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- The trope name (and the quote) comes from Firefly, wherein Mal and the rest of the crew save Simon and River from being burned at the stake in the episode "Safe".
- Ace Rimmer (What a guy!) in Red Dwarf is usually introduced in a Big Damn Heroes scene. In his first appearance, he flies in, saves the crew, then performs emergency surgery on the Cat while nursing a broken arm. The second time, he literally sweeps in, rescues a Distressed Damsel from a Nazi firing squad, surfs from a plane on an alligator, takes a bullet to the holodrive and still manages to have sex before seeking aid -- what a guy.
- In an episode of the 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, called "Exodus", the titular ship is attacked by three Cylon Basestars while attempting to help colonists on the planet New Caprica escape. The ship is severely damaged, and somber music plays while the camera zooms out as the basestars pummel the Galactica to death in the cold darkness of space...until a missile, then more missiles, fire off the edge of the screen, and the Battlestar Pegasus hurtles to the rescue, just in the nick of time. Of course, this is just the high point to heroic events which kicked off with a deadpan "Prepare for turbulence."
- In season 4, episode 13, Lee is captured by members of Zarek's rebellion against the human-Cylon alliance. It looks as though he's about to be shot, and there's a gunshot...and you see Lee's face, spattered with blood, and Starbuck standing there, pistol in one hand. Another of the rebels moves, and she draws another pistol, shooting him. "I can do this all day." It escalates the situation later on, but it's awesome at the time.
- Stargate SG-1 did pretty much the same thing as Battlestar Galactica, above, in a battle against Anubis fleet above Antarctica, in the two-parter Grand Finale (well, it was a finale at the time), "Lost City", at the end of season seven. Dozens of ships are descending towards the heroes' defenseless cargo ship. Cue rockets blowing up Goa'uld fighters, as General Hammond leads the Prometheus against the incoming enemies.
- Both of those situations share several stylistic similarities: main characters convinced that they are doomed, and the sudden appearance of rockets, instantly followed by the use of a Theme Music Power-Up: Galactica with fast-paced drums and Stargate with the main theme of the series. The resemblance is probably just a coincidence, unless a Galactica writer did a Homage to SG-1.
- Another example is in Stargate Atlantis at the beginning of season 2 when Atlantis is under imminent attack, the self-destruct is armed and counting...then Earth responds to their earlier distress call with a small army of marines and an intergalactic battlecruiser.
- That's nothing compared to the series' grand finale. One of the best GunshipRescues ever.
- Russia never being heros and then in Contiunium "We have been expecting you. Good luck"
- Also shows up in the Babylon 5 with G'Kar in A Late Delivery From Avalon:
"...and they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the ground!"
- Raven pulls one of these at the ending of The Secret Temple. About bloody time too.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: At the closing moments of Season Six's penultimate episode, Willow, on a black-eyed bender of murderous, bad-magic-is-bad fury, is mopping the Magic Box floor with the Slayer, the only one who might have been strong enough to stop Willow's skin-flaying rampage. With Buffy down, Willow crows her triumph, informing all present (at least those still conscious) that there is no one on earth who is powerful enough to stop her. Cue Big Damn Hero entrance in the form of Rupert Giles, hepped up on some serious magic of his own, to test Willow's theory.
- The season 6 finale when Xander confronts Willow.
Xander: I saved the world with talking from my mouth. My mouth saved the world.
- Angel's entrance in Season 7 also qualifies.
"You look timely. And also good."
- Averted in Angel Season 5 when Illyria becomes concerned about Wesley and arrives just after he's been fatally wounded. She did take care of his opponent though.
- Doctor Who: Mickey and Jackie showing up to save Sarah Jane in "Journey's End".
- Not to mention the Doctor smashing through a mirror astride a white horse to save Madame De Pompadour from the creepy clockwork men in "The Girl in the Fireplace".
- Cleverly framed toward the end of "The Doctor Dances". Jack Harkness is sitting in his cockpit, knocking back a hypervodka, resigned to the imminent destruction of his ship. The camera pulls away from Jack slowly, showing him in the center as the camera passes through the interior of his ship...and into the TARDIS. Cut to the Doctor and Rose dancing, and Rose shouts to Jack, "Well, c'mon!"
- The seventh Doctor and the army rush into a school just in time to save Ace from the Daleks.
- Subverted in "The Waters of Mars". The Doctor tries to alter history to save Adelaide Brooks and her remaining crew, but nearly broke time itself instead; this was averted only through Adelaide's self-sacrifice.
- Played awesomely straight in 'The Runaway Bride'. Donna is kinapped by a Robot Santa Taxi Driver and is being driven down a motorway. She looks out of the back window, screaming for help, just in time to see the TARDIS swoop down from the sky and underneath a bridge. It then approaches the Taxi at speed, spinning wildly, after taking a sizable chuck out of the tarmac and nearly flattening some of the traffic. Donna's reaction sums it up to the whole audience:
Donna: You are kidding me.
- Rory appearing to save Amy, Amelia and the Doctor from the stone Dalek in "The Big Bang".
- In Torchwood, Ianto Jones is about to have his throat slit by a cannibal with a meat cleaver, when good ol' Captain Jack breaks through the wall "in a ruddy great tractor" and starts shooting people. Cue theme music.
- Lost, third season finale "Through the Looking Glass:" Three of the Others are holding Sayid, Jin, and Bernard at gunpoint. Sawyer and Juliet are hiding in the bushes, wondering how they can possibly rescue them unarmed. All of a sudden Hurley comes barreling onto the beach and runs over one of them with a Volkswagen Bus.
- The best was in the series finale when Jack and Locke are having their final confrontation. All seems lost as Locke lowers his knife toward Jack's throat, then BAM! Kate puts a bullet in him.
- Ace Lightning tends to end its series' with Big Damn Heroes moments, usually in the form of a Power Trio.
- In the series finale of Roswell, Michael is on his way out of town when he sees a fleet of black cars heading the other way. Rightly guessing this means trouble, he turns back...just in time to burst through the school auditorium doors on a motorbike, ride up the aisle and onto the stage, where Max gets on behind him and everyone gets away.
- Happens fairly often in the 60s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Usually Solo is in James Bondage (often with the Girl of the Week beside him) when Kuryakin will swoop in at the nick of time; occasionally it happens with the roles reversed. One example: The second season episode "The King of Diamonds Affair", when Kuryakin arrives to save Solo, the innocent of the week, and a villain-turned-hero who are strapped to cannons with lit fuses which are about to fire:
Napoleon Solo: Next time, try not waiting til the last minute.
Illya Kuryakin: Next time try not to go that far up the Amazon.
- Occurs all the time in Supernatural.
- But defied in the Season 4 finale, "Lucifer Rising": when Ruby prevents Dean from getting into the room in time to tell Sam that Lilith is the final seal and killing her will release Lucifer.
- Done to a hideously Narm-ish degree in the Season 5 finale when Dean shows up to interrupt the impending smackdown between Michael and Lucifer.
- And then hilariously subverted a few minutes later when Castiel appears and hits Michael with a Holy Hand Grenade (aka, a Molotov of anti-angel holy oil) only to get blown up a second later by Lucifer.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, episode "Shattered Mirror". When Mirror Bashir and Mirror Dax swoop in to save the day, we've almost forgotten that they were a part of the plan all along.
- In "Sacrifice of Angels", the Defiant is leading Starfleet against Dominion-Cardassian forces. Just as three Jem'Hadar are closing in on it, the Klingons finally arrive, decloaking from the direction of a star and smashing through the Dominion lines.
- In the Season 2 finale of Chuck, the day is saved in the form of John Casey and his unit parachuting into the Church, to the tune of Mr. Roboto.
- True Blood: Jason Stackhouse confronts a mob of Maryann's crazed revelers armed with only a chainsaw and a nailgun in order to save Sam from being sacrificed. Thanks to a rare moment of cleverness on his part, it works. Took a Level In Badass, indeed.
- Bones averted this in a recent episode, with the FBI showing up to save the day only to find that the "bad guys" had already departed, and the day was no longer in need of saving
- Dai Sentai Goggle V opens with Akama Ken'ichi AKA Goggle Red saving Dr. Hongou from Deathdark in the nick of time, while just passing by, even before he knew he's going to be Goggle Red.
- Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders Vs. Great Shocker features
allmost of the protagonist Riders in the franchise's 38-year history coming to the aid of Decade and Diend after the two were overwhelmed by Shocker's massive numbers.
- Happens again in Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider: Let's Go!! Kamen Riders, when every Rider (main or not) arrive to take down Great Leader.
- Truth be told, this was something of a big deal with the Showa Riders after V3.
- In the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this always happened concerning Sixth Ranger Tommy - Rangers would get their asses handed to them, Zordon calls in Tommy, Tommy cleans up shop. One epic moment is Tommy's I'm Back moment in "Return of the Green Ranger Part 2" when Tommy jumps in, repowered, and saves the Rangers with his Dragon Shield glowing brightly, sending the bad guy scattering. As one YouTube viewer put it, "He saved everyone with the power of his awesome!"
- On Veronica Mars, this seemed to be Logan's main function whenever Veronica got into over her head. Out of every one of them, his biggest BDH moment has to be in 2x08, when Logan points a gun at a bar full of Fitzpatricks, orders them to let Veronica go, and walks out with her. Made all the more awesome by the fact that the gun wasn't loaded.
Logan: Stop! I've had a very bad year.
- In Merlin during the third season finale Gaius saves Merlin from Morgause, using his magic for the first time in years.
- In Primeval Nick and Cutter are being chased by a Raptor. Connor, who's been ridiculed all episode for his lack of gun skills, barrels in from behind Nick, yells him out of the way and takes a fully grown Raptor down with one shot.
- In another episode, a swarm of Megopterans and a pack of future predators are catching up to the team and all seems lost...cue Becker, thought to be dead already, blasting away from his hiding place inside a car. Damn, that guy is badass.
- Horatio Hornblower: In Retribution, Lieutenant Bush and crew are about to be captured by the Spaniards. Convinced that Horatio has abandoned them, Bush angrily remarks, "If you see Mr. Hornblower, tell him he'll hang from the yardarm." What happens barely half a second later?
- KA-BOOM!! "Glad to see you safe, Mr. Bush!"
- Not to mention, this is the Indefatigable's job in Series One. It could practically be a drinking game to take a shot every time the Indy appears over the horizon to save the day.
- John Watson pulls this off in the first episode of Sherlock in his first Crowning Moment of Awesome by shooting the serial killer right before Sherlock takes one of the pills. From the next building. Through two windows. Over Sherlock's shoulder.
- Sherlock pulls one off at the end of "A Scandal in Belgravia", when it is revealed in flashback that he was able to rescue Irene Adler from Muslim extremists.
"When I say run, run!"
- In Community episode "Epidemiology" when Greendale is overrun by zombies, at the last moment Troy saves the day by cooling everyone down until the military arrived.
- In the third episode of Band of Brothers, the Germans are assaulting positions held by the 101st Airborne outside of the French town of Carentan. While Easy Company is holding their own, several other companies have been forced back by the German attack. Cue the arrival of 2nd Armored. The Germans, caught off guard, are forced into a panicked retreat.
- "Big Damn Heroes" is basically Lassiter and Juliet's standby mode on Psych. Listing all the times they've kicked down doors with guns at the ready to rescue Shawn and Gus from the villain of the week (sometimes more than once in a single episode) would cover at least a third of all episodes ever aired. Notable in that the duo is usually together during these moments, although both Lassie and Jules have pulled off a handful of solo BDH's too.
- In "Scrap Teacher", Takasugi and his group are always this. They show up just when their teacher and/or classmates are in some kind of trouble.