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"If the Hero says 'wait here,' it really doesn't matter whether you obey him or not. If you stay, you will be captured by the Evil Overlord's henchmen as soon as the Hero is out of earshot. If you tag along, you will be caught by the Evil Overlord's henchmen as you stumble along. Don't agonize over your decision."

Whenever our hero has to go off and do something important, they first decide to dump off any "dead weight" (such as cute sidekicks or Love Interests) that might slow them down by getting into trouble at precisely the wrong time. He'll tell the person something akin to "Wait here, if I'm not back in an hour, call the police."

This rarely helps.

If they listen to the hero, they'll get captured or Trapped by Mountain Lions the moment he's out of earshot. Half the time, they'll ignore the hero's advice and go off to do something incredibly stupid (and inevitably end up in hot water). You'd think they could take five minutes to call the relevant authorities, or failing that get one of the hero's peers to come help before doing something incredibly stupid, but noooo.

As illustrated above, being left somewhere is something of a no-win situation, as the laws of drama necessitate you either getting captured if you stay put or getting captured if you stumble off.

Occasonially, it's the hero who ends up getting in over his head. In this case, the buddy/girl will get to be the big damn hero for once and bail him out of a thrashing by the villain's goons. Cue An Aesop about The Power of Friendship when the hero complains about them ignoring orders.

Often parodied if the character being told to wait is incapacitated and thus unable to do anything other than wait. See Hero Harasses Helpers for when the hero rudely rejects the help of other characters to fight with him. See Most Definitely Not Accompanying Us when a junior character wants to come along but is told off (which rarely works). Not to be confused with Fine, You Can Just Wait Here Alone.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, this is toyed with when Roy tells Riza to wait for him, but only a day. After that, she is to leave him essentially for dead. Of course, she refuses, and stays at her post. However, at the moment Roy returns, he finds Major Armstrong instead! It freaks him out, but then he realizes that he's been a LONG time, so it wouldn't be too surprising if Riza had gone. She was just at the restroom at the moment though, and returns shortly after.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry has an interesting variation in the Watanagashi arc. Keiichi and Rena have gotten Mion actually Shion to confess to the murders and convinced her to turn herself in. She agrees, on the condition that she be given a half hour alone with Keiichi. Keiichi agrees, but (understanding that his friend is a homicidal maniac) tells Rena that if he's not back within the time limit, to call the police. Rena does just this. As a result, Keiichi narrowly avoids having several nails hammered into his hand.
  • In Bleach Ichigo tells Orihime and Uryu to wait for him during the Ulquiorra fight, she doesn't, the resulting crossfire probably saves Ichigo's life... And causes his Superpowered Evil Side to give Uryu a nearly mortal wound.
  • Lampshaded in the Gag Dub of Ghost Stories.
    Hajime: Obeying horror movie rules, I'm going to go out alone. You stay here while I go out looking for help.
    Momoko: Okay. God bless him. Leaving me here alone and defenseless in a cemetery. What a guy.
  • In the first chapter of Spy X Family, Twilight tells Anya to stay in the apartment while he goes to meet his informant. She tries tagging along, but he thwarts her every attempt to follow him (including sneaking through the ceiling vents), eventually moving a heavy cabinet in front of the door to keep her from opening it. While he's gone, Anya manages to get into Twilight's spy gear and accidentally sends a message that gets intercepted and tracked by the target of his last mission. Twilight comes back to find Ostanian goons have kidnapped Anya and are waiting to ambush him.

    Comic Books 
  • Lois Lane is, of course, the queen of this trope in every incarnation she's appeared in. Jimmy Olsen runs her a close second.
  • In the original Gold Key Magnus Robot Fighter, Leeja Clane would, at the fairly uncommon times Magnus told her to stay out of harm's way, do exactly that. Until something happened that Magnus urgently needed to be told about. Then Leeja would try to find him and only then be caught by the villain. Unlike Star Trek, nobody in North Am thought of personal, portable communications.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Aladdin. While Aladdin and his monkey Abu are exploring the caves full of treasure, Aladdin tells Abu to "wait here" while he goes to get the lamp. As you'd expect, Abu sees a huge gem and goes to grab it, ignoring the warning they received to "touch nothing but the lamp" and setting off a lava flow apocalypse.
  • Bambi: Bambi's mother telling him to wait while she checks the meadow to make sure its safe.
  • In Moana, Maui wants Moana to stay behind when he goes for the Realm of Monsters to snatch his fish hook from Tamatoa. Of course, she refuses which he grudgingly accept. When they are done with Tamatoa, Maui admits that Moana was a life saver.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Reversed and spoofed in Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood where a minor character, a nerdy appearing DMV test examiner gives the protagonist Ashtray several seemingly straightforward instructions on where to turn and stop at. The examiner instructed Ashtray to "Wait here" in front of a bank he wanted to rob and menacingly threatens Ashtray at gunpoint to be the getaway driver after running out with the money!
  • Parodied in Big Trouble in Little China when Jack Burton tells several Sidekicks: "Ok, you people! Sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn, call the President." Of course, they later go in and get captured.
  • Last Action Hero goes into this at length, but Jack provides a very pragmatic solution: a gun in the glove compartment. Unfortunately, it also gives Daniel enough leverage to follow him... and get captured.
  • Spoofed in Serenity when Mal goes to meet Inara, knowing it's a trap:
    Mal: If I'm not back in one hour, you take this ship, and you come and you rescue me.
    Zoe: What? And risk my ship?
    Mal: I mean it. It's cold out there. I don't wanna get left.
  • Beverly Hills Cop uses the sidekick rescue variant when Axel Foley (lead Eddie Murphy) goes into a warehouse, telling Billy (Judge Reinhold) to stay put, because he doesn't have probable cause. The strictly by-the-book Billy gets increasingly nervous as the Big Bad and his thugs show up then leave with the Love Interest in tow, and finally gets up the nerve to go in. The resulting Big Damn Heroes moment sets up his Character Development arc for the rest of the movie and the sequel.
  • This becomes a Running Gag in The Golden Child, with Chandler Jarrell repeatedly telling Kee Nang to stay put and her coming after him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, at Weathertop Aragorn says he's going to have a look around and for the hobbits to "stay here." They do. Unfortunately, three of the four decide to pass the time while he's gone by lighting a highly visible fire, thus attracting the attention of the Ringwraiths anyway.
  • In Ocean's Eleven, when part of the crew goes to steal the "pinch", George Clooney expressly tells Matt Damon to wait in the van. He can't take the bickering of the two brothers and leaves, which leads to... complications.
  • The Mask. When Stanley Ipkiss is about to enter the Coco Bongo and confront Dorian Tyrell, he tells his dog Milo to stay in the police car where it's safe. Of course Milo disobeys, follows him and saves the day.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
    • When the Red Lectroids break into Buckaroo's mansion, he tells Penny Priddy to stay in his room. Of course she wanders off looking for him, which is both good and bad. Professor Hikita manages to pass the Oscillation Overthruster to her so the Red Lectroids can't get it from him, but then she's captured by them and used as a Hostage for MacGuffin.
    • Buckaroo tells the Hong Kong Cavaliers to wait outside Yoyodyne for thirty minutes, then to come in after him and get the Overthruster.
  • Ace in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective tells a character that if he doesn't come back in 5 minutes, just wait longer.
  • In Green Lantern (2011), Hal Jordan tells Carol Ferris to "Stay here" as he goes off to fight Parallax. Considering that the two of them have just witnessed Parallax brutally murder his own minion, Carol readily agrees. But after Hal immediately gets himself into trouble, Carol saves the day.
    • She doesn't do any actual damage to Parallax, but she does provide the necessary distraction that allows Hal to retrieve his Green Lantern ring. Without her distraction, Parallax would have killed Hal without a fight and the rest of the human race would be easy pickings.
  • In The Smurfs, the rest of the Smurfs tell this to Clumsy twice while in modern-day New York City. The second time, he actually does stay behind, which allows him to initiate the No One Gets Left Behind, as Papa had made them all promise not to go back for him — but Clumsy, who wasn't there at the time, never promised anything.
  • Fugitive Bronek says this to his child hostage Gillie twice in Tiger Bay. However, as Gillie is 11 years old, the first time she wanders off to play by the river. The second time, she is discovered by the police.
  • Constantine:
    • When John goes to confront the half-demon Balthazar, he tells his potential Love Interest Angela Dodson to stay in the car. After a while she decides to go after him, ends up losing the amulet he gave her to protect her and is captured by their enemies.
    • When John goes to convince Papa Midnite to let him use the Chair, he anticipates that the confrontation will be dangerous and tells his apprentice Chas Kramer to wait. After the encounter ends amicably Chas shows up without being summoned and starts to show off his book learning, to Papa Midnite's amusement.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun. After killing Scaramanga, James Bond tells Mary Goodknight to "Wait here" while he takes care of the maintenance man. Goodknight enthusiastically tells him that she's already taken care of the maintenance man (she hit him over the head with a wrench).
  • Demolition Man. Before John Spartan enters the museum to confront Simon Phoenix, he tells Lenina Huxley and Alfredo Garcia to wait for him outside so they won't get hurt.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Max tells the Feral Children to wait out in the desert while he slips into Bartertown and rescues Master. Irresistibly drawn by the lights of a civilization they've never known, they follow him in.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sky Captain tells Polly Perkins to "stay here" when he goes after the person who mortally wounded Dr. Jennings, and tells the group he's with (including Polly) to "wait here" when he's about to confront the robots guarding Dr. Totenkopf's lair. In each case Polly obeys him, which is a surprise because of how assertive and independent she is.

  • In A Brother's Price, this happens to Jerin. In a subversion, he actually does as told and does not get in trouble. Of course, he was trained to obey orders by his soldier-descended family, who have a strict chain of command. It also helps that this provides an opportunity to search his rescuer's stuff and get some more information about her.
  • In the Hurog duology, Ward tells other people to stay behind a couple of times. They're clever enough to actually do it. Lampshaded when he tells a woman to "wait there", and she... actually does, because it's the most sensible thing to do.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Devil in Iron, Conan the Barbarian orders Octavia to do this. It doesn't work.
  • The Temperance Brennan novels, on which Bones was based, have this as a very dark Running Gag. Some cop tells Tempe to stay out of trouble, occasionally reminding her she's not a cop, and then circumstances and/or her own curiosity send her into trouble anyway.
  • Harry of The Dresden Files on several occasions tells his apprentice to stay somewhere relatively safe before heading off for his latest confrontation. Unusually, this actually works, although the fact that his apprentice can turn herself invisible helps.
  • This ends up actually working in The Girl in 6E. The title character asks the Damsel in Distress to wait for her — at a shack in the middle of nowhere and the dead of night — while she goes to confront the antagonist, and to call 911 if she doesn't return in 15 minutes. You'd expect that she'll either get in over her head and be incapacitated, leaving her Damsel at the mercy of the antagonist, or that something or other will happen to the Damsel before she gets back. But while things don't go quite as smoothly as she'd hoped, she returns unharmed in all of 10 minutes, the Damsel is still where she left her, and everything proceeds swimmingly from there.
  • The companions frequently try to do this to Princess Eilonwy in The Chronicles of Prydain. It works about as well as you expect, given that Eilonwy is a textbook Rebellious Princess.
  • Diana Tregarde: On their way to the final magic battle in Jinx High, Diana orders Deke to stay in the car — it's heavily shielded against magic, and he's an untrained and (currently) unshielded mage, he needs the protection. While he never does figure out the rest of his instructions, at least he's smart enough to stay in the car until after the fight's over.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Still Valley", a Confederate scout named Sgt. Joseph Paradine gives orders to his partner Dauger:
    Paradine: Now you stay here. If you hear a shot, you get back to the lieutenant at a fast gallop...If you haven't heard from me in 15 minutes, you get back there anyway.
  • Dawn in Buffy the Vampire Slayer often fell into this. ("Dawn's in trouble; must be Tuesday...") Although to be fair, Xander had this happen to him occasionally (at least twice a season.)
  • Doctor Who As shown on the quotes page, the Doctor has been facing this problem for forty years. Rule #1 is "Don't wander off" yet the companions always do. The unstated but very obvious reason the Doctor keeps facing this problem is because people who would wait behind when told to are not people he would consider interesting enough as travel companions. The Doctor himself never quite seems to pick up on this.
    The Doctor: You know one day, one day, just maybe, I'll meet someone who gets the whole "don't wander off" thing. 900 years of Phone box travel it's the only thing left that surprises me.
  • Done several ways in Chuck. Chuck doesn't listen, gets in trouble. Chuck listens, gets in trouble. Chuck doesn't listen, and saves the day.
    • He points this out at the beginning of the season 2 premiere.
    • It's gotten to the point where Chuck heavily lampshades this.
      Chuck: You know what, it's never safe in the car!
  • Castle: At every crime scene early in the series, Detective Beckett orders Castle to wait in the car... and he never fails to get mixed up in the final confrontation of the perp. Subverted in "Home is Where the Heart Stops," when he actually does wait in the car... and the perp lands on his windshield and drags him out anyway.
    Beckett: Wait here.
  • In Kamen Rider Double's prequel movie, Shotaro's boss Sokichi tells him "don't move a damn step from here" during a dangerous mission. Being an impulsive kid, Shotaro moves, and unintentionally causes Sokichi's death, which becomes his greatest failure.
  • The Outer Limits (1963):
    • "Fun and Games". Mike Benson and Laura Hanley are on an alien planet participating in a death duel with two aliens. Mike tells Laura to "stay here" while he goes to check something out. She insists that they stick together, and when he goes anyway she follows him.
    • "Demon with a Glass Hand". Trent has Consuelo climb out onto a window ledge outside the building so she'll be safe from the Kyben. Oddly enough, she actually obeys him and stays there until he comes back.
  • CSI: NY: "Point of No Return" has Mac tell Danny to wait by the car while they go in on a bust because Danny forgot his bulletproof vest. Danny waits, but when the suspect runs out and into another area, Danny follows him anyway and ends up trying to survive a shooting match.
  • Subverted on NCIS: Palmer is ordered to stay in the car and he does... but he drives the car into the perp!
  • On Orphan Black:
    • Sarah tells Felix to wait in the car while she goes into a Neolutionist club, and to call Art (the police officer whose partner she's impersonating) and tell him everything if she doesn't get back in fifteen minutes. She ends up taking about fifteen minutes and thirty seconds.
      Felix: Detective Art Bell? ... You don't know me, but I need to talk to you about Beth Childs.
      Art: Beth Childs? What about her?
      Felix: I was told to call, um... [Sarah knocks on the window] Shit! Christ! Wrong number.
    • Sarah has teamed up with Helena in order to find one of the originators of the cloning experiment. She goes to search through the archives of a church and tells Helena to stay in the car. Unfortunately, she goes to a bar and ends up being arrested and eventually captured by the Prolethians.
  • Spoofed in Stargate SG-1, where Daniel and a Russian attache have separated from the others in an underground maze:
    Russian: I'll go see if I can find the others. Wait here.
    Daniel: [heavily sarcastic] Yes. You go into the dark tunnel, alone, and I'll wait here in the dark room, alone.
  • On Superman & Lois this gets Subverted and to an extent Lampshaded. When investigating a drug processing facility with her father Sam and her (superpowered) teenage son Jordan, Lois Lane, legendary Damsel in Distress, demands that Jordan wait in the car while she and her father check out the place. They get captured quickly and are tied up by the criminals. This leads to a discussion about knots and Sam asking Lois how many times she has been tied up that she knows so much about it. When the crooks are about to execute them both, Lois caves in and calls out to Jordan. Who comes into the warehouse and promptly beats down two superpowered thugs.
  • Blindspot: Weller attempts to do this to Jane in the pilot, but she insists on coming along. And in the second episode. And in the third. They eventually give up and decide to just add her to the team.

    Video Games 
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: At the end of a level in The Subspace Emissary, Snake is very clear to Zelda and Peach when asking them to stay in a spot while he inspects the area they're heading next. They don't actually listen to him, but do manage to make themselves quite useful. Peach manages to recruit Fox, and they both help out in the fight against Duon, after which Peach adds yet another useful member into the team: Mr. Game & Watch.
  • Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid tells Meyrl to stay behind and hide somewhere while he takes care of terrorists. She initially listens, but almost immediately defies Snake by going ahead anyway just to prove that she is a capable soldier and is not some useless load of a rookie. Naturally, things go wrong very quickly by having Meryl being mind controlled by Psycho Mantis to shoot Snake (and then shooting herself when the first plan failed) and then being shot in the legs by Sniper Wolf to be captured later on.
  • Prince Ross tells Gerda this in the seventh installment of the Dark Parables, very early in the plot. It works about as well as you'd expect, and she ends up captured despite the player character's best efforts to rescue her.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Discussed in Everyman HYBRID. The characters are aware that even if leaving the car means you might meet the Slender Man, staying in the car while the others go looking is never a good idea.

    Western Animation 
  • Jade in Jackie Chan Adventures lives and breathes this trope. Jackie will say "Stay here," "Don't play with the Cosmic Keystone," "Don't try and fight the ancient evil dragon spirit." And what does she do? The above. It's gotten to the point Jackie should carry chloroform and rope wherever he goes just to subdue her. Or accept she's his Sidekick, train her, and let her be annoying/helpful like a more competent Scrappy.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". When Race Bannon arrives at the title island, he tells Jonny and Hadji to stay and guard the boat to keep them out of danger. Naturally they disobey him, acquire a tractor and ram into the villain's laboratory, thus saving both Jonny's father and Race Bannon from a Giant Spider.
  • Yoda to Padmé in Star Wars: Clone Wars. To her credit, Padmé does get out of the situation herself by taking out a couple of invisible mooks.
  • April O'Neil does this in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but is at least slightly justified, in that if she listened to the turtles and stayed put, she wouldn't get a story. This was lampshaded in one episode when she trailed some thugs to a warehouse and she calls the turtles for reinforcements.
    April: I found the hideout. I'm going to check it out.
    Leo: No, don't. Wait!
    April: Okay. I won't wait.
  • Miko from Transformers: Prime seemingly has a psychological block against following the directions "Wait here" or "Stay put".
  • Garfield and Friends: The story "Don't Move" follows Odie as he is told to Wait Here while Garfield attends to some business. Unfortunately for Odie, it goes wrong from the beginning, when a dog-catching truck snaps him up. A series of misadventures ensue, ending when Odie gets deposited just two feet away from the spot where he started. Garfield returns from his errand, oblivious to the events that had happened, then points at Odie and says with annoyance, "You moved."
  • Space Ghost
    • Episode "The Web". When the protagonists arrive on the planet Teelus, Space Ghost tells Jan, Jace and Blip to stay in their ship, the Phantom Cruiser. When Space Ghost is captured by the Black Widow, they must disobey his instructions in order to rescue him.
    • Episode "The Schemer". While Space Ghost and the Team Pet Blip are in the Phantom Cruiser, Space Ghost receives a message from Jan and Jace that they're under attack. Space Ghost puts the Phantom Cruiser on hover so he can go to their rescue and tells Blip that he needs to stay behind. Luckily Blip disobeys him and follows him, allowing him to rescue Space Ghost, Jan and Jace after they get captured.
    • Episode "The Final Encounter''. Before Space Ghost enters the Council of Doom's planet for their final confrontation, he orders Jan and Jace to to stay outside. After they hear explosions inside the planet, Jace decides they should go inside and help Space Ghost.
  • In the Mickey Mouse short Mickey's Delayed Date, Mickey tells Pluto to stay home while he leaves to go to a dance with Minnie. However, Mickey forgets his tickets at home, leading Pluto go out and bring them to him.
    Mickey: Pluto, I thought I told you to—! (notices) Bring me the tickets!
  • Inversion: Danger Mouse orders this to Penfold while he investigates a disturbance at Stonehenge ("The Good, the Bad and the Motionless"). When Penfold protests in panic over being left alone:
    DM: No, you're right, Penfold. I'll wait here and you go investigate.
    Penfold:: (after a couple of beats) I know, chief. I'll wait here and you go investigate.
    DM: (dryly) What a good idea, Penfold. Why didn't I think of that?
  • Kim Possible: In "The Twin Factor", Kim is left to watch the Tweebs while her parents are away, and ends up bringing them along on a mission. She tells Ron to stay behind with them while she infiltrates Dr. Drakken's lair; he complains that he was stuck with the more dangerous option.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Mean 6" while Pinkie is trying to calm Fluttershy down, the Mean Twilight shows No Sympathy and tells both to stay put while she leaves to get the others. Seconds after her departure however, the real Twilight shows up, causing a heated argument between her and Pinkie about each other's intended horrible behavior.


Video Example(s):



Bambi's mother tells him to stay put while she checks if the meadow is safe to visit.

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