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Refuse to Rescue the Disliked

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Piccolo: OK, time to go save Gohan.
Kami: What about the others?
Piccolo: What about the others?
Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Cooler 2: The Return of Cooler's Revenge: The Reckoning

It takes great compassion and moral character for someone to save someone's life, even if that someone in need of saving is unlikable. Unfortunately, when it comes to this trope, this isn't always the case.

In heroic examples, the person that the character refuses to rescue can be a villain, a Jerkass, or someone that the hero personally dislikes. If it's a villain, the hero's reasons for not saving them can be because the villain has gone Beyond Redemption and would rather allow them to fall to their Karmic Death than to show them mercy. If it's a jerkass, the hero's reasons for not saving them can be due to how much of a jerk they were to him and because he believes that they deserve to be in the predicament they're in. If it's someone the hero dislikes, this may include someone who was an annoyance to them, if not a threat.


In villainous variations, the villain's motive for not rescuing someone is explicitly due to not liking the victim. Sometimes, the person the villain refuses to save is the hero since after all, they are arch enemies and the hero would just ruin his plans as always.

Sometimes, this doesn't last long. The hero will eventually end up saving the villain, jerk, or annoyance, albeit with some reluctance. Sometimes, it could be his conscience that causes him to return to help him. Sometimes, he'll get called out by his friends, either being told that he's no better than the enemy, that the villain/jerk isn't such a bad guy, or that he's no real hero. Villains who eventually save the life of those they don't like can be due to pragmatic reasons or to show that he isn't that bad after all.

This can be common in a Feud Episode or an Achilles in His Tent plot where a group of friends get into a fight, or one friend quits the team, but changes their mind and saves their friend's life, thus restoring their friendship. It's also seen in tandem with My Friends... and Zoidberg — if they reluctantly decide they're here to rescue everyone, Especially Zoidberg, it can double as both a Heartwarming Moment and a Harbinger of Asskicking.


When this trope is applied specifically to a hostage situation, it's You Can Keep Her. Contrast Save the Villain (a hero saves a villain) and Villainous Rescue (a villain saves a hero). May lead to Murder by Inaction. If they refuse to save someone because it's not their problem, it's Bystander Syndrome. Contrast Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like and Unwanted Rescue, and compare Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cross Ange:
    • In "Distorted World", Ange understandably refuses to rescue the unruly citizens of the Misurugi Empire, having already been turned on by them at the very beginning of the series. Only makes sense to ditch someone if they're not clearly going to change for the better. They specifically wanted Ange to help them get to the shelter, but she does a Boom, Headshot! on one of them and remarks that she doesn't care if they die.
    • In "Bikini Escape", a variation of sorts: she attempts to ditch Hilda in their escape from Arzenal due to the fact she doesn't trust the latter after the attempts on her life. She changes her mind at the last moment when Hilda reveals she did everything she did to survive life at Arzenal, and bided her time long enough to escape and finally make it back home and reunite with her mom.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Happens on more than one occasion with Vegeta, a Jerkass who quickly establishes himself amongst the Z-Fighters as their Token Evil Teammate and The Friend Nobody Likes.
    • During the Frieza Saga, when Vegeta pulls off a Deliberate Injury Gambit in an effort to exploit the Saiyans' power to come back stronger from death, Dende refuses to heal him, since Vegeta is just as awful as Frieza and killed numerous Namekians himself, and is fully prepared to just walk away and let Vegeta bleed out. Krillin, Piccolo, and Gohan convince him to do so, pointing out that they need Vegeta to stand any chance against Frieza.
    • When Vegeta stupidly lets Cell become perfect just to get a better fight out of him, and gets his ass kicked, Krillin states outright that it's his own damn fault and that Vegeta deserves to be killed for being such an idiot... but ultimately gives in and helps him because Trunks believes in him.
  • One Piece
    • When the Straw Hat Pirates learn the friend Camie wants them to save is Hatchan, they initially refuse to help him, since he was part of the crew that tormented Nami and her home island. They only reconsider when Nami herself decides that they're going to save him.
    • Jerkass pirate Don Krieg is left starving after Dracule "Hawkeye" Mihawk wiped out his fleet, and enters the Baratie for food. Everyone there is fully prepared to just let him starve to death... but Sanji takes pity on him and feeds him, only for Krieg to beat him up the minute he was satiated.
  • Ash's team usually subvert this in the Pokémon anime. There are a couple of times however when Team Rocket push their generosity a bit too far:
    • In the XY episode "So You're Having A Bad Day" Ash's team are left stuck in the woods with Team Rocket's Meowth after a trio of angry Pangoro chase after both sides. They initially cooperate with Meowth, until the Pangoro explain they merely want their stolen food back. Meowth timidly confesses to the twerps and asks them to keep quiet. They deadpan tell him he's on his own and inform the Pangoro about everything, leaving him, Jessie and James victim to another blasting off.
    • In the Advanced Generation episode "A Scare To Remember", an Easy Amnesia plot leaves Pikachu convinced he serves Team Rocket and sent to attack Ash. When he accidentally detonates the trio's balloon, the blow brings back his memory. The oblivious Team Rocket are stranded in the river and ask him to help them out. He responds with a Thunderbolt.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, during Megumi's introductory arc, she's just gone back to Kanryu after the lives of the Kenshin-gumi are threatened if she refuses. Kenshin is naturally ready to go save her...but Sanosuke initially refuses to even consider the idea, since earlier in the arc it had been revealed that a friend of his died from a bad batch of opium peddled by Kanryu—opium which, it turns out, Megumi was responsible for manufacturing in the first place (under duress from Kanru, of course). Kenshin ends up convincing Sano to assist with Megumi's rescue because it's the decent thing to do on principle.
  • This happens in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders when both Hol Horse and Polnareff are attacked by J. Geil's mother, Enya. When Hol Horse begs Polnareff for help, the latter reminds him of how he shot his friend Avdol and outright refuses, leaving him at Enya's mercy as he tries to avoid getting wounded and ensnared by Enya's Stand, Justice.
  • In the manga adaptation of The Rising of the Shield Hero, Motoyasu requests Naofumi's aid against the Three Heroes Church after learning he's been set up. Naofumi is understandably annoyed considering how Motoyasu tried to kill him earlier, but his annoyance turns into outright rage when Motoyasu tries to justify the team-up by saying, "You don't want to die with a crime you didn't commit tarnishing your name, do you!?", when he stupidly believed every false accusation against Naofumi and did nothing but unfairly persecute him and stubbornly refuse to listen to his side of the story. This, as well as Ren and Itsuki's apparent deaths, convinces Naofumi that Motoyasu isn't even worth saving on account of his Lethally Stupid behavior and is fully prepared to leave him to die.
  • In Konosuba, Aqua wants to save the Axis Church from being killed off by Hans, who was poisoning the water supply, which is their source of income, seeing as Alcanretia is a resort town. Since they worship her, and their prayers give her strength, this makes sense. However, Kazuma and Megumin don't share the same sentiment. Ever since arriving in Alcanretia, pretty much all members of the Axis Church, as in the whole town, have only harassed them (plus Darkness) in order to coerce them into joining their religion, with increasingly ludicrous haggling and acting as if the Iris Church are nothing but deviants. Understandably, Kazuma and Megumin don't see any problem with letting the crazy cultists die of poison and their town business being ruined, despite Aqua's protests. Kazuma even questions why she would still want to save them, especially after they called her a blasphemer/impostor, and tried to lynch her. They eventually decide to help save the Axis Church, knowing Aqua would likely get herself killed trying to save her precious followers.

    Comic Books 
  • The second issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions has the Joe team having to disable a Nazi biological weapon. One team goes to South America to negotiate with the Nazi scientist who developed the toxin (which doesn't sit well with Clutch, who's Jewish) while another goes to the plane holding the toxin. After Recondo agrees that Joes will protect the scientist from the teams who have come to bring him to justice, Airtight manages to disable the toxin without his help and discovers the plane's journal. The journal reveals that the scientist betrayed the plane's crew for money before fleeing to South America. This angers the Neo-Nazis hired by the scientist as guards. The Joes then leave, pointing out they only agreed to protect the scientist from the hit squad, not his own men. In the last few panels, a gunshot is heard.
  • In at least the early arcs of Judge Dredd. Dredd has no problem with killing when the situation calls for it, and deliberately lets members of the Angel Gang die when he could have saved them.
  • This was Mr. A's modus operandi in Steve Ditko's short-lived Objectivist comic book series. The character was a major inspiration for the Watchmen's Rorschach.
  • On the cover of an issue of The Outsiders, we see The Joker menacing Lex Luthor as two heroes watch.note . The dialogue between the heroes reads:
    Nightwing: The Joker is killing Lex!
    Metamorpho: Should we care?
  • One of the gags by Sergio Aragonés for MAD featured a life-guard at a beach leaving a man to drown after realizing that he's a high school teacher that flunked him.
  • Rorschach's famous quote from Watchmen:
    Rorschach: The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."

    Fan Works 
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris plays this trope straight a couple of times. She's got plenty of time, for example, to fly Songbird to the hospital in time to keep her from dying, but simply doesn't, allowing Songbird to bleed out. Likewise, she displays a casual disregard about whether or not Reed Richards is going to be permanently injured when she freezes him in place with her super-breath. Mostly this is because she believes that people who attack her or Louise (something both Songbird and Richards did) deserve what comes to them.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III: When they discover Kuyou is coming to Yokai Academy with the intent to get revenge on Tsukune for his previous defeat, Headmaster Mikogami, alongside Hokuto and Ruby, decide to use it to their advantage; when the other students see Tsukune and co. defeat Kuyou with their own eyes, they'll finally realize that the gang are not Fake Ultimate Heroes and stop mistreating them. Nonetheless, the mistreatment from the other students continues to grate on them, especially when it culminates in the girls being blackmailed and nearly raped by Kano; by the time of chapter 31, Felucia is completely sick of the harassment, openly telling the others that as far as she's concerned, they have no reason whatsoever to protect "these assholes" from Kuyou and they should just let him kill them all. Mizore shoots that down, saying they're not the "horrible ones" and they won't stoop to their level.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction A Taste of the Good Life puts Scootaloo in this position with her mother, Ebby. The latter has caused Scootaloo nothing but problems, most recently getting her removed from her current home by Foal Services. So when Scootaloo has the choice between saving the other pony's life or letting her fall down a cliff, Scootaloo realizes this is the chance to get her out of her life forever. The pony is rescued anyway, and Scootaloo is haunted by what she nearly let happen.
  • It's Over, Isn't It (it's only just begun): When Izuku tries to convince his mother that Kacchan doesn't deserve to get into trouble for bullying him because he's going to become a great hero, Inko responds by asking her son just what kind of hero he expects him to become. As she explains, heroes are meant to save others... but if Katsuki grows up believing that Quirkless and 'weak' people aren't worth anything, what will stop him from deeming them unworthy of his help? This helps her six-year-old son understand that Katsuki's behavior is wrong and needs to be corrected.

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted in Over the Hedge, since R.J. isn't really a bad person, and was only trying to repay a debt he had to Vincent after he attempted to steal his food. R.J. still goes back for them, however, feeling guilty about leaving them for dead, but only Verne is able to forgive him outright. And it's only through Verne convincing the others that R.J. is trying to help and that his tail isn't tingling (since R.J. is genuinely there to help) that they let him in the Verminator's van.
  • The Rugrats Movie:
    • Tommy's younger brother, Dil, gets taken by a pack of runaway circus monkeys. Tommy sets off to rescue him, and asks Chuckie, Phil, and Lil if they're going to help him. Phil and Lil refuse, because they see Dil as nothing but a nuisance. Chuckie refuses to help Tommy by reminding him of all the times throughout the movie he didn't help him (because at those times, Dil needed his attention).
    • This is repeated later in the movie, when Chuckie suffers a Heel Realization and insists they go back to help Tommy. Phil and Lil again refuse, reminding him he only cared about Dil's well being rather than his. Chuckie makes the meek reasoning "Well someone has to... don't they?". It seems to work.
  • Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose: Dread Baron and Mumbly have to convince the good guys they're no longer evil or the heroes won't rescue them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Begins: During Batman's climax fight with Ra's Al Ghul, the train they're in is about to crash, and Batman has Ra's at his mercy. Rather than kill him or save him, Batman escapes, leaving Ra's to die on the train.
    Batman: I won't kill you... but I don't have to save you.
  • After defeating the terrorist villains in Die Hard with a Vengeance, detective McClane ponders trying to rescue survivors from the burning wreckage. Anti-Hero Zeus Carver, a Bronx man through-and-through, snorts, "Fuck, let 'em cook."
  • In Race for the Yankee Zephyr, the villain and his chief henchman are squabbling over the aircraft and its cargo of gold bullion, even as it sinks beneath a lake. Disgusted by their behavior, Barney and Gilbert refuse to save them from drowning despite Sally imploring them to do so. In the end credits the villain resurfaces, shouting for his minions to come and rescue him.
  • In Spider-Man Peter Parker lets a robber get away rather than chasing him down, after the robber stole money from the wrestling promoter who cheated Parker out of his take from surviving three minutes in the ring with Bonesaw. Later the same robber ends up killing Peter's Uncle Ben.
    • This similarly happens in The Amazing Spider-Man when a store cashier refuses to let Peter buy some chocolate milk because he's two cents short (he wouldn't even let him grab two cents from the "Take a Penny, Leave a Penny" jar). The robber turns out to be next in line, holds up the cashier and even hands Peter the milk bottle. Peter simply ignores the crime in front of him, only for the robber to kill Uncle Ben (it's implied he didn't mean to) almost immediately afterward.
  • In Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Optimus Prime claims he refuses to keep defending the humans like he did for the first three movies. He's started to become fed up with them, claiming he won't forgive them for KSI, Cemetery Wind, siding with Lockdown at killing his friends, and building Galvatron. Ratchet and Leadfoot's deaths were what caused him to lead the Autobots to fight for themselves and not anyone else. Cade Yeager then pleads humans don't deserve to go extinct and that they make mistakes. By the end of the film, Optimus seems to have regained enough faith that he wants any future threats to leave Earth alone.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Kirk does offer to rescue Nero and his crew from their impending doom in a nearby black hole, but Nero rejects the offer in a fury. Kirk immediately accepts his rejection and instead orders the Enterprise to fire everything at them. After Nero destroyed Vulcan, killing Spock's mother in the process, even Spock wasn't excited about helping them.
    Spock: Captain, what are you doing?
    Kirk: Showing them compassion may be the only way to earn peace with the Romulans. It's logic, Spock. I thought you'd like that.
    Spock: No, not really. Not this time.
  • In Aquaman (2018), after battling both Jesse and David Kane who were keeping a bunch of Russian sailors captive, Arthur decides to walk away and leave the two alone. When Jesse shoots at him, however, Arthur did not hesitate to leave the two behind to drown while David is demanding he help his father out — in which Arthur flat-out tells them that they don't deserve mercy after they murdered countless innocent people. However, this does eventually backfire when David becomes Black Manta in return.
    David: Wait! Help me; he's trapped! You can't leave him like this! Please!
    Arthur: You killed innocent people! You ask the sea for mercy.
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr. Watching the Big Bad and The Dragon fight over their sinking aircraft full of gold, Barney and Gilbert refuse to help him. Midway through the credits though the Big Bad pops up in a lifevest, shouting for his minions to come and rescue him.

  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, not only does Quasimodo deliberately push Frollo off of the cathedral (and not even in self defense): when Frollo manages to cling to the building briefly and attempts to pull himself back up, the narration points out that Quasimodo could easily have reached out and helped him. Instead he just stands there and watches him fall.
  • In "Dragon Bones" of Hurog, Ward is confronted with the fact that a runaway slave has hidden in his castle. He is asked to return the slave to Ladislaw, a noble he dislikes, because Ladislaw bought the slave from someone who didn't actually own her, and will get in big (maybe lethal) trouble if he doesn't give her back. Ward states that "There are no slaves in Hurog", and therefore, the slave is not a slave, and he won't deliver her to the noble. His uncle later asks him whether he made this decision out of principle, or whether he would have decided differently if he didn't dislike Ladislaw. Ward himself isn't quite sure about his reasons.
  • The Railway Series:
    • In "Pop Goes the Diesel" from Duck and the Diesel Engine, after Diesel annoys him by bragging diesels don't need to be taught anything, Duck complies and watches with enjoyment as Diesel attempts hap hazardously to pull out the wrong line of trucks.
    • In "Rock 'n' Roll" from The Little Old Engine, Rusty is called to help Duncan back on the rails, but refuses to do it because Duncan was rude to him and called him a "smelly old diesel". Skarloey then scolds Rusty for this and reminds him of the passengers, and soon Rusty does so. In the end, Rusty and Duncan became good friends.
    • In "Stick-in-the-Mud" from Very Old Engines, Rheneas was called to rescue Skarloey from a landslide, but he refused because Skarloey called him a stick-in-the-mud earlier which led the two into falling out. He soon went to the rescue after he was reminded of the workmen and Skarloey's crew. Thus, the two engines made up for their argument.
    • In "Mavis" from Tramway Engines, after the title character gets stuck on the line after ignoring Toby's warnings about the trucks, he refuses to help her. When his driver points out that the trucks are technically his responsibility, however, he "thoughtfully" decides to go after all.
    • In "Drip Tank" from More About Thomas The Tank Engine, Percy refuses to help Thomas out of an accident with his water tank because he called him a "drip", but his driver reminds him of the passengers' safety. He soon comes to Thomas' rescue, thus ending their bitter falling out throughout the whole book.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, an aversion of this is explicitly coded into the Ideals of the Windrunners. "I will protect even those I hate, if it is right."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "One More Time", the army offers the team a Mercy Lead in exchange for their going on a rescue mission involving a General Ludlam and his missionary daughter, who have been captured by antagonistic forces in Borneo. B.A. is not happy with the prospect. Apparently the two had some fights during their time in Vietnam, which involved Ludlam calling B.A. a liar and B.A. punching Ludlam in the nose. However, Hannibal eventually wrangles him into it because if they don't, they end up in prison for thirty years.
  • Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire spends a good portion of the first season trying to get his brother out of a gang called the Insane Kings. While fighting one fire, he comes across the leader of the Insane Kings, Flaco, trapped in the blaze. Being the only one who knows about him, Cruz leaves Flaco to die. However, he struggles with the guilt over this decision for quite some time.
  • Smallville: In "Nemesis" Lex is trapped in some underground tunnels that are ready to explode. Clark and Chloe openly state that they wouldn't care if Lex dies, especially because of what Lex did to her mother in the previous episode, but concede that Clark doesn't get to pick and choose who he rescues. Lana, having been blackmailed into marrying Lex, turns out to have full schematics for the tunnel system, but deliberately withholds them, fully intent on leaving Lex to die; she only gives in and reveals the schematics when she discovers Clark is down there as well, and the tunnels are filled with Kryptonite.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. While a Starfleet captain is generally expected to Save the Villain, Captain Janeway does this on a couple of occasions as the series goes on, specifically in "Extreme Risk" and "Think Tank".
  • In Jack Ryan, Islamist terrorist leader Abdul al-Radwan is betrayed by Mousa al-Suleiman, beaten within an inch of his life, and thrown into the same cell as a group of abducted relief workers. Later, when the terrorist compound is raided and the captives are freed, a Marine asks the former abductees if al-Radwan is one of them. They answer in the negative, allowing the Marine to shoot al-Radwan dead.
  • Kate does this by proxy on Robin Hood in which Robin is trying to prevent Thornton, the sadistic husband of Isabella, Kate's romantic rival, from raping and killing his wife. Kate has No Sympathy and tries to stop Robin from intervening, telling him: "she doesn't deserve our help!"

    Puppet Shows 
  • A downplayed example in the Thunderbirds episode "Ricochet"; although Alan does go out to rescue disk jockey Rick O'Shea, he doesn't try to hide his dislike for the man (partly because Tin-Tin seems to have a bit of a crush on him, but mainly because his Large Ham Radio shtick is just that annoying) and complains about having to rescue this guy, of all people.
    • Alan doesn't like anyone who he sees as a threat to his reltionship with Tin-Tin. In "End of the Road", he spends half the episode seething with jealousy when an old friend of Tin-Tin's, Eddie Houseman, visits Tracy Island on holiday and pays a lot of attention to her. When Eddie's back at work and promptly requires rescuing, the Tracys are worried that he'll recognise them. Alan sounds almost gleeful at the prospect that International Rescue will have to leave Eddie in the lurch because to rescue him would blow their cover. Jeff says that they don't turn down any call for help, and they go. They solve the problem of being recognised by saving Eddie without ever landing, so he never sees who rescued him.

    Video Games 
  • StarCraft: Brood War:
    • Averted: He's not happy about it, but Raynor intervenes to save Arcturus Mengsk from being captured and executed by the UED, Mengsk being the Lesser of Two Evils at that point.
    • Much, much earlier, this is one of the reasons Mengsk left Kerrigan to die on Tarsonis: Kerrigan was the Confederacy assassin who'd murdered his family decades prior, though since Ghosts regularly get mind-wiped she had no memory of it (and was serving as his lieutenant against the Confederacy).
  • One of Chris's possible deaths in Until Dawn is due to antagonizing Ashley. If he chooses to shoot her in the Handgun Trap, the character will let him die by refusing to let Chris into the cabin while he is fleeing a group of Wendigos, and simply watch as he gets attacked and killed.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles X, there's an NPC named Gus who attacks you during a mission. Later in the mission, he's seen being chased by a Petramand (a giant crab spider hybrid creature) and is asking for help. You can refuse to help him. This is ultimately the better choice, as it was all a ploy by Gus (again) and he screws you over if you rescue him.
  • Downplayed but used as a warning in Assassin's Creed III by the protagonist, Connor Kenway, a Native American living during the American Revolution; after discovering that George Washington, whom Connor knew personally and highly respected, was not only condoning acts of genocide against Native American tribes (including Connor's own), but had actually taken part in them personally in the past, making him indirectly connected to the atrocity that killed Connor's mother and ruined his childhood, Connor is understandably pissed. Having been on the Colonist's side during the Revolution up to this point, Connor proceeds to help one last time, then bitterly tells Washington that this is the last battle he will win for him. From then on, Connor remains unaffiliated with either side during the rest of the war, outside of hunting the Templars.
  • A strange example occurs in Sonic and the Secret Rings, with Sonic being openly hostile towards King Shahryar, on the grounds that he is portrayed by Dr. Eggman. Despite this, after Erazor Djinn kidnaps him and Shahra informing him that the king is the creator and thus, the most vital character of the Arabian Nights storybook, Sonic manages to save Shahryar from falling to his death after Erazor's attempt to kill him. While "disliked" is a strong word since Shahryar and Shahra are on formal terms, the king does show some resentment towards Sonic for his hostility towards him (in Shahryar's defense, Sonic treated him with nothing but distrust even before being introduced to one another.)
  • In Until Dawn, if Chris chooses to shoot Ashley to save himself, she will repay him by refusing to rescue him from a pursuing Wendigo, causing his death.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, when Elan is kidnapped by bandits, Roy refuses to rescue him because, to him, it's not worth risking his life for someone who, up to that point, has been The Load. He eventually changes his mind and goes back and rescues Elan, as well as the rest of the party, who botched their own attempted rescue and got captured themselves. This turns out to be a good thing, because had Roy not gone back for Elan, he would have been chucked into the True Neutral afterlife when he died.
  • The Schlock Mercenary storyline "The Body Politic" opens with the Toughs deciding that they will not take a contract to rescue chronic antagonist General Xinchub (who has previously bullied, blackmailed, attempted to kill, insulted and harassed the Toughs in innumerable ways). Not even when their trusted associate Petey offers them 20 times their normal rates to do so.
    • However, when Xinchub is assassinated, they are all too happy to steal his corpse, and attempt to wrangle extra out of their clients when he turns out to be not-so-dead after all.

    Western Animation 
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog has shown reluctance quite a few times to save his other co-owner Eustace Bagge, a Jerkass of the highest order who regularly abuses and bullies Courage, and never treats him any better despite saving Eustace's life many times.
    • In "Shirley the Medium", Courage grabs Eustace and tries to carry him away from a demonic entity that was trying to drag Eustace into a money box. When Eustace starts throwing some more verbal abuse, Courage gets fed up and throws Eustace at the monster, not wanting to die for him.
      Courage: Okay! You can have him!
    • In "Queen of the Black Puddle", when the titular Black Puddle Queen abducts Eustace to have him over for dinner at her place, Courage, although clearly shaken, could care less about what's happened as there isn't any love there to make him overcome his fears this time, and only reluctantly ventures out to save him just to relieve the worries of Eustace's wife Muriel, whom Courage does care about.
  • In Danny Phantom's finale movie, Vlad finally reveals his ghost powers to the world with the intent of being written a blank check by every major country in exchange for turning an asteroid intangible before it hits Earth. Jack, who up until this point has considered Vlad one of his best friends, flies up to space with him while attempting to apologize for causing the accident that gave Vlad his powers in the first place. Vlad callously rebukes him, going so far as to brazenly claim that once he's back on Earth he plans to steal Maddie away from Jack. When Vlad finds that he can't touch the asteroid due to it being made of an anti-ghost material, he awkwardly attempts to regains Jack's loyalty, only for Jack to leave him stranded in space.
    Vlad: You wouldn't turn your back on an old friend, would you?
    Jack: An old friend? No. You? Yes.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Magica's Shadow War", Magica's raven Poe turns up and begs Scrooge to save her after her Living Shadow locks her in a closet. Given that Magica is one of the most persistent members of his Rogues Gallery, Scrooge refuses, until the nephews tell him they probably need her help catching the shadow. That, and remind him to think of the size of the electric bill for the large amounts of lights they turned on to keep the shadow away.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Weirdmageddon Part 3 - Take Back the Falls":
    • Defied. Pacifica admits her parents are bad people, but doesn't believe their fate as part of Bill's chair is deserved.
    • Though petty, Stan refuses to rescue Ford because he accuse the latter to be an Ungrateful Bastard and didn't thank Stan for saving him the first time.
  • Justice League:
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: When Skeletor tricks Hordak into eating a doomberry pie, She-Ra talks her friends out of that mentality to get them to help him.
  • Exaggerated in the The Simpsons episode "Million Dollar Abie". After costing Springfield a football team by assaulting the football commissioner, Grandpa Abe Simpson is hated so much, that while he was walking by a burning building, a group of firefighters grabbed him and placed him in the burning building after they have rescued a little girl from the same building.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons:
    • In the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) episode, "Hooked on Sonic", Antoine ends up captured by Robotnik in a reckless stunt with a power ring. While the other Freedom Fighters are horrified, Sonic just snarks it's his own stupid fault and refuses to go on a rescue mission. When Sally's chiding doesn't budge him (even she can't earnestly suggest Antoine wouldn't do the same to him), he begrudgingly goes through with it after she points out the more pragmatic issue of Robotnik using his power ring against them.
    • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Translate This", Tails invents the Universal Translator, or U.T. for short. U.T. reveals Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks' inner thoughts, causing them to argue with each other. When Dr. Eggman finds out about this, he swaps the real U.T. out for an identical robot that deliberately says bad things about Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks. Tails finds out about this, and tells his friends that they have to save the real U.T.. Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks all refuse, remembering that all U.T. ever did to them was make them argue with each other, thus leaving Tails to resuce U.T. on his own. Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks all decide to save Tails after U.T. sends them a message revealing that he needs their help.
  • TaleSpin:
    • The manipulative Covington from the episode "Molly Coddled" makes an Accidental Public Confession that he's been courting Rebecca solely to gain access to Molly's new doll, which is actually the key to a treasure cave. After dressing Covington down for toying with her, Rebecca and company leave Covington to the mercy of his two accomplices, who have had an ax to grind with Covington since the episode's outset.
    • In "My Fair Baloo", after a snobby dinner party throws out Baloo for rescuing them in a hap hazardous manner they are captured again. Baloo pulls off this trope, but is convinced out of it rather quickly by Rebecca.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • In "Paste Makes Waste", Blossom and Bubbles refuse to help Buttercup fight Elmer, one of their classmates who had suddenly transformed into a chemical waste and paste monster, telling her that she and the other kids deserved it for bullying him. They soon intervene after Elmer attacks Ms Keane.
    • In "Getting Twiggy With It," after class hamster Twiggy goes through a similar transformation after being mistreated by Mitch, not only do the Girls refuse to save Mitch from Twiggy, they actually catch Mitch as he's fleeing and deliver him to Twiggy.
  • The Invader Zim episode "A Room with a Moose" at one point has Dib question whether his classmates, who have belittled him and ignored all his warnings about Zim's true colors, deserve to be rescued from the titular nut-eating moose.
  • In the Galaxy High episode "The Beef Who Would Be King", Doyle hears that Beef being chosen to become king of the planet Cholesterol means that the inhabitants will eat Beef. He's glad that this will happen to Beef because he's bullied him constantly, joking that they should send barbecue sauce to Cholesterol. Aimee calls Doyle out on this, bringing up that Doyle could've been the one to be eaten by the people of Cholesterol.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "Turtle Temper," the Turtles are accosted by Vic, a Fat Bastard who keeps insulting them and captured them on video. When he's later captured by the Kraang, he continues to be an ungrateful asshole to them even as they try to rescue him, which leads Donnie to openly question the others as to why they're risking their lives to save him.
    Donnie: Remind me why we have to rescue this guy.
  • Discussed in the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Silencer". Chat Noir notices how much of a scumbag Bob Roth is and wonders if they should let the titular akuma force him to confess to plagiarizing Kitty Section, but Ladybug points out that not only would the confession be useless, but Silencer's methods make it revenge, not justice. That said, after he's de-akumatized, they willingly choose to get an Engineered Public Confession out of Roth.
  • In the third episode of X-Men, Sabertooth attacks the courtroom at Beast's bail hearing and is immediately shot by the guards. Cyclops orders Wolverine to help stop the guards from killing Sabertooth, but Wolverine flat-out refuses. Wolverine was, of course, correct. The only reason Sabertooth was there was to make a scene in the hopes of getting invited back to the Xavier Mansion and try to hurt them because they didn't yet know him and thus didn't know how evil he was.
  • Discussed in the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back," after Bender has his personality removed.
    Fry: Poor Bender. Without his brain he's become all quiet and helpful. We've got to go to the Central Bureaucracy and get that disk back!
    Planet Express crew: (shouts of agreement)
    Amy: Why?
    (Long pause)
    Leela: Well, those arguments aside, we're still going.


Video Example(s):


Goodnight Humanitarian

A Zig-zagged one. While Batman saves Boyle and everyone at the party from being killed by Mr Freeze, he exposes Boyle's crimes by giving the tape evidence of what Boyle did to Victor and Nora to Summer Gleason and refuses to unfreeze him, leaving Boyles half frozen as he codly tell him "Goodnight, Humanitarian".

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (28 votes)

Example of:

Main / RefuseToRescueTheDisliked

Media sources:

Main / RefuseToRescueTheDisliked