to our dimension...
    Lorne: Where's Gunn?
    Angel: He, uh...he stayed behind.
    Lorne: Stayed behind? But you never leave a...(Angel and Spike won't look him in the eyes) Or...I guess we do. That's what we do now.
  • Band of Brothers: played straight on numerous occasions, especially with the character of Wild Bill Guarnere, who will go to any lengths to drag a wounded comrade off the battlefield.
    • Although the characters are occasionally forced to leave their friends to die on the enemy line, with episode 6 being a particularly egregious example.
  • Community:
    • Pierce is initially left to drown in the dry parking lot during a sailing class, but when he reappears they decide to sail their ship into the imaginary storm to save him.
    • Troy and Abed abandon Britta to "die in lava" so she won't slow them down trying to escape from Professor Hickey (and because she keeps pointing out that the giant Floor is Lava game is a distraction from Abed's fear over Troy leaving). He's displeased enough at their behavior that he spares and recruits Britta instead.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Dominators": Jamie opts for this when Cully says I Will Only Slow You Down to Jamie after the Quark shots him.
    • "The Age of Steel": Mickey insists on rescuing Rose, the Doctor, and alt!Pete despite the risk to himself and Jake.
      Mickey: I'm not leaving them behind! There's no way I'm leaving them behind!
    • The Doctor says this to Amy in "The Time of Angels". Admittedly, he knows that there's not really anything slowing her down, but he's prepared to risk his life trying to convince her of that.
  • Farscape initially averts this trope with everyone just looking out for themselves. As time goes on, however, the crew bonds and, by the end of the series, everyone has risked their lives to save someone else numerous times. Discussed during a rescue mission to recover a pregnant Aeryn.
    Sikozu: If the freighter escapes then we abandon all hope.
    John: We abandon all hope of leading long and prosperous lives and we follow the freighter. (about Sikozu) She's still learning.
  • Firefly had at least two episodes explicitly dealing with this:
    • "War Stories" (where Zoe and the crew rescue Wash and Mal from Niska) and "The Message" (where Mal and Zoe are shown in flashbacks saving Tracey's life).
    • In "Safe", Simon asks Mal why he went back for him and River:
      Mal: You're on my crew.
      Simon: Yeah, but you don't even like me. Why'd you come back?
      Mal: You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?
  • Life on Mars: Gene goes back for Sam after he is knocked down by the man they are chasing torturing him in the future. No, really.
  • In season 3 of Lost, Kate insists on going back to the Barracks for Jack after escaping the Others with his help. Her efforts seemingly destroy Jack's opportunity to leave the island.
    • Then in season 5, Robert says this to Jin when going into the smoke monster's lair after Montand. This does not turn out well, either.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, the idea of following this trope, at least in regards to dead soldiers, is portrayed as bloody-minded stubbornness that increases overall casualties under the Incompetent General of the Week. This is more because he was losing dozens of men for each recovered body and regarded his losses as "insignificant". When it comes to the normal wounded, it's understood that they come first — in one episode the 4077 has to bug out and head south in the face of incoming Chinese forces, but Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar stay behind because they have a patient that can't be moved and they refuse to leave him behind.
  • In Merlin, at first it seems that it will be this, but Morgana must leave Gwen in order to get away and call for help. In the same episode, Lancelot is held prisoner along with Gwen and he tells her to leave him and escape, but none are able to escape.
  • Mission: Impossible: While the standing policy of the IMF is "Should you or any member of your I.M. Force get caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions", the way it worked out in practice was "Should you or any member of your I.M. Force get caught, the rest of the team will move Heaven and Earth to get you back before the Secretary finds out about it."
  • Adam Savage has joked about MythBusters having a "No Crash Test Dummy Left Behind" code at least twice. Of course, since the original Buster was theoretically a loaner...
  • The Outer Limits (1963) episode "The Invisible Enemy". After Major Merritt is trapped on a rock in the middle of the Martian sand sea, Captain Buckley refuses to leave him behind even though doing so could result in his own death. Buckley eventually figures out a way to save Merritt.
  • Parodied in the Seinfeld episode "The Puerto Rican Day", where a parade is obstructing the traffic, and Elaine tries to go through underneath a viewing stand, leading a group of people. An elderly priest can't keep up:
    Elaine: Come on, father, you can make it.
    Priest: No, I can't. I've got a bad hip. Go on without me.
    Elaine: No! I won't!
    Priest: Leave me! You must.
    Elaine: All right. Take it easy.
    (catches up with the others)
    Elaine: All right, we can move faster without Father O'Gimpy.
    Priest: I heard that!
  • Space: Above and Beyond: Inverted (albeit under protest from Commodore Ross) in "Sugar Dirt". A landing to capture a strategic airstrip goes south because the Chigs suckered the UN high command, but the Navy realizes that in order to pull this off the Chigs withdrew forces from an even more strategic target, which is now open to attack. But there isn't time to retrieve the troops already on the ground so the ships are forced to abandon 25,000 troops, including our protagonists in the 58th, for two months until they've captured the new target and can return to retrieve them... by which point the 58th have nearly starved to death and only 2,000 survivors remain.
    Ross: As a commander, I feel no obligation to explain my actions. But as a man, I have never been more ashamed of myself, or more proud of you.
  • This is practically the motto of the SGC personnel from Stargate SG-1, where Jack O'Neill always insists that "we never leave our people behind".
    • In the first season episode "The Torment of Tantalus", Daniel Jackson wants to attempt to rescue a man who went through the Stargate in 1945 and was lost when the Stargate shut down. He comes up with multiple reasons for why such a dangerous mission should be attempted, but General Hammond shuts him down very quickly, pointing out that the man was put in danger by the US Air Force, and he should be rescued as a matter of honor (which was Jackson's original argument, he just over-prepared).
    • Most notable was the 2-parter episode "Heroes" which featured a Deconstruction of this trope when they show the cost of the rescue attempt of a single Redshirt: numerous wounded, a small fortune in monetary expenses and most severely Dr. Fraiser is Killed Off for Real. She does get a good sendoff though, with a Dead Guy Junior (well, dead girl junior) and the second episode ending with a eulogy listing the names of people she's saved during the series.
    • The above quote is from the episode "The Other Guys" where two scientists witness SG-1 getting captured. With this motto in heart, they attempt a more or less successful rescue Only to be told by O'Neil that the capture was part of a Batman Gambit, so SG-1 could meet up with The Mole in the enemy's ranks.
    • Averted in the finale of season one, when Daniel was left behind on Apophis' soon-to-be-destroyed ship. The implication, however, was that he wasn't going to survive anyway (being severely injured), and the other characters probably wouldn't, either, if they didn't avert this trope. The irony was that if Daniel hadn't been left behind, he probably would have died anyway: he used the sarcophagus and the Gate to heal himself and get home (respectively). It's implied that they wouldn't have been able to save him on Earth.
    • Becomes an important point in "Cor-ai" when Teal'c is put on trial for killing a crippled old man while he was in the service of Apophis. Daniel finds out that the villagers escape through hidden tunnels when the Goa'uld come, but they won't leave anyone behind. Part of the way they exonerate Teal'c is by showing that he did what he did to save the multitude of the villagers so they could escape without being slowed down.
    • Some of the villains start to get wise about this. One minor villain on Earth chews out his men for being stupid enough to capture Daniel Jackson since he knows that by doing so they've just mobilized the entire SGC against themselves when they really should have been trying to stay as unnoticed as possible.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • The episode "The Galileo Seven". During an attack by aliens, Spock is pinned by a boulder. He orders the other Enterprise crewmen to go back to the shuttlecraft and lift off. They refuse and manage to free him, getting everyone to the shuttle safely. While the delay means they have to use the shuttlecraft's boosters to escape, apparently dooming it to be destroyed in re-entry, Spock is the one who comes up with the lifesaving bright idea that enables them to be rescued.
    • In "All Our Yesterdays", McCoy tells Spock to go on without him when his and legs get frostbitten. Spock insists, "We go together or not at all."
  • In their first few appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borg would collect pieces of their fallen comrades who had been killed, like picking up a black box, and allow the rest of the body to self-destruct. They also attempt to retrieve any Rogue Drone who escapes the Collective, but as they are a Hive Mind this is akin to someone saving a severed limb so it can be surgically reattached.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In "Dark Frontier", before launching a high-risk mission to rescue Seven of Nine from the Borg, Captain Janeway cites three rules about being a Starfleet captain to Naomi Wildman. "Keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew."
    • In "The Haunting of Deck 12", Neelix says this to Tuvok.
      Tuvok: I am injured. Logic dictates that you take the mask and proceed to engineering.
      Neelix: I don't care what logic dictates! This isn't the Salvoxia. We're not drawing lots.
      Tuvok: I am giving you an order.
      Neelix: And I'm disobeying it! You're coming with me if I have to drag you by your pointy little ears!
  • Often averted on Top Gear; the show's "code" states if the car of one presenter breaks down, the other two travel on without him. If it is played straight, it's usually because the situation is serious enough that they need to stick together, most frequently during the overseas specials.
    • In practice this is usually played straight with Jeremy and the "code" usually isn't brought up when Jeremy's car needs a serious problem repairs, probably because he tends to be much less capable of doing it. Ironically, he is usually the one to invoke the code (causing the trope to be averted) when anyone else's car is broken down.
  • The Unit has a variation where the sniper kills a Unit operator and then ties a wire to the operator's hand to simulate movement, thus making the survivor and rescuers think that he's alive; it's only when the rescuers take out the sniper that they find that all the tension and emphasis on rescuing the "wounded" operator were for nothing.

  • Accurately summed up in the Jimmy Dean song "P.T.-109":
    McMahon the Irishman was burned so badly, he couldn't swim
    "Leave me here. Go on," he said, "'Cause if you don't we'll all be dead"
    The PT skipper couldn't leave him, a man alone to die at sea,
    And with a strap between his teeth, he towed the Irishman through the sea.
  • Averted in "Sonic Attack" by Hawkwind:
    Remember: In the case of sonic attack survival means "Every man for himself". Statistically more people survive if they think only of themselves. Do not attempt to rescue friends, relatives, loved ones. You have only a few seconds to escape. Use those seconds sensibly or you will inevitably die.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Thoroughly justified in Dungeons & Dragons by resurrection magic.
  • Thoroughly averted, and possibly subverted, in Warhammer 40,000. The Tau and Eldar are about the only ones who ever try, and the Eldar consider recovering the waystones of the dead good enough consolation for being unable to save the bodies of the living (the fact that Eldar wear them to prevent their souls from being devoured by evil Chaos God of lust may also have something to it).
    • This comes up in Dawn of War III, when Autarch Kyre leaves the waystones of his subordinates behind because he's too eager to get the Spear of Khaine. This is your clue that he is a Bad Boss.
    • Similarly, although the Marines consider it the highest honour to die in battle, they'll fight hard to recover the two progenoid glands from the still-cooling bodies of their battle brothers, as they are necessary to convert new Space Marines. (The way the Chaos forces can use them lends a certain amount of urgency to this.)
      • The Grey Knights, however, will fight as hard as possible to recover their comrades' bodies, not just the glands, so they can lay them to rest on Titan.
    • Also, given the Cargo Cult/Ancestral Weapon nature of technology in the Imperium, the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Space Marines will often insist, and go to sometimes-absurd lengths to ensure that No Tech Gets Left Behind.
      • On the Land Raider page in the codex, it is mentioned that an entire chapter once started a giant war to recover one weapon blown off one of their tanks.
    • There is a scenario in the Black Templars section of the GW website dealing with the recovery of the remains of their Emperor's Champion.
    • Certain Imperial Guard regiments will also make it a point to try and recover their wounded, though they usually don't take unnecessary steps to rescue them if it will cost too many lives. Being the Redshirt Army, the Guardsmen are generally both aware of this fact and expect it.
      • In the 5th Edition Imperial Guard Codex, one of the special characters, Sergeant Lukas Bastonne of the Cadian Shock Troops, earned the highest award a soldier in the Imperium can earn in their lifetime by refusing to leave one of his soldiers behind on a zombie-riddled planet. Of course he had to execute the man because he showed symptoms of the same plague that caused the zombies in the first place, so whether this is a backhanded subversion or not is debatable.
    • The Tyranids do this too, in a sense. When they gather up the biological material from a planet they've conquered, they make sure to get all of it, which includes every single 'Nid that got killed in the attack.
      • Actually they also collect the biomass from most of the survivors too. The greater part of their assault troops are creatures that have no digestive system: they are MEANT to die, should they survive the invasion, and they'll be reprocessed into biomass for later use.
    • The crowning example has to be the Raven Guard, though. They will work for, literally, decades to insure every civilian they can possibly save is saved. Possibly a result of their tearjerker past.
  • GURPS Time Travel: In the "Eternity's Rangers" campaign setting, the titular organization will bring back their dead members for burial. Occasionally subverted, though; an informal punishment for a Ranger who screws up too often is to be abandoned in the past.

    Video Games 
  • Given how the Nonary Game is played out, it's only natural for it to occur in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors:
    • Ace defies this trope, offering to stay behind to let the group continue. When the group refuses, he injects himself with anesthetic to force everyone to leave him behind. Down the road, it turns out he had less than altruistic reasons for doing so, as staying behind kept the group from going through the number 3 door without leaving more people behind, as Ace had shoved Snake (or at least someone he thought was Snake, through the door when no one else was looking in order to kill him.
    • Lotus offers to stay behind in the incinerator. They refuse, specifically Seven.
    • Seven and Snake both do this (with the same reactions as the above) in the Chapel. Snake is forced to stay behind, but has a trump card anyway.
  • This is viciously deconstructed in the second sequel, Zero Time Dilemma: Diana's refusal to kill a radical-6 infected Phi causes a pandemic that kills 75% of the human population, setting the events of the second game into motion.
  • Betrayal at Krondor's narrative-like style of storytelling lends itself well to this trope. All party members are important to the plot; if one suffers a Non-Lethal K.O. in battle, the game will not allow you to flee and leave them to the bad guys.
  • Double H's motto in Beyond Good & Evil: "D.B.U.T.T.: Don't Break Up The Team!" and "W.W.T.A.O.: We Work Together As One!" On the surface, it doesn't seem to mean much, but he shouts it while dramatically saving Jade from plummeting to her doom, showing his dedication to her.
  • Call of Duty 4
    • Lt. Vasquez's squad (to which the player character Sgt. Jackson belongs) takes a detour to save a grounded Super Cobra pilot from a hostile city for this reason. They do not make it out of the city in time before a Russian warhead goes off, killing them (almost) instantly. The pilot can be found dead outside the helicopter wreck after the detonation, which just rubbed salt in the wound with the futility of it all. In fairness, considering the blast radius as shown in both the immediate detonation and the subsequent loading screen, it's questionable whether any of the Marines ever had a chance even had they not taken the detour.
    • Later, in the mission "One Shot, One Kill," then-Lieutenant Price has to carry Captain MacMillian out of Pripyat, Ukraine after a helicopter falls on him. Fortunately, Lt. Price can put Capt. MacMillian down whenever he needs to fight, and while MacMillian cannot move independently, he's no slouch as a stationary shooter. Once he's put behind the Ferris wheel and assuming that both survive the resultant shootout (in effect "hold the line" until a helicopter arrives), he only has to be picked up again for the final dash to the evacuation helicopter by which time the danger should be passed.
    • The next mission 'Heat', Gaz will yell that you're going to be left behind if you Take Your Time to reach the farm. He's just trying to motivate you, however. It's played straight for Mac, however, who is shot and dies off-screen two minutes into the mission (though there were some Dummied Out dialogue files suggesting the player would have had the option of rescuing him).
    • Another mission has the SAS rescue mission a captured informant. Fortunately, when the group is forced to continue on foot, the informant has the same Gameplay Ally Immortality as the other important NPCs and is both armed and competent, making him not a liability but a one-time asset (pun intended).
  • Deep Rock Galactic: "Leave No Dwarf Behind" is something of an unofficial motto of the titular company's miners. And while they understand if the Drop Pod ends up leaving without them, they will pull out at every stop to make sure everyone comes home — and the game enforces this at all turns.
  • Modern Warfare 2
    • Guess who shows up to repay the favor and save the SAS from militia when your team is stranded in Brazil? This shows that it is a good idea to take care of your friends.
    • Subverted in the mission entitled "Of Their Own Accord". Radio chatter repeatedly makes it clear that there are not enough transports to evacuate everyone, and that people are being left behind. At one point - right after the player boards the evac chopper - a fellow soldier will shoot down an attacking enemy helicopter and saves the player's life. But the evac chopper immediately departs afterward, leaving the lone soldier behind to face the onrushing Russian troops. You can, however, use the minigun you take control of to waste the first wave of Russian troops that make it onto the roof before you leave, though.
  • Subverted on Virmire in Mass Effect. Kaidan and Ashley are stranded at opposite ends of a research facility where a nuke is about to go off. At first, it looks like the question is whom to evacuate first... but then geth attack en masse, and you realize with a sinking feeling that you can only save ONE of them now because the precious time you had for saving the other will now be wasted on fighting the enemy.
  • Wholly embraced in Mass Effect 2.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • In the mission to a kett facility, Ryder can either destroy the facility, killing all the innocents held there, or leave it standing, allowing at least some of them to get out before the kett re-take it. Teammate Jaal argues in favour of the latter.
    • Later in the game there's an aversion, on the asari Ark. A datapad can be found telling evacuees not to wait for friends and family. If Jaal's in the party, he's horrified at the notion that anyone would suggest such a thing.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Meryl foreshadows what will happen when she blithely comment that Snake can simply shoot her if she became The Millstone, with Snake sharply telling her he 'doesn't waste ammo'. Meryl gets shot by Sniper Wolf, she begged for Snake to ditch her, but he flat out refuses to and ends up eventually getting captured for his troubles, uncertain if she was still alive at this point.
  • The same happens in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with EVA: she gets skewered on a tree branch after a motorcycle crash and begs Snake to go on and give her a gun, but Snake ignores all of this, because "[he] can't fly the WiG by [himself]."
  • A declaration of Aric Jorgan in Star Wars: The Old Republic after he and the Republic Trooper figure out that SIS agent Zane got Jorgans old squad involved in a dangerous mission to supposedly figure out where the Sith Empire ships their POW's, while it is really a bid to locate the Imperial legendary Prison Dusk 9, which is only rumored to exist, but left them to their own devices in Imperial labor camps when the end result was not what he wanted and the Republic Trooper announces that if Zane had held up his end of the deal, things wouldn't have come this far.
  • Averted in Tales of Symphonia: upon entering the Tower of Salvation, Lloyd swears that no-one will be left behind, however, due to the rule of More Expendable Than You, every single member of the group ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice to let him go on. They all get better.
    Lloyd: You don't want to sacrifice anyone, huh? What do you call this?! Dammit! Guys...I'm sorry...
  • Played straight with Tales of Destiny, in a pretty memorable scene. After fighting Mary's brainwashed ex-husband, mooks can be heard getting closer; Stahn and co. have to run away, but Mary wants to stay with her semi-dead man. Rutee then tells Mary that that's out of the question, because no one gets left behind... including her husband. Rutee then piggybacks him.
  • Subverted in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. During the last part of the prologue, Marth is told by his advisor that he has to sacrifice one of his soldiers as a decoy to allow him to escape. Marth insists that everyone sticks together, but if you decide not to send a unit to the southern fort, you'll soon be overrun by an army of Knights who are capable of killing any and all of your party members with one hit (two or three, in Jagen's case). Leaving a unit behind is the only way you can proceed to the end of the chapter, as the second gate won't open unless you do. The exception is if you kill Gordin instead of talking to him - the commander of the enemy forces laughs at how he's tricked Marth into murdering a civilian (Gordin was Bound and Gagged and dressed in an enemy uniform) before ordering his men to open the second gate so he can kill Marth personally.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI
      • With the Floating Continent crumbling away from beneath their feet, and Shadow holding Kefka back with the Three Statues, the party must make it to the airship and escape before it's too late. Typically, one would jump onto the airship at the first opportunity, but by waiting until the last possible second, Shadow will catch up and join the party. The game helpfully gives a countdown so the rest of the party knows when "the last possible second" is, but only if you actively choose to wait around the first time since the options then are "Jump!" and "Wait!". The second time, the options are "Jump to the airship!" and "Gotta wait for Shadow...".
      • Strago also tries to get Relm to go on without him during the final escape from Kefka's Tower, but she will have none of it. Good thing too, because, later on, she wouldn't have reached the airship without his help.
    • Played straight in Final Fantasy X: while fleeing from Bevelle, the party is beset by Seymour. Kimahri urges them to run on ahead while he holds Seymour back, and they do —right up to the moment when they decide it's not right, and run right back to help him.
  • Left 4 Dead
    • You could do this at the end of a campaign if one of your teammates gets critically injured, but then you might miss your ride.
    • If a survivor is incapacitated outside the safe room at the end of a level, the other survivors will usually say that they can't leave anyone behind. Though on occasion Francis will say he's fine with leaving a teammate behind if everyone else is. Similarly, if Louis is down outside the safe room, Bill may joke "How well do you know Louis?" and then admitting he was just joking. There's an achievement that you can earn if you leave the safe room to rescue a downed survivor outside and the two of you make it back.
  • This is Brenner's motto in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. It's even the in-game justification for how his CO Power heals his units:
    Brenner: Initiate search-and-rescue operations! No one gets left behind!
  • Played straight in Star Wars: Republic Commando in the Prosecutor mission, and then viciously averted with Sev at the end of the game. The gunship arrives, and you aren't going back.
  • Played with in the initial quest in Dragon Age II, where Aveline's husband Ser Wesley is injured and begins to succumb to the darkspawn taint. Aveline promises that she will get her husband out any way possible, but in the end either she or Hawke is forced to kill him.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has a particularly cool example: escaping an ancient temple into a rainy evening only to find out that Elena's cameraman Jeff has been shot and that they're surrounded, Nathan Drake grabs him and carries him through the streets, covered by Elena and Chloe. Then you get to a building, where you take a moment to sit Jeff down, only for Lazarevich to come in and perform his ultimate Kick the Dog moment - executing Jeff on the spot.
  • In the final playable sequence of Bastion, the Kid can either abandon the wounded Zulf and continue fighting the Ura, or drop his weapons and carry Zulf to safety. If you choose the latter, the Ura will persist in attacking you... but the Kid keeps going, and they respect his determination so much that an Ura soldier who takes another potshot at the Kid ends up skewered by his own commander.
  • A slogan of Battlefield: Bad Company series. And in the multiplayer, "Medic Train" hard enough and it really is possible to keep an entire team alive.
  • In Battlefield 4, this is Staff Sergeant Kimble Graves'/Irish's mindset throughout the game; He strongly protests Dunn's order that they leave him behind and swim to safety, he disobeys orders from his squad's CIA liaison to abandon drowning sailors, and disregards an oncoming tidal wave to free Recker who has been pinned behind a sliding car.
    Irish: We are not leaving you behind! No one gets left behind!
  • In Kerbal Space Program, getting your explorers stuck in space or on other planets is a fact of life. But using the same skills that probably stranded them in the first place, you can create and launch rescue missions. Just remember to leave extra seats.
  • Joe Dever's Lone Wolf: One can bring this up when refusing to go in the elevator without Leandra.
  • Possible to pull off in XCOM 2 where you can order your troops to carry knocked out (or dead) soldiers; but with the downside of slowing you down and making that carrying soldier unable to fire. From a game-player point of view, it's encouraged because experienced troops are precious commodities and fallen troopers left behind will take all their special gear with them, but successfully evacing a near-dead soldier while being under heavy fire can sure make the player feel heroic. Troopers who are left behind (but not killed, only knocked unconscious) are listed as "Captured" though. There is a chance that they can be rescued in a future mission with their skills and equipment all intact, but that is a chance, not a guarantee.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order had a Bittersweet Ending as B.J. lay crippled after Deathshead tried to kill them both with a grenade, giving the order to fire a nuclear missile on his own position. The sound of a helicopter during the end credits teased that they came back for him before it happened, with the sequel outright confirming it.

  • Girl Genius: Jagerkin do NOT leave their own, or those they consider as good as, behind.
  • Lampshaded in this Goblins strip where Ears thinks Names is asking him to leave him behind and refuses when Names is only looking for a way for Ears to carry him.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, Red realized that something had gotten to her grandmother, but could not leave and abandon her grandmother.
  • Near the end of the Azure City siege arc in The Order of the Stick, Haley and Belkar volunteer to run out and retrieve the body of one of their party members, Roy. Oh, and this is when a huge enemy army lies between them and escape.
    • Justified in that retrieving Roy's body makes it significantly easier to resurrect him. Plus Belkar at the time couldn't be more than a set distance away from it.
    • Later on, in the Empire of Blood arc, the team gets help from an Allosaurus that Belkar befriended and named Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator, which was later transformed into a lizard. When the team managed to escape, Belkar refused to leave Bloodfeast behind, with Blackwing carrying him after them.
  • Spacetrawler: Captain Nogg has no qualms about abandoning a crew member if that's what it takes to get the rest of his ship away safely. On the other hand, his crew has no qualms about ignoring Nogg when he tells them to abandon their mates.note 

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Open Blue's Back Story, where Executor Altara refuses her Empress' offer to allow her and the rest of the Praetorian Guard to retreat while the latter and the regular army held off The Horde that was slowly defeating their troops. The Empress gets killed, and they end up defeated and having to retreat anyway.
  • RWBY: Ren and Nora both refuse to leave behind their teammates despite their heavy injuries during the Battle of Beacon.
  • ARMA videos from the group Shack Tactical often feature decisions about whether to play this straight or to make the decision that one of their squadmates is too injured or the situation too desperate for the other players to be able to save them. (This comes up fairly often in part because the group intentionally design and play scenarios where the odds are overwhelmingly against them succeeding.) Perhaps the greatest example comes from the end of the video Shooting Gallery, where Dslyecxi and Shacktac's other Ace Pilots are frantically trying to evacuate the last survivors of a platoon that has suffered very heavy casualties. As Dslyecxi lands his helicopter, Kustom, one of the survivors, passes out from his injuries. The Medic tries to drag Kustom to the helicopter, but with dozens of bullets being fired at them every second, and the helicopter now loaded with half a dozen people, (who could be killed at any moment) Dslyecxi orders the medic to leave Kustom and jump into the helicopter to make their escape. Shortly afterward Kustom comes to, and despite enemy fire still being extremely heavy, Beagle (a different pilot) makes a frantic attempt to save Kustom, despite Dslyecxi warning him that they're almost certain to be killed. Beagle's attempt works and he manages to save Kustom. Check out the article Polygon wrote on Shack Tac in general and this mission in particular.
    Dslyecxi: [After collecting the other survivors and leaving Kustom] All right, Beagle, go ahead and break off.
    Beagle: Roger. Is anyone left down there?
    Dslyecxi: [somberly] No one we can help.
    Beagle: Oh my God Dslyecxi, they're still shooting, there's someone prone down there on the beach!
    Dslyecxi: I'm sorry Beagle, we couldn't do anything about it... he couldn't make it onto the helo. ... I'll tell you back at base, you gotta fly back to base with me, okay?
    Beagle: Fuck no I'm not!
    Dslyecxi: Beagle, you cannot do that. You cannot survive that!
    Beagle: Doesn't matter!

    Western Animation 
  • The Thunder Lizards of Eek! The Cat grudgingly remembered this rule when an obnoxious parody of Mr. T got dragged away by a carnivorous plant. Then one said, "But we don't have to hurry," and they smiled and moseyed.
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "The Cure", this is discussed by the Thing.
  • Parodied in Futurama:
    Zoidberg: Go on without me!
    Leela: I'm trying!
    [Pan down to show Zoidberg is holding on tight to Leela's legs.]
    Zoidberg: Go on without me faster!
  • The Gargoyles episode "Long Way Till Morning", in which Retired Badass Hudson refuses to leave behind a wounded Goliath even though Demona is after them both and Goliath tells him multiple times to do so.
  • Parodied in the Kim Possible episode "Blush" when Ron refuses to leave the wrecked Wade-bot until the real Wade calls and tells him he's fine.
  • Ozzy & Drix has this:
    Ozzy: Go on without me!
    Drix: You mean that?
  • In the children's cartoon Rescue Heroes, Billy Blazes, the chief of his rescue team often states that nobody gets left behind in spite of what disaster they may face. This is attributed to when he was a kid when a fire broke out and he was the only one left in the building, one of the firemen saved him and told him how no one would be left behind no matter how dangerous the situation is save them.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: Right after General Sunder defects to the Great Rebellion, he falls and breaks his leg. He tells the heroes to leave without him, but She-Ra says, "That's not the way we rebels do things."
  • Also parodied in The Simpsons
    Milhouse: I can't keep up, you guys go on ahead...and carry me with you!
    • Also, Homer quotes this trope when he saves a toy soldier using a toy helicopter from Marge's hair.
  • Notably in one episode of The Smurfs, Lazy and a bunch of other Smurfs get trapped in a volcano and work to rebuild a windmill into a helicopter so they could escape. Lazy feels entirely at fault for letting the Smurfs down and trapping them in the volcano, but Smurfette refuses to let him stay behind to perish.
  • Parodied in South Park, "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000". Cartman and his cellmate have escaped from prison. As they flee the guards, the cellmate is injured and says to go on without him. Cartman says "okay" and begins to go. The cellmate indignantly points out that Cartman was supposed to say that he couldn't leave his friend behind.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Jihad". While escaping a lava flow Spock is thrown from the vehicle and Captain Kirk goes back to save him. Spock tells him to go and Kirk says "Not without you."
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • In "Clone Cadets", this is one of the reasons Domino Squad fails their graduation exam. When Commander Colt scolds them about their mistakes, leaving behind a wounded Droidbait seems to be the worst of them.
    • Later on there is another painful aversion of the trope during the battle of Umbara in Season 4 when Rex and the rest of the 501st are stuck with General Ripper Pong Krell, who sacrifices them as cannon fodder. During the battle, the situation eventually becomes so bad that Rex orders field medic Kix to leave many of his wounded brothers for dead instead of risking his life to retrieve them. While Rex only does this to make sure their medic stays alive to prevent even more deaths later, Kix is hit hard after hearing the Captain give such an order.
      Kix: You sound like General Krell…
    • "A Distant Echo": As Rex explains to Anakin, he's lost so many brothers in the war that he's learned to let go of them. Learning that his old friend Echo is likely still alive, however, changes things, which is why he's so determined to rescue him.
      Echo: Rex... you... you came back for me.
      Rex: Yes. Yes, I did.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • In the first episode, Zeb averts this trope by letting Ezra get caught by the Empire while he and the Ghost crew are escaping from an Imperial ship. Later, the crew holds a vote over whether or not they should go back for him, to which Zeb and Sabine vote against due to how dangerous it may be, and Hera, Chopper, and Kanan vote for.
    • In the last few episodes of Season 1, Kanan is captured by the Empire. Hera is urged by Fulcrum to leave him behind because it would be too difficult to break him out and they have to focus on their next mission. The others refuse to give up and secretly attempt to defy her orders. When Hera finds out, Ezra manages to persuade her to defy Fulcrum. This turns out to be the best choice, as it leads to Fulcrum budging and leading a Big Damn Heroes rescue at the end of the Season 1 finale to help them escape from the Empire since it demonstrates to the galaxy that the Empire can be defeated.
    • In Grand Finale "Family Reunion — and Farewell", Ezra disappears to who knows where along with Thrawn and his fleet while saving Lothal. Years later, after the end of the war, Sabine and Ahsoka set off to look for him and bring him home. It's a huge contrast from how she was at the beginning of the series, as described above, especially considering that there's almost nothing that can clue them to Ezra's whereabouts, and as far as anyone knows, Ezra could be dead.
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race MacArthur firmly follows this rule and will even carry Sanders if she gets worn out. This is touched on in "Bahamarama", where she rescues Josee from an underwater cavern because of a combination of this and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You.
  • The ZhuZhus parodied in "Chunklette's Web" when Nums falls in popcorn, Chunk chase stray kernel shouting "Leave no snack behind!"

    Real Life 
  • Famous and macabre example: when the Chinese army attacked UN forces in Korea in the brutal winter of 1950, they surrounded the elite and famous US 1st Marine Division. Faced with utter annihilation, the division's officers rallied their men by vowing to get everyone out, including the wounded and the dead. Their convoys coming down out of the mountains, depicted in newsreel footage and several movies, reveal how brutal the fighting was and how determined they were to achieve that symbolic goal: their trucks and jeeps are festooned with frozen corpses wrapped in blankets and body bags.
    • This ended up actually having a very fortunate outcome in terms of the war in general. At least two, probably three, Chinese Army Groups were tied up with the Marine Division and were unable to link up in time with their counterparts who were blazing through the U.S. and Korean armies (at least in comparison to the snail crawl that went on with the 1st).
  • World War 2 example: 442nd Infantry Regiment of the United States Army famously rescued the "Lost Battalion" at Biffontaine in southern France. Over a five-day period, from October 26 to October 30, 1944, the 442nd suffered the loss of nearly half of its roster. Over 800 casualties, including 121 dead. While rescuing 211 members of the 36th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, which had been surrounded by German forces in the Vosges mountains since October 24. Making it even more striking, the 442nd volunteered for the assignment — and this was a battalion of Japanese-American soldiers, many of whom had been treated horribly by the military and the US government in general.
    • The 442nd were renowned for a truly absurd amount of bravery. They finished the war with more decorations per capita than any unit in American history. Among the awards was an astounding 21 Medals of Honor, one awarded posthumously in 1946 and 20 awarded over 50 years later in 2000.
      • They were also one of the rare regiments that went well over 100% casualty (more soldiers killed and injured than were on the original roster) over the course of the war.
  • The Israeli military takes this to an extreme by trading important prisoners for its soldiers be they dead or alive. For example, captured soldier Gilad Shalit was eventually returned to Israel in exchange for over a thousand prisoners, almost three hundred of whom had been serving life sentences for terrorism offences.
  • After the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, the rescue workers in the area of the building housing the US Marine Corps Recruiting Office happened to be either active duty or Reserve Marines. The bodies of Captain Randolph Guzman and Sergeant Benjamin Davis were recovered by them, and as they removed the bodies from the scene, everyone fell silent, because (in the words of one witness) "The Marines were bringing out their own." And every year, one Marine officer and one Marine NCO in dress blues leave a wreath at the site.
  • The Spartans' last stand at Thermopylae concluded its last few moments with a handful of soldiers clustered round the body of their dead king, Leonidas, before an arrow storm finally finished them off.
  • In the Battle of Mogadishu (made famous in Black Hawk Down), following this policy resulted in many casualties.
    • Many terrorist organizations are aware of this trope about the U.S and that is of the reasons why the U.S. are normally wary in sending ground troops into a foreign land unless there's no other choice.
  • The 1953 American attempt to summit K2, the second-highest mountain and arguably the most difficult in the world, was frustrated by weather and mountain sickness. The eight-man team attempted to carry one of their number off the mountain, a nearly impossible feat at that altitude. Then a near-disastrous accident left everybody shaken and/or injured. The team decided to camp to recover and consider their options leaving their injured companion, Art Gilkey, secured in his litter to the mountain face but when they came to fetch him he had been swept away, litter and all, by an avalanche he might well have deliberately called down upon himself in a Heroic Sacrifice to save his comrades.
  • Hideaki Akaiwa was at work on March 11th, 2011 when the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami hit his city of Ishinomaki, Japan. His wife of twenty years was trapped in their home under the waves, and rescue workers could not get to her. Rather than just give in to fate, Hideaki somehow managed to get a SCUBA kit and dove into the raging waters of the tsunami to rescue her. Navigating through the waters and dodging numerous obstacles including cars, downed power lines, and houses getting swept away in the current, he managed to find his home and his wife. She was alive, and thanks to Hideaki was rescued. This alone is impressive, but when his mother was declared missing, he did it again and saved her. And for the duration of the disaster, he went out on his bicycle alone with a folding knife, a few bottles of water, his SCUBA gear, and gave help wherever he could. He was named Badass of the Week for that.
  • Medal of Honor recipient Roy P. Benavidez rescued thirteen men from a battalion of North Vietnamese soldiers, including running over to a downed Huey helicopter and physically carrying the crew to another helicopter, and directing airstrikes while his eyes were blinded with the blood pouring into them. Did I mention he was only carrying a knife? He received thirty-seven wounds from bullets, bayonets and grenade blasts in the process, his guts were hanging out, and was placed in a body bag after the battle, and had the strength to spit in the doctor's face when declared a goner. He lived. Here is a condensed summary of the story: video, and here is the Medal of Honor citation.
  • During the Second World War, the Finnish army made a point of this. Turns out it worked really well to scare your opponents. The Finns usually collected their dead during the night. Thus when morning came and the Russians surveyed the battlefield all they found were their own dead soldiers. Not knowing whether you actually killed any of your enemies (or the cold brought them back to life as Knife-wielding sniper-zombies) plays merry hell on their morale.
  • Similar to the above, NVA and VC troops during The Vietnam War did their best to recover their dead, for pragmatic reasons; it spooked their opponents, and frustrated US Generals who were fixated on "body counts".
  • Dov Lopatyn the leader of The Lachwa Ghetto was informed by the Germans that the ghetto was to be liquidated and that the inhabitants would be "deported". They tried to get his cooperation by promising that the members of Judenrat, the ghetto doctor and 30 labourers (whom Lopatyn could choose personally) would be spared. His reply was "Either we all live, or we all die".
  • The US military spends considerable time and effort locating their missing war dead; including those going back to World War II.
  • When US Airways Flight 1549 went down in the Hudson River on January 10, 2009, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger made sure all passengers and crew got into life rafts and walked the plane twice on his own (as it was rapidly filling with water, by the way) to ensure everyone was out before leaving himself. He did not leave the Port Authority facilities until all passengers and crew were accounted for.
  • During the 1453 Siege of Constantinople, Venetian surgeon Niccolò Barbaro described an attack by the Janissaries where they suffered heavy losses, but would not leave their dead behind.
    They found the Turks coming right up under the walls and seeking battle, particularly the Janissaries ... and when one or two of them were killed, at once more Turks came and took away the dead ones ... without caring how near they came to the city walls. Our men shot at them with guns and crossbows, aiming at the Turk who was carrying away his dead countryman, and both of them would fall to the ground dead, and then there came other Turks and took them away, none fearing death, but being willing to let ten of themselves be killed rather than suffer the shame of leaving a single Turkish corpse by the walls.

Alternative Title(s): Leave No Man Behind, No Man Left Behind, No One Left Behind


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