A situation where one character who is known for supporting and helping another is suddenly in need of support, only for the person they supported to come through for them.
Whether it's because of Character Development or a hidden Chekhov's Skill that never proved to be much of an asset until now, the normally reliant character gets their chance to take the active role in the relationship and the helped becomes the helper. The reversal in roles can be emphasized with dialogue (such as the Trope Namer Stock Phrase - "You carried me, now let me carry you") or by making the moment visually a clear parallel of earlier scenes, only with the parts switched around.
An alternative form of this trope is for the one helping the helper to be a third person who had witnessed and was moved by the first's helping nature.
This often involves the character that normally needs to be helped playing with Took a Level in Badass, at least for this one occasion.
- Konoka to Setsuna in the cinima town chapter of the Kyoto arc of Mahou Sensei Negima!. Setsuna had always carried Konoka bridal style while protecting her. Having just unlocked her hidden healing abilities to save Setsuna's life, Konoka held Setsuna in the same manner to fully illustrate the reversal of roles.
- Mazinger Z: For all times Kouji shouted "You are always getting in the way!", "Stop hindering me!", "I could have won without your help!", etc. to Sayaka there were only so many times where Sayaka had been hurt or her Fem Bot disabled and he carried her back home in arms (one episode closed with a snapshot of Mazinger carrying Aphrodite in arms while they arrived to the Institute). In one occasion the roles also were reversed where Sayaka carried Kouji.
- Kisara in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Seto saves her life twice, and she repays the favor in spades.
- A twofer example in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In the original timeline, as shown in episode 10, Madoka was a magical girl and Homura was the Muggle Best Friend who had to be saved by Madoka several times. Homura's wish when Madoka died was to go back in time and protect Madoka as Madoka had protected her. However, in the final episode, when Homura is about to turn into a witch out of grief at not being able to defeat Walpurgis Night, Madoka steps in and helps her, making the wish that would wipe herself and all witches from existence.
- Sakura during the Chunin Exams. With Naruto and Sasuke out for the count, Sakura is left on her own to defend them. At first she is handily outclassed, but soon resolves to, for once, let the boys watch her from the background rather than lagging behind them all the time.
- Once he starts taking levels in badass, Naruto does this repeatedly to his teachers. Most notable are him fighting Pain instead of Hokage Tsunade, and showing up in the nick of time to save Kakashi from Tobi. Kakashi even mistakes Naruto for his own teacher and Naruto's father Minato.
- Played with in the Pain fight - after defeating Pain's bodies, and getting the real Pain to revive all the villagers killed, Naruto collapses from exhaustion. A newly revived Kakashi is there to literally carry him back to the village.
- Also in the Pain arc, Hinata jumping to protect a wounded Naruto from Pain. She gets curb-stomped, but her defeat makes Naruto almost release the Kyuubi, turning the tide of the battle.
- Hinata in general is made of this trope. Her main wish is to be able to walk besides Naruto instead of behind him, and she again proves her worth when she snaps Naruto from his Heroic BSoD after Neji's death. You have to be badass to give the ressident Messiah a pep talk!
- Dragon Ball:
- Dragon Ball Z:
- After saving Gohan and Krillin from Nappa, Goku sent them away so he could fight the much more powerful Vegeta without worrying about their safety. Then when Goku got into trouble during the fight, Gohan and Krillin returned saving him.
- After Piccolo sacrifices his life to save Gohan, he go through Hell and beyond to bring his mentor back to life. He also rushes Frieza when he almost killed Piccolo.
- When Goku falls sick during the battle with the androids, Yamcha, who has been protected and saved by Goku several times, physically carries him back to his house and helps care for him along with his wife.
- Adult Gohan in Dragonball GT. Having been saved multiple times throughout the series by both his father and Piccolo, it's Gohan, untransformed and in a suit no less that charges into the battle his father is losing against Omega Shenlong to pull the injured Super Saiyan 4 Goku to safety. With his brother Goten working as distraction, to boot.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- In the Happy Happy Clover Manga series by Sayuri Tatsuyama, Clover's best friend Mallow is prone to getting sick a few times in the series mostly due to catching a cold. In a later volume, Clover catches a stomach ache as a result of her worrying about Mallow since she can't find a future job to work with. When Mallow along with Kale and Shallot see's Clover fall to the ground suffering from the pain, Mallow orders her friends to take Clover back home and decides to look up about dealing with stomach pains and other illnesses. In the end of the chapter, she reveals that Clover didn't eat breakfast since she was worrying about Mallow not being herself lately. Mallow later apologizes and tells Clover and friends that she wants to be a nurse.
- Subverted in the most tragic way possible in One Piece. After spending most of his life being saved and protected by his older brother Ace, Luffy goes through hell and beyond to save him from execution. Just when it looked like Luffy succeeded, Ace dies saving him, protecting him to his very last breath. Luffy doesn't take this well.
- In Attack on Titan This is what Armin goes out of his way to do, at least when it comes to Mikasa and Eren. While it turns out neither thought he was The Load, he does try to go out of his way to make sure that he isn't useless.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: Utena frequently acts as the prince to Anthy, coming to her rescue when she's getting abused, and making a Declaration of Protection to save her from her Fate Worse than Death. She succeeds. In the movie, Utena turns into a car so its Anthy's turn to save her as she drives them away from the influence of Akio and the school.
- Ciel of Black Butler frequently goes through hell and high water to save his fiance Lizzie from certain danger in both the manga and anime. In the manga Ciel is cornered by man eating zombies so Elizabeth finally gets her chance to show off her hidden badass side and rescue him.
- Seraph of the End: Mika and Yuu frequently make Declaration of Protection towards each other. However, on one occasion Mika makes a grand show of fighting his way through an entire army in order to get to Yuu. He carries him in a Bridal Carry to safety and tries to get him to wake up. Yuu wakes up on his own and saves Mika from his pain by getting him to drink his blood. Afterwards Mika complains "What's the deal with that? I was supposed to rescue you."
- A Crown of Stars: When the crew returns to retake their world Misato insists on taking riskier front-line roles in operations; such as subduing Don Barceló and leading the assault on the UN Fleet command ship. Her argument is that as one of the few natives in the crew with actually military experience, she's the best person for the job especially since Rei cut off their reinforcements from Avalon. Though is seems the real reason she putting herself in danger is so her former charges won't have to anymore.
- To Heal A Hero: A terminally ill Laurel spends most of her time acting strong to reassure those around her. People have to repeatedly tell her that is okay to grieve and be afraid, and that they are going to support her.
Thea: You fight for this city, you fight for Sara, you fight for me, and it's about time you let someone fight for you, and whether you like it or not that's going to be me.
- Quite a number of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics involve this, typically with an older Spike taking care of the Mane Six or his other friends.
- In Memory Of: 40 years after the events of Friendship is Magic, Twilight is an aged, grey mare who mostly retains her high spirits and is taken care of by Spike, who remains youthful. What makes this one even more tragic is Spike is still quite young and childlike and while he's doing everything in his power to keep Twilight healthy, he doesn't know what to do and arguably makes stuff worse in the end, leading to Twilight's implied death. Given that Twilight must've only been in her early 60s at this point, this was quite an early death at that.
- Carry Me Home is a particularly sad story about Spike carrying his best friends home after an increasing number of time skips. The first three chapters of the story focus on a middle-aged Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Applejack respectively and while they're melancholy in tone, they're not necessarily tragic. Stuff starts to go south when Spike has to help Starlight Glimmer enjoy her final days before The Disease That Shall Not Be Named claims her life and tend to Pinkie's final party. After several more years, and after Pinkie Pie's apparent death, Spike has to watch Rarity die in his arms. Rather fittingly, the final chapter takes place long into the future where an immortal Twilight now has to take care of an aged Spike.
- Zigzagged in It Takes a Village where the Mane Six do still care for Spike, but he tries to take care of them in areas where they can't. Played literally in the later half of the story where Spike carries Twilight home while reminiscing about how she used to carry him home after one of their old adventures.
- The Bleach fanfic series Heirverse has this in Cold feet with the usually heartless, untouchable Aizen breaks down in relief following an absolutely hellish decade of trying to protect Gin, letting Gin finally play his role of Living Emotional Crutch straight.
- Card Captor Rad:
- Perceptor wanting to protect Rachel from Megatron, like she tried to do for him.
- Its's turned back on High Wire when Rad pulls this to be a distraction for Cyclonus.
- Kara Of Rokyn: As soon as she hears Superman and Lex Luthor have been completely missing for over one month, Supergirl -who had moved to another planet- drops everything right away and travels back to Earth in order to lead a search-and-rescue operation. When her behavior is questioned by her boss, Kara replies her cousin did the same thing for her, and now it's her turn to save him.
- For Those We Cherish: After the Faunus woman who was carrying her younger siblings finally collapses because of her wounds, Aethon decides that rather than kill he decides to help her keep her promise towards her younger siblings. Obviously a reference to the events on Rynn's World.
- In Hellsister Trilogy, Dev-Em saves Supergirl's life and later she repays the favor by protecting him from Darkseid.
- Slight variation: In Quest for Camelot, Garrett is blind and has a falcon companion who "is [his] eyes." At the end of the movie, Garrett and his love interest Kayley must navigate an Absurdly Spacious Sewer which is very dark. Garrett helps Kayley through the tunnel, telling her, "Don't worry, I'll be your eyes."
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup takes care of Toothless for a majority of the story, from bringing him food to helping him fly after losing part of his tail. By the end of the story, it's Toothless's turn to help Hiccup when Hiccup loses his left foot and hasn't adjusted to walking with an artificial foot yet.
- Yellow Submarine has the Beatles (dressed as Sgt. Pepper's band) accidentally awakening the slumbering Blue Meanies. As they are under attack, Ringo jumps into John's arms and is carried about throughout the blue detonations going off. When the coast is clear, John is now in Ringo's arms.
- The page quote comes from a scene in Serenity where Ill Girl Waif Prophet River takes on an entire army of Reavers alone, just to get a medical bag for her wounded caring brother. Good thing she excels at kicking ass.
"She always did love to dance..."
- Murder by Death: Jessica Marbles is expected, along with her nurse. Enter a little old lady pushing an even littler older lady in a wheelchair — the one in the wheelchair is the nurse.
- Spider-Man Trilogy:
- The first film has the scene on the bridge, when the stones and other assorted items thrown by New Yorkers in the general direction of the Goblin (at least one hits him on the head) allow our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man to recover momentum and save the day.
- By the climax of Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man has spent the past two movies protecting New York City, and has just saved a train from being destroyed. The citizens on-board carry the injured Spider-Man to safety inside the train and attempt to protect him from Doc Ock. Doc Ock gets past them easily, but the scene is still a heartwarming moment.
- The Amazing Spiderman has a construction worker (who is the father of the boy Spidey saved earlier on the bridge) summon his fellow crane workers move their cranes in such a way that an injured Peter can get to the Lizard faster. It's kind of like the city saying "We're on your side."
- A literal example of this trope appears near the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in what could very well be considered Sam's most awesome moment:
Sam: [hoisting Frodo over his shoulders] I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!
- It happens in the book as well, with much the same line.
- In the climax of Avengers: Endgame, after Captain America finds himself standing alone against Thanos' entire army, he hears the voice of Sam Wilson/The Falcon, who was one of the heroes killed in Infinity War, leading those same resurrected heroes into battle to Cap's aid. The nature of the trope is emphasized by the same Running Gag from The Winter Soldier to signify how The Falcon is no longer Cap's inferior but his equal: "Cap, it's Sam. On your left."
- A Chairy Tale: A short film in which a man runs about pursuing a sentient, mobile chair that refuses to let the man sit on it. Finally the man figures out what to do. He squats down in a chair pose and lets the chair sit on him. After that the chair is only too happy to let the man sit on it.
- In Ivanhoe, Rebecca nurses Ivanhoe back to health. Later he comes to save her from being burned as a witch.
- Happens near the end of the Dragonlance Chronicles with Raistlin and Caramon.
- In To Live, Fugui carries Jiazhen on his book when she becomes too weak to walk. When she tries to protest, he tells her that he is showing his love for her.
- The end of Cryoburn: Gregor asks to be a pallbearer at Aral Vorkosigan's funeral.
"The man has carried me since I was five years old," answered the Emperor of Barrayar. "It's my turn."
- In The Dark Tower, Roland the gunslinger is nearly dying of thirst when he meets Jake in Book 1. Jake brings Roland water from the pump in the way station to revive him. After Jake returns in Book 3, there is a moment in the tunnels under Lud when Jake is dehydrated, and Roland must get water for him. He briefly remembers what happened at the way station and notices that he is now returning the favor Jake did for him back them.
- A plot in the Puddle Lane books revolves around an iron boy and a sandalwood girl travelling to the Silver River so they can bathe in it and become human. At one point, the bridge they're crossing collapses and the iron boy sinks to the bottom. The sandalwood girl (who is very light) pulls him to shore. Later, they're caught in a grass fire and the iron boy (who isn't flammable) puts the sandalwood girl (who is very flammable) on his shoulders and carries her through the fire.
- In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Defeat of Superman", Jimmy Olsen (usually the rescuee), with the help of a hint from Superman (usually the rescuer), finds a way to neutralize the Kryptonite radiation.
- Sherlock: Sherlock and John have saved each other's asses more often than once-without the other knowing. When the other is threatened you know that one of them will do something to keep the other safe.
- In Smallville, Clark has saved Chloe's life many times without her knowing; once she learns his secret however, there are many heartwarming scenes in which she protects him insteadnote .
- In the second season of Buffy, Drusilla is physically healed in the same episode that Spike is horrifically injured, and she says a line very like this. The rest of the season has their relationship entirely inverted.
- 30 Rock:
- There's Kenneth and his mother: "You carried me for nine months, now let me carry you."
- Added with Jack has been given advice on how to deal with his overbearing mother. When he takes that advice to action via phone call, it backfires... horribly.
Jack: Hello mother, so nice to hear your voice. No, I am not on anything. I know that things have been difficult for you lately and I was thinking you carried me for nine months, let me carry you now. WELL RIGHT BACK AT YOU COLLEEN! That's right! You cut Pops balls off! And left him in the street to die!
- Mordred is glad to take care of an injured Morgana, in thanks for her previously caring for him.
- The first season is mainly made up of Merlin and Arthur repaying each other for the continual saving of each other's lives.
- Guinevere travels to Ealdor with Merlin to defend his home against bandits, telling him that it's repayment for the time he saved her from being executed as a witch. She ends up saving his mother's life.
- At the end of the third season, the future knights of the Round Table all pledge their fealty to Arthur for past deeds rendered toward them. It's especially touching since Arthur is asking them to help save his father, and many of them have good reason to hate Uther's guts.
- Doctor Who: Whenever a Companion shows up to save the Doctor's hide. Sometimes, they show up en masse. Subverted and almost lampshaded in "The Name of the Doctor" with the Doctor's plea to Clara:
Doctor: Just this once, let me save you!
- The West Wing: After Josh is diagnosed with PTSD and fears that he'll be fired as a security risk, Leo assures him that it won't happen, with the parable of the man who fell into a hole. Later, when a Republican committee threatens to out Leo for falling Off the Wagon during the first campaign, Josh does everything he can to stop it.
Josh: I'm gonna help you, 'cause you know why?
Leo: 'Cause you walk around with so much guilt about everybody you love dying that you're a compulsive fixer?
Josh: No, Leo, no, it's 'cause this guy's walking down the street and he falls into a hole, see?
- Often happened in understated ways between Robin and Much in Robin Hood. At one stage Much trips over and urges Robin to carry on.
Much: Don't worry about me!
Robin: I like worrying about you!
- House: Doctor Wilson spends so much time caring for his maladjusted, emotionally crippled best friend that it's a wonder that he has time to practice medicine. Whenever Wilson faces a crisis, however, House will usually provide support — albeit in the most ass way possible.
- Used literally at the end of Chinese Paladin: when Tang'yu and Ah Nu have been turned into birds. Tang'yu, due to a prior accident, is wingless, and Ah Nu carries him.
- In Princess Returning Pearl, Er Kang has always been the stronger half of his relationship with Zi Wei, with Zi Wei always being the Damsel in Distress that needs rescuing. Then in series 3, Er Kang finds himself in a vulnerable situation, and it is only with Zi Wei's both physical and emotional support that he survives the ordeal.
- Lost in Space (2018): In the Season 1 finale, after being protected by his family for the whole season, Will Robinson is placed in a position where he has no choice but to be brave and save them instead. When challenged on this, Will insists that now it's his turn to protect them.
- The Rolf Harris song "Two Little Boys" — when Joe and Jack are children, Jack breaks his wooden horse and Joe offers him a ride: "Did you think I would leave you crying when there's room on my horse for two?" Later, when they've both grown up and are cavalry officers at war, Joe's fallen to the ground and Jack picks him up on his horse, saving his life: "Did you think I would leave you dying when there's room on my horse for two?"
- Bill Withers' song "Lean On Me"
- In the Vocaloid song "A Faint Wish", Rin tells Len that he has always been there for her and it's his turn to go on after seeing a long montage of times when Len has died for her.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Rynn's World, Captain Cortez saves a mother and her children (one of whom is just a baby) from being murdered by Orks. Chapter Master Pedro Kantor is less than pleased with this development, as there are (to his knowledge) only a dozen or so Crimson Fists left after the destruction of their monastery, and they cannot afford to bring refugees along. But Kantor says that the family can tag along as long as they can keep pace with the Space Marines, which anyone will tell you is no small feat. After a while, the mother becomes tired and unable to keep up. Kantor moves to the back of the column, to (as the reader is led to believe) "grant her the final mercy." As he kneels next to the mother with his wrist-mounted storm bolter pointed disturbingly close to her head, we believe he's going to kill her. Then, after the mother pants that she tried, but her children were just so heavy, Kantor (who, I feel the need to stress, did not want her there in the first place) says, before picking her up in his arms and carrying her the rest of the journey to rejoin their remaining battle brothers, with the following:
Kantor: You did well to bring them this far... It is time that someone carried you now.
- Kairi in Kingdom Hearts I when she discovers Sora has turned into a Heartless to recover Kairi's heart and they are about to be attacked by heartless. "This time I'll protect you."
- In Siren, Blind Seer Miyako has to use player character Kyoya's eyes to navigate around the stages during Escort Missions. Later on, well after the two get separated, Kyoya gets caught in a blacked-out room with a bunch of shibito standing between him and his goal. Then he hears Miyako's voice in his head, prompting him to use her eyes. This allows him to see the auras of the shibito and run past them in the darkness. It is revealed soon after that Miyako is already dead at this point, but she goes on to serve as Kyoya's Spirit Advisor for the Final Battle.
- In BioShock 2, Eleanor, after getting her Big Sister suit and breaking you out, basically says this as she's lifting you to your feet. "You fought for me, Father, Now let me fight for you."
- In ICO, Yorda ends up carrying Ico to safety.
- In the ending of Dissidia [duodecim] 012 Final Fantasy, when the Warrior of Light is at the brink of death protecting Cosmos from the an army of Manikins, Cosmos sees he's in danger and unleashes her power and sacrifices herself in order to save him.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, essentially all of the game's final act is the people Snake helped throughout the series making last stands at various points in Outer Haven so that he can break into the server room. For all intents and purposes, Raiden does this for his entire fourth title, with one of his first lines being "Okay Snake, now it's time for me to protect you."
- As much as people hate to admit it, the Last Story of Sonic '06 features something like this. Princess Elise, who has been carried around and rescued by Sonic for most of the game, finally repays Sonic for all his hard work by bringing him back to life, after he had just been murdered by Mephiles the Dark.
- For most of the Mass Effect series, Shepard spends much of his/her time helping his/her crew members with their many, many problems, trying to get their heads cleared up and deal with their inner demons. This gets noticeably reversed in Mass Effect 3. While Shepard still helps out his/her friends, s/he also begins edging closer to the Despair Event Horizon as the war goes on and gets more hopeless. Those same friends, particularly Garrus, Liara, Tali, and Joker attempt to return the favor and do everything they can to keep Shepard from giving up.
Shepard: There's only so much death and destruction you can take before...
Garrus: Before your friend picks you up, dusts you off, and reminds you that you're the best damn soldier he's ever served with.
- Logical extreme: Effectively, Shepard has been saving everyone in the galaxy (repreatedly). At the end of Mass Effect 3 pretty much the entire galaxy joins the fight to make sure that Shepard can reach his/her destination. At which point, Shepard once again has to make a decision to save the galaxy.
- This is an actual role in many MOBA titles such as Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars and League of Legends. The "carry" is usually a Glass Cannon who has a tough time early game because they cannot take a lot of punishment. These are often kept alive by a Support and ideally other members of the team until later in the game when they are able to deal so much damage in such a short period of time that they can "carry" that same team to victory.
- Baam was practically raised by Rachel and he grew so dependent on her that he followed her in to the titular Tower of God as she abandoned him. Through a series of misfortunes, she becomes paraplegic. That is when Baam decides to become her legs instead, so that they can scale the tower together. Then it is subverted by Rachel trying to kill Baam, revealing that in fact she is completely healthy and the misfortunes were staged plans. After Baam's disappearance, she gets the support of their unwitting True Companions.
- It is and has long been common for elderly parents to be looked after by their children.
- "Lafayette, we are here!"note
- This is probably the aspect of the evacuation of Dunkirk which made it such a morale booster (to the extent that Brits will still boast about it to this day) despite ostensibly being a humiliating defeat — civilians who'd been reliant on the armed forces for so long were suddenly needed to literally carry them to safety. As a result, the British were all but ready to roar to the Axis, "We Will Meet Again!" even as the coming Battle of Britain was about give them their darkest time and their finest hour.
- A literal example of this trope occurred in the 1996 Summer Olympics. In the women's gymnastics team finals, the United States held a very narrow lead over Russia, and the first four American women landed poorly on vault - an event the US had never won gold in before and dominated by the Soviets for decades. The last American woman, Kerri Strug, badly damaged her ankle on her first vault, but limped back to the tumbling track to try again and landed cleanly, cinching the gold. The famous photograph of Strug being literally carried to the podium by coach Bela Karolyi◊ because her leg was hurt too badly to walk is one of the most iconic photos of the 1996 games.
- Mel Gibson helped Robert Downey Jr. out, kept a roof over his head while he was unable to find work, all he asked in return was for Robert to help the next guy in need. Said person turned out to be Mel Gibson himself after his drunken rant against Jews.
- A mass example of this occurred at X Japan's 2008 Tokyo Dome show. Lead singer Toshi broke down in tears when performing "Forever Love" - which was last performed by the band at guitarist Hide's funeral - and the crowd promptly took over his singing duties as he regrouped.
- Ideally all friendships would resemble this!
- Earlier, Ann Sullivan came to Tuscumbia to teach the young Helen Keller, who was, at once, blind, deaf and mute. Later, Keller assisted her old teacher Sullivan, paying her eye surgery and setting up a fund for her in the event Keller predeceased Sullivan.