Being [[RoyalBlood the king]] sucks. Not only do you have to deal with {{Royal Brat}}s, RoyallyScrewedUp family and RequisiteRoyalRegalia, you're practically a LivingMacGuffin, even without BloodMagic coming into play. As such, there may come a time when you need ''not'' to be the king anymore, but don't want to die. In times like that, you can AbdicateTheThrone. Retire, leave. Give the role to someone worthy and spend the rest of your days in peace.

So you hope, at least-- some countries, fictional and otherwise, ''forbid'' abdication, or place very specific conditions on it. Or maybe there isn't an heir lined up, and it would just be terminally irresponsible to provoke the ensuing SuccessionCrisis. That forces a plot where the monarch must convince Parliament to change their minds about that particular law, or find a way to fulfill the preconditions. Or you could just run away...

Sister Trope to OfferedTheCrown -- which is what happens when the king (or someone else) chooses his successor rather than leaving it to the default. Can sometimes happen when the RightfulKingReturns and the current ruler wants to get out with his neck intact.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
* In ''{{Utawarerumono}}'', the [[spoiler:[[CallARabbitASmeerp Oruyankuru]] gives his daughter, Urutorii, his title just before the final invasion.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', the third Hokage retired to give the title over to the fourth. Unfortunately, the fourth's sudden HeroicSacrifice forced him to take up the reins again.
* In the anime of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', a flashback scene shows Saber (aka [[spoiler:King Arthur]]) fighting with a knight who demands to know why she won't abdicate the throne. The credits identify the knight character as [[spoiler:Mordred]].
* Part of Leonmichelle's plan in ''DogDays''. She's strictly speaking a regent anyway, but she plans to leave the throne early in an attempt to ScrewDestiny. Things never really get that far, though.
* The absolute first thing that [[spoiler:Hikaru]] does after becoming ruler of Cephiro in the second season of ''MagicKnightRayearth'' is abolish the monarchy. Since [[spoiler:she]] had been present when the previous ruler had [[spoiler:been DrivenToSuicide by the emotional strain of having to continuously care for everyone and everything equally without caring for any single person or thing as an individual - including herself - or else the bits she doesn't care for will start falling apart]], you can understand why.
* In ''Manga/{{Ooku}}'', Shogun Yoshimune steps down in favour of her daughter Ieshige. However, she remains in Edo Castle and becomes a shadow ruler whose policy suggestions are more often followed by senior councilors than the actual Shogun's.
** Ieshige later does the same thing for her daughter Ieharu, but is far less influential in retirement.
[[/folder]]


[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* ''{{Thorgal}}'': One of the early stories has Thorgal helping a kid reclaim the throne. The kid is the rightful heir, his EvilUncle killed his brother to get the throne. Along the way they enlist the help of a Viking army in exchange for treasure. After much fighting, they finally make it to the throne room... where the EvilUncle abdicates in favor of his nephew, wishing him good luck with the [[DeadlyDecadentCourt intrigues and backstabbing]] that comes with it. The story ''would'' end there, except Uncle intends to leave with Thorgal's wife in his luggage... Asskicking ensues.
* The ''PrinceValiant'' series started with Valiant and his father King Arguar of Thule being forced to flee by Sligon the Usurper. When they return to take back the throne years later, Sligon announce that he is tired of power and will exchange the kingdom for their little island in Britain. Some years after that, Valiant run into Sligon, who has grown old and dotty and has never regretted giving up the kingdom for a second.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''JohnnyEnglish'', the villain, Pascal Sauvage, needs the Queen to abdicate. She initially refuses, but relents when one of her corgis is held at gunpoint.
* ''Film/ThePrincessDiaries 2: Royal Engagement'' has Mia's grandmother stepping down from the throne so Mia can be queen now that she's 21 years old and graduated from college.
* The Great Prince at the end of ''Disney/{{Bambi}}''.
* The Queen Ant at the end of ''WesternAnimation/ABugsLife''.
* Prince Naveen at the end of ''Disney/ThePrincessAndTheFrog'', who actually prefers to stay with Tiana in New Orleans, LA than become the next king of Maldonia. It then turns out that his younger brother was more suitable for becoming the next king.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series, the leadership of Perdido Beach is like a game of musical chairs.
** Caine waltzed in and took over, but left after the end of ''Gone''. Sam then took over for ''Hunger'', and then got tired of the responsibility and gave the leadership to the Town Council in ''Lies'', run by Astrid. That turned out to be a disaster, so Sam returned as of ''Plague''. Sam then left again for the Lake Tramonto settlement at the end, so Caine came back and became the absolute ruler of Perdido Beach. That works for a little while, but only until ''Light'' - Sam and Caine both leave to look for Gaia, so Edilio becomes the final Mayor of Perdido Beach, and actually maintains that position until the barrier comes down.
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', [[spoiler:the Queen of Andor secretly abdicates her throne in favor of her daughter, [[DamselScrappy Elaine]], after being forced to abandon her nation.]] It contributes nothing to the plot -- [[spoiler:Elaine]] still has to deal with a SuccessionCrisis -- but it adds a little bit of secret justice to the cause, from the reader's point of view, anyway.
* In the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy of ''HeraldsOfValdemar'', a variation: Elspeth abdicates her position as Heir.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** Tomjon in ''Discworld/WyrdSisters'' probably holds the record for fastest abdication on record, when he abdicates after a grand total of about five minutes as king in favour of his half brother.
** Pteppic does this at the end of ''Discworld/{{Pyramids}}'', giving the throne of Djelibeybi over to [[spoiler:his half-sister]] Ptraci so he can go back to Ankh-Morpork.
** Carrot pre-emptively abdicates his position as the rightful King of Ankh-Morpork, and has even gone as far as killing someone who attempted to put him on the throne in ''Discworld/MenAtArms'' and the subsequent novels in the City Watch sub-series.
** Cohen the Barbarian, who became Emperor Cohen in ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', does this shortly before ''Discworld/TheLastHero''.
*** It's a little ambiguous whether Cohen actually technically ''abdicated'' or just scarpered off. Given that his plans were to return the fire that was stolen from the gods (in the form of a large keg of the Discworld's equivalent of dynamite), bothering about formalities would have been rather overly pedantic.
* The "ShelteredAristocrat" called Chivalry does this at the beginning of RobinHobb's ''Literature/{{Farseer}}'' trilogy, out of shame in having an [[HeroicBastard illegitimate child]].
* The ''ForgottenRealms'' novel ''Cormyr'' includes the story of a Cormyrian king who was thoughtful and well-intentioned, but not strong enough to hold the throne. When he realized that even his own steward was plotting against him, he decided to screw tradition and abdicate in favor of his much more popular and better-suited sister.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Westmark}} The Westmark Trilogy]]'' as soon as [[spoiler:Mickle remembered]] that she was heir to the throne, she expressed a wish to abdicate. [[spoiler:She doesn't actually abdicate until the end of the third book, because before then she didn't trust any individual with running the country; after the common citizens of the country spontaneously rose up to oust [[EvilChancellor a usurper]], she decided to abdicate in their favor and turn the kingdom into a republic.]]
* ''ConanTheBarbarian'' - In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/TheScarletCitadel", Conan is [[BuyThemOff offered freedom and gold]] if he will do this.
* ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' - In Tolkien's Legendarium, the Kings of Númenor normally abdicate in favor of their heir well before 'laying down their lives' (ie: voluntarily dying). This is because as Númenóreans don't get diseases and live for hundreds of years, their sons would be old men by the time they die, so it became tradition to abdicate when their heir reached his full manhood. It is a sign of moral deterioration when they cease doing this.
** 3,000 years after the fall of Númenor, their distant relative/descendant Aragorn restores this tradition as High King of Arnor and Gondor, abdicating the throne to his son Eldarion before voluntarily dying.
* Occurs several times in the ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' series. [[HermitGuru Good Magician Humphrey]] served as king for several decades before tiring of the job and abdicating to the Storm King. Magician Trent (the Storm King's successor) would later abdicate to his son-in-law, Dor.
* In JohnCWright's ''[[Literature/CountToTheEschaton Count To A Trillion]]'', Menelaus [[DreamingTheTruth realizes]] that this is one possible solution to Blackie's dilemma -- but he won't do it.
* When the emperor Gastern loses his mind in ''Literature/ChroniclesOfMagravandias'', he is forced into abdication. His son is preemptively forced to abdicate as well as everyone knows he will only be worse.
* Abir gives up being queen at the second lottery in ''Literature/DirgeForPresterJohn'' as part of the new system of government she has put in place.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', Robert Baratheon confesses to his friend(and current Hand) Ned Stark that he would like to do this, cross the Narrow Sea to Essos, and live as a highly-paid sellsword(mercenary). What's stopping him? [[TheCaligula The thought of his son Joffrey as king]].
* ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' has the queens of Queensland, aging, transferring more and more responsibility to their surviving daughters. They won't abdicate the throne until the princesses have married and produced at least one child, but are expected to do so when that happens.
* ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'':
** ''Literature/JediApprentice'' has ''The Mark of the Crown'', in which a ruler is converting her planet from a monarchy to a democracy. She will abdicate in favor of whomever wins the election. It's not going as smoothly as planned, so she calls in some Jedi to help with the process.
** In ''[[XWingSeries Starfighters of Adumar]]'', the ''perator'' of Cartann is convinced to abdicate in favor of his son.
* In Fiona Patton's {{Branion}} series, it is illegal for the sovereign to abdicate, since he is the [[GodInHumanForm avatar]] of a god and the avatar is automatically the secular ruler as well. One sovereign does abdicate, but he's an apostate who turned to a different religion, and the followers of the original religion regard this as shirking his duty. In another book, the Crown Prince offers to abdicate, knowing full well it would mean execution.
* In the MercedesLackey ''BardicVoices'' series, Kestrel was the rightful king of Birnam after his uncle deposed his father. It turned out that the father was taxing the people heavily and wasting it on personal luxuries while the uncle was ruling the kingdom wisely. Kestrel, knowing that he wasn't really competent to take it, publicly renounces all claim to the throne, and ensures it sticks by marrying the Gypsy Bard he is in love with.
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[[folder:Live Action Television]]
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "The Beast Below" sets up an impossible choice for Queen Liz X: abdicate her throne [[spoiler: in order to free the star-whale providing the ship with its propulsion and doom her citizens]] or forget what she has learned and continue her rule. [[spoiler: Fortunately, Amy realizes that the whale will stay because it wants to help them so she forces the queen to hit the "abdicate" button, but nothing changes.]]
* In a moment of panic, Prince Arthur from ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' offers to give up the throne in order to save Guinevere from being [[BurnTheWitch burnt at the stake]].
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[[folder:Roleplaying Games]]
* In Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG, [[ItMakesSenseInContext despite being next in line as alpha of the Adventurers' Island T-Rex pack]], Rex knew that this would conflict with his duties to Dino Attack Team, and so Abdicated the Throne in favor of letting Chompy, his oldest sibling, rule in his stead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare
** Both ''Theatre/RichardII'' and ''[[Theatre/HenryVI Henry VI, Part 3 ]]'' have forced abdications.
** The plot of ''Theatre/KingLear'' is kicked off when the king decides to abdicate and must decide how to divide the kingdom among his potential heirs.
* ''Theatre/OedipusTheKing'' - Oedipus at the end of his play has to abdicate after discovering [[ItWasHisSled he murdered his father and married his mother]]. The resulting power vacuum this leaves results in war, the deaths of his sons, and the plot of ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* Some of the possible endings of ''[[OgreBattle Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen]]'' have [[RightfulKingReturns Tristan]] [[spoiler: give up the throne in favor of the player character, because the people want [[PurelyAestheticGender hir]] (their liberator) to serve.]]
* In the ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' series of games, the character Rakeesh is the rightful ruler of the land of Tarna, but gives up the throne to become a [[KnightErrant paladin]].
* Not quite a monarch, but in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', depending on how you choose to complete it, a quest half way through the game where you return to Vault 101 can lead to the overseer giving his position up to his more reasonable daughter. Although this doesn't [[spoiler: change the fact she still has to forbid you from returning to live in the vault, [[ChildhoodFriendRomance reluctantly]]]].
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIII'', after returning his stolen crown to the King of Romaly, he declares you the new King and abdicates. Unfortunately, as King, you have no power to do anything or even leave the city limits to continue your quest. The only thing you can do is find the former King gambling in the casino and ask him to retake his throne. Pointless diversion from the game, or lesson about how having power doesn't make you important? You decide.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'': After former King Bart liberates Aveh from the ruthless dictator Shakahn, he decides to abdicate the throne in favor of a republic according to his late father's will.
* In ''VisualNovel/TenDaysWithMyDevil'', Kakeru Kamui is the heir to the throne of the demon realm, and his younger brother Meguru is the SpareToTheThrone. When their father the Demon King sentences Kakeru to death for meddling in the lives of humans, Meguru abdicates his claim on the throne, forcing the Demon King to spare Kakeru in order to avoid a SuccessionCrisis.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''AMagicalRoommate'': the rulers of Umbria abdicate the throne to their children when either the king or the queen dies, since it's a rule that the royalty may not rule without a companion.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Prince Wally does it so that he can run for President on an early episode of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible''. It is a big case of PropheciesAreAlwaysRight. [[spoiler:It has been foretold that his country's royal line will end at Prince Wally. Instead of being assassinated as the characters assume, he opts to abdicate after being impressed with [[AlwaysNeedWhatYouGaveUp American Democracy.]]]]
* Although it/s heavily implied that [[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender Fire Lord Ozai]] killed his own father and manipulated his will to steal the throne from his older brother Iroh, Iroh certainly didn't seem to be complaining. When the Fire Nation is finally defeated Zuko even asks his uncle to take up the throne- but Iroh says it wouldn't be wise, because people wouldn't accept him, thinking his actions just a ploy for power. Besides, he wants to run a tea shop.
** Ozai plays this straight in the penultimate episodes by handing the title over to Azula, but only because he intends to inherit the even greater title of Phoenix Lord.
* ''SylvesterAndTweetyMysteries'': Some lions wanted to depose their King because their food reserves (read: game) were running low. The King wouldn't mind abdicating except that it wasn't allowed. He had to die before a new King rose. He instead tricked Sylvester into switching places with him. (Which was posible thanks to PaperThinDisguise) [[spoiler:The food was eventually found inside the cave of a lion who planned to [[TheUsurper usurp the throne]] but decided the current King wasn't all that bad when compared to Sylvester]].
* In the ''{{WesternAnimation/Teen Titans}}'' episode "Betrothed", it is revealed that Starfire is the crown princess of her planet, Tamaran, as she was in the comics. After agreeing to an arranged marriage (a Tamaranian custom, as she is quick to inform Robin of), finding out that her husband is [[spoiler: a slimy, flatulent {{Eldritch Abomination}}]], that the whole marriage was [[spoiler: engineered by her criminal older sister, Blackfire, who seized the throne and agreed to trade Starfire to the blob people for a MacGuffin to boost her powers]], and finally [[spoiler: taking the throne back from Blackfire by force and banishing her from the planet]], Starfire [[spoiler: abdicates the throne and gives the crown to her male nanny, Galfore, "the hands that raised her when she was very small". Doubles as {{Crowning Moment of Heartwarming}}]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Britain's Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, less than a year into his reign. He was determined to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson and keep the throne. Not only did divorce carry great stigma at the time, but the King was supposed to be the head of the Church of England, who taught that marrying after divorce was wrong if the divorced partner was still alive. He didn't really fancy being King anyway and neither did the British public (he was known to have German sympathies). So that's OK.
* Queen Christina of Sweden abdicated her throne to convert to Catholicism and go live in Italy.
* Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands abdicated in favor of her daughter Juliana in 1948. Decades later (in 1980), Juliana did the same for her daughter Beatrix; who in turn has stepped down in favor of her son Willem-Alexander as of April 2013. Considering Willem I's abdication in 1840 (like Edward VIII, there was a woman involved), far more post-Napoleonic Dutch monarchs have stepped down than died in office and this may safely be considered a tradition.
* Happened during [[RedOctober the Russian Revolutions]]. Didn't save the tsar's life.
** Ivan the Terrible also pulled this once, but it was actually a BatmanGambit to get the non-boyars to acquiesce to his boyar-slaughtering Oprichnina.
* Diocletian, the Eastern Roman Emperor. The resignation was the capstone of reforms aimed at making the transition of power more orderly. It didn't work, and the generation after him was plagued by civil war.
** When begged to come out of retirement and end the conflict, he refused saying "If you could show the cabbage that I planted with my own hands to your emperor, he definitely wouldn't dare suggest that I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed."
* Charles V of Spain retired to a Monastery when he was tired of being TheEmperor-not to be a monk, for he continued to live in unmonastic luxury. Rather because the area also made a rather decent ad-hoc villa and perhaps because he liked the company of monks more then that of courtiers.
* Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who as a dictator was king in all but name, "retired" after a while, but only after securing that his legislation wouldn't be challenged and making sure the majority of the Roman senate were chosen by himself. Caesar said that he was politically illiterate for doing so, but we know what happened to him when he showed no sign of giving up the post... This trope, in any case, was required of dictators in the Republic, and Cincinnatus earned fame and admiration for doing so earlier than required.
* Pope Benedict XVI became the first Pope in almost 600 years to resign (the church does not refer to it as an "abdication", but many others do.)
* Ottoman Emperor [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murad_II Murad II]] resigned in 1444 in favor of his [[AChildShallLeadThem 12 year old son]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_II Mehmed]]. A couple of years later the latter realized he was in over his head and sent a message spelling things out for his father:
-->"If you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan, I hereby order you to come and lead ''my'' armies."
* Recently, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani of Qatar stepped down and turned the throne over to his son, Sheikh Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
* 79 year old King Albert II of Belgium stepped down effective 21 July 2013 in favor of his eldest child Philippe[=/=]Filip[=/=]Philipp due to health reasons. In 1953 suspected [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo collaborator]] King Leopold III abdicated in favor of Albert's elder brother [[SpellMyNameWithAnS Baudouin[=/=]Boudewijn[=/=]Balduin]] in order to avoid the outright abolition of the Belgian monarchy.
* Dom Pedro I, the founding emperor of Brazil did it twice, in two different countries. He was originally the Portuguese Crown Prince who was left in charge of Brazil after the Napoleonic Wars (during which the Portuguese monarchy took refuge in its Brazilian colony). After reorganizing the country based on liberal principles, Pedro declared Brazil independent and made himself its constitutional monarch. This did not keep him from succeeding to the Portuguese throne in 1826, but, after a short while, he abdicated the Portuguese throne and passed it on to his daughter. He abdicated from the Brazilian throne, however, when his daughter in Portugal was overthrown by the reactionaries in 1831 and went to Portugal to lead liberal forces. He is known as "the Liberator" in both Portugal and Brazil, but his tendency to suddenly abdicate caused much confusion in politics of both countries, to say the least, and contributed to the reactionary rebellions in both countries.
* Effective 19 June 2014, 76 year old [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Carlos_I_of_Spain King Juan Carlos of Spain]] has officially handed the reins over to his son [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felipe_VI_of_Spain Felipe (VI)]].
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