Follow TV Tropes


Saving the Orphanage

Go To

"If there is anything Three Stooges media has taught me, it's that entertainment always saves heartfelt buildings."
The Nostalgia Critic, Jem and the Holograms review

A heartless developer plans to buy out and then knock over the local Orphanage of Love because they haven't paid their bills in ages, possibly with the aid of a Morally Bankrupt Banker, assuming they aren't the same person. Despite the horrible fate awaiting the adorable ragamuffin orphans and their caretakers, it seems all hope is lost. Enter The Hero, almost always a Good Samaritan and Friend to All Children, who will embark upon a quest to gather the necessary funds...or at least stop the developer from being able to knock the place down.

This trope serves a a popular stock plot for a number of reasons. It's a simple enough goal for the audience to grasp and support, plus it's a pretty easy way to establish a black and white, good vs. evil theme. After all, who but a truly good person would devote their time and welfare to saving an orphanage that can't offer much in the way of reward but its gratitude? And who but a truly evil person would dump a bunch of orphans onto the street so they can build a hotel/casino/oil rig/parking lot over it?

Plus, since there's a number of ways to reach this goal, you can pretty much insert any kind of film into it. Want a funny Road Movie? Just have the Hero hop into his van with his quirky sidekick and drive cross-country to pay the rent. Need to sell a soundtrack or musical? Have the centerpiece of the film be a fundraiser concert. Want a Downer Ending drama which explores the good and evil of mankind? Just have the heroes fail and watch the orphans cry their eyes out as their only chance at a loving home gets demolished before their eyes.

This plot doesn't have to center around an orphanage. Another popular variant is saving a family farm, followed closely by a youth or community center. It could be anything, as long as the building or place has someone's welfare tied up into it, there's probably an evil developer lurking in the shadows and planning its demise.

Furthermore, those wily developers don't always need cash. Sometimes, saving the orphanage may require a fight to claim the deed to the building or land, or a battle over a will.

Compare the Childhood Memory Demolition Team where the structure being knocked down isn't necessarily going to result in catastrophic circumstances for anyone. Not typically related to Burn the Orphanage.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

  • D.Gray-Man: Saving an orphanage turned out to be the reason behind Phantom Thief G, a.k.a. Timothy's crime spree. However, the obviously-supernatural methods attracted enough attention that it went from bad to worse. In the end, the Black Order wound up paying to save the place anyway.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: In an episode, nurse Clara claims that she took on the role of master thief Psiren in order to obtain the funds to save the hospital where she works from being closed down and demolished. And then the hospital gets demolished anyhow... as do the church and the orphanage and probably a couple of other struggling establishments that follow it. This example may be considered a Double Subversion, since at the end of the episode it's revealed that the city in which it takes place is dying a slow death and Psiren's exploits are drawing in much-needed tourism.
  • Girls und Panzer: Save the school. Which was built on an aircraft carrier.
  • Locodol: This comedy manga and its anime adaptation revolve around a girl becoming a local idol, or "Locodol", in order to help revitalise the town of Nagarekawa when it begins to experience a decline in tourism.
  • Love Live!: The entire franchise tends to use "saving the school" as a common plot:
    • Love Live!: In the anime version, the main characters are trying to save their school from being shut down by becoming idols so they can attract more prospective students.
    • Love Live! Sunshine!!: This Sequel Series uses the same premise as the previous series; while the main group is initially formed for the sake of becoming an idol group, they decide to save their school after hearing that it'll also be shut down. However, despite all of their efforts, the school is ultimately shut down anyway.
    • Love Live! Superstar!!: This fourth series inverts this; the school was re-opened as a brand new institution when the previous school that stood in its place was about to be demolished. A proper "saving the school" plot point is brought up later in Season 1 when it's revealed that the family that bought the school is out of money, but it is quickly resolved when Ren's father intervenes and sends enough money to keep the school open.
  • Midori No Makibao: This series is about a horse who enters the world of horse-racing to help his owners buy back his mom.
  • Naruto: This was the driving motivation for Kabuto becoming a spy. Danzo warned that Konoha's payments for the orphanage the spoilered character lived at might go missing if at least one orphan didn't agree to act as a spy.
  • Sailor Moon: An episode featured a town park that was about to be bulldozed by a greedy developer, with an old caretaker as the only man willing to stand up for it. Ironically, the heroes have nothing to do with saving the park. The old man gets possessed by a youma, gains power over nature, and sics butterflies, birds, and squirrels on the developers, thus saving the park himself. The heroes have to save him when the youma steals his life-force, but by this point the developers have already abandoned the park and don't return.
  • Sakura Wars: In the second OAV, the Teikoku Kagekidan stop an evil developer from knocking down a poor neighborhood of Tokyo.
  • Tiger Mask: The reason that Naoto Date betrays the Tiger's Cave and starts to get hunted by them is to save the orphanage where he was raised: the orphanage owed money to the Yakuza, and Naoto had to choose between paying them or his dues to Tiger's Cave.

    Comic Books 

  • ORPHANIMO!!: The series resolves around an old Victorian style orphanage which is the last original building standing in a city that has been turned into a concrete jungle of skyscrapers by Hari Vallalkozo, who has his eyes set on the orphanage so he can use the land for his latest project.
  • Supergirl: In the storyline "The Unknown Supergirl", Kara must save the Midvale Orphanage, where she used to live, from being destroyed by the Infinite Monster.
  • Superman: The Doomsday Wars: A flashback B-Plot that ties into the main story involves an accident on young Clark's part, which ended up costing the Kents their livestock due to a snowstorm. Some of the other farmers in Smallville end up rallying around the Kents and help with getting them back on their feet.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Holliday College is under threat of being bought up by a man who despises it for being an all girls school and encouraging women to be something other than submissive housewives. The Holliday Girls run a festival fundraiser and carry out some supposed impossible tasks to save their school.
    • Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed: The local park is under the eye of a developer who has been trying to kick "undesirables" out of the neighborhood. The park includes a community garden and the local children and others get free lunches there made by others in the community. Diana ends up arrested when she tries to fight goons from the developer who stomp in to toss the lunches and rough up some of the kids.
  • World's Finest: The 1990 Superman/Batman mini-series miniseries is about Midway Orphanage halfway between Gothan and Metropolis, which Lex Luthor wants to demolish so he'll have a new headquarters from which he can control both cities.

    Fan Works 

  • Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts: "Gotham's Favorite Son" mentions a time Bruce Wayne bought a rec center and announced that he would only build a new one if someone could beat him in a dance-off. He fully intended to build the new rec center all along and just issued the challenge for kicks.

    Film — Animated 

  • Barbie in A Christmas Carol: Catherine's "other show" is a performance being put on by the children at a nearby orphanage, which is struggling so badly the owners can barely afford to keep them fed. In the bad future, Catherine reveals that the orphanage closed down only a few months later. When Eden returns to the present a changed woman, she pays a visit to the orphanage and promises to fund it personally, saving it from closing and greatly improving the children's lives.
  • Barbie Presents Thumbelina: A skateboard factory is going to be built on an empty field that is actually the home of the Twillerbees. The Twillerbees use their nature magic to keep the construction crew at bay, while the main character befriends a girl whose parents just happen to be the owners of the company that's building the skateboard factory. In the end, the girl convinces her parents not to build the factory, and they build a nature preserve instead, keeping the Twillerbees (and more importantly, the Twillerbabies) safe.
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: Saving Grandma's general store from a Corrupt Corporate Executive is a critical plot point in the film. Eventually the executive is so touched by how much the store means to so many people that he instead offers Grandma a franchising deal to allow the store to not only remain open, but spread across the country.
  • Gumby: The Movie: Gumby holds a benefit to save local farms from his nemeses, The Blockheads, and their predatory farm loans.
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie: Arnold, Gerald and Helga try to save Hillwood itself from a greedy developer who wants to turn the neighborhood into a giant mall.
  • Home on the Range: The plot involves a trio of cows working to save the farm they live on, lest they be shipped off to a meat-packing plant.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: It eventually transpires that Camp Everfree is going to be closed and converted into a spa resort at the end of the month. Gloriosa Daisy tries to keep the camp going with the help of Equestrian magic, but ends up turning into a monster who builds a wall of thorns around the campground and traps all the campers inside. After Sunset Shimmer and the Humane 6 save Gloriosa, they use their new super-powers to organize a last-ditch benefit gala that earns enough money to save the camp.
  • In Rumble, Big Bad Tentacular, out of a desire to get out of the shadow of famous monster wrestler Rayburn, plans to buy the stadium he and his coach built and have it demolished, even though doing so will financially ruin the town it's located in. This necessitates the heroes challenging him to a wrestling match with the ownership of the stadium on the line.
  • Tweety's High Flying Adventure: Granny wagers against Col. Rimfire so she'd have enough money to save a park. Granny's victory depends on Tweety going Around the World in Eighty Days and collecting paw prints of eighty cats during the meantime. Sylvester provides the last print.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • 80s Ending: This four-minute short film included this trope as one of many 80s tropes it lampooned.
  • The Absent-Minded Professor: The plot of both this film and its remake Flubber involves the Professor's attempts to create something of value in order to raise enough money to save Medfield College.
  • Ali G Indahouse: The plot involves Ali G trying to save a leisure center.
  • American Outlaws: Subverted in this lighthearted Jesse James film, which opens with James failing to save the family farm and thus taking revenge against the railroad barons.
  • Arthur and the Invisibles (a.k.a. Arthur and the Minimoys): Arthur Montgomery sets out to retrieve a set of rubies so he can pay off a man who will evict he and his grandmother from their family farm if they don't.
  • Babe: Pig in the City: After Arthur Hoggett is injured, his wife and the title character head off to compete in a sheepdog herding contest to win the money they need to pay off their farm's mortgage. While this doesn't work out, they do end up getting the cash in the end and save their farm.
  • *batteries not included: The main plot involves the apartment block of the main characters being under threat of property development, but it's saved with the help of some living alien machines that take residence there.
  • Best Player: Tired of keeping their Basement Dweller son, the male protagonist's parents decided to sell their home, move to Florida and let him fend for himself. The son then entered a video game tournament hoping to win enough money to buy the house.
  • Blossoms in the Dust: It's not the whole plot, but part of the film does involve the local Obstructive Bureaucrats trying to shut Edna's Orphanage of Love down, with Edna then tirelessly criss-crossing the state of Texas, raising the necessary funds to keep the place open.
  • The Blues Brothers: When Jake and Elwood Blues attend church service at a black church, Jake sees the light and gets his Mission from God: get the band together, and save the orphanage from getting closed. In this example, the orphanage supposedly has to pay "back taxes", which actually fails the logic test since orphanages, as non-profits, don't pay taxes. However, at the time the film was in production, the state of Illinois was debating legislation that would have required some religious buildings to pay property taxes — though by the time the film was released, this had been struck down.
  • The Borrowers (1997): The villain attempts to swindle the Lender family out of their house (which the Borrowers also live in) so he can destroy it and build condos. The Borrowers have to steal the previous owner's will back from him.
  • The Brady Bunch Movie featured the family home being the target of a ruthless developer that wants to build a shopping mall. He learns they owe $20,000 in back taxes and goes out of his way to prevent them from getting the money. The movie also parodies ways that other movies usually solve this problem.
  • Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo: A greedy land developer is planning to bulldoze the community center Miracles and build a shopping center. The kids must band together to save their neighborhood.
  • Brother Orchid (1940): A gangster who reforms and joins a monastery trying to support itself and its various charities on the earnings of its flower sales. Their ability to do so is threatened by the protection racket he used to lead.
  • Catch Me If You Can 1989 (not to be confused with the Hanks-Decaprio film): The plot revolves around efforts of a high school class president to keep the school from closing through fund raising. The protagonist tries to raise the money himself by street racing.
  • Cockneys vs. Zombies: Played with — the film starts out with the brothers planning a bank robbery to save their grandfather's eldercare home. Subverted when they end up having to save the care home's residents from a zombie plague instead.
  • The Country Bears: The titular band has to reunite to save Country Bear Hall from a developer (played by Christopher Walken) who hates the bears and spends all of his free time destroying models of the building.
  • The Dirt Bike Kid: An evil banker wants to tear down a local restaurant.
  • Dog Days (2018): New Tricks' landlord sells the building housing a dog shelter out from under them. Garrett, Tara, and Dr. Mike work together to host a fundraiser party/concert so they can afford a new place to move the dogs to.
  • Ernest Goes to Camp: An unscrupulous mining development corporation tricks the owner of Camp Kikakee into signing the deed over so they can bulldoze the place and mine for a rare mineral deposit, with Earnest and the campers trying to get it back.
  • A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!: Hugh J. Magnate tries to destroy Dimmsdale Park and turn it into an oil well/hotel.
  • Field of Dreams: The family farm is in danger of foreclosure, which is why Kevin Costner's wife isn't happy when he plows over a field of corn to make a baseball diamond because he's hearing voices.
  • Fighting Mad (1976): This film is about farmers and ranchers in a rural community in Arkansas resisting efforts by developers to strip mine their land and build a power plant.
  • Fly Away Home: Housing developers want to tear down a bird sanctuary to build a housing complex. The agreement is that they can proceed if and only if no birds take up residence there before nightfall on November 1st, so when a local environmentalist and bird lover learns that Amy and Thomas are looking for a place to settle a flock of geese for the winter, he suggests that they bring the geese to the sanctuary as a win-win — the geese will have a safe place to spend the winter, and their presence will prevent the sanctuary from being demolished.
  • The Forbidden Dance: In possibly the most bizarre version of this trope ever recorded to film, a Brazilian jungle princess comes to America to save the rainforest by dancing the lambada on national television.
  • The Ghost Goes Gear: The Spencer Davis Group learn that their manager's family manor has fallen into disrepair due to the family being impoverished patricians. On the band's advice, the owners of the manor open it to the public, then later throw a "gear garden party" to raise money. Almost the entire second half of the movie consists of music videos of various bands performing at the party.
  • Going Shopping: Holly has a tumultuous weekend sale to save her struggling antique shop.
  • The Goonies: The titular kids seek out the treasure of One-Eyed Willy to pay off the mortgage on the entire neighborhood. A land developer is planning to turn the Goon Docks into a golf course.
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch: Subverted — the movie starts off with a wealthy property developer offering a large reward to the Magical Asian for selling his antique store, since he is the only holdout for a big new construction project. However, he has an offscreen death, and the big new construction subplot is never heard of again.
  • Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man: A gang of bikers (which includes the two titular characters) tries to save the bar of an old friend of theirs from being closed off by an Evil Bank via the theft of an armored truck owned by that same bank. Then it turns out that the bank was the distributing front for the hot new drug on the streets, and the bank sends its best assassins to get revenge for the theft...
  • The Life of Jimmy Dolan: This 1933 film involves saving an orphanage for children afflicted with polio, which is about to be foreclosed on. It was loosely remade as They Made Me a Criminal.
  • Madeline: Lord Covington, after the death of his wife, is trying to sell the building that Miss Clavel is using as a school to numerous diplomats. Madeline eventually leads the other girls and Pepito in various acts of sabotage around the house to make it unfeasible to the various buyers. The last attempt not only convinces the diplomat not to buy the house but also to convince Lord Covington to keep the school open. Counts as both Saving the School and Saving the Orphanage as Madeline is herself an orphan.
  • Man of Tai Chi: The film is centered around a martial artist trying to raise the money to save his temple from demolition.
  • Miracle on 34th Street: The 1994 remake adds a subplot that the "good" department store staffed by the main characters was in danger of being bought out and shut down by an evil rival shopping chain, Shopper's Express. This went so far that the film's villain, the owner of the chain, had his minions conduct an elaborate scheme to discredit Kris Kringle in order to stop their new-found success, thus leading to the trial that takes up the last third of the film.
  • The Muppets:
    • It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie: The Muppet Theater is in danger from a greedy developer that wants to bulldoze it and put up a club. The Muppets at first successfully raise the money, but Fozzie accidentally loses the money bag. The money problem becomes moot when Pepe gets the building saved by turning it into a historical landmark, preventing it from being bulldozed. Oh, and the money bag wound up in a Salvation Army bin, thus doing more good in the hands of a charity.
    • The Muppets: This 2011 revival film pretends as though the above never happened, and shows the theater having money troubles. In this movie, a greedy oil magnate wants to buy it, bulldoze it, and drill for precious oil underneath. In this case, the Muppets actually fail to raise the money despite a charity telethon. However, they decide as a family that it's more important that they gave it their all and they can start from scratch again. Just as the credits start, Gonzo smacks the villain in the head with a bowling ball, causing him to finally gain the ability to laugh, so he gives the property back for free anyway.
  • One Crazy Summer: The gang tries to save Cassandra's house from being demolished by a local land developer who wants to build a housing development with a lobster restaurant. They succeed, but the developer buys the mortgage and forecloses before she can pay it off. Time for plan B.
  • Roustabout: The carnival is in danger of shutting down due to bankruptcy, but our hero Charlie manages to save it by briefly leaving to sing at a wealthier carnival and coming back with the money he made.
  • Santa with Muscles: Hulk Hogan stars as Blake, who develops amnesia and ends up working to save an orphanage he grew up in from a greedy man who wants the crystals from the caverns underneath it.
  • Sister Act: Both films involve a plot like this.
    • The first film doesn't use this as a main plot (the real plot is Dolores hiding out from the mafia). Instead, it happens as a subplot where the abbey is in bad shape, but Dolores' work with the choir and getting them into the community reverses its fortunes.
    • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit uses is more explicitly, since the nuns are now teachers at a Catholic high school that is about to be shut down and turned into a parking lot by a greedy executive. Once again, Dolores disguises herself as a nun and reforms her music class into an award-winning choir to save the school.
  • Speed Zone: Discussed at one point, where Charlie and Tiffany play a guessing game where one thinks up a celebrity and the other has to guess. It's Tiffany's turn.
    Tiffany: She was the actress in that film where the woman was trying to save her farm.
    Charlie: Ooh. That sure narrows it down.
    Tiffany: What's that supposed to mean?
    Charlie: Oh, there's only like nine hundred films where a woman is trying to save her farm or her house or her tree or her town.
  • The Strawberry Statement has university students protesting the university's plans to replace a rec center and a playground in a mostly black neighborhood with a gymnasium for tax reasons.
  • Sunday School Musical, The Asylum rip-off of High School Musical, involves saving a church that's about to run out of operating funds unless they win a state choir competition.
  • Tall Tale: The plot centers around a boy in the 1800s trying to protect his family farm from an evil developer, leading him on a long quest across the country to protect the deed to the farm and meeting legendary heroes of American tall tales who join him.
  • Teen Musical The Movie: The plot revolves around a bunch of teenagers and a counselor having to save an activity center.
  • Theater Camp: Once his mother's beloved theater camp's mission and vision finally click for Troy, he turns his focus towards raising money to stop the bank from foreclosing and the camp from being sold to the venture capitalist-backed competition. He nearly fails, but luckily managed to book an AirBNB guest who was willing to donate enough money to keep it afloat for now.
  • They Made Me a Criminal: A combination Save the Farm/Save the Orphanage plot, as the Rafferty date farm doubles as a sort of reformatory for delinquent teens who've gotten in trouble with the law. But the kids at the Rafferty farm have come to love Grandma and Peggy Rafferty, and they hit on the idea of starting a gas station on the farm to keep it from going under.
  • The Three Stooges: The Movie: This 2012 film involves the titular Stooges engaging in a series of wacky schemes to raise enough money to save the orphanage they grew up in (and still live in since nobody would adopt them.) They technically fail as the orphanage gets condemned... except they later find out their actions on Jersey Shore led to the nuns getting an advance on a reality show, thus giving them the money to build a luxury orphanage next door.
  • Turkey Hollow: A group of kids try to save their great-aunt's farm by taking a picture of a bigfoot-type monster and collecting the reward money.
  • Two Weeks Notice: In this Romantic Comedy, Sandra Bullock's Granola Girl works for Hugh Grant's Corrupt Corporate Executive in order to stop his company from tearing down a community center.
  • UHF: The third act sees R.J. Fletcher prepare to buy U62 and threaten to close it down (as Uncle Harvey was Trapped by Gambling Debts). So, the station holds a telethon to sell shares to the public. They succeed, but just barely, when the bum buys the remaining shares. (In case you're wondering why George didn't just get a loan, a Deleted Scene had him meet with a loan officer, who then says a loan can't happen because of various financial sounding reasons; as George walks away, dejected, the camera pans over to reveal Fletcher's head thug, who was hiding behind a newspaper and gestures to the banker, imply Fletcher had that particular bank — and possibly others — in his pocket.)
  • You and Your Stupid Mate: Jeffrey and Philip try to prevent the caravan park where they live from being bulldozed to make room for a freeway.
  • Young Lady Chatterley II: The developer Beechum wants to turn the Chatterley Estate into a nuclear power station. He discovers a delinquent tax bill dating back to the reign of George III, and uses this in an attempt to force the estate into bankruptcy so he can buy it at auction. Lady Chatterley discovers that if the estate is given National Trust status, then the tax bill will be waived. She demonstrates the estate's historical importance by recreating a naked ride undertaken by one of the estate's previous owners.
  • The Young Ones: Cliff Richard and his friends decide to create a talent show to raise funds so that the youth club wouldn't be bulldozed. Unbeknownst to them, the man in charge of the demolition is Cliff's father.


  • The Asterisk War: This is Julis' motivation for taking part in the Festa as she needs the prize money to keep the orphanage where she made a lot of friends from being closed.
  • The Berenstain Bears Big Chapter Books: A couple of variants at different points in the series:
    • Horseback riding school, in The Berenstain Bears and the Galloping Ghost. Ms. Mamie isn't the best of businessbears, and the recent sabotage isn't helping. The cubs decide to help out by cleaning up her riding school, holding a big show to draw attention to the school and earn money to pay off her bills, and have their parents teach her what she needs to know to become a better businessbear and not get behind on the mortgage again.
    • Family farm, in The Berenstain Bears and the Haunted Hayride, as the cubs decide to suggest that Farmer Ben open a roadside market to sell his goods directly. It works, until sabotage threatens to ruin the farm. In response, the cubs decide to hold a Halloween Festival at the farm to earn even more money for the Bens and make up for the losses from the ruined crops (salvaging the ruined ingredients to make cider and cream of onion soup, and selling the popcorn from the popped corncobs), though it takes some effort and a fake haunting to convince Farmer Ben to do it because he considers it show business and not farming.
  • The Boxcar Children: Multiple books revolve around trying to save some location or another.
    • Book #22 (The Animal Shelter Mystery) revolves around the Aldens trying to save the Greenfield Animal Shelter; it turns out it was built on land owned by a man who died just under fifty years ago, and unless a deed transferring the property to someone else is found and filed in the state Land Records Office before fifty years to the day after the last known owner died (which is just a few days away), the land will go up for sale. And to top it off, a demolition company has tricked the rightful owner into thinking they've already bought the land. Luckily, the Aldens find the deed and the daughter of the man whom the property was sold to, who has a copy of his will proving he left it to her; with both deed and will, she's able to prove the land with the shelter and her house is rightfully hers.
    • Book #23 (The Old Motel Mystery) has motel owner Kay Kingsley being pressured to sell out to a larger hotel chain, but the Aldens work to fix the place up so she can keep it, despite the chain's efforts at sabotage.
    • Book #56 (The Firehouse Mystery) revolves around Greenfield's town council thinking the old firehouse is too old and outdated and needs to be replaced, so the Alden children dedicate themselves to renovating it and proving it can still serve its purpose.
  • The Californios (by Louis L'Amour): The primary plot is driven by Eileen's desire to save the family ranch from her creditor Wooston.
  • Castaways of the Flying Dutchman: The plot involves Ben and Ned having to find the deeds to save a whole village before it's converted into a limestone quarry.
  • The Eagle Tree: An autistic teenager campaigns to save a forest, which includes a huge, ancient Ponderosa Pine that he wants to climb, from being bulldozed by developers. He successfully gets the forest turned into a park, but the tree is rotten from the inside and can't be saved.
  • Himself (by Kenneth and Adrian Bird): This children's series features a talking dog called Himself. Half the stories involve the need to raise money for an orphanage run by a priest friend of the protagonist and his owner.
  • Juniper Sawfeather: In Whisper of the Woods, June's uncle Nathan, who lives on a Chinook reservation, wants to sell an old growth cedar forest to developers. June and her activist parents protest. The tallest tree in the forest turns out to be a treant who was originally a man, but whose spirit was trapped inside a tree centuries ago after he was murdered. Partly inspired by Julia Butterfly Hill's memoir, June climbs about 150 feet into the tree, with its help, and spends several days tree-sitting. People on the ground use a bucket to send her food and other supplies. Two men try to climb the tree to take her back down, but the tree damages their rope, forcing them to descend without her. Once Nathan discovers that his vanished sister Amelia has been living inside the tree, he agrees to stop it from being logged. The tree finally allows June to descend.
  • Little Women: A subplot revolves around the girls trying to keep their house from being sold.
  • The Roman Mysteries: In Dolphins of Laurentum, bankers threaten to seize Flavia's house in because of her father's debts. This inspires the characters to try to recover treasure from a sunken ship.
  • Much Ado About Grubstake: Morgan works for Lockwood to make money for the orphanage he grew up in. He acknowledges that it isn't a great place, but says it's better than the streets.]]
  • Nothing But The Truth: A subplot focuses on attempts to ensure that Harrison High's budget doesn't get cut further than it already has, as that could spell disaster for the school. Unfortunately, thanks to Philip hitting the school staff with Malicious Slander, it's doomed to failure.
  • One Last Stop: The characters put on a huge drag show fundraiser to save Pancake Billy's, the local diner and hangout where several of them are employed. It's also the one unchanged thing since Jane got unstuck in time 45 years ago... and the fundraiser makes a perfect cover for the time heist to save her.
  • Penny Dreadful: The Whippoorwillows, a group of houses where the main character, Penny, and most of her friends live, is about to be foreclosed. Meanwhile, there's a local legend about a 19th century gold miner who amassed and hid a fortune which was never found. Naturally, they fail to find it, followed by a lecture about how This Is Reality after Penny explains that she was certain they would find it because that is what would happen in a book.
  • Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath: Jade, Luke, Cori, and Chelse start a campaign called Butterflies vs. Boutiques to stop an expansion of the Port Toulouse Mall. Chelse thinks it's about protecting the monarch butterflies that are often found in the construction area, but the other three have another motive: the expansion will involve filling in the tidal pool where mers transform into humans, and where Jade's mermaid mom is currently living. In the end, the protagonists find proof that Mr. Chamberlain, who owns the construction company, didn't get a proper environmental assessment, and he's forced to change his plans. By that point Jade's mom is safely on land.
  • The Roosevelt: In the second book, changes to state laws have put the titular assisted living facility in financial trouble. Emmet persuades his employer, Workiva, to start a program to give The Roosevelt's residents part-time jobs to help pay for their room and board. Emmet, Jeremey, David, and Darren also go to the Ames City Council for backing, where Emmet discovers and corrects the misleading math used by a manipulative councilman who wants to cut funding. The four also go on a speaking tour, along with Jeremey's new service dog Mai, to fight a new bill that would award more contracts to private companies and make it harder for places like The Roosevelt to exist. The bill passes, but the tour, and especially the dance routine the protagonists do to "Try Everything" while dressed as The Blues Brothers, results in so much publicity, including a celebrity endorsement from Dan Aykroyd, that they raise all the money they need and more, enough to fund a Roosevelt Foundation to open similar facilities across Iowa.
  • Stone Fox: Little Willy's grandfather owes the state $500 in taxes, and they're threatening to take away his farm. So Little Willy and his dog Searchlight decide to sign up for a sled dog race with $500 dollars as the prize money, placing all their hopes of saving Grandpa's farm on the race.
  • Thora: In the first book, the villainous developer Frooty de Mare is trying to buy up all the beachfront properties in Grimli so he can knock down the buildings and replace them with his own businesses, which include a casino, a hotel, and a restaurant. The one holdout is the Allbent Cinema, whose owners, the Greenberg sisters, refuse to sell. In an effort to put them out of business, Frooty opens his own cinema, which plays pirated movies to save money.
  • You Can Be a Cyborg When You're Older (by Richard Roberts): Vanity Rose gets involved in cyberpunk corporate warfare and high stakes theft (at age fourteen) to prevent this happening to Ms. Understanding's orphanage. Unfortunately, she's misread the situation and it was unnecessary.

    Live Action Television 

  • The A-Team: The title characters have saved farms, small businesses, and everything in between.
  • The Brady Bunch: In the second-season episode "Double Parked," the Bradys campaign to save a neighborhood park.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: The pilot episode sees Bo and Luke hijack a truckload of illegal slot machines and use the proceeds to help save the orphanage... in their nemesis Rosco's name! (Rosco, it seemed, was running against a candidate who really did want to put the Duke boys in prison forever... and Rosco — for all his and Boss Hogg's bluster — didn't.)
  • The Golden Girls: Massacred in a two-part episode. Rose is attempting to get an old lighthouse into the National Registry of Historic Places and ensure its preservation. She organizes a telethon to raise money, but none of her planned guest stars show up due to a hurricane which completely destroys the lighthouse.
  • Happy Days: In the two-part episode "Westward, Ho!", Marian's uncle's Dude Ranch is in danger unless they win the rodeo. Naturally the Cunninghams compete in the rodeo and do better than the locals. You know, those people who actually work on ranches for a living. Plus Richie is the announcer and Uncle Ben is the judge — conflict of interest much?
  • How I Met Your Mother: Zigzagged — a bank hires Ted to design a new HQ for them, which they plan to erect on a lot currently occupied by an iconic but condemned hotel. This puts him in direct conflict with a group of people trying to save the hotel. Of course Ted is not really evil, and the group is not exactly good, which gives this trope a more complex treatment than usual. The hotel is eventually demolished.
  • Leverage: In "The Miracle Job", the team of former crooks tries to save a church from being bought by a real estate developer by faking a miracle.
  • Mork & Mindy: The episode "Dueling Skates" involves saving a daycare from being turned into a roller rink.
  • Night Court: One episode pulls this off, with a rich stereotypically-Texan mogul offering to put up the money to save the orphanage, if his case is processed by midnight. (It's one of the show's episodes where they have to process a large number of cases that night.) They fail, but the mogul changes his mind and agrees to put up the money if Harry could beat him in an arm-wrestling match. Harry wins after Christine secretly flashes the Texan.
  • The Nutt House: The pilot episode is about trying to save the Family Business hotel from Predatory Business Texplex.
  • Parks and Recreation: A recurring plot.
    • In one show, Leslie tries to stop a snobby Gold Digger from having a historically-significant gazebo demolished so that she could have her husband's birthday celebration at the nearby mansion without having to look at "that ugly thing". In the end, the gazebo is destroyed.
    • In another, Leslie's long running attempt to build a new park is threatened when a burger chain wants to buy the land from the town and build a new restaurant on it. The city council prefers to build the park but the project is underfunded so Leslie organizes a fund raiser to raise the remaining money. However, the owner of the burger franchise arranges for a Disaster Preparedness Drill to take place at the same time as the fundraiser. Leslie is called away and the fund raiser might have to be canceled without her to organize things. Her friends manage to turn the fund raiser into a success without her and the park project is safe.
    • In a third, Leslie tries to save a local video rental store but the store is simply no longer economically viable and Leslie cannot justify diverting government funds to support a single unprofitable business. However, in the end the store is saved when it stocks a large selection of porn and thus greatly expands its clientele. Leslie is not amused.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: An episode had the characters save a park from being bulldozed after finding evidence that it was a meeting place for the planners of the Boston Tea Party, making it a historical landmark.
  • Switch (1975) : In the episode "The Old Diamond Game", a million dollars are stolen from a nursing home, leaving it unable to pay its bills. Mac and Pete have ten days to retrieve the money before the place is shut down.
  • Takin' Over the Asylum: In the latter part of this British miniseries, this is attempted with the Mental Hospital's radio station. They sadly fail and the station is shut down while they're in the middle of the fundraiser.
  • VR Troopers: The lead villain is an evil dimensional warlord disguised as an Corrupt Corporate Executive who's usually trying to take over and destroy things like forests and schools and such, thus making almost every episode of the show an action-show version of this trope.
  • Wishbone: In the episode "Homer Sweet Homer", the kids work to save the town park from developers.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Lucha Libre International, better known for its athletic commission Universal Wrestling Association, had a wrestler known as Fray Tormenta, a priest who took advantage of the prominence of masks on the Mexican circuit to hide his identity and make money for an orphanage he worked at. His real life story would see homages in Tiger Mask, Nacho Libre and Tekken, while later luchadors Místico and Incognito would have the gimmick of being orphans from the facility he saved(CMLL first tried the gimmick with El Sagrado but were unsuccessful).


  • Adventures in Odyssey: Whit's wife was trying to save an old rec center that children played at, which was going to be torn down for a strip mall. She fell ill during a town hall meeting while campaigning for it and later died, but Whit took up her cause and had the building declared a historical landmark. He then turned the building into a soda shop and hang-out place for children — and that's how Whit's End was created.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

  • Bob Monkhouse once joked that in his few serious drama roles, he had ended up being typecast as the sort of villain "who would keep his cocoa warm by burning down an orphanage".

    Tabletop Games 

  • Clue: The 2023 version has this as a secondary motive behind the murder of Mr. Black, who attempted to blackmail the six suspects into assisting with his scheme to replace the neighborhood park with a luxury hotel.

    Video Games 

  • A3!: The premise of this mobile game has its heroine and the manager of the Mankai Theater Company try to round up membership for the troupe and bring in audiences in order to prevent its shutting down by Yakuza.
  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure: Alba and Ines want to save the wildlife reserve from being turned into a luxury hotel, by getting fifty people to sign a petition.
  • Amateur Ninja: MegaCorp buys out all the local hangouts, turning the skatepark into a panda bear hunting range and the orphanage into a child labor camp, but don't reap any consequences until they take the community center/ninja dojo. Naturally, the ninja students seek vengeance, but all of them are killed when they get to Megacorp HQ... except for new recruit Willow Stiletto, who was getting pizza at the time. Now it's up to her and her extremely basic ninja skills to succeed where true masters have failed and get the community center back in the hands of her master.
  • Beastieball: The protagonist sets out to defeat the ranked coaches of the Beastieball League to gain a better ranking and thus more influence, in hopes of stopping the league's plans to destroy the nature preserve of their home town.
  • Bravely Second: There's a side quest where you meet Erutus Profiteur who after losing his fortune in the last game informs you of a plan to buy the entire inlet so he can build a port to help the economy. But he needs the ownership of the seaside house that’s owned by an old man and his granddaughter. As you learn more you meet Holly Whyte who steps in to say how offensive and wrong Erutus's decision is. In a neat twist you can decide which outcome you would like do: tear down the home and allow the original owners to get a fine job in the city or allow the home to stay up so the two owners can live happily ever after. Ether way you give your team a new ability.
  • The Darkness.: A more direct and successful attempt at destroying the orphanage occurs.
  • Fable: The original game has a quest where the main character has to save a brothel that's been taken over by a particularly abusive owner by recovering a missing deed. Of course, this being Fable, the hero can either give the deed to the Madam (who will convert the brothel into a women's shelter), or the hero can keep the deed and run the brothel himself.
  • Fable III: Played relatively straight — after you rise to power as king/queen of Albion, one of the royal decisions you have to make is to either re-open the Bowerstone Orphanage... or let Reaver open a brothel instead.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: In the third chapter, the heroes must raise money to rebuild a razed orphanage; fortunately a local politician offers to keep the kids housed in the interim.
  • Love Live! School Idol Festival ALL STARS: The main characters' goal is to Save the School Idol Festival. The school itself isn't in danger because it's far too well funded.
  • Mad Maestro: The game revolves around a youth orchestra group trying to save Bravo Town's old concert hall from being torn down.
  • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Konoha, Hazuki and Ayame team up and make three joint wishes to Kyubey in order to save Azalea's House, the orphanage they grew up in: To erase the main cause of its destruction, wipe the memories of the three of them from everyone back at the house, and for the orphanage to continue existing indefinitely, respectively.
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love: Chapter 2 has a plot where an evil developer is trying to knock down Harlem and rebuild it - without the poor people in it, of course. Shinjiro goes through an Ace Attorney style mock trial to try and save Harlem, as well as talking fellow party member Sagiita (Cheiron in the dub) out of helping said evil developer.
  • Stardew Valley: Part of the game involves rebuilding the Pelican Town Community Center by completing "bundles" so that little forest spirits known as Junimos will fix the place up for you. Alternatively, you can take the dickish route and side with JojaMart, who will convert the Community Center into a warehouse where you can pay cash for (some of) the improvements and bonuses you would have gotten from the bundles.
  • Star Gladiator: Hayato's goal in the first game is to get enough money to keep the orphanage he grew up in from closing.
  • Tekken: King the First is a masked wrestler who fights to raise money to save his orphanage.
  • The Three Stooges: This NES game was all about trying to raise money to save an orphanage. (Well, sort of.) Predated the movie based around the same trope by decades.
  • World of Warcraft: Variation on "saving the farm" with the Tillers quest line. Farmer Yoon has inherited a small patch of land from his uncle, but the Tillers are a bunch of rich snobs who don't like city slickers. The player has to convince them to sway their votes in Yoon's favor to let him stay, by doing a variety of quest lines involving growing the crops, combating pests and poachers, and flattering the Tiller members via gifts. Succeed, and Yoon (who knows more about farming than they assume) is actually asked to join the Tillers' council, and as a result of this promotion, you get the farm.

    Web Animation 

  • Homestar Runner: Parodied — in the game "Kid Speedy", if you beat all the tracks, Kid Speedy wins a two-dollar consolation prize for coming in "not dead last", and when he tells his mother the good news, she remarks "Now we have enough to get the orphanage its operation!"


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In "The Mobius 5000", Dr. Robotnik threatens to close down the porcupine orphanage if they don't pay him 10,000 Mobiums by the next day. In order to get that kind of money, Sonic has to enter and win the Mobius 5000 race.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In the episode "The Sweaters", two preppy students of Sarah's old school, "Carlton" and "Troy", believe Darwin and Gumball have a reputation of being "hardcore". They show up out of the blue in front of Elmore Junior High, throw family friendly insults at them and pose cheesily in a parody of generic 1980s movie tropes. After Carlton, Troy, and their coach harass Gumball and Darwin in various ways, they eventually threaten to "Crush them tomorrow at 4:00", when Gumball refuses Carlton says that if they aren't in attendance he'll tell his dad to level their school and build a golf course right on top. To make the parody more blunt he tells Mr. Small "They said we have to fight them at 4:00 tomorrow or their super-rich dad will bulldoze the school and build a golf-course on it. I mean, When I say that out loud it's like the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard". Every supporting character fervidly encourages the fight, blatantly mocking the "Save the (blank) trope". Gumball accepts the fight after Penny (the love interest stand-in for this trope parody) exclaims to Gumball how heroic she thinks he is for fighting for such a noble cause.
  • Archer: "Saving the farm" is Subverted when it's brought up once.
    Malory: Fight them off!
    Pam: That's what Dad said when the bank man came to take the farm. *ch-chk* One guess how that turned out.
    Malory: You murdered a banker?!
    Pam: No, we got a loan modification. You think a bank wants to own a failing dairy farm with out of date milkers?
  • Batman Beyond: In "Shriek", Bruce Wayne refuses to allow a section of Gotham City, which included the theater he'd gone to the night his parents were murdered, to be demolished. Terry asks him if he'd rather have it demolished, so that the painful memories would end, until Bruce asks "Do you want to forget what happened to your father?". Then Derek Powers hires Shreeve to kill Bruce so that he can go ahead with demolishing it, only for Terry to thwart him.
  • Big City Greens: A combination "Saving the Farm/Saving the Home", as the Greens' farm is their home as well. Every generation, their farm is threatened to be sold by whatever reason, so it's up to the kids to convince the old folks to not back down and keep it open. It is threatened more than once and for the first time thanks to Chip Whistler, who wants to destroy the farm rather than sell it, and near the end of Season 2, he opts to replace it with a new supermarket and the Greens have to work together to fight for what's right before they lose the farm's legacy forever.
  • Buddy Thunderstruck: Parodied — the first episode involves Buddy needing to win the race to save his family business, but it is implied that this is just normal life for him; he is perpetually saving the business with every weekly race.
  • Camp Candy: The main characters constantly have to save the camp from an evil developer.
  • Ducktales 2017: Webby tries to use this trope as a cover story, saying she's a girl named Alexa trying to stop a greedy land developer from shutting down summer camp.
  • Dudley Do-Right: A standard plot, though subverted several times when it's revealed that Snidely Whiplash is entirely within his legal rights to foreclose on nearly every property in town for non-payment (including the Mountie Fort), and indeed has been ordered by the Canadian government to do so (fortunately, Horse is able to win enough money at a casino to save the town... with the side effect that now Horse starts threatening to shut down the orphanage).
  • Hey Arnold!: The series features several episodes of this type.
    • "The Old Building" has Arnold caught between boarder Ernie Potts and his Grandma over whether to save the Circle Theater or demolish it.
    • "Save the Tree" is about Arnold and his friends attempting to stop Big Bob Pataki from tearing down Mighty Pete, the oldest (and only) tree in Hillwood.
    • "Casa Paradiso" has Arnold and the boarders try to convince Grandpa not to sell the Sunset Arms boarding house and move him and his grandparents to a retirement community.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: An episode, literally entitled "Save The Farm", had the duo raising money to save a farm from evil developers.
  • Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos once tried to destroy a Sports Center for underprivileged children to build a parking lot for a theme park. The Hurricanes organized a charity match to save it and Garkos sent his team to replace the Hurricanes' adversaries and hurt them so the game would be cancelled. When two of the Hurricanes found out, they blackmailed Garkos into buying and donating the place.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: The episode "The Ballad of Belle Bonnet" was about a female outlaw (Belle) stealing gold to save an orphanage. Centuries later, the gold has been found and returned to the bank. The orphanage was saved by the reward offered by the bank.
  • Madeline: The episode "Madeline and the New House" sees Madeline and her friends preventing Lord Cucuface from having their boarding school torn down. It's Lighter and Softer than in the live-action movie, since there's no threat of Miss Clavel and the girls being separated, but they do have to leave Pepito behind and go to live in a small, cramped apartment with mean neighbors, so naturally they want their old house back.
  • The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries: "The Nutcracker Scoob" involves an orphanage, an evil banker who wants to buy it for a fraction of its value, and a valuable emerald that's hidden somewhere on the property.
  • Peter and the Magic Egg: Mother Nature sends her baby to a dying farm in order to save it.
  • South Park Parodied to death in the episode "Asspen", where the kids have to save a youth center... whether Stan wants to or not.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Parodied in the episode "Sharks vs. Pods", when Patrick appears out of nowhere in the end to exclaim "Yeah! We saved the rec center!" There was no rec center even mentioned in the episode.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "The Bounce Lounge", Star and Ponyhead learn their favorite hang-out, the Bounce Lounge, is going to close down, so they get together with some of their old friends and hold a benefit to help the owner pay off the mortgage. They manage to raise the money but Miss Sparkles, the owner of the Bounce Lounge, has been in business for literally thousands of years and is desperate to retire, so she closes the Bounce Lounge anyway, and takes the money with her.
  • Static Shock: The subplot of one episode has the community center Virgil's father runs in financial trouble, which is resolved when Static presses Edwin Alva into making a donation to the center in return for saving Alva's son from his own rogue flunkies.
  • Super Mario Bros. (DiC): A recurring plotline in these cartoons involved saving an orphanage.
    • In "Mario and the Beanstalk" the gang has to come up with 100 gold coins to save the Mushroom Kingdom orphanage in 24 hours, this leads to the Jack and the Beanstalk plotline giving them more than enough by the end of it.
    • The episode "Tag Team Trouble" subverts this, Toad believes the money he was supposed to give to the orphanage was stolen, so he enters the Mario bros in a wrestling contest to get more. In actuality, the owner claimed the money after Toad fell asleep on the way there and didn't tell him.
  • VeggieTales: In the show's Easter-themed version of A Christmas Carol, a church has to be saved.
  • Wild Kratts: The Kratt brothers occasionally need to save imperiled animals' habitat from threats, as a change of pace from saving the animals themselves. Paisley Paver, a villain introduced in Season 4, has habitat-destruction as her agenda.