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"...after having heard the explosion from their practice facility they ran into the fire to help get people out... ran into the fire."
—Bartlet, The West Wing "20 Hours in America, Part II"
A common way for a work to show a character is heroic is by having them putting themselves in harm's way to rescue others, and the fire rescue is a classic example. The fire might a burning building, or car, or any other fire in general, but generally it will threaten the life of the character who enters it. Expect it to happen regularly in a work focused on firefighters.
A subversion sometimes occurs where a character will attempt to invoke this trope by setting the fire themselves, and then enter into it to rescue someone, hoping to come off as a hero. Usually this will backfire spectacularly.
Supertrope of Burning Building Rescue (which is about a superhero using their powers, generally for the first time, and that is where superhero examples of this trope reside). Can be used as an Establishing Character Moment, Rescue Introduction or to kickstart a Rescue Romance. If the character is already shown as being heroic, it can be used to underline their Chronic Hero Syndrome.
Please Don't Try This At Home, as you're more likely to end up needing to be rescued yourself.
Anime and Manga
- In Ask Dr. Rin, when Tokiwa was still in his Yandere phase, one of his attempts to woo Meirin involved using his shikigami to set her school on fire while she was trapped in one of the rooms. His plan was to invoke this trope, even though he set the building on fire in the first place. Naturally, Asuka managed to show up and rescue her first.
- Occured once in Luann where Brad, while working for the fire department, rushed in to save a character. He was complimented for being successful, but also reprimanded and suspended for putting himself at risk to do needless heroics.
- In the Nintendo Power comic for A Link to The Past, this is the action that endears Link to at least a few people in Kakariko who help him on his quest.
- Naturally, films about firefighters, such as Ladder 49 and Backdraft.
- In the film Turk 182 an off-duty fireman goes into a burning building and rescues a little girl; he gets injured, but since he had alcohol in his system the city refuses to pay for his medical expenses. His little brother goes on a Roaring Rampage of...uncivil disobedience.
- Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. Shadow and Sassy rescue a little boy and his cat from a burning house.
- Backdraft: As most of the man characters are firefighters by profession this happens multiple times in the film.
- In Mighty Joe Young, a rescue of this nature occurs toward the end of the film.
- In Pee Wees Big Adventure, Peewee runs into a burning pet shop to rescue all the pets... including the snakes, although he waited until the last minute.
- The title character of Bolt, a dog who thought he was a superhero, shows his true heroism by running into a burning soundstage to rescue his girl Penny.
- Occurs in Crash when Officer John Ryan, so far shown only as a racist, performs a rescue of a black character from a burning car and hence gets Character Development into a Noble Bigot with a Badge.
"A man who rushes into a burning building to rescue a stupid cat and comes out carrying that cat is seen as a hero, even if he is rather a dumb one. If he comes out sans cat he's a twit."
- Parodied in Jingo. Vimes does this and is accused of trespassing (in the embassy which was on fire) and kidnap (of the woman he rescued).
- In the first book of Timothy Zahn's Cobra Trilogy, the war has ended and a Super Soldier has come home to great distrust from his community. At one point he is almost hit by a car, and his computerized reflexes save him and then cause the car's tires to blow out, making it crash and killing the people inside despite his best efforts. Later on the mayor, who's on his side, gets him to a burning building after the firefighters have an equipment shortage, and he saves several people to mass cheers, daring then to hope that public opinion has turned around. It didn't, unfortunately; after the excitement died down he was regarded with yet more fear.
- The Decorator: Erast Fandorin does it once, as recounted by Angelina.
- Discussed in The Wheel of Time, Siuan tells Mat that he reminds her of her uncle from when she was a fishermen's daughter. He was a heavy drinker, chased after woman all the time, loved to gamble and was able to charm his way out of any kind of trouble (which he frequently go in). He died rescuing children from a burning building, in fact he died because he kept going back to look for more pepole and the roof collapsed on him. Siuan implies that Mat would do the same thing and he scoffs. She turns out to be right, while not quite the same he goes back to rescue Olver (his ward) in the middle of a Seanchan Invasion, braving exlosions and damen attacks
- The demon Crowley in Good Omens runs into a burning bookshop with what everyone else perceives is an intention to rescue the (similarly immortal) angel Aziraphale; but what Crowley is really after, and rescues, is the extremely vital sole remaining edition of The Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Wyttche.
- The Dresden Files: How Harry breaks his back in Changes. He does have a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome after all.
- Circle of Magic: Daja and Frostpine do this in Cold Fire. Of course they are Smith Mages so it's slightly less dangerous for them to do it as they have magical resistance to fire.
- Coldfire also has another example but of the subversion. Ben Ladradun is the heroic firefighter, rescuing people from burning buildings, but also the serial arsonist setting the fires in the first place.
- And Daja previously rescued an entire caravan from a burning forest in Daja's Book.
- In the children's book Clarence Goes to Town Clarence (a non-anthropomorphic dog) is in a quiz-and-stunt show with a human, and one of the stunts is an obstacle course. Clarence goes off course because he spots a small fire backstage. After putting the fire out, they give him a special prize for doing that.
Live Action TV
- In season 3 of Ashes to Ashes, Ray runs into a burning building when he hears a woman in there. This trope is subverted, because a fireman ends up saving both Ray and the woman from the fire.
- Chuck: Chuck and Casey in "Chuck Versus The Frosted Tips", who run into a helicopter and its surrounds on fire to rescue Morgan and Gertrude Verbinski respectively.
- Body of Proof kicks off one episode by having Peter run into a burning house to rescue one of the inhabitants, underlining his bravery credentials.
- Castle: After a bomb goes off in Beckett's apartment, Castle rushes into the burning apartment to rescue her. Played down somewhat because the apartment fires are quite small and it is then Played for Laughs when it turns out that Beckett is naked in her bathtub and she demands he hand her his jacket before they leave. Then Beckett lampshades this trope by joking that Castle must be extremely keen to tell her about his heroism with regards to breaking down the door and rushing into the apartment.
- In the backstory of Ghost Whisperer, this how Jim and Melinda met. He rescued her from a burning apartment complex.
- Subverted in an episode of London's Burning; a man had to be forcibly restrained from rushing back into a burning house to rescue his daughter, and when he finally broke loose he ended up trying to sprint up an already-unstable flight of stairs that collapsed, injuring himself quite badly and making the crew's job a lot more complicated.
- In the Charmed episode "Siren Song", Cole does this to try to prove to Phoebe that he's reformed.
- The "My Hero" video by the Foo Fighters.
- Venusaur rescues a baby as a final heroic gesture in 151 Hidden Depths.
- Butch of Chopping Block was mourned as a hero when he ran into a burning building to rescue an old lady, and didn't come back out. They didn't see him escape out the back door, still carrying the old lady . . .
- Phase pulls this in his origin novel "Ayla and the Late Trevor James Goodkind" in the Whateley Universe. He rushes to a burning building and saves his sister from a supervillainess who is throwing fireballs. It is only after getting hit with a fireball himself that he finds out he is fireproof (some of the time).
- The Simpsons:
- On the way to the company softball game Jose Canseco comes upon a house on fire. "Save my baby!" He runs in and saves the baby. "Save my cat!" So he saves the cat. "Save my player piano!" He spends all day running in and out of the burning building saving things.
- Ned Flanders saves Homer when the Casa Simpson catches fire.
- When Moe's bar burns, Barney saves...a couple of kegs of beer. Before running back in for Moe and Homer. And two cases of beer.
- In Futurama, Fry (whose consumption of 100 cups of coffee has momentarily given him superpowers) rescues the patrons of a burning art exhibit (one at a time, using super-speed).
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- "Society Dog Show", Mickey enters Pluto on a dog show, but is rejected. Then a fire breaks out and Pluto rushes in to save the Pekinese he fell in love with.
- "Elmer Elephant": an elephant is laughed out of a birthday party at his girlfriend's (a tiger) house, but eventually saves her and her friends when said tiger's house catches fire with the help of an old giraffe and several pelicans.
- "Mickey's Fire Brigade": Firemen Mickey, Donald and Goofy try to rescue Clarabelle from a burning boarding house. She doesn't take too kindly to being rescued, as she was in the bathtub at the time.
- In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, there's a mission where CJ has to enter a burning house to rescue a girl. From fire he caused in the first place. Man's a hero, no doubt.
- Mass Effect 2: In Zaeed's loyalty mission, Shepard has to choose between running into a burning refinery in order to turn on the fire suppression systems and rescue the workers, or pursue the man Zaeed has wanted revenge on for twenty years and ignore the workers.