Always Need What You Gave Up
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.
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
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Anime & Manga
- In 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! Just going to a decent psychiatrist to cope with the memories she gave up would have saved her a great deal of time and effort in the long run.
- 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.
- 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
- In Disney's Hercules, Hercules agrees to surrender his Super Strength as part of a deal with Hades. As soon as the deal is complete, Hades frees the Titans from imprisonment and launches his invasion of Greece and Mount Olympus.
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 part three of The Matrix, 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.
- It's definitely Lock looking for a scapegoat. Remember who gave the order to open the gate so they could get inside in the first place?
- 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 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 Purgatory. 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...
- 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 New Adventures novel Human Nature, and the TV two-parter based on it, Doctor turns himself into a human schoolteacher, with none of the knowledge or abilities of his normal self. In the TV story, it's to avoid being tracked by the Monster of the Week, but in the book it's just to experience what his companions go through (having been given the idea by, it turns out, one of the villains, deliberately so that he could be taken advantage of in his reduced state).
- 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, 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.
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.
- 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.
- In generic JRPGs like Persona 3 (as an example) it's common for "newbies" to get rid of something that doesn't seem worth it/powerful enough/takes up to much space/etc. Bonus points if it makes the game harder for themselves.
- MMOs seem to have this happen to new players. A lot of people who've had these experiences seems to hoard every item they gain until they're completely sure they don't need them. Bonus points if they sold them and still needed them.
- Ever played a game where you get the BFG but due to it's limited ammo you use it to clear out that one tiny room with a horde of cannon fodder? Then you know how it feels to get you ass wooped after getting to that enemy who's only weakness is that BFG.
- 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 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 good amount of hoarders believe that if they were to get rid of something that shortly afterwards they would need it. Hence why they never throw anything out.
- During the Retreat from Moscow, Napoleon decided to burn his army's pontoon train because having to take those heavy wagons with it only slowed it down, the horses could be distributed to where they were needed more urgently and the weather had turned so cold that all rivers were covered in ice thick enough for armies to walk over. Shortly after that order was carried out, it became a bit warmer again and the ice on the Berezina river broke, rendering it impassable. And so the French pioneers had to wade into water that went up to their shoulders to build two bridges for the army, and most of them died from the exposure to the ice-cold water shortly after they finished their job.