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A toddler toddles out in front of a speeding semi-truck and a character rushes out to snatch the child from impending doom. Or one character, usually a physically weaker one (such as The Chick or the Tagalong Kid, sometimes even The Smart Guy), has a fireball shot at them and another character dives to push her out of the way. Extra points for Slow Motion and a Big No, and/or if the person doing the Diving Save takes the bullet instead, turning it into a Heroic Sacrifice.

Usually the person in danger is:

  • Not intelligent or mature enough to know they're in danger, such as a little kid.
  • Totally oblivious, like someone reading a book.
  • Frozen in terror, a la "deer caught in the headlights".
  • In the middle of tripping, or is otherwise unable to change course.

And their response to being saved is:

  • Simple gratitude from them or their guardian.
  • "Why'd you push me over?"
  • A Crash Into Hello style meeting, possibly leading to a Rescue Romance.
  • A gushing "I Owe You My Life, how can I ever repay you" response, maybe followed by some obsessive following.
  • A possible How Dare You Die on Me! if they believe the savior won't make it (sometimes they will, sometimes not).

If a villain or Anti-Hero does this, it can be a Pet the Dog moment, or Redemption Equals Death if they sacrifice themselves.

If you want to prove your character is extra Badass, have them push the attacker/blast/projectile off-course instead.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Subverted in the first episode of Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke dies saving a little boy by pushing him out of the way of a car. He is later informed that despite how it looked, the car would've swerved out of the way at the last second, making his sacrifice completely meaningless. He was told the child would have actually been less injured. He gets points for trying, though, and is resurrected shortly after because of it... and because him sacrificing himself to save the kid was so unlikely, The Powers That Be were completely unprepared for him.
    • The original manga renders this a little bit differently. Here, the little boy was to have been hit by the car, but would have miraculously pulled through.
    • Botan later saves Mitarai by pushing him out of the way of a falling bookcase, helping cause him to question his view of humanity (although Botan is not human, he may not be aware of her role in Spirit World).
  • Done in The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer by Hangetsu Shinonome. Unfortunately, he does not pull through.
  • Done in RRR by Rikitarou to his sister's son Aozora. He needs that protective instinct later on.
  • Bobobobo Bobobo: In order to save Beauty from any situation (ranging from truly dangerous to "why the hell doesn't she move?"), Heppokomaru/Gasser usually does this.
  • In a memorable scene in Sailor Moon, upon learning Hotaru is Sailor Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune both launch their attacks at her. Chibiusa just jumps in front of her, but Usagi takes the more logical move and rushes in and pushes them both out of the way.
    • Sailor Moon really loved this trope. Umino saving Naru in episode 26, Mamoru saving Usagi from Queen Beryl, Mamoru jumping in the way for Usagi again- while Luna and Artemis simultaneously try to do the same thing- in the R Movie, Umino jumping in the way to protect Naru again in S (after which she gets in the way, trying to protect him), and various other occasions, perhaps too many to count. Not to mention Nephrite saving Naru by jumping in the way of a spike attack in episode 24.
  • Vash of Trigun proves he's the real Stampede when he does the Badass version of this trope using five bullets.
  • In a memorable episode of Slayers NEXT, Amelia tries to enforce her motive of justice on the Mazoku general Gaav, who promptly gives her a brief but harsh Hannibal Lecture. A confused Amelia would've been brutally stabbed by him at that point if Zelgadis hadn't dived in and shielded her at the last second. It's also the first time at that point in the series that the latter character, normally Nigh Invulnerable, was severely wounded.
  • Full Metal Panic: Sousuke rescues Chidori from an incoming truck with a Diving Save... But unfortunately grabs her in a 'no touching' area in the process, causing her to deck him. In a subversion, it is immediately shown that Sousuke's backup Humongous Mecha had stopped the truck immediately following the save, meaning he could have spared himself the effort.
  • Negi rescues a kitten this way in Mahou Sensei Negima, by diving in, grabbing the cat, and flipping the car through the air (which lands right-side up).
    • It also happens earlier on; Asuna discovers that Negi is a mage when he uses his magic to help him catch Nodoka when she falls off a staircase. Of course, Negi was too far away, and he had to levitate her so he could dive in time.
  • FLCL
    • Episode 1 "Fooly Cooly". While Haruko is abusing Naota, Mamimi jumps and grabs him out her arms, taking to safety.
    • Episode 2 "Firestarter". Naota saves Mamimi by pushing her out of the way of a falling Canti during the final battle.
  • Subverted twice in Gundam Seed. In the first instance, Kira tries to perform a Diving Save with his Humongous Mecha's shield to prevent a shuttle full of civilian refugees from being blown up by an enemy mecha, but fails to block the shot and can only watch as the shuttle explodes, going into a Heroic BSOD as a result. Later, near the end of the series, a nearly-identical scene occurs in which Kira once again tries for a Diving Save to keep the Big Bad from destroying an escape pod from another ship (where his Fallen Princess ex-girlfriend is, among others), and this time succeeds - and then the Big Bad uses an Attack Drone to fire again from another angle and blows the escape pod up, killing said Fallen Princess and the others. Cue Kira's Freak-Out and a savage final fight which ends up with Kira utterly defeating the Big Bad.
  • In Kaleido Star, Leon pulling this to save Sora from a car is the first sign of him starting to become defrosted.
  • Ken Wakashimazu saves a puppy being run by a truck like this in the first Captain Tsubasa series. He still got hit on the shoulder, creating a serious Game-Breaking Injury that would haunt him for quite a while.
    • Also, Gino Hernández and Taro Misaki save the lives of Schneider's sister Marie and Misaki's half-sister Yoshiko like this. In the second case, though, Misaki also got injured, which prevented him from playing in almost the whole WYC.
  • Used in The Cat Returns, where Haru saves Prince Lune from getting hit by a truck (as he fumbles with his proposal gift), by scooping him up with a lacrosse stick.
  • Vita does the Badass version of this trope in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS by whalloping one of Teana's wayward energy bullets off course at the last second before it hits Subaru's head. Garyu does something similar later, only he catches the Energy Ball headed for Erio and Caro when they were bringing Lutecia to safety and crushes it in his hand instead.
  • Tooya pulls this off with Aya in the first chapter-slash-episode of Ayashi no Ceres.
  • Ken from Digimon Adventure 02 pushed Ryo out of the way of Milleniumon's Dark Seeds, and got hit instead. It didn't end well for him.
  • Subverted back and forth so many times there isn't even a name for it in Darker Than Black. In the second episode, before the real tenor of the series has become clear, Hei dives in front of Chiaki when one of the bad guys shoots at her. However, 1) "Chiaki" (actually a doll programmed with her memories) was the one who shot him. 2) His Badass Longcoat is bulletproof, so his getting in the way wasn't actually putting him in much more danger. and 3) He had absolutely no compunction about using her as a shield when dealing with another contractor with a Tele Frag power. Nevertheless, he was still having an unexpected attack of Chronic Hero Syndrome, trying to rescue her even though there was no rational reason to do so. Maybe we should just say they broke the trope and leave it at that.
    • Yin's Mom also makes one to save Yin from a truck.
  • Happens pretty often in Naruto.
  • Fate/stay night has Shirou shove Saber out of the way of both Berserker and Archer's attacks, although he has a nasty habit of getting massively wounded in the process.
    • Also, Shirou saves Rin from Rider in a similar fashion. Again, terrible injuries occur.
  • Bleach anime examples:
    • Episode #10: Ichigo pulls Don Kanonji out of the way of a charging Hollow.
    • Episode #12: Chad leaps and grabs Karin to get her out of the way of a Hollow's attack.
    • Episode #224: When the arrancar Apache fires a cero blast at Momo, Rangiku dives in and pulls Momo out of the way.
  • In Case Closed, Conan pushes a Trauma-Induced Amnesia-affected Ran out of the way of a Runaway Train in the fourth movie.
  • Pokémon anime.
    • Episode "Bulbasaur the Ambassador". Bulbasaur jumps to push another Pokemon out of the way of a falling boulder and has it fall on him instead. He digs into the ground to escape injury.
    • Episode "Just Waiting on a Friend". Nine Tails pushes Brock out of the way of James' attacking Victreebel.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew. In one episode Zakuro Fujiwara leaps and grabs Mint Aizawa, pulling her out of the path of an energy beam.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist , Ed tries to stop Ling from being eaten by a rampaging Gluttony by doing this . It doesn't work and they both get eaten, along with Envy, who was trying to stop Ed from being eaten. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Shouma pulls this for Ringo in Mawaru Penguindrum. He's so Made of Iron that he survives with little more than some bumps and bruises.
  • In Happy Yarou Wedding, Yuuhi happens to hit Kazuki's Berserk Button at the same time as Shouta tries to interfere in their fist fight. Yuuhi ends up diving to protect Shouta and gets a harsh blow to the head for it.
  • Ranma ½: In the 5th OVA, Ranma dives to keep Akane from being hurt by a blast that goes straight through the wall of the dojo.
    • In the live action special, when Ranma sees a sharp weapon flying towards Akane's head, he tackles her.
  • In Saint Beast, Luca saves Rey from falling rocks (that Rey blew up) in both anime versions. In the first it's played off as something of a Meet Cute Rescue Romance whereas the second retconned it into happening during training practice, long after they had met.
  • In The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, Dr. Amano's wife Yuri died when she pulled the Heroic Sacrifice version to save an old lady who had tripped on the streets and on the way of a truck.

Comic Books

  • Plays a crucial role in Daredevil's Super-Hero Origin: he saved a blind man from a truck, only to be struck blind himself when a container of radioactive waste hit him in the face.
  • Surely every incarnation of Spider-Man, ever, must qualify for this, even if he does it Tarzan-style.
  • In Avengers: The Initiative, one of the early issues has Charles Atlas superhero MVP push push Cloud 9 out of the way of an energy blast, at the cost of his own life.
  • In Book 7 of Bone, Grandma Ben makes a diving save to save Thorn when she shows no sign of actually being alarmed by having Kingdok (giant slobbery toothy rat-like monster with no tongue left at this point) charging her.
  • Happens a few times in Astro City; they're basically distilled superhero comics, so it's not surprising.
  • Dynamite Comics' version of The Lone Ranger has this. A cornered baddie, with only one shot left, has to choose which one to kill; he picks Tonto, but the Ranger does a flying leap and takes the bullet. In the chest. When Tonto, upon catching up to the shooter, finds that he has reloaded his derringer in the interim, his reaction is to grab the gun with his hand, taking a bullet to the palm, and use his other hand to punch the living crap out of the outlaw. This version of Tonto is more of a Badass than the titular hero.

Film

  • In Back to The Future. Marty McFly pushes his future father out of the way of an oncoming car.
  • The Heroic Sacrifice version is done at the end of Cruel Intentions.
  • A flashback in the 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy shows that Arthur and Ford met when the former did this to keep the latter from getting hit by a car...that he was attempting to greet:

 Ford: Didn't you think it was strange I was trying to shake hands with a car?

Arthur: I assumed you were drunk.

Ford: I thought cars were the dominant lifeform. I was trying to introduce myself.

    • Note, this is a Pragmatic Adaptation explanation of Ford's Earth name for American audiences, since the car from which he took the name was sold exclusively in England.
  • Happens at the end of Stranger Than Fiction, with the main character saving a little kid.
    • This instance gets bonus points. The main character was supposed to die in the attempt while still saving the kid, and he knew this ahead of time. The author writing his story has a change of heart after meeting him, and makes an alteration. He gets better.
  • Star Wars: this trope is the reason why Jar Jar Binks followed the main characters around the entire movie instead of getting killed off when he first appeared, as many viewers would have preferred.
  • Tremors. In the first movie, Valentine grabs Mindy off her pogo stick and jumps to safety to get her away from an attacking Graboid.
  • In the recent Fantastic Four movie, Ben (who just became The Thing) is sitting on the edge of a bridge, when a suicide jumper is just about to go. After getting his attention ("You think YOU got problems?"), the man falls onto the less-deadly side of the bridge. "Less" deadly because they'd somehow gotten on top of a freeway. And now there's an 18-wheeler coming at them. Ben shoulder-checks it.
  • Happens in Superhero Movie. Unfortunately the old lady the hero pushes lands in a grinder, but the thought is there.
  • Done twice, one with hair and a vacuum, and another with hair and a dustpan in You Don't Mess With the Zohan.
  • Bugs Bunny did this for Lola when she was about to get literally crushed by the Monstars in Space Jam.
  • Big Trouble in Little China. After kidnapping Miao Yin, the Lords of Death are escaping in a car. Jack Burton pulls a frozen Wang Chi out of the way of the oncoming car.

Literature

  • In Sydney Taylor's More All Of A Kind Family children's novel, the family first meets their eventual Aunt Lena when she pushes toddler Charlie out of the way of an oncoming wagon (this took place in the 1910s).
  • Subverted by Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files when he saves Michael Carpenter's newest son from a Denarian - by grabbing the coin instead of the kid. Guilt ensues.
    • Guilt and a fallen angel in his brain.
  • Happens in Stephen King's Insomnia. The main character pulls the Heroic Sacrifice version at the climax, to save his friend's daughter from a speeding car.
  • Subversion in Animorphs: A woman who claims to be Tobias's cousin pushes a child out of danger, causing the Animorphs to decide she's not a Controller, because no Controller would risk their life for a child. The woman is not only a Controller, she's Visser Three in disguise, and he suspects Tobias to be on the side of the Animorphs.
  • Played with in the Star Trek: The Next Generation book Metamorphosis where Data gets turned human temporarily. At one point, a cabinet is about to fall on Dr. Pulaski. Acting on reflex, he slammed himself into the cabinet to knock it off course, hospitalizing himself in the process. Afterwards, he explained that normally, his android body would have suffered no damage, and pushing Dr. Pulaski would have injured her.
  • The whole point of the Final Destination series. Everyone jumps to save everyone else, with the characters hoping to break the chain this way. Most of the time however, all it does it avoid the inevitable. The ways to actually stop (or delay longer) Death are different.
  • Bel Thorne does this to save Miles in Diplomatic Immunity by Lois Mc Master Bujold.

Live Action TV

  • In Heroes when Hiro pushes the little girl out of the way of the truck, and when he pushes DL and the random woman out of the way of the car exploding. He doesn't get any of the above reactions, though, due to using his powers to do it between seconds.
  • In the first episode of The Sentinel, Jim Ellison's heightened senses cause him to "zone out" in the middle of the street, directly in the path of an oncoming truck. His soon-to-be partner tackles him to the ground, and the truck passes harmlessly over them.
  • Played straight with a minor exception in the Torchwood episode "Random Shoes" - Eugene pushes Gwen out of the way of a speeding vehicle to save her life. The minor exception? He was a ghost throughout the episode, and it was the first and only time he was able to interact physically with anything. It's implied that this was somehow his unfinished business, since he ascended (or something) immediately afterwards.
  • In the 5th season Grey's Anatomy finale, a man saves a girl from getting hit by a bus, but is hit full-on himself, destroying his face, among other things. Which is key because it prevents Grace's staff from figuring out his identity: George O'Malley.
  • In Blake's 7, episode The Web, Avon tackles Blake away from a bomb and is afterwards visibly embarrassed by his action (not to mention the rather awkward position the two end up in).

 Blake: Thank you. (After a pause.) Why?

Avon: Automatic reaction. I'm as surprised as you are.

  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "I Sing the Body Electric". Near the end the robot grandmother shoves a young girl out of the way of an oncoming van and is hit herself.
  • In Castle, Beckett and Castle do this for each other a fair number of times throughout the series. Most recently, in "Knockout," Castle tackles Beckett out of the way when he realizes there's a shooter at Montgomery's funeral. Subverted in that he fails to keep Beckett from getting shot.

Tabletop Games

  • Represented in Warhammer with the "Look Out, Sir!" rule, which means a character about to be hit by a falling rock, cannonball, or ballista bolt can be pushed out of the way by a handy Red Shirt...at least in "good-guy" armies. (In bad-guy armies, this rule is more likely to represent the targeted character shoving someone into the threatened space while moving out of the way).

Video Games

  • Subverted in Tales of Symphonia when instead of diving, Zelos shoves Colette out of the way and pushes himself out of the range of fire in the same motion.
    • Played straight when Mithos saves Tabatha from a rockslide, being injured in the process. After shooting Tabatha during The Reveal, and being asked how he could do it to someone who saved him, he admits that he hated her all along, and in the manga adaptation, said he saved her so that the heroes would not realize who he really was.
    • Mithos does it twice actually. The first time is when After fighting the party as Yggdrasil, and before The Reveal, he shoves Genis out of the way of Pronyma's attack and takes it himself.
  • Colin in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess does one of these, getting captured by boar-riding bokoblins in the process.
  • In Black Shades, an experimental concept FPS made for the iDevGames contest, you play a bodyguard with all the classic moves: Tackling a your client to push them out of the way at the last moment, leaping at a sniper just before the shot, diving to take a bullet for the client, wresting a weapon from an assassin...
  • Ness saves Lucas in this manner from a Trophy-transforming beam from Wario, in the Subspace Emissary part of Super Smash Bros Brawl.
  • Professor Layton does a few of these in order to save people from collapsing marble slabs, runaway ferris wheels and crash-landing home-made hang gliders. A true gentleman always makes diving saves extravagent.
  • Played for one of the more tragic instances of the Heroic Sacrifice variant in a video game when, in Phantasy Star IV, Alys does just this to save Chaz from the Big Bad 's Soap Opera Disease-inflicting Black Wave, dooming her to a slow, painful death. Not that anyone knew the effects very well at that point, but nonetheless.
  • In The World Ends With You Rhyme knocks Beat out of the way of a shark noise.
    • However it's subverted when we find out the two of them died in the first place when Beat tried one of these to save Rhyme from being hit by a car, but he didn't push her out the way of it, he tried to shield her with his own body.
  • With the addition of quick-time events to Mass Effect 2, a Paragon Shepard gets a few opportunities to yank people out of the way of danger. If the player's on the ball, anyway, otherwise...
  • Ethan in Heavy Rain tries one of these when his son wanders in front of traffic in the prologue. It doesn't work--Jason dies anyway, and Ethan is badly injured, lays in coma for six months, and is still having blackouts two years later.
  • In Deadly Premonition, York saves Diane by making a practically superhuman one from a second-story balcony. Subverted as she's crushed by a falling sculpture about thirty seconds later.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • The Web Animation Dead Fantasy 1. While Yuna is standing on a large block firing, Rikku sees another block coming at her and pushes her out of the way just in time.

Western Animation

  • In a spoof of the Back to The Future example above, in an episode of Futurama Fry pushes his future grandfather out of what appears to be the path of a very slowly oncoming Jeep, only for the Jeep to turn in a different direction some distance away.
    • Don't forget that Fry pushed him onto a pile of rusty bayonets.
  • Kim Possible is constantly doing this for Ron... but he's the secret to her success, we're told.
  • Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka pushes Suki out of the way of a rockslide, but Toph diverted the avalanche with Earthbending so it didn't really matter that he did it.
    • Played straight during the Grand Finale when Zuko somehow manages to dive in front of a lightning bolt to save Katara's life.
      • And in an earlier episode, when he knocks her out of the path of some falling debris.
  • In the Justice League episode "Paradise Lost", Superman rescues a distracted Wonder Woman from a falling lamp-post with a Diving Save. (It's interesting to note, by the way, that when, later in the same story, Batman is in danger from a falling stone pillar, Superman rescues him by crash-tackling the pillar.)
  • Tucker in Danny Phantom where he dives and pushes the Fauxreigner Gregor out of harm's way from falling debris. Bonus point since Gregor insulted Tucker prior. Looks like somebody owes an apology.
    • Tucker does it again with Jazz in a latter episode. Not bad for a Non-Action Guy.
    • Danny also does this with a younger Vlad when he time travels to the past, not so much as to save him but to change the future for the better. It Got Worse...
  • Samurai Jack gets one from Da Samurai, a sort of poser you could debatably expect on My Space, when he's too distracted by his having needed to be freed seconds before.
  • The Herculoids. Dorno does one to save a frozen-in-terror Gleep from the title creature in "Swamp Monster".
  • Mighty Mightor. Tor does this to save Sheera from an oncoming boulder in "Mightor Meets Tyrannor".
  • Codename: Kids Next Door. Numbuh 4 saves Numbuh 3 in most episodes, most notably in "Operation: B.E.A.C.H.".
  • Filmation Superboy episode "The Capricious Crony". When an avalanche threatens Krypto the Superdog, the title creature jumps and pushes him out of the way, causing him to be trapped by the falling rocks. He didn't know that Krypto had Nigh Invulnerability and wouldn't have been harmed by the rocks.
  • In a more dramatic instance than the other examples here, An episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic features the best young flyer competition. Rarity got some Artificial butterfly wings, so she enters the contest. Unfortunately, they disintegrate mid performance and she goes hurtling towards the ground. The Wonderbolts are sent to rescue her, but she accidentally knocks them all unconscious. Rainbow Dash dives after them, triggering a sonic rainboom and rescuing all of them mere INCHES from the ground.
  • The Disney version of Hercules gets one of these when Meg pushes him out of the way of a falling pillar, being crushed herself.
  • In The Iron Giant, Dean tackles Hogarth out of the path of the giant's Eye Beams which were an automatic reaction to Hogarth brandishing a gun-shaped toy in the giant's view.
  • Adventures from the Book of Virtues. Bobcat Socrates does this to grab Annie by the shirt collar in "Responsibility" when Annie slides down the cliff after she falls off her bike.

Real Life

  • Many cases, but one prominent one involved a man who saved a child a few years ago and credited the save to "playing Quake and learning to act quickly without thinking."
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