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Wounded Hero, Weaker Helper

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Well, he's weaker now — until he gets his armor on.

The hero or main character is physically wounded or suffers from a Power-Strain Blackout or Heroic BSoD such that they require assistance from a much weaker or less capable character (often a woman, Red Shirt, kid, or sometimes a combination thereof).

There is no safe way for the hero to get out of this situation by themself. Either the wounds would leave the hero vulnerable to discovery/attack/losing to the villain or at the extreme the hero would die without assistance. This is never a case of toughing it out. In fact, if the hero is still able to plan and direct their assistant significantly, they don't qualify for this trope. The injury (whether physical, mental, or otherwise) should be severe enough that the hero is out of the game with the possible exception of cooperating with the assistant in their attempts to help.

This can be done for a number of reasons. Making the hero more vulnerable makes them more accessible to the viewer. It can also be used to show that the person assisting is in fact more capable (at least slightly) than they've been allowed to show previously. It is usually an occasion for the relationship between the hero and the rescuer to become closer. If appropriate to gender preferences of the participating characters, this will often lead to a Rescue Romance (or advance a nascent romance quickly). If a Mook is assisting, this can lead to a Mook–Face Turn. It can also be used as a way to slow down the plot and/or let the villain catch up (putting the hero's plans on hold until they're rescued/fully recovered).

A Sub-Trope of Badass in Distress, where the help always comes from a less powerful character and they can't recover on their own note . This version, however, does not generally lead immediately into an action sequence.

Compare: Heroic BSoD, where time or a stiff talking to is usually is all that's needed to recover. Heroic RRoD, which is sometimes fatal (Wounded Hero isn't) and can be recovered from on their own. The After Action Patch Up is similar as it's a quiet moment of healing between the hero and assistant, except Wounded Hero is absolutely needed and not just minor or cosmetic. Compare Distressed Dude.

The Single-Episode Handicap has similarities, but that is escaped by the hero relying on other abilities. Here, they don't have that option. The hero must have someone else's help or die (or at least run a heavy risk of making things worse).

The trope is also very similar to Now, Let Me Carry You. However, that is more of a variant of positive Laser-Guided Karma. In this one, the helper need not be previously helped by the hero.

See also After-Action Healing Drama, Protected by a Child, and Rescue Reversal.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016): Link is put in the care of a young girl named Anika after the Master Sword rejects him and Zant Curb Stomps him.
  • Parasyte: During the final arc, Shinichi and Migi are confronted by the Final Boss Gotou and Migi is seemingly absorbed by Gotou leaving Shinichi as a human amputee who runs away into the mountains before he is found and nursed by an elderly woman named Mitsuyo.

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher: In one issue, a group of mobsters' wives (recently widowed by Frank) lay an ambush for him. He escapes and is patched up by a woman, who turns out to be the sister of one of the widows, married to a Domestic Abuser (also killed by Frank) and looking for revenge. She handcuffs a wounded Frank to the bed, kills most of the widows, and drags her sister back to her apartment before beating her to death with a baseball bat. Then she shoots herself.
  • Superman:
    • Superman in the comics has been known to need help from his human loved ones (like Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, or Batman) when he encounters too much Kryptonite.
    • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen: Multiple situations spring up in which Superman gets incapacitated and Jimmy ends up taking charge to save his life.
      • "The Disappearance of Superman": A group of crooks pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on Superman and bury him in a mine with a hunk of Kryptonite. Luckily, Jimmy succeeds in tracking him down and digging him up. Jimmy even lampshades how bizarre the situation is as he's pulling rocks out of the way.
      • One incident gets referenced passingly in "The Million-Dollar Question." Crooks tied Superman to a Kryptonite boulder and threw him into the ocean. Unfortunately for them, Jimmy arrived on his heels, expecting a news story. The young reporter dived a considerable distance after him and cut him loose.
    • At the end of Superman: Doomed, a cloud of Kryptonite enveloping Earth causes Supergirl to fall to Earth, crash into a house and pass out. She is found by a boy in a wheelchair, who drags her to his house's underground shelter, whose walls and ceiling were designed to stop nuclear fallout, so that she can recover.
    • Escape from the Phantom Zone: After being struck and brought to her knees by a powerful psychic attack, Supergirl needs Batgirl to carry her out of the prison complex where both heroines had broken into.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter is badly wounded by the Prowler and his attempts to limit collateral to the surrounding area. When Prowler takes a hostage to keep the Pro Heroes from intervening, the cowardly and insecure Izuku, who had only just gotten his spider powers that same day, is the only one to rush in to help Peter.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Tenya's great-grandfather, Tenka Iida, had just acquired his Quirk during the Lantern War when he saw Jay Garrick pinned by a Red Lantern using Still Force energy. He immediately rushed in to help and was pummeled senseless by the furious Red Lantern. But this bought enough time for Garrick to recover and fight back, prompting a generations-long friendship between their households.

    Films — Animation 
  • An anti-heroic variant in Beauty and the Beast, as up until this point the Beast has been, to be blunt, a selfish prick. After the Beast is wounded defending her from wolves and collapses in the snow, the much physically smaller and frailer Belle chooses to help him rather than flee; she somehow lifts him onto her horse, brings him back to the castle and tends his wounds. This marks the turning point of their previously antagonistic relationship, with Beast in particular becoming kinder, culminating in them falling in love.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, the nigh-invincible Vision and Reality Warper Scarlet Witch suffer a Curb-Stomp Battle from Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, and have to be rescued by Bad Ass Normal heroes Captain America, Falcon and Black Widow.
  • Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy. While sick from the retrovirus, he can't hide himself (let alone Dr. Marta Shearing) from Treadstone/Blackbriar/Outcome, so she had to be the brains for a while.
  • Tony in Iron Man 3. While suffering from a panic attack, he needs help from a young boy to work his way out of it.
  • In Maleficent, there's a scene close to the end where Maleficent is wounded and defeated, and Aurora provides some crucial help.
  • Superman: The Movie. When Superman is dumped in a pool by Lex Luthor while wearing a kryptonite necklace, he needs Miss Tessmacher's help to get out in time to stop Luthor's plan.
  • In the climax of Mission: Impossible III, Ethan Hunt is incapacitated after he uses a makeshift defibrillator to shock himself in order to disable the mini-bomb planted inside his head, leaving his wife Julia to hold out against the bad guys coming after them. Fortunately, there weren't many and Julia is able to hold her own just fine, even managing to kill The Mole in the process.

  • In A Brother's Price, Princess Odelia is hit over the head by bandits and left to die in a creek. She is found by a child, Heria, and is carried to safety by Heria's older brother Jerin, who, while not exactly weak is arguably somewhat less badass than Odelia and her sisters. She does not get to have a Rescue Romance due to being unconscious most of the time. Her sister Ren, however, takes advantage of the situation.
  • In Hurog, at one point in the story, Tisala kills several bandits with a tiny knife when she is already badly wounded beforehand. The members of a farmer family find her unconscious body, figure out what happened and carry her into their house before informing Ward.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Superman: In "The Magic Secret", Superman is trapped at the bottom of a concrete bunker where The Walls Are Closing In and there is a Kryptonite ray pointed down to keep Superman drained of powers. Jimmy crawls up the bunker to the top and changes the direction the ray is pointing so it won't affect Superman any more, leading to his quick recovery.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the second episode of season 1, Matt is badly wounded during a failed attempt to rescue a kid. Claire Temple takes care of him for most of the episode while he's convalescing. Later, in episode 10, Foggy has to look after Matt when he's injured in a fight with Fisk and Nobu, spending the time berating Matt for keeping this big secret from him.
  • Doctor Who: In his introduction episode, "The Christmas Invasion", the Tenth Doctor needs to be cared for by Rose (and to a lesser extent Mickey and Jackie), and they have to try to deal with the alien invasion for him while he recuperates from his regeneration.
  • MacGyver (1985): In the episode "To Be a Man," MacGyver, who can always work his way out of anything on his own, is bedridden and helped by a lady and her son.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In the episode "The Murdoch Identity", the title character stumbles into a closed pub clutching an arm wound and suffering from amnesia. He begs for help from the female proprietor, who cleans and bandages his wound, gives him food and ale, and spends much of the rest of the episode helping him evade his pursuers and figure out who he is and why he's an ocean away from his home.
  • Supernatural: Throughout the series, pretty much all of the heroes have their turn, especially Castiel, who suffers from fairly regular Power-Strain Blackout and other injuries (mostly relying on Sam and/or Dean who are mere humans). Sam and Dean tend to rely on non-hunter civilians.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Greek Mythology: One of Aesop's fables has a rat beg to be spared by a lion and the lion lets him go. Later the lion is ensnared in a net and is only freed when the rat comes and gnaws him free.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot is injured from blocking the Taurcanis Draco's explosive blast and falling from the sky onto a road. Justin, who is in a much less powerful form, carries him away from the battle while Noah keeps the Taurcanis Draco busy.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Lalli experiences a Power-Strain Blackout after killing a giant that was going after him and Emil. After that, Emil is the one transporting Lalli's unconscious body, while being the one of the two with less field experience by a margin of several years.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: The episode "I've Got Batman in my Basement" has Batman convalescing from being exposed to toxic gas in the basement of some kids, and he needs them to pick up some counter-agent capsules from a first-aid kit on the Batmobile. While he's still recovering, the Penguin and some goons arrive to the house, forcing the kids to improvise some "Home Alone" Antics with the contents of the Bat-Belt.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: There are multiple occasions throughout the show when Captain Planet ends up incapacitated and has to be rescued by the (currently powerless) team working together.
    • In the pilot episode, Greedly splatters Captain Planet with some oil, downing him. The boys stand guard and keep Greedly from finishing him off while Linka and Gi run for water.
    • In "Don't Drink the Water", after Captain Planet gets drenched in polluted water, he can't do a thing to help himself. The non-powered Ma-Ti and Kwame have to find clean water before the contamination kills him.
    • In "A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste", the Planeteers have to work together to rescue Captain Planet after Captain Pollution runs him ragged trying to stop his schemes and then pounces.
    • An example that doesn't involve the Planeteers occurs in "Trouble on the Half Shell". Captain Planet, downed by toxic-waste-soaked turtle eggs, has to be dragged to the ocean by exploring robot JASON and one of the local Galapagos tortoises (who JASON's pilot Sean names Shelley).
  • Exploited by the Red Guy of David Feiss' Cow and Chicken as a ruse to expose Cow's Secret Identity. He rings the doorbell and Cow responds to see a Superman expy lying prone on her doorstep with a huge green rock embedded in his spine. The expy pleads for Cow's help to remove the kryptonite, but Cow defers, saying, "I'm just a widdle cow." She may have seen through Red Guy's hammy acting, or Cow may be Too Dumb to Fool.
  • In "Beware of Mexicans Delivering Milk," Danger Mouse has his strength sapped after drinking spiked milk, so Penfold has to take the initiative to help stop El Loco (who delivered the milk) from robbing the Bank of England. As the videophone alarms:
    DM: (weakly to Penfold) All right, I'll get it...if you'll carry me.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?", Luthor drops Superman with a bucket of Kryptonite-laced ink and puts him on the Planet's newspaper preparation belt to be crushed by the presses. Luckily, Jimmy (who was tied up on the same belt), frees himself with some of the machinery and stops the belt. Then he uses some ink remover to get the poisoned ink off.
  • Superman: The Animated Series has the hero getting saved by mere humans more than once, often when he gets too close to Kryptonite.
    • "A Little Piece of Home": When Lex Luthor discovers Kryptonite and its effect on Superman, he sends a robotic T-rex equipped with a chunk of the deadly mineral to attack him. Luckily, Lois proves that her skill with Wastebasket Ball can also deal with Kryptonite, as long as there's a handy lead container around.
    • "Feeding Time": The tied-up Superman can only partially recharge his powers before Parasite returns to drain them again, making it impossible to escape. However, he hears Jimmy investigating the labs and manages to get his attention by tapping SOS on the pipe to which he's chained. Combining his weakened heat vision with Jimmy's prying his bonds with a crowbar, he succeeds in breaking loose.
    • "Superman's Pal": While Superman is within range of Metallo's Kryptonite blasts, he's weakened as the radiation poisons him. However, Jimmy defeats Metallo by slinging acid from a leaking battery at his open chest compartment, corroding the pieces holding the Kryptonite in place. Supes gives his non-powered friend credit not just for stopping the bad guy, but for saving his life as well.
  • Frequently on Underdog, the eponymous superhero will lose access to his Super Serum after draining himself, forcing the female lead Polly to find it and/or protect him so he can recharge.