"Junk is something you don't use because you don't need it...until just after you get rid of it!"A character or group of characters does something that limits their abilities (usually temporarily) for what looks to be — and may well actually be — excellent reasons, with the best of intentions. (For example, a team allows a key member to take a vacation, or a character loans his "lucky" tennis racket to a friend who's going out of town.) Almost as soon as this limitation becomes irrevocable, a situation which requires the talent, skill or item in question immediately appears; without the missing element, the character or characters is seemingly doomed. The resolution of this crisis depends strongly upon the genre of the story being told, ranging from zany schemes to improvised substitutions to bulling it through on raw guts and determination. The key element, though, is a seemingly-harmless relinquishing of an advantage for good reasons, which is immediately "punished" by a dire need for the lost advantage. Compare "Gift of the Magi" Plot, where two characters each give something up in exchange for something else that's only useful in combination with what the other character gave up. Contrast with Brought Down to Normal, where the loss is never voluntary, and sometimes enjoyed — and the lost power is returned just in time to use it. Compare Can't Stay Normal, which is the usual result. Attempts to escape this trope is how you get Too Awesome to Use. This is also used sometimes as an explanation for Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Stupid actions. Contrast I Did What I Had to Do, which does the same as in this case, but for Lawful Neutral or Lawful Stupid actions. Can cross with Unwanted Assistance if someone finds they need the very help of the person they told to leave them alone. For situations where a person gives something up because they feel the opportunity they needed it for wouldn't happen, only for it to happen immediately after giving the item up, see Gave Up Too Soon.
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Anime & Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Negi seals his magical talent for three days in order to avoid the temptation to "fix" his class's test results with a spell. He immediately finds himself in a dangerous situation where he must rely upon his students for safety.
- Done in the long term by Asuna with her memories, which she gave up at least a decade ago in order to live a normal life (she was depressive and on the verge of picking up Takamichi's smoke addiction). Considering she helped out in the last war, her memories would have been really, really helpful now. And giving them up didn't really keep her "normal", either. It's actually lampshaded a few times. You see, by giving up her memory, she also gave up the memory of why she gave up her memories. As a result, she's now running full-throttle down the path to becoming the sort of person she didn't want to be before she lost her memories, but she doesn't remember that she didn't want to do what she's doing!
- This is relatively common in Humongous Mecha series, where as soon as the pilots get a day off to go to the beach, the city they're supposed to defend will get attacked, allowing the use of a Beach Episode without resorting to completely pointless fanservice. Although most of them have it anyway.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX manga, Manjyome buries his "Light and Darkness Dragon" (whose Duel Spirit fills in the role of the Ojamas), because he wants to prove that he's good enough to be in Obelisk Blue on his own (which he confesses was later due to fear of losing with Light and Darkness Dragon). Manjyome immediately recovers the card after Judai uses his Duel Spirit to defeat him, and wins in their rematch in the finals of the academy tournament.
- A painful example in Gantz. Kurono earns 100 points and chooses freedom to be with his girlfriend at the cost of his memory. The end result: he thinks his girlfriend is a stalker, and he and his little brother are both murdered by vampires.
- In Claymore, exiled badass Claymore in hiding Ilena spends an episode or two teaching Clare her quick sword technique. Ilena is missing her left arm and Clare is missing her right. Sensing that Clare had no hope without her right arm, Ilena slices off her own right arm and gives it to Clare on loan so that she can master the technique. Clare leaves to pursue her goal. In the very next scene, another Claymore shows up to kill the outcast Ilena who is now missing both arms... The only way the Claymore was able to sense her this time is because she used some of her Yoki aura in teaching the quick sword technique to Clare.
- In Bleach, Ichigo gets hit hard with this during the Lost Agent arc. Having finally gotten his wish to be a normal human, he finds himself Locked Out of the Loop when his friends are attacked and turns to the mysterious XCution organization when they promise to help restore his Soul Reaper powers. It turns out to be a trap engineered to let the members of XCution steal Ichigo's powers, but he gets them back in the end and defeats them.
- One Piece: Admiral Fujitora blinded himself so he would no longer have to see the darkness of the world. But after meeting Luffy, he realizes that not everything in this world is horrible, and laments his blindness for preventing him from seeing Luffy's kind face.
- In the Pokémon episode "The Breeding Center Secret", Misty leaves her Psyduck at the titular breeding center. A while later, the heroes stumble upon a restaurant, with the owner letting them have an all-you-can-eat buffet if they show him his favorite Pokemon, only to discover that his favorite Pokemon is Psyduck, prompting Misty and the others to go back to the breeding center and end up discovering the truth that it's a front by Team Rocket.
- In With Strings Attached, after discovering that his new Super Strength came with a massive helping of Blessed with Suck (Power Incontinence), Paul manages to shed most of it by pumping a ton of energy into a basic light spell and exploding. He's quite pleased that he's still left with enough strength to be “interesting” (though he's still not very good with it and has to practice just to be able to walk). However, when they're sent to New Zork for the first piece of the Vasyn, he discovers it's 20 feet of solid rock that he's supposed to lift, but it's far heavier than he's capable of lifting now. That's when he regrets shedding the power—and when, out of desperation, he figures out how to restore it.
- In Constant Temptation Light is kidnapped soon after he decides he doesn't really want to be Kira or use the Death Note anymore.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In Final Destination 2, Clear Rivers was the last of the survivors of the Flight 180 crash from the previous movie. Death has a list with her name on it. She spent all of the first movie thwarting Death's attempts at claiming her and successfully escaped every seeming "accident". In the second film, she had decided that the only place safe for her from these "accidents" was to lock herself up in a small padded cell, living like a prisoner, with no sharp objects or anything that could conceivably kill her. She is safe... until the next group of people on Death's list seek her out. She is reluctant to help at first but later decides to leave the protection of her cell and start living again. Unsurprisingly, she dies before the end of the film.
- In The Matrix Revolutions, some of the secondary characters pull a Big Damn Heroes moment by flying their hovercraft into the dock and activating the EMP, shutting down every robot in the place — only to be informed by the general that this has also disabled all of their best defenses against the next wave. Might be a subversion, however, as the dock was already said to be lost when they conceived the plan; Lock was just looking for a scapegoat.
- The plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home could be seen as a delayed Good Idea. Man had hunted whales to extinction in the 21st century. In Kirk's time, a probe arrives that will destroy Earth unless someone responds to its call... which turns out to be the song of a humpback whale. Time Travel and An Aesop against the dangers of overwhaling are of course involved.
- In the movie Superman II, Superman gives up his superpowers for Lois Lane — just before he needs them in order to defeat the Phantom Zone villains. In the original cut of the film, the means by which he recovers his abilities — by consuming the energy that powered the Fortress of Solitude's holographic projections of his parents — is not revealed to the audience, as Marlon Brando had refused to appear in the movie after original director Richard Donner was fired. The recently released Donner cut of the film includes this scene.
- In John Carter, Carter has settled in nicely on Mars and decided there's nothing for him back on Earth. He expresses this commitment to his new life by hurling his interplanetary-teleportation amulet out over the landscape. Mere minutes later, the not-as-beaten-as-they-seemed enemies surprise him and transmit him back to Earth. This requires him to spend many years searching for another amulet. He fails, forcing him to find the enemy that sent him back, kill him, and steal his amulet.
- In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny Blaze gives up his Ghost Rider powers just as Danny is being kidnapped by the Devil's minions.
- In the ninth The Pendragon Adventure book, Raven Rise, Mark gives his Traveler ring to a villain because he figures that since Bobby can't communicate with him anymore anyways, it's useless and will save his parents without hurting anybody. It ends up literally causing the apocalypse.
- In Laura Leander series, the titular heroine gives up her power as Light Guardian in order to get her mother Rescued from the Underworld. It seems a perfectly valid idea, since an ancient agreement forbids Dark Guardians from using their powers to hurt anybody who isn't a Light Guardian directly. Unfortunately, The Big Bad, who desires revenge on her for previous defeats, finds a way to hurt her past self (from times she was a Guardian), and she has to assist her past self with her powers now gone...
- Jingo: Vimes orders the smuggling ship he comandeered to go faster, and has the watchmen throw everything heavy overboard to lose weight. Since none of the watchmen are sailors, this leads to the loss of things like grapnels, chains, barometers, lifeboats, anchors...
- In Human Nature, the Doctor turns himself into a human schoolteacher, with none of the knowledge or abilities of his normal self, to gain experience of what his companions go through. He shortly finds himself being targeted by hostile aliens he could normally have defeated easily. It turns out that the character who gave him the idea of experiencing life as a human was one of the villains, deliberately so that he could be taken advantage of in his reduced state.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy is nearly given another dose of the demon power that made the first Slayer, but breaks free of her chains and beats up the guys who want to give it to her, on the grounds that it supposedly would make her less human. The strength upgrade would have come in real handy against the uber-vamps and Caleb.
- In the Doctor Who two-parter "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", the Doctor turns himself into a human schoolteacher, with none of the knowledge or abilities of his normal self, to avoid being tracked by the Monster of the Week. Unfortunately, the monsters manage to track him down anyway, and he has to face them as an ordinary human.
- An episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger featured this, when the team's ace mechanic Swan was given an award and encouraged by the others to take a break and go to the award ceremony. Naturally, the city is attacked while she's gone, and it's immediately demonstrated that the team's Transforming Mecha start breaking down if they miss even one day of maintenance. Which either proves that Swan is an incredible mechanic or an incredibly lousy mechanic.
- The Rangers are all going on about how they don't know if they can hold their own without Swan, but they have to support her decision to go away because "we have to do what's best for Swan". Regardless of the fact that the Earth might be destroyed as a result.
- In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, the original Magna Defender released the Lights of Orion. However when he becomes possessed by revenge he needs the lights to face and kill Scorpius.
- A variation in Sherlock: Irene fakes her death and sends her phone to Sherlock. She soon has to get it back.
- Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites: Erik wins immunity at the final five. Guaranteed to be in the Final Four, right? Not if the Black Widow Brigade has anything to say about it.
- Misfits: The ASBO five, wanting to get their normal lives back, sell their powers to Seth. Within a day, Nikki has been shot and Curtis no longer has the power to turn back time and save her.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Barney wore a silk suit to bed so he'd look his best in case a woman came by his apartment in the middle of the night, but after being told that the chances of that happening were ridiculous, he switched to a nightgown. Turns out that it ended up happening and when the woman saw the nightgown, she immediately left.
- An episode of I Dream of Jeannie combines this with Unwanted Assistance. Having had enough of Jeannie's attempts to help him, Tony orders her to not get involved in his life anymore, so she takes a mystic vow that prevents her from going against his order without turning to dust...only for Tony to be taken hostage by Chinese spies moments later. Fortunately, Jeannie manages to circumvent it by having Roger temporarily become her master.
- In one episode of Dinosaurs, Earl, Robbie, and Roy get stuck in a tar pit. As they are sinking, Earl and Roy are focusing on a miniature television, much to Robbie's chagrin. Finally, in disgust, he takes the television from them and throws it into a bush, saying it won't save their lives. They then hear the television in the bush playing a wilderness survival show that shows how to extract oneself from a tar pit, (showing the steps rather than explaining them). Cue Earl and Roy casting Robbie a Death Glare.
Robbie: (Sheepishly) What are the odds?
- In an episode of Farscape, during an argument with Crichton, D'Argo petulantly throws his qualta blade off a catwalk into Moya's depths. Later, the Luxan fighter craft they took in earlier has its self-destruct failsafe activated. The only way to turn it off is to show it an object of definitive Luxan origin... like D'Argo's qualta blade.
Myths & Religion
- In Norse Mythology, Frey gives up the sword-that-can-fight-by-itself in order to gain the love of a giantess. Thus, in the Ragnarok, Surtr will not be defeated by the sword, and will devour the entirety of creation with fire.
- In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, after Hyde commits murder, Jekyll gets rid of the potion... and immediately starts needing it to remain himself.
- NieR has this to some extent. Those somewhat worthwhile goat hides with good value? Welcome to hours of killing goats for a quest. The expensive but otherwise easy money when sold as Vendor Trash? You need those for another quest. That gives better pay.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog game Sonic Adventure 2, Knuckles the Echidna, fighting over possession of his precious Master Emerald with Femme Fatale Rouge the Bat, notices Robotnik stealing the gem away from under their noses. Instead of attacking Robotnik directly to get the gem back, he...shatters the Emerald, explaining that he can always gather up the pieces later. Seems like a good idea at the time...until it's realized the gem is needed to help stop a giant space station powered by Chaos Emeralds from crashing into Earth. Oh, and Rouge is a master jewel thief with technology that can help her find the broken shards just as well as Knuckles' internal Chaos detector can. (Knuckles probably also should have shattered it with less force, as the shards are sent all over the continent.)
- In God of War II, Kratos drains his divine power into an artifact so that he can destroy the (animated) Colossus of Rhodes. Of course, given that the whole thing was just a Batman Gambit on the part of Zeus, Kratos shortly learns the drawback of vesting all your power in an artifact, as Zeus betrays him and sends him to Hades.
- Dark Souls II provides a fairly tragic example. Early in the game, Lucatiel of Mirrah gives the player a Human Effigy- an item Undead use to retain their human form and sanity- as a gift of thanks, while admitting that she doesn't actually know what it is. Her own sanity begins to fade away shortly thereafter.
- Bob and George: George's "crippilingly low self esteem".
- The Order of the Stick: Elan in this strip apparently sent all the party's weapons to fix up, because they won't need them while they are staying in a hotel anyway. They did.
- In Spacetrawler, Yuri becomes increasingly violent, erratic, and detached from her teammates in the aftermath of getting tortured. Martina sees to it that Yuri gets psychotherapy to deal with this. The therapy-bot, trying to get Yuri back on her feet as quickly as possible, erases her memories of the event, and this appears to fix her. Then, Yuri has another run-in with the alien who tortured her. When it becomes apparent that Yuri's memory loss will allow said alien to take advantage of her, the therapy-bot restores Yuri's memories—causing her to revert to her scary, violent self.
- A rather humorous occurrence in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "The Case of the Killer Pizzas", which, ironically, fits both this trope and the old name for this trope that is now redefined. IIRC, the Shredder and Baxter Stockman used a remote device to command a trio of Xenomorph-like creatures from Dimension X to attack the title teenage turtles. During the confrontation, Donatello used his bo-staff to knock the remote out of Stockman's hand and into the water. Unfortunately, this caused the creatures to go out of control and attack both heroes and villains.
Raphael: We could use the remote to subdue them, but Mr. Home-Run-Slugger over here had to go and knock it into the water!
Donatello: (sheepishly) Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
- Happened in an episode of Drawn Together, which was probably a parody of Superman II. Captain Hero feels so guilty about giving Foxxy a tumor through extensive use of his X-ray vision, he gives up his powers. This leaves him paralyzed, confined a wheelchair controlled with a breathing tube. He finds that he has to save her not long after.
- This trope is at the very center of the Danny Phantom Grand Finale, Phantom Planet.
- In the He-Man episode "The Problem with Power", He-Man surrenders the sword that gives him the power of Grayskull because Skeletor tricks him into thinking that he's killed someone. This results in the heroes having to attempt to stop Skeletor's plot via a suicide mission because He-Man is no longer around to solve the problem. Once He-Man discovers the truth, he has to retrieve the sword to regain his power in time to save Teela from dying for the cause.
- Family Guy:
- There's the Y2K episode, where the town gives up guns right before they realize they need them. One guy was even about to lampshade it with the meaning of 'irony' before he was attacked.
- In a more tragic example, "Life of Brian" has Stewie destroy his time machine after one too many near-death experiences, only for Brian to be killed by a hit and run driver mere moments later. Fixed mere episodes later when a chance indirect encounter with a Stewie traveling forward from the past gives him a window of opportunity to save his best friend.
- In the American Dad! 2-parter "Stan of Arabia", Stan renounces his US citizenship by tearing up his and the rest of his family's passports and quits the CIA after finding he prefers life in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately for him, the rest of his family runs afoul of the law and ends up on death row, with himself joining them once he pleads. Without the passports he destroyed, he has no way out of this predicament. It takes Roger getting the man Steve sold him to to request the execution be called off.
- Several times in The Mask animated series, including the pilot, Stanley tries to give away or bury the eponymous artifact only to desperately need it again by the halfway point.
- In Time Squad the unit falls into this a bit. With Tuddrussel and Larry being so bad with history, they need Otto to help them. The kid practically coddles the adults with this effortless task at solving problems that they could never fix. In one particular example of them being without the kid is when Tuddrussel and Larry had seemingly abandoned Otto, and tried to first fix the mission themselves, but they quickly gave up and tried to find other orphans with the extreme knowledge of History that Otto possesses. But this proved to be a waste of time, there was no other kid with Otto's talents that could help, it wasn't only until accidentally finding Otto again that the mission could be completed.
- In one episode The Penguins of Madagascar, the penguins cure Mort of his fetish for Julien's feet, however, when Julien ends up dangling over a grill, Mort needs to pull him up by his feet. Fortunately, he immediately snaps back to his old self and saves Julien. The penguins even lampshade the irony.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Bloom and Gloom", Apple Bloom has a nightmare where she gains a Cutie Mark that designates her as a "pestpony". After getting mocked for it, she has it removed, rendering her unable to deal with a twittermite infestation.
- In the opening episodes of season four, the characters are forced to give up the Elements of Harmony, despite them being Equestria's best defense. Sure enough when the finale for the season comes around, a new enemy called Tirek starts attacking, even bringing fromer villain Discord to his side. This becomes an example of Discard and Draw as the characters gain a new Super Mode called Rainbow Power to replace the Elements.
- Similar to the Family Guy example, in one Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment, Lisa, inspired by the death of a man called William Bonney, lead a campaign to rid Springfield of guns and succeeds. However, this was actually a Batman Gambit by William Bonney (aka Billy the Kid), for he and a gang of zombie outlaws to terrorize the defenseless town.
- In an episode of LoliRock, this happens to Talia's older sister Izira, who gives her Transformation Trinket Medallion that contains the power to defeat the Big Bad Gramorr to her younger sister. Immediately after Talia leaves with it, Gramorr attacks and without the Medallion, Izira is unable to transform and as a result, is defeated and taken captive.
- In one episode of The Jetsons, George accidentally gets computerized dog teeth stuck in his mouth and they cause him to act like a dog whenever anything canine related is in his view. After the teeth get him fired (again), they finally come out and, in a rage, George destroys them. Immediately afterwards, however, he learns from Jane that a director witnessed one of his antics (clinging to a mailman's satchel) and had offered to pay him big money to appear in a dental glue commercial using the teeth.
George: Our ship finally comes in, and I destroyed the dock!
- Total Drama:
- A variation occurred in Total Drama Island, where after the Killer Bass vote off athletic Eva (as part of a Batman Gambit set up by Heather), the next episode involves a game of dodgeball, which Eva could've been helpful at, with the Killer Bass even lampshading it. Of course, knowing Chris, this was probably by design.
- In Total Drama World Tour, when Team Chris Is Really Hot wins the New York challenge, they discover that among the items they won was a meat processor. Heather finds the thing useless and tosses it overboard. Turns out that the next challenge in Switzerland involved making sausages. The rest of the team is not pleased with Heather.
- In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, when the Krusty Krab runs out of Krabby Patties, Mr. Krab and SpongeBob have to make more. Unable to recall the order of the ingredients, they go to double-check the Krabby Patty recipe - when Plankton appears trying to steal it. After the obvious foiling, Mr. Krabs decides he's fed up with Plankton's theft attempts and so sends the recipe to the other side of the ocean to keep him from getting at it anymore. It's only after the recipe is sent off that SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs get back to making more Krabby Patties...only to realize they forgot to look at the recipe before shipping it away and now have to go all the way across the ocean to get it back.
- In one episode of Goof Troop when Goofy and Pete run a burger truck, Goofy buys the supplies while Pete is busy, but ends up using Pete's credit cards. Enraged by the price on the bill, Pete tears it up. Later on, Pete discovers that Goofy purchased a live cow and chicken. Goofy assures Pete they can return them as long as Pete still has the receipt, which Pete realizes he tore up, so they're stuck with the cow and chicken.
- In one episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, when Chip and Dale accidentally get taken on a space mission and end up getting left behind in space, Gadget, Monetary and Zipper build a makeshift rocket to save them. While loading the rocket with fuel, Monetary finds a parachute and rubber raft inside. Thinking they're just junk, he leaves them behind. It's only after they rescue Chip and Dale does Monty learn they were needed for the splashdown, requiring the rangers to get back home on the space plane.
- In one "Roadrunner and Coyote" cartoon, Wile. E attempts to catch the Roadrunner by jumping off the cliff above him, complete with skydiving equipment. However, upon jumping off, he ends up in a miniature tornado that was passing. After being tossed out of the tornado, Wile. E discards the skydiving equipment before walking off in disgust...and steps right over the edge of cliff. Before he can grab the equipment back, he ends up slipping off the cliff.
- In the second season premiere of Jackie Chan Adventures, when the Dark Hand Enforcers are robbing a bank using the talismans divided up amongst them, Finn has the Immortality and Healing talismans, which he feels is redundant, so he trades the Healing talisman to Ratso for the Heat-Beam Eyes talisman. He later finds out that while he's immortal, he can still suffer painful injuries as when he smashes into a cliff above a tunnel.
Finn: Immortality Hurts.
- In one episode of The Looney Tunes Show, Yosemite Sam goes off the grid so he can be self-sufficient, relying solely on solar energy. Five seconds after he cuts his power line, a massive storm rolls in and blocks out the sun, leaving him without power.
- In the Hey Arnold! episode "Deconstructing Arnold", Arnold's friends are playing pranks on other students (i.e Sid is using a popular kid's cellphone, Rhonda writes a prank secret admirer letter to Curly, and Harold and Stinky tamper with Eugene's bicycle), with Arnold trying to advise them that they're not such good ideas, only for the kids to tell him to mind his own business with Helga eventually telling him to stop being a busybody, which Arnold agrees to do. Sure enough, the kids' pranks backfire: Sid break's the kid's phone, Curly figures out that Rhonda wrote the letter and starts following her, and Eugene ends up having a terrible accident due to his bicycle being sabotaged; and Arnold isn't there to advise them how to get out of their messes.
- A unique situation in one episode of Garfield and Friends. Garfield comes down with Hawaiian Cat Flu, which causes him to do the hula or other native dances whenever he hears something Hawaiian. Garfield refuses to take the medicine Liz prescribed for him, so Jon decides to take advantage of the situation by signing Garfield up on a show for silly pet tricks in order to win a big cash prize. However, since Garfield was going to be television, he decided to be in perfect health and finally took his medicine, curing him of the Hawaiian Cat Flu just before he goes on.
- In the penultimate episode of American Dragon: Jake Long, Jake deliberately gets his dragon powers removed for a week so he can enjoy some time as a regular teen while preparing to graduate. Unfortunately, at the climax of the episode, Chang comes after him, and he has no dragon powers to defend himself, allowing Chang to capture him. For extra irony, Chang believing Jake still had his dragon powers is the reason she went after him in the first place.
- This trope occurred on The Incredible Hulk (1982) in the episode "Prisoner of the Monster", where Bruce Banner successfully cures himself of his transformations into the Hulk, but is forced to restore his powers because the Hulk is the only one who can thwart the Spy Master's plan.
- In the Challenge Of The Go Bots episode "Scooter Enhanced", Scooter has his holo-projector replaced with a blaster unit. Then the Renegades lure all the Guardians except Smallfoot and Scooter away so that they can steal the Guardian's power-suits, and an outnumbered Scooter is unable to use his blasters because Smallfoot might get hit by a stray shot, and without his holo-projector, he can't fool the Renegades into thinking the other Guardians have returned. Luckily, he can still disguise his voice to sound like someone else, and has his holo-projector reinstalled at the end.