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Let's say that our hero is an amazing combatant capable of singlehandedly dispatching hundreds of enemies. After a day of slaughtering countless Mooks, he is suddenly cornered by two of them! Good thing a nearby friend of the hero managed to swoop in at the last moment and kill them before they... uh...
A Redundant Rescue is, as its name implies, when a character is "saved" by someone or something, despite that, based on their abilities, track record, and/or the nature of their problem, they really weren't in any danger to begin with.
This trope comes in two varieties:
Type A: Fridge Logic. The rescue occurs for dramatic effect, and the redundancy of it appears to be lost on both the writer and the characters. There is nothing to suggest that the person in distress was any less capable than they had proven themselves to be before, and so it becomes very inexplicable if the characters act like the rescue was in any way a big deal. These moments are often full of Narm, and may just be a result of bad writing. In the case of Video Games, they may be related to Cutscene Incompetence and/or Gameplay and Story Segregation.
Type B: When the trope is used intentionally, usually for comedic purposes. This occurs when it is made blatantly clear that the rescue was, in fact, redundant; when one or more of the characters involved point out how unnecessary it was; or when the actual "rescue" never occurs because the person in distress had already gotten himself out of the predicament prior to or during the attempt. It is possible for this type of the trope to be used for dramatic situations as well, but only if the redundancy is somehow acknowledged by the characters or the writer. There are the rare cases in which this trope is purposefully invoked by characters in order to allow their allies to "rescue" them in order to overcome their fears, insecurities, or otherwise help them with personal issues.
- Most versions of To Aru Majutsu no Index start with Touma attempting to rescue Mikoto from a group of thugs. Mikoto is probably capable of soloing small armies. The anime version subverted this, having Touma try to rescue the thugs from Mikoto.
- In Captain America vol. 6, issue one, "American Dreamers, part one", Cap uses his mighty shield to knock out a Hydra Mook that Sharon Carter, badass Action Girl, was fighting. Her response is a slightly annoyed "No fair, I had this one..."
- A rare villain example is purposefully invoked in a Spider-Man story from the eighties. Spidey was confronted by the villain-couple: Absorbing Man and Titania. Titania had previously been defeated by Spider-Man during the Secret Wars, which left her with a crippling fear of Spider-Man. In order to help her get over her fears, the Absorbing Man fought Spider-Man and took a fall, making it seem as though the hero were moments from killing him. Titania quickly got over her fear and rescued her lover. Keep in mind that the Absorbing Man is normaly a Thor villain and thus, far more powerful than both Titania and Spider-Man.
- In Watchmen, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre go to free Rorschach from prison, who ends up breaking out of his cell just fine before they get there, taking out at least a few people along the way.
- One could argue, however, that they knew he would get out, and just wanted to keep him from killing everyone.
- In Hudson Hawk, Eddie and Tommy go to a castle to rescue Anna Baragli, but by the time they find her, she has already escaped the villains' custody and was on her way out of the castle.
Eddie: Anna! We're supposed to be saving you!
Anna: I'm sorry. I got bored, so I saved myself.
- This trope was Rigg's final test in Saw 4. He failed.
- In Ever After, a retelling of Cinderella, the prince shows up to save Danielle... just as she is sauntering out of the villain's castle, having freed herself.
- Small Soldiers has a type A being played for comedic effect (it's a type A internally, but clearly a type B to the audience). The main character tries to free the Love Interest, however she's already got herself free and they're both attacked by the "Zomb-Gwendies" guarding her.
Love Interest: I HATE THESE THINGS! *smashes several foes with a golf club before speaking to Alan* You rescued me!
Alan: ...yeah I guess I did...
- In the Sci-Fi Flash Gordon, Flash insists on finding and rescuing Dale from becoming Ming's latest courtesan as soon as he is sprung from jail. He is met, halfway there, by Dale who had escaped to rescue him.
- Chuck kicks down a hotel door in in order to help Sarah in a fight with another agent, only to find that she's already got her opponent at gunpoint and literally under her (spike) heel.
- In NCIS, at one point, Abby's new assistant turned out to be the murderer in one case. When he finally reveals himself to Abby, he's alone with her, he has a knife, and Abby is unarmed. Gibbs and the others figure it out about thirty seconds later, and rush to Abby's lab. The assistant is bound and gagged on the floor, and Abby is REALLY peeved. She simply walks up to Gibbs, and says "NOW can I work alone?"
- Actually, Abby does this twice. The latter time, her 'driver' to the courtroom turns out to be a hired goon who wants her not to get there. By the time Gibbs and co. get there to rescue her, the van's pulled over, and when they open the door the goon falls out, with Abby tasering him multiple times.
Abby: I'll be with you in a minute Gibbs!
- she repeatedly tases the hitman while brandishing brass knuckles*
Abby: And don't look up my skirt!
- In Battlefield: Bad Company, player character Preston Marlow goes through great lengths to find and rescue his squad after a helicopter crash. However, when he finds them, they are nonchalantly killing the enemy and react to Preston's arrival with equal indifference.
- In The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush goes to great lengths to rescue Governor Marley, only for it to be revealed that she'd escaped just fine without him, and his involvement ended up screwing her plan.
- In Suikoden II, the Hero goes to rescue his sister-figure Nanami from captivity, and gets there in time to see her dashing through the complex and tossing soldiers aside left and right (and if you've recruited him, she's got a flying squirrel Cute Animal Mascot with her, for added ass-kicking adorability.)
- Depending on how you play it, Chrono Trigger can feature either Lucca rescuing Crono from prison or meeting up with Crono after he's pretty much rescued himself.
- Your first real objective in Knights of the Old Republic is to rescue Bastila, but when you finally find her she escapes her cage without your help.
- Traveller Classic Book 0 has a brief description of a standard RPG adventure. Two PCs enter a castle to rescue a princess, but the princess (another PC) pretends she's sick, lures the guard into her cell and knocks him out. She runs out of the cell and meets the other PCs, and they fight their way out together.