A Civilian in Peril (known as Student in Peril in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 and Stan in Peril in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes) is a person that puts himself in a perilous situation and needs to be rescued.
In LEGO Batman: The Videogame, there are civilians in each level (except the vehicle levels) that are being mugged. Strangely these civilians need to be saved in the villain missions too. When you save all 24, Hush will be available to buy. Unlike the later games, civilians in peril are not major collectables and flash "#/24" when you rescue them, similarly to how Han Solo in LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is unlocked when you find five Star Wars characters.
Civilians in Peril become major as Students in Peril. Around Hogwarts, there are students who got themselves in sticky situations and need to be set free. The levels themselves each have one Student in Peril. You get a Gold Brick for each Student you save.
In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Stan Lee got into a dangerous situation an need a hero to save him. It is a reference to his cameos in every Marvel movie. After you save him everywhere, he will be playable. When you play as him, he turns out to have every power, meaning he was totally capable of saving himself.
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