Freedom In Futility
FailureIsTheOnlyOption, so do whatever you please.
Better Name

(permanent link) added: 2013-04-12 03:46:57 sponsor: MrInitialMan (last reply: 2014-05-12 03:32:15)

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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'! 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.

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.

Needs a Better Title please.


  • 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.

  • In Enderís 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.

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.

  • "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.

Real Life
  • This attitude heralded the end of the Qin Dynasty: several Chiese 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.
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