Created By: MrInitialMan on April 12, 2013 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on August 9, 2014

Freedom In Futility

FailureIsTheOnlyOption, so do whatever you please.

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Trope
Pointy-Haired Boss: Take care of this, Alice.
Alice: "Take care of this"? This would double my workload! I've already got so many projects that I can't do anything useful with them...But if success is impossible then...I'm...free...FREE! FREE! HA HA HA HA HA! *sings* THE RESULT WILL BE THE SAME NO MATTER WHAT I DO! YES YES YES! *squeezes boss' hair* HONK! HONK!

When Failure Is the Only Option, you can feel desperate to subvert it, you can feel despair over it, or you can feel liberated because, when it doesn't matter what you do or say you will still lose, you free to do or say whatever you please.

It could mean you are free to treat someone else however you like because their opinion of you will never change, or free to complete or ignore a task because you know you can't you complete it, or compete dreadfully in (or even forfeit) a challenge because you KNOW you will lose. You could even seek Refuge in Audacity by doing something that would seem completely ridiculous because, hey, you're doomed anyways, might as well go down swinging! Who knows? You might even save your own skin.

Compare and contrast Determined Defeatist (who sticks to trying to complete the goal anyways) and Controllable Helplessness. Supertrope of Apocalypse Anarchy, where it's The End of the World as We Know It, so do whatever you like. Compare Like You Were Dying when Death Is the Only Option.

Needs a Better Title please.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor has the titular captain believes in this - basically, if it doesn't matter what you do, the you might as well do anything you want and things will sort itself out.

Literature
  • In Ender's Game the fantasy game has a stage where a giant offers you a pair of drinks and states that one is poisoned, though actually they're both poisoned and kill your character in a variety of bizarre and gruesome ways. After dying several dozen times Ender figures out he can Take a Third Option

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of Married... with Children, Al is sued for assaulting a stranger (who was actually a mugger who broke into his house). When his poor defense on trial leads him to lose the case and owe a whopping charge he can't pay, he decides he may as well go down for twice as much and attacks the mugger again. Deconstructed when Al uses the mugger's strategy against the mugger and successfully sues him for hurting his fist with his face, ironically making a rare case Al's outcome wasn't futile.

Music:
  • Pet Shop Boys' "Miserablism" is a tongue-in-cheek encouragement to find contentment by just accepting that happiness is an impossible dream.
    It seems to me there's something serious beginning
    A new approach found to the meaning of life
    Deny that happiness is open as an option
    And disappointment disappears over night

  • Five Iron Frenzy's "Plan B" is similarly tongue-in-cheek, a celebration of how easy life becomes once you give up.
    Up to now in my life I have failed
    all I've tried, it's too hard.
    I think I've found my calling now,
    lying down in the yard.

Newspaper Comics
  • In Dilbert, Alice is given so much work she realizes it's impossible to complete it all—and she enjoys a feeling of freedom because the outcome will be the same no matter what she does.

Web Comics
  • In Freefall, Bill Raibert (who is being put to bed by a cop and a concerned friend) asks if they'll wake him before things get out of control. When being told things are already out of control, he asks to be awakened in five hours instead.

Real Life
  • This attitude heralded the end of the Qin Dynasty: several Chinese soldiers got stuck in a swamp and knew they'd be late to their destination—a crime worthy of execution (as were many, many crimes). they knew whatever choice they made would be fatal: Try to report anyways and be executed, or organize a revolt and die in battle. They decided their best chance of survival was to revolt. The revolt spread, and the Qin Dynasty collapsed after less than 30 years.
    • This actually caused trouble for historians, which were used to praising the early Emperors of a dynasty and vilifying the later ones. Both Emperors of this one, however, were well in living memory.
  • The saying "May as well hang for a sheep as for a lamb." If your crime is going to be severely punished anyways, might as well make it a big one.

Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • April 12, 2013
    Chabal2
    The point of determinism.
  • April 12, 2013
    DracMonster
    This crosses over with Mortons Fork and Sweet And Sour Grapes.
  • April 12, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    There are similarities--certainly, this trope often crosses over with Morton's Fork at times. It can even cross over with Then Let Me Be Evil. Here is a hypothetical example:

    Bob wants to break up with Alice. No matter what Alice says or does, Bob is adamant. Now, here's where the trope comes into play: Alice realizes she can either continue trying to convince Bob to stay to no avail, or she can kick his ass out onto the curb or even dump a pot of coffee on his head and then kick him out. She doesn't have to be nice anymore, she can do whatever she likes to Bob.
  • April 12, 2013
    MokonaZero
    May be a belief for The Cynic. This sounds a lot like You Cant Fight Fate.

    Subverted in Death Note Light admits he's Kira, feeling he's been cornered, even though the evidence against him isn't substantial.

    Also, you should include a laconic, so people are more likely to post here.
  • April 12, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    My first thought was actually some types of time travel or groundhog day loops are likely to do this.
  • April 18, 2013
    DracMonster
    • In the Kurt Vonnegut novel Timequake, everyone in the world has gone back in time ten years. While their minds are free, their bodies are locked into perform the exact same actions and facing the same consequences.

    EDIT: Uh, wait, that isn't "freedom" is it? Maybe this doesnt count.
  • April 18, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^^ It was discussed in the one looping episode of Stargate SG 1. Hilarity Ensues.
  • April 18, 2013
    McKathlin
    Films - Live Action
  • April 28, 2013
    1810072342
    In time travel stories, the Stable Time Loop may lead to this.
  • December 24, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Redid the explanation to be closer to what I wanted.
  • December 24, 2013
    DAN004
    Compare Determined Defeatist and Controllable Helplessness (the video game equivalent).
  • December 24, 2013
    MorganWick
    This may be misuse of Failure Is The Only Option.
  • December 24, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • In Enders Game the fantasy game has a stage where a giant offers you a pair of drinks and states that one is poisoned, though actually they're both poisoned and kill your character in a variety of bizarre and gruesome ways. After dying several dozen times Ender figures out he can Take A Third Option
  • December 24, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Morgan Wick: Basically, an In Universe instance of a character abusing Failure Is The Only Option.
  • March 31, 2014
    DAN004
    Kinda hate to say this, but... too close to Anti Nihilist?
  • April 5, 2014
    MrInitialMan
    Not really, though maybe some relation. The laconic is "Failure Is The Only Option, so do whatever you please." The character comes to realize that, since they can't succeed, they don't need to try to succeed. An example would be a Well Done Son Guy who realizes he will never earn his father's respect, and realizes he has the freedom to write the old man off entirely. Definately related to Then Let Me Be Evil.
  • April 5, 2014
    DAN004
    Irresponsible Captain Tylor has the titular captain believes in this - basically, if it doesn't matter what you do, the you might as well do anything you want and things will sort itself out.
  • April 5, 2014
    Psi001
    I vote for the Dilbert example being the top quote:

    Pointy Haired Boss: Take care of this, Alice.
    Alice: "Take care of this"? This would double my workload! I've already got so many projects that I can't do anything useful with them...But if success is impossible then...I'm...free...FREE! FREE! HA HA HA HA HA! *sings* THE RESULT WILL BE THE SAME NO MATTER WHAT I DO! YES YES YES! *squeezes boss' hair* HONK! HONK!
  • April 6, 2014
    Chabal2
    One of many justifications for falling to Chaos (specifically Slaanesh) in Warhammer 40 K: your life is guaranteed to be nasty, brutish and short without even getting to choose if you're going to die a violent death, from disease, eaten alive or tortured for eternity, so you might as well give in to hedonism and possibly be rewarded for it.
  • April 6, 2014
    Psi001
    • In one episode of Married With Children, Al is sued for assaulting a stranger (who was actually a mugger who broke into his house). When his poor defense on trial leads him to lose the case and owe a whopping charge he can't pay, he decides he may as well go down for twice as much and attacks the mugger again. Deconstructed when he uses this strategy against him and successfully sues him for hurting his fist with his face, ironically making a rare case Al's outcome wasn't futile.
  • April 6, 2014
    DAN004
    Supertrope to Apocalypse Anarchy.
  • April 28, 2014
    Bisected8
    • At the end of the Futurama episode "Future Stock", Fry is left with the choice between letting the villain's plan to sell Planet Express off for a quick profit succeed (even though he's just died of boneitus), which would make him and the rest of the Planet Express crew millionaires (thanks to the shares they own, and will be bought from them, going up in value) and saving the company (by blocking the sale now that he's in control). Then the stock price falls, meaning the money's no longer an issue.
      Fry: We're poor no matter what I do!
  • May 12, 2014
    MrInitialMan
    That sounds more like Failure Is The Only Option (or resignation to it). Freedom In Futility is someone taking advantage of the fact that they can't succeed, or at least feeling liberated by it.
  • May 12, 2014
    Daefaroth
  • August 8, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Changed media section title(s) to our standard style.
      • Blue Linked media section title(s).
      • Namespaced and italicized work name(s).
      • Moved the "Saying" to Real Life.
    • Corrected spelling (Chiese).
  • August 9, 2014
    Bisected8
    ^^^ I don't think so; Fry was conflicted on what to do before the shares become worthless and the fact that either outcome would be the same (they would be poor) when they did meant he was free to do as he pleased.
  • August 9, 2014
    MetaFour
    Fry was initially conflicted, but he decided to try to save the company. He gave an impassioned speech to convince his fellow employees that their friendship was more important than the money they could make from selling the stock. His speech was what caused the stock prices to drop—you see them dropping in real time as Fry talks.
  • August 9, 2014
    MetaFour
    Music:
    • Pet Shop Boys' "Miserablism" is a tongue-in-cheek encouragement to find contentment by just accepting that happiness is an impossible dream.
      It seems to me there's something serious beginning
      A new approach found to the meaning of life
      Deny that happiness is open as an option
      And disappointment disappears over night
    • Five Iron Frenzy's "Plan B" is similarly tongue-in-cheek, a celebration of how easy life becomes once you give up.
      Up to now in my life I have failed
      all I've tried, it's too hard.
      I think I've found my calling now,
      lying down in the yard.
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