1. Never take on someone that has just beaten the Hero, unless it is to distract him just before the Hero delivers the killing blow.
2. If the Evil Overlord announces to the world that he has reformed and wants only to help people, throw a party, and give away money, don’t go. Not even if he’s playing Prince’s music. Especially if he’s playing Prince’s music. If he’s lying, you’ll be a hostage or a statistic. If he’s telling the truth, catch the next one.
3. Watching the Evil Overlord’s interview on TV will certainly be interesting, but do not be in the studio audience when he/she/it hosts "Saturday Night Live." Tape it, and wait a week or so to see if any other viewers had any seizures or mind-control problems before you watch the tape.
4. If you’re riding on public transport and the Magnificent Seven board your train or bus, get out immediately and wait for the next one. Especially if they’re in their street clothes.
5. If you are exceptionally attractive, stay away from banks. It’s always the buxom redhead who gets taken hostage by the bankrobbers.
6. Do not run back to get your teddy bear or puppy.
7. If you have small children, keep them on one of those kid leashes when in public, so that they won’t go running back after their teddy bear or puppy.
8. When a Bad Guy uses you for a human shield, certain delicate areas of his body are in striking range of your heel. Go for it.
9. If an acquaintance of yours seems to disappear everytime the Hero puts in an appearance, rub some of those brain cells together and see what comes up.
10. If your child has an adult friend who frequently urges your child to clear his/her mind, or tells you that your child has "a rare gift," set your affairs in order. Your days are numbered.
11. If you are a news reporter, find a happy medium between the people’s right to know and your right to not get kidnapped/held hostage/etc.
12. Likewise, if you are a policeman, bank guard, or night watchman, and your first shot bounces off of the intruder’s chest, try shooting other areas of the intruder’s body, like their face, groin, etc. If this also fails, do not waste the rest of your ammo on him/her/it, or risk your neck in hand-to-hand combat; instead, fall back and observe.
13. Do not attempt to duplicate the means by which the Hero gained his/her powers. You will either fail and die a lingering, agonizing death, or succeed, lose control of your powers, wreck half of the city, and make it necessary for the Hero to kill you to neutralize the threat you pose to everyone else.
14. If you associate with the Hero, you run the risk of becoming a True Love or a Sidekick, depending on your availability and mutual gender preferences. The former situation will involve hostage situations on a semi-regular basis, but chances of survival are optimal. The latter position can be quite hazardous to your health; avoid it.
15. If the Hero and the Evil Overlord are engaged in mortal battle, go somewhere else as quickly as possible, before you are squished by a car, the statue of the city’s founder, or a collapsing skyscraper.
16. If you notice that your fellow reporter can type 1,024 words per minute, you should be able to tell that something’s up.
17. If the Evil Overlord offers you immortality, superpowers, or infinite wealth, and all you have to do is something that seems terribly trivial, don’t. It’s a trick. You will be used as a pawn in a larger game, and then crushed like a bug.
18. Don’t try to impress your significant other by emulating something that a Hero once did. Doing so usually results in said Hero having to come and save your butt. And you look like a complete loser, too.
19. When you hear reports that the Hero has been involved in some illicit activity, remain skeptical; it’s probably a frame-up.
20. Never purposely investigate the Hero in order to learn his true identity. Success will get you kidnapped by the Evil Overlord.
21. If a Superhero takes up residence in your city, a nice spacious estate in the country will help you to actualize your potential lifespan.
22. If you are a security guard for a vast, powerful corporation, try to get assigned to the Marketing or Personnel departments, rather than R&D.
23. If there’s a shy, quiet kid in your class that everyone picks on, treat him with respect and kindness. Your life will be spared when his psychic powers become manifest.
24. If you are spending the night in a spooky old house on a dare, do not sneak away to another part of the house for romantic interludes with your Significant Other. Instead, wait until you can get a nice, clean, safe motel room.
25. If you come across a body, do not walk slowly in the direction of a suspicious noise, or stand above the body in a stunned state of shock. Instead, call the police on your cell phone.
26. If your Mom or Dad is an eccentric researcher, insist that you live close to civilization so that you can socialize with your peers and date. That way you’ll be able to judge the Hero and the Evil Overlord on their own merits.
27. If your Mom or Dad is an eccentric researcher, insist that they educate you in their specialty, so that you can duplicate their research as the need arises, and excercise some restraint on their schemes should they become mad. Keep in mind that if the Evil Overlord offs your parents, you will be required to use your knowledge to defeat him.
28. If the Hero says "wait here," it really doesn’t matter whether you obey him or not. If you stay, you will be captured by the Evil Overlord’s henchmen as soon as the Hero is out of earshot. If you tag along, you will be caught by the Evil Overlord’s henchmen as you stumble along. Don’t agonize over your decision.
29. Evil Overlord’s friendly overtures are never sincere. If he is suddenly friendly to you, answer him with courtesy and skip town at the first opportunity. If he has always been friendly to you, answer him with courtesy and feign utter uselessness in his designs.
30. Learn to control sneezing, coughing, and other bodily noises so that you won’t give yourself away when you’re trying to hide from tyrannosaurs, henchmen, etc.
31. If you enter a house, fortress, cave, temple, tomb, graveyard, etc., especially one with a malevolent aura or history of macabre events, and an eerie, disembodied voice orders you to depart the premises, go.
32. If the mere presence of your new sweetheart provokes a hostile or fearful reaction in cats or dogs, terminate the relationship immediately.
33. If someone chasing after someone else asks you to catch the latter, feign incomprehension. If you comply, you’ll either catch the hero (and thereby play into the villain’s hands), or catch the villain (who will waste you or use you as a hostage).
34. If you are a police man, bank guard, or night watchman, and somebody breaches the concrete walls of your facility, it is generally a waste of time trying to ask them about their business.
35. If a new hero shows up and takes business away from the old one, keep your distance; they’re either a Bad Guy pretending to be good, or their powers are not fully developed and will soon go out of control.
36. Do not attempt to observe the Hero’s fights in person, but rather content yourself with watching it on the nightly news.
37. If mysterious strangers appear at the birth or adoption of your child and make epic proclamations about him/her, listen.
38. Don’t make friends with the Hero’s True Love. You’ll buy it when she gets kidnapped.
39. Do not take the shortcut through the woods.
40. Do not make the snack run alone. Bring someone else with you.
41. Do not actively try to become a Sidekick or True Love. If you really have what it takes, you’ll wind up with the role no matter what you do.
42. If your corporation conducts research, do not volunteer to work after hours. That’s when the experiments go awry.
43. If you run a corporation that conducts research, do not fire one of your researchers without first dismantling every bit of their laboratory equipment and getting a hold of everything they’ve taken home.
44. Do not attempt to chase custom-built vehicles, even if you are a policeman.
45. If you are singled out as the Chosen One, politely inquire as to what this entails. If the job description involves "Defeating the Darkness," and involves long years of danger and struggle, you’ve just been made a Hero, and the person naming you as the Chosen One is your Mentor (or can direct you to your Mentor). If the position of Chosen One involves being pampered by half-naked temple virgins, then it will end with you being sacrificed to the volcano, and the person calling you the Chosen One is the Evil High Priest(ess) who intends to perform the ceremony.
46. Any artifact named as if it were a part of somebody, especially if it really was once a part of somebody, is a Talisman of Purest Evil, and should only be dealt with in a manner pursuant to its destruction.
47. Stay away from all buildings or natural features of the landscape that resemble skulls, fists, fanged mouths, etc.
48. Before going off the beaten path for your vacation, check the police archives, and with the old people who live in the region, taking note of any mysterious deaths or disappearances.
49. No matter how hooked you are on phonics, don’t try to pronounce things you find inscribed in ancient artifacts.
50. Artifacts that are found in pieces should be left in pieces. Most importantly, if the pieces of an artifact stick together during assembly without any sort of adhesive, stop!
51. When the scholar in the expedition says that the carving promises wrath on he who breaks the seal, it’s time to go back to the camp.
52. When the medical examiner announces that the victim was bitten or eaten by "something weird that I’ve never seen before, probably some kind of animal", avoid the area where the biting/eating took place. If the victim is still alive, avoid the victim except under broad daylight.
53. If it glows, avoid it.
54. When the alien ship arrives, do not join the welcoming committee.
The Survival Guide for Normal Innocent Bystanders was an innovation by Arthur Levesque, inspired by the multitude of other lists that were ultimately inspired by Peter Anspach (www.eviloverlord.com). Other contributors include:
* Jordan Bryce
* Kristian Chronister
* Rosemary Fitzsimons
* Jenny Ford
* Lee Hutchinson
* Brad Jones
* Eric Kilbourn
* Zeev Lapidor
* Thomas Lynch
* Nancy Ott
* Michael Powers
* Carrie Schutrick
* Brian T. Stevens
* James D Thompson
* Dennis C. Wilson
* Gareth Wilson
* Robert A. Woodward
* Jasin Zujovic
© 2002 by John VanSickle. Permission to quote for non-commerical use is granted, provided that this copyright notice is included. Permission to link from non-commericial Web pages is granted. All other rights reserved. If you translate this page for publication on the Web elsewhere, please let me know and I’ll put a link to it here.