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The Kindness of Strangers

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It occurs when the hero is in trouble and suddenly gets help from a person whom he has never met before and whom he'll probably never meet again.

It can be anything. The stranger can give the hero money if he really needs to buy a train ticket, or he can give the hero the train ticket and say something like, "Oh, I don't need it anyway. Please take it." The stranger can hide the hero in his basement for a few minutes, or lend him a pair of trousers. It can be anything, any possible example of human kindness from a person the hero meets only once in his life.

The author usually uses this trope to help the hero in a situation where these three conditions occur:

  1. The hero is in trouble and only another person can save him
  2. Secondary characters are in the same trouble or another and can't help the hero
  3. The story takes place in the area where there is high possibility of meeting other people (city, park, road, etc.).

Notably, the Kindness of Strangers is not the trope used to introduce a new character — it's a single appearance only. If one stranger aids the hero multiple times it's Mysterious Protector. The stranger does not give the hero any Unobtainium or mysterious advice or gifts- that's more the territory of the shop assistant in The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. The Kindness of a Stranger is usually "passive help" rather than aiding the hero in his fight with bad guys or monsters.

See also Goodness Exam, where someone is expected to do something good as proof of their moral worth.


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  • Light Illuminates Darkness: At the beginning of the story, Sara is depressed that she searched for six months for her sister Selena and has not found her, and she worried for her safety because she was last seen living with a dangerous drug lord known to be violent and broke down crying as she sits down on a bench. Then a middle-aged woman named Eva noticed her crying and asked her what was wrong. Sara was grateful for Eva's concern for her but asked her if she was sure she wanted to hear her out since they were strangers. Eva tells Sara that she was a sad young girl all by herself once. Eva had no one else to talk to, so she'll be the person she wished that was there for her.
    Eva: "Hey, what's wrong? Do you need help?"
    Eva: "I just saw you crying all alone. What's got you so upset?"
    Sara: "It's, uhh, complicated." She said, hesitant. "You sure you want to know?"
    Eva: The woman simply nodded. "I know 'complicated' very well, believe me. Maybe I can help you out? I'm Eva, by the way."
    Sara: "Oh, right! I'm Sara."
    Sara: "Do you really want to hear me out? We're strangers."
    Eva: Eva nodded again. "I have a good feeling about you. You seem like you need a good listener right now, and I'm an expert listener. Besides, I was a sad young girl all by myself once."
    Eva: "I wish someone had reached out to me when I was young, so I will be the person that I wish had been there for me."
  • The Lost Element: Fluttershy is enlisted by Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash to comfort James immediately after their first encounter when he runs into Sugarcube Corner to escape the prying eyes of the townsfolk after Rainbow Dash fell out of the sky onto him. While cautious as usual, James' extremely reserved mood at the time allows Fluttershy to gently take the initiative to establish a friendly conversation for the distressed newcomer. Subverted in that while they do part ways at first, Fluttershy is reunited with James at the end of the day as a friend during his welcome party.
  • One Year on Probation: Akira starts to have a panic attack when he gets lost in the city during Golden Week, but lucky for him, Haru finds him and finds him a place to relax and cool down.
  • Whitehall University: Harry Percy is introduced checking on Anne after a bad encounter with Brandon, even though they don't know each other.

  • Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens: Realizing that Ali is feeling down following his unsuccessful first meeting with his mother after many years, the women take him out to get dinner at a food truck. The woman in front of him offers words of comfort, and the cook gives him free food after realizing that Ali is also Muslim. This — plus the "You Belong Here" sticker Chinta sees on a lamppost — does a lot to lift Ali's spirits.
  • Jack Reacher, running away from pursuers, hides in the crowd of people observing the scene. One of the strangers lends Jack a baseball cap so he can hide better. Stranger doesn't say anything and we don't see him again;
  • In World War Z, while searching for drugs for his sick daughter, the hero is aided by the pharmacist who gives him the drug and a few points of advice on how to use it. It's the only scene in which we see the pharmacist.
  • Marathon (2005): During the marathon, Cho-won becomes exhausted and sits down in the road. When a stranger hands him a choco pie, he finds the strength to keep going.
  • National Treasure: When Abigail is running and hiding from Shaw, one of the henchmen of the bad guy, in a grocery store she gets behind a meat counter. The lady working the counter notes she cannot be there unless she's meat to be cut up. Abigail makes up a lie quickly that Shaw is an abusive ex she is hiding from and the worker lets her stay there until Shaw leaves the shop.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the American Gods (2017) episode "Head Full of Snow", Mad Sweeney is wandering the backroads when a random stranger offers to give him a ride. While Sweeney is understandably skeptical, the stranger admits that he's doing it because he has a history of being at a similar low-point in his life. Unfortunately, Sweeney's supernatural bad luck ends up killing the driver with a metal pipe through his head.
  • In the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Jen finds her way to a bar and goes into the bathroom to clean herself up after surviving a car crash when suddenly, a group of party women come in. While they mistakenly believe her injuries are the result of Domestic Abuse, they immediately give her comfort and aid without question, even going so far as to give her a coat and shoes and lending her a cell phone so she can call her cousin Bruce.
  • In season nine of Supernatural, Castiel is human and homeless for several episodes, and is helped by various strangers, most notably a random driver who sees him on the side of the road and stops to check if he's okay, gives him a lift to the nearest gas station, and hands him a few bucks to get a sandwich. Homeless people are also friendly and willing to help him, prompting Castiel to note that people who have the least seem the most willing to share. Unfortunately, one person he mistakes for a kind stranger turns out to be a Reaper sent to kill him.