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"The Enforcers will handle this!"
Commander Feral, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron

Sometimes, when they're dealing with a situation, the protagonists will meet up with the people who are officially supposed to handle this sort of thing: the police, the military, the exterminators, or the Ancient Conspiracy. Inevitably, the first thing these people will tell a civilian hero to do is to get out of the way and let them do their jobs.

In Fictionland, the Rule of Drama means that this never works out. In some stories, the "civilian" is really better able to deal with the situation than the official professionals; this is particularly common in Super Hero stories or other stories with paranormal elements, where the "professionals" may try to defeat a supernatural problem with mundane methods and get their backsides handed to them. In others, the protagonists will ignore the professionals and get in way over their heads for doing so, though even then they tend to solve the story's central problem anyway.

Sometimes the professionals aren't just telling the civilians to step back for their safety. Sometimes, they're trying to maintain The Masquerade or keep other secrets out of the public eye.

This trope is Truth in Television, but in Real Life, it's really better to listen to the professionals when they order you out of the way.

Compare Hero Harasses Helpers and Not Now, Kiddo. Can lead to Prohibited Hero Saves the Day. See also Police Are Useless, Militaries Are Useless, and Adults Are Useless.


Anime and Manga

  • Berserk: Jill's father has a bad case of I Coulda Been a Contender! regarding his days in the army. When the Knights of the Iron Chain show up hunting Guts, he offers to guide them, but when battle is about to begin he is shooed away by the knights who don't want civilians messing around.

Fan Works

  • The Many Worlds Interpretation (Discworld and The Big Bang Theory): The City Watch have to deal with a wild animal on the loose, running panicked in a non-familiar city environment. Doctor Johanna Smith-Rhodes, who realises exactly what the animal is, joins the pursuit. A new and naive Watchman tries to exclude her from the pursuit on the grounds that she's a civilian. Johanna rolls with it, potentially adding assault on a police officer to her charge sheet. Then she rounds up the creature.

Film — Animated

  • Zootopia: When Judy is pursuing Duke Weaselton, Officer Mc Horn yells "leave it to the real cops" at her. Judy is a professional police officer, but an inexperienced one who is on parking duty when the crime happens.


  • The Berenstain Bears: A variant in the Big Chapter Book And the Drug-Free Zone. The Bear Detectives help expose the source of the drugs that have recently turned up in Bear Country, and while the police thank them for their help in cracking the case (and providing further evidence of the dealers' identities), they also sternly tell off the cubs for getting involved because of how dangerous drug dealers can be, and for jumping to conclusions based on first impressions.
  • The Greatest Magicmaster's Retirement Plan: Downplayed. Alus Reigin usually doesn't like working with newbies like Tesfia and Alice, but he allows Tesfia to join him in rescuing Alice because he knows how personal the mission is to her. Though he states he would have knocked her out if he didn't think she had enough resolve.
  • Joe Grey Mysteries: Joe himself has to deal with a variant on a regular basis — it's not the cops who reject his help, but his owner Clyde who constantly tells him to leave the police work to the police, and sometimes does what he can to keep Joe from picking up any new information, such as shutting him out of the house when the local police chief and his buddies come by to play cards so Joe can't eavesdrop. Since Joe is a rather independent tomcat and Uplifted Animal who's developed the ability to understand and speak English, this doesn't stop him from poking around anyway and calling the cops with anonymous tips based on the information he's picked up.
  • Knit And Nibble Mysteries: Several times, Pamela and Bettina (a magazine editor and a writer for a once-weekly newspaper, respectively) are told not to investigate the murders that happen in their town — by the police (who say it's their job and not for civilians), by Nell Bascomb from her knitting club (who doesn't believe in gossip or snooping around, and tells her husband not to help them, though he does anyway), and by Pamela's daughter Penny (who worries about her mom's safety and doesn't want to lose her like she did her dad). Pamela herself isn't too eager to get involved in investigations, but Bettina keeps ignoring anyone who tells her not to go poking around and just drags Pamela into it anyway.
  • Magical Cats Mysteries: No matter how helpful Kathleen and her discoveries are, Marcus Gordon keeps telling her to just keep away from whatever case he's working on and not to go snooping around. Being a Mystery Magnet who just keeps attracting evidence, she's unable to do so.
  • Second Chance Cat Mysteries: Nicolas "Nick" Elliot is a death examiner for the local medical office, who constantly tells his mother and her friends to stay out of police business on the grounds that it's too dangerous for them. The trio just as constantly ignore him and anyone else who does the same thing though, and eventually the face of their detective agency (which they formed to investigate a murder that a friend of theirs was wrongly accused of in book 1), Alfred Peterson, officially and legally becomes a registered private investigator early in book 3 to give them legal credibility.

Live-Action TV

  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: At the beginning of the series, Amateur Sleuth Phryne offers her insights on cases despite the police's best efforts to rebuff her. As the series progresses, she becomes accepted as a private detective working in tandem with the professionals.

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: One sword upgrade is obtained by giving it to two smiths who take turns hammering at it. If you try to join in with your own hammer, they tell you amateurs shouldn't interfere.
  • Nocturne (RPG Maker): In the beginning of the game, Reviel Von De Russert always force Luna into the back row of the Defender formation because he doesn't trust her to be able to fight even the most basic monsters. This is deconstructed because ends up hurting Luna's already low self-esteem and puts her in a downward spiral for the first segment of the game.
  • Tokyo Xanadu:
    • Asuka initially wants Kou to stay out of her business and not try to investigate the Eclipse with her. She's an enforcer for Nemesis and prefers to work alone, while Kou has no knowledge of the Underground. He manages to wear her down and get her grudging acceptance, but this trope comes back in full effect in Chapter 5, when Asuka discovers a Greed on a tier higher than anything they've faced before. According to her, a Grim Greed is entirely beyond the rest of the group's skill, and so she puts Kou in a barrier so he doesn't interfere with her defeating it.
    • In Chapter 7, when Gorou and the Aegis Battalion intervene, he tells the XRC that they've done great so far, but now that the Breed is active and threatens to cause The Tokyo Fireball, it's time for the adults to take charge and deal with things using Humongous Mecha.
    Playtime is over. There is no place for juvenile civilians in our operations.

Western Animation