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Everything comes down to a one-on-one fight between the hero and whoever has been his worst antagonist in the current plot. The hero's friends and reinforcements show up in time to intervene and give the hero a decisive victory with their overwhelming numbers and/or firepower, but they don't — or the hero won't let them — because "This is something he's got to do himself."

This tactic might be a way to counter the ill effects of the Conservation of Ninjitsu...

Notable examples can be found in almost every Western.

This is the logical extension of It's Personal, the cousin of Leave Him to Me, and often stems from Honor Before Reason. Also see I Work Alone for denying help from the beginning. There's also Locked Out of the Fight, where the hero does want help but circumstances contrive to prevent the helpers from helping. Compare Shoo Out the Clowns. Contrast In the End You Are on Your Own, where the helpers can't be of any help even if they wanted to. See also What You Are in the Dark.

Contrast Helping Would Be Killstealing, for when it's a matter of experience and personal growth rather than honor or revenge.

Examples of This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens a few times in Bleach with Ichigo; he sets out repeatedly to fight alone, and most of the final battles are just him and the Big Bad. But his friends and The Obi-Wan Urahara refuse to actually let him set off for battle alone.
    • However, Ukitake does give Rukia a speech which amounts to this concept and leads to the death of Kaien
    • Subverted in some manga chapters where Ichigo was fighting Aizen and was joined by every single Shinigami or Vizard who could still raise a sword.
    • Rukia says it during Ichigo's fight with Grand Fisher.
  • This occurs in almost every major battle (in the end anyway) in Dragon Ball, as well as in DBZ and DBGT.

 Gohan: Sh-shouldn't we help him?

Piccolo: Can't you see he has to fight this battle on his own? He's fighting for the honor of his fallen comrade...

Tenshinhan: Help me, for the love of God, HELP ME!

Piccolo: a hero.

  • Samurai Deeper Kyo makes frequent use of this trope, to the point where the Shiseiten, a group of fighters, has a rule where no member may intervene in another member's fights. (Almost no one else in the series helps another in a one-on-one fight, but, yeah.) This leads to a scene where Akira, the youngest member, has to stand by and watch as the man who raised him in the group, Bontenmaru, is toyed with by Tokito.
  • In Naruto, en route to fight Itachi, Sasuke encounters Kisame, who tells him to go on and face Itachi alone without him or the rest of Team Snake. Karin insists on helping, but Kisame suggests that he will fight Sasuke's teammates if they try to assist him, and Sasuke says "Don't even think about it, Karin. This is my revenge."
    • Before that, Naruto insisted to Yamato and Kakashi after completing his Rasenshuriken technique that he should take on Kakuzu from then on, as he considered this a "dangerous bridge" which he has to cross alone or else he'll be Just a Kid forever.
    • Naruto acts the same way on his fight with Pain.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Mai insists that Jounouchi duel Dinosaur Ryuuzaki without any advice. Jounouchi is willing to do this in order to prove that he can win on his own, but Honda opposes it.
  • Inverted in Mahou Sensei Negima, where Negi initially tried to do everything himself, only to get bailed out by his stronger allies. Although his Training From Hell is getting him the point where this won't be the case any more.
    • Negi's whole motivation for training like that is so that he can do everything himself. Although in this case it's not so much for personal validation as that he doesn't want his True Companions to be in danger because they had to bail him out.
    • Played straight during Wilhelm's attack and Chao's invasion, where Evangeline stopped Kaede and Konoemon respectively from interfering because she considered both events "Training From Hell" for Negi.
  • In the second season of the live action Gokusen drama, Takeda takes on a college-level boxing champ on a rocky beach. When Yankumi shows up, she tells the rest of the True Companions not to intervene, even though it's more of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown than a proper fight and those rocks look they really hurt to land on.
  • Very poignantly done in an episode of Inuyasha, Jinenji, Kind Yet Sad.
  • In Digimon Tamers, Rika wanted Renamon to assist Impmon in a fight. She refused, because Impmon wanted to do the fight alone.
  • In Soul Eater Sid sees the fight between Black Star and Mifune as this when Nygus wants to intervene. Possibly justified in that Sid recognised the fight could determine whether Black Star risks ending up like his father or could find his own 'path' (it does, and he does), but also moral dissonance considering the honour over reason mentality.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie, Sonic initially insists that he has to defeat Metal Sonic alone. Though Sonic's apparently smart enough to know when he needs help--when Tails intervenes at a later point, Sonic thanks him.
  • Happens sometimes in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, usually when a challenge fight is being fought, or when somebody desperately wants a rematch. Also interesting is the dynamics of helping and refusing help between Kenichi and Miu: Kenichi is very chivalrous and wants to become strong enough to protect Miu, and sometimes even tries to interfere when she is about to start fighting, but Miu is more skillful fighter than Kenichi (always beating him in sparring matches), and she is very willing to protect him when she thinks he is in danger. Kenichi, of course, often refuses such help from Miu, because "this is something a man must do himself".
  • In an earlier episode of Detective Conan, the murder happens at a reunion of Kogoro's old high school judo club, meaning both the victim and the murderer are friends of his. Conan pulls Kogoro aside and is about to tranquilize him as usual when he sees Kogoro's anger about the situation and his resolve to crack the case for his slain friend. Hearing this, Conan puts away his tranq gun and decides that Kogoro needs to solve this one himself, though he does still provide little hints.
  • Appropriately, as Trigun is a Stranded-On-A-Desert-Planet-For-Three-Generations Western, Vash the Stampede has been known to invoke this trope. For himself, he keeps trying to do things alone and keep everyone else out of the line of fire. More darkly, in the manga Vash is standing there watching for the horrible, gory, agonizing marathon battle that ends in Wolfwood dying of overusing his regeneration formula. He does nothing. At all. Despite the incredibly high stakes and the fact that that's his best friend and the fight is clearly completely unfair as well as heartbreaking on several levels. This is apparently his rationale, although it's hard to be sure why Vash does anything.
    • This also serves as a strong distinction between the anime and manga iterations of our hero. The anime is Lighter and Fluffier enough that its Vash could never do that. Ever. (His neglect in the corresponding incident consists of being too busy beating himself up for not being able to stop a random enemy with no lines from Eating His Gun to notice the blood trail. Not that noticing would have helped. Probably.)
      • Caine the Longshot is, interestingly, apparently the replacement for Livio and Razlo, whose character development is what took those two dozen or so bloody chapters. They gave him a sniper rifle and a mask, and he kills himself when Vash breaks the former. That is it. His whole character. Either really dutiful or really in love with his weapon.
    • A lesser example from the anime instead is the guys who take the card-playing rich girl hostage in the saloon in episode 3(?), when beard guy eventually gets his shot at his nemesis, Shinigami Bostalk, who murdered his parents and stole their life's work, and who his hostage knows only as Daddy. Vash respects the avenger's right to the showdown, although he cries with relief when he doesn't shoot to kill.
  • In Berserk Casca as a child was being sexually assaulted by a nobleman, when Griffith rode up to save the day. However, instead of saving her himself, he threw her a weapon and told her to defend herself, then just watched to see what the outcome would be.
  • Perhaps one of the only rules of engagement One Piece's Luffy actually pays attention to. Best highlighted early when Zoro fights with Mihawk. Zoro is losing handily, but Luffy refuses to intervene on Zoro's behalf or let anyone else do so. However, it's clear Luffy wants to jump in, but holds back from attacking Mihawk until the fight is actually over.

Card Games

  • This appears in the Munchkin cardgame by Steve Jackson Games in the form of the "Gazebo" card — which bears the text, "None can help you fight the gazebo. You must fight the gazebo alone".

Comic Books

  • This is an incredibly common trope in comic books. The comic's titular star will be facing an incredible threat, and it is only logical that other heroes would show up to help. However, that would remove the limelight from the star and make every comic into a "team" book. Therefore, writers are constantly having to invent reasons why a heroes' buddies are not available or cannot participate in the fight. The really lazy ones use this excuse. Notable incidents follow:
  • Carried to a ludicrous extreme in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Five Green Lanterns have to battle Parallax, the incredibly powerful, world-destroying embodiment of Fear. The entire Justice League shows up, and is involved in the story, but they let the Green Lanterns fight because they must do this alone.
  • A recent Superman arc involved a battle with the magical powerhouse Atlas. When Superman is on the verge of defeat, Supergirl offers to help. Superman insists he must do battle alone, and asks Supergirl to avenge him if he fails. However, Superman has no problem when Krypto the Superdog shows up and saves the day just a few moments later.
  • Done in the climax of The Avengers Story Arc Kang Dynasty: Cap agrees to a one-on-one fight with Kang to conclude the war, with Thor preventing their teammates from interfering, citing this trope. The heroes protest vehemently, claiming that a monster like Kang deserves a group beatdown and not an honorable fight. Thor replies that its one-on-one not out of respect, but because Cap alone would be sufficient.
  • This X-Men cover.
  • In Scion, Ethan and Bron have a big showdown on the Sanctuary island. The Heron royals and Ashleigh are about to help Ethan, but Skink insists Ethan must face Bron alone.
  • During the Silver Age while battling an energy creature that could possess and animated matter the entire Justice League of America sits back in their cave lair while Superman watches and reports back to everyone what's going on, but otherwise they do nothing because 'well he hasn't used his signal device to call us in yet so we'll just sit and watch'.
  • Subverted in Blackest Night, wherein Guy Gardner is forced to face his personal demons, or else he dies. Kyle Rayner tries to help him, but Mogo outright tells him this trope. Kyle's response?

  Kyle: "We're the Green Lantern Corps, Mogo! We face everything togethereven our own damn demons!


Fan Fic

  • Played straight in The Final Clash where Akuma demands a one-on-one fight with Ryu to the death. Snake and the others understand, but Alien Hominid goes after Akuma anyways. Yoda then Force Pulls him back to the party of heroes and says "This is something that he must do himself.".
  • The second Naruto event is subverted in The Sealed Kunai. Jiraiya states this regarding Naruto's fight with Kakuzu. Naruto wins, but promptly collapses afterward in utter exhaustion, causing Jiraiya to yell at him on ruining his "cool mentor" speech. Naruto makes a mental note to kill Jiraiya at some point in the future.
    • Also subverted in that Jiraiya claimed Naruto needed to do this so he could prove to himself he could defeat Akatsuki. Considering he already had Hidan's still-screaming head sealed away, it wasn't as critical as he might have thought.
  • In Christian Humber Reloaded, Vash stands aside as his Toa allies fight the Visoraks until they start losing, at which point he steps in and helps them by adding his energy to their combined attack, helping to finish off the enemmy.
  • In Buttlord GT, the secondary characters mock their tendency to never assist in main-character fights:

 "We must get to a nearby cliff to grunt and sweat but offer no help!"



  • Transformers: The Movie played on this, with Hot Rod and Kup arriving in time to help Optimus Prime against Megatron, but Hot Rod's attempt to help actually made the situation worse.
    • Also seen at the tail end of Transformers Cybertron, where even with Prime insisting that the war was over (which it was), Galvatron insists on a final showdown with him, and Prime agrees to face him one-on-one. (He still winds up cheating a bit with some help from the late Vector Prime.)
    • Mocked in the Transformers Animated script reading "Bee in the City":

 Shockwave: The secondary heroes stand around and watch, calling on their burning spirit and heart of justice to empower the main hero from afar.

Optimus Prime:, we won't be doing that.

  • In the movie Dungeons and Dragons, where Ridley enters a cave to search for the MacGuffin and the female Elf character prevents others from going too, because "he must do this himself". An explanation is attempted with a magical force field that keeps the others from entering.
  • Played sort-of straight and simultaneously spoofed in Hot Fuzz. The hero is in a gas station, struggling with the decision of whether or not to return to try and save the village. After some inspiration thanks to seeing Point Break and Bad Boys 2 on DVD, he stops at the counter to purchase some badass sunglasses. The extremely wired-looking attendant asks "Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?" The response, of course, in a deep, gravelly, action-hero voice is, "No... This is something I have to do myself."
  • In Labyrinth, Sarah reaches the goblin castle but tells her companions that she has to face Jareth herself, because "that's the way it's done".
  • Subverted in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Indy explains everybody he was told by the skull to return it to its kingdom, a task he's got to do alone. On the next scene, however, we get to see all four sidekicks following him into the cave.
  • The final one-on-one fight between Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Actually said before the previous fight scene, when Cloud's True Companions rock up in an airship, and then decide to let him do it himself.
    • Although arguably they would have just gotten in the way. Especially when Sephiroth turns up ("Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away.")
  • This is the reason Picard gives when he goes alone to the Scimitar in Star Trek Nemesis instead of, you know, sending the security chief or someone else more expendable and adept at combat.


  • In Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds Alias tells her party "Back away. He's mine!". Elminster not only refrained from intervention but prevented Nameless Bard from shooting heavily enchanted bolt into Phalse's eye, and arguing that "She must finish this battle alone"... "So she can prove to herself, and to thee, that she is her own master."
    • It's worth noting that in the hands of Grubb and Novak, Elminster is more often used to prevent a Deus Ex Machina. Less the case in Ed Greenwood's...
  • In Dune Paul Atreides is dueling Feyd-Rautha and realizes that he could use a code word that was placed into Feyd-Rautha's subconscious to stun him for a second, thus saving his life. Paul refuses to do so because This Is Something He's Got To Do Himself. Interestingly, when he says, "No, I won't do it" (meaning use the code word), that is enough to distract Feyd-Rautha so Paul can win.
  • Referenced/parodied in Discworld, specifically Moving Pictures:

 Victor: There are some things a man must do by himself.

Ginger: What, like... go to the toilet?

  • In Bernard Cornwell's Saxon stories, Ragnar the Younger has one of these against his old enemy Kjartan. This trope name is actually invoked by one of the characters when the main character wants to intervene, saying basically, "Its his fight, and he will never forgive you if you interfere."
  • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (book and movie both), Aslan will not allow the Narnian army to interfere with Peter's fight against one of the White Witch's wolves, saying "Let the prince win his spurs." (book)/"This is Peter's battle." (movie) After Peter emerges victorious all on his own, Aslan dubs him "Sir Peter Wolf's-Bane, Knight of Narnia."
  • Lampshaded in End Game by Peter David (the finale of the pilot of the Star Trek: New Frontier novel series), in which The Captain fights a desperate one-on-one battle on a planet which is blasting itself apart under him. He wins, only to find himself stranded amidst lava flows. His second in command then arrives in anti-gravity boots and rescues him, explaining that she knew he would insist on fighting alone, but now it was time to do things the easy way.
  • Throughout the Harry Potter series, Ron and Hermione have a tendency to fall by the wayside before Harry has a face-to-face confrontation with Voldemort. In the first film, Ron gives a "Not me, not Hermione, you!" speech essentially to this effect. Ron and Hermione do often tag along despite Harry's insistence that I Work Alone, but the plot nearly always conspires to make sure they aren't around when Voldemort shows up.
    • In fact, Ron and Hermione don't even see Voldemort in person until the last book. (In the fifth film, they at least get a glimpse of him, but that part wasn't in the book.)
      • In Book one, Ron is incapacitated by a chess piece and Harry sends Hermoine to summon Dumbledore, reasoning that the two of them don't stand a chance of winning- the only hope is to hold them off long enough for reinforcements. In book two, Hermione is petrified, while Ron is unarmed (his wand is broken) and on the wrong side of a massive cave in. In book four, he's whisked out of a maze and his only backup is killed instantly. In book five, Hermione is critically wounded and Ron is loopy (and Harry rushed off in a revenge-maddened attack).
      • Fridge Brilliance: This gives a good reason. Anyone ELSE being around Harry when Voldemort is around would be instant Red Shirt.
    • The last book has the most overt invocation: Harry says to a crowd of people about to watch his final confrontation with Voldemort, "I don’t want anyone else to try to help."
  • During Unholy Allies, one of the tie-in novels for Vampire: The Masquerade, a renegade vampiric assassin challenges one of the protagonist's allies to a duel. When another ally suggests getting involved, Madeline (another vampire assassin) promptly invokes this trope ... but does say that she'll step in immediately should their ally die.
  • Subverted in Swedish science fiction novel Iskriget (The Ice War) in which protagonist Johnny realizes that it up to him to be the hero, after which decision he immediately enlists the help of a team of skilled Jewish mechanics to build the equipment he needs to execute his plan.
  • In Warrior Cats: The Last Hope, Firestar and Tigerstar are ready for their Final Battle. This trope happens twice. When Graystripe was about to step in, Whitestorm holds him back, saying it was Firestar's battle. The second time happens when Sorreltail holds Sandstorm back when it looks like Tigerstar is overpowering Firestar.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy features this in the musical episode "Once More With Feeling", when Giles insists that Buffy save Dawn on her own as she is becoming too dependent on his support. The gang eventually does show up to help her out.
    • Later on, he does admit she needs backup.
    • Also, killing Caleb, although in that case it was her idea.
  • Firefly hilariously defies this, in the episode where Mal was being held by Niska. At the end, a badly injured Mal and The Dragon (well, Niska's current Dragon) are wrestling on and around the railing over a precipitous drop into a shaft filled with machinery. Zoe, Jayne and Wash show up, but Zoe prevents their intervention:

 Zoe: This is something the captain's got to do for himself.

Mal: No, it's not!

Zoe: Oh. *They open fire*

  • Subverted on the Stargate Atlantis episode "Sateda" when Ronon tells the rest of the gang that if they kill the Wraith "General", he will kill them. He gets his ass handed to him and only survives because Beckett blows away said Wraith with a drone weapon. Ronon is actually relieved.
    • Notably, Ronon specifically said he wanted to do this himself, as the Wraith had ruined his life and then hunted him like an animal for seven years. Ronon's happiness when Beckett saved his life was a notable piece of character developement, as everyone else expected him to be very angry.
    • Played straight in Stargate SG-1 with Teal'c's Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Notably, though, the rest of SG-1 was trying to stop him on at least one occasion.
    • In another episode, Teal'c feels weak after an injury (which would leave a human permanently crippled), especially since he now has a normal immune system (provided by the tretonin drug) instead of a larval Goa'uld symbiote with a Healing Factor. At the end of the episode, he manages to rescue his son and teacher (also father figure) from a Goa'uld penal colony and is fighting the abusive Jaffa in charge. When Teal'c son Rya'c attempts to interfere, Master Bra'tac stops him with this trope. Sure enough, Teal'c manages to overpower the guard and finish him off with a Neck Snap, looking extremely pleased with himself.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers have this in pretty much every other episode.
  • Highlander the Series has an explicit rule that battles between Immortals must be one-on-one.
    • Except this is more due to tradition than something they absolutely have to do. Kell in Endgame has become so powerful partly by assembling a team of immortals, which he uses to kill others. Then he kills most of them at dinner. Hey, 'There can be only one'.
  • In the finale to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Sisko rushes off to a final confrontation with Dukat, and actually says "This is something I have to do myself". Now while it is ripe with symbolism — Sisko is the Bajoran Emissary and Dukat their equivalent of the Anti-Christ — there isn't really any justifiable reason he doesn't take a heavily-armed security detatchment with him, especially when you consider what was at stake (the universe!).
    • To be fair, maybe he was just Genre Savvy enough to realize that bringng Starfleet Security personnel with him would just be signing their death warrants.
  • Abed from Community gets dangerously genre savvy about it (as though Abed is ever any other way):

 Abed: So, how does this play out? Is there going to be a moment in this fight when I finally step up and learn to stand up for myself?

Jeff: ... maybe you should just hang back.

Abed: Yeah, okay, I will. (Beat.) IN HIS FACE!!!


Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons contains the Deck of Many Things. Characters draw cards from it and receive various effects, two of which fall under this:
    • The Comet card will cause the character who draws it to gain a level... if he or she defeats the next monster(s) encountered single-handedly.
    • The Skull card makes a dread wraith (or, in earlier editions, a "minor death") appear and attack the character, who must then defeat it alone (anyone who helps gets a dread wraith to fight as well)...and if the character loses, he or she is slain forever.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has (had?) a rule for this: once two heroic characters declare a duel, only the one character and their mount may attack the other character, and vice versa.

Video Games

  • In the game Star Fox 64, near the end of Venom, the final mission, Fox will leave behind his teammates to "go it alone" against the final boss.
    • Does it count if you don't notice they're missing in the first place?
  • The Duel Boss in Tales of Symphonia between Lloyd and Kratos is one of these, and is set up as one in advance. While either side could easily bring multiple parties into it, neither side wants to because of the personal catharsis involved. Sheena's duel with Kuchinawa is another example.
  • In Fire Emblem Path of Radiance, Ike decides to fight the Black Knight by himself but Mist will run in anyway if she hasn't fallen in battle. Then in the sequel Radiant Dawn, both Ike and the Black Knight agree It's Personal, so the Black Knight puts up a big wall in the middle of the battlefield, separating the two from everyone else.
  • Yuri of Tales of Vesperia pulls this card; he leaves the rest of the party at Halure to head to Zaphias, where Alexei is holding a Brainwashed and Crazy Estelle. Presumably, the logic is that, since he's proven himself to be a Vigilante Man who won't hesitate to kill when necessary, he's the only one who will have the guts to put Estelle out of her misery. He only makes it halfway when the rest of the party catches up and beats the crap out of him for doing something so stupid. And then he figures out what the right thing to do in this situation is.
    • Arguably deconstructed with Judith. Since her father created the deadly Hermes Blastia, she believes that she's the only one who should worry about dealing with them and tried not to get the party involved. This belief is treated as a very bad thing, and in fact causes serious problems for the party at one point.
  • In Chrono Trigger, if you choose to fight the second battle with Magus and Frog is in your party, Frog insists upon fighting Magus by himself.
    • Doubly epic if you use the Masumune (and quite difficult too)
    • There is also Robo's fight against Atropos in Geno Dome.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, during the first visit to the Pride Lands, Sora tells Donald and Goofy to hang back from Simba's fight with Scar, asserting that it's something Simba has to do himself. But when Scar comes back from defeat as a Heartless, they're happy to join in.
  • Used to Narmful levels in Dead or Alive 4, in Kasumi's ending. Right before the boss fight with Alpha 152, Ryu is standing there, and comments that this is something she has to do herself. And presumably he's still standing there after the jiggly jello totally wipes the floor with you, multiple times. Thanks, Ryu.
  • Just before the Duel Boss with Cecil'a dark side in Final Fantasy IV, Cecil tells the Twins and Tellah to "Stay back. This is a fight for me, and me alone."
  • All over the place in Dissidia Final Fantasy, the heroes always battle their villain alone. If they're accompanied by allies, like Terra and Bartz are, they will directly tell their allies "I'll handle this" and fight alone.
    • In one attempted subversion, Squall is attacked by both Ultimecia and Garland, and resolves to fight both of them alone, only for Zidane to charge in and tell Squall to stop showing off and take care of Ultimecia.
  • Played with in Siren. Shiro nearly quotes the trope verbatim as he goes to finish off the Onda sisters. However, by this point, he has murdered his twin brother and assumed his identity, making the whole 'Things you have to do for yourself' bit a little ironic...
  • Buki of Sudeki takes on a giant spider boss monster by herself because "Like me, he is a Shadani Warrior" (this was actually a game design decision — bosses simply worked better against lone characters)
    • Only one boss is fought with your full party, and he acts more like a King Mook than the rest of the bosses. He also brings in swarms of Mooks to back him up.
  • In Fallout 3, this is forced on the player at the end, when you're asked to make a moral choice to either save the world and get exposed to lethal radiation, or chicken out and have a heroic woman do it for you. At this point it's possible to have a Super Mutant follower who is completely immune to radiation. If you ask him to do it, he just says that the cunundrum is something you have to work out for yourself.
    • Thankfully averted with the aid of DLC.
      • Yet you still get called a coward for getting someone else to do it. Luckily, you still survive if you do it.

Web Animation



 Doctor Sun: So you're going to handle it all personally?! The idea of having an empire is that occasionally, other people do things for you!


Tarvek: Excuse me. So, Wulfenbach — just checking — is this going to be some kind of macho exercise where you insist on battling a potentially superior opponent alone — in some kind of misguided attempt to "prove" your intrinsic worth?

Gil: No! No! I'm only that stupid in front of Agatha!

Tarvek: Drat.

  • In Sonichu issue 9, the titular hero is facing down Big Bad Slaweel the Witch and handily defeats her, leaving her hanging off the platform they were fighting on. However, he ends up saving her and lets her get away because only Chris can defeat her. Which he promptly does in the next issue.

Web Original

  • In the novel Exams of the Whateley Universe, massively over-powered characters Tennyo and Fey insist on Jade fighting two (mediocre) supervillains herself, to prove something important about Jade to Jade: she's not really cut out to be a pacifist.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged has a memorable subversion. When Tien's best friend/dojo mate is killed by Nappa, Tien attacks furiously to try to avenge him... and promptly starts getting his butt kicked by Nappa. Gohan, watching from the sidelines, asks his Mentor Piccolo if they should help, but Piccolo replies that this is something Tien has to do himself. We then cut back to Tien, who is getting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Nappa and is frantically screaming for help.
  • Lampshaded and subverted during a Global Guardians third year story. Achilles, leader of the titular hero team, discovers the bad guy who has been causing them so much havoc is his own brother. Cue Gunmetal asking "Is this going to end up one of those 'I have to face him alone' things with you?" To which Achilles responds, "Oh hell no. Take his ass down the moment you can get a clear shot."
  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, the titular Villain Protagonist refuses an offer of assistance from his henchman because, "The League is watching. This is something I have to do alone."
  • This happens in Pooh's Adventures Of 101 Dalmatians in which Pooh decides to take on Jafar himself. Most of the time, Pooh plays the Pinball Protagonist, so seeing him actually putting up a fight is a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Soon, Aladdin pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and gives Ash the lamp used to seal Jafar, who then gives it to Pooh to use on Jafar.

Western Animation

  • This trope is the likely reason Cheerilee didn't intervene when a redeemed Diamond Tiara confronted her mother.
  • In one episode of Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot, Grizzle manages to steal Funshine's belly badge and uses it to try and take over Care-a-lot. Funshine tricks Grizzle and gets his badge back to prove the episode's aesop, but the fact remains that there were myriads of still-badged Care Bears who didn't lift a finger to help him.
  • In the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang shows up Just in Time to fight Big Bad Ozai before he ends the world as they know it. Several of his allies were present and about to have a crack at him, but decide that Ozai is Aang's fight, and proceed to ruin the rest of Ozai's Evil Plan.
    • While everyone did acknowledge that defeating Ozai was that Avatar's responsibility (simply because if anyone else killed him, it would be seen as an act of rebels/fighting for the throne, rather than divine intervention), no one (not even Sokka's group) was actually CLOSE enough to have helped if he needed it.
    • They were also severely outclassed by comet-empowered Ozai — Aang and Iroh were about the only ones who stood a chance in the first place.
    • Still, it's not like the rest of the gaang just sat down doing nothing while Anng fought Ozai: Zuko and Katara were fighting Azula, Sokka, Suki and Toph were sabotaging the Fire nation fleet while Iroh and the White Lotus were reconquering Ba Sing Se.
  • When a few members of the Justice League end up in the Old West, Jonah Hex prevents them from getting between the local town's hero and the main bad guy, because, in Hex's words: "A man's gotta settle his own accounts".
  • In Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes "Panther's Quest", Black Panther insists Wakandan tradition says he must defeat Man-Ape by himself. Captain America respects this, but when Man-Ape orders the Dora Milaje to take out the Panther, Cap intervenes.

 Cap: You can face Man-Ape alone. Anyone else is fair game.


Real Life

  • The origin of this trope is, perhaps, more historical than legendary. During the Battle of Crécy, King Edward III of England left his son, the Black Prince, and his retainers without reinforcements so that he could "win his spurs, for I want him, please God, to have all the glory." The Prince survived and was gifted with the crest of the defeated King of Bohemia.