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Things I Will Do If I Am Ever the Hero

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Is it a peaceful day in your idyllic hometown, with nothing that could possibly ruin it? Or, has a catastrophe already started that's going to require you to set off and Save the World? If it's the latter, you're about to become The Hero.

But, wait! It's dangerous to go alone! There's all sorts of things that can thwart a green, untried do-gooder, because life does not work like a video game, or movie, or book! You need a plan if you're going to avoid carrying the Idiot Ball, or worse, becoming an Unwitting Instigator of Doom whose misguided actions only help the force that you're trying to stop - most likely, an Evil Overlord.

If you have points of your own to make, go see TV Tropes Additional Hero Vows. Contrast this guide with its "bad guy" counterpart, the Evil Overlord List. You can still go to The Universal Genre Savvy Guide for all your other needs and vows.

The original list can be found here:

Only the General Items has been copied; there is a list specifically for Star Trek that would best appear elsewhere.

© 2005 by John Van Sickle. Permission to quote for non-commercial use is granted, provided that this copyright notice is included. Permission to link from non-commercial Web pages is granted. All other rights reserved.

  1. I will maintain no association with sidekicks who employ prostitutes. While such entertainment doubtlessly relieves my comrade of the wearying burden of the Heroic Struggle, the women met in this fashion tend to filch artifacts needed to defeat the Evil Overlord, act as his spies and/or assassins, carry unpleasant diseases, and (worst of all) get me in trouble with my True Love.
  2. I will ignore the Evil Overlord's arguments revolving around honor and/or morality. If he were really all that worked up about either, he would never have become an Evil Overlord in the first place.
  3. When the Evil Overlord takes hostages, I will presume the hostages dead and hold a memorial service. Any promises made by the Evil Overlord regarding their safe return shall be summarily ignored. My loved ones will be warned to expect this.
  4. I will not walk alone and undisguised into a bar in the Evil Overlord's territory in order to meet with an ex-associate who said a bunch of damaging things about me in one of the Evil Overlord's propaganda pieces.
  5. When the Evil Overlord is hanging on the cliff by his fingers, I will not try to help him up. If time and means are available, I'll kill him then and there.
  6. When I am advised to destroy a magical artifact taken from the Evil Overlord, I will do so.
  7. Anyone inquiring after the secret of my strength will be fed a line of plausible baloney as to how this strength can be lost. If the bogus advice is followed, the leak shall be properly investigated.
  8. If an associate begins to transform into something large and threatening, I will immediately act to neutralize the threat, and not wait until the transformation is complete. Likewise, if an enemy begins to metamorphosize into something else, I will immediately start whacking away at it, instead of watching in fascination.
  9. I will take no oath of unquestioning obedience, nor any oath of obedience to persons of unproved character.
  10. I will reveal to each comrade a different clue for distinguishing me from an impostor so that if one of them betrays me and an impostor is sent in my place, the others will still be able to catch on to the charade.
  11. I will never assume that an enemy is dead unless the remains are available for examination, and will keep in mind the possibility of cloning technology or resurrection magic.
  12. I will employ some manner of surveillance so that when I leave a room and a traitorous comrade gives me the Malicious Scowl or Wicked Leer to my back, I will have ample warning of his impending betrayal.
  13. Self-appointed prophets who deliver elliptically-worded warnings will be politely asked to phrase their utterances in plainer terms. If said prophet refuses the request, a five-year-old child will be asked to explain the meaning of the prophecy.
  14. I will waste no time trying to get the rich to join in my rebellion. The only way to stay rich in the Evil Overlord's realm is to collaborate with him, and any rich people who truly feel guilty about this will serve the rebellion better by not openly joining.
  15. If my mentor tells me that I am not yet ready to confront the Evil Overlord, I will quietly accept his judgement and remain to complete my training.
  16. If one of the Bad Guys manages to kill my Mentor, I'm clearly not prepared to immediately avenge him; I will retreat and develop my skills.
  17. I shall arrange my personal affairs so that it doesn't matter if someone learns my Secret Identity.
  18. If I am granted a vision of the future, I will not try to prevent anything that I see. It never works.
  19. If I am forced to make a choice between saving a friend/lover or fulfilling my mission, I will remind myself that failing to accomplish the mission will probably result in the friend/lover's death anyway, and go on with the mission.
  20. If I am captured by the Evil Overlord and escape, I will assume that he is tracking me in some manner. If I am going to the hidden rebel base, I shall first go to an alternate location, change clothing, equipment, and means of transportation, and then go to the hidden rebel base.
  21. If any of my associates mysteriously disappear, and then return behaving in an uncharacteristic manner, I will immediately presume that their loyalty has been compromised by the Evil Overlord.
  22. Old flames that join the rebellion will be assigned duties that preclude contact with me. This not only protects me from any attempt by the Evil Overlord to use them as agents but also keeps my True Love from leaving me in a fit of insane, if misplaced, jealousy.
  23. I will presume that the Evil Overlord is working to nullify my secret powers. I shall therefore obtain a means to fight that does not rely on these secret powers.
  24. I will enter into alliances with the Evil Overlord only on the understanding that the rationale he has supplied for the alliance is not the Unvarnished Truth, and furthermore that he will betray me at the moment most advantageous to him.
  25. I will never travel back into the past in order to prevent the current situation. It never works.
  26. No matter how sincere he looks, I will never shake the Evil Overlord's hand.
  27. When my powerful wizard friend fails to return at the appointed time, I won't wait until after my birthday to start my Perilous Journey. I will set out immediately.
  28. Anything that appears to have been too easy - escaping the Evil Overlord's fortress, defeating the Eldritch Horror, etc. - probably was too easy.
  29. If the Evil Overlord invites me to go on a hunt with him, I will decline the invitation.
  30. If I have a copy of the Evil Overlord's plans and my capture is imminent, I will not send the only copy of those plans away with a cute little sidekick. I will make many copies of the plans and send them away with many cute little sidekicks.
  31. If I maintain a Secret Identity, I will keep my transformation ritual as simple and quick as possible so that I cannot be interrupted during it.
  32. I will not keep information secret in order to prevent widespread hysteria; it never works.
  33. My fortress will include a holding room for any annoying kids, nerds, would-be love interests and other wannabes who follow me there and insist on joining my group. They will be kept in this room until the Evil Overlord is defeated. If there are holodecks available, I will throw the wannabe into it while he/she is asleep and activate the Epic Adventure program.
  34. When the Evil Overlord's Wicked but Beautiful Daughter tries to subvert me through her womanly wiles, I will keep in mind the diseases she is likely to have caught from all the netherwordly creatures with whom she is probably also consorting, as well as the possibility that the Evil Overlord has a hidden camera/crystal ball trained on me and is forcing my True Love to watch.
  35. I will not needlessly expose myself to enemy gunfire, hand-to-hand combat, or dogfights.
  36. There are three dimensions in space. I do not have to attack in the same plane as the opponent.
  37. I will not count on other rebels being as self-sacrificing as I.
  38. I do not need to give the Overlord a fair chance. Shooting him in the back works for me.
  39. I will never say "This one is mine!" and engage in a one-on-one struggle with the Evil Overlord or any of his henchmen; however, I might say "This one is mine!" and stand back while, by prior arrangement with my comrades, all available firepower is pumped into the now-distracted target.
  40. If my village allies defeat the elite forces of the Evil Overlord, I will take a few minutes to learn how they did it and incorporate the information gained into my strategies.
  41. If my True Love is captured and forced into marriage with the Evil Overlord, I will not attempt to rescue her until after the ceremony unless said ceremony will irrevocably harm or alter her in some way.
  42. If she doesn't already know, I shall train my True Love in the art of unarmed combat, so that when the Evil Overlord uses her as a human shield she can slam her heel between his legs.
  43. Likewise, if she doesn't already know, I shall train my True Love in the art of armed combat, to the extent that her natural talents allow.
  44. If through skill or luck I defeat a better-armed opponent, I will at least try to get his/her/its weapons.
  45. When I and my companions sneak into the Evil Overlord's stronghold through some unorthodox route such as the main drain, and it appears to be completely unguarded, we will stop and discuss possible explanations for that observation, rather than simply praising our good luck and pressing blithely on.
  46. After killing a few dozen faceless, anonymous grunts in the Legion of Doom without a second thought, I will not suddenly take a merciful attitude with the Evil Overlord, his family, his lieutenants, or anyone else with a speaking part.
  47. When I kill one of the Evil Overlord's deer, I will not lug it to his castle and wave it in his face just to make some obscure point, only to wind up having to fight my way out of his castle. I'll just take it home and enjoy some venison.
  48. I will remember that if the Bad Guy tries to kill enough people, no one will mind too much if I kill him instead of merely disarming him. Especially if it looks like an accident.
  49. If I am offered two explanations for a phenomenon, one a logical, scientific explanation and the other a load of New Age claptrap, I will accept the scientific explanation.
  50. My robots will be programmed to speak only when they have something useful to say. That way I will not be tempted to ignore them when they have critical information.
  51. When I state my intention to do something and one of my robots interrupts me, I will at least hear it out.
  52. I will wear different outfits from day to day, so that the Evil Overlord's henchmen will not be able to spot me at a glance.
  53. If I lose a hand and have it replaced with a prosthesis, the prosthesis will have a functional weapon built into it. I can use it to surprise Bad Guys and open canned goods.
  54. I will not have sex with anyone before a battle. They will either die or betray me during the battle.
  55. High-sounding directives notwithstanding, I will never value culture above sentient life.
  56. If I get incriminating evidence about an enemy or a superior, I will make several copies, and store each in a different location. I will not surrender the sole copy to anyone. If ordered to destroy the copies, I will do so, after first making more copies.
  57. I will not try to make a comrade run faster by yanking on his/her arm. I will instead advise them to stop turning around to look at the pursuing danger (rats, lava, etc.).
  58. I will not make the sidekick wait somewhere while I go on ahead. He'll only get into worse trouble than he otherwise would.
  59. Every member of the rebellion will have DNA tests to bring any existing blood relationships to light.
  60. When five seconds can mean the difference between the survival and destruction of the galaxy, I will keep my wistful expressions of undying fealty, love, or regret to a minimum.
  61. After knocking out a bad guy, I will kill him silently if I can, cripple him silently if I can't kill him, or disarm him if I can neither kill nor cripple him. If I fail to do any of these, he will come to and jump me from behind.
  62. My loyal, trusted and heavily armed bodyguards will always be on hand.
  63. I will never leave my True Love and/or family unguarded unless they can defend themselves.
  64. I will always pack as much firepower as I can.
  65. I will never allow my people to speak to prisoners alone, but I will sometimes appear to do so.
  66. I will maintain constant surveillance on all prisoners in case one of my people tries something behind my back.
  67. If I discover a mysterious pod in my home, barn, spaceship, or alien territory, I will not stick my face into it or pick it up to see if it is alive. Instead I will have it examined via remote-controlled robot.
  68. I will not trust a being with an inordinate number of tentacles.
  69. I will always Read the Fine Print.
  70. Being captured by the Evil Overlord is one way to learn his secret plans, but there are innumerable other ways that are better, and they will be tried first.
  71. My weapon of choice will be the one that allows the greatest distance between me and my target.
  72. When I am forced to decide which of two identical people is the Trusted Ally and which is the Evil Doppelganger, I will stun them both and sort things out in the brig.
  73. When I make my escape from the Evil Overlord's encampment, I will sabotage as much of the enemy's pursuit capacity (horses, jeeps, rocket bikes, etc) as opportunity permits, sparing only enough for the use of my companions and me.
  74. If my trusty sidekick always blurts out the fact that I am carrying the most powerful magic object in the world, then I will get a sidekick who is less of a blabbermouth.
  75. I will be courteous to all, whether friend, foe, or neutral. Especially neutral.
  76. I will wear a Utility Belt. Not everything I need will be kept there, but I will pretend that I am helpless without it in order to fool the Evil Overlord.
  77. I will treat law enforcement officials with respect, permit them to handle affairs that are within their capacity, and solicit their advice when circumstances allow. This will establish mutual respect and a good rapport.
  78. If I have a weakness, I will look for a Sidekick who does not share this weakness. Failing that, I will form a mutual-support association with a Hero not sharing this weakness.
  79. When sneaking into the fortress of the Evil Overlord, I will disguise myself as someone whose normal behavior I can emulate.
  80. My guards will be instructed so that when a voice around the corner says "come here," they will assume the speaker to be an intruder and respond accordingly.
  81. If I am forced to retreat after being ambushed by overwhelming forces, I will not run home where it's safe; whoever is behind the ambush probably has plans for me when I get there.
  82. I almost certainly have an Evil Twin running around somewhere, if not by birth then as a creation of the Evil Overlord. I will keep an eye out for him, and plan accordingly.
  83. I will never allow fashion sense to prevent me from carrying whatever is useful or needful for the Heroic Struggle.
  84. When the Evil Overlord tries to guilt-trip me by claiming that I'll be responsible for something he plans to do if I don't cooperate with him, I'll mercilessly quote Ayn Rand to him.
  85. If the Evil Overlord wears a mask hiding his features, it's either because he doesn't want to be recognized or because he's bodaciously ugly. I will psych myself up for the shock resulting from either cause when I rip the mask off of him.
  86. When someone opens the Eldritch Portal to Hell, and I have the means to close it, I will employ said means immediately, and not stop to explain things to everyone.
  87. People who whine about not being trusted are either:
    ...and are consequently not to be trusted.
  88. If a mystic proclaims that my destiny is to "defeat the darkness," "bring freedom to the downtrodden," or some such other glorious accomplishment, I will immediately begin preparations for the role. I will not wait for the mystic and several other innocents to get rubbed out by the Evil Overlord.
  89. If my powers depend on a talisman in my possession, I will never openly display it, but keep it hidden in my codpiece/brassiere; a flashy, gaudy article of jewelry, having no mystical potency of any kind, will be brandished when I employ my superpowers.
  90. I will begin my lifelong fight against crime immediately upon discovery of my powers, instead of withholding my assistance from the police, thereby allowing a minor criminal to escape and murder one of my loved ones.
  91. When I am about to enter the Evil Overlord's hideout, I will have it surrounded by friendly forces so that they can detain him if he sneaks out the back door while I kick down the front door.
  92. If I discover that one of my comrades in the Heroic Struggle has a Dark Secret (i.e., was impersonating the opposite gender, is a blood relative to the Evil Overlord, etc.), I will not dismiss them without further justification.
  93. The assistance of politicians will be obtained by appealing to their self-interest. Any politician who appears to be cooperating with me out of the kindness of his heart is actually plotting to betray me at some point.
  94. If my Mentor is slain in combat with the Evil Overlord or his henchmen, I will withdraw quietly, instead of shouting "Noooooo!" at the top of my lungs.
  95. Any artifact named as if it were a part of somebody, especially if it really was once a part of somebody, is a Talisman of Purest Evil, will only be dealt with in a manner pursuant to its destruction.
  96. Mountains and castles that are shaped like skulls, hideous faces, fists, etc., are the very Lairs of Evil. All visits will be planned accordingly.
  97. Female sidekicks who are loyal and dependable make much better True Loves than do vain, pampered princesses who never give me the time of day.
  98. I will ascertain the whereabouts of all relatives and possible progeny from past love affairs. It's a sure bet that the ones for whom I cannot account are now working for, or actually might be, the Evil Overlord.
  99. I will not spurn the assistance of a hermit/scholar merely because my other associates claim he is insane.
  100. If an opponent does not die when his/her/its head is cut off, but instead starts groping for it, I will give the head a good kick to delay reattachment.
  101. After stunning a Bad Guy, I'll do something to make sure that when he wakes up he won't be a hindrance to my activities.
  102. If I find myself born or drafted into a universe wherein the laws of nature do not obey consistent principles, I will depart for an alternate universe created by a more reasonable author.