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Got Volunteered
aka: Unwilling Volunteer
Who's "we"?

Helga: Someone needs to talk to that girl.
Mole: I will go!
Vinny: Someone with good people skills.
Mole: I will do it!
Sweet: Someone who won't scare her away.
Mole: I volunteer!
Wilhelmina: Someone who can speak the language.
Mole: For the good of the mission, I will go!
Rourke (to Milo, who hasn't been paying attention): Good man, Thatch. Thanks for volunteering.

A dirty job needs to get done. The boss is asking volunteers to step forward. No way are you going to get mixed up in a sticky situation like that. Your mama didn't raise no fool. Suddenly you are shoved forward by some of your "friends". The boss smiles. Wait- No! You just got volunteered!

There are lots of different versions of this:

  • As above, but your friends don't even bother pushing, they just say you volunteer.
  • The guy in charge picks people and simply calls you "volunteers."
  • The person who suggested the job in the first place is volunteered.
  • (Usually military) Everyone is lined up, and the leader/commander asks for volunteers to step forward — and promptly everybody except our protagonist steps backwards, making it look like the protagonist stepped forward.
  • The heroes are faced with the challenge. In unison, everyone turns to look at one person.
  • When one person is out of the room for some reason, the rest have a vote and elect the unlucky absentee to the post.
  • In a duo, one person asks the other to pick a number, and upon hearing their answer immediately declares them the loser.

However it happens, the Unwilling Volunteer agrees to do it anyways. Maybe because he's just too nice a guy to say no. Maybe he doesn't want to leave people in the lurch. Maybe he really doesn't want to cross the boss. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be labeled a coward.

Usually played as comedy, although occasionally it's played for drama.

Commonly volunteered in this way: Boxed Crooks, Condemned Contestant, The Bait, and Cincinnatus.

The opposite of Martyr Without a Cause. If it's the Call to Adventure, then the protagonist never got a chance at Refusal of the Call because other people accepted it for him.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Almost any anime with an Unwanted Harem is going to have the leading man be "volunteered" for an unwilling date.
    • Ai Yori Aoshi for example has this happen a few times- this is particularly galling as the leading man is secretly engaged to one of the girls- resulting in her having to smile as the other girls trick him into taking them out- making it a use of this trope for both comedic and dramatic purposes at the same time.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Haruhi populates her club with these. It's even Lampshaded as "voluntary arrest" is her term for kidnapping. Yuki, Mikuru, and Kyon all fit the bill.
    • The time travel plots start with the future automatically assuming that Kyon will help. Of course, they're from the future, so they know he will, but he still finds it annoying. Especially the one time it turned out that it was his own future self (albeit from only about a week ahead) who rudely involved him without giving him any instructions at all.
    • During the fight between the SOS Brigade and the Student Council, the Brigade is forced to act like a Literary Club and publish a newsletter. In addition to the brigade members, Haruhi also shanghais Taniguchi, Kunikida, the computer club, and a couple artists from the art and manga clubs to help. Well, and Tsuruya, but she actually genuinely volunteered.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Kaname volunteers Sousuke to take out the garbage as a way of getting back at Sousuke for shadowing her. The fact that no one else wants to do it helps as well.
    Confused and or scared Mook Who are you?
    Sousuke I take out the garbage.
  • This is how the main character of Alien Nine ended up with her job.
  • Matsuda is the go-to guy for this sort of thing in Death Note, from making coffee runs to being bait to halving his lifespan with an excellent chance of dying in two weeks. Much to Light's dismay, he's supplanted on that last. As long as he thinks he's being useful, he's a pretty good sport about it all.
  • This is how the Yes! Precure 5 team got formed; after Nozomi became Cure Dream, she dragged along the others, already deciding that they were to be Pretty Cure - despite the fact that Rin was scared witless of it all and Karen just didn't want any part of it! Nozomi's determined and it pays off!
  • In High School D×D, someone needs to be the partner for Asia in their three-legged race. Kiryuu Aika then tells Issei that he has a hole on his shirt in the armpit region. Seeing as Issei was still in deep thought, he nonchalantly raises his arm, finds that there's no hole and the realization hits him that he gets volunteered to be Asia's partner.
  • In Kokoro Connect, there's a scene in which Fujishima is asking for volunteers to pick up litter. Taichi is about to raise his hand when he and Inaba suddenly switch places, so it looks like she volunteered. Inaba (in Taichi's body) just narrowly avoids decking him before volunteering herself.
  • Bleach: An anime only Running Gag is that Yumichika is the only member of the 11th division command quartet who does any work, which Captain Zaraki views as time-wasting ("play first, work later" is his motto). As a result, Yumichika gets volunteered for things he doesn't want to do on the grounds that he has "too much time on his hands". At one point, even Urahara picks up on this and volunteers him to help members of the fourth and twelfth divisions (two divisions the eleventh division loathes being associated with) investigate arrancar activity in Karakura Town. This results in a Lethal Chef meets Carrying a Cake plotline to solve a ghost's Unfinished Business. Yumichika is not at all happy, especially since he lampshades a giant Plot Hole in the storyline right at the very end of the episode that could have spared him ever getting involved in the first place.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!: Durning Mahora Festival an off shot joke of Negi (disguised as Nagi) about joining a contest gets the attention of the "Make-People-Join-Event" Team, and Negi with Ako are 'encouraged' to participate.
  • For being the Only Sane Man in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Sorata often have this.
    • In Episode 2, after being fed up with Mashiro's antics, he proposed the entire Sakura Hall to take turns being her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Jin and Misaki just assigned that duty back to him like the tradition of this trope.
    • In Episode 9, Sorata was chosen as leader for the Sakura Hall's project come the school festival. Everyone else votes for him as well against his wishes.

    Comicbooks 

    Fanfiction 
  • In The Tainted Grimoire, Luso and Villi would unwittingly be roped in as dance partners for Kanin and Adelle when they get Cheney to teach them how to dance.
  • In A Brief History of Equestria, this was how Smart Cookie became Chancellor Puddinghead's Secretary: the Senate needed somepony to midigate Puddinghead's insane policies and reduce the damage, but none of them wanted to position. So they 'nominated' the Obnoxious and Disliked Smart Cookie (and nopony else) and proceeded to run the election over Cookie's vocal objections. According to an eye witness, she didn't take it well.
    • History repeated itself when she was elected Equestria's first Premier, even though she didn't want the job.
  • In the Ponies Of Olympus series, Rarity's former Old Master Lao Wu agrees to having her enter the Atlas Strongest Tournament to fight Scootaloo and prove that his training techniques are superior to Rainbow Dash's — without asking Rarity's permission first. Rainbow Dash has to talk her into it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dirty Dozen is a sterling example of this.
  • "That's why he's called Dirty Harry."
  • In the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is "volunteered" to approach the hippogriff as his classmates step backwards (although in the book he actually volunteers)
  • Speed: "Sir, Harry volunteers to examine the device."
  • In Reign of Fire, Van Zan does this to the members of Quinn's survivor group so that he would has enough of troops to siege the Dragon-occupied London.
  • Chief, from an early scene in The Wackiest Ship in the Army: "I need one volunteer." (Beat) "You." (grabs random sailor and orders him to climb the mast)
  • Inverted in The Last Chance Detectives video "Legend Of The Desert Bigfoot"; while contemplating on what to do in case the Bigfoot came by, Ben suggests that one of them stay behind to call for help. Mike then says that it's a great idea, then promptly assigns Spence to the duty of staying behind and calling for help, much to Ben's consternation. Made even funnier that the look that Winnie has on her face after that clearly reads 'Nice try, Ben'.
  • Star Trek: Generations.
    Chekhov: You, and you. You just became nurses.
  • Played for drama in Sunshine: Mace blames Capa for the ship's solar panels being damaged (because he cast the deciding vote that sent them off course), and so "volunteers" him to go outside and help the captain fix them.
  • Rat Race ended with this trope, portrayed as comeuppance.
  • Mystery Team. Apparently the task of sticking one's hand in a filthy toilet inside a gentleman's club restroom is a job for the Boy Genius.
  • The Wrong Box - in the aftermath of a train wreck, a military man takes charge in the chaos - "All right, I want three volunteers - you, you, and you!"
  • Inverted in PearlHarbor, when Doolittle explains the Raid won't do much but be a "pin prick." All'' the preselected volunteers step forward.
  • A Laurel and Hardy short has Ollie facing off with a big bruiser and challenging him to a boxing match - that Stanley is going to fight.

    Literature 
  • Simon of Cyrene in The Bible, making this Older Than Feudalism.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, the narrator notes that he never got actually asked if he volunteered.
  • Used unusually in The Book Thief. The commander asked for one man who would stay out of battle that day. Nobody can volunteer without being branded a coward, but if you Got Volunteered... (and Hans Hubermann does).
  • Discworld's Nobby Nobbs has such an intense fear of this, he once jumped out of a second story window, when the nobles attempted to "volunteer" him to be the ruler of Ankh-Morpork. This is reinforced by the fact that the only 'logical' outcome he sees is that Commander Vimes will, in Nobby's words, "go spare" and behead him for becoming a king (Vimes's ancestor being a notorious regicide).
    • This has happened so often to Rincewind that in The Last Hero he volunteers ("I do not wish to volunteer", followed shortly after by "I'm volunteering. I just don't wish to.") just to get it over with.
    • Inverted in Pyramids when the handmaiden Ptraci refuses to drink poison so she can be interred with the recently deceased king of Djellibebi. ("It's voluntary, isn't it?" "Well, yes... but she won't do it!")
    • Played with in Jingo when Vimes asks Sergeant Detritus to find volunteers; Vimes is looking for genuine volunteers, but Sergeant Detritus promptly volunteers everyone. ("'sright, sir. They volunteered all right, I saw to that.")
      • Also in Jingo, Nobby and Colon are volunteered by Leonard of Quirm for the submarine (or rather Going Under the Water Safely Device) mission to Leshp. They try to run away, but Vetinari puts a stop to that.
  • In For the Emperor, after a riot gone bad, some soldiers under Cain's command are sentenced to death by "volunteering on the next suicide mission". Cain is satisfied with this judgment (he had maneuvered to avoid an execution that would be disastrous for morale) until he's himself required on a very dangerous mission, meaning he has to take them along instead of more reliable soldiers.
  • Happens in the novel ''A Ship of the Line''. As his ship was undercrewed, Hornblower had exempted sailors from the merchant convoy he was escorting press-ganged in his crew. When the captains of the convoy protested he said his sailors had misunderstood his orders and that he had sent them to search for volunteers, and that he'd check who was a volunteer and who was pressed... And as soon as the convoy captains return to their ships, he sends the signal "All volunteers".
  • A Running Gag in the Aunt Dimity series in reference to Finch's organizer Peggy Taxman (formerly Kitchen), as well as her Colorado counterpart Maggie Flaxman; fall afoul of her and you're likely to find yourself volunteered for one of the dirty or boring jobs at the next local festival. Try to get out of one assignment (as Bill did in Aunt Dimity Digs In), and her alternative "suggestion" won't be much better.
  • In "The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank", Erma Bombeck writes about how she went to the ladies' room during a Girl Scout leaders meeting. When she got back, she found she'd been volunteered to be in charge of the cookie sale. It didn't turn out well...
  • In Animorphs this is how Jake became leader of the team.
  • Subverted in The War Against the Chtorr series. Duke Anderson tells the protagonist Jim McCarthy he does have the option of refusing to go on a dangerous mission, but then he'll be on the first chopper out of here because a soldier who won't take risks is useless to him. It's also made clear there are legal precedents involving the use of soldiers on dangerous missions; if a soldier isn't being properly supported, for instance, he can refuse to obey any further orders.
  • In the Novelization Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan asks the rest of the Jedi Council who will lead the hunt for General Grievous. Everyone else looks straight at him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers sort of subverts this. Maj. Winters asks for volunteers to check out a suspicious house in the forest; although he does "volunteer" two guys, Blithe does volunteer by his own volition, which is even more awesome as he had a nervous breakdown a few scenes before.
    • One could also interpret Blithe's state of mind at that point to be in permanent Got Volunteered. He does not want to be in the war but he does not have a choice. Winters might have asked for volunteers but The War has already volunteered Blithe for the patrol.
    • This is also true of a lot of the men in Easy Company, revealed in the book: they knew the war was coming, they knew they couldn't dodge the draft, and they volunteered for the paratroopers because they were the elite and got paid extra. So essentially, they knew they were about to get volunteered for the war one way or the other, and then volunteered because they wanted to be the best of the best (and be surrounded by compatriots who are the best of the best) to increase their chances of survival. And get some extra cash in the process.
  • Neds Declassified School Survival Guide had an episode called "Guide to Volunteering", in which no voluntary volunteering took place, just school-required community service.
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "Edwina", one nurse was so clumsy that all of the men were afraid to go out with her. The other nurses got together and refused to go out with any of the men unless one of them agreed to go on a date with her. The men drew straws and Hawkeye was chosen to "volunteer" for the job.
  • On an episode of Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold gets a letter saying he's been drafted (he's around 10-12 at the time). He later has a dream where he's in the army and the commanding general (Dad) asks for a volunteer for a suicide mission. The other soldiers do the "everyone step backward" routine.
  • In Monk, this has happened:
    • The second variant happens in "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage" when Randy is selecting volunteers for a Police Lineup.
    • Another variant happens in "Mr. Monk and the Magician." Monk's claustrophobia prevents him from getting into Torini's Zig-Zag Cabinet to find evidence of drug trafficking. Natalie stands up to volunteer, but Torini immediately picks Monk, who is still sitting down.
  • Yet another variation: on LOST, Hurley is looking for someone to help him jump-start the Dharma van. Everyone else walks away, except Jin, who doesn't speak English and has no idea what he just "volunteered" to do. Hurley cheerfully acknowledges this fact.
  • Happened all the time to Oliver on Green Acres. Typical plot: The town's residents would come up with a Zany Scheme, Oliver would rise to protest and get cut off as everybody thanks him for volunteering to lead the scheme.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko, O'Brien, Bashir, and Worf's son Alexander are taking part in the Road to Kal'Hyah, the Klingon bachelor party equivalent. When told about the ritual shedding of blood, Worf asks for volunteers. Collectively, Sisko, O'Brien, and Alexander look to each other and step back, leaving Bashir to go first.
    Worf: I did not expect you to be the first, Doctor.
    Bashir: *looks at others* Neither did I.
    • Bashir's recruitment into Secion 31 counts, as Sloan doesn't take "no" for an answer.
    • One episode of Star Trek: Voyager has Tom sound enthusiastic to volunteer for a silly assignment, only to volunteer his best friend Harry for the job. Harry manages to get him back by volunteering Tom for an even more ridiculous and embarrassing assignment later on.
    • In another episode, Tom acquires a slightly used shuttle and volunteers Harry to help him restore it.
    • In yet another episode, Tom needs someone to play Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People in his ''Captain Proton'' holoprogram. Numerous eyes turn to Seven of Nine, but Tom's already decided that Captain Janeway would be a more suitable choice. She is not amused.
  • Mythbusters Build Team method of choosing a volunteer, Ro-Sham-Bo, generally ends with Tory having two fingers pointed at him.
    • Another method used is for the other two members to say "not it!" before the third even finished explaining the myth.
    • Before blowing up their cement truck, Adam and Jamie wanted to see just how bad the job of removing cement with a jackhammer would be, and volunteered Tory for the task.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer Halloween Episode, principal Snyder "volunteers" students to escort trick-or-treaters.
    Xander: Note his interesting take on the word "volunteer".
  • On Drop the Dead Donkey, in the season 2 episode "Baseball", Gus has to volunteer staff members, including Dave, Damien and George to play in a corporate game of baseball. Alex is offended when she isn't volunteered, being a woman.
  • In Veronica Mars, Logan volunteers his father to donate money to a soup kitchen. He does so publicly enough and with grand enough reception that his father can't back out without looking like an ass. However, behind closed doors Aaron brutally beats Logan in response.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie gets third-party-volunteered so often that the things he's volunteered for are called "Charlie Work" by the other characters. They call it that to the character's face and he still does it.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer mentions that Lister once put his name on the waiting list for experimental piles surgery.
    • In another episode, they stumble upon their personnel files. Rimmer's says "There's a saying amongst the officers: if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. If it's not worth doing, give it to Rimmer'".
  • Clifford ended up as the host of Muppets Tonight because he was on the phone when Kermit asked for a volunteer, causing him to miss the cue everyone else used to flee the conference room.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • "The Frogs and the Lobster": The British Army troops lead by Major Edrington are supposed to collaborate with the French royalist troops in France. Captain Pellew thinks they might need someone who would reduce the tension between the two camps, and he suggests his favourite pet of a lieutenant, the up-and-coming Horatio in front of everybody. Now, Horatio really cannot say no to his captain, can he?
    • "Retribution": Acting Captain Buckland needs a volunteer to blow up a Spanish fort. It's a bit of Suicide Mission and not of vital importance, and everybody suspects Buckland tries to pull off The Uriah Gambit. Buckland doesn't name Horatio aloud, but his look says it all and Horatio complies. After he got volunteered, Lieutenants Kennedy and Bush try to offer themselves to help Horatio, and do all they can to abort the mission, but Buckland refuses.
  • Copper has a dark version of this. After the New York Draft Riots, the Union Army has to once again rely on recruiting volunteers and there are very few of those left in New York City. Desperate, they subcontract the recruiting to civilians and look the other way when the 'volunteer' does so against his will. Once the victim signs the recruitment papers, any protestations that he was kidnapped fall on deaf ears. Corcoran finds the practice deplorable and when he catches the mastermind of the scheme, he shows Cruel Mercy by 'volunteering' the man for the army at gunpoint.
  • Danger: UXB begins with the newly-commissioned protagonist being assigned to a bomb disposal unit, much to his shock. There's a cold pragmatism involved given the High Turnover Rate of such a job; an Ensign Newbie promoted up from the ranks is more expendable than a Sandhurst-educated officer who might feel it's his duty to volunteer.
  • On OrangeIsTheNewBlack, Piper "wins" Healy's vote for the white representative on the WAC board, despite that she didn't enter the election and specifically told Healy that she didn't want the position.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Hägar the Horrible strip. "I have good news and bad news! The good news: I just want volunteers for this mission! The bad news: I need four volunteers." (There are just four guys.)
  • Beetle Bailey, being military comedy that's gone on for ages, naturally does this a lot of times, usually done by Sarge and aimed at Beetle.
    • In the cartoon Cosmo's Naught: Volunteers have to walk the distance of 50 miles. Beetle Bailey, Zero and Cosmo complain how ill they are until Sarge tell them to shut up and that if anyone of the soldiers need to see the doctor they should go. Everyone except Beetle Bailey, Zero and Cosmo immediately run away leaving the three back as the volunteers.
    • "I need three volunteers: You, you and you."
    • Sarge asks for anyone volunteering to raise his hand — knowing that Beetle's arm is in a cast so he can't put it down.
    • Sarge asks which of the soldiers have had college education, then tells them (Beetle and Plato) to follow him, and leads them to work in the kitchen.
    • Once Sarge simply raises Beetle's hand for him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia encourages PCs to throw their underlings under the bus this way, while pretending that you're doing them a favor ("Suck-R, go disarm that berserk scrubot, you'll probably get a commendation for it"). If the underling seems devious enough to actually pull it off, then you may need to pile on some complications ("oh, but leave your toolkit here, we wouldn't want it to get damaged").
    • And then there are the Mandatory Bonus Duties.
  • The Flavor Text of the Magic: The Gathering card "Goblin Hero" reads: "To be a hero, you don't have to step forward. Everyone else just has to step back."

    Theatre 

    Videogames 
  • One dialogue option in the opening of Mass Effect 2 is Shepard asking the Illusive man if s/he's volunteering or being volunteered. The Illusive Man tells him/her s/he can walk away, but to check out Freedom's Progress first. Shepard wants to take out the Reaper threat too much and no one else is willing to believe and help him/her, so this is more of a case of The Illusive Man knowing Shepard won't not jump at the chance.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard gets volunteered by Anderson at the beginning to seek help from the Council, promptly reinstating their commission and then ordering him/her to after Shepard points out they technically don't answer to him anymore. After Shepard convinces the various planetary leaders to attend a peace summit, Hackett makes Shepard humanity's representative, despite their protests they're just a soldier and not a diplomat.
  • If you pick Morrigan for Combat by Champion against Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins.
    Morrigan: Oh, I shall, shall I? Tis so kind of you to volunteer me.
  • During a mission briefing in Wing Commander, Spirit volunteers herself and Maverick for a mission.
  • While you were out adventuring in the Kingdom of Loathing, your guild had a meeting, and decided that Gorgolok/Stella/Spaghetti Elemental/Lumpy/Spirit of New Wave/Lopez is your Nemesis, so you Got Volunteered for the single longest spanning quest in the game.
    • In an interesting twist, you do have a chance to refuse the call. It's an optional quest, in that you don't need to complete it to finish the game, so you can completely ignore it without affecting the storyline of the game.
  • The story to Magi-Nation kicks off when protagonist Foney BonesTony Jones gets 'volunteered' to go spelunking for a cave treasure, by two guys who tried and failed to foist the task upon one of their younger brothers.
  • In Fallout 1, one of the premade player characters has as his back story that he was simply the only one dumb enough to leave the vault (the other two characters were ones who Jumped at the Call).
  • In Portal 2's companion material, protagonist Chell originally wasn't even intended to be a test subject due to her psychological profile indicating near-pathological tenacity, but a paranoid-schizophrenic researcher who survived GLaDOS' purge altered her records to get her into the testing program. The rest is history.
    • Wheatley's done this too. In the final battle, he boasts that Chell isn't the first test subject he broke out of Cryo-Sleep and sent off to get a portal gun. Just the first to survive. There's a chance he's lying given the circumstances, though.
  • In Quest for Glory I, none of the fairies want to give the hero any fairy dust, so they make a fairy named Mikey do it.
  • A lot of the Soviet soldiers sent to One Million BC in the game Original War are implied to be this. Maybe all: the fact that it is a one way trip only makes this very likely.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Luigi gets drafted into the adventure by Bowser, who takes sending Mario off for volunteering.
  • Naegi and then Hinata in the Danganronpa games get saddled with this a lot.
  • During the D-District Prison sequence in Final Fantasy VIII, one of the team has to stay behind to operate the lift that will take the rest of the team to the ground floor of the prison. Quistis and Selphie, by mutual silent agreement, promptly volunteer a dismayed Zell for the job.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
    • The Volunteer is a psionic trooper you pick to lead a very crucial and dangerous mission aboard the alien Temple Ship. Despite the title, you have to choose a soldier yourself from the ones you have. Fridge Awesome when you realise this implies that every single one of your soldiers volunteered for the duty, so it's up to you, the commander, to break the deadlock and make the final decision.
    • In the Enemy Within expansion, the soldiers you nominate to undergo the gene therapy in order to become Super Soldiers, and those who are cybernetically augmented in order to pilot the MEC Troopers, are also referred to as "volunteers".

    Webcomics 
  • Robin in Books Don't Work Here gets "volunteered" in the first page and has yet to be given the chance to back out.
  • Susan and Nanase from El Goonish Shive (especially Susan) during their trip to Paris to kill an aberration.
    • In one of the greatest What the Hell, Hero? moments in history, they got two teenagers to kill someone when it would be easier and faster for them to go to the authorities, more reliable and wouldn't have put two girls in the first year of high school in mortal danger. To summarize how much of a jackass the Immortals where being, see here
  • Pato, from M9 Girls!, gets shoved to the front of the line for radiation treatment, despite being the most skeptical about it.
  • In Wapsi Square, Bud got volunteered to recover an artifact from Ireland.
  • When Spoorflix ask Vexxarr why he thinks Spoorflix's people didn't expect him to succeed, he responds with "Let's say I know a thing or two about being volunteered for one-way missions."
  • In this strip of Schlock Mercenary, company lawyer Massey Reynstein demonstrates a knowledge of how to tackle the financial end of a mission, and is promptly volunteered to take care of it since everyone else in the company prefers a more brute-force approach.
  • In Red String, Miharu's cousin Karen volunteers Miharu to help at the family restaurant, causing Miharu to miss a date.

    Web Originals 
  • In Thalia's Musings, this happens to Apollo when he tries to get Thalia out of watching eternal adolescent Eros for the day. (She owed Hephaestus a favor.) Hephaestus thinks Apollo is volunteering to help. Apollo is too nice to refuse.
  • Zack is only involved with Tom's show. because the camera equipment belongs to his father and Zack's dad made Tom let him tag along, and Tom put him to work.
  • Done several times in AH.com: The Series, usually with perennial Butt Monkeys Luakel or Michael as the "volunteer".
  • In the opening episode of Dragon Ball Abridged's second season, fourth wall destroying Humanoid Abomination Mr. Popo abruptly shows up to talk to the heroes and announce that he knows the location of a spaceship that will enable them begin a journey to bring their friends Back from the Dead, and will bring one of them to the ship and show them how to work it. Since he's, well, Mr. Popo, nobody is volunteering to go with him. Bulma says they should vote on who goes to be fair, and everyone immediately votes for Bulma. She is not pleased by this turn of events.

    Western Animation 
  • This is how Robert Freeman ended up as one of the freedom fighters in the '60s in The Boondocks.
  • In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", the Yaksmen chief gives an enthusiastic Rousing Speech in order to get volunteers for their latest dangerous mission. Stimpy is filled with such patriotic fervor that he not only volunteers himself, but Ren, who wanted no part of it.
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant happened in Cars when Sheriff asks for volunteers to be McQueen's attorney. Mater, the one left out, gladly accepts.
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant also happened in the cartoon Northwest Hounded Police where every member of the mounted police stand back, except for Sgt. McPoodle, alias Droopy, who then has to go capture the villain.
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant was used in a Heckle And Jeckle cartoon, featuring the two birds as Canadian mounties.
  • The Elephants in Disney's The Jungle Book try the "step backwards" method, but they all end up volunteered.
  • Saw the "step backwards" method used and played with in one Popeye cartoon. And used in one Tom and Jerry, where Spike is a kind of drill sargeant for poor Tom.
  • Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Dwarfs need someone to go upstairs and check for intruders. They all turn to Dopey, who looks over his shoulder before realizing he's the one being volunteered.
  • Mulan features the "stepping back" variant when Yao gets "volunteered" to retrieve the arrow shot into the top of the post by Shang — though this one may have had something to do with Shang nocking the arrow as he called Yao's name. When the guy in charge points an arrow in your general direction, it's generally a good idea to try and remove yourself from the field of fire.
  • The other ponies do this to Minty in A Charming Birthday.
  • In one episode of The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3, King Koopa has already decided which Koopalings will take part in his latest scheme, and orders them to step forward. What happens is that the rest of the Koopalings step back, while the 'volunteers' remain perfectly still.
  • In The Simpsons episode "New Kids on the Blecch", *NSYNC shipped JC off to the navy without his knowledge.
  • When the South Park kids are desperately trying to find a TV in town they can watch, Cartman tries to get a bar to let them stay with "Butters will give handjobs in the corner for a dollar!" Earlier in the same episode, Butters was volunteered to go to the store for tampons and risk missing the trailer, the excuse being a game called "if your name is Butters you have to go."
    • In another episode, Cartman volunteers Butters as a sacrifice to NAMBLA so the other boys can escape.(This sort of thing happens to Butters on a fairly regular basis.)
  • On Ed, Edd n Eddy, the Eds need to dig something up from underneath the Kanker's trailer. Edd and Eddy take one look at how disgusting it is before deciding to make Ed dig.
  • The "stepping back" variant was used in an episode of Histeria!, with Loud as the "volunteer".
  • Happens in an episode of The New Scooby Doo Movies featuring the Harlem Globetrotters. Whenever an unpleasant task needs to be done, Meadowlark Lemon would trick bald Curly Neal into making an implicating gesture, such as asking if he would like to go ("Who, me?"), or asking if he had grown hair (Raises hand to feel head).
    "You're a natural-born hero."
    "I'm a natural-born sucker!"
  • In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, after Tohru is picked as The Chosen One, the monks state that a great warrior will come forward to protect him until he is awakened. Jade and Uncle push Jackie forward.
  • In Total Drama World Tour, Team Victory does this to DJ for a very unpleasant pinball challenge.
    • Later, Courtney, Heather, and Sierra do this to Gwen, and Owen and Noah do this to Tyler to have them strip down guards.
    • Gwen and Courtney then do this Heather for the torture rack challenge.
  • In the episode "When Aliens Attack" in Futurama, aliens invade Earth, so Bender and all other robots have their patriotism chip activated so that he will be forced to join the army and carry out any order that was given to him.
    *Zapp Branigan presses a button on a remote and activates Bender's patriotism chip*
    Bender: SIR! I VOLUNTEER MYSELF FOR A SUICIDE MISSION, SIR aww crap.
  • Casper Scare School uses the "everyone else steps back" variant in the episode Monster Movie. When Casper needs a volunteer to do the behind the scenes work for his movie (and thus can't get a role), everyone but Quasi (who is busy reading a dictionary) steps back.
  • Roman sycopant Lucullus walks into it in Astérix Conquers America when he asks Who Would Be Stupid Enough to throw Getafix off the edge of the world.
    Caesar: (chuckling) I can think of someone who was made for the task... (Serious) You, Lucullus, you'll do it.
    Lucullus: B-b-b-buh...
    Caesar: You'll do it. And I won't take "No" for an answer! All I can say is, Thank Heaven the world is flat.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "The Spy Who Didn't Love Me", Dodgers gets teleported onto a planet and right in front of a group of resistance just as they were asking for a volunteer for a dangerous mission.
    Dodgers: Why is everyone cheering?
    Yoshimi: You just volunteered for a suicide mission.
    Dodgers: ....Oh.
  • The following exchange in the Family Guy episode "Joe's Revenge":
    Peter: Quagmire and I'll help you bring this guy to justice!
    Quagmire: Peter, what'd I say about you volunteering me for shit?
  • Regular Show, "The Last Laserdisc Player": In their pre-fight speech, the Guardians of Obsolete Formats essentially do this by declaring that Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man and High-Five Ghost would rather die than give up the last laserdisc without even asking for their input.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy needs to make a Fantastic Voyage into one of his friends to retrieve an antidote that will cure a virus that is making him and his classmates sick. Sheen raises his hand while saying, "I volunteer...Carl to be the person we go inside."
  • In The Swan Princess, Odette needs all three of her animal friends to help her steal a map from Rothbart's castle. Jean-Bob the frog is a Cowardly Sidekick who doesn't want to, so Odette says "Our team is shy one green web-footed volunteer!" and Speed steps on his foot so he can't get away.

    Real Life 
  • Fun Fact: in Dutch there is an expression for this concept: Chinese Volunteer.
    • This Flemish-Dutch expression dates back to the Korean War, where Chinese citizens were forced to fight for the North-Korean side, while still being referred to as volunteers.
  • "being volun-told" is common in the US military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canadians in civilian life.
  • The US military has a number of sayings for this trope:
    • "Never be first, never be last, and never, ever volunteer for anything."
    • "God hates volunteers."
    • "What does 'NAVY' stand for in the US? Never Again Volunteer Yourself."
  • "Mandatory Fun", an ostensibly voluntary morale-boosting event (an athletic competition, military ball, or other non-duty social event) that everyone is required to attend (whether officially required or merely very heavily encouraged to attend). It hasn't been unheard of for attendence to be optional, but for all non-attendees to be required to perform some particularly unpleasant or monotonous duty as an alternative. Bonus points if the attendees have to pay out of pocket to attend said event.
  • In the Soviet Union, there was a saying, "Collectivization is a voluntary affair" (original full version: "collectivization is a voluntary affair, choose to opt in or get shot"), which was in essence used as a trope name back before anyone had ever heard of tropes. In fact, so many assignments that were de jure voluntary were de facto obligatory, to the point of inspiring tongue-in-cheek oxymoronic terms like "voluntary obligation".
  • In the Cadet Corps, a call for volunteers means everyone has to raise their hands. The "volunteers" are consequently picked at random (that or they're the last ones to raise their hands).
  • George Washington wrote letters to his wife talking about how he didn't want to lead the Continental Army and how he felt completely inadequate to the task. This was a justified trope back then because no one would pick the person that volunteered so he would show up at meetings in full uniform as a way of suggesting it.
  • Twins Henrik and Joel Lundqvist played ice hockey together as kids. One day, Joel volunteered his brother to play goalie in a pickup game. Henrik is now one of the best goaltenders in the game.
  • This happened to Russian now-writer-then-journalist Vera Kamsha. She made friends with an already famous fantasy writer Nick Perumov, and he kept pushing her to writing fantasy herself. She wrote a book intended as a parody containing all of the most popular fantasy tropes, just so he would see she's not a writer, and sent it to him. Cue phone call from a publisher asking when the sequel would be ready - Perumov sent her book to the publisher and said there would be a sequel. Of course she felt the obligation to write the book and ended up, if many critics are to be believed, as Russian George R. R. Martin. (oh, and the first book, compared to the later ones, was truly horrible... but still better then most of the market. That's talent for you)
  • The term used in some circles is the "Designated Volunteer."
  • So called "Welfare for Work" policies essentially force a person to 'volunteer' for jobs that the groups involved couldn't afford someone to pay. If the 'volunteer' is lucky, they might get a small bonus on their welfare payment.

Grudging Thank YouA Reluctant IndexI Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship
Goggles Do Something UnusualAction Adventure TropesGovernment Agency of Fiction
Refusal of the CallCall to AdventureWe Are Not Going Through That Again
Gossip EvolutionNarrative DevicesGrail in the Garbage
Going Down with the ShipMilitary and Warfare TropesGovernment in Exile
Go-Go EnslavementA Slave to the IndexHappiness in Slavery
Driver Faces PassengerImageSource/Comic BooksComic Books
Goofy SuitComedy TropesGo Ye Heroes, Go and Die

alternative title(s): Voluntold; Lets Get Mikey; Unwilling Volunteer
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