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Stranger Safety

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You can always depend on the kindness of strangers
To pluck up your spirits and shield you from dangers.
Now here's a tip from Blanche you won't regret.
A stranger's just a friend you haven't met!

The tendency of fictional works to assume that characters can talk to, share a room with, or travel with complete strangers without doing a background check or even a basic spot check - and despite this, nothing bad will ever happen. Most common in P&P roleplaying, where common sense may be handwaved in order to get to start the adventure.

In stories where this trope applies, it's usually a near unheard of and an unspeakable crime to actually lull someone into a sense of security and rob them blind. Doing so in such a story is sure to send the character straight over the Moral Event Horizon. Why else would it be pounded into most of the children of Real Life that talking to complete strangers is usually bad?

A Justified Trope, as in ancient Greece, accepting aid from and giving aid to complete strangers was shown to be a virtuous characteristic. Even in modern times and stories it was not improbable for these sorts of events to occur; strife at them is likely to be due to Values Dissonance.

When this trope is in play, Walking the Earth may become easier.

See also Violation of Common Sense. When the stranger is indeed stranger, see Angel Unaware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In an episode of Cardcaptor Sakura, a strange old man befriends ten-year-old Sakura. It turns out to be her great grandfather, but she didn't know it at the time and went off with what could very well have been a creep showing unnatural interest in her.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, this is how Hori ends up becoming Nozaki's assistant: after anonymously doing a relay novel with each other (on a random book they found lying on the school grounds), Hori, impressed by Nozaki's writing skills, asks him to help write scripts for the drama club. Nozaki responds by asking Hori to help him out with his backgrounds, and gives him his apartment address. Hori hurries over to Nozaki's place, while neither had known the other's names or faces. Sakura is appalled by their total lack of sense of danger.

  • In Fire and Hemlock, this is played totally straight; the only people who actively seek to harm Polly are those who know who she is. She gatecrashes a funeral, pretends to be part of the (large) family, and befriends an adult man, who helps her get out of the party before people notice she isn't family. Sounds dangerous? Only becomes dangerous because his enemies are now her enemies.
  • In Moby-Dick, Ishmael isn't put off by having to share a bed with a complete stranger, until he discovers the stranger in question is a Wild Samoan. Note that that was how inns and guest houses worked back then. A bed to yourself was very, very expensive. It only gets truly homoerotic when they start spooning and Queequeg insists on grasping his harpoon all night.
  • Ayla and Jondolar from the Earth's Children series are constantly meeting new people, who are (almost) always helpful and friendly.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl Moonglow and Daniel take in werewolf Kalix no questions asked, even when they know she is a werewolf with self destructive tendencies, no social skills, and hunted by, well pretty much everyone.
  • In Galaxy of Fear, Force-Sensitive Tash Arranda sometimes has the hunch that a stranger is good and trustworthy. She'll still get this feeling if they seem sketchy or outright dangerous, and if so she generally second-guesses herself early in the series. Most of these people are the Heroes of Other Stories, like the Heroes of Yavin, Wedge Antilles, Lando Calrissian et cetera, and these heroes tend to come back in a Big Damn Heroes way. It gets to the point where her companions just sort of shrug and assume anyone she likes will be helpful and valorous. However, she can't always sense if someone who seems good isn't trustworthy, so if they are a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing she will assume the best, which her companions also fall afoul of.
  • Explicitly averted with The Wheel of Time. The merits and shortfalls of playing one's hand close to the chest are closely examined, but there are a lot of bad people in their world.
  • In the Hurog duology, this trope is sometimes subverted (Ward's younger brother ran away from the man Ward sent him to live with, because he didn't trust Ward, and thought strangers to be the safer option. Ward is perfectly trustworthy.), but also played straight a number of times - which this is justified by the number of scheming nobles. Random strangers are more trustworthy if a large number of people wants you dead because of who you are.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens all the time in Highway to Heaven. After meeting Jonathan (the angel) and Mark (his sidekick), people rarely suspect any danger of any kind from these two. In one rare instance (in the episode Monster) where a boy does distrust strangers, the episode is about tolerance of those who are different. The boy turns out to be a liar who can't be trusted. Within a day or two of knowing someone Mark and Jonathan will be granted full access to loved ones and personal property beyond what a normal person would trust his own spouse or children to do. note  In some episodes, Jonathan has convinced near complete strangers to:
    • Let him live in their houses.
    • Cash in their entire life savings - and hand the cash over to him - to bet on a horse race!
    • Take out a mortgage on their homes - and hand it over to him - to invest in the stock market.
    • Take his word for it when a loved-one is sick or missing. Most people are satisfied with, "I think I know where to find him," or "You're just going to have to trust me." Never mind that Jonathan is a drifter with no ID and a new job in every episode.

  • Played straight in The Odyssey, where many characters take care of main hero Odysseus.

    Video Games 
  • Both Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games start in this manner. The first game is particularly jarring, as you, a complete stranger, are tasked to rescue a baby Caterpie.
    • Subverted in the second game, where a Drowzee kidnaps Azurill.
  • In The Legend of Zelda, many fans have commented on Link's ability to just walk into anyplace. Few NPCs will care that much about you breaking pots and taking the goodies inside, or just walking around. Bedrooms aren't off-limits. Some places can only be entered during the day, though. This is especially apparent in Breath of the Wild, where you can talk to people for the first time while they're sleeping in their beds and they won't react as if you've snuck into their homes. It's a bit more justified in the direct sequel Tears of the Kingdom, where Link is Legendary in the Sequel and people are more patient with the weird antics of the guy who saved Hyrule once before.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lily from Daughter for Dessert hitchhikes and rooms with complete strangers as she travels the world.
  • A couple of times in Melody:
    • Amy arranges for her petite 19-year-old niece to learn music one-on-one from a much larger male stranger whom she met the previous week. In his apartment.
    • Becca allows the protagonist inside her apartment to fix her faucet on the third meeting, a week after they first meet.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons' Musical Episode "Oh, Streetcar" featured a song which had a message of "You can always depend on the kindness of strangers!" This is a parody of the same line's darkly ironic use in the original play.

    Real Life 
  • An aspect of this fits into the general aspect of hitchhiking and picking up hitchhikers. Hitchhiking was once considered a perfectly reasonable way for young people to travel, and it was considered bad hospitality to not pick up stranded travelers along the way. Now, the general feeling is to lock one's doors; both the hitchhikers and the drivers expect the other to be scumbags who will take advantage of them, attack them, or take advantage of them and then attack them.
    • This is an example where the trope feeds on itself. As hitchhiking has gotten to be less respectable, fewer and fewer "nice" people were willing to pick up hitchhikers, which meant that it became even more dangerous and less respectable, feeding the cycle.
    • Many an older person will tell you that you didn't have to be as careful a few decades ago as you do now, but it's hard to know if that's the Nostalgia Filter talking if you weren't there.
    • Also depends on country. There are countries where it is more common, and thus safe, and countries where it's less so.
  • Truth in Television: If you are not a criminal, and usually stay out of conflict, the person most likely to murder you is your spouse. It's the same for rape, with the majority of offenses being date rape. It's not so much the fact that strangers are nicer people — that would be Insane Troll Logic — but due to psychological phenomena, you could actually be safer around a random stranger than someone you are attracted to, or who approached you. note  Many a parent will agree that they have no problem with their child talking to complete strangers, like the lady behind the library counter or such, but would be very wary of someone who approaches the kid on the way home from school and introduces himself properly.