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Villainous Rescue

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Aang: When Zhao had me chained up, it was Zuko who came and got me out. He risked his life to save me.
Katara: No way! I'm sure he only did it so he could capture you himself!
Sokka: Yeah, face it, Aang — You're nothing but a big prize to him.

Imagine if you will, Colonel McGoodguy and The Squad are in a pinch. They're all out of ammo, the Redshirt Army is knee deep in Mooks on the other side of town, their Military Mashup Machine is a smoldering pile of scrap, and even though The Smart Guy managed to Reverse Polarity and get a second shot out of the Applied Phlebotinum that only works once, it's not enough. General Shagnasty and his goons have them dead to rights, and they're staring down the barrels of way more BFGs than they should have left after our heroes blew up their factory two episodes ago. The villains gloat, because nothing can stop them now!

But something does. An unstoppable onslaught sends the villains running for cover! The day is saved!

...wait, aren't those the Elite Mooks from season two? ... Dr. Bludengutsen? Is that you? Why are you helping us?note 

The reasons can be many. Maybe the villain...

And of course it's always possible that it isn't a rescue at all. The villain gave the hero a Hope Spot, the relief of escaping from their enemies, so it's possible for them to destroy that hope.

Not to be confused with Save the Villain when a hero saves a bad guy or Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work when the bad guys do something that the good guys were too squeamish to do or the writers just didn't want them do. Overlaps with Enemy Mine, as it can be how such a situation begins, but not all instances of bad guys helping good guys falls into this category. May also be a case of Terrifying Rescuer until the heroes figure out what's really going on. Can result in Out of the Frying Pan, if the rescuer proves to be a worse threat than whatever they rescued the heroes from.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hero Antagonist version in Darker than Black: Hei winds up saving Kirihara almost incidentally by taking down Wei. From her perspective, it definitely qualifies, since this means the scary masked assassin she's been hunting just saved her life from the Psycho for Hire; however, he's the hero, muddling the issue a bit.
    • He saves her again at the end of the first season, and unlike the first time, it was definitely intentional.
    • Early in the second season, Suo has a series of Contractors trying to capture her, who "save" her from each other. In this case, Hei starts out hunting her as well (like the others, he thinks she is her half identical twin Contractor brother), and the entry of a rival Contractor prevents him from harming her.
  • One Piece:
    • Of all people, Sir Crocodile in By all appearances, he loves wanton cruelty. However, he pulls an epic move to save Luffy from an Admiral, with no reasoning given other than "If you're going to rescue someone, you should do it right, dammit!" Also an Enemy Mine situation.
    • In a flashback during the Egghead arc, Wapol ends up seeing stuff he was never meant to see, and runs away in a blind panic. In his frantic escape, he accidentally rescues Vivi, who had been kidnapped by CP0.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ed is saved from Pride by Kimblee of all people, who did so via weakening Pride at a critical moment. This was because Pride had violated his own belief system in order to win, which Kimblee viewed as disgraceful, and proof the Homunculi deserve to lose the war. Keep in mind that Kimblee was already dead at this point with no hope of revival.
    • Even Envy helped Ed out at one point, though he states that the reason behind this was for Envy's own good, not Ed's.
  • In Bleach Grimmjow saves Orihime from two arrancar girls who were beating her up, and then fends off Ulquiorra from trying to kill Ichigo again, because he wants to do it himself.
    • Kurotsuchi saving Ishida and Renji from Szayel is a version of this, since while they are all technically on the same side, Ishida considers Kurotsuchi his mortal enemy due to the whole 'torturing Ishida's grandfather to death' thing.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Ryoko attempts to kill Kyon twice; the first time it's her normally and the second time it's her in an alternate reality. And Kyon nearly bleeds to death the second time. In the 10th novel, Ryoko comes up and saves Kyon from Suyoh, claiming that he's her prey. Not very calming, but eh. Kyon isn't dead yet, and Ryoko does put a lot of effort, like by throwing a knife at near-light speed and even after it's caught by Suyoh, it still vibrates rapidly, trying to move. That's a lot of kinetic energy.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi sort of uses this: Temporarily unsealed Shinso vampire Evangeline pops up to utterly own Fate, followed by a similarly unsealed demon god, during the Kyoto arc. May not apply, since Negi needed help because of the difference in Power Levels, not for any moral reasons. That and the fact that ever since then he's been doubting whether Eva is really a villain. No matter how much she insists that she is.
    • Played straight in chapter 274 when one of Fate subordinates helps Ala Alba to deal with a fleet of battle cruisers. And may or may not be after Ala Alba next.
  • Bando in Elfen Lied is an Ax-Crazy psychopath whose only goal in life is to find and kill Lucy/Nyu. But when the Hunter assaults Mayu, Bando comes to the rescue.
  • Happens in Dragon Ball Z When Vegeta saves Gohan and Krillin from Guldo before he could skewer them. Of course it was all in an effort to save his own hide. Possibly played straight later, when he saved Gohan from Frieza's latest attack. Note that he didn't think he needed Gohan anymore at that point but saved him anyway.
    • Happens again when he saves Goku from Android 19, kinda, sorta.
  • Giovanni saves Yellow from Lance during her arc of Pokémon Adventures. He leaves her to deal with everything that results from him appearing on the island (or, that is, his Gym Badge appearing), but he does save her from getting herself killed.
    • In the HeartGold/SoulSilver chapter, the first three Big Bads, Giovanni, Lance, and Pryce arrive at the Sinjoh Ruins to stop Team Rocket from taking control of Arceus and the Creation Trio.
    • Giovanni does it again in the OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire chapter, rescuing Red and Blue. At the very least, he makes it clear he keeps doing this because he can't run a criminal organization if humanity gets wiped out.
  • Happens at odd times in the Pokémon: The Series anime as well:
    • If you can believe it, Team Rocket (at least Jessie, James and Meowth) saved Ash from falling out of a window in Pokémon 3.
    • The trio frequently save Pikachu from opposition so they can capture him afterwards. Meowth of all people provides an effective Big Damn Heroes moment against Team Plasma in "What Lies Beyond Truth and Ideals".
    • Meowth, James and Inkay also helped Clemont save Ash's team after the Evil Malamar kidnapped them, Jessie and Wobbuffet in the Pokémon the Series: XY episode, "Facing The Grand Design".
  • In Digimon Tamers, Makuramon essentially saves WarGrowlmon, Rapidmon, and Taomon from being destroyed by Juggernaut when he destroys Hypnos. Although to be fair Vikaralamon was also about to be destroyed.
    • On a similar note, Beelzemon, despite being even more evil than the Devas at the point after he kills Leomon, destroys Makuramon (one of the most evil Devas) and defeats Megidramon, who would have destroyed the world.
    • Speaking of Digimon, this happens twice in Digimon Ghost Game, both times involving GulusGammamon. First, when Arachnemon is about to eat the brains of Gammamon and Hiro, Gammamon evolves into GulusGammamon and kills Arachnemon by a point-blank Desdemona down the throat. In the second instance, after Oboromon has claimed Hiro, Gammamon goes berserk, once again evolving into GulusGammamon, swiftly killing the Oboromon that took Hiro hostage, and inflicting great pain on the rest by consuming their wisps.
  • In One-Punch Man, Saitama is frantically searching for something heroic to do to keep his hero license from expiring, but things are too peaceful and he's becoming desperate. He is saved when Faster Than Sound Sonic, eager for a rematch with him, starts menacing the neighborhood to goad Saitama into attacking him. Saitama one-punches him and his hero-status is saved.
  • In Tiger & Bunny an Unpersoned Kotetsu, accused of murder, is saved from being arrested by the heroes by resident Vigilante Man Lunatic. The reason being that Lunatic does his homework into his potential victims, had previously researched Kotetsu, and knew he wasn't (or at least doubted he was) a murderer.
  • In D.Gray-Man, Tyki and Road save Allen from being absorbed by the Cardinal after he is imprisoned.
  • In My-HiME, when Nao abducts a powerless Natsuki on two occasions, Shizuru comes to the rescue, once before and once after descending into insanity over her feelings for Natsuki. In Mai's fight with Shiho, a Brainwashed and Face Heel Turned Mikoto intervenes by destroying Shiho's child, which unfortunately also kills Yuuichi
  • In Naruto, Orochimaru shows up out of the blue and stops Sasuke from killing Team Kakashi. Kabuto explains that Akatsuki is a more serious threat than Konoha, and if they let Team Kakashi live, said team will probably take out an Akatsuki member or two. Sasuke thinks that this is a pathetic reason for not killing them.
  • Happens a lot in Fort of Apocalypse, especially when Yoshioka is involved...
  • Fist of the North Star: Kenshiro's disastrous fight with Souther and almost rescue leaves him struggling in the middle of the desert, and bleeding to death. With his rescuer dead, Ken can only crawl blindly through a sandstorm, until his elder brother Raoh's soldiers happen upon him. They rescue him, dress his wounds and leave him at the doorstep of Ken's allies. Raoh informs the soldiers that he had them save Ken because he needs Kenshiro to defeat Souther, one of the few men that Raoh himself cannot defeat.
  • In Endride, Ibelda is busy choking the life out of Demetrio when Guidoro swoops in from nowhere with a grudge to repay Ibelda for slaughtering their teammates.
  • My Hero Academia: After the fight with Stain, a wounded Nomu grabs Deku and starts to fly off with him. Since Deku had previously demonstrated that he's the kind of hero Stain wants around, Stain uses the last of his strength to rescue him.
  • Berserk: During the battle of Doldrey in the Golden Age arc, Guts' sword breaks during a fight with the opposing general. Who does he see but the Immortal Zodd, who tosses him a sword. Zodd had two reasons for this; he considers Guts a Worthy Opponent and wants to fight him again, and to ensure the events of the Eclipse go off without a hitch.
  • In episode 15 of Tweeny Witches, Sigma saves Eva from the warlock army to win her friend Sheila's trust.
  • In the second season of Sailor Moon Crystal, Wiseman tries a sneak attack on the Sailor Guardians, but Prince Demande, who had just minutes ago tried to destroy the entire universe (resulting in the death of Sailor Pluto), protects them and fights Wiseman, because he wants to kill Sailor Moon and take over the world himself. It ends with his death at the hands of Wiseman, and possible last-minute redemption implied by him calling Sailor Moon his queen.
    • A more unique instance in Season 3. Where Pharaoh 90 is trying to engulf the world, Sailor Saturn uses the lethal power of the Silence Glaive on him. The side-effect? It will also destroy whichever world he's in. Thus, Earth would have been doomed had Pharaoh 90 not given Sailor Saturn a final request: To be returned to his home star system, purely because he prefers to die there over Earth. Sailor Saturn complies, and thus Pharaoh 90's destruction only takes what's left of the Tau Star System (and Mistress 9) with him, but her dialog implies she would not have done so otherwise. Although, it can be debated whether this is what spared Earth, as Sailor Saturn implies Sailor Moon releasing light energy inside Pharaoh 90 might have had a hand in this.
  • In GTO: The Early Years, Akutsu of all people rescues Nagisa from an Attempted Rape by Joey and his cronies. Keep in mind that in the past Akutsu raped and abused her so much that she developed a Split Personality, not to mention the trying to kill people. When Ryuji gets back he scolds him for leaving her alone.

    Comic Books 
  • Despite being villainous, Zodon and Victor VonFogg are still PS238 students and end up saving the world from an Alien Invasion (with Zodon using a moon-based superlaser to deal the finishing blow when everything else has failed). Victor ends up saving the world a second time when he manages to create a clone of Tyler to convince Prospero to not destroy the world in order to ensure no traces are left of the aforementioned invaders.
  • In a 1970s issue of Fantastic Four, a villain known as the Over-Mind telepathically took control of Mister Fantastic. This caused Doctor Doom to team up with the FF to try to defeat the Over-Mind.
    Doom: STAY your hand from the Human Torch, Over-Mind. DOOM approaches!
    • Also, in one of the very early comics, this took the form of No Honor Among Thieves as Doctor Doom teamed up with Namor to get the Fantastic Four's home base (the Baxter Building) shot into space, only to try to abandon Namor to the vacuum of outer space along with the Fantastic Four because Doom wanted to eliminate all super-powered potential threats to his plans for world domination including Namor. With a little help from a tank of water the Fantastic Four had handy, Namor was able to power himself up enough to smash his way into Doom's ship and fling him out instead and then turn the ship around so they could all get safely back to Earth.
  • During the "Heart of the Monster" arc in the The Incredible Hulks, Umar the Unrelenting stops yet another Hulk rampage by hauling him off to the Dark Dimension to ... calm him down.
  • In the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, the X-Men are in the process of losing their first fight against the Purifiers, when all of a sudden the Purifiers' high-tech metal suits are shredded and turned into mummifying bonds. Enter the X-Men's then-foe, Magneto.
    Magneto: Sheath your claws, Wolverine. Magneto is here as a friend... and, if you'll have me, an ally.
  • This is basically the plot of Forever Evil (2013). The Crime Syndicate has captured the Justice League and taken over the world with an army of supervillains, and it's up to Lex Luthor and a handful of bad guys who aren't drinking the Kool-Aid to take them down, saving the Justice League in the process. This actually leads to Lex Luthor doing a Heel–Face Turn by the end, actually saving Superman's life on an operating table when he was under no obligation to otherwise.
  • And in AXIS, even the combined forces of the Avengers, the Uncanny Avengers and the X-Men - including the now renegade Cyclops, Magneto, Genesis and a teenage Jean Grey transported from the past are completely outmatched against the sheer might of the Red Skull. The same Red Skull, who had recently taken the brain of deceased X-Men founder Charles Xavier, and in addition to gaining his unmatched psychic powers, to make matters worse, recently ascended into the horrifying form of Red Onslaught) and his two colossal Adamantium Sentinels (constructed by Tony Stark of all people, albeit when he was brainwashed by the Red Skull earlier and didn't know it - which, in addition to their immense size and Nigh Invulnerability, were specially programmed to be able to easily capture each and every one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In spite of their bravest and best attempts to take him down, each and every one of the heroes are captured and defeated in short order, leaving only Iron Man standing. Cue Magneto temporarily leaving, only to come back and save the day with an entire roster of Earth's Mightiest Villains - including Young Loki, Doctor Doom, Carnage, Sabretooth, Mystique, Hobgoblin, Absorbing Man, Enchantress, Deadpool and Jack'O Lantern. Apparently, it seems that none of these supervillains (though some like Deadpool, Loki and Magneto himself were technically Anti-Heroes at the time) take kindly to the Red Onslaught's attempts to control the world. Even Carnage of all people, who freely admits to believing that a world ruled by Nazis sounds like 'fun', does not enjoy the idea of having to kowtow to Red Onslaught's twisted whims, even claiming it isn't 'country'. While the other villains occupy Red Onslaught and his Hero Killer Sentinels, Deadpool manages to get Iron Man to safety and to a nearby power line in order to recharge his Powered Armor. And as for the villains and anti-heroes facing Red Onslaught and his Sentinels? They rapidly take both Sentinels down (only struggling a bit against the latter one), free Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange from their grasp (who, together, have the power to bring Xavier's personality to the fore in Red Onslaught through an 'Inversion' spell), and when Doctor Strange is suddenly knocked out once more - it falls upon Doctor Doom to take his place, and alongside Wanda, he manages to revert Red Onslaught to Red Skull once more, rendering him unconscious and defeated - and of course, freeing the other captured heroes and saving the world from Skull's telepathic broadcast of hate.
  • Convergence:
    • In Convergence #3, Earth 2 Dick Grayson is at the mercy of the pre-Flashpoint Joker until he is saved by Telos, who wants Dick alive because he demands to know the whereabouts of his Earth 2 companions.
    • Convergence: Crime Syndicate focuses on Superwoman's teammates rescuing her from death row.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Wolverine: Jimmy and Black Box are rescued from Wildchild by Quicksilver.
    • Ultimate X-Men: The Brotherhood rescued the X-Men and the other captive mutants (Nightcrawler, Rogue and Juggernaut; Sabertooth was not there at the moment) from Weapon X.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Etta Candy is far more afraid of getting caught out by Dean Strikt than fighting Nazis and aliens, which she rather enjoys, so the fact that a villain abducted the girls just as Strikt caught Etta, Bobby and Glamora ditching a lecture was very convenient for her even though the villain did not intend it to be a rescue the fact that none of the three very capable and trained in Amazonian martial arts gals escaped until they were far from the Dean makes it clear how they felt.
    • Wonder Woman (1987):
      • Ares saves Diana's life on at least two occasions after learning she's his granddaughter (he didn't realize Hippolyta was his daughter). On both occasions his actions have the added benefit (from his perspective) of ticking off Zeus, but this doesn't make him any more friendly or less dangerous, he's still Ares through and through and his care of his children and grandchildren is just as key to his character as his Blood Lust and violence.
      • Cheetah starts turning to a more friendly enemy to Diana after Di saves her life, though she's still a murderer who will happily take on contracts that set her against Diana. She ends up rescuing Diana from Poison Ivy and Cheshire's poisons while the three are all working for the same boss, though she still helps capture Di for their boss she just refuses to kill her or let anyone do so in front of her.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: Happens twice in #2. First, Indy and Edith Dunne are saved from being being turned into gold statues when crime lord Solomon Black and his gang assault the temple where this happening, causing the priests to flee and giving Indy time to figure out an escape. Later, Black tires of Indy's antics and is forcing him and Edith to Walk the Plank, when his Czechoslovakian registered freighter is torpedoed by Nazi U-boat. The ship explodes and sinks, while Indy and Edith are flung off into the ocean and picked by the U-boat.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): Hook, Line and Sinker (Unicron's minions) do this by accident in "Rhythms of Darkness". After being sent forward in time to capture Galvatron, they happen to arrive just as he's about to shoot Spike. Their attack on him forces him to focus on defending himself instead of killing his enemies, and seeing their foe overpowered and captured gives the few remaining Autobots new morale, enabling them to fight back and free the Americas.
  • In Marvel Zombies Halloween, a young survivor boy is caught by some zombie superheroes who argue over who gets to eat him, until an old man arrives. He's pleased to meet them, and he hopes they know his name... Mephisto, of course, does not even try to hide the fact that he has ulterior motives, and simply states that he's preserving the few souls that are left to be corrupted so he may still have his fun.
  • In the Lucky Luke album "A Cowboy In The Cotton", the Daltons rescue Lucky Luke from being burned at the stake by The Klan at one point. Of course, as Joe Dalton has been shown to have an obsession with being the one to off Luke time and again, this is not at all surprising.
  • Spider-Man: In Ends of the Earth, Mysterio had once saved The Avengers from impending doom. Though Tony Stark wouldn't admit it.

    Fan Works 
  • When Kyon is threatened by an enemy slider in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Fujiwara (the enemy time traveller) and Suou (the enemy Starfish Alien) come in to save him at the last second.
  • Queen of All Oni: Despite knowing that doing so will drain his own power, delaying his escape from his prison, and also that she wants to usurp him, Tarakudo still helps save Jade from Lung (by transporting Left and Right to her location), because he simply can't allow one of his own kind to be tortured and killed by a mere human.
  • The Immortal Game: After Titan neutralizes the Elements of Harmony, he attempts to kill Twilight, only for Discord to show up and save her.
  • Mario and Sonic: Heroes Unite!: Metal Sonic saves Mario and Sonic from the Giant Bowser Mecha's missile attack in chapter 43—simply because Mario is necessary for his plan, nothing more.
  • Justice League of Equestria: a variation shows up in Mare of Steel; Luna saving Rainbow Dash/Supermare looks like a standard Big Damn Heroes moment, when really Brainiac tipped Luna off to Rainbow's whereabouts so she would be back out in the open and susceptible to his Evil Plan.
  • In the Tamers Forever Series Gallantmon is saved from the Nightmare by Piedmon.
  • In Fallen King, Yami Bakura saves the group from Pegasus a few times, but only so he can take the Puzzle.
  • In Mega Man Recut, Snake Man and Proto Man save Roll in "Robosaur Park."
  • In The Bridge:
    • Odd example where the hero wasn't even aware of the rescue. During the alien invasion called Final Wars, a Kill Sat was targeting the grown up Godzilla Junior and would have taken him out if Xenilla hadn't destroyed the spacecraft and its entire fleet.
    • A crazed Kaiser Ghidorah is sent to the Equestria Girls realm, where he nearly murders Aria Blaze until he gets attacked by Bagan's avatar Enjin, who intends to kill him and give his power to Bagan.
    • Later on, X ends up saving the Sirens from Enjin's rampage, mostly so he can capture them later. The Sirens in turn rescue X from Enjin because only he has an understanding of how to defeat Enjin.
    • The Monster X vs. Ultraman Belial special has the Xilian high command sic Monster X on Ultraman Belial, unknowingly saving the life of Ultrawoman Corona when Belial had her at his mercy due to Monster X's asteroid prison slamming into Belial.
  • In Hope for the Heartless, Horned King pulls this several times.
    • When his prisoner Avalina tries to escape his castle with her Cool Horse, they're cornered by the Mad Pack. When they're about to be killed, the Horned King teleports there to fight the wolves and nearly dies in the process. He does this because Avalina is his only chance to earn his freedom from the Black Cauldron before the due date is reached.
    • When Princess Eilonwy is about to fall in a newly formed chasm, the Horned King grabs her only due to realizing that the princess is dear to Avalina (whom he has come to genuinely care for by this time). Though he takes the princess hostage to ensure his revenge on Taran, that idea occurs to him only after saving her.
    • When Avalina falls into cold water and is close to drowning, the Horned King dives in to save her, fully aware of the pain water causes him.
    • When Avalina is captured by a group of thugs who have been selling kidnapped children to illegal slavery. Just when they get fed up with her and are about to kill her, the Horned King (their former master) teleports there with Creeper and Addie the gwythaint. They free her and kill all the thugs while she flees back to the Horned King's castle.
  • In the fanfic If Wishes Were Ponies, Lord Tirek pulled this trope by complete accident: Harry Potter was living in Ponyville when he stole Equestria's magic. When he took Harry's magic, he destroyed the Horcrux in his scar long before he even knew who Voldemort was. Some of Harry's thoughts and powers suggest that Voldemort still had some kind of effect on him, but on the whole it meant that Harry did not have to die to destroy Voldemort.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: Trixie's done this twice, saving the mahoushojou from other villains and giving them the opening needed to finish them off, because she wants to be the one to defeat the girls.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfic The Ultimate Evil, Shendu pulls this on Valerie Payne more than once. This is initially mainly because she is his Other and can grant him unlimited power alive rather than dead, but there's genuine concern added to it over time.
  • In Desperation Attracts Vultures, Gaara crushes Dosu to death when the latter attacks Naruto after losing his fight. While not stated, it's obvious Gaara simply wants to kill Naruto himself.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
    • In Episode 6, Norlock swoops in and saves Dib's new team from Tak, knowing that Zim wants Dib for himself.
    • At the climax of Episode 11, Tak saves Dib's team and Zim from the Central Root, because she hates the latter more than any of the former.
    • In Season 2 Episode 3, Zim swoops in to save Dib from the alien bounty hunter about to kill him, due again to wanting the pleasure of killing Dib himself.
  • A Brighter Dark: When Mozu and Sakura are captured by Nohrian raiders, tied up separately and awaiting a Fate Worse than Death, who is it who saves them? Hans, of course.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: The Guardians and Chan Clan are overpowered and about to be killed by the Oni mask-possessed Lothar, when the Tracker shows up to fight him, due to having a centuries-old grudge against the Oni.
  • The whole point of the Dragon Ball Z fanfic ''Frigid Future: a reborn Red Ribbon, led by Commander Red turned into an Android and supported by the first generation of Androids (minus Eighter), has conquered most of Earth and killed the Z Fighters except for Gohan and Trunks, Androids 17 and 18 (AKA the Devil's Pair), after helping killing Goku, are running amok on both the Red Ribbon and the few free humans remaining... And then Cooler, who had been busy for thirteen years asserting his rule after his father and brother's death, arrives to Earth to restore his family honor by killing Goku, and upon finding out he's been killed he targets the Devil's Pair and Android 1 for stealing his prey, and equips the Resistance with PTO armor and blasters so they'll keep the Red Ribbon and the other Androids from interfering. Even him making a truce with Gohan even knowing he's a Super Saiyan and then going after Cell come back to his original motivation: he can respect Gohan and can reason with him, so he's simply postponing their final showdown to after the death of the Devil's Pair, and Cell having been made out of the DNA of, among others, his family and their soldiers is just another insult to his family honor.
  • In the Mass Effect series Of Sheep and Battle Chicken, Aria does this to Liara and Aethyta after their near-death experience trying to rescue Shepard's body from the Shadow Broker. Her motive is purely personal and malicious... she points Liara at the people responsible for Shepard's death, and forces Aethyta to watch her daughter go off the deep end in her quest for vengeance. This is done to get back at Aethyta for murdering Aria's lover and unborn child centuries prior, and was done because being forced to watch the Shrinking Violet Liara turn into a Sociopathic Hero was one of the cruelest things she could think of to torture Aethyta with.
  • An accidental version in Mastermind: Strategist for Hire - Tenya Iida is saved from otherwise-certain death by Izuku Midoriya (aka Mastermind) turning up to kill his would-be murderer, Stain.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • Accidentally and repeatedly done during the Long Night:
      • A Norscan berserker attacks the wights that overran Beric in canon, letting him survive to inform the Red Priests of the presence of Chaos in Westeros.
      • The presence of Nurglite mutants makes it harder for the dead to break in, meaning Lyanna Mormont survives the night.
      • Theon Greyjoy is shanghaied by the Wolf to serve as bodyguard to his Ethnic Magician, meaning he's spared being killed by the Night King (also because the Wolf wants to fight the Night King one-on-one).
    • Varys is spirited away by said magician before he can be executed by Daenerys.
    • Jaime, Cersei and Qyburn are all abducted during the siege of King's Landing instead of being found dead in the rubble. The Wolf's intervention also means Sandor is still alive.
  • In the Alien and Star Wars fic Violence in the Library, Luke Skywalker finds himself cornered in the titular library with several freshly-hatched Xenomorphs after him. His rescuer? Darth Vader (because no one messes with the son of a Sith).
  • A Devil Amongst Worms: Makima does this to the Wards and the Undersiders protecting the shelters by sending Leviathan flying with one of her blasts. Since they don't know her true nature, to them she pulled a Big Damn Heroes to save them, as she takes out the Endbringer.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie, If Rublad had not kidnapped Wally & Beemo, it’s all but confirmed they would have been Devoured by the Horde.
  • DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery. When The Spectre sentences John Constantine to eternity in the House of Mystery, John convinces him to broadcast his punishment to all and sundry so that other Puny Earthlings won't commit the same offense that he did. It's a Batman Gambit of course; three demons who've purchased John's soul break into his prison because they are the ones who are supposed to make him suffer for eternity. John traps them and casually strolls out the Portal Door they created. And runs straight into Spectre again.
  • In Happy Heroes 2: The Battle of Planet Qiyuan, the villain Big M. decides to put aside his hatred of the Supermen for once to save them from having their energy drained. He has his assistant Little M., who is in Lightning S.'s costume, use his lightning powers to strike him and destroy the energy-draining machine (he was just going to have Little M. strike the machine until he realized the lightning zaps him every time he uses the ability).
  • Justice League Dark: Apokolips War: Trigon incidentally ends up rescuing the Justice League from Darkseid during the final act when he finally breaks Raven's seal and along with Cyborg ultimately ends up being the one to defeat Darkseid for good.
  • Played with in Megamind: Megamind rescues Roxanne and all of Metro City from Tighten, but by that point Megamind was well on his way to completing his Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie: The girls, lost and unwilling to use their superpowers, are saved from the Gangreen Gang by a mysterious monkey hobo named Jojo. They even end up befriending him and working together to make the town they live in better. Unfortunately, it's revealed later on that he's been lying to them all along, using their powers to concoct a horribly evil plan. He even declares his intentions to take over the town and world as the villain Mojo Jojo while they watch in horror. Due to the movie's nature as a prequel to the show, this reveal is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • The protagonists of The Brave Little Toaster are tied together by their cords and sinking into a pit of cartoon quicksand in a swamp in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, they're rescued by a Deus ex Machina in the form of Elmo St. Peters, who takes them back to his shop. His shop where he strips salvaged appliances of their parts to resell.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien vs. Predator:
    • In the first film, the Grid Xenomorph makes its presence known when Chopper is about to kill Alexa, impaling Chopper and ripping a hole in his face.
    • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem: Wolf's main goal is to exterminate the Xenomorphs, so he mostly just ignores humans unless they're directly in his path, but his actions in eliminating Xenomorphs do result in him inadvertently saving humans from being killed by Xenomorphs a few times (though he also inadvertently kills just as many humans as he saves when they get caught in the crossfire).
  • Towards the end of Alvin and the ChipmunksChipwrecked, Zoe, after being convinced by the reformed Ian Hawke, saves Dave from falling off a log.
  • Apocalypto:
    • Jaguar Paw, fleeing from his captors, finds to his horror that the tree he climbed contains a mewing jaguar cub and its ticked off mother. Jaguar Paw jumps out the tree as his hunters find him, but the jaguar intercepts their chase, killing one of the hunters and slowing down the others.
    • A bigger example occurs near the end of the film, as the brutal yet decaying Mayan Empire is about to meet some Scary Dogmatic Spaniards. Jaguar Paw and his family, however, escape for a new beginning.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, the Lizard saves Spider-Man from falling off of a building after his Lizard-ness starts to wear off and he regains his mind.
  • Avengers: Infinity War/Avengers: Endgame: While Thanos is both delusional and hypocritical in his goal to save the universe from overpopulation and running out of resources by committing mass murder, he technically does save Earth and what Avengers he leaves alive from the corruption of the government. Ross and the rest of the government blame the Avengers for damage done to cities and civilian casualties, which is not only Misplaced Retribution (given that only they could keep it as low as it ended up being), but also just as hypocritical as Thanos because a.) Ross was most directly responsible for the damage done to Harlem when the Abomination was on a rampage and the Hulk had to stop him, and b.) The government's solution to an Avengers-level threat is to nuke the city where the enemy is, which would have caused far more damage and civilian deaths than the Avengers were blamed for in total. This leads to the Sokovia Accords, which not only leads to Captain America and those on his side becoming fugitives despite all the lives they saved, but Hank and Hope being charged with violating the Accords simply because Scott used their tech behind their backs (likely a pretext to obtain the tech for themselves). After the Blip, the world receives the wake-up call they needed, the Accords are presumably repealed, and Ross attends Tony Stark's funeral, indicating he has seen the error of his ways.
  • Barbarella: The evil Black Queen is introduced saving our helpless eponymous heroine from two men who have cornered her in an alley, likely to rape her, by driving her knives into their backs. The reason why she'd do this is because she wants (consensual) sex from Barbarella (which she nonetheless refuses). Later the Queen saves Barbarella again from a suicide booth she had accidentally walked into. And at the end of the movie, the Queen saves the entire universe by killing Durand Durand, who wanted to be the despot of the entire universe.
  • In Bet Your Life, Joseph almost succeeds in strangling Sonny in chuck's limo, but Carmen rides up, also looking to kill Sonny, and her shots cause Joseph to fall off the car.
  • Blade II: Sort of. Jared Nomak murders every mook in his path trying to get to his father. In the process he accidentally provides the distraction needed for Blade's rescue, and actually kills off the main Big Bad Damaskinos in the process.
  • Near the end of A Bronx Tale, as Calogero is riding with his violent, dimwitted, racist gangster friends on their way to commit arson, the mafia boss Sonny (who is something of an Evil Mentor to Calogero) accosts them and forces Calogero to get out of the car. Everyone else in the car that night died when a victim of theirs essentially did a Catch and Return of one of the Molotov Cocktails they were using for the arson.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, Tombs shows up with a group of mercs to rescue Riddick from a very nasty squashing by the Necromongers. Of course, the whole reason for the rescue is the bounty on Riddick's big bald head. Riddick lets himself be captured and uses them as transport to get to a specific prison planet.
  • The Dark Crystal: When the Garthims attack the Podling village, the only reason Jen and Kira manage to escape is because the Chamberlain interferes and holds off the Garthims. However, that is purely because he wants to gain their trust so he can personaly bring them to the castle.
  • Day of the Evil Gun: The Apaches stake Warfield and Forbes out in the desert to die. Just as the Circling Vultures start landing to peck at them, the Bandito leader Jose Luis Gomez de la Tierra y Cordoba DeLeon arrives and drives off the buzzards: offering to free them in exchange for leading him to the money they claim to have buried.
  • Desperado: The culmination of a comedy of Poor Communication Kills between Big Bad Bucho, Bucho's goons and Bucho's bosses explodes with said goons attacking and killing Navajas (the bosses' emissary) just as he was ready to finish turning the Mariachi into a human pincushion.
  • District 9: Gang leader pulls variety #3 and saves Wikus from the MNU mercenaries because he wants to eat Wikus' prawn arm.
  • In Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Samantha is saved from being raped by Rico and his biker gang by the Axe-Crazy Groton who kills the bikers with an axe. However, her salvation is shortlived as Groton takes her to be come one of Mad Scientist Dr. Durea's experimental subjects.
  • Jason actually pulls this off a few times in the Friday the 13th series. For one, Rennie is being attacked by two gang bangers and Jason kills them (and proceeds to try and kill her afterward) in Jason Takes Manhattan. And who could forget the scene in Freddy vs. Jason when Jason stabs Freddy with his own clawed glove as he is about to kill Lori and Will.
  • The Hangover Part III: Happens twice:
    • First, Marshall bails Alan Stu and Phil out of jail and brings them back to the mansion they broke into earlier, which turns out to be his and not Chow's, who is revealed to have tricked The Wolfpack into stealing the second half of the gold from Marshall that he didn't steal earlier.
    • Second, Chow saves The Wolfpack from being killed by Marshall in the climax by shooting the latter and his men courtesy of Alan freeing him from the trunk of the car and handing him his gun.
  • In Hellboy (2019), Hellboy only survives the Osiris Club's ambush because of the timely intervention of the three giants they were pursuing. Them making short work of the Osiris Club gives Hellboy enough time to get to safety and catch his breath for his own showdown with the monsters.
  • James Bond
  • Jurassic Park:
  • Near the very end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Gollum pulls an unusual villainous rescue, where he saves Frodo from the manipulative powers of The One Ring. Just as Frodo is about to give in to the ring's influence, Gollum, motivated solely by his desire to take the ring for himself, appears and forcefully removes the ring from Frodo's hand. As the two of them fight over the ring, Gollum tumbles into the lava below with the ring in hand, destroying the ring and saving the world.
  • Lottery Ticket: Doesn't go too well. The hero (and lottery winner) Kevin stares down neighborhood bully Lorenzo, who aims to take his money. Sweet Tea, a feared, vicious crime boss who has "invested" (so to speak) in Kevin attacks Lorenzo, slamming him into a table. Lorenzo simply gets up and squeezes Sweet Tea's testicles 'till they pop, and beats Kevin ruthlessly. Don't worry though, he's saved by a reclusive ex-boxer he befriended.
  • In Machete Kills, the shape-shifting assassin El Chameleon is pursuing Machete when he is suddenly attacked and gunned down by racist vigilantes because he was in the form of a Mexican at the time.
  • Next Friday has it where Joker is knocked out by Deebo before he could shoot the Joneses with his AK. Unfortunately, Deebo picks up the AK and tries to shoot them himself, but is stopped by Chico, the Joker Brothers' dog.
  • Prey: The Predator saves Naru from the bear when she's cornered, grappling with and gutting it (not that this was its intent).
  • In the The Purge, the Sandins are saved by their neighbors, who finish off the gang of Purgers, but later reveal their own intentions of killing the family.
  • Ransom. When Mullen goes on television saying he's not going to pay up, offering the ransom money as a reward instead for anyone who turns in the kidnappers, Shaker has to rush out to the forest where his gang are already digging a grave for Sean and stop them murdering him. Then when further attempts to get the ransom fail, Shaker murders his fellow conspirators and 'rescues' Sean, hoping to claim the reward money.
  • Rim of the World: The leader of the "Purge Mask" gang; the kids save him from jail and certain death at the aliens' claws and he repays them by trying to kill them in order to steal and sell their crypto-key.
  • The Rise of Skywalker: One of the First Order officers turns traitor and even saves our heroes (who didn't know that he was The Mole) from a firing squad. It's not that he suddenly sympathizes with the Resistance, he just hates Kylo Ren.
  • In Rogue (2020), Sam is about to be pounced on by the rogue lioness when the jihadists launch their attack on the farm with a large explosion that scares the lioness off. Later Joey and Bo are saved when the lioness leaps on the jihadist who is about to shoot them.
  • In Scream and Scream Again, Konratz breaking into the clinic to kill Dr. Browning and his staff gives Dr. Sorel the opportunity to release Helen and allows the two of them to escape.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: John Harrison aka Khan saves Kirk, Spock, and Uhura from a group of irate Klingons and then takes the brunt of the ensuing battle for them, since he can kick ten kinds of ass easier than they can and needs them alive because they've got his torpedoes. He also offers Kirk information about Section 31 that turns out to have been necessary to save the Enterprise from destruction — it eventually becomes an Enemy Mine situation.
  • In Stiletto, Raina is captured by the Neo-Nazi biker gang, but rescued by Dirty Cop Beck, who needs to deliver her alive to the mob boss Virgil.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Sentinel Prime is just about to finish off Optimus Prime when BANG! Megatron blasts him from behind. It was partly Megatron feeling that only he has the right to kill Optimus, and partly Carly convincing Megatron that if Sentinel wins, Megs will become "Sentinel's bitch".
  • Vice (2015): When the sweeper team first catches up with Kelly after she escapes from the resort, she is being confronted by a man who is planning to rape her. The would-be rapist attempts to attack the heavily armed sweeper team with a knife, and is immediately gunned down. However, while the team is distracted, Kelly manages to escape.
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Alvarez turns out to be a dangerous zealot, but he kills a squid which is about to kill Crane.
  • Near the end of War for the Planet of the Apes, Red after pulling a Heel–Face Turn saves Caesar by killing Preacher and allowing Caesar to escape back to save his fellow apes. Unfortunately, Red is killed by a nearby soldier as punishment for going against the Alpha Omega to save Caesar.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X2: X-Men United: Plane's going down! Wait, why's it slowing down? The damage undoes itself, and you finally see... Magneto calmly holding the Blackbird in place.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine has Sabretooth saving Logan, because "Nobody gets to kill you but me!"

  • MonsterVerse:
    • In the Kong: Skull Island sequel graphic novel The Birth of Kong, several Death Jackals attack the maddened Riccio just as he was about to murder Aaron and several of the Iwi, enabling them to escape. Granted, these creatures are hungry if nasty predators following instinct rather than wilful villains, but still.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Ren Serizawa, when controlling Mechagodzilla, accidentally saves Madison from being eaten by the Skullcrawler that the Mecha was being tested on when he grabs it mid-pounce. With how close its jaws got to Madison and the speed it was moving at, that definitely would've been the end of her if not for him. Not only was the rescue completely unintended, but Ren evidently never notices even after the act that he committed it.

  • The Agent Pendergast novels has Pendergast being saved by his brother Diogenes at the end of the novel Brimstone. Pendergast is sealed inside a wall to die by that novel's antagonist, and Diogenes manages to successfully break him out of his tomb at the very end and nurse him back to health by the time of the next book. Though it is because Diogenes needs his brother alive since part of the big crime he's planning includes murdering people close to him and then setting him up as the killer.
  • In Alien: Out of the Shadows, it's established that Evil, Inc. Weyland-Yutani was revived following the events of Alien: Resurrection, and used their technology to save the Earth from a new Ice Age.
  • In Animorphs, Visser Three assists the heroes twice due to a common enemy. In #36 The Mutation, he activates the Sea Blade and lets the Animorphs pilot it out of the Nartec city. In #37 The Weakness, he gets so fed up with the Inspector, an arrogant and untouchable supervisor who has been giving a very bad report about Visser Three to his superiors, that he distracts him by groveling so the Animorphs can sneak up and defeat him.
    • Visser Three's rival, Visser One, pulls this earlier in #5 The Predator when her troops secretly set the Animorphs free, so that their escape will be blamed on Visser Three.
  • Bazil Broketail: Evander is released from a dungeon when local crime lord Glukus instigates a riot in upper down for his own purpose.
  • Used frequently in Codex Alera.
    • In the first book, at the battle at the climax, the Alerans are saved from one horde of Marat barbarians by another horde of Marat barbarians, because Doroga hates Atsurak much more than he disdains the Alerans and Tavi won the challenge against Atsurak, so he had an excuse. They don't stay villains for long, though.
    • In both the second and third books, High Lady Aquitaine, who wants to take over Alera, helps the current lord resist another would-be ruler, because she can't conquer the country if someone else already has.
    • From the fourth book on, the Canim, who have been enemies of Alerans forever, work together with them against the Vord, a much more powerful and monstrous enemy. In Canim culture a respected enemy is considered even more valuable and reliable than a friend, so to humans, successful diplomacy between or within Canim basically looks like one after another all the time.
  • In Titans of Chaos by John C. Wright, this is used twice in the same battle: when Hermes has cornered and badly wounded all the Children, Ares and Mulciber show up to stop him. Then, as they are about to arrest the Children, Echidna arrives to avenge her son's death, distracting Ares long enough for them to escape.
  • S.M. Stirling's Draka liberate the Nazi concentration camps because they are horrified by what the Nazis are doing. Not necessarily the atrocities being committed (the Draka are guilty of far worse) but because the Nazis are wasting valuable slave labor in the process. The Draka treat the liberated camp inmates well (by their standards) and the inmates in turn become very enthusiastic supporters of the new order (particularly in Germany, where they become Security Directorate enforcers).
  • To sum up what Ryoko does in Haruhi Suzumiya, the tenth novel, she basically says to Suyoh, "Don't you fucking dare kill him! He's mine, bitch!" This is followed by Ryoko starting the fight with a knife flying at near-light speed to Suyoh. Things get epic, really fast. And no, Ryoko doesn't put her body on the line to protect Kyon.
  • In the first book of His Dark Materials, Marissa Coulter saves Lyra from the machine that severs children from their daemons (souls) solely because Lyra is her daughter. Marisssa Coulter will gleefully watch any other child go through this procedure that ultimately results in the death of the child.
  • In Louis Sachar's Holes, Stanley spends a few minutes here and there fantasizing about going back to his old school, with his newly acquired hole-digging muscles and possibly some of his newly acquired friends, and getting revenge on Derrick Dunne. In the end, Derrick provides Stanley with the alibi that gets him out of Camp Green Lake.
  • In Horatio Hornblower's collection of Midshipman stories, young Hornblower gets an incredible attack of Performance Anxiety at his lieutenant's exam, but a fire ship enters the harbor and the captains on the exam board all scramble to their ships. Hornblower and Captain Foster then climb aboard the fire ship, point it away from the fleet, and jump, only to be rescued first by the Spanish crew who sent the fire ship in the first place (because rescuing stranded swimmers is standard practice). After the British finally pick them up, Foster remarks that Hornblower was absolutely about to fail the exam and that the warning shot saved him.
  • When Clove is on top of a nearly helpless Katniss in The Hunger Games, she decides to taunt the latter a bit, saying how they enjoyed killing Rue. Thresh then shows up out of nowhere, and kills Clove after hearing her confession. He then walks away, saying he was doing this favor just once for Rue, who was the female participant from his district, and one of the few friends Katniss made.
  • Les Misérables Javert infiltrates the rebels, where he is subsequently discovered and captured. Out of nowhere, Valjean, the escaped convict who had eluded him for years shows up, is given the opportunity to execute him, and releases him instead. Inverted because Javert is the antagonist.
  • At the end of Barb Hendee's Memories of Envy, Eleisha is about to be killed by Simone when who should kick in the door and charge to the rescue? Philip? Wade? Some other member of Eleisha's Nakama? Nope. Julian saves her.
  • Nevermoor: In the second book, Ezra Squall sends his Hunt of Smoke and Shadow to rescue the heroine Morrigan when she's cornered by the Bonesmen, who intend to kidnap her and steal her powers to sell at the Ghastly Market. This is beause he's angling to be her Evil Mentor; the rescue also gives him an opportunity to give Morrigan a lesson in being a Wundersmith. Morrigan is anything but happy to see Squall, but does come to appreciate the lesson in spite of herself, and is obviously glad to have not been kidnapped.
  • Old Mortality: Henry is captured and about to be murdered by the Cameronians. Then he hears horses approaching, Claverhouse arrives with a group of soldiers, and minutes later Henry is free and the Cameronians are prisoners or dead. Cuddie explains that he met Claverhouse while looking for help and told him where he could find a group of rebels.
  • Prince of the City, by Robert Daley. Two crooks hear a rumor that the protagonist is working with the DA to expose corruption, and grab him off the street to interrogate, then kill him. On two occasions he's able to get to a phone, call the DA's office and give a Covert Distress Code, but it isn't recognised. Suddenly he sees a member of The Mafia nearby who'll vouch for him. The mafiosi says, "If you think he's a rat, then you should kill him, but if you kill him you better be sure he's a rat, 'cause he's a friend of ours".
  • Second Apocalypse: Skin-spies are monstrous shapechangers who Kill and Replace their victims and spy for the villainous Consult. One of them saves Mimara's life twice, at great sacrifice to itself. She has no idea why it does so, whether it somehow gained a conscience or is just a tool for some deeper game the Consult is playing.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the resident Magnificent Bastard and, potentially, Big Bad, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, rescues Sansa Stark from imprisonment in King's Landing by the Lannisters, spirits her away to his newly acquired lands, and disguises her as his bastard daughter, keeping her safe from arrest and potential execution for a crime which, as it turns out, he committed and intentionally implicated her in. This appears to be for three reasons—to use her political claims, to train her as his successor in Magnificent Bastardry, and because he's into her.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Rebel Dawn, Han and Bria are about to be shot by High Priest Teroenza, who's their old enemy. He's then shot himself by Boba Fett, though not to protect them-he was collecting a bounty on Teroenza, and this was a happy coincidence.
    • At the climax of Shadows of the Empire, the heroes have succeeded in rescuing Princess Leia and Chewbacca from the clutches of Prince Xizor, but now Black Sun's leader is chasing them with everything he has, and even the timely arrival of Rogue Squadron isn't enough to get the Millennium Falcon and the Outrider to safety. And then the Executor, Darth Vader's flagship, drops out of hyperspace and begins spewing TIE Fighters and turbolasers against Black Sun's ships and space station, allowing the Rebels to escape in the chaos. As part of his personal vendetta against Vader, Xizor had been trying to assassinate Luke Skywalker ever since figuring out that he was Vader's son, and Darth Vader did not appreciate that.
    • Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead has Boba Fett saving Zak's life twice - once by shooting Doctor Evazam, once by digging him up after he was Buried Alive - but it's because he wanted the bounty on Evazam in the first instance, and in the second he needed some information Zak had. Later in the series he has no qualms about hunting Zak on Vader's orders.
    • In X-Wing: Isard's Revenge, Rogue Squadron is overwhelmed in a trap laid by the (unknowing) clone of former head of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard, who has allied herself with an ex-Imperial warlord the New Republic is campaigning against in hopes of getting revenge on the squadron that defeated her. Then they're rescued by another faction of ex-Imperials working with the real Ysanne Isard, who survived her confrontation with the squadron years before, went into hiding, but now needs the Rogues' help in putting down her renegade double.
  • The White Queen of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign does this to Kyousuke on several occasions, due to being in love with him. Notably, one particular instance of this is the main reason why Kyousuke hates her so much. The White Queen was the target of an army of summoners and their summoned beings, while an unconscious Kyousuke was lying next to her. To prevent him dying in the crossfire, she wiped out the entire army.
  • In The War with Lilliputians, an Alice, Girl from the Future novel, Alice and two of her friends are rescued from the Panchenga criminal clan by Alice's longtime enemies Rat and Jolly U. It marks the start of their Friendly Enemy dynamic with her that characterizes most of the franchise's later books, while Alice decides they are not hopelessly villainous and afterwards often tries to persuade them to give up crime entirely.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the God of Evil's Dragon Moridin saves The Chosen One Rand from falling to his death in Shadar Logoth and even helps him out a bit against Mashadar. After the Sanity Slippage of 3000 years in a Leaking Can of Evil with the Dark One's power eating at his mind, he comes to believe that they're destined for a Yin-Yang Clash and loses track of the fact that he's supposed to be killing the only person on the planet who can prevent the God of Evil from triumphing over the world.
    • At the end of A Crown of Swords, Rand chases his current Forsaken target, Sammael, to the deadly abandoned city of Shadar Logoth. He almost plummets to his death inside a building there, but is saved by Moridin, who's the series Big Bad.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 666 Park Avenue: Jane is saved from Peter Kramer's ghost when the birds in the walls of the Drake attack and rekill him.
  • Angel: Mesektet's last act was saving Angel and Co. from The Beast during its attack on Wolfram and Hart.
  • The Boys (2019): Stormfront unknowingly pulls one when she arrives at Sage Grove just in time to subdue Cindy, who was seconds away from exploding the Boys and Lamplighter. Lamplighter promptly makes sure Stormfront never knows who she just rescued.
  • Deadly Games: In which villains from the hero's video game appeared in the real world Monster of the Week style. Brent Spiner's villainous prankster character had been snuck into the game by an associate of the hero, so just as the booby-trapped VCR is seconds away from going kaboom, the Jackal, aka Christopher Lloyd, calmly ejects the tape. Turns out he didn't see the Easter Egg character as being one of his, and as he put it, "I couldn't let an outsider to do the honors."
  • In Desperate Housewives Dave rescues Mike from the club fire so he can fulfill his plan for revenge on him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the fourth and final part of "The Tenth Planet", General Cutler comes close to murdering the Doctor and his friends for foiling his plot to destroy Mondas (which would likely have irradiated Earth in the process), when a squad of Cybermen appear and kill him. This trope is also the Cybermen's plan for humanity. At least, under a different definition of "rescue".
    • This is pretty much a way of life for the Master, although his motives are often less than pure. In "Frontier in Space", he rescues the Doctor when a corrupt prison governor has left him to suffocate in an airlock, mainly because he doesn't want the Doctor to die without knowing he's beaten him. In the last segment of "The Trial of a Time Lord", he rescues the Doctor when he's on the verge of being gassed by the Valeyard because he considers the Valeyard the bigger threat... although he promptly uses the Doctor as live bait to ambush the Valeyard. And in "The Five Doctors" he is happy to try and rescue the Doctor from the Death Zone, including telling the First Doctor how to beat the chessboard trap, when the Time Lords offer him a new regeneration cycle as payment.
    • "The End of Time" has it happen twice, with two different villains:
      • Rassilon is the one who restores humanity back to normal from being clones of the Master, intended as a way of showing him who really has the power here.
      • The Master saves the Doctor from death by what is almost definitely called the Glove of Rassilon by shooting Rassilon with his life-energy fueled lightning bolts. He's repaying the Doctor for not killing him earlier, and getting revenge on Rassilon for driving him crazy.
    • In "Revelation of the Daleks", Davros plans to have the Doctor forcibly converted into a Dalek. Fortunately there's an Enemy Civil War going on and the other side turn up to capture Davros, ignoring the Doctor as he has regenerated since the Daleks last encountered him so they don't know who he is.
    • In "Revolution of the Daleks", the human-built Dalek army is routed and destroyed by the original Daleks, who denounce them as "impurities" to be killed. The Doctor knew the Daleks would do this, and deliberately summoned them to Earth to save it. However, she then has the issue of getting the original Daleks off the planet before they kill everything else.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: Yellow guy is kidnapped by the family so they can have a mother So they can get a family discount on a family sized bucket of chicken Unfortunately for them Roy Gribbleston, Yellow Guy's Dad, shows up smelling the chicken and he's hungry. After rebuffing his son's attempts at a reunion he lets him leave and as the door closes eviscerates the family off screen
  • A French Village: Müller gets Daniel released from prison at Hortense's request.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin has a sort of Big Damn Heroes moment in "Garden of Bones", wherein he stops Gendry's torture (and by the extension the continued torture of other captives) on the grounds that it is a waste of good workers.
    • Littlefinger arrives with Arryn forces at Jon's attack on Bolton-occupied Wintefell, having come at the plea of Sansa.
  • Through either a pragmatic need for allies or genuine affection for certain characters, the Penguin on Gotham does this a lot. He's flat-out saved the lives of characters like Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne, and even the entire city a few times. Sometimes he expects to be repaid, but he just as often doesn't.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Sauron, disguised as Habrand, throws a spear at an orc who was about to kill Elendil.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, Dex makes his introduction rescuing Wilson Fisk from an assassination attempt by Albanians that Fisk snitched on. Fisk takes interest in Dex's skills and subsequently grooms the mild-mannered FBI agent into his personal assassin.
  • In the season 2 finale of The Mentalist, some mad artists are about to kill Patrick for their Red-John-inspired film when the real Red John shows up and takes them out because he's pissed at them for imitating him and for daring to try to kill his personal favorite plaything, Patrick Jane.
  • Power Rangers
    • In Power Rangers Zeo, Rita and Zedd interrupt the Machines' impending capture of Jason. The Machines want Jason's Gold Ranger powers, which are becoming unstable. Rita and Zedd just want to stick it to the Machines. Jason sneaks away from both sets of baddies while they're busy fighting each other. This also happens when Tommy gets kidnapped and brainwashed by King Mondo. Rita and Zedd come to the rescue here too by teleporting the rest of the Rangers to where Tommy is being held. It's pretty apparent that Rita and Zedd hate the Machine Empire even more so than the Rangers themselves.
    • Also, Power Rangers in Space has Ecliptor save Andros from Darkonda's booby trap (not for his sake, but because Astronema was starting to remember Andros, and he felt it wouldn't be good for her for him to be vaporized just now.)
    • Another instance in Power Rangers Time Force where a particularly strong mutant named Venomark is turned lose by Frax and bites four of the Rangers, poisoning them with his deadly venom. Wes was saved by Ransik, who has a grudge against Venomark for poisoning him prior to the series and forcing him to constantly drink a serum to stay alive (not that the effects of being poisoned frequently saved the Power Rangers in earlier episodes when he was about to kill them).
  • In Primeval episode 1x05, Claudia is trapped in a house, partially blind, while a swarm of violent carnivorous pterosaurs are flying around and hunting her down by following the scent of the blood she's covered in. She's saved by Helen Cutter. It should be noted that Helen had not yet had her Start of Darkness and was in fact more of an anti-hero than anything.
  • In The Orville, the Krill show up to help save Earth and the Union from the Kaylon attack fleet, as they recognize that they're dealing with a threat to all organic life in the galaxy.
  • After the entire Justice League gets captured by the VRA goons in Smallville all hope seems lost... until the Suicide Squad pops up to save their asses.
  • In the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Cardassians who always been more often then not the antagonists and especially when they joined sides with the Dominion, turning on their allies after endless abuse to save the main crew from being destroyed by a Dominion ship.
  • Supernatural:
    • Crowley a few times, such as saving the Winchesters from the demons' hellhound with his own, saving Castiel from Naomi in Season 8 and saving him again in Season 10, this time from other angels.
    • In the episode "The Song Remains the Same" (S05, E13), Anna and Uriel are easily trouncing the Winchesters, and have killed Sam, when Michael pops in to save them, defeating the lesser angels with about as much effort as it takes to blink. He then resurrects Sam and returns the two of them safely to their motel room. Why? Because the angels need Sam and Dean alive for their Apocalypse, which Michael gives a big, sanctimonious speech about.
    • Balthazar saves Castiel from Raphael with Lot's salt in "The Third Man."
    • In a season seven episode, Meg of all people steps in to help Dean against a demon, because she currently needs the allies and knows the Winchesters will work with her.
    • Likewise, in season ten, Metatron saves Castiel from an attacking angel because he wants to get back on Cas's good side. It doesn't work.
    • Dark Kaia. As Jody points out, she doesn't have a reason to save her and the Winchesters from the vampires sent by Alternate Michael after freeing herself from their captivity, and yet she does.
  • Tehran: Faraz inadvertently saves Tamar from Yael when she's about to shoot her.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Damon saving Stefan because if anyone's gonna kill his little brother, it's gonna be him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Raven made his return to ECW in 1999, coming to the aide of Arch-Enemy Tommy Dreamer against The Dudley Boys. It would later be revealed that Raven still hated Dreamer, but the Dudleys were going to the World Wrestling Federation and looking to cause as much damage in ECW as they could before then.
  • New knockout Havok had been ambushing the established ones in TNA, particularly Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell. In 2015, the two got some much needed help from an unexpected source. Awesome Kong.
  • A "villain" saving villains from other villains at the 2015 WWN Mercury Rising. SoCal Val had already sicked the Premier Athlete brand on an injured Rich Swann and the Canadian Ninja's were in for a similar trashing from her "insurance policy" Andrea for losing a match only to be "rescued" by a vengeful Nikki Storm, who was also targeted by Val earlier.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necessary Evil is a supers game set in an Expy of the Marvel Universe, where the campaign begins after alien invaders kill pretty much every superhero on the planet. Who's left to fight them? The supervillains, of course, led by Doctor Destruction. Although it turns out that it's actually a superhero called the Aquarian in Destruction's Powered Armor.
  • Pathfinder: At the climax of the fourth installment of the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, The Midnight Isles, the heroes' foiling of the schemes of Baphomet's followers leads to the wrathful demon lord personally manifesting to destroy them. However, the titular Isles are the domain of Nocticula, the demon lords of assassins, who immediately attacks and fights off Baphomet in response to his trespassing on her domain.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Happens a lot more frequently than you'd expect, considering the universe is populated almost entirely with xenocidal Knight Templars. The Eldar practically have saving the imperials as their hat, if only to use them as cannon fodder in some later scheme.
    • In once case Craftworld Iyanden was getting swamped by Orks, so they call even more Wraithguards and Wraithlords in desperation. Then two Kabals of Dark Eldar came in and aided the Eldar fight off the Orks, their reason they were amused enough of Iyanden's angst ridden desperation in calling the dead to fight.
    • Sometimes, Tyranids will avoid eating worlds they come across, and the people below celebrate... unaware that their planet is really a Necron Tomb World just waiting to be activated.
    • In one particular subversion, a Tau world was under attack from a Tyranid splinter fleet. A Necron fleet appeared in orbit and proceeded to slaughter everything alive. The Tau celebrated, and as the Necrons landed, sent a welcoming party with their highest Ethereals. The Necrons proceeded to slaughter everything alive.
    • High-ranking Bloodthirster Ka'Bandha once led his legions to slaughter the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Leviathan that were attacking the Baal system, turning the tide of the war and allowing the Blood Angels to claim victory. This is solely because Ka'Bandha has a grudge against the Blood Angels going back to the Horus Heresy, and letting some bugs take his prize was something he could not stand by.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: The Vampire Counts have been known to jump in and help the Empire if the forces of Chaos and the Skaven threaten them sufficiently. After all, they're vampires, and vampires need living mortal prey to snack on... what ever will they do if all the warm walking blood-bags are killed off? While that applies for most vampires, some such as Vlad von Carstein are Well-Intentioned Extremist who want to convert everyone to vampires so as to starve Chaos (they can't feed off the emotions of the undead).

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Advance Wars 2, despite losing the battle, Sturm is on the verge of killing the allied COs when Hawke shows up out of nowhere, assassinates him and lets the allied COs go.
  • in AdventureQuest Worlds Drakath pulls this when Nessie is trying to attack The Hero unnoticed Drakath stops Nessie from killing The Hero.
  • In the True Ending of Asura's Wrath, the Golden Spider/Chakravartin rescues Mithra from Olga. It's a villainous rescue because Chakravartin only did it to because he needed Mithra to regain his full power. At the same time he also reveals that he is responsible for the appearance of the Gohma.
  • On multiple occasions in Bendy and the Ink Machine, the eponymous Bendy rescues Henry:
    • When Sammy Lawrence attempts to sacrifice him to Bendy in Chapter 2, Bendy kills Sammy first, which gives Henry enough time to escape from his ropes. He still chases Henry afterward though.
    • One way for Henry to deal with minor enemies in Chapter 3 is to wait for Bendy to show up (or better yet, actively try to attract Bendy's attention), hide in a Little Miracle Station, and then let Bendy kill all the other enemies for him.
    • In Chapter 4, when Henry is cornered inside a Little Miracle Station by the Projectionist, Bendy tears open a metal vault door, runs in, and gets into a fist fight with the other monster.
    • One way for Henry to deal with the Butcher Gang in Chapter 5 is to get all of them to chase him to the crafting machine while he has the ink for the first pipe. As soon as he makes the pipe, Bendy will spawn in a walkway overhead and his ink will kill the Butcher Gang.
  • Regulus from Bomberman 64 saves Bomberman from the vaporizing attack of Sirius and even destroys the Omni Cube. He then teams up with Bomberman to take down Sirius once and for all, and proceeds to get him clear of Rainbow Palace as it is destroyed. Regulus then reveals that he only help out Bomberman because he's the only one allowed to defeat him and says that they will fight again someday.
    • Sirius himself does this at a time when Bomberman thinks he is his ally; During the fight with Mantis, when Mantis sends Bomberman falling onto his web, if Bomberman falls through the holes into the pit, Sirius will save him (the first three times) because he needs Bomberman to defeat Altair so he can get the Omni Cube back.
    • Regulus does this again in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!; when Zoniha is about to destroy Bomberman with her ultimate attack, Regulus blocks it with his Gravity Sphere, and then sucks her into another Gravity Sphere, for similar reasons as before.
    • Later, as Sthertoth is about to destroy the world, Mihaele stops him, but only to reunite with him into the Angel of Light and Shadow to destroy the world herself and recreate it.
  • May occur numerous times in City of Heroes for Players of Villains who just happen to want to keep bigger baddies from destroying the world with one villain mission badge even being referred to as "Saved The World... For Later"
    • Canonically the biggest example of this is at the end of the Who-Will-Die arc. After the death of Statesman the heroes take a rocket into orbit to stop his killer from summoning a space god with the powers he stole from old States. Lord Recluse sends his Patrons to help. In the end, said space god curb-stomps the Patrons and The Freedom Phalanx, leaving only the Players - as the reserve volunteers and joined by ... Lord Recluse - who proceeds to beat the God out of the man who killed his heterosexual-life-nemesis.
  • In one of the ending paths in Contra Hard Corps, the player character is imprisoned when suddenly they are freed and rearmed by the crazed cyborg Deadeye Joe. Joe explains that this is not because he cares about you and is instead because he wants to destroy you himself in an ultimate battle.
  • Etna pulls one off in Disgaea 2 to save the party from fake Zenon. She is not happy about it. It borders on Big Damn Heroes as well, due to being a playable character later and a protagonist of the first game, but she's treated as a secondary villain and serious threat to the protagonists' plans at this point in the story, and rightfully so as she manages to kill, or nearly kill, the fake Zenon in this encounter and she is the highest level opponent, at level 1000, the party will face (that isn't a bonus boss) aside from Laharl.
  • Flemeth of Dragon Age: Origins saved the Warden and Alistair from certain death at Ostagar and gave them vital information and the aid of her own daughter for their quest. Both to neutralize the threat of the Blight and for her own reasons.
    • In the sequel, she rescues the Hawke family from the massacre of Lothering in exchange for a simple delivery to an area close by the city they already decided to escape to.
    • Also in the sequel, Knight-Commander Meredith, the Act III Big Bad and Final Boss, saves Hawke and his companions from being electrocuted to death by a Qunari Saarebas by decapitating him.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Solas is in your party attempting to stop Corypheus from sundering the Veil and destroying the world. He provides you with invaluable help throughout the game, but at the end of the final DLC reveals that he's actually got a very similar world-destroying plan and just didn't want Corypheus to beat him to it. He still saves you from a malfunctioning magical mark, though, in one final villain rescue after revealing his true nature.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • From their perspective, this happened to the Altmer (High Elves) in the backstory. Still reeling from the Curb-Stomping they received at the hands of Tiber Septim and the Numidium, the Altmer were left vulnerable to their other ancient enemy, the Maormer (Sea Elves) of Pyandonea. With the Maormer overrunning the Summerset Isles, the Altmer had to accept assistance from the hated Empire to survive. It is said that the Altmer remember these incidents with "shame and horror," contributing to their discontent. And being the most Long-Lived of the already long-lived Mer races, many who lived through these events were still alive when the Septim Dynasty ended and led the charge for independence and reformation of the Aldmeri Dominion.
    • Skyrim features an accidental instance at the beginning of the game. Big Bad Alduin swoops in to kill the Player Character at the beginning of the game, but not only does he fail to hit the player, he also throws off the balance of an executioner who is literally moments away from executing the PC. Alduin didn't intend for the PC to survive, but through his own actions, gives the the PC a chance to escape. Had he simply done nothing, the only real threat to him would have been helplessly executed. (Possibly justified, or at least excused, given that Alduin's colossal Pride probably made him want to be the one to kill the Last Dragonborn directly.)
  • In Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker, the final act of the expansion's story has Zenos, major villain of the first half of the expansion, taking the form of Shinryu and travelling to the edge of the universe to aid the Warrior of Light in their fight against the eldritch Endsinger, breaking through the latter's pocket dimension. Zenos doesn't do this because the Endsinger is a common enemy, but because the universe-ending threat is too much of a distraction for his rematch with the Warrior of Light.
  • Halo 5: Guardians: The main villain, Cortana, does this multiple times for John-117 and Blue Team by restricting the Warden Eternal's actions because she still loves John and wants to seal away John until she's done purging the galaxy of dissenters rather than kill him.
  • There's an infamous moment in Hotel Mario, where Roy kidnaps Princess Peach, but he also saves her from falling from a tree and potentially breaking her neck.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising: after Hades destroys the Great Sacred Treasure, he's poised to finish off Pit in one final attack. Then, out of nowhere, Medusa, the former queen of the underworld, socks him in the face.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has a point where Organization XIII reveals the Sadistic Choice Sora has to make (this being that if he defeats the heartless, thus saving the innocents in the worlds, the Organization collects the hearts to grow closer to their final goal), and he is subsequently reluctant to fight anymore. This almost results in him, Donald, and Goofy being overwhelmed by the Heartless until Maleficent helps them escape. Her given reason is along the lines that the Nobodies and the Organization were a bigger pain than Sora, and that she wanted them gone before she bothered with revenge. It happens again during the game's final level. Same villain, even.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Cerberus, an organization you spent several sidequests fighting (since they prove themselves to be Well-Intentioned Extremist at best) in Mass Effect, is responsible for bringing Shepard back to life in the sequel. They also provide support and resources to Shepard at a time when the Council and Alliance are eager to wash their hands off the whole "Reaper invasion" affair, to the point that their behavior could be seen as a Heel–Face Turn. However, this gets decisively subverted in Mass Effect 3, wherein they are once again actively causing problems for Shepard, and it is revealed that they deliberately doctored their behavior to appear more sympathetic and keep Shepard invested in the alliance..
  • The SA-X at the end of Metroid Fusion stepped in and attacked the Omega Metroid just before it destroyed Samus, although in this case the rescue was because the X parasites were the natural enemy of the Metroids, and it failed to destroy the Omega anyway, but when the X was destroyed instead it gave Samus back her Ice Beam which allowed her to defeat the Omega.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: If you go to Boom Town and beat Magnus in a duel and as a result become King, some people will start to consider usurping you. Then the Wither Storm shows up to level everything to the ground (in a way that puts even Magnus to shame) and snack on the inhabitants.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth
    • At the start of the game, Reviel saves Luna from a group of bandits, but mainly because they tried to mug him rather than because he wanted to save the girl. He's also a Villain Protagonist who plans on destroying Luna's village when he feels like it, but this causes him to protect it from another vampire trying to steal his "prey." This is deconstructed when the village mistakenly believes he's a hero, and then reconstructed when he grows to care about them and protects them from Devils without any ulterior motive.
    • When the village of Algiz is set on fire by Devils, Ristill summons rain to put it out in order to repay her debt to Luna.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, The kingdom is about to vanish, the heroes are trapped and cannot face the impending doom themselves, and there is no army strong enough to defeat the threat, who else saves the Mushroom Kingdom? Bowser does.
    Dark Bowser: Still here? Has the dark power not crushed your puny hopes? Soon this kingdom will vanish along with all who dwell within. And you, too, will sleep eternally in the dark power's embrace.
    Bowser: GWAHAHA! Great dark hurricane! Seriously, perfect backdrop for an awesome final battle! You really sweat the details! Listen up! You're saying the kingdom will vanish? NOT TODAY! THIS KINGDOM IS ALL MINE! SO YOU VANISH!
  • In Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, Gogandantess saves Oyu from plummeting to a fiery death by leaping in and grabbing her just as she's about to fall. Doubles as a Pet the Dog moment, and it makes Jubei more respectful of his foe.
  • An odd example occurs in Pokémon Platinum. Big Bad Cyrus is about to destroy the universe to create one "without spirit", when a portal opens and Giratina pops out to stop him. While Giratina is not villainous per se, it is the Pokémon world's resident Satan analogue, yet it effectively does this for all of existence. Sort of. It does start ripping reality to shreds by accident.
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Don Paolo fixes up the Laytonmobile so that he can get onto Clive's Giant fortress with legs, as well as putting in a Big Red Button to make it grow wings and fly, which proves vital in escaping as the fortress collapses.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis gives us the titular Nemesis who on more than one occasion saves Jill's bacon just so he can be the one to kill her, such as when he kills the other antagonist Nikolai in one ending path when the latter was trying to shoot Jill.
  • Happens in the finale of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric during the final boss. Lyric finally figures out Sonic and friends have been using his tech against him and uses it to capture the team. Cue him getting hit by a missile, Sonic and friends being set free, and a certain heavily damaged Humongous Mecha weakly standing up on the cliff:
    Eggman: Got him! Heh-heh...
  • The 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The platform is too far away, and Sonic falls to his doom. At the last second, he is saved by Robotnik, who would rather have his robot defeat him than letting Sonic burn into a crisp.
  • Splatoon 3: When Mr. Grizz destroys the rocket and sends you hurtling off into space with no way to stop him from transforming the entire planet's ecosystem, who flies in and saves you, putting you back into the fight (and letting you control his mech)? The main villain of the last two games: DJ Octavio himself.
    Mr. Grizz: In a few moments, Earth will be ruled by mammals once again
    Octavio: GYAH HA HA! Not if I crash your big finish! You're not dropping this beat on OUR turf!
  • In the Corneria level of Star Fox: Assault, Fox is about to get into his Arwing and rejoin his teammates in the skies above after destroying several radar jammers. Suddenly, the ship is destroyed and he's surrounded by Aparoids, only to be saved by none other than Wolf O'Donnell and the rest of Team Star Wolf. Wolf says that he's only helping Fox because he plans to kill him later, though Panther and Leon seem to think otherwise.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, there are several occasions where Light Sided Imperial characters can choose to intervene to rescue Jedi or Republic troops from danger. Naturally, these often lead to a lot of confusion from the people rescued, especially if the player happens to be Sith.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • In Super Robot Wars 3, Anavel Gato's claim to fame in his show of origin is launching a stolen nuke at a peace conference. He reenacts this scene in the game, but this time the "peace conference" is between two villainous factions, meaning that his actions have prevented a very dangerous Villain Team-Up.
    • Asakim Dowin from the Super Robot Wars Z series will occasionally lend a hand to the heroes when they are having a hard time, but then again he is properly up to something.
  • In Wild ARMs: Million Memories Siegfried teams up with Rudy to take Mother down. Mother fires a dark energy blast at Rudy, only for Siegfried to dart in front of him and take the blast instead because he knows Rudy is the best chance Filgaia has.

    Visual Novels 
  • As a subversion of being the Fake Defector, Archer from Fate/stay night pulls off one of these, effortlessly killing Caster and Kuzuki Souichirou before trapping a powerless Saber and trying to kill Shirou.
    • More straight example would be the first appearance of Gilgamesh in the Fate arc of the game - when Caster had Shirou and Saber in the palm of her hand the enigmatic Golden Servant appeared and sadistically executed her because he already decided that King of Knights is his prize and was enraged by the fact that Caster dared to assume she can make Saber hers.
  • In the last Episode of Umineko: When They Cry, Erika of all people swoops in to save Ange from the Goats. Lambdadelta also risks herself to save Battler and Ange from Bernkastel and Featherine.
  • At the climax of the Demon Tsukuyomi confrontation in Spirit Hunter: NG, Akira writes the name of the previous chapter's spirit on the memorial at Moon Tower. This causes her to appear and destroy the Demon Tsukuyomi, as it was the one responsible for killing her family. In the process she rescues Akira and frees the rest of the amalgamated spirits.
  • In Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return, Veniczar Fontana arrives at the World Fountain with the entire PACT navy in tow, just in time to save the Maray from Crow Harbor's ancient Ryuvian dreadnought. Saving them is completely incidental to Fontana's goals, however, and as soon as Crow is space dust, he declares that the Maray's captain, Kayto Shields, is under arrest. Later, Kayto is saved from Fontana's clutches by the Prototypes, whose Hive Mind has become fanatically obsessed with Kayto due to the influence of his dead girlfriend.

  • Beyond the Canopy: Glenn and Glade are about to be crushed by a giant robot, then someone offscreen blasts a hole in the robot's chest. Said someone turns out to be a lackey of the Baron, come to take an artifact from Glenn, and to enslave Glenn and everyone else in the vicinity.
  • Emergency Exit: Lord Kyran and crew lead an effort to rescue Eddie from being sacrificed, mostly because they figure he's about to find an artifact.
  • Monkey Master leads the Aliens in combat against the Martians in It's Walky!'s Final Battle, having decided that their chances of returning home (or at least surviving the Martian invasion) in Head Alien's absence higher if they worked with SEMME.
  • Who thought that Jareth would try this? All he needed is a Greater-Scope Villain in the Mega Crossover Fan Webcomic Roommates. Got subverted when the Curb-Stomp Battle doesn't go as planned... and then double subverted when the Greater-Scope Villain just leaves.
  • Sleepless Domain: In Chapter 19, when Heartful Punch is on the verge of vanishing from a monster's attack, Goops appears and absorbs the monster, planning on using it later. She smugly remarks that HP should be thanking her, and is mildly annoyed that she chooses to fight her instead.
  • Weak Hero: When Eugene gets ganged up on by Hyeongshin students, it's not one of his friends who rescues him but notorious bully Teddy Jin, slowly turning over a new leaf since he was humiliated by Gray.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm: Villain Protagonist Taylor does this a few times. She's technically a villain, but spends much more of her time fighting other villains and world-ending threats than she does actually fighting heroes. When the Wards and Protectorate are fighting the Slaughterhouse 9 she shows up on a giant flying beetle with a bandolier of grenades. At the climax of the story, Taylor herself is saved from Scion by the Endbringers.
  • In the final battle of Volume 2 of RWBY, Mercury and Emerald join in the fight against the Grimm attacking the city when it was part of their plot for the incident to happen, in this case most likely to help keep their cover story as out of kingdom huntsmen active. Didn't hurt their reputation to be the ones who 'captured' the 'big bad' and bring him into custody.
  • AFK: Vanya and Sheena come to help save the camp from Clint.
  • In Entry #52 of Marble Hornets, as Alex holds Jay and Jessica at gunpoint, planing to kill them for knowing too much, the Masked Man sneaks up on Alex and attacks him, giving the two enough time to escape.

    Western Animation 
Luci: I saved your life, now I can go back to ruining it.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The End of Flutter Valley, Part 8", the heroes are saved by the arrival of the stonebacks who, despite having been highly aggressive towards the ponies all episode and the furbobs for much longer, have seemingly been convinced by Honeysuckle to help her rescue her trapped friends from the bumbles.
  • Rocket Power: During a sand castle contest, the heroes' submission, a model amusement park, which they had spent the whole episode on, is threatened by the rising tide. They're powerless to stop the water from destroying it before it gets judged, when suddenly, Lars, Twister's Big Brother Bully, shows up with his cronies, and they protect the model with their surfboards.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is saved from Zhao's prison by a masked ninja called the Blue Spirit, who turns out to be Zuko.
    • Later on, Mai, one-third of Azula's Quirky Miniboss Squad, turns against Azula, her own uncle, and pretty much every guard in the prison in order to save the Gaang, though specifically her ex-boyfriend. For added awesome, it doubles as a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Also shows up (somewhat) in the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra; Tarrlok captures Korra and plans to leave the city with her as a hostage, but then Amon and his Equalists arrive at Tarrlok's hideout, and the ensuing confrontation allows Korra a chance to escape.
  • In the Big Hero 6: The Series episode "Portal Enemy", an acrobat thief called Sirque steals Krei Tech's teleportation technology and modifies it to commit thefts. Unknown to her, the portals are unstable and a danger to all of San Fransokyo, so Hiro chases her through portals to stop her. When the unstable portal threatens to suck up Hiro, Sirque grabs his foot and saves him.
  • In ReBoot, Megabyte teams up with Bob and co against The Web because the web creatures are dangerous for everyone. He backstabs Bob later, though.
  • South Park
    • The town is saved from the Jersey invasion by Al-Qaeda.
    • Cartman rescues Kyle's family from the about-to-be-destroyed San-Francisco, because he misses picking on Kyle.
  • In The Transformers, Starscream saved the day in the episode "Enter the Nightbird", when he used his null-ray to deactivate a female-ninja-robot (the Nightbird from the title) who was successfully attacking the Autobots. His motivation: Megatron demoted him and placed her in his place, so he was obviously jealous. And when he protested, the other Deceptions imprisioned him. No surprise he got really pissed off at them.
  • This happens a few times in Transformers: Prime:
    • Megatron prevented his version of Starscream from landing a potentially lethal blow to Optimus both because he intends to defeat Prime himself and because he intends to pay his treacherous underling back for an attempt on his life.
    • Megatron does it again in the Season One finale. This time by taking out the Unicron-Colossus that was giving the Autobots trouble.
    • Starscream even gets one in, himself. He saves Arcee from being killed by Airachnid and even decides to not kill her himself, presumably because he was in a good mood after hitting Airachnid with one of his shots.
    • Early in Season 1, Bulkhead is almost killed in a one-on-one fight with Breakdown, who is tased unconscious before he can deal a killing blow. Bulkhead's rescuers were Silas and MECH, a terrorist organization. Downplayed in that they hadn't intended to save Bulkhead; they'd only been there to try and kidnap a Cybertronian for their experiments. Bulkhead was spared because the humans only had the means to take one Cybertronian back to their base, and Silas picked Breakdown.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998)
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man
    • Sorta example in the episode ''Gang Land", where the current Big Bad Tombstone is in a three way fight with Doctor Octopus and Silverman. When Spider-Man decides to get involved to stop collateral damage from the fight, Dr. Octopus suggests a temporary truce between the three villains so they can kill Spider-Man, since he's the cause of most of their problems. Tombstone rejects, wanting to stay a Villain with Good Publicity and can't do that if he fights Spider-Man in public, and actually saves Spider-Man from Dr. Octopus. It's only a partial case since when both Spider-Man and Tombstone fall into a sewer and out of view of everyone, he and Spider-Man start fighting.
  • In the Teen Titans (2003) episode "Masks", Robin nearly falls off a building during a fight with Slade, only for Slade to prevent it. Slade's then-excuse is that he's "not done with (him)" and continues the fight. In a later episode, Slade reveals that the real reason he doesn't want Robin dead is because he wants him as his apprentice.
    • Slade does it again in Season 4 when he helps the Titans kill Trigon, because the world isn't much use to him if Trigon is already ruling it.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: A lot of villains in this show hate each other more than they hate Spider-Man:
    • In the season one finale, Norman Osborn was about to unmask, and then kill, Spider-Man when Dr. Octopus injected him with a serum. He protected Spider-Man's identity, but it was mostly because a) Norman had mistreated him for so long that he wanted revenge, and b) he wants to be the one to kill Spider-Man. This comes back to bite him, though, as the serum turns Norman into the Green Goblin, and beats Octopus up so badly that SHIELD thought he was dead for a while.
    • In "Carnage", Spider-Man and Venom form an Enemy Mine to take down the Goblin, which results in Venom keeping the Goblin off of Spider-Man several times.
    • In "Venom Bomb", Octopus saves the entire Helicarrier from Venom and the Goblin because it got rid of two of his personal enemies in one go and gave him a chance to escape.
  • The Batman: In the episode "The End Of Batman", the villainous duo Wrath and Scorn have been assisting the rogues of Gotham by distracting Batman and Robin so they can escape. The only villain to not appreciate their help (especially when he learns about their plan to kill the Bat) is the Joker. When Wrath and Scorn (who know Bruce Wayne personally) are inevitably defeated and captured, they try to threaten Batman by saying that, if he lets them go, they'll never tell about his identity. Before they can, however, the Joker (who doesn't want anyone besides him to expose and/or kill Batman) douses the villains with Joker toxin, erasing their memories and leaving them incapable of revealing Batman's identity. One of the very few times in the Batman franchise where the Joker did Batman a favor.
  • In "No Good Deed" an X-Men: Evolution episode Lance saves a handicapped elderly lady for no reason other than it being the right thing to do. When he's praised for it, his friends in the brotherhood get the bright idea to orchestrate disasters and then 'save' people to get good press. Predictably, they create a problem too big for them to solve, and all of them leave except Lance who helps Jean Grey and the X-Men save the day. Lance ends the episode brushing off comments on his heroism and firmly stating that was the last good deed he'd ever do. Come the finale, Lance and the brotherhood join the X-Men in an Enemy Mine situation and Xavier's vision of the future shows they get a fairly happy ending. It's moments like "No Good Deed" that cement Lance's status as an Anti Villain.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Dr Doofenshmirtz often does this while fighting a Greater-Scope Villain. He recovered a stray kittie, defeated The Regurgitator, stopped Liam Mcracken from killing Perry,rescued Phineas Ferb and Perry from being crushed by his Evil Counterpart and saved the Earth from being plunged into a new Ice Age by Rodney.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon, Tiamat's main purpose seemed to be to save the kids from Venger. This wasn't intentional. Most of the time she probably didn't even notice they were there. She just had a tendency to show up and try to kill Venger right when he had the heroes cornered.
  • Played for laughs: In the Daffy Duck cartoon "Daffy Doodles," Daffy (as the cartoon's antagonist) pulls officer Porky Pig back from falling over the side of a building during a chase. "Awfully sporting of the little black duck!"
  • In The Venture Bros., the Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch step in to claim Doctor Venture for himself right before dozens of members of the Guild Of Calamitous Intent and its leading councilmen lowered him into a vat of acid. They succeed thanks Dr. Mrs.' rules lawyering against the leaders of the guild themselves, and further wind up accidentally saving Brock and Shore Leave, who were simultaneously attempting a much riskier, separate rescue.
  • In an episode of Rugrats, Angelica rescues the babies from a bully named Josh who mistreated them even worse than she did, claiming that no one was allowed to pick on them but her.
  • In the ThunderCats (1985) episode "Shadowmaster", Mumm-Ra secretly helps Lion-O defeat the Shadowmaster, only because he was scared that he would be replaced as the Ancient Spirits of Evil's champion.
  • In the Invader Zim episode "The Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom", Zim rescues Dib from the Halloween monsters, only to abandon Dib once more after Zim escapes back into their own dimension.
  • In the Street Fighter episode "Strange Bedfellows", Guile and M.Bison are lured into a trap by Akuma, forcing them to work together in order to escape. During the proceedings, Guile loses his footing on the edge of a volcano and plummets towards certain death, only to be saved at the last minute by Bison. When questioned why, Bison simply states that whilst he'd have loved to see Guile burn to death, he needs him alive in case Akuma proves too strong for him to take on alone. At the end of the episode, Zangief prepares to shoot Guile from Bison's helicopter, only for the dictator (in one of the cheesiest moments in the series) to decline the opportunity.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In an Enemy Mine episode between the Turtles, Fishface, and Dogpound against Baxter Stockman, Xever saves Raph from falling into a deadly fan trap. His reasoning for this is that he wants to be the one to beat him.
  • In the X-Men: The Animated Series season 1 finale, Professor X is flying the Blackbird in the fight against the Sentinels. The plane is shot down and about to crash, when it suddenly stops, suspended in mid-air...
    Magneto: Did you think I would let you die alone, Xavier?


Video Example(s):


Moon Breaks in Half

Ivy's overuse of Lex's space laser splits the moon in half. Superman puts it back together three days later, once his powers have recovered.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / DetonationMoon

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