Created By: Opheliac on November 26, 2011 Last Edited By: Opheliac on December 5, 2011

Screw Ambition, I'm Doing What's Right

A character is faced with the choice of having hir wishes fullfilled, or do the right thing.

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(Sorry for the snowclone; if anyone wants to change it to a better title, feel free to suggest one. Also, I need help with the description, I know this one kind of sucks)

Let's say that Alice has dreams of being an influential politician. She is noticed by a famous and charismatic party leader, and he promises that he can kickstart her career in politics and make her have influence, if only she is willing to follow and support his corrupt plan about murdering the President and turning the country into a fascist state. The plan will not succeed without her help, but Alice won't succeed without the help of the party leader, either. She is now faced with a difficult choice.

This is a common way to show that Ambition Is Evil; if Alice chooses her ambition, she is down the path to darkness, but if she chooses to do what's right, she is probably a heroine.

Do We Have This One?? Is This Tropable?? Feel free to launch, edit or whatever.

Examples:

  • In Wicked, Elphaba dreams of becoming an assistant to the Wizard, but has to give up her dreams when she realizes that he is corrupt and racist.
  • In The Bible, while Jesus is fasting, the Devil tempts him in this manner, making this one at least Older Than Feudalism.
  • Older Than Dirt: in The Iliad, Achilles is given the choice to be either a wonderful king who died of old age and was remembered only by children and grandchildren, or be a tragic "hero" of immortal fame. Guess which he chose.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith lands an awesome job that comes with Office Ferrari and awesome bonuses... but he unwittingly finds out that one of his first assignments was to deliver a $20.000 bribe to a civil servant. At first he panics, thinking he'll get killed or something, but his boss financially encourages him instead to take "the smart choice". Will faces a difficult decision... Guess what he does in the end?.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • November 26, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Seems tropable to me. Seen It A Million Times where a villain, usually The Big Bad, tries to find the one thing another character, usually The Hero, would be willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon to achieve, often hinting that the two are Not So Different.

    However, it needs a better title & laconic. One of Fast Eddie's current Berserk Buttons is Trope titles that sound like dialog, and "hir", while a legitimite genderless pronoun to some, looks like a misspelling to others.

    Namestorming

    Examples:

  • November 26, 2011
    PacificState
    Yeah, but the Devil was obviously making empty promises.

    Older Than Dirt: in The Iliad, Achilles is given the choice to be either a wonderful king who died of old age and was remembered only by children and grandchildren, or be a tragic "hero" of immortal fame. Guess which he chose.

    In The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Will Smith lands an awesome job that comes with Office Ferrari and awesome bonuses... but he unwittingly finds out that one of his first assignments was to deliver a $20.000 bribe to a civil servant. At first he panics, thinking he'll get killed or something, but his boss financially encourages him instead to take "the smart choice". Will faces a difficult decision... Guess what he does in the end?.
  • November 26, 2011
    moocow1452
    Related to, if not stepping on Friend Or Idol Decision.
  • November 26, 2011
    RedneckRocker
    I've seen a similar idea to this when it comes to political-themed stories. Basically, the character has an embarassing relative, and something occurs where either they can focus on the campaign, or actually listen to said relative.

    Seen in both Malibus Most Wanted and Black Sheep (the Chris Farley version).
  • November 26, 2011
    SKJAM
    In idealistic stories, doing the right thing will (somehow) result in the protagonist fulfilling their dreams anyhow. Less idealist stories may wind up with the protagonist as a Doomed Moral Victor; their conscience is clean, but the rest of their life is screwed and very possibly short. Cynical stories will have the protagonist who makes the "right" choice lose their desire, and have it not make any difference since the next person in line took the easy/profitable path.
  • November 27, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
    • The main plot in Jerry Maguire - Jerry leaves a cushy job, because he thinks the industry is taking advantage of their clients.
  • November 27, 2011
    Grandy
    • NIER - when you reach the true ending, you are given two options: either you leave your (possible) love interest to die, or you save her but forfeit your existence; you will disappear and everyone will forget you ever lived, including your daughter who were the one you spent the whole game trying to save. In a meta example, this also goes for the player - if you choose the good ending of saving her, the game automatically deletes your save file (because you forfeited your existence, see)?
  • November 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    Might involve Screw The Money I Have Rules.

  • November 28, 2011
    Koveras
  • November 28, 2011
    TrustBen
    Alex Rieger on Taxi was on the executive track before he became a cabbie, but lost his job for clocking a coworker in and not saying that he was wrong to do it.
  • December 3, 2011
    TBTabby
    Another Friendship Is Magic example: the opcoming episode "Sweet and Elite" will force Rarity to choose between her friends in Ponyville and her social connections in Canterlot.
  • December 3, 2011
    JonnyB
    • Serenity. Although the choice is not "ambition or doing what's right" but rather "staying safe or doing what's right."
      Captain Malcolm Reynolds: "Y'all got on this boat for different reasons, but y'all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."
  • December 4, 2011
    Specialist290
    Title suggestion: Ambitions Versus Ethics.
  • December 4, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Better name to fit the name of similar tropes: Screw The Amibition I Have Rules
  • December 4, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Better name to fit the name of similar tropes: Screw The Amibition I Have Rules
  • December 5, 2011
    IMpish
    I think Screw The Money I Have Rules already fits this. I would expand that trope description to include things other than money.

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