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Done seriously, this is one of the ways writers get a relationship hampered by Cannot Spit It Out started, as opposed to communication, or heck; they might not have even met or talked to each other previously.
"Anime's Favorite Contrived Meeting" is a possible sub-trope, or specific example of this:An agile male character, often the Hero, meeting a female character (Love Interests, etc) by saving them from being hit on by thugs, or older (college) men who seem lecherous. Usually involves the thugs grabbing the female by the hand and pulling her away to have a "cup of tea" with them, or becoming violent as she stubbornly rejects their advances (may involve knives). Enter the hero, either hitting the offenders in the arm, or entering the scene by kicking the guy (head, solar plexus, etc), and saving her from forceful romantic advances.
Oddly enough some medieval romancers, despite being the reason Damsel in Distress is called that ("damsel" being the diminutive of medieval French for "lady"), actually sometimes didn't like this trope. Basically some of them thought that, since the girl now owed the guy, the resulting romance wasn't pure enough, aesthetically speaking. The various aristocrats who paid their bills mostly told 'em to shut up; part of the ideal of knighthood was being a protector, and who doesn't want to hear about a good deed they could actually do being rewarded with some sweet lovin'?
Expect a negative response from some if this chickifies an Action Girl (though this can be almost completely negated by having the couple take turns with the Distress Ball). Nevertheless, the Knight in Shining Armor saving the Distressed Damsel who he then weds and they lived Happily Ever After is at least Older Than Feudalism, going back at least as far as the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.
Modern works can sometimes gender-invert this, with a man falling head over heels for a strong lady who saves his neck. And of course, this can happen in same-sex romances as they become more common.
A subset of Meet Cute. A common Fanfic for Shipping when one of the partners (usually the woman) has too strong a personality for the writer to deal with. If Rescue Romance is a manly man's reward for being a valiant protector, the Florence Nightingale Effect is a womanly woman's reward for being a caring nurturer - though logically they can be gender flipped, end up overlapping, or both.
Anime and Manga
- Averted in Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome saves Kodachi Kuno from falling off of a roof -- but caused her to fall in the first place because he accidentally hit her in the head while she was running away from an attempt to ambush Akane Tendo. Kodachi fixates him on a romantic figure after she comes to, but Ranma does not reciprocate her feelings, due to a combination of having two existing Arranged Marriages (though he's only aware of one at the moment) and an Accidental Marriage (though neither he nor the girl in question are aware of it at this precise moment), and Kodachi's... unusual... ideas about romance. Her first action after regaining consciousness -- well, second, her first is to cuddle to him and ask for his name -- is to paralyze him with a bouquet of poison-laced roses so she can kiss him.
- Done in B.O.D.Y, when Ryoko is saved from creepy guys on the street by Jin.
- The normally plucky and resourceful Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club is unapproachable to the host club's cliched attempts at romantic talk. However, she's terrified to the point of cowering in the fetal position at the sound of thunder. Two of the male cast get closer to her by saving her from this.
- Done twice in the end of the anime when Haruhi chases down Tamaki in a horse drawn carriage to stop him from leaving the Host Club and his happiness. Then when she holds out her hand to reach for him, the carriage tumbles and the poor girl goes flying off the bridge... leading Tamaki to jump out of the car and rescue her.
- Momoka on Keroro Gunsou tries to stage one of these every couple of episodes, in order to get closer to Fuyuki. But Fuyuki's not the most athletic person, and the Keronians keep barging into things...
- Fate/stay night. Saber saves Shirou from Lancer, Shirou saves Saber from Berserker, Saber saves Shirou from Rider twice, Saber attempts to save Shirou from Ilya, Shirou saves Saber from Berserker again, Shirou saves Saber from Gilgamesh, Lancer saves the both of them(!?), and by that point Shirou and Saber are hopelessly infatuated with each other. Apparently, winning the affections of Saber will only cost about 18 gallons of blood. So totally worth it.
- A much more straight example would be Souichirou Kuzuki and Caster, with him finding her when she was about to die and taking her in.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, based on the original The Little Mermaid story, has two Rescue Romances, both involving the same person and causing a rivalry that lasts the entire second season. Interestingly, Lucia saved Kaito from drowning when they were six, and Kaito does the "chase away perverts" variant multiple times in the story, but the former is more important to their relationship than the latter.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate and Nagi meet in a similar 'saved from thugs' fashion; unknown to Nagi, Hayate's original intention was to kidnap her - he was protecting his prey...Hayate is almost instantly regretful of his intentions, though.
- Hayate ends up saving a lot of the series' girls this way, and even a guy at one point--though that one didn't create any romantic undertones.
- The start of Tenshi na Konamaiki.
- Tamahome rescues Miaka from some pervy thugs at the beginning of Fushigi Yuugi. Nakago, bastard that he is, does the same with Yui after the fact, and only encourages the resulting emotional vulnerability.
- Nakago and Soi are a more tragic version. He rescued her from her pimp when she was a child prostitute, and she devoted her life to him even knowing he didn't love her back. However, when she dies taking a fatal sword wound for him, he carries her body all the way back to Kutou and buries her. It's all but stated that he realized his love for her much too late.
- Seiji Sawamura saves Takako Ayase in Midori no Hibi from a band of delinquents that were dragging her away. She falls in love shortly afterward when she sees him letting himself get beaten up without resorting to violence (fighting back) in order to save a friend and defuse the gang's grudge.
- Mobile Suit Victory Gundam has a very twisted example on the antagonists side when Katejina Loos falls for Chronocle Asher when he saves her from getting raped. This puts her down the path to corruption, and by the end of the series, she becomes one of the most evil characters in the series.
- Essentially the whole plot of Full Metal Panic
- Also played with in an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu: the karate club's strategy for a "flirting contest" involves dressing up three of its members as thugs and having them accost young women so that Tsubaki can come to their rescue. It backfires spectacularly when the crowd of girls he's "rescued" in this fashion find out it was for a contest.
- Used slightly in Ai Yori Aoshi, when Kaoru kicks Aoi out of his apartment, then goes to rescue her. No fight occurs though... Basically sums up as: "Come on, that innocent girl is part of some big conspiracy? What am I, a freakin' moron? Uh oh, creeps 3 o'clock..."
- In their defense, the creeps were remarkably good-natured about the whole thing: at no point did they offer to rearrange Kaoru's features over the incident, and even reprimanded him for his poor treatment of the girl.
- Parodied in El Hazard, when Fujisawa "saves" Miz from her monstrous looking manservant (she was screaming because the servant poured cold water on her instead of hot). Miz falls in love with him anyway and doesn't bother correcting him.
- Subverted in The Slayers - in the first episode, Gourry steps in to save Lina from Bandits, but she really didn't need the help. Also, while she does admit he's handsome and lets him continue traveling with her, the development of their relationship has more to do with their adventures together than their initial meeting (despite him having a Bodyguard Crush on her for quite a while).
- Parodied in The Prince of Tennis: Sakuno has a crush on Ryoma from the first time she saw him, when he stopped a show-off who was about to hit her on the face with his racket - but it turns out Ryoma had not even acknowledged Sakuno's presence back then, and only stopped the moron because he was too loud and didn't let him nap in the train.
- Arguably played a bit more straight with An and Momoshiro: he saved her and Sakuno from bullies first, later he teamed up with Kamio to have Atobe give up on forcing her on a date. Arguably, because neither Momo nor An make moves towards a Relationship Upgrade when given the chance (despite the relationship chart hinting at her having a crush on him), whereas Kamio is firmly put in the role of the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
- Played straighter with Ryoma's parents. His Tsundere mother Rinko didn't have a good impression of her soon-to-be husband Nanjiroh after he told her she was flat-chested and kept teasing her when she wore a girlier tennis outfit - he had to wipe the floor with her Jerkass coach that hit her and a little child with tennis balls to gain her appreciation.
- Somewhat inverted in the anime Blood Plus. Though Haji does end up saving Saya during their "first" meeting (at least long enough to get her to save herself), she initially mistakes him for a serial killer and runs scared.
- Luna in the Mega Man Star Force anime - Megaman saves her from falling to her death, and overnight she becomes a (non-evil) Stalker with a Crush. Happens to a lesser degree in the game.
- Arguably, Project A-ko. B-Ko even cites A-Ko rescuing C-Ko from a wolf as part of her grudge.
- This shows up mildly in the various Tenchi Muyo! continuities. In the manga, this ends up turned on its ear when Aeka waits for her saviour after being captured, hoping for a little Rescue Romance with Tenchi ... and finds Ryoko coming to the rescue (she knocked Tenchi out and took the only available spaceship so that he wouldn't be able to put himself at risk). Aeka's disappointed in the choice of rescuer, and Ryoko isn't very fond of the lack of gratitude.
- Subverted at the beginning of To Aru Majutsu no Index: Touma tries to get a delinquent hitting on Mikoto in a diner to leave her alone--saying that he's troubling her--and winds up getting chased off when the delinquent's friends return from the bathroom. When he finally seems to lose them and stops to rest, Mikoto walks up and admits to frying them to save trouble. Turns out Touma had known she was a powerful lightning esper the entire time, and had been trying to protect the delinquents. She then tries to blast him, and her determination as the Unknown Rival is increased.
- Played with in their first chronological meeting depicted in Railgun. Touma saves her from a group of delinquents and chastises them for hitting on a little girl. Predictably, Misaka doesn't take it well and fries the lot of them. However, due to Touma's right hand he is completely unharmed. It was only because of this immunity that she became interested in him, declaring him her rival.
- And played straight in the Sister arc. When poor Misaka is at the edge of despair and literally willing to die in the hope that it will save her clones...Touma shows up and saves all 9939 of her clones. That's where he went from (in Misaka's eyes) The Rival to an actual love interest. And at least one (likely far more) of those clones is also attracted to him, for similar reasons.
- The first meeting of Subaru and Ixpellia in StrikerS Sound Stage X of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha began with Subaru shielding Ix from falling debris, followed by Subaru fighting off the Mariages that came for Ix (with an accompanying image of a very battered Subaru cradling Ix as they gaze into each others eyes), and ended with Subaru symbolically and literally bringing Ix out of the darkness and into the light of the current era. When all of that was done, Ix saw Subaru as one of the only people she felt calm with because she rescued her. Unsurprisingly, there's a small but noticeable amount of supporters for this ship which would have been bigger, had Ix not entered her 1000 years of sleep.
- And for a straighter example in both senses of the phrase, we have Tohma and Lily, the main pairing for Force who first meet when Tohma finds Lily bound in an abandoned lab, releases her, and takes her with him.
- And, of course, more or less the basis for Fate/Nanoha. Nanoha is the one who helps her through her ordeals, after all.
- Satoshi Hojou saves Shion Sonozaki from a group of thugs in a flashback in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (the same thugs who have also tried to attack Keiichi Maehara, Rika Furude, and Satoshi's sister Satoko in different timelines). This leads to Shion immediately falling in love with Satoshi. However, as this is Higurashi, her love is a bit different. (Only in two worlds, to be fair.)
- Gender inverted in the Ikki Tousen anime. Sonsaku Hakufu used to protect her cousin Shuuyu Koukin from bullies when they were small, and Koukin fell in love with Hakufu when they grew up.
- Played in Les Yay sense with Ryoufu, who used to protect her best friend Chinkyuu when they were little girls. Chinkyuu is later one of Ryoufu's many lovers of both genders, and the one she loves the most.
- Given Setsuna's obvious Bodyguard Crush on Konoka in Mahou Sensei Negima and Konoka's reaction every time "Secchan" saves her, this forms much of the basis behind the casual observer's view of them. When they finally pactio (and Konoka seems to be hinting broadly that it's a gone from subtext to text) in Chapter 252, it happens immediately after Setsuna saved Konoka without even realizing it.
- Lampshaded early on when the girls think Negi is going to confess to Ku Fei as a result of her saving him that morning.
- Negi's first major interaction with Nodoka involved catching her after she fell off of a staircase, and he saved her from Evangeline not long after. When he saves her in Chapter 219 from a group of bounty hunters, he goes half-nuts on them when he sees what they're doing to her. They have a pretty serious moment after she rescues him in Chapter 228, at least until Kotarou jumps in.
- She also rescues him earlier on helping him win his first fight with Kotaro. A good chunk of their relationship consists of saving each others asses.
- Negi's father Nagi and Negi's Tsundere mother Arika finally kiss right after he rescues her in Ch 269. Both HELL YEAH! and Awww..
- Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye spend the entirety of Fullmetal Alchemist saving each other. In chronological order, she gunned down an Ishvalan who was about to stab him during the war, and saved him from Scar by tripping him (It Makes Sense in Context), then he risked blowing their cover to save her from Gluttony, and later rescued both her and Al from Lust when she was in the middle of a suicidal breakdown, believing him dead. In later chapters, he went completely Ax Crazy againt Envy, when he/she/it admitted to killing Hughes. He only snapped out of it when she assured him she would keep her promise of shooting him if he ever became corrupted, but she would kill herself afterwards. And just when they got all that cleared up, they found themselves in a situation where she was dying from a jugular wound...and he couldn't save her, plus she told him to NOT do it since stopping the enemy's plans was more important. Luckily, someone who could rescue and heal Riza (May) showed up; the emotional scene which followed is easily one of the single most romantic things in the entire series.
- Doumeki saves Watanuki too many times to count in XxxHolic. Ho Yay ensues, at least for the fans.
- Tsukune from Rosario to Vampire earned Kurumu's (unwanted) affections when he stops Moka from ripping off her wings and tail. It wasn't a conventional rescue, but he definitely showed his good side.
- In the first episode, Princess Tutu saves Mytho after he jumps out a window to save a baby bird from a raven attack. She then starts to save him about Once an Episode until he starts to fall for her.
- D.N.Angel has hinted at a romance between Satoshi and Risa after he saves her from a deadly fall.
- In Black Cat, Train happened to be visiting the same part of town as Kyoko. She gets attacked by thugs, and he decides to intervene, easily disarming all of them. Although she actually didn't need saving, this caused her to fall in love at first sight. She proceeds to become another Stalker with a Crush of his, though all of it is rather hopeless for her, considering his personality.
- Vision of Escaflowne has something of a mutual Rescue Romance: Van starts falling in love with Hitomi after she pulls a Diving Save on him in episode 6, saving him from being impaled by Dilandau. Meanwhile, Hitomi begins seeing Van as something beyond "that guy I'm tagging along with until I can get back home" after he saves her from a kidnapping attempt (rather than the expected Knight in Shining Armor, Allen) in the subsequent episode.
- Played with repeatedly in Monster: Tenma's first meeting with adult Nina when she's waiting by Heidelberg castle seems like it's going this way, except for the aversion they never unambiguously get beyond Will They or Won't They?, the inversion she ends up rescuing him that time, and by being there, they both fail to save her foster parents, and the disturbing subversion that her Meet Cute-ish Lampshade Hanging response to Tenma's appearance ("Are you my prince?") is primed by a series of anonymous romantic emails which are actually from her twin brother..
- In a more straightforward(!) subversion, both the Big Bad and The Dragon frequently pose as rescuers and unexpected friends and allies, romantically or otherwise, in order to further their plans. Karl's quasi-idolatrous friendship with Johan also just keeps on giving on the Dramatic Irony and Fridge Horror fronts, the more you find out about Karl's family and Johan's connections with them.
- Johan's own Mind Game Ship fixation on Tenma could also be seen as a very warped one-sided version of this, for all Johan's questionable reassurance that he sees Tenma as a father figure since Tenma saved his life when he was a very young boy.
- Also by way of subversion, Tenma's repeated rescues of his Stalker with a Crush ex Eva who eventually gets the nearest to straight version of this trope with her bodyguard Martin, and Nina's response to Tenma saving her brother.
- Surprisingly averted when Nina is rescued and nursed back to health by Lipsky. He develops feelings for her, but she doesn't seem to view him as anything more than a close friend
- Doubly-inverted in Naruto when Hinata jumps in to try to save Naruto from Pain. She tells Naruto that she can't stay back while he's in danger because she loves him, then attacks Pain - who simply smacks her down, stabs her, and insinuates to Naruto that she's dead. Naruto promptly loses it worse than he ever has before. The anime turns it into an Ironic Echo with both characters in the opposite positions when they were younger, against bullies. And much later, the two manage to play this trope completely straight in The Last: first Naruto rescues Hinata from the Big Bad Toneri (who's Yandere for her) and few later he's losing against Toneri but Hinata joins the fight and helps Naruto defeat him.
- Played straight with Karin, who's implied to have fallen for Sasuke after he saved her from a bear in a Chuunin exam she was taking.
- Also spoofed in filler Episode 101. In a flashback Kakashi easily defeats the pathetic Moya Triad who had been pestering a random woman, and afterwards she's completely smitten with Kakashi.
- Played straight with Naruto's parents, Minato and Kushina. She fell in love with him when he saved her from the Kumo ninjas that kidnapped her when she was a kid, then complimented on the red hair that other children used as a reason to bully her.
- The Shikamaru Gaiden novels and their Animated Adaptation (episodes 489-494 of Naruto Shippuden) have Ino Yamanaka going through a mix of "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight and Battle in the Center of the Mind to "defuse" Sai's More Than Mind Control state. Years later, they're married with a child.
- Subverted in School Rumble - the entire reason Harima grew facial hair, wears sunglasses, and became a delinquent was so that he could be close to Tenma without her recognizing him. He fell in love with her after saving her from hoodlums, and took her back to his place because she was unconscious. When he leaned in for the traditional kiss, she woke up and thought he was about to molest her (or already had).
- In Pokémon Special, Yellow both gains admiration for and falls in love with Red after he saves her life from a rampaging Dratini, prompting her to be determined to save him when she learns that he's gone missing. Of course, Red, being as oblivious as he is, doesn't recognize her as the girl he once saved and probably never bothered wondering why she through so much trouble for him.
- Played for Laughs in the Bleach anime, where once Yoruichi rescues Soifon and the toughest Tsundere in the series goes all goggly-eyed and gushy. To be fair, Soifon has been crushing hard on her beloved Yoruichi-sama for a while...
- This is the reason why Momo Hinamori is in love with Sousuke Aizen, as he had saved her life and those of her friends when she was younger. Unfortunately, Aizen is the Big Bad who sees her as nothing more than a pawn, and actually invoked the trope to use her affection to his advantage.
- In the backstory, Ichigo's parents got together due to this trope. When Isshin was still a Shinigami captain, he was severely injured by a Hollow he fought and Masaki rescued him by killing it. On the other hand the Hollow bit Masaki and she was in serious danger of being absorbed by it, so Isshin sacrificed his Shinigami powers to save her.
- Rukia and Orihime, two girls who are very close to Ichigo, have been captured by the enemy in different occasions. No matter the circumstances, his reaction is to go into a Roaring Rampage of Rescue for each lady's sake. And according to the end of the manga, the one that he fully pulls this trope for is... Orihime.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Tsuna saves Gokudera from his own bombs, leading to a Stalker with a Crush situation. This show is kinda known for its ridiculous amounts of Ho Yay.
- Also Haru fell for Tsuna after he saved her from drowning.
- Might as well tack Enma on.
- Subverted in Gundam Wing's Episode Zero manga, where Middie Une falls in love with No-name aka the future Trowa Barton, but she still betrays the mercenary group they belong to.
- In the Studio Ghibli version of Howls Moving Castle, Howl and Sophie meet when two soldiers hit on Sophie. Howl uses his magic to send them away. It gets better when Howl takes to the air in order to save both of them from the blob-men of the Witch of the Waste.
- Specifically invoked and then harshly deconstructed in Detective Conan, where a guy who hopelessly crushes on Ran, Sonoko and Shinichi's sempai Asami drugs her when they go karaoke singing and then secretly sets her place in fire, hoping she'd finally fall for him when he rescued her. In the end, not only Ran is the one who really rescues Asami, but Conan (through Kogoro) reveals his gambit to everyone, harshly calling him out on his selfishness.
- Other couples, however, have managed to pull this completely straight: Ran and Shinichi (whether he's in his normal body or as Conan), Miwako and Takagi (where she protects her Action Survivor boyfriend), Shiratori and Sumiko (he rescued her when they were kids, and did it again when they're adults).
- Both played straight and played with in Gun X Sword. Van and Wendy meet when he rescues her, but he wasn't trying to rescue her; apparently, he thought she was already dead. Later in the same episode, he deliberately chooses to rescue her, despite having turned down her offer of marriage.
- Gunslinger Girl. Cyborg girl Triela has her Love Epiphany when she discovers that not only did her handler Victor Hilshire save her from a Snuff Film, but he became her handler solely to continue protecting her.
- Played with in the BL manga Cool Uncool by Kai Asou. The story is about how main characters Yukihisa (uke) and Takashi (seme), now best friends, get together, but Yukihisa gives backstory to their relationship by remembering their first meeting in elementary school, where Yukihisa is a bullied transfer student whose tormentors are Takashi's group of friends. When Yukihisa is eventually called out in a schoolyard fight, the manga seems to set up this trope when Yukihisa is put in a two-on-situation. When the reader turns the page, it ends up with Yukihisa kicking the asses of his bullies, and when Takashi arrives, supposedly to rescue him and thereby invoke this trope, Yukihisa ends up tacking him to the ground as if he were another bully.
- In Wild Rock, the first time Yuuen and Emba meet Yuuen is about to be killed by a giant sabre-toothed animal he had been trying to hunt. Emba flies in out of nowhere and stabs it in the neck, and promptly tells Yuuen he's incapable of wielding a weapon. The others get riled up over this but Yuuen is just grateful to have been saved. Emba also gets injured rescuing him from a giant alligator later on. The trope is not quite played straight with their fathers, where it was Selim's own hunting trap that he had to save Yuni from.
- Gloriously subverted in Fujimura-kun Mates. The titular character, Fujimura, once saved a girl from a group of delinquents. Then a very cute and grateful imouto character shows up at his school, initially assumed to be the girl he saved. Turns out, she's the leader of the deliquents!
- In Flame of Recca, Recca and Yanagi meet in a 'saved from forceful advances' scenario.
- Played slightly-more-straight in the anime when Recca pushes her out of the way of a bunch of falling girders.
- Invoked twice in Canaan. Maria Oosawa wants to replay her first meeting with the titual Action Girl, so she intentionally gets in trouble. Also, Liang Qi had set up a trap for Alphard to get captured in the beginning so that Liang Qi would get to rescue her. Alphard was very aware of this; and went along merely because she was curious where Liang Qi was going with it.
- Ox saves his long-time Love Interest Kim from Arachne and Arachnophobia, which earns him a Relationship Upgrade. Other pairings in this series will more than likely be the result of this, in particular Soul/Maka as the former has placed himself in harm's way to protect the latter and actually shielded her while falling. The Foe Yay and Ho Yay pairing Kid/Black*Star can be this since Black*Star is the one who saves Kid from the Book of Eibon.
- In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu Kaburagi and Tomoe Amamiya's relationship was kick-started when Kotetsu rescued her from a factory explosion. Of course, the fact that he was an aspiring superhero and she was a raging superhero fangirl might have had something to do with it.
- Invoked intentionally in Mawaru Penguindrum, when Ringo tries to stage an incident where she's drowning so her crush Tabuki will rescue her. Subverted since it fails, so Shoma has to save her. And ultimately, as they both get more familiar with one another, she falls for him... and he ends up pulling an Heroic Sacrifice for her later, his last words being his Love Confession to her.
- In Code Geass Nina falls for Euphemia after the princess saves her.
- Euphie invoked the trope, pretending to be in danger to seduce Suzaku.
- Lovely Complex: Seiko falls for Otani after Otani saves her from a dog.
- City Hunter, combined with Girl of the Week, Ryo usually gets someone he's hired to protect to like him.
- Invoked and Parodied in Daily Lives of High School Boys. In the "High School Boys and the Saviour" skit, a Bishonen sees three Japanese Delinquents harassing Ringo and steps in to beat them up... except the "delinquents" were just asking her a favor for the student council, and allowed themselves to be beat up to spare the "Saviour" the embarrassment of having misunderstood the situation...by invoking this trope.
- The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird: Momoko fell for Katori/Fighbird when he saved her in the second episode, and really wants him to play the trope straight with her. No such luck, though.
- While Yoshiko fell in love with Katori mostly because of his kindness to everyone, there's an element of this too. The first time she actually considered him as more than a weird and mysterious, but still kind young man that she crossed paths with sometimes came after he saved her from being crushed under a huge shelf.
- Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics:
- The Iron Stove has the titular Stove Prince re-captured by the Witch that enchanted him after he tries to shield the Princess from her. The Princess blames herself for it and decides to rescue him to return the favor, and as she does so she properly falls for him.
- Snow White and Rose Red has the sisters finding a horse without its rider; Rose Red finds the guy unconscious and takes care of him. The stranger is the younger brother of the Bear Prince, and towards the end they marry.
- In "The Old Woman in the Woods", Elisabeth and the cursed Prince team up to rescue one another from the Witch. He first gives her a magic key that allows her to get supplies to survive alone in the woods, and Elisabeth repays the favor by going into the Witch's mansion and following his instructions to defeat her.
- In The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes (The Twelve Dancing Princesses), Princess Genevieve is polite but not too impressed with Peter the Soldier until he rescues her and her sisters Louise and Julia from the monsters that hypnotize them to dance with them in their secret mansion. The fact that he turns out to be very handsome when he gets a royal makeover helps a bit as well, and so does how she also rescued him when he was almost captured by the monsters at the last moment.
- Brother and Sister subverts this: Rosa/Sister's savior is her husband the King, since she's kidnapped (rather than killed like in the original) after they've been married for at least a year and they've already had their first baby.
- The first interaction between Sally Yoshinaga and Maito Senpuuji in The Brave Express Might Gaine has him saving her life when she gets caught in one of his battles. Several times he ends up rescuing her from danger, and they get to know each other better as time passes. Sally manages to return the favor in the Grand Finale, turning herself into a Barrier Maiden to handle the Innocent Waves that give Maito and Might Gaine the boost they need to destroy the Big Bad.
- Kyouya Izayoi and Sayaka Rama rescue one another in Demon City Shinjuku. On one hand, Kyouya saves Sayaka from a rapist when she goes into Shinjuku alone and from then on is pretty much her bodyguard in one or another way. On the other, Sayaka is the one who motivates him to go into Shinjuku in the first place and returns the favor via saving him from a Lotus Eater Machine.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena zigzags the trope around quite a bit:
- Utena dueled Saionji to stand up for Wakaba, whom he had mocked badly, but in the process she sort-of rescued another girl whom he treated even worse: Anthy. From then on, she duels for Anthy's sake so she can still be her "Rose Bride". It turns out to have been an Invoked Trope: Anthy's older brother and the owner of their school, the Big Bad Akio, set all of this up to involve Utena in his plans, playing on her protective instincts. And for worse, Utena protected Anthy less out of genuine concern for her crappy situation, and more so she could feel good about herself.. And after realizing all of this... Utena decided to actually duel for Anthy's sake, not for her own or someone else's, which gets her Ret Gone-d but does give Anthy the courage to get herself out of her abusive situation and live her own life.
- Halfway around the series, during Utena's second duel with Saionji, Touga threw himself between them and took a powerful attack from Saionji to protect Utena. Which he did to both endear himself to her AND ruin Saionji's reputation to get him expelled.
- In an episode, Nanami's Hopeless Suitor Mitsuru realizes how powerful this trope can be. But then he ends up Completely Missing the Point... and decides to endanger Nanami so he can rescue her. Which he does, several times.
- In episode 17 of Igano Kabamaru, during the training trip to the mountains, Kabamaru's Tsundere of a Love Interest Mai gets lost in the middle of a blizzard; Kabamaru goes rescue her, then they find an abandoned cabin to rest until they can return to their lodging. This marks a very important turn in their relationship as a whole, as he does NOT make a fool outta himself in front of her and she finally can see past his Idiot Hero traits.
- In the Child Ballad "The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward", the young lord saves his life by promising to never to tell that his servant robbed him; the servant turns him into a servant, until the daughter of a local lord figures out how to get the story out of him. Whereupon they promptly marry.
- In "The Ballad of the Bog" by Mark Lewis, a young man rescues a girl possessed by a ghost/an Eldritch Abomination, and gets her in his arms.
- "Tam Lin".
- Superman's first encounter with Lois Lane Post-Crisis was the rescue of a space shuttle she was on. It sorta became a trend and a Running Gag / In Joke between the two.
- In their original Golden Age meeting (at least when he was in costume), Superman saves Lois from some gangsters who aren't happy about Lois', erm, professional dedication.
- The Marvel Universe also has a Les Yay/Friendship variation of this. After Rogue drained her powers, Ms. Marvel was rescued by the first Spider Woman and was counseled to get over her trauma/pain of power-loss, which is the beginning of their friendship... or Les Yay.YMMV
- The comic continuations of Gargoyles featured Lexington and Staghart rescuing each other. The Bad Guys series also featured Dingo rescuing Hunter and her him. Word of God says Hunter and Dingo will be together. Jury still out on Staghart and Lexington, though apparently it is canon that Lexington crushes on Staghart.
- In the Dungeon Universe, princess Isis exploits this trope, getting into the dungeon with her boyfriend, hoping she could pretend he rescued her, so the king will allow them to marry. Unluckily, said boyfriend dies less than a page after he appears.
Fairy Tales and Folklore
- "Katie Crackernuts" saves an ill prince from The Fair Folk, after getting the promise that she can marry him if she stays with him for three nights. He is instantly agreeable even though he had been too ill to speak with her before.
- The fairy tale type "The Girl Helps the Hero Flee": A hero falls under the villain's power. The heroine, often the villain's daughter, tells him how to escape the impossible tasks, or performs the magic to allow his escape, and usually both. They invariably intend to marry immediately and do marry in the end.
- In "The Two Brothers" and "The Three Princes and their Beasts", the hero saves the princess from the dragon, and she immediately agrees to marry him.
- In "The Blue Mountains", the hero must suffer a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for three nights to free the heroine, whereupon she immediately agrees to marry him.
- Also in "The Three Princesses of Whiteland", where they do marry at once.
- In "Soria Moria Castle", the three princesses are held prisoner by three trolls and the hero must kill the trolls to rescue them. He gets his pick.
- In some versions of the King Arthur legend this is the start of Lancelot's and Guinevere's affair. More commonly Lancelot rescues her because of his love for her, but their love isn't consummated till after the rescue.
- Back in Chretien it's done one better, with implications that Guinevere is playing Maleagant with full knowledge Lancelot will save her, knowing that this gives him a right to her (in a narrative sense, if not a legal one).
- Prince Charming from Snow White, who never even has a conversation with Snow White (though they did have a cute Duet Bonding moment in the Disney movie) before kissing her apparently dead body, then carrying her off into the sunset. (In the Disney movies continuity, however, some comics show that they did know one another from before the movie itself happened)
- Likewise the Prince in Sleeping Beauty.
- A male example of a rescuee is the prince in The Little Mermaid: In the original Hans Christian Andersen version, the prince never knew that the mermaid had saved him and, while took her in and treated her kindly, wasn't in love with her -- he was in love with a girl from the temple who found him on the beach (who he thought rescued him), whom he believed he could never marry because of her vocation. It turned out that she was not a nun but had simply been sent there to be educated by the sisters, and was in fact a princess his father was pressuring him to marry.
- Which makes this as a Subversion, because the real rescuer aka the Mermaid never really has the chance to be fully human and with him. She still earns the opportunity for salvation, at least.
- Which makes this as a Subversion, because the real rescuer aka the Mermaid never really has the chance to be fully human and with him. She still earns the opportunity for salvation, at least.
- Deliberately averted in the Firefly fanfic Forward, where Jayne and River end up saving each other while they are being held prisoner by Niska. While the aftermath of those events resulted in the two of them developing into a more platonic relationship, it didn't directly result in romance. There are hints that there might be a River/Jayne romance developing later on, however.
- Fanfic writers generally adore this trope as a means of getting an OTP together.
- Back to The Future I and III feature these as major plot points.
- A main plot device in all three movie versions of King Kong, although the sexuality of the relationship between Anne and Kong was toned down to platonic love in the 2005 version.
- Disney loves this trope.
- Lady and the Tramp: Tramp saves Lady from nasty dogs and the pound. Then she and the other dogs save him from the dog catcher, and .
- In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Belle and the Beast's Relationship Upgrade immediately follows the Beast rescuing her from wolves. She returns the favor by not leaving him to die in the snow after he collapses from the effort of said rescue.
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel saves Prince Eric from drowning, who falls in love with her voice. Then he realizes that she saved him, and in return he saves her from the Big Bad.
- Hercules: Hercules tries this with Meg, but she's less than impressed. THEN, she pulls an Heroic Sacrifice for him. And then he rescues her soul from Thanatos and she's revived.
- In Tangled, Flynn takes Rapunzel away from her tower and gives her the chance to see the world. Much later, her abusive guardian/kidnapper Mother Gothel drives a rift between them, but when he returns to Rapunzel's side Gothel wounds him fatally and blackmails Rapunzel into returning to her in exchange for savign him... but he cuts her Magic Hair (the source of her healing powers) so she can be free, knowing that it'll kill him. Some tiny remains of her healing powers gather in her Swiss Army Tears, and she uses them to save him.
- Let's not forget that it all started with a mouse. And his girlfriend. A lot.
- Used (and lampshaded, see the quote above) in Final Fantasy the Spirits Within to restart the romance between the lead girl and her old love, the military captain. First he hauls her out of alien-infected city, then she performs a life-saving surgery on him... Works way better than a Red String of Fate.
- Densha Otoko (Train Guy) is the apparently-true story of a shy nerd who scares off a chikan from harassing a young woman on a train. When she unexpectedly sends him a note and an expensive present, he has to draw on the collective wisdom of an otaku message board to navigate the greatest crisis of his life.
- Spaceballs, which somehow is played straight with no Lampshade Hanging.
- Lampshaded in Speed in which Sandra Bullock's character tells Keanu Reeves' character "Relationships based on extreme circumstances rarely work." Sure enough, by the sequel, she's got a new guy.
- Shrek, being an Affectionate Parody of fairy tales, goes to town with this one: Princess Fiona and Shrek meet when he rescues her from a tower and a dragon. She thinks he's supposed to be her Knight in Shining Armor with whom she will share True Love's Kiss, until he explains that he's actually an ogre who was just sent there to do the rescuing so Lord Farquaad wouldn't have to. Of course, "Rescue By Proxy Romance" isn't nearly as romantic, and ultimately Fiona and Shrek end up falling in love anyway.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean, a child Will was rescued from a wrecked ship by the crew of a nearby boat that a just-as-young Elizabeth and her dad were travelling in. In fact, little Elizabeth was the one who saw Will lying unconscious between what was left of the other ship and alerted the sailors. They go on to spend the rest of the series rescuing each other from various dangerous circumstances.
- Titanic: Jack rescues Rose when she attempts suicide. She falls for him, and upon telling her story 84 years later, says that he saved her in every way a person could be saved.
- Woody Allen's Scoop has the heroine deliberately attract the attention of a guy she wants to investigate for possible murder by pretending to drown so he can rescue her, and striking up a romance afterwards. Later he tries to drown her for real. Good thing she was actually captain of her high school swim team.
- The Star Wars Original trilogy went all over the board with this trope. Han & Luke rescue Leia. Shortly thereafter, Leia saves Han & Luke (and Chewie). Luke and Leia then seem to be playing the trope as straight as an arrow (the "for luck" kiss, the scene before Luke boards his X-Wing, Leia's clear distress at Luke's communications, etc) Then Han returns and saves Luke, and by extension everybody on Yavin 4. In The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Leia are constantly helping each other during their Relationship Upgrade. Finally in Return of the Jedi, it's Leia who saves Han twice.
- After being rescued in Small Soldiers, Christy apparently forgets about her boyfriend in favor of the protagonist. This probably has something to do with said boyfriend fleeing by himself, while the protagonist sticks around to help her.
- The German film The Princess And The Warrior. Psychiatric nurse Sissi is knocked down by a truck and has her life saved with a tracheotomy done by ex-soldier turned criminal Bobo Reimer. She becomes obsessed with tracking him down, convinced that they are destined to be together.
- Wild Wild West. This appears to be happening after Artemus and Jim West rescue Rita Escobar (Rita flirts with both of them and Jim West thinks they'll "end up in the saddle"). It turns out to be a subversion: Rita is actually playing both men to get them to take her along so she can help rescue Professor Escobar...her husband.
- Pictured above: In Fate/Zero, the prequel to the above mentioned Fate/Stay Night, Saber's former Master/Shiro's foster father Kiritsugu Emiya and his wife Irisviel "Iri" von Eizenberg play this totally straight. According to the CD dramas, they were in an Arranged Marriage and at first clashed pretty harshly as a result... but when Iri's creator/father Acht treated her as pretty much expendable, casting her away naked in a snowy forest to "prove" how durable she was, Kiritsugu changed his mind. Not only he rescued Iri himself, he personally nursed her back to health and taught her, an Artificial Human created to be the vessel of the Holy Grail and few more, that she was her own person.
- Second Apocalypse subverts this twice in two different yet nasty ways with two Distressed Damsels.
- We meet Serwe for the first time when she is rescued by Cnaiür, who then proceeds to rape her. Cnaiür then proceeds to develop a strictly one-sided, insane obsession with her while not treating her any better because of it.
- Esmenet is rescued by a seeming Knight in Shining Armor and they engage in a romance, but the man turns out to be a sadistic, inhuman monster disguised as a man who is keeping track of Esmenet for his evil masters' benefit. No hearts are broken, though, as she was staying with him only for the free food and protection.
- In the Incarnations of Immortality novel With A Tangled Skein, Niobe has an Arranged Marriage to Cedric, a handsome, highly intelligent man. He loves her for her beauty, but she views him as a young boy (he was a few years younger than she). Only when he rescues her from rape at the hands of some drunk college students, does she truly love him.
- Lampshaded and played with, along with most other fairy tale tropes, in Mercedes Lackey's The Fairy Godmother, in which the titular heroine is obliged to rescue an imprisoned princess herself because if a man did it, the Tradition would force the princess to fall in love with him... and she's already married.
- And her husband is someone who she intentionally let herself be rescued by precisely to invoke this trope. (And no, she didn't know who would be the rescuer. Her father and her worked up the plan, and sent out a message to all nearby eligible princes, knowing she would fall in love with whomever succeeded.)
- The following book in the series features a chapter in which the princess thinks over the basic rules of the Tradition in search of a way to avoid falling in love with the Champion who saved her from the dragon (who isn't looking for a bride at the moment for a variety of reason, the most significant being that Sir George's real name is Georgina - circumstances required her order to send in a female Champion).
- The Faerie Queene: Subverted in Book 1: The Red Cross Knight
kind offails at the whole "rescue" thing, leaving his charge at the mercy of church robbers, rapists, and Loony Fan forest critters. Those Masters of Illusion are just so great at the whole "illusions" thing...
- Gender inverted in Book 3: Arthur's squire, Timias, falls in love with the huntress Belphoebe after she finds him injured in the woods and nurses him back to health.
- Played straight in Book 6 with Calidore saving Pastorella from a tiger.
- In Jennifer Fallon's Second Sons trilogy: Sort of when Dirk rescues Tia from a drunken sailor who thinks she is a prostitute (though her original plan was to get him into a more private place so she could beat him up, it doesn't quite work out that way). The resulting affair is very temporary, however.
- Tia and Mischa, when the former aids the latter in breaking the opium addiction he didn't know he had (it's complicated), may be a better example. Though an attraction did exist earlier.
- Readers are teased somewhat with an averted Rescue Romance in The Sarantine Mosaic duology: early in the first book, Crispin rescues a woman from her life as an inn prostitute slated to be sacrificed to an ancient god. She falls in love with him, but he's quickly drawn away from her by the intrigues of the emperor's court, and she ends up marrying someone else entirely. She spends a little time picking apart the Rescue Romance in her head, deciding that she's been rescued from "being rescued" by marrying someone else.
- Both Gender inverted and Lampshaded in the Smoke and Shadows trilogy. Tony saves Lee's life multiple times, and when Lee finally comes out of the closet, Tony remarks, "I never thought of you as a damsel."
- Examined with some care in the Lord Peter Wimsey series; Lord Peter falls in Love At First Sight with Harriet Vane, rescues her from wrongful imprisonment and hanging...and she bluntly declines his proposal. It takes four years before she's ready to have a relationship with him.
- Really quite brutally subverted--in Have His Carcase there's this gem of an ugly scene: "I know I'm being horribly ungrateful---" "Hell!" All endurance has its limits and Wimsey had reached his. "Grateful! Good God, am I never to get away from the bleat of that filthy adjective? I don't want gratitude. I don't want kindness. I don't want sentimentality. I don't even want love-- I could make you give me that-- of a sort. I want common honesty."
- In Dresden Files, Charity's Backstory is that her future husband Michael rescued her from a dragon.
- Also, Harry assumes that their daughter Molly's crush on him is due to a combination of this and Like Parent, Like Spouse.
- Jane Eyre's romance with Mr. Edward Rochester begins with her rescuing him after he's injured himself in a fall from his horse on his way home.
- In Right Ho, Jeeves, Jeeves suggests this as a plan, if Bertie sets off the fire alarm then the disentangled couples will rush to each others' aid and reentangle, dis-entangling Bertie and saving Aunt Dahlia's magazine. His actual plan is somewhat more complex however, involving making an ass of Bertie as a key step.
- Warrior Cats: Silverstream rescues Graystripe from drowning, and he's barely out of the water before he's flirting with her. Bonus points for being Star-Crossed Lovers.
- An Firestar stopped Sandstorm from falling off a gorge, and Crowfeather managed to save Leafpool from falling off a cliff, and... Never mind. If one character saves another, they're probably going to end up in a relationship at some point.
- Lampshaded, mocked, sent up and played straight with Trevor and Juliet in the Discworld novel Unseen Academicals. Although Juliet was already a bit partial to Trev before he saved her life, he reflects that having done so is "solid gold in the romance bank". Juliet's friend Glenda sees it differently:
Juliet: He saved my life!
- Such a rescue takes place in the backstory of A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel, where it already seems like a stock scene being pulled from the shelf, if still a well-executed one. Doesn't end well.
- The House Of Night: Rephaim and Stevie Rae's relationship is entirely built on this. First Stevie Rae finds Rephaim almost dying from being shot out of the sky, hides him in a garden shed, patches him up, then lets him go. A I Owe You My Life moment is exchanged between them, which comes in handy when Stevie Rae is then later trapped on the roof a building. Rephaim rescues her and an Imprint is formed between them. Then when Stevie Rae summons Darkness, it's none other then Rephaim who rescues her from Darkness. When Stevie Rae sees Darkness hurting Rephaim, she summons Light to help rescue Rephaim. When Dallas finds out that Stevie Rae's been lying about knowing Rephaim, and plans to "knock some sense" into Stevie Rae, Rephaim's the one that steps up and protects Stevie Rae. Then Stevie Rae protects them both when Dallas embraces Darkness and tries to kill them both.
- In The Ballad of Dinadan everyone who knows Dinadan and Brangienne and how they met thinks that they should be this. Instead they are each others Not Love Interests, fully admitting that they would probably make each other miserable.
- Granted their Relationship Upgrade doesn't happen for another four books, but it should be noted that the first major interaction Harry Potter has with Ginny Weasley is to basically spend an entire book rescuing her from the Big Bad and his giant snake.
- The Laundry Series. The protagonist saves Mo from a blood sacrifice in "The Atrocity Archives". She's seeing someone else at the time so he doesn't follow it up, but he saves her life two more times during the course of the novel, so at the end she decides to move in with him of her own accord.
- In the second book she ends up saving from a horrific death trap. This leads to him proposing to her.
- In Around the World In 80 Days, Phileas Fogg rescues the young Indian widow Aouda from death by suttee, and then takes her in so they can try delivering her to a relative that will keep her safe. She falls in love with him almost immediately, and since they can't find said relative, she stays with him. Because Phileas Fogg has such an unemotional exterior, we don't find out that he loves her until the end of the novel.
- Invoked in Emma. Emma is sure that Harriet and Frank Churchill will fall in love after Frank rescues Harriet from the gypsies. Instead, Harriet falls for Knightly, who "rescues" her by dancing with her after she was snubbed by another man.
- Subverted in Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Fisted Poet - Sally's already interested in Percy to begin with, but he knows she's a Cute Bruiser and pre-arranges a mock battle with an older boy so he can show off when he takes her on a date. Sally's dizzy with delight until Encyclopedia whispers the give-away clue into her ear: Percy's glasses, which he'd put in his shirt pocket, are intact despite multiple body blows.
Sally: W... why Percy! That wasn't a real fight at all! It was a fake! You fixed it!
(He goes down three times and gets up twice.)
- The trope is subverted a second time in the same story: despite the fact that he's rescued her from having a misguided crush on a lying jerk, Encyclopedia and Sally never seem to be anything other than close friends.
- In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phoebus rescues Esmeralda, causing the latter to fall hopelessly in love with the former.
- Twilight: Bella and Edward were already secretly interested in each other. But it took Edward saving her from Tyler's out of control van to get their relationship going.
- Played with in A Song of Ice and Fire with Tyrion's first wife, Tysha. It's first played straight with a slight twist: she falls in love, not with the dashing knight who most directly and physically rescued her from a group of bandits and implied would-be rapists (older brother Jaime), but the malformed midget who comforted her afterward (younger brother Tyrion). Then it's subverted when it turns out that Tysha was a prostitute and the whole thing was staged for Tyrion's benefit by Jaime, who thought it was about time his little brother had a woman. THEN it's reinsubverted, or something, when it turns out that their father Twyin, incensed at his son's marriage to a commoner, forced Jaime to tell Tyrion she was a prostitute when she actually wasn't. (Or at least, she wasn't hired by Jaime; Twyin considered her a whore because he believed that her only motivation for marrying Tyrion was his family's money. How pure her motives actually were is unknown.) Then It Got Worse.
- Played straight, lampshaded, invoked, and all-around played with in Stephanie Laurens' Cynster Sisters trilogy. It fits, since they're set in the late 1820s.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs. All the time. Some of the more notable ones:
- In A Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris doesn't admit to her attraction until John Carter rescues her.
- In The Chessman of Mars, Gahan finds and rescues Tara when her shipwreck had ended with her prisoner.
- In A Fighting Man of Mars, Tan Handron stumbles across Tavia and rescues her. It takes him a while to figure out the romance part, though.
- In The Monster Men, Bulan and Virginia met when he rescues her from the title monsters.
- Teased, but ultimately subverted in Mort. "We talked about it. Then we thought, just because you happen to rescue a princess, you shouldn't rush into things." Death specifically refers to the Snow White / Sleeping Beauty version as a bad idea.
Live Action TV
- Invoked in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined when the Cylons on Caprica are trying to get Helo to fall in love with Sharon so she'll get pregnant with a hybrid. They stage a Centurion attack wherein Sharon gets "captured" and lead him to track her down and "rescue" her. This gives their already developing relationship a significant push.
- In an episode of CSI: Miami, the team encounter an agency that does mock kidnappings with this sort of thing (although the participants are further down the path) in mind. Girl gets "kidnapped", boyfriend "pays ransom" and/or "rescues her", they have sex (because "rescue sex is the best kind of sex"). This being the CSI Verse, it doesn't quite work out like that...
- An episode of CSI New York also takes a spin on the trope with a woman who, it initially appears, gets back together with her ex after he saves her from being kidnapped and assaulted. It turns out that the "abduction" was a fetish game she and her current partner had knowingly staged, and her ex killed her lover in a fit of jealousy - she just found it hot that he would go that far for her.
- Similarly, there was a Law and Order Special Victims Unit where a couple had this as a major fetish. The problem was that the husband was doing increasingly horrible things to the male escorts hired as "attackers."
- Subverted in The Tenth Kingdom. Wolf makes his way to the Troll Palace to rescue Virginia, cleverly tricking the idiot Troll children into knocking each other out, then swings in on a vine to free her. Her response when he notes she doesn't seem to trust him? "Of course I don't trust you, you tried to eat my grandmother!" (Yes, they went there. And it was actually rather well done and hilarious.) This was not an auspicious start to the relationship.
- In the Beauty and The Beast TV show, Vincent and Catherine first met when he brought her home after she was attacked and left to die in Central Park; given the constraints that Vincent's nonhuman appearance puts on him, it's fair to say they would never otherwise have met.
- In Pushing Daisies, although they'd known each other as kids, Ned and Chuck met again when he brought her back to life.
- Used as a plot detail in Monk; a nebbish millionare got his best friend to fake a mugging in college so he could look heroic to his girlfriend (it worked, although he ultimately married someone else, the girl still said she should have married him). It didn't turn out so well later down the road, when the friend pulled a gun and shot the millionare when they did the same thing, for supposedly the same reason, which turned out to be an attempt to hide the friend stealing company money and killing the only guy in the way.
- On Red Dwarf, Ace Rimmer introduces himself after saving a princess and states his intentions to her: "There'll be time for answers later - and hopefully, some sex." And because he's Ace, she doesn't disagree. What a guy!
- In Smallville, in the episode "Relic", Lana's great-aunt falls in love with Jor-El when he saves her from Lex's grandfather.
- Deconstructed on ICarly, when Carly and Freddie start dating after Freddie pushed Carly out of the way of a truck, getting severely injured himself in the process. Eventually Freddie realizes (due in part to Sam's advice, for what that may be worth) that Carly might not like really like him for anything other than the rescue, and explains to her that while he hopes they will get back together after some time passes, for the time being they should end their relationship.
- In Ashes to Ashes Gene saves Alex's life no less than seven times, not to mention her soul
- On Saved by the Bell Denise Richards' characters stages this to meet Slater, but like most characters that don't appear in the opening credits is never seen again.
- Though it doesn't immediately lead to romance, the first thing that seems to attract Willow to Oz in season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that he is injured saving her life.
- Angel saving Buffy from three vampire assassins leads to him hiding out in her bedroom and their First Kiss.
- Spike/Buffy share a Big Damn Kiss at the end of "Once More With Feeling" after Spike stops Buffy from dancing herself to death with a few well-chosen lyrics. Buffy later tries to blame it on Phlebotinum-Induced Stupidity, but Spike knows otherwise and starts pursuing her in earnest.
- Parodied in "Beer Bad" when Buffy keeps having a Daydream Surprise in which she saves Parker from vampires and earns his eternal gratitude and apologies for dumping her to chase other women. After Buffy drinks some cursed beer and turns into a Nubile Savage she saves Parker from a burning building and gets this, accompanied by the requisite orchestral music...only for Cavewoman!Buffy to club him over the head and walk off.
- Brutally averted in "When She Was Bad" -- Xander saved Buffy's life in last season's finale, but when Buffy returns to school next year she's still traumatized and acting out against all her friends, dancing intimately with Xander purely to make Angel jealous. After several minutes of getting Xander worked up...
Buffy: Xander, did I ever thank you for saving my life?
- Subverted in Merlin in which both Arthur and Lancelot (separately) go to great lengths to rescue Guinevere from a warlord, only for extreme awkwardness to ensue when they realize why the other one is there. Neither one ends up with her (at least, at the end of that particular episode).
- Played straight with Merlin and Freya, with tragic consequences.
- In Being Human between Annie and Mitchell, where the former seems quite keen to romanticise the latter's rescuing of her, and a relationship that had previously been purely platonic is transformed into romance post-rescue.
- Ghost Whisperer: It happened before the show started, but Jim and Melinda met when he (a firefighter at the time) rescued her from her burning apartment complex.
- In an episode of Cold Case, a woman is involved in a car accident and is rescued from the wreckage by a firefighter. She is rendered paraplegic but goes on to marry said firefighter. However... the woman's ex boyfriend (who was driving the car yet got away with minor injuries) noticed something amiss with the whole accident. After doing some research and recalling that the woman complained about her legs hurting before being taken out of the wreck, he comes to the conclusion that the firefighter used the jaws of life incorrectly and crippled her. He confronts him about this in hopes of getting back together with her, only for the firefighter to murder him.
- Lampshaded in C-drama Holy Pearl. "Ohh, I get it. Weak woman is saved by strong, handsome man and falls in love with him. There's only one problem--you don't look weak." For added irony points, the speaker is later saved by the man in question...and falls in love with him.
- Super Mario Bros.. Noted numerous times by web cartoonists.
- Exception: Despite fanon, a Zelda game designer once admitted it's mainly Link's job as a heroic figure to rescue the princess; Link has usually been either too young or the game's mood too light to do any sort of serious romantic subplot. To say nothing of Mario, who doesn't even take his villains seriously...
- This is actually portrayed very well in the various games: even in the few situations where Link is old enough to conceivably pursue a romance with Zelda, he's also far too intently focused on his duty instead of her. He never ignores her, or through ignorance or malice puts her in danger, but he's never shown even the slightest interest in a romantic relationship. In Twilight Princess, however, the initial reason you start your adventure is to go rescue the mayor's daughter who pretty clearly likes Link.
- Fridge Brilliance: Link is supposed to be the player's avatar in the game world. It's why he's named "Link": he's the player's link to Hyrule. We're supposed to project our personalities, likes, and dislikes onto him. If one person prefers Zelda as a couple, they could make that work in their own private fanon and it's a completely valid option, but if someone else prefers any of the alternate options, or just doesn't like Zelda for whatever reason, the developers at Nintendo don't want to throw off their immersion and also give these people a way out.
- In the cartoon and early games it was played as romance. Later however they avert this, from A Link to the Past onwards, except for that kiss at the end of The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games linked game and Breath of the Wild (Zelda is explicitly in love with Link, and depending on the player's reactions he can reciprocate or nit).
- Robot Chicken's take
- This is actually portrayed very well in the various games: even in the few situations where Link is old enough to conceivably pursue a romance with Zelda, he's also far too intently focused on his duty instead of her. He never ignores her, or through ignorance or malice puts her in danger, but he's never shown even the slightest interest in a romantic relationship. In Twilight Princess, however, the initial reason you start your adventure is to go rescue the mayor's daughter who pretty clearly likes Link.
- Fire Emblem is littered with this:
- Fire Emblem 4 (Genealogy of the Holy War), Sigurd helps a girl named Deirdre who's harassed by a thug. She thanks him profusely, but flees and Sigurd can't take her out of his mind, even when people say she's from a hidden village and can't be with him. The next time they see each other, Deirdre asks to join his trope since she's a magic user and confesses she's been crushing on him ever since he helped her, Sigurd says he feels the same and lets her come with the group.
- Another possibility in the same game (this one's optional, whereas Sigurd and Deirdre automatically become hitched) is the hook-up between Prince Jamke and Lady Edain. She was kidnapped by Jamke's evil older brother who wanted to marry her, but Jamuka let her go along with teenage thief Deu. When he returns, it's as an enemy, and Edain recruit him for the good guys * and* , through conversations, make him fall in love with her.
- Eliwood of Pherae and Ninian the Dancer in Blazing Blade fall into this trope too. In "Lyn's tale", Eliwood helps Lyn and Nils save a kidnapped Ninian, but she's unconscious that time and doesn't know Eliwood played a part in her rescue, until their C support brings that up and she's able to say thanks. Something similar happens with Rebecca the Archer and Lowen the Cavalier; their C support is about Rebecca glamourizing the time they met, when Lowen rescued her from the bandits ransacking her village and recruited her for Eliwood's troupe.
- Fire Emblem Awakening has several cases: Lissa and a Male Avatar (the prequel comics show that she's the one who found the Avatar passed out and called Chrom for help) and Chrom and a Female Avatar (not only he takes her in, but at the end his voice is THE factor that lets her wake up from being taken over by Grima), though in a subversion both cases take place even if Lissa and Chrom don't marry them; Lissa/Lon'qu (he's assigned as her bodyguard and later saves her from being shot dead); Ricken/Maribelle (he helps her escape from Plegian soldiers that kidnapped her); Maribelle/Libra (she saves him from drunkards that were bullying him); Yarne/Nah (he saves her from kidnappers); etc.
- Fire Emblem Fates has many of these as well: Azama and either Hinoka (he found her badly wounded in the mountains and nursed her back to health) or Effie (she shields him from enemies but is wounded, and he heals her in return); Saizo/Sakura (she finds him badly injured and heals him right there); Azura and either: Saizo (he protects her from hitmen and she dresses his wounds), Silas (exorcises a demon that was about to attack him), Hinata (helps him get away from a Nohrian spy), Subaki (he saves her from assassins), a Male Avatar in Conquest (he saves her from Hoshidan soldiers, she rescues him from hitmen), Arthur (when she was a child and he was a teenager, he let himself be whipped to protect her from mean noblemen), Takumi in Birthright (she uses her Magic Music to free him from Iago's Brainwashing) and either Ryoma or Xander in the Golden Path (she stops them from engaging in a potential Duel to the Death); Xander and Charlotte (he's attacked by a Faceless when unarmed and she kills it with her bare hands); etc.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The game starts with Byleth rescuing three of the four future Lords of the game (Princess Edelgard, Price Dimitri and Prince Claude) from bandits. A female Byleth can hook up with any of them, while a male Byleth can only officially marry Edelgard (though he also has buttloads of Ho Yay with Dimitri). Subverted: it's later revealed that Edelgard had engineered the attack itself, though she did not count on Byleth rescuing her and the guys and the leader bandit didn't know that Edelgard was the one hiring him and his thugs.
- Caspar von Bergliez and Annette Fantine Dominic have this in their B support, when she gets separated from her soldiers and badly injured. He carries her back to the monastery and comforts her. This is later the basis for their non-Crimson Flower ending, where she gets lost and nearly loses her life before Caspar finds her. They officially fall in love afterwards.
- If you like your Ho Yay, Dedue and Dimitri. Dimitri protected Dedue during the genocide of Duscur, never believing that the people were responsible for the murder of hisw father. Dedue has since devoted his life to Dimitri, and they have a very suggestive paired ending in Azure Moon.
- Downplayed with Hubert and Shamir. She saves him from an assassin he didn't see coming, and he actually thanks her. The two get married if the player pursues their support chain to the maximum.
- Taking the Rivalry path with Merrill in Dragon Age II consists of rescuing her from her own self-destructive demon-summoning. Can be romantic or platonic, however.
- Also, Aveline and Donnic's first on-screen meeting consists of Hawke & Co. showing up to rescue Donnic from thugs.
- While it's never explicitly stated, Tales of Phantasia certainly does suggest that Mint develops romantic feelings for Cless after he rescues her from Mars' dungeon. At the end of the Tower of the 12 Zodiac Signs, the guardian Artemis, for his own amusement, tells Arche to kiss Cless. Just before Arche does kiss Cless, Mint pushes Arche out of the way. In the only romantic scene between the two, in a town with constant snowfall, Mint tells Cless that, shortly after they escaped from the dungeon, she saw him holding onto a unicorn earring that belonged to Meryl, Mint's mother. She thanks Cless for not telling her then what happened because, had she known, she would have lost all hope, and then Mint starts crying.
- Arguably used in Half Life 2, where Alyx rescues Gordon from Civil Protection. "Arguably" because Gordon never confirms his feelings - in fact, Gordon isn't really supposed to have feelings separate from the player. But judging by the reaction of the majority of players to Alyx, it worked. This is also an example of a male rescuee.
- Played straight later on, as Gordon gets to rescue Alyx from a stalker that's trying to chew her face off after the train crashes.
- And at the end of the first game Gordon invades the Citadel to rescue Alyx, after which we get the first overt sign of romantic affection from her.
- The player's relationship with Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark is at least partially based on this trope.
- The player's first meeting with Tiera in the fan module Shadowlords arc has him getting her out of some trouble with the local police.
- If Obsidian had kept Neeshka's romance arc in Neverwinter Nights 2, her relationship with the hero would count. Safiya's first meeting with the player in Mask of the Betrayer might also qualify.
- The player's introduction to Dawn Star in Jade Empire is the player sending Gao packing when he tries to hit on her. Though this might not count, as it is definitely not the first time the characters meet and Dawn Star was infatuated with a male character long before the incident.
- Subverted/deconstructed in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Bastila Shan initially resents the player for rescuing her.
- But played straight (even if one is a Gay Option) with the female paths. Carth did pull the unconscious Player Character off the escape pod and nurse him/her back to health in the Taris apartment. Later, if you choose to rescue Juhani, she reveals that the Player Character rescued her twice. The second time was in the grove. The first time was when Revan's forces marched on Taris and chased out the slavers.
- This is how Cornet's infatuation with Prince Ferdinand gets kick-started in Rhapsody a Musical Adventure. She dreams of him saving her from a scary, nondescript monster, and then it happens for real when she goes off to the forest to retrieve some red Inotium and gets attacked by Myao and her hench-cats. Later poor Ferdinand is turned into stone and kidnapped by Marjoly, so Cornet must return the favor...
- The E3 trailer for Little Big Planet inexplicably subverts this.
- Star Fox - Fox falls in love with Krystal when he sees her trapped in a crystal. After he rescues her, at the end of the game the two become a couple
- Final Fantasy IX. Zidane stole Garnet from the castle, and One Thing Led to Another.
- Turned in weird directions in Final Fantasy VIII; Rinoa's interest in Squall is visible well before any rescue scenarios, but it takes Squall saving her several times before he really starts to warm up to her.
- When meeting two of the three possible female romantic interests in Baldur's Gate 2, you end up rescuing them (twice, in the case of one of them...) the third? She was sent to help you.
- Due to the very nature of the games, every romance in Mass Effect has elements of this.
- In the sequel, Tali will actually invoke this trope if you pursue her Romance Sidequest.
Tali: What could I possibly be suggesting? I mean, a young woman gets saved by a dashing commander who lets her join his crew and then goes off to save the galaxy? How could she possibly develop any kind of interest in him?
- In Princess Maker, one of the main ways that Olive alias the daughter can end up developing feelings for Cube is if she is often defeated by monsters and/or bandits while out on trips, since Cube is the one who rescues her and brings her home.
- Cave Story: It's open to interpretation whether there's any romance between the player character and Curly Brace, but if so, then Rescue Romance definitely applies. Aside from a brief fight upon first meeting, all their interactions involve rescuing each other (with the player doing the bulk of the rescuing) or fighting side-by-side.
- Mitsumete Knight likes this trope. No less than three conquerable girls can be saved from pinches, and will kickstart or considerably strengthen bonds with them : Sophia, Laury, and Priscilla. The first two are even saved twice ; the last one's Rescue Romance is doubled up with Save the Princess.
- Tokimeki Memorial 1, very surprisingly, has a case of this, but it's a really bizarre one : if you repeatedly phone to Rei Ijuin, the game's Bifauxnen, it will activate various events revolving around her, and in one of them, she'll be kidnapped. You can decide to go to her rescue (and is required if you want to get her Ending), but in a subversion, when you'll arrive to the supposed place where's she captive, the Ijuin Family Army will already have saved her. As usual, she'll give the protagonist some badmouthing for his stupid recklessness, but will still thank him, and apparently starts to like him from this point. Oh, did I forgot to mention that the protagonist, at this point, doesn't know that she's actually a girl, and won't discover this until the end of the game, when she'll confess to him on Graduation Day under the Legendary Tree?
- When Junichi defends Ai from an aggressive dog in her route in Amagami.
- Subverted, sort of, in Final Fantasy VII. Tifa asked Cloud to promise to come to her rescue if she was ever in trouble. While he did just that, it wasn't what led her to fall for him. Also, she didn't remember it. That doesn't help. Some time later Tifa rescues Could after he gets badly mindfucked by Sephiroth AND falls into The Lifestream, so it's up to her to take a Journey to the Center of the Mind to "fix" him when they fall into said Lifestream together. And THEN, she remembers that he DID come to save her. D'awwwwww.
- Hilariously played in the Battle for Wesnoth campaign Elvish Dynasty RPG, in which the human empire has a law on the books that if a dragon who holds a princess captive is slain the princess and the dragonslayer are considered married. Even if the dragonslayer happens to be the queen of the elves.
- In Dragon Age II, if Feyniriel is enouraged by Hawke to develop his Dream Weaver powers, a nobleman's daughter named Orlanna falls in love with him because he rescued her from being gang-raped by a group of bandits by making them kill each other while they were still awake, and asks Hawke to help her find him so she can thank him properly.
- Devil Survivor invokes this; when Kaido asks you for advice on how to win Mari's heart, you advise him to help her out of a tight spot. This advice can later save the lives of multiple people.
- According to Desiree in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, she fell in love with Ron Delite when he saved her from a pair of thugs. And then he passed out.
- Used in the Touhou Project fan video Monster Tree by after Cirno saves Daiyousei from a couple of bullies (Rumia and Mystia).
- Played with in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Captain Hammer "saves" Penny from a runaway van and they become an item. Even though he saved her by throwing her into a pile of trash. And it was really Dr. Horrible who stopped the van.
- In the Whateley Universe, Dogged Nice Guy Stalwart pursued Fey until she got angry enough to throw him across the Quad with magic. But when he saved her from mutant ninja assassin Nex she decided she owed him at least a date. And then she decided he really was a nice guy. They are still dating.
- In Mayonaka Densha Hatsune and Tom first meet when he saves her from Jack the Ripper. If Hatsune's Anguished Declaration of Love later on is to be believed, this was also the point when she fell in love with him.
- In Freefall, Florence and the veterinarian, Winston, develop an attraction to each other ...awkward, since they're different species. Anyway, Florence acknowledges to herself that having been rescued by Winston plays no small part in her attraction to him.
- In El Goonish Shive, Justin falls in love with Elliot after being saved from bullies (slightly late, but that's besides the point). Unfortunately for Justin, who is pretty much a Woobie, Elliot doesn't swing that way.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court Jack Hyland develops a crush on Antimony Carver after she helps free his mind from the grip of an ethereal spider.
- Which is later subverted. He doesn't love Antimony - he loves Zimmy, the girl whose mind the ethereal spider came from.
- Which is still played straight: Zimmy was the one who directly confronted the spider, before killing it.
- Which is later subverted. He doesn't love Antimony - he loves Zimmy, the girl whose mind the ethereal spider came from.
- In Homestuck, this is what Dirk plans on trying to attempt a seduction of Jake.
- Invoked in an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, where a Fan Girl of Sonic's falls off a tall building. Sonic, being the hero that he is, zooms over and saves her. When Tails asks her about how she fell off the roof, she says, "Oh, that? I jumped. I wanted you to save me! How else was I going to meet you, silly?"
- In an episode of Kim Possible, Ron dreams of saving Kim, and then actually does.
- Not to mention Kim saves Ron numerous times throughout the show.
- Another male rescuee example comes from My Life as a Teenage Robot. In "Attack of the 5 1/2 Foot Geek", Sheldon meets (and falls hard for) Jenny after she saves him from some bullies in shop class.
- Paulina in Danny Phantom. The first time she's rescued, she acknowledges that Danny is a good ghost (in a town then on Untrusting Community level), but it was his second rescue that Paulina had fallen madly in love with Danny Phantom. (Although this turns into a cast of Loves My Alter Ego, and they actually never get together.)
- A Robot Chicken sketch featured a nerd winning a date with Scarlett Johanson in a contest. When she arrives, she hardly masks her frustration with the situation. Suddenly, a bunch of goons hired by the nerd "attack" the two during the date, causing the nerd to "chase" them off. She instantly falls in love with him, and we get a Happily Ever After montage of them marrying, having kids, etc. Then we see the nerd at his death bed confessing the ruse to Scarlett who, instead of being outraged, suddenly starts speaking in a man's voice and claiming she's not the real Scarlett Johanson but a (male) impersonator. The revelation causes the nerd to flatline right then and there and "Scarlett" to break down in tears.
- How did they have kids, you ask? Probably conceived by the Rule of Funny.
- The show later subverts the trope when Link rescues Princess Zelda. He expects a kiss, but the princess rejects him because they only just met; apparently she gets kidnapped and saved all the time, and after sexing up the first hero to save her she stopped.
- In Phineas and Ferb, "The Beak" and the ending of "Vanessassary Roughness" have Phineas and Ferb rescuing their love interest from danger.
- In Voltron: Legendary Defender, a pretty important turn in the potential relationship between Lance and Princess Allura takes place when he's almost killed and she heals him, bringing him back from the brink of death. And that's not counting how he was the first Paladin to talk to her, right after she collapsed into his arms...
- A standard trick by private investigators or spies to gain someone's trust is to stage a fake barfight or street mugging, with the investigator as the Good Samaritan coming in "save" him or her.
- Called the "Florence Nightingale Effect" when it happens in hospitals.
- The reverse, when a caretaker develops feelings for their patient, is called countertransference and it is a serious concern for any psychiatric professionals.
- The famous samurai Ryoma Sakamoto escaped from an assassination attempt in the Teradaya inn from Kyoto after one of the maids, Ryo "Oryuu" Narasaki, overheard the would-be assasins' talks when she was taking a bath and then rushed through the inn (apparently naked) to tell him and his allies. Few later, Sakamoto and Oryuu got married.
- Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster, and The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae