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A character is on the run. Very likely, he's been part of a Stern Chase from the word go. The logical course of action would be to do whatever he has to do, while drawing the least amount of attention to himself he possibly can.
He won't consider it for a moment. That random stranger over there needs help, and he won't stand idly by for the sake of anonymity.
Often leads to detection by the people he's been evading all this time, but not as often as you'd think. This trope is why a
Paladin Good Aligned character will always blow his cover when infiltrating a Wretched Hive. Depending on what the outcome is, it may result in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Named after Dudley Do-Right, of course.
Closely related to Honor Before Reason. See also Samaritan Syndrome. A subtrope of The Drifter and Chronic Hero Syndrome, and supertrope of Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath. When done wrong, can be a form of Hero Ball or Stupid Good. Compare Knight Errant. Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat is the villainous version.
Anime & Manga
- Emiya. Shirou. Good god, Shirou. Helping people is one thing. Helping little girls out is even better. Helping little girls who were just stabbed in the chest by what is damn near a physical god, at least compared to YOU, is not an advisable course of action. And you HAVE to do it or you get a bad end.
- Kenzo Tenma from Monster will never let an injury go ignored. Ever. At one point, an unscrupulous character wanted to recruit him as an underground physician, but really, that's a good part of what he was doing already. It actually turned out very poorly... because he convinced the patient to turn himself in and didn't even charge him.
- In Muhyo and Roji, Roji fails a test that would allow him to officially advance to First Clerk and stay as Muhyo's assistant, when he takes too long to help carry out an injured fellow student.
- Dwight in Sin City does a lot of good for the girls of Old Town despite being wanted for murder.
- A minor example would be Marv protecting people while on parole. This often means lots and lots of violent things happening.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe comic Nomad, ex-mercenary Darca Nyl's son was killed by a Dark Jedi, and a dying Jedi handed over his lightsaber and told Darca to kill Lycan. Darca went in pursuit, but found that almost everywhere he went, there were people who saw that lightsaber, thought he was a Jedi, and needed his help. And he gave it. Even at the cost of pursuit time, he gave himself. And it was the first good thing he'd felt in a long time. Eventually he did catch up to Lycan, and was able to kill him. Lycan told him that men were not driven by altruism. Darca swore to prove him wrong.
- Jubilee of the X-Men broke off her escape from Operation: Zero Tolerance to give first aid to a villain she had accidentally injured. This lead directly to her being recaptured for another round of torture.
- In Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns, it is played perfectly straight by the dwarven noble protagonist, of all people. You'd think that a politician that spawns one Xanatos Gambit after another and who has the whole world on his shoulders would be a bit less eager to go into potentially deadly situations with just his dog as help. Turns out that he [[spoiler:doesn't think too hard on whether or not to totally go out of his way in the opposite direction (about a day's journey too) and check on Honnleath and if anyone was still alive there, even though he'd finally seen the first human after roaming the Korcari Wilds for weeks, during which time he almost got killed several times, nearly dyed of starvation and refused a deal with Flemeth that she would not outline until agreed upon. And his armor was so rusted and worn that it didn't even survive the trip to the golem village, although, true enough, the demon shattered most of it. Raonar does reason that it's important to assess whether the horde really reached so far west in such a short time or if it's just a group of stragglers. One would think this is just him looking for justification, but that wouldn't fit with his Brutal Honesty policy that he uses on everyone, including himself, meaning that he manages to play this trope AND avert Honor Before Reason altogether (after all, he had gained some nifty magical abilities to tip the scales).
Film -- Live Action
- Lampooned at the end of Cannonball Run, as Captain Chaos turns aside and forfeits his team's victory when a woman screams that her baby is drowning. Said "baby" turns out to be a dog, but his teammate still forgives him for losing the race.
- In the 1993 film The Fugitive, while on the run, Dr. Kimble is in a hospital as part of his search for the one-armed man. He notices that a child has been misdiagnosed and will die if not given immediate surgery. He changes the orders on the kid's chart and saves his life. The problem with this? He was masquerading as a janitor at the time.
- In the third movie, RoboCop veered off pursuing some insurgents to come to aid of a squad of cops locked in a firefight with a gang of thugs.
- In The Gumball Rally, the car disguised as a police cruiser loses the race when it stops to help a pregnant lady giving birth while stuck on an L.A. freeway.
- Discworld example: in Thief of Time, Lobsang Ludd and Lu Tze are trying to outrun a lightning bolt, knowing that if they fail, the entire world and all of history will be destroyed. Lu Tze falters. Lobsang turns back to help!. As a result, the entire world gets frozen in time. Susan sto Helit lampshades this hard when she finds out.
- Subverted in Lords and Ladies. While competing in a Staring Contest for recognition as a true witch, Granny Weatherwax stops to help a little boy who hurt himself on the protection wards. However, despite technically losing, the audience declares her a winner because a only true witch would sacrifice her pride to help an injured child.
- Harry Potter, the boy with the "saving people thing", is of course prone to this.
- In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the second task of the Triwizard tournament is rescuing a hostage from some mermaids. Harry gets there first, but ends up coming up last because he waits to make sure all the hostages are saved. It's then pointed out to him that it was all part of the contest and nobody was actually in danger, but he gets extra points from the judges for heroism.
- In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, the Trio enacted an impromptu mass breakout of Muggle-borns in the middle of an undercover mission to pick up a MacGuffin from one of the densest centers of Death Eater activity.
- The O. Henry story "A Retrieved Reformation" is all about this trope; a safecracker escapes from jail, adopts an alias, heads west, and gets a job as a banker, and gets engaged to the bank manager's daughter. Just as the police show up in town, looking for someone like him, a young child gets locked in the safe. He quickly starts work cracking the safe open, knowing it'll give him away to the cops. At the end of the stories, the cops know damn well that he's the safecracker they're looking for, but pretend to not recognize him because he's obviously reformed.
Live Action Television
- In Firefly, Simon Tam, while breaking into an Alliance hospital to steal medicine, stopped to save a man's life from his doctor's incompetence.
- Boy, was he mad about it, too!
- When a group of heroes is attempting to infiltrate a hospital as doctors, having a doctor along correcting the mistakes of hospital staff has to be one of the better ways to establish genuineness.
- Happened semi-regularly to Dr Richard Kimble on The Fugitive. Despite being on the run for murder, he would go to the aid of anyone in medical need. (Of course, The Fugitive was inspired by Les Misérables.)
- In Who Wants to Be a Superhero, Stan Lee acknowledged this trope and punished people who didn't in a Secret Test of Character. In a test to change into your super hero outfit and race to the finish line the fastest, there was a little girl crying for her mother mere yards from the goal line. Anybody who stopped to track down the girl's mother or take the girl to the nearby park station automatically got a pass, but anybody who ignored her was a front-runner for the chopping block.
- LazyTown had a similar story where Robbie Rotten disguised himself as Sportacus and the two of them entered a race to show who's the real one. Sportacus was the fastest of the two but stopped to save someone, allowing Robbie to win. Stephanie called Robbie out for not doing the rescuing.
- The A-Team is always on the run from the military, but never seem to find a reason to flee the country. Instead they travel the country helping people everywhere, sometimes escaping in the nick of time.
- Merlin lives in a world where magic is a crime punishable by death, but he is continually using it to save Arthur's life in pretty much episode, as well as save Camelot almost single-handedly more than once. By some miracle he's managed to keep it hidden thus far.
- While the Farscape team does try to lay low most (well, some) of the time, they do have a tendency to take detours whenever a distress beacon is sent out or they see someone being mistreated. More often than not, said interference tends to bite them in the ass...hard.
- First Wave: the protagonist Cade Foster is on the run from aliens that will one day destroy the world. It doesn't stop him from helping every person with problems that crosses his path.
Myth and Legend
- In an Irish fairy tale, a girl finds a stolen bag of gold that rightfully belongs to her family and runs off with it, and the witch who stole it naturally gives chase. The girl stops to help several animals and a mill, and they in turn gratefully slow down the witch for her.
- John Landy at the 1956 Australian National Championships in athletics. He was leading in the 1500 metres final. Fellow runner Ron Clarke tripped and fell, and Landy doubled back to help him up. He went on to win the race.
- Jean Valjean from Les Misérables, of course. More often than not, his Moments involved throwing himself directly in Inspector Javert's path, rather than merely risking the same.
- Fahrenheit, AKA Fahrenheit (2005 video game): You're on the run from the police, accused of a murder that you... well, you totally committed it, but you were being controlled by a thousand-year-old Mayan Voodoo priest, see? Though for some strange reason, the cops don't wanna hear about it. On the bright side, having been briefly possessed has unlocked hidden superpowers and limited precognition in you. While secretly meeting your brother in a park in the middle of the winter, you get a warning flash of danger - not to yourself, but to a kid playing on a frozen lake nearby. The ice is gonna break, and he'll either drown or die from hypothermia! With your superhuman speed and powers, you can save him... but a pair of beat cops are patrolling the park, one of them having seen you leave the crime scene - if you make a hero of yourself, he's bound to notice! Dilemma! You can actually choose not to act but it was apparently the worst thing you could possibly do for your Sanity Meter. Fortunately, after you pull the kid out of the ice, the cop rushing to the scene, despite recognizing you, decides to pretend not to notice, figuring that arresting a guy who's just saved a kid's life would be really impolite.
- Not just impolite. If you save the kid, this is referenced later when the cop admits to Carla that he could have made an arrest, but couldn't bring himself to do it right after witnessing such a selfless act. Carla says she probably would have felt the same way in the other cop's shoes.
- In Mass Effect: Paragon Shepard, oh so much. Taken Up to Eleven in the sequel.
- No-one is forcing you to pick every paragon option, whether it's played straight or averted depends on the player. But, then again...
- It's easier to list RPG heroes who don't follow this trope than not. It doesn't matter that Dr. Von Destruticius is going to drop a meteor on you now, some random preschooler has asked you to get their cat out a tree and you're gonna do it.
- Even in games where these are optional Sidequests, Hundred-Percent Completion compulsion and Munchkin motivation guarantees it'll be done, and no amount of Continue Your Mission, Dammit! will stop it. More cynical-leaning games don't even bother to provide rewards, but very few put this to the test by tempting the player with a more rewarding evil option.
- In Quest for Glory III, your character (if you're a Fighter or The Paladin) has to become a member of the local tribe in order to advance the plot. However, your friend Yesufu is also participating in the Initiation Ceremony, and there's only room for one. At a pre-scripted point in the race, Yesufu is hurt and the proper response is to help him; if you do, the chief bends the rules and lets both of you pass, but if you don't you just get chewed out and a Nonstandard Game Over.
- Anytime the cast from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon show actually found a portal home, it was guaranteed that they'd have to turn around to save the character of the week while the portal closed.
- Happened from time to time in The Incredible Hulk TV show (which was loosely based on The Fugitive which was in turn based partially on Les Miserables).
- In the Saturday Morning Cartoon version of Mother Goose and Grimm, the title character of the show-within-a-show Karl the Wonder Poodle is temporarily diverted from saving the person who made the original call for help (a kid who fell in the river and is floating toward a waterfall) by the need to deal with a dozen or so other events in need of a superhero.
- A good deal of the episodes of Samurai Jack involve Jack finding a way to travel back to his own time, but passing it up to help a bystander.
- All the time in The Zeta Project. Zeta does this so constantly that it rubs off on Ro, because no one in her life had ever displayed this kind of behavior before.