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Samaritan Relationship Starter

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"There's something sweet and almost kind
But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined
And now he's dear and so unsure
I wonder why I didn't see it there before."

So Alice and Bob don't know each other yet, or Alice regards Bob with either indifference or dislike. But then, she witnesses him committing — or becomes the recipient of — some single act of kindness (rescuing someone from bullies, stopping to help someone with errands, etc.) that makes her think "maybe he's not so bad after all." This causes her to develop a blossoming crush on him or otherwise shoehorns the two toward a romantic relationship.

Psychology-wise, the trope works due to the belief on the part of the girl that only she has seen this "hidden side" of the guy, which makes her feel special and connected with him. After all, the appeal of the bad boy is that he only acts like a dick around people other than you. Savvy characters can exploit this.

Essentially, a form of Relationship Upgrade that tends to happen very early on in the Romance Arc, if not start it entirely. Rescue Romance, Rescue Introduction, and Returning the Handkerchief are particularly common types of Samaritan Relationship Starter. A related trope is Single Woman Seeks Good Man, where one character is attracted to another because they're usually like this. Opposite of Turned Off By The Jerkass, where a character dumps or rejects someone because of how awful they are to other people.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Matsuri of Ayakashi Triangle met Suzu when she scolded an ayakashi to get it to stop scaring him. Grateful and impressed, Matsuri soon became Childhood Friends with her, and he remains fiercely dedicated to Suzu into their teens—by which point he had forgotten ever being afraid of ayakashi, or that this was how they met.
  • Code Geass:
    • Shirley thinks Lelouch is a cold, spoiled brat until she witnesses him helping out some strangers when no one else would, apparently a habit of his. And it wasn't just that he helped - it was that afterwards, he didn't boast or anything, he just went back to what he'd been doing as if nothing had happened. And he didn't seem to take any satisfaction in helping, as his face kept the same bored expression as usual. It made her start paying closer attention to him, to try to figure him out. Thus begins her infamous and tragic crush on him.
    • When they were children, Lelouch and Suzaku had this mutually. They had been fighting since they met, but one day, Nunnally went missing. Both of them wanted to find her, but they refused to work together - until Suzaku found her first, and Lelouch sees her laugh for the first time since their mother was killed, because of Suzaku. After that, they become friends.
  • The two leads of Dandadan, Momo Ayase and Ken Takakura, met when Momo stood up for Ken when he was being bullied. They then got into a discussion about ghosts and aliens, and things took off from there.
  • Prior to the start of Horimiya, Hori only saw Miyamura as that gloomy-looking long-haired guy in her class who kept to himself, always wore long sleeves, and was probably an otaku. Then he ended up helping her little brother when the latter was injured. Downplayed in that this simply led to the two of them becoming friends. The actual romance didn't come until later.
  • It's established in a flashback that Shirogane from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War fell in love with Kaguya after seeing her rescue the Mass Media club president from drowning. Although it technically wasn't the fact that she saved someone's life that drew his attention, but rather that she took action when everyone else (including him) was frozen by indecision.
  • Love Lab 's Eno who has terrible motion sickness ended up stuck on a bus by accident, and it was in a traffic jam so she couldn't get off. Right before she was about to vomit, a boy checked on her, pretended to urgently need the bathroom to get the driver to open the door, and helped her off the bus to the closest bathroom. He then waited for her to finish and made sure she was alright before leaving. Eno instantly fell for him, and hoped to see him again. Which she quickly did, as the boy was Haru, the Student Council President of the school she's about to have a meeting with.
  • In Midori Days, it's this trope, not Rescue Romance, that kickstarts Takako Ayase's crush on Seiji Sawamura. Seiji does catch her attention after he rescues her from school delinquents, but she's still wary of him because she still believes he's a blood-thirsty fight seeker. It's only after witnessing Sawamura deliberately taking a beating without retaliating in order to save a friend and to defuse the hate the Delinquents have for him, that she falls in love with him.
  • When Shinji defeats the Angel in his first fight together with Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Played for laughs in Ranma ½ with Ukyo; she and Ranma already have an Arranged Marriage, but he's initially unaware and she's initially out for revenge because she thinks he abandoned her. When he interrupts her rant about being ruined for marriage and cursed to be alone forever by telling her that she's a very cute girl and will make someone a great wife someday, that's when she drops the vendetta and decides to give being engaged to him another shot. Especially because his other Arranged Marriage is a tsundere with whom he evidently does not get along.
  • In Ratman, the Rebellious Princess character already kind of likes the hero, though she thinks of him as a wimpy kid who needs protection. Then she sees him rescue a kitten from being run over (without the benefit of superpowers) and she immediately upgrades her opinion to "has a hero's heart"—especially significant as the "real" professional heroes ignored the situation.
  • Urusei Yatsura:
    • One reading of Lum's relationship with Ataru is that she begins to see him as her "Darling" for real after he defends her from having to go back with her hated ex-fiance Rei by claiming he had failed the challenge she set him, despite him really having passed.
    • Ataru first begins to warm up to Lum as a love interest after she saves him from losing a bet and being humiliated by pretending to be the fictitious Secret Admirer he was expecting to meet, even though she had every reason to leave him to his fate.
  • In Wild Rock, Yuni falls into an animal trap set by Selim. Selim gets him out and gently nurses him back to health. Since they're of rival clans, Yuni wouldn't have given him the time of day before this.
  • Invoked in The World God Only Knows for the middle school girl's capture, which is mostly told from her perspective. Keima fakes being a member of the swim team and pretends to do really well and looks cool. When he disappears, she builds up a false impression of him as a really cool upperclassman (he calls it a free love potion to be a sempai), which balances against his bad reputation and has her develop a crush on him. And later when he's checking for goddesses, we see that unlike all of the other girls, she does not even remember him because he managed to get out the runaway spirit while barely speaking to her. Which is a good thing.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Hawkfrost defending Reedwhisker from Heavystep's bullying helps to start their relationship.
  • Child of the Storm: Upon meeting Carol, one of the first things that Harry does is to defend her against a sexist jerk (not that she isn't quite capable of fending for herself, but it's the thought that counts). He is then introduced to two more of her friends, one of whom is proudly Camp Gay and the other of whom is bald, but Harry barely bats an eye at either of their "nonconformities." Over the course of their Romance Arc, it's made very clear that Single Woman Seeks Good Man is in play, in part because he keeps his eyes on her face, unlike most teenage boys.
  • In Episode 13 of the second season of Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), when Near reveals that Kira saved him from being molested, the Foe Romance Subtext becomes text. Near's still trying to catch Kira but their dialogue gets ''very'' flirty.
    Light: So... you're a virgin?
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Gimme Shelter suggests this trope is the reason that Fancypants and Fleur de Lis are seen together. Specifically, he took her in for the night after she got caught in a storm without her coat, and asked for a date in return, which she agreed to.
  • Greenfire: It's actually Greenfire that kicks off the relationship by giving Rarity some gems that she had tried and failed to unearth. She comes back to properly thank him, they plan to meet once again, and things go from there.
  • Son of the Sannin provides a platonic example. Itachi makes a good first impression on Shizune by being one of the few people who isn't afraid of her little brother being a jinchuriki. This leads to the two becoming lifelong friends (and eventually in-laws due to her marrying his cousin Shisui).
  • In The Vow, Lord Shen and Lady Lianne start off on poor terms, and for improvement to begin, it requires her to openly defend him against slander said about his appearance and genetic health. This — along with the realization of how lonely she feels — makes him apologize for his behavior with an Apology Gift she can accept.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition's Walking in Circles, Solas and Evelyn’s first interaction is her willingness to be hit to keep his pendant safe. But it takes him to see her protecting an elven child and, once again, risking herself to keep him safe from his own mistake that he truly notices and develops affection for her, and much longer than that for him to actually see her as a true person with full emotional capability.
  • In the Rambo fanfic Where Do I Go From Here, out of guilt for what happened in Hope, Deputy Mitch offers John a place to live after he's put on probation. While the relationship doesn't start immediately, it likely never would have developed had it not been for Mitch's offer.

    Film - Animated 
  • Beauty and the Beast: When the Beast fights off wolves to save Belle, she takes a second look at him. The musical number "Something There," quoted at the top of the page, is a Falling-in-Love Montage in which Belle realizes this.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Phoebus is attracted to Esmerelda from the get-go (as is basically every main character), but once he sees her stand up to Frollo and his guards to protect Quasimodo, it's definite. Esmerelda initially sees him as arrogant and untrustworthy, even if he's not cut from the same cloth as Frollo's other mooks, but that changes after she witnesses him save an innocent family from Frollo.
  • The Wind Rises. When a young girl's maid breaks her leg during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, Jiro Horikoshi carries her to safety, then escorts the girl home and gets help so the maid can be carried home as well. The young girl develops a Precocious Crush on her unknown rescuer; when she meets him as an adult, they end up getting married.
  • Zootopia: Nick and Judy are an intertwined example of this. Judy rescues Nick from a savage jaguar and then saves his life when they are both knocked off the Skytram platform which leads to Nick standing up to the Da Chief for her sake and then opens up to her about his childhood trauma. This leads to a deep friendship forming between them.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Outlander, Freya reconsiders her opinion of Kainen after hearing how his valor in the fight against the bear saved her father's life.
  • Deliciously played with in Red Eye, which sort of resembles a romantic comedy in the very beginning, before turning all creepy.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Tiffany is touched when she overhears Pat standing up for her in a conversation with one of her former coworkers.

  • Agnes Grey: While Agnes hears a lot of good things about Mr Weston (a new clergyman at her church), the first time she really meets him is just after he rescues an elderly widow's cat from getting shot by the local lord's gameskeeper. He stumbled upon said cat because he was on his way to visit said widow to read the bible to her to lift her spirits since she's been in poor health and worries about her immortal soul. This is, incidentally, when Agnes first starts developing feelings for him.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: From what little detail Catarina has on it (since she never played the route before she died), courting Nicol in Fortune Lover required showing kindness to his bullied little sister Sophia. Catarina ends up doing this by complete accident when she befriends Sophia due to their shared interest in romance novels (plus the whole Reincarnation Friendship thing, but neither of them is aware of that).
  • A classic example in Pride and Prejudice. At first, Elizabeth regards Mr. Darcy as being a total jerk (and, in fairness, he kind of is at the start). However, she later discovers that he's Nice to the Waiter, dotes on his younger sister, and went to personal trouble and expense to help her younger sister with no thought of reward. This is what makes her start to fall in love with him.
  • Deconstructed in The Statement by Brian Moore. It's revealed the relationship between the Villain Protagonist and his ex-wife started this way, but he's just a manipulative sociopath.
  • Not Quite a Mermaid: In Mermaid Friends, Electra dislikes Keri and Marina because they made fun of her for having legs, and because they made Sasha cry by dressing as a Bedsheet Ghost. But late in the book, Electra finds that both girls have been stranded on a rock by the lowering tide. If a mermaid's tail is out of the water for too long, it starts to blister, so Electra quickly climbs onto the rock and helps both girls back into the ocean. A moment later, a wave almost throws Electra back against the rock, but Marina grabs her and pulls her to safety. Electra realises that Keri and Marina aren't really mean, just insensitive, and that they share her love of adventure. They agree to be friends. That night, Keri and Marina make up for the ghost prank by showing Electra and her friends a beautiful cave full of bioluminescent jellyfish, where they enjoy a midnight feast.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Good Omens (2019):
    • It looks like demon Crowley falls in love with angel Aziraphale in their first (not the first) meeting after learning that the angel gave away his flaming sword to Adam and Eve in order to protect them.
      Crowley: Didn’t you have a flaming sword?
      Aziraphale: Er...
      Crowley: You did, didn’t you? ... It was flaming like anything. What happened to it?
      Aziraphale: Er...
      Crowley: Lost it already, have you?
      Aziraphale: I gave it away...
      Crowley: (shocked expression) You WHAT?
      Aziraphale: I gave it away!
      Crowley: (massive *heart eyes* and adoring look)
    • Later in that scene, Aziraphale shelters Crowley under his wing when it starts raining. Aww, poor demon never stood a chance.
  • In The Good Place, Eleanor falls in love with Chidi because he's willing to go out of his way to teach her philosophy and try to make her a better person. He gets absolutely zero personal benefit out of it but does it anyway.
  • This is what kickstarts the Will They or Won't They? for Barney and Robin in How I Met Your Mother when Barney comforts Robin after she is dumped by a jerk boyfriend. They end up sleeping together, which leads to Barney realising he is in love with Robin.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: When Galadriel and Halbrand meet each in the open sea, being shipwrecked on the same raft, they spend their time constantly fighting and being distrustful of each other. A typhoon hits them, and they are forced to cooperate and save each other's lives. After Elendil brings them to Numenor, they form a strong friendship and by the time they return to Middle-earth, they become inseparable.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible provides a variant: when Abraham's servant Eliezer is sent on a journey to find a wife for Isaac, he prays to God to have the woman He has chosen as Isaac's wife identify herself by offering to draw water for his camels as well after he asks her for a drink. Given how physically exhausting it was to lug water out of a well for so many animals, the point was to pick a woman willing to go out of her way to help anyone in need.

    Video Games 
  • A non-romantic example: in Dragon Age II, Hawke meets his/her lifelong best friend Varric when the dwarf apprehends a pickpocket who has stolen Hawke's money pouch. It's later clarified that Varric knew who Hawke was (thanks to their reputation) and had specifically intended to meet them, but the pickpocketing gave him an unusual way to introduce himself.
  • In the Neverwinter Nights mod The Aielund Saga, Criosa really starts to consider the male player character in this manner if you take the heroic dialogue options when helping out the dwarves at the start of chapter 3.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive: Elliot's decision to ask Ashley out on a date stems in part from her willingness to warn Susan about Tom's less than honest nature despite the fact that, to the best of her knowledge, this would hurt her chances with Elliot (she believed that Elliot and Susan were likely to get together).
  • NEXT!!! Sound of the Future: Gumiya's crush on Shine started when Shine gave him her umbrella when she saw him alone outside on a rainy day even though they were total strangers.
  • Larisa's relationship with Landon in Sandra and Woo was kicked off when he helped her pass a math test.

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Because of a misunderstanding with gum on her seat and his friendship with the class Alpha Bitch Chloé, Marinette assumes Adrien to be another Jerkass. Soon after, he explains himself and offers her his umbrella to walk home in the rain, and she falls for him instantly.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man, Season 2: Jerk Jock Flash Thompson tries to hook up with quiet and artistic Sha Shan, completely failing to woo her when he relies on his usual sports reputation and personality to attract her attention. She only begins to respond to his affections when he reports to his coach that one of his teammates was using performance-enhancing drugs during their recent championship game (specifically Harry Osborn using Globulin Green, the drug that would turn Norman into the Green Goblin). His actions force the team to retroactively forfeit the game and lose their title, something that he had worked long and hard for (having even broken his leg for and costing him a potential scholarship), but he felt that the championship did not mean anything if had been earned dishonestly. After this, Sha begins to reciprocate his feelings.
  • In Total Drama Island, Courtney finds out that Duncan is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold when she sees him tricking DJ with a replacement Bunny so DJ wouldn't be sad. This is what sows the seeds of their relationship.