It’s the moment we go to the movies to see; the Damsel in Distress, or the Mentor, or the Innocent Bystander is about to be killed by the Big Bad, but at the very last second the lead bursts in and saves the day, making him the Big Damn Hero!
The entrance of the Big Damn Heroes is one of the most popular tropes in movies today, especially big blockbuster popcorn movies. It creates a huge rush of adrenaline and rightly so. As conflict is the heart of all drama, waiting until the last minute to rescue the victim makes maximum use of this tension. And it’s usually accompanied by a swell in the music.
It doesn’t have to be an individual. It can be a group or even a non-human. One of my favorites among recent movies is in the most recent Star Trek when the Enterprise rising from the fog, photons firing, to rescue Spock from Nero’s missiles. Of course the classic is Han Solo showing up at the last minute to deal with Darth Vader so Luke can destroy the Death Star.
Almost anytime Batman (in any of the movies) crashes through a window or wall counts as this trope. As you can imagine, it’s quite prevalent in super hero and action movies. Iron Man does it a couple of times in the first movie, first with the villagers and at the end with Pepper.
Lord of the Rings has plenty; in The Fellowship of the Ring Aragorn charging in at Weathertop to save the hobbits from the ringwraiths (Viggo Mortensen’s first day of shooting btw) and Boromir saving Merry and Pippin, Gandalf’s charge at Helm’s Deep at the end of The Two Towers, and the Charge of the Rohirrim in The Return of the King.
A couple from Harry Potter; the Order of the Phoenix in the movie of the same name, coming in complete with really cool smoke effects and of course, Neville killing Nagnini in The Deathly Hallows. Naturally the Doctor gets a few, like in The Fires of Pompei, complete with Divinity Lighting and a Come With Me line.
This trope can also be played for laughs, especially if the hero, usually an Idiot Hero, fails after their big entrance.
What are your favorite Big Damn Heroes entrances?
Finally, here’s the Trope Namer from Firefly (I’m gonna have to start watching Firefly or they’re gonna revoke my nerd card.)