Created By: AFP on December 26, 2010 Last Edited By: AFP on December 29, 2010
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Back In The Saddle

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Exactly What It Says on the Tin: When someone who no longer fights on the front lines, perhaps because they got promoted to a desk job, or decided that they were Getting Too Old For This and retired. A sister-trope to He's Back, although that trope specifically applies to when the hero is out of action because of a Heroic B.S.O.D..

Related to 10-Minute Retirement, the main difference being that in this case, the retirement or promotion typically won't happen in the same story arc as the return to the action. Also, this trope includes being Kicked Upstairs or being made into a Desk Jockey in addition to retiring or quitting.

If a group is involved, may require Putting the Band Back Together.

Film
  • Independence Day: President Whitmore is possibly the Most Triumphant Example, getting back in the cockpit to rally the surviving military forces after they have been on the wrong side of a Curb-Stomp Battle in order to Save The World.
    • Quite a few of the other pilots were long-since retired, including Russell, who hadn't flown since the Vietnam War.
  • Space Cowboys. A team of retired test pilots are called into action to repair a faulty satellite.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Captain Admiral Kirk, who's been working a desk as Chief of Naval Operations for several years, uses the V'Ger crisis to get himself returned to the Enterprise. This is a subverted example in that Admiral Kirk is not in fact in command of the Enterprise, but rather is in command of the mission the Enterprise is on. Captain Dekker has the responsibility (and arguably, the fun) of commanding the ship itself.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Doctor McCoy implores Admiral Kirk to get out from behind the desk and get in another starship, "before you really do grow old."
      • Admiral Kirk initially tries to insist that Captain Spock, the ship's commander, stay in command of the ship in the mission, as Captain Dekker did in the previous film, but Spock insisted that the Enterprise rightfully belonged to Kirk. Maybe because he knew what happened to the last guy.
    • And of course, in Star Trek: Generations, Kirk gives Picard a piece of cautionary advice to never let himself be put behind a desk.

Live-Action TV
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Return of the Fighting 69th". A long retired bomber pilot and the rest of the crew from his squadron are called back to duty because they're the only ones who can navigate a treacherous asteroid belt.
  • Stargate SG-1 has had General Hammond coming to The Squad's rescue on a number of occasions. The most noteworthy case probably being when he showed up with his Big Damn Gunship in the Season 7 finale.
    • General O'Neill got to pull one of these in a later season when The Squad finds an Atlantean Puddlejumper, which he uses to save the day because he is one of the few people they know of who can operate one.

Video Games
  • From METAL WOLF CHAOS we have MICHEAL Wilson, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, who fights for BURNING AMERICAN JUSTICE after being betrayed by his Vice President RICHAAAAAAARD Hawk.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake gets back to business is kidnapped and forcibly recruited after retiring to raise sled dogs in Alaska.

Western Animation
  • In Batman Beyond, Bruce Wayne has long-since retired from being Batman due to old age and a crippling heart condition. He now mentors and acts as the Voice with an Internet Connection to the new Batman. However, on two occasions he's taken up the fight again. On the first, he did it with the aid of Powered Armor. On the second, he was returned to a younger age through the use of a Lazarus Pit. Both times, his heroic theme from Batman: The Animated Series plays for him. Both can be conveniently watched here.
  • Wing Commander Academy: In one episode, the Tiger's Claw is attacked while most of her fighter wing is away. Because his remaining pilots are badly outnumbered, Commodore Tolwyn decides to climb into a fighter to personally take part in the fighting.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • December 26, 2010
    troacctid
    We have a lot of tropes related to this one (Retired Badass, One Last Job, In Harms Way...), but I can't find this exact trope. How Did We Miss This One?

    (Just a nitpick, it's not Exactly What It Says On The Tin--that would be literally getting back onto a horse, haha.)
  • December 26, 2010
    AFP
    So... tropable? Three examples and a catchy title are the requirements, yes?
  • December 27, 2010
    troacctid
    If we don't have it, we should. I'd say tropable.

    Three Rules Of Three has the guidelines, for reference.
  • December 27, 2010
    Arivne
    If a group is involved, may require Putting The Band Back Together.

    Film
    • Space Cowboys. A team of retired test pilots are called into action to repair a faulty satellite.
    • Star Trek The Motion Picture. Captain Admiral Kirk, who's been on desk duty for several years, uses the V'Ger crisis to get himself returned to command of the Enterprise.

    Live Action TV
    • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Return of the Fighting 69th". A long retired bomber pilot and the rest of the crew from his squadron are called back to duty because they're the only ones who can navigate a treacherous asteroid belt.
  • December 27, 2010
    AFP
    Any thoughts on titles? I like Back In The Saddle, but I'm open to suggestions if anybody else has some wit to share.
  • December 27, 2010
    troacctid
  • December 28, 2010
    AFP
    I dunno, seems like better than half the examples involve folks promoted into a different kind of job, rather than retiring completely.
  • December 28, 2010
    Koncur
  • December 28, 2010
    Arivne
    Film
    • Starship Troopers. Rico's teacher Mr. Raschak retired from the Mobile Infantry and became a school teacher, probably because he lost part of his left arm. After the start of the Bug War he rejoins the Mobile Infantry with the rank of Lieutenant, with a cybernetic replacement on the stump of his arm.
  • December 28, 2010
    aurora369
    In Harry Potter, Mad Eye Moody is retired but is called back to active service by Dumbledore when Voldemort comes Back From The Dead.
  • December 28, 2010
    Indalecio
    • In the final few episodes of Macross7 both Max and Miria retake their positions as Valkyrie pilots and it is glorious.
  • December 28, 2010
    BlackDragon
    An unusually young example, but... in Zeta Gundam, Amuro Ray - the Ace Pilot from the original Mobile Suit Gundam - is retired, and living in virtual house-arrest, since the Terran Government suspects that he might have spacer sympathies. As it turns out, they're right - after an encounter with the new hero, Kamille Bidan, he decides to join up with the AEUG, and jump back into the pilot-seat of a Humongous Mecha. (Though, sadly, he didn't retrieve the original Gundam from the nearby museum as many probably had hoped.)
  • December 28, 2010
    DannyVElAcme
  • December 28, 2010
    dotchan
    Wait, how's this trope different from Ten Minute Retirement?
  • December 28, 2010
    Darthcaliber
    ^This trope is about people who come out of genuine retirement. Ten minute retirement is when people get depressed and quit only to return shortly later.
  • December 28, 2010
    AFP
    This trope implies that the person left the job due to more mundane reasons, the biggest possible ones being that he got promoted, he retired, or he simply went into another line of work. Then circumstances arise where he ends up coming back to fill in his old role.

    Let's say the Ace Pilot gets Kicked Upstairs and becomes The Captain. He finds himself removed from the action, perhaps running Mission Control. One day, the Big Bad launches an overwhelming attack against The Battlestar, with the pilots facing a Zerg Rush and coming dangerously close to being overrun. The Captain decides that he won't stand by while his men fight and die, climbs into a cockpit, and joins the fray, galvanizing his men and inspiring them by his example and his willingness to fight alongside them.

    Plus, it gives him a great chance to prove that Authority Equals Asskicking.
  • December 28, 2010
    troacctid
    I would say the distinction is that Ten Minute Retirement requires the retirement to be part of the same story--the character needs to leave and then come back as part of one arc.
  • December 28, 2010
    AFP
    Oooh, that does sound good.
  • December 29, 2010
    mack
    • Independence Day: The President.. hell, half the people taken in to fight in the final battle used to fly or flew combat in the past.
  • December 29, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    In The Powerpuff Girls, the decrepitly old Captain Righteous and Lefty are brought out of retirement because of their reputation in the past of being the only ones able to stop the Ministry of Pain. The Ministry themselves are also decrepitly old and have gone senile. They could have easily been stopped by the Powerpuffs, though the entire town insists on Righteous and Lefty.
  • December 29, 2010
    AFP
    Oh, Independence Day reminds me... dare I say it?

    • From METAL WOLF CHAOS we have MICHEAL Wilson, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, who fights for BURNING AMERICAN JUSTICE after being betrayed by his Vice President RICHAAAAAAARD Hawk.
  • December 29, 2010
    AFP
    So, it looks very deliciously tropable. I'll probably launch later this afternoon if nobody has objections.
  • December 29, 2010
    troacctid
    ^^^ It wasn't the entire town, it was Blossom, who insisted that they needed to respect their elders.
  • December 29, 2010
    mack
    • Predator might count, with the guy who'd spent too much time 'pushing pencils' for the CIA.
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