Hobson's Choice YKTTW Discussion

Hobson's Choice
Offering a choice of only one option.
Needs Examples Up For Grabs
(permanent link) added: 2011-09-14 11:30:50 sponsor: jpmoney2k1 edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2015-04-09 23:41:08)

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Alt title: Single Option Choice

A statement where one is seemingly given a choice of many options, but it is suffixed with a condition wherein only one choice is possible. Typically used for comedy.

From The Other Wiki: "When an apparent choice is in fact no choice at all (because there's only one option)."

Compare But Thou Must when there are presented some options but only one of them lets you advance, as well as Morton's Fork and Sadistic Choice when the choices are all bad in some way.

Examples

Film
  • The Fast and the Furious: "You can have any brew you want... as long as it's a Corona."
  • In Rounders, the protagonist's mentor tells the story of how he was raised by a devout Jewish family with the expectation that he would become a rabbi like his father and forefathers. He was praised by his teachers for having a deep understanding of the Talmud, but he "never saw God there," so he left for New York to study law. He found great personal satisfaction in his new vocation, but his family was inconsolable and although he tried several times to mend fences, never spoke to him again. The protagonist asks if, knowing how it would turn out, if he would have made the same choice. The mentor responds, "What choice?"

Jokes
  • Israelis often make this joke when someone is pregnant: 'I don't care if it's a boy or a girl, as long as there's a bris!'

Literature
  • Several Discworld books mention a Hobson's Livery Stable in Ankh-Morpork and a reference to the Trope Namer.
  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe book Starfleet Academy: Worf's First Adventure this comes up in a class where Worf defends a decision that Captain Kirk had made, in order to save his [Worf's] brother who is floundering in a classroom discussion.
    "Captain Kirk's actions were necessary sir. Not right, nor wrong. Necessary."
    "I was not speaking to you, Mr. Worf," said [Professor] Lynch.
    No sir. But I was speaking to you, sir."
    [snip]
    "Captain Kirk did have a choice."
    "No, sir. He did not, because one of the two choices would have been tantamount to murdering his crew. No Starfleet officer - no man, if he is to call himself a man - would have made that dishonorable decision. That left him with one choice. And one choice, sir, is no choice.

Theater
  • Hobson's Choice is also the name of a 1915 theatrical play written by Harold Brighouse. The play concludes with the main character, Henry Horatio Hobson, having lost his wealth and facing the choice of having to be taken care of by his daughter Maggie and her husband Will Mossop, one of Hobson's former underlings. Hobson's other daughters refuse to have anything to do with him, so he has no choice but to accept Maggie's offer. It also comes with the condition that he must surrender his entire business to her and her fiance.

Real Life
  • Henry Ford: "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black."
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