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Unwanted Assistance

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Phileas Fogg: Watch out on the right! [Passepartout turns around to find nothing] ...No, no, my right.
[Passepartout gets ganged up on]
Passepartout: STOP HELPING ME!
Phileas Fogg: [embarrassed] Sorry.

In a crisis, nobody wants to feel useless or left out. Some people may want to run away, but otherwise they'll usually try to help. The problem is, sometimes this help turns out to be rather unhelpful. Depending on the situation, it can be anywhere from irritating to downright dangerous, for the "helper" and the "helpee". As such, this situation can have several different outcomes, ranging from simple annoyance on the part of the people being inconvenienced to extremely dire consequences that involve a lot of people getting killed.

Compare Chronic Hero Syndrome, Unwanted Rescue, Tragically Misguided Favor, Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like, The Load, The Millstone, Ungrateful Bastard. Especially self-righteous and/or stubborn "helpers" may display Condescending Compassion. Contrast Shut Up and Save Me!.

Can lead to Always Need What You Gave Up if the person ends up in a position where the aid of the person they ordered not to help is needed. May overlap with Overzealous Underling.

For "helpers" provided by a program who annoy or otherwise have a negative effect on the player, see Annoying Video Game Helper.

In-Universe Examples Only

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  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • In Marching to the New Wonderland, the Spider of Justice is not well-liked because, while he simply wants to help people, he drives them away instead because he has no idea his help annoys them more than anything.
    • In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 18, the Rainbow Beans go around trying to assist people, not noticing until later that they're not helping by much (for example, they turn off the TV when someone was trying to watch a kaiju movie under the logic that the viewer was scared of it, and when Wilie says he's not hungry, they feed him anyway and intensify the stomachache he has).

    Comic Strips 
  • There is a Close to Home comic strip, where a plumber stuck a plunger onto the face of the woman whose toilet he was fixing. The caption said something along the lines of "Despite (woman's name) helpful advice, (plumber's name) felt that he had a handle on the problem."
  • Garfield: Jon reminds Garfield how last time they went to the farm, Garfield tried to grow chickens by planting them in the ground.
  • A pet peeve of Luis's in Safe Havens, as he's perfectly capable of taking care of himself and hates when people only see that he's in a wheelchair. It's why he ends up falling for the self-centered Jenny, of all people, because she does not offer unwanted assistance.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie on helpful animal companions: "...These are worse."

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Aristocats, the geese Abigail and Amelia find Thomas floating in a river, mistake his efforts to get to shore as him trying to teach himself to swim, and approach him to offer a swimming lesson. One of them attempts to cut the branch he's gripping in his mouth as a climbing rope, thinking it will encourage him to strike out on his own, and he panics and almost drowns.
  • The Bad Guys (2022): During the Golden Dolphin heist, Ms. Tarantula struggles at first to hack the security system guarding it. Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake, talking to her through their earpieces, desperately give her nonsense advice, only succeeding in irritating her.
    Ms. Tarantula: It's not letting me in!
    Mr. Wolf: Check your system preferences!
    Mr. Snake: You probably need to download a driver!
    Mr. Wolf: Try rebooting!
    Ms. Tarantula: Oh my gosh, you fixed it!
    Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake: Really?
    Ms. Tarantula: NO!
  • A Bug's Life: Due to Flik's inventions backfiring or malfunctioning, many feel this way to him. Because of this, when on trial for what happened to the offering, Flik mentions that he only wanted to help. Mr. Soil, a member of the council, then replies: "Then help us: DON'T HELP US!"
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible encounters a really annoying boy, Buddy Pine, who tries to be his sidekick, Incredi-Boy. When turned down, Buddy gets mad and grows up to become the villain, Syndrome.
    Syndrome: All I wanted was to help you. I only wanted to help, and what do you say to me?
    Mr. Incredible: [flashback] Fly home, Buddy, I work alone.
    Syndrome: It tore me apart. But I learned an important lesson. You can't count on anyone, especially your heroes.
  • Although by the end of the movie he's actually managed to be fairly helpful, Mushu of Mulan starts off as an incredibly awful companion to her. Witness how he tries to help her "befriend" her fellow soldiers, thus leading to a free-for-all, a great deal of resentment, and a very bad first impression on Shang. Not to mention his advice on how to be a man is at best contradictory and at worst, just plain wrong. What makes this worse is that the only way he'll ever get in good with the ancestors again is if he succeeds in making Mulan a hero — so his pathetic attempts to help Mulan not only make things worse for herself, they shoot him in the foot as well. Mulan gets it better than the last member of the Fa family Mushu got assigned to, however: apparently Mushu got demoted from his position as a guardian because his guidance led to Fa Deng getting his head chopped off. When Mulan is found out and subsequently disgraced, Mushu, equally disgraced, finally comes clean about himself.
    "The truth is, we're both frauds. Your ancestors never sent me; they don't even like me. But you risked your life to help people you love. I risked your life to help myself. At least you had good intentions."
  • In El Arca, in the English dub at least, Xiro and Dagnino are having their final battle, and this happens:
    Kyrel: I'd like to see if you'll dare clobber the real king!
    [Dagnino punches the daylights out of Xiro]
    Kyrel: Are you so cruel as to kick him when he's down?!
    Dagnino: Haha! Yes, I am. [kicks Xiro into a wall]
    Xiro: Will you stop giving him ideas?!
  • Strange Magic: One of the Bog King's mooks keeps asking if he needs help during his duel with Marianne. He refuses it, even when it would be useful probably because of how flirtatious the duel had become.

  • Father Ted actor Frank Kelly (Father Jack) released a parody version of the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas from the point of view of the recipient of Twelve Days worth of increasingly extravagant and extraordinary gifts, sent by an Abhorrent Admirer. The person on the receiving end gets more heartfelt and eloquent concerning the expenses and damage caused by, for instance, a cumulative total of thirty-five swans-a-swimming or thirty-two maids-a-milking (with associated cows to be milked), considers this taking the gift-giving too far, and begs for it all to come to an end right now.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Book of Acts, a spirit-possessed girl saw who was influencing the prophets, and was so awed that she started following them around, crying out to everyone that they were sent by Him to save people. This continued for a few days, until Paul, "greatly annoyed", ordered the spirit to leave her body. note 

  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, failing to complete an objective, either by having time run out or the ball draining, causes Data to say "Had you projected the ball at the proper velocity, you would have been rewarded." Hitting the flippers while he's talking causes Captain Picard to interrupt (in a very annoyed tone) "Thank you, Mr Data," and the game will award a small bonus.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • One of the more common tropes back in the territory days to create friction between friends/tag team partners was to have one try and help the other during a match, only for it to go horribly wrong.
  • Kazunari Murakami, in his efforts to help Naoya Ogawa almost compromised his friendship with Shinya Hashimoto at the 2005 Rikidozan memorial. He apologized, but never really got the hint, continuing to try and "help" Ogawa.
  • When Shawn Michaels and Triple H lost the tag titles as Degeneration-X during the build-up to Michaels versus Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26. Michaels tagged in on an unaware Triple H, who turned to argue with him over it. The opponents charged into them, rolling up Michaels and knocking Triple H into a position where he couldn't break the sudden pin. Other examples include managers or teammates who attack their ally's opponent in a match, causing the opponent to win by disqualification.
  • Madison Rayne's second TNA Beautiful People feud saw her get some unexpected assistance from "fan" Brittany...who she told not to get involved with for her own health after they gave her a concussion, leading to her appear but literally do nothing when Madison was cheated out of the knockout's title to see if she really didn't want help...

  • Cabin Pressure: Arthur Shappey loves helping people, whether they want his help or not, and since Arthur is a tremendous ditz, they very often do not. But he'll help anyway.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Luna asks Jenna to go and help Zia with preventing Crispin's escape when they try to kidnap him. She then regrets it when Jenna, as a sentient insect swarm, disperses herself over the two of them and only makes things more chaotic.
    • Sebastian's superpower also comes with an eldritch spirit that serves as his advisor. However, a lot of her advice involves murder to some degree, leading to him ignoring her a lot.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In The Dresden Files, there is often side commentary from Harry, Bob, and Billy on the game and its contents. Harry's and Billy's are often related to useful notes on gameplay or the wizarding world. Bob's range from him just putting his (usually unwanted) two cents in to asking Harry an Armor-Piercing Question. Harry's response is always "Shut up, Bob"; it becomes so prolific that an entry for "Shut Up, Bob" actually appears in the game's index.
  • This is the general reaction Sin Eaters have to Hunters in the New World of Darkness. Sin Eaters are humans who died, but came back by agreeing to share their body with a Geist (a hybrid of human ghost and death spirit). As a result, they have a wide array of necromantic powers, from the innate ability to see and touch ghosts, to arcane rituals that can be used to send ghosts forcibly back to the underworld and make them stay there. Hunters, meanwhile, are ordinary humans who are trying to take a stand against the creatures of the night. Whilst some select groups do have access to magic (or near-magical technology), as a general rule, they have very little they can do to detect or interact with ghosts. More often than not, if the hunters even realize the ghosts are there, they tend to make things worse, complicating the mission of the Sin Eaters. And that's without getting into the fact that Fantastic Racism means hunters will tend to mistake Sin Eaters as witches or people suffering from Demonic Possession and react accordingly. Which generally translates to trying to murder the Sin Eaters.
  • Paranoia: The Computer sometimes decides to contact Troubleshooters and give helpful advice when they're trying to do something sneaky and/or illegal, or just pop it up on the HUD implanted into their eyes and obscure 90% of their vision when they're in the middle of a firefight.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is the drawback to the Subsumed By Another Shadow Umbra. Any servant of the Darkness possessing this Umbra will automatically try to enthrall any Darkspawn that enters his vicinity. On a good roll, the Darkspawn believes the possessor of the Umbra to be its natural master, and will protect him to the best of its abilities, seek to gratify what it thinks are his desires, and even follow simple orders. Of course, being creatures thoroughly corrupted by the All-Consuming Darkness, and usually with little more mind than an animal, Darkspawn have a lot of trouble grasping that their master might not want them to kill anyone who does anything remotely offensive to him, or that you're really supposed to pay for groceries rather than just taking whatever the master wanted and breaking the cashier's arms to make him stop bothering you.
  • Ravenloft:
    • A paladin summoning their magic warhorse or a spellcaster calling for a familiar gets a dread companion, which is exactly the same except its alignment is always evil. Rather than being opposed to its master, it is loyal to a fault and aware of its master's secret thoughts and desires, and will try to "help" him by, for instance, stealing an item he covets, or secretly murdering someone who annoyed him a bit.
    • Resplendent cloakers are strange creatures who resemble cloaks, gleaming white on the inside and brightly shimmering on the outside with shining golden claws which resemble a clasp when they link together and a "collar" of eyes that resemble burning jewels. The whole cloak gives off a dazzling glow. Resplendent cloakers feed by forcibly attaching themselves to people like a normal cloak and regenerating any damage their victim incurs. So far so good? Well, A) The resplendent cloaker looks like an incredibly expensive-looking shining beacon for any thief or monster to immediately notice the person wearing it—while the cloaker does quickly heal its target it's still gradual healing and can be outpaced, B) If the resplendent cloaker is ever in complete darkness it starts rapidly taking damage, and C) If the resplendent cloaker takes damage from any source (such as aforementioned darkness or a blow that his it or both it and its wearer), it drains some life force from its victim to heal itself. It can be removed with an enormous effort once attached, but this will either kill or paralyze the wearer. Some do think the healing the cloak offers is worth its dangers however.

  • "When the Foeman Bares His Steel", from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, has police officers singing about how song helps them gain courage for the battle with the pirates. Then, the woman chorus tries to help. By praising their noble sacrifice in facing pirates, focusing all on how screwed the policemen are. The chief goes on to "observe too great a stress on the risks that on them pressed, and of reference a lack to their chance of coming back. Still, perhaps, it would be wise not to carp or criticize, for it's very evident these attentions were well-meant..."
  • Rend: Mark was caught filming a homeless woman who didn't appreciate the exploitation.
    Woman: Who the fuck do you think you are? I don't need no goddamned help from some bleeding heart cameraman, my life's not for you to make a name for yourself on.
    Angel: Easy, sugar, easy. He was just trying to—
    Woman: Just trying to use me to kill his guilt?

    Theme Parks 

  • Transformers: Generation One: Wheel Blaze of the Micromaster Metro Squad means well, and actually is pretty smart, but somehow his every attempt to help generally makes things worse. His squadmates live in terror of his uttering the phrase "I'll handle this!"

    Visual Novels 
  • Katawa Shoujo: Hisao tells Jigoro not to give him so much advice, mentally adding that he at least does not want advice that Jigoro does not follow himself. Hisao can refuse advice at other points, but it's never a good idea.
    • Hanako's bad ending. has her explode at Hisao and her best friend Lilly for treating her so delicately. Hisao and Lilly genuinely wanted to help Hanako, a lonely and traumatized girl, but unwittingly ended up coming off as patronizing in how they chose to give their help.

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons depicts big government as this via The Social Contractor and Jason, with the former often portrayed as making things worse for the latter whenever he tries to "help" him.
  • Meet the BLU Medic has the rest of the BLU Team dreading getting healed by the Medic, particularly since the "healing" does the opposite. In fact, for once the team had the upper hand up until the Medic stepped in.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Caboose is a frequent offender. The character that is so inept that other characters tell him that their enemies are on their side, just so Caboose will "teamkill" his enemies. They even have a macro on their keyboards at command to record Caboose's teamkills (Ctrl+F+U).
    • When Sarge is pinned against the base by the Warthog, Doc, at the Warthog's controls, keeps attempting to back it up but accidentally accelerates it repeatedly, just causing further harm to Sarge.
      Doc: I'm really sorry guys. I was only trying to help.
      Grif: Oh is that all? I for one was totally confused. I thought you were savagely trying to kill our sergeant by ramming him over and over with a six thousand pound steel death machine. Now that we know that you're just trying to help, by all means, please continue.
  • Private Partz in A Day in the Life of a Commissar, a Dawn of War machinima, brings down all three Space Marine heroes on poor Commissar Steeve, by saying things like: "I bet he could take on all three of ya! even if you had, like, Psychic Powers!"

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Elan's enthusiastic attempts to help his friends with his music are sometimes... less than useful.
      Elan: ♪ Bluff, Bluff, Bluff, Bluff the stupid ogre! ♪
    • Possibly even better:
      Elan: ♪ Sneak, Sneak, Sneak Sneak silently across the battlefield! ♪
      Haley: Elan, that's the one example the Players' Handbook gives of a situation where that doesn't work!
  • Girl Genius:
    • Sparks often get a little carried away with having fun and forget they're supposed to actually, you know, be doing things.
    • Also, Moloch trying to argue with what was a sadistically insane A.I. when it was functioning properly.
    • Gil's plan on getting into Castle Heterodyne required a large crowd knowing that he went in (so that his father wouldn't try to level it in the meantime). Unfortunately for him, his companions were a bit.. salacious in describing why he was going in, and the crowd's roars of approval drowned out his attempts at getting them to stop. The impression left was rather different and more risque than Gil intended.
    • When Tarvek is making is way to England, the forces Martellus send against him include one highly trained and sophisticated assassin and a pack of excitable Spark Hounds.
      Jaron: Ugh — out of my way, fools! tch. I really wanted this done before —
      Spark Hounds: Lord Jaron! Wait for us! We are here to help you! Helping! Look, helping! Treats!
      Jaron: Yep. Perfect.
  • Happens all the time in Schlock Mercenary.
    • On one occasion, when Schlock accidentally lets slip to the clients they're planning to con that they made plans to... well, con them. Elf manages to explain it away as a security precaution.
      Schlock: Nice cover.
      Elf: Stop helping.
    • In this strip, Dr. Bunnigus tells Schlock to shut up while she's trying to counsel a distraught Para Ventura over her fear about killing others.
  • Done in this Darths & Droids comic.
  • Gail hits Ben with this line in When She Was Bad.
  • Weregeek:
    • A Shadowrun campaign where a pyromaniacal rigger Twitch (Abbie's PC) saved Aeon (Mark's PC):
      Mark: You're totally not allowed to rescue me any more.
    • Later his PC needs some help once more:
      Abbie: Never fear!! Twitch will come to the rescue!
      GM: Heh. I don't even need to throw bad guys at you. I just have to give Twitch half a chance and you all go boom!
  • In Life With Lamarr, Kleiner's "helpful advice" drives Magnusson insane.
  • In Impure Blood, Dara resents her bodyguard, but since she didn't hire her, can't get rid of her. Not that Elnor likes it very much either.
  • In Sinfest, after Squiggly ruined Slick's date, he volunteers to help with fixing this. Slick explains what he wants his friend to do.
  • Happens to Big Boss in The Last Days of FOXHOUND.
  • Jareth in Roommates is really enthusiastic about helping his friends but he sucks at being good or even at vaguely helpful. Direct examples: His plan for fixing his roommate's relationship involved turning the guy into a kid again. And when they needed to rescue someone from a stuck elevator he was the one shouting and being in the way (at least he wasn't the one with the dynamite).
  • Erfworld has most of Stanley the Tool's major units take this attitude towards their boss. In the second book Maggie uses hypnosis and thus successfully asks Stanley to put Lord Hamster in charge and leave their headquarters so that he could think. This is actually a double example, as it was the exact opposite of Lord Hamster's actual plan to promote someone on-site since the command bonus would be enough to turn the tide.
    Lord Hamster: Y'know... as far as helping his own cause goes, Stanley is somewhere between Gilligan and Starscream.
  • Kin in Goblins yells to stop helping, when Minmax stabs her a second time while attempting to stab the alternate Kin who's attacking her.
  • Freefall: When talking with the police about Clippy, in this strip, Mr. Kornada is forced to order Blunt to shut up, despite Blunt believing he was helping Kornada by revealing that he was responsible for the release of Gardener in the Dark.
  • xkcd strip Zealous Autoconfig presents a laptop that takes drastic measures just to for internet connection. Its owner is not pleased.
  • Zebra Girl: Sandra's vampires apologize for their actions by saying they were "Just Trying to Help" after she scolds them.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: On his first day a Little Stowaway to the crew, Reynir's offers to make himself useful didn't quite line up with the need of help, to the point that Tuuri pretended to need something just to get him out of the room in which she was working. Mikkel's motivations in sending Reynir back to bed were probably split 50-50 between genuine worry that he hadn't gotten enough sleep during the night and a desire to keep him out of the way. Ironically, Reynir ends up helping people during his sleep by complete accident: in the midst of making himself familiar with the mage-exclusive dreamspace, a mix of sheer luck and Wrong Context Magic enables him to help the crew's official mage (who was sleeping as well) make contact with his cousin back home after some trouble doing so in previous chapters.
  • In one Questionable Content storyline, Hannerlore's mom assigns her a P.A., Tilly, who is hypercompetent, incredibly eager to serve, and has been instructed to ignore all evidence that Hanners doesn't want or need a P.A. This leads them to doing things like climbing over the counter at Coffee of Doom because it's their job to make Hanners coffee, despite the fact Dora has already made it clear that Hanners works there and Tilly doesn't.
  • Grrl Power: Sydney cheerleading while Dabbler is doing some quite complex mathematics isn't welcomed.
    Dabbler: YOU'RE NOT HELPING!
    Sydney: I'm providing spirit!
    Dabbler: Please don't.
  • A Heartfelt Andante: The suicidal Yeonjo is reluctant to accept the aid of Da-ul, who is a stranger to her, and keeps trying to get him to leave.

    Web Original 
  • The (seemingly defunct) RP blog White Feminist is a parody of Straw Feminists and social justice activism. The blogger's attempts to spread equality and improve other's lives caused more harm than good. Highlights include correcting a black woman on her usage of the term black and changing an Asian-descended friend's computer language to Chinese in an attempt to keep said friend from forgetting her cultural identity.

    Web Videos 
  • In the webseries TotalBiscuit and the Yogscast "play" Magicka, Simon is prone to this, though he is not the only one of the three. An incident caused by Lewis named the third episode "Please Stop Healing Me".
  • The general premise of Gandalf Goes to the World Cup. The new members of the Fellowship use vuvuzelas as their method of furthering the quest. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In There Will Be Brawl, Link finally says it: "SHUT THE FUCK UP, NAVI!", and throws his canteen at her.
  • This Tiktok video shows a Mormon missionary beginning his two-year mission in Ethiopia, but then the video cuts to an irate Ethiopian woman who says, "We literally have the oldest Christianity. We are in the Bible. What 'mission' are you on? Can y'all leave Africa alone please?"

    Real Life — People 
  • Most people will have at some point or other encountered a variation on the Centipede's Dilemma, where you were doing fine at an activity - until someone distracted you with some unwanted advice on how you should be doing it.
  • The Cracked article "5 Popular Forms of Charity (That Aren't Helping)" has several examples that fall under this:
    • Participation in awareness campaigns in general makes people less likely to give money to charity, as they feel that they've already done their part. Breast cancer awareness campaigns are especially bad with this, because, in order to make themselves more marketable, they often misrepresent the problem by focusing on young, sexy women instead of the older women who are the most likely to get breast cancer.
    • Clothing donations crippled the textile industries in African nations, which couldn't hope to compete with floods of free clothing donated by the West. They're also incredibly inefficient, taking up space on transports that could go to food and medicine.
    • Choosing a charity based on its overhead (i.e. how much is spent on administrative costs and bureaucracy versus actual aid) can cause the exact problem that it is supposed to prevent. As it turns out, the money "wasted" on overhead is actually necessary for keeping the charity operating smoothly, and charities with low overhead costs are typically a lot less competent due to them Cutting Corners in their work.
    • Earmarking the money you donate so that it goes to a particular cause can lead to the more high-profile causes getting more attention at the expense of others. After the 2004 tsunami, charities started building McMansions in Indonesia in order to do something with all the money that had been earmarked for housing, and Japan received so much aid after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami that they had to tell aid workers to stop coming in.
    • Volunteering to do aid work overseas is usually a bad idea unless you are properly trained for what it is you're doing and you know the local language and customs. There are tons of people already there who can do the work you're doing, and you'll wind up getting in the way and consuming food and water that could go to the people you're trying to help. This is especially true in the critical few days and weeks after a major natural disaster where many thousands of people are in need of rescue (case in point, the thousands trapped beneath rubble after the 2010 Haiti earthquake). Unless you're trained for this sort of thing specifically, you'll just waste everyone's time.
  • Some prominent black economists, such as Drs. Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, have observed that government assistance programs targeted at the black community tend to be Condescending Compassion at best and do far more harm than good in the long run due to the sound-bite idealism of politicians crashing headlong into the gritty reality of human nature. They've written numerous articles and books that could be summarized as "Dear white people, please stop 'helping' us."
  • Snooker phenomenon Ronnie O'Sullivan once insisted that the referee measure whether a re-spotted ball would fit on its mark (which it clearly didn't), which necessitated laboriously removing and marking several other balls. Although the ref dutifully completed the manoeuvre, she did remark, "Ronnie, I could do this a lot faster if you weren't helping me!" when he wouldn't stop commenting on her performance.
  • In the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP, Formula One driver Kimi Räikkönen got a little fed up with his engineer updating him over the pit to car radio first telling him to "leave me alone, I know what I'm doing", and then when being reminded to keep his tyres up to temperature during a safety car period; "Yes, I'm doing all the tyres. You don't have to remind me every second". Räikkönen proved he didn't need the help by winning the race, but saw the funny side by distributing T-shirts with his statements on to the team.
  • Geraldo Rivera in 2003 tried to help viewers at home understand where he and the troops with him were by sketching out a map in the sand, showing the objective, then showing where he was in relation to it. Arguments have been made on both sides of the matter - that the enemy was unlikely to be able to find the troops based off of this, or that his actions led to many deaths by alerting the enemy to the army's actions. It is generally agreed to have been a dumb maneuver on Rivera's part.
  • Elon Musk's attempt to use a submarine to save the children trapped in a cave in Thailand was waved off by professionals who had the situation handled, and was largely seen as him trying to capitalize on the trapped kids as part of a publicity stunt for his company. His meltdown on Twitter afterward didn't help matters.
  • Deliberately used in the lead-up to the 1953 coup in Iran, where the communist Tedah party threw support toward the Prime Minister (also the target of MI6/CIA propaganda) in order to discredit him further, since he actively and vocally opposed policies they wanted to enact.
  • Police, firefighters, and EMT personnel have a strict stance against assistance from civilians for exactly this reason. In addition to being a distraction you can also be a liability and, if injured, will become another casualty they now need to assist. Honestly the best thing you can do once these people arrive is tell them what you know (if they even need that) and promptly get out of their way and let them get to work.
  • Election campaigns usually feature messages from a wide range of organizations supporting a favored candidate. This can be counterproductive if the outside messages come across as dishonest, absurd, scare-mongering, personal attacks, etc, forcing the candidate to distance himself from the mess.
  • The organization Autism Speaks is infamous among autistic people, as it promotes unscientific claims about autistics, promotes 'therapies' designed to mold autistic people to be more 'neurotypical' (ABA was created by the same person who created conversion therapy, using the same underlying principles, and has been shown to leave autistic individuals at greater risk of suffering from PTSD), uses scare tactics to make the parents of autistic children view them as a burden, AND has zero input from actual autistic people.
  • One behavior found in Abusive Parents is to insist on helping their child with something or to do something for the child without asking first, only to later complain about the effort the help took and/or use the event to make the child do something for them in return out of a sense of obligation. The behavior lasting long enough can result in the child becoming wary of any help offered by their parents. Another variation of this is when the parent insists on helping the child with something despite the child saying they don't want help, then scolding the child when the child isn't effusively grateful for the parent's "help".
  • In feminist circles, this is known as "mansplaining": a man approaches a woman, assumes she knows nothing about an activity she's doing or topic she's discussing, and explains every single detail to her under the assumption that she knows less than him, even when she makes it clear she's knowledgeable about the subject. (Bonus points if he "explains" that her stated problem isn't actually a problem, she just thinks it is.)
  • As a rather sad example, there is this story of a bunch of strippers who raised a bunch of money for charity yet had trouble getting anyone to accept it, presumably because they disapproved of their life style.
  • This is a recurring problem for disabled people. A lot of people have no problem just grabbing the handles of someone's wheelchair and moving them or manhandling a blind person to point them in the right direction. One woman resorted to putting spikes on her wheelchair handles to stop strangers from trying to move her.
  • For people who enjoy doing puzzles, which can include assembling items, about the last thing they want is for someone else to complete the task for them— or to keep offering unwanted suggestions on how to complete said puzzle. After all, part of the thrill of doing a puzzle is being able to figure solutions out yourself. If they should get stumped somewhere along the way, they can look at the manual instructions themselves, thank you very much!
  • The above goes double for video games. Trying to "help" a player advance through a game denies the player the opportunity to figure out solutions on their own, deprives the player of gameplay experience (including bits of the storyline), and may conflict with the player’s style of play. This is known as "backseat gaming" or simply "backseating", and is a Berserk Button of many video game-focused streamers, unless they explicitly state otherwise that it's okay to help out. Sometimes the backseating can turn into outright harassment of the player for not playing the "correct", optimal, or "meta" way.
  • More particular eaters will be quite annoyed by someone else filling their plate, especially if they do so without even asking what they'd like. Furthermore, attempting to order for them at a restaurant without asking what they want is a deal-breaker for them. Of course, this can even be potentially lethal to people with food allergies!
  • This was one of many things that waylaid the Second Pacific Squadron: they got a message from High Command that reinforcements were on the way, and they should sit tight and wait for their salvation before engaging the Japanese. Rozhestvensky, the admiral of the fleet in question, was fully aware that the Second Squadron essentially consisted of every ship available at the time that had even a hope of contributing against the Japanese— hence, the Third Squadron was likely to consist of the absolute dregs that he'd turned down already. Not to mention, he was on a tight schedule, had been delayed already, and his ships really weren't meant for sailing most of the way around the world through tropical waters, so he wanted to spend as little time as possible sitting around waiting for reinforcements. Rozhestvensky was so firmly against it that he deliberately sent back the wrong directions in the hopes that High Command would simply give up and have the Third Squadron go back home. They didn't.
  • After the RMS Titanic struck the iceberg on April 14th 1912, the Marconi wireless operators sent out CQD and SOS distress signals explaining that they were slowly sinking. One of the first ships to respond was the German cruise liner SS Frankfurt. It is assumed that the Language Barrier made it difficult for the Frankfurt's operator to properly translate the Titanic's increasingly frantic calls for help to his captain, and he repeatedly had to ask the Titanic to clarify her situation for the better part of two hours. At some point, the Titanic's operator (quite famously) lost his patience and essentially told him to shut up, stop jamming the airwaves and simply stay out of it:
  • Well meaning people might try to help a introvert/loner or a shy person open up and be more social. They tend to either not realize that said person is perfectly fine being alone or fail to realize that they are making things worse.
  • Overweight people will generally get others offering advice on how to lose weight or make insensitive comments as a way to motivate them to lose weight. The former comes off as annoying (especially if the overweight person is already trying to lose weight and are doing fine) and the latter can come off as very meanspirited, especially if the person had to deal with bullying in regards to their weight in school or social circles.
  • Giving advice to parents on how to raise their children is a very risky subject to talk about. While people are compelled to give advice to new parents or parents that are having trouble with their children, the advice giver can come off as condescending or even question the adult's parenting skills without meaning to. Unless the parents ask for advice first, it's usally best to ask if they need help before giving advice.

    Real Life — Computers 
  • Pick any online based autocomplete (as opposed to the autocomplete that only read your history). Especially bad in Google where the topic usually jump to the most controversial topics (such as "Is America Bad?") or how in Facebook, typing just anything will bring down the name of users, whether they're your friends or not.
  • "Hey! It looks like you're reading an article on TV Tropes! Would you like help with that?" If those words set off an involuntary shudder, you almost certainly used Microsoft Office during the deeply unloved era of Clippy, the "helpful" assistant that constantly interrupted your work to tell you it thought you were doing work and would you like it to help with that work that you would have finished already if you weren't desperately seeking the GO AWAY AND NEVER BOTHER ME AGAIN!!! button. (There wasn't one, but it was at least possible to disable Clippy with a bit of effort.)
  • When writing computer programs for multi-core machines, due to unwanted assistance from the CPU, sometimes a variable won't be what you set it to — for example if you set, say, x to 1 and read it back, you might get something else. The cause? The CPU is executing instructions out of order to "grease the wheels"; normally safe on programs that run on a single core, but for ones that run on multiple cores, the effects can cause bugs or cause garbage to be read back, since something wasn't updated when you thought it was supposed to be. Luckily there are ways to force the CPU to synchronise memory access to avoid this problem.
  • In programming languages that are dynamically typed, you can usually start using a variable without specifying what kind of information it has to hold, and the compiler will just do its best to figure it out from context; these contrast with strongly-typed languages, where variables must be declared and given a specific type that cannot later be changed. Dynamic Typing can lead to some fairly spectacular (and sometimes difficult to diagnose) failures if, for instance, you intend a variable to hold an integer but accidentally refer to it as if it were a boolean — where thanks to a quality generally called "Truthiness" (no relation to The Colbert Report) 0 will be read as "False" but any other value at all will be interpreted as "True". Dynamically-typed languages try to help you, the coder, get the job done quickly, and they work great — right up to the point where they suddenly don't.
  • Many modern art programs have a "vectorizing" feature which smooths and simplifies strokes made by the user. A handy feature for those with shaky hands or seeking to create ultra-clean Animesque linework. To experienced artists, it is an anathema called "shoestringing" which turns precisely controlled twitches and pressure changes into bland smears and tapering streaks only vaguely related to the actual stroke.
  • Many word processing programs have automatic features such as spelling correction, whole-word selection, etc, that get in the way in some situations (deliberately misspelling a word for effect, trying to select letters in the middle of a word, unusual proper names, etc). And then came the virtual keyboards...
    • So-called “smart quotes”, which make apostrophes and quotation marks point different ways depending on their position at the beginning or end of words. Unfortunately, particularly on This Very Wiki, double and triple apostrophes are used to italicize and bold words, and smart quotes don’t count for this. Consequently, tropers have to take extra steps to italicize or bold text.
    • In a similar veing to "smart quotes", there's also "smart dashes", where multiple hyphen '-' characters in a row will be converted to en- or em-dashes, which can break markup formattings (e.g. headers and horizontal rules).
  • The Microsoft Windows 10 Updates. It won't take no for an answer, it decides on its own if and when it will update, and it takes hacky Loop Hole Abuse of Good Bad Bugs to almost turn them off (usually by tricking Windows Update to pause more than the allotted one month maximum via a registry key). Very annoying if you're the kind of person who leaves your computer running overnight to perform tasks only to later find that your computer spontaneously (by default) decided to install updates and reset itself in the night, cancelling and ruining the task you expected it to have completed by morning. Hypocritically, if you try to manually shut down or restart your PC, and any programs block the shut-down (usually due to a "Would you like to save your changes before exiting?" prompt), Windows may stop indefinitely until you make a decison whether to close the programs one by one so you can save your work or force-close them all...but if Windows is attempting to update and restarts on its own, it will happily and immediately close all those programs.
    • By the time Windows 11 launched, the update cycle dramatically slowed down to just around once (the so-called "Patch Tuesday" of the second Tuesday of the month usually reserved for critical updates and an optional end-of-month "preview" update, along with updates for installed drivers). However, this introduces its own issues, such as if there's any issues after update, it will take until the next update cycle before it will be resolved.
  • Windows 11 has introduced auto-fill into everything it has a search bar into, such as File Explorer. If your cursor is in the "wrong" place, it fills in the search bar for you based on popular searches, forcing you to do extra work to search for what you actually want.
  • Microsoft Edge (the browser that came with Windows 10 as a system component) is already infamous by sending pop-ups to dissuade people from using Chrome (using other browsers such as Firefox and Brave doesn't trigger Edge though), however those who use Edge will often get hit by popups introducing new features or obnoxious introductions that most PC users doesn't need (or want) to. Those who try to set the default browser other than Edge will got hit by reminders of Edge's supposed "features" to persuade users to switch.
  • Anti-virus software:
    • While well-intentioned (at least software that isn't straight up scammy malware), it can sometimes delete or quarantine false-positive files that it thinks are viruses. While you can usually undo the action, or shut your anti-virus off temporarily, it's possible it'll just zap the innocent file again. Windows Security (AKA Microsoft Defender, formerly Windows Defender) since Windows 10 onwards is infamous for this, also for the fact that it can only be disabled temporarily, as it will run (though on a limited extent) alongside third-party anti virus apps.
    • Avast Antivirus were infamous for its "sandbox" mode that is triggered when you open an executable for the first time. This is meant to help catch malicious software by running it for 15 seconds in an isolated environment. However, not only does it take up time, it can even interfere with the functionality of the file or files that depend on it, or even permanently cripple whatever software you were going to run, forcing a reinstall of it. Later updates make that optional.
  • Passwords:
    • Some services impose restrictions on what you can have in a password, like requiring at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one number, or either requiring non-alphanumeric "special" characters or banning them. This is supposed to help people come up with more secure passwords, but for many it just ends up forcing them to make a less memorable password that, ultimately, isn't much more secure than the password they initially had in mind (xkcd is known for the "string some random words together" method of password creation, which is widely regarded as secure but will often lead to rejected passwords if the above password requirements are in place). Restrictions on passwords also make it easier for malicious individuals to Try Everything for a password in hopes of gaining access, since there are less possible passwords to attempt; to be fair, some services and systems lock out the user after too many failed password attempts, but that has its own problems.
    • Some services, such as PayPal, disallow pasting passwords into the password field, usually when generating a new password. This is supposed to, according to a PayPal representative, prevent malware-related attacks, but it also ends up punishing users who use password managers to quickly and safely protect their accounts since you now have to type the password you want to change to (as opposed to generating a new password in your password manager and copypasting it with minimal hassle), and while the "type your password a second time" field found on many password change forms is supposed to prevent you mistyping your password, it's possible to have Caps Lock on by mistake (and anything that cares about being secure will make passwords case-sensitive) or even make the same typo twice.
  • YouTube has a list of suggested search terms if you type in something broad, which is nice except for the fact that the suggested search terms block the top search results and they're hard to get rid of, almost forcing you to use a more specific search term. Worse yet, it sometimes appears randomly when watching a video (especially when making it full screen). So suddenly this list of suggested, more specific search terms that's supposed to help make finding what you want easier is actually intruding on your ability to watch videos that you want to watch by forcing you to use a more specific search term by blocking the video you're trying to watch.
  • The iOS/iPadOS 16 update for iPhone and iPad devices introduces a gesture where tapping with three or more fingers triggers a clipboard menu in the center-top portion of the screen. While this can be useful for typing, the distracting popup and disruption of further input in the area of the popup creates headaches for people who use certain productivity apps (such as those for producing music) as well as people who play games on their devices. And it can't be turned off. Rhythm Game players in particular are significantly affected, as several rhythm games on mobile have patterns requiring the player to make three or more touches at the same time, and even in games that don't, certain playstyles may incidentally press three or more fingers at once. The developers and publishers of multiple rhythm games, such as Arcaea, Phigros, and Project SEKAI have put out in-game notices and social media statements warning players that upgrading to iOS 16 can adversely affect gameplay experience.
  • Mc Afee for many users is annoying with its constant nagging pop-ups that it's been deemed "nagware" and worst of all, these popups make a noise, so if you're recording audio on your PC, the nagware popups ruin that take. Many people uninstall Mc Afee and go for more reliable programs like Spy Sweeper, Malware Bytes, and Webroot, which despite their false positives, aren't nearly as overzealous as Mc Afee. And beginning from Windows 8, Microsoft puts anti virus as a core Windows component (while still optionally allowing third party ones).
  • YouTube automatically removes comments deemed offensive starting in summer 2019. That's all well and good, but it also removes a lot of innocent comments, not even allowing users to rescue them from the spam folder, and in many cases it's led to anger and animosity from users who used a wrong combination of letters and thought the YouTube content creator removed their comment. This has impacted site functionality so much that it's gone from unwanted assistance to YouTube being seen as a Well-Intentioned Extremist for being so overzealous. Given the fact that, as of 2023, scammers and bots spamming shocking/inappropriate imagery, viruses, and porn links are NOT removed (even if they are deboosted), others might call YouTube a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist who did a lazy "quick fix" to appease advertisers.
  • YouTube has disabled comments on all videos for young children and videos featuring anyone younger than the age of 12, moving them into the YouTube Kids category (people often dread seeing that logo). The claim is that it's to protect kids (which is dubious, given its past of allowing pro-pedophilia content in the name of free speech), however, sometimes users 12 and older, and even users 18 and older, are automatically branded YouTube Kids. It's also had a few related consequences, like inability to discuss favorite moments of kids shows like Sponge Bob Squarepants or Power Rangers, and to warn users of scam (especially the ones related to games or contents targeting kids).
    • The vague language has led some to believe "for kids" and "not for kids" means "family friendly" versus "not family friendly", causing some people putting PG and PG-13 rated content in YouTubeKids by mistake.
    • YouTube doesn't notify people that they did this so they might wonder why they aren't getting comments then notice their video got moved to "for kids".
    • People have begun adding profanity to videos with a cartoony art style to avoid being marked YouTubeKids. It didn't help that YouTube scared users into doing so with threats of $41,000,000 FCC fines if they marked "for kids" content as "not for kids", pushing this into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
  • YouTube search has rolled out a bunch of new options and changed how it operates, although most hate the changes.
  • YouTube briefly experimented with a "For you" tab set to default on channel pages, which proved to be incredibly unpopular with creators as it scrambled the videos and would keep subscribers who didn't get there from notifications in the dark about the new video, instead pushing old videos.
  • YouTube will pick what it deems the best video quality for your Internet connection. However on mobile, even if you're on a gigabit connection or so on a device that can more than handle HD video, it still tends to load the video at 360p, and you have to make several clicks just to load the video at higher resolutions.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Cat Needs to Rest

Mr. Cat has been told by his doctor that he needs rest and relaxation. His friends, who are playing "superheroes", are eager to help, but they suck at it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnwantedAssistance

Media sources: