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I Choose to Stay
"There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there."

At the end of a story about a character being immersed in a new world which they absolutely hate, whether they're trapped in the wrong body, warped to another time or dimension, or forced to move in with their in-laws, there is often a scene at the very end where it's all over and now they get to go back to their old, beloved lifestyle.

But... wait! What's this? The new environment has apparently grown on the character so much, that they don't want to go back? They choose to stay in their new environment and live happily ever after? Awwwwwwww. How touching.

It can also be a consequence of Heroic Resolve. The hero may have a conflicting choice: yes, he can leave the war and go home, but if he does so, the war will continue and his friends will be killed or enslaved. The hero is the Big Good, perhaps even The Chosen One, and with this role Comes Great Responsibility. By choosing to stay and rejecting the chance to leave, the hero proves that he is not the victim of Deus Angst Machina, but that he willingly accepts the harsh conditions on behalf of the others... the basic definition of heroism.

The opposite of But Now I Must Go. Often a result of Becoming the Mask. See also Going Native, Home Sweet Home, and Send Me Back. Compare Stay with the Aliens and Can't Stay Normal. Often encouraged by a Fantastic Romance.

SPOILERS GALORE.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In a Tear Jerking example, Komugi of Hunter × Hunter decided to stay by Meruem's side until his death, despite knowing doing so would infect her with the toxin killing him and lead to her death as well. They pass away, Together in Death.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa, Edward and Alphonse Elric decide to stay at the other side of the gate, in what's pretty much our world, so that they can close the gate and stop more people crossing over to Amestris.
  • Rock, from Black Lagoon. He chose to stay with the Lagoon Company, the same pirates who kidnapped him after he learned that he was going to be terminated by his company.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms has Youko decide to stay in the Twelve Kingdoms after finding out how much chaos would be created by her leaving. The fact that she would die within a few years if she left was also a minor consideration.
  • Now and Then, Here and There ends up with the pregnant heroine Sara sticking around to make the future world a bit less crapsack.
  • The heroine of From Far Away stays in the fantasy world she was sucked into, for love of course. She's still able to contact her family via her journals and her and Izark are still trying to come up with a way for them to travel back and forth between the two worlds.
  • A similar ending in Ouran High School Host Club, where Haruhi, who has been trying since episode one to get the heck out of the Host Club realizes that she actually likes it. There are many mini-plotlines (Zuka comes to mind) that are similar.
  • Tsukihime has this in spades with Shiki, who is flat-out told by Arcueid multiple times that he doesn't have to help her hunt Dead Apostles anymore. Regardless, Shiki just keeps finding new reasons to stay.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Misawa apparently stayed behind in the other dimension at the end of Season 3, apparently to live with his "wife", Taniya and because he felt he could be of more use there than back on Earth, where he would always be outshone in dueling by Judai, Manjoume, Edo, and Hell Kaiser.
  • At the end of the first arc of Zero no Tsukaima, Saito goes to battle for Louise instead of flying into an eclipse and returning to his own world.
  • Maze decides not to return to her home world after defeating the Big Bad of her series.
  • Red River's Yuri gives up her last chance to go home in order to save Kail.
  • The Digidestined nearly do this at the end of Digimon Adventure not wanting to be separated from their Digimon but are ultimately convinced to go back. Luckily the separation doesn't last long.
    • Played straight in Digimon Savers: Marcus/Masaru stays behind in the Digital world with Agumon, even after the gate gets closed, presumably forever.
  • Rumiko Takahashi seems to love this trope.
    • Her first published work: Fire Tripper, a story about a time traveling girl, who finds love in the feudal age, and decides to stay in the past with her new found boyfriend (really a boy from her original time she used to babysit).
    • Her longest work so far, InuYasha: a story about a time traveling girl, who finds love in the feudal age, and decides eventually to stay in the past with her new found boyfriend (really a half demon with a really long story). The difference in length between the two works? 557 Chapters.
  • Holo from Wolf And Spice choose to stay with Lawrence at the end of episode 6, even though she can just downright ditch him. Her excuse is "being indebted to Lawrence".
  • In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon is given the opportunity to leave the SOS Brigade and Haruhi's fantastic world of aliens, time travelers, and espers, both of which he's complained about for the entirety of the series up to this point, behind him, and start a new life. The offer comes complete with new friends to make and even a potential love interest, but in one of the most moving inner monologues in the series, he decides that he can't leave that world behind, even going so far as to say he'd have to be an idiot to walk away from it all.
    Kyon's Mind: I'll ask one last time. Answer clearly. Don't I find being with Haruhi, and being dragged into Haruhi's troubles fun? Answer me!
    Kyon: Of course I do! Of course it was fun! Don't ask me something so obvious!
  • In Eureka Seven episode 47, Eureka said this to Renton when they hugged each other. In the final episode, what she said came true as half of the Coralians left except her. Making her the known Last of Her Kind. In the movie version, she also made the same choice despite knowing life would be harsh because she can get to be with her lover Renton. Can't say the same for the manga and novel ending though.
    • Same can be said for Renton when he can just leave Gekko after episode 26 but he choose to stay for Eureka's sake. Holland even gave everyone on board the Gekko the chance to leave while they still can in episode 33, but no one did anyway.
  • In the epilogue of Angel Beats!, Otonashi choose to stay back in the afterlife to aid others to pass on even though he has no more regrets left and can leave anytime. It's hinted that he does pass on eventually, though.
  • Brock pulls this at the beginning of the Orange Islands arc of Pokémon, deciding to stay with Professor Ivy to help in her research. He rejoins Ash and Misty in the following season, refusing to give a reason why he left her, other then "don't mention that name".
  • Subverted with Vivi in One Piece. She joined the Straw Hats to help save her country and grew very close to them. When the Straw Hats invited her to stay with them as they were fleeing Alabasta from the marines, she nearly considered it and it looked like she was going to join them. Instead, she tearfully told the Straw Hats that she decided to stay and help rebuild her country.
  • It's heavily implied that this is what ancient heroine Adel from Dog Days did. It's a likely ending for the protagonist, as well, given what a Sugar Bowl Flonyard is, how it allows him to engage in athletics in ways that Earth can't, how he has a girlfriend of sorts there, and how well he fits in with the citizens of Biscotti. And his cousin and his friend from Earth are also both too right to Flonyard, so the same applies to them.
  • Ai no Kusabi ends with a very touching, albeit tragic, version of this.
  • At one point in Sword Art Online, Kirito decides to give up and tries to convince his wife Asuna that they should just live the rest of their lives in the video game instead of trying to beat it and escape. Asuna quickly points out that is not an option because they would be leaving everybody else trapped as well, and their real world bodies on life support will eventually die, plus she wants to be with him in the real world. Kirito regains his resolve and they continue on the quest to beat the game.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Amulet in that when the heroine announces that she must stay in the fantasy world, her mother declares that in that case, the whole family will too.
  • In Transformers: Shattered Glass, Cliffjumper from Transformers Generation One finds himself in a Mirror Universe where the Autobots are evil, the Decepticons are good, etc. He joins the Decepticons to fight the good fight. When he is offered a chance to return to his own universe, he declines, at least until the evil Optimus Prime is finally defeated.
  • Luke Cage, during Civil War. He told his wife to leave the country with their son, but he stayed. There is a war, and he must fight it.
    • Captain America had a similar offer by Cable, who proposed him political asylum in providence. Captain America rejected it.

    Fan Fic 
  • Quite common in the Harry Potter fandom:
    • A particularly common variant has two characters get accidentally "bonded" (in Fanon, a magical marriage in which the two parties are connected in body and mind, usually having to live together and spend a considerable amount of time together). The characters in question usually hate each other initially, but as they are forced to be together they become friends and gradually fall in love with each other. When someone finally figures out how to end the bond, one of the following things usually happens: Either they have already figured out that they are in love and they choose to stay bonded, or they are in denial, end the bond, realise that they miss each other and re-bond.
    • In Harry Potter and the Mists of Avalon, Harry is turned into a girl by a potion gone wrong. Much later, an antidote to the potion is developed, but by then she has spent so much time as a girl that she chooses not to change back.
  • Similarly in the Star Trek fandom. Whoops, Author Avatar accidentally bonded with Spock! Can't go find a Vulcan Mind Healer now, we're in the middle of a mission! By the time they do get to one, Spock has fallen in love and they all live happily ever after. Awww.
  • Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate ends this way, with Dominic/Nickel Steel deciding to stay in Ponyville.
  • In a roundabout way this happens in White Devil of the Moon. Of the four Inner Senshi only Ami chooses to go to Mid-Childa and continue to study magic and the Moon Kingdom, while the others resume normal lives on Earth.
  • A very common aspect of the Human-In-Equestria genre of pony fanfiction. Sometimes, we see this happen with Pony-On-Earth too.

    Film 
  • A strange version of this in the Star Trek reboot movie. After the demise of Vulcan, Spock is ready to leave Starfleet and help with reestablishing a new Vulcan society. After some words with a very wise old man, Spock reconsiders, remains in Starfleet, reclaiming his place as First Officer of the Enterprise.
  • The movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur is offered the opportunity to return to a recreation of his home on Earth, exactly (well, without the imminent demolition by Prosser) like he left it. He chooses to stay with Ford, Zaphod and Trillian and continue exploring the galaxy.
  • Disney likes this trope a lot. It's played painfully straight in Brother Bear. When Kenai chooses to become a bear again, it is the least he can do for Koda after all he has done to him. It's repeated in the sequel!
    • Also in Enchanted.
    • And Cars.
    • And in The Cat From Outer Space.
    • And Atlantis: The Lost Empire
    • And Hercules. This one's a bit different, though—technically, Herc had been living as a mortal most of his life, and living as a god would be the "different" bit for him. Not only does he get to keep the girl, he gets to keep the mortal parents he grew up with—who, if the "Zero to Hero" number is any indication, he has been extremely good to with his fame and wealth. (And Zeus can always keep in touch via giant moving statues, anyway.)
      • Also, if we have the myth as reference, then it means he will become a god once he dies.
    • And in Tarzan. Not only does Tarzan turn down a chance return to human civilization, Jane and her father make a last-minute decision to stay in the jungle with Tarzan.
  • Stargate ends with Daniel Jackson choosing to stay on Abydos. This example's a bit different in that Daniel's life back on Earth was fairly crappy — he was the laughingstock of the archaeological community, he'd just been evicted from his apartment and was carrying everything he owned in two suitcases — while on Abydos he was considered a hero and married to the Abydonian leader's daughter. Too bad for him it didn't stick...
  • The 2007 Transformers movie has the Autobots staying on Earth. Not that they really had anywhere else to go in that particular continuity.
  • Hot Fuzz ends with Nicolas staying in Sanford.
  • Happens at the end of the 2002 film adaptation of The Time Machine. This is partly because he's lost everything he values in his original time, and partly because he had to blow up the Time Machine to destroy the Morlocks.
    • However, the act of blowing up the time machine instead of using it to escape himself qualifies as this trope.
  • Ben Affleck's character in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl. For that matter, Dante in Clerks II.
  • Chico decides to stay in the village at the end of The Magnificent Seven.
  • In the Masters of the Universe, the Earth sheriff that had been somewhat of an Inspector Javert distinguishes himself in the final battle with Skeletor's forces. He decides to stay on Eternia where he's a hero.
  • In Tropic Thunder, Tugg Speedman decides to stay behind the village, believing he can become an adoptive father to a local child. Turns out the child happens to be utterly bloodthirsty, and he changes his mind.
  • The Road to El Dorado, except not quite. Conquistadores are a bitch, aren't they?
  • Also The Man Who Would be King, except not quite. Disappointed natives are a bitch, aren't they?
  • Captain Algren returns to the samurai village where he had been held after capture in The Last Samurai.
  • Reese Witherspoon's character in Pleasantville. Which is a bit stupid, as her brother goes back. Leaving him to explain to his parents that they'll never see their daughter again. Time moves more quickly inside the TV world: the events in Pleasantville take a couple weeks at least, but when Tobey Maguire's character returns to the real world, a TV announcer is heard saying, "And that concludes the first hour of the Pleasantville marathon". (Word of God on the DVD Commentary has it that because the original Pleasantville Show Within a Show was on for half an hour every week, two weeks inside the TV world go by for every hour outside.) Which presumably means she'll be back in four days, but she'll be four years older and have a degree from a fictional college.
  • Subverted in Lost Treasures of the Grand Canyon. Doctor Thain offers to stay with the natives in exchange for his team being spared and set free, even though it means he'll die once they realize he isn't a god. As the group leaves the secret city, weeping at the loss of their friend, Thain comes careening down the hill and quickly explains that he decided not to stay after all, distracted his captors by setting a suit of armor on fire and making it seem like it was himself, and that they'd all better hurry up and get out of there before they figure it out. All in the span of about two minutes.
  • H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon (1964). As the Earthlings prepare to escape the Moon, Cavor decides to stay behind with the Selenites.
  • In James Cameron's Avatar, the characters who stay behind really do not have much of a choice. If they leave they will most likely be arrested and tried for crimes against mankind. Once they committed to helping the Na'vi they really had nowhere else to go.
  • Will stays in the Land of the Lost in the 2009 film adaptation.
  • In Timeline, archaeologist Andre Marek choose to stay in 1357 with Lady Clare, a girl he fell in love with, and saved from her historic fate of being murdered. It is later discovered that the last archeological find he was working on before he went to the past was his own tomb.
  • In The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert the character played by Terence Stamp chooses to stay in the outback with a new love interest instead of going back to Sydney.
  • Occurs in The Last Starfighter, where Alex overcomes his original reluctance to get involved with Xur and stays with the Star League.
  • Flushed Away has a slightly altered example. The hero actually does leave but decides to go back in order to defeat the Big Bad and make amends with his Love Interest, and makes it clear that he intends to stay with her as he departs his old home.
  • Subverted in Barbie in the Nutcracker. The lead female decides she doesn't want to go home, but then the Big Bad, having been thought to be defeated, returns and activates the device she'd been given to send her home. She then vanishes and wakes up in the real world.
  • This is what Gonzo in Muppets from Space decides after meeting his long-lost family. While he's grateful for his fellow Gonzos for going through the trouble of locating and visiting him on Earth, he can't go with them, as he wants to stay with his fellow Muppet Show castmates.
  • Maybe not the happiest version, but in Doomsday, Eden, a native Scot whose mother managed to get her out just ahead of the border being sealed, decides to stay after her mission is complete, and apparently becomes the ruler of the tribe of wild cannibal people by killing her predecessor.
  • Subverted and played straight in Midnight in Paris.
    • Adrianna travels back in time from Paris in the 1920s to the 1890s, which she views as the city's Golden Age, and decides to stay.
    • Gil, having travelled from his present of 2010 to meet Adrianna in the 1920s (his idea of Paris' Golden Age) and then gone further back with her to the 1890s, realises the danger of nostalgia and returns to his present.
  • Hot Tub Time Machine: Lou chose to stay his younger self in 1986 and relive his life, instead of going back to 2010 with his friends. And thanks to his knowledge of the future, he profits like crazy.
  • At the end of Thor: The Dark World, Thor decides to go back to earth to be with Jane.
  • Subverted in Idiocracy. Joe and Rita decide to stay in the crapsack world future rather than take a time machine back to the year 2005. Although it turns out the time machine is actually an amusement park ride called the "Time Masheen", which offers a strange take on history.

    Literature 
  • Played painfully straight in The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. Theo is a literal changeling who gets dragged to Faerie. At the end of the book everybody suffers a brief Idiot Plot moment, forgetting that it's impossible for him to return to Earth, so that he can decide he really doesn't want to return to Earth after all.
  • Aly in Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness duology pulls a twofer: literally, by remaining in the Copper Isles instead of returning to Tortall, and figuratively, by becoming a Spymaster instead of a field agent as she originally desired.
  • Ranger's Apprentice has pulled this twice now with Will and the rangers. There's not a lot of suspence, though, for anyone who's looked at the title.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Freedom's Landing, Zainal, a Catteni military officer mistakenly sent to the slave colony world, Botany (named by the humans placed there) rebuffs several attempts by the slavemasters to take him back home. The first out of spite: he knows the dockmaster responsible for his being there will be punished for it, if he stays long enough for the right people to notice his absence. Later on, it's because he's come to respect the humans who've managed to carve out a place for themselves (one female in particular) and wanted to stay and help them. We find out in a later book that Zainal is also a high-ranking member of his homeworld's La Résistance AND due to be the next vessel for one of the body-snatching Evil Overlords that have enslaved his people and if that happens, things will end badly for lots of people
    • This also applies to most of the humans placed on Botany. "I dropped, I stay!" becomes something of a slogan/rallying cry.
  • In the Land of Oz books, Dorothy returns to Kansas the first couple of times, but eventually chooses to stay in Oz (and bring her Aunt and Uncle to live with her). Except for the fact she's a child and wouldn't think of it at first, why in the world didn't she do that from the getgo? "Hey, guys, let me just pick up my folks and then I'll be back to rule with y'all."
  • In Michael Crichton's novel Timeline, historian André Marek decides at the last minute to remain in Medieval France. In the film adaptation, this leads to his companions realizing that a grave they discovered at the beginning of the film, in the present, was his. In the book they sought it out after they got back and knew to look for it, just to get some idea how he fared.
  • Subverted in Beth Hilgartner's Colors in the Dreamweaver's Loom; the heroine stranded in a fantasy world has grown to prefer it to her own...but a malicious trickster goddess grants her the "favor" of sending her home anyway. (For an extra dose of irony, she ends up at the airport she had earlier claimed was the only home she'd ever known.)
  • At the end of The People That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tom Billings, having rescued the people that he came there to save, elects to stay in the Lost World of Caspak with his newfound love Ajor.
  • In the first book of Gordon R. Dickson's Dragon Knight series, The Dragon and the George, the main character Jim decides to stay in the magical medieval world in which he and his girlfriend have landed. Their modern life really wasn't all that great. And if you're thinking about the technological, medical, and social drawbacks that the medieval world would present to a modern couple? Don't worry, so was the author. It helps that Jim becomes both a magician and a baron as a result of his adventures in the first book, and that he and his wife were already medieval scholars.
  • Paul in Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry chooses to stay in Fionavar at the end of The Darkest Road.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Not explicitly stated as a willing choice in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where the Pevensies spend 15 years ruling Narnia and grow to adulthood, and their return to our world is not really intentional. (Because of Year Inside, Hour Outside, not only do the Pevensies return barely after they left, they're de-aged back to children.)
    • The Last Battle has everyone (except Susan) return to live forever in New Narnia, thanks to them all dying in a railroad accident in their own world.
      • It's actually implied that Narnia and Earth connect to the same heaven, so they would have gone there anyway.
    • Jill and Eustace also request to stay in The Silver Chair, though Aslan denies it at that point in time.
  • In Wizard's Bane, the first part of Rick Cook's Wiz Biz, the Wizard is abducted to a fantasy world by a summoning spell, saves the world, is then given the opportunity to return home and turns it down. (Unsurprisingly, since he would have to give up both his love interest and awesome magical powers.) He fails to realize he could have visited and brought back things like reference books, programming textbooks, the recipes to his favorite foods. It wasn't totally impossible to communicate with home either or arrange for visits from there.
  • Practically the same story in Labyrinths of Echo by Max Frei.
  • In Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, alternate worlds come in sets of nine and there's usually a version of the same person in each world of the set. Gwendolen moves to a different world and thereby forces all her alternate selves to shift worlds too. They all find that their new circumstances suit them better than the old ones, and turn down a chance to go back.
  • In Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, the hero spends the book going to considerable lengths to get the key to go home, and once back home, decides he was better in London Below. Go figure.
  • In Stardust, Tristran chose to stay on the other side of the wall with Yvaine. He ultimately settles there and dies there.
    • It helps that, by virtue of being the last surviving male heir, he's now the Lord of Stormhold.
  • This is a consistent plot point in Robin D. Owens' The Summoning series, where any native of Earth summoned to Amee must eventually face the Snap — the call of Earth — and choose to either return home or stay forever.
  • "Here There Be Tygers" by Ray Bradbury involves a benevolent sentient planet and a team of prospectors encharmed by it. They all consider staying and one of them does.
  • At the end of the young adult novel The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (set in Gold Rush-era California), the titular heroine, having spent the entire book whining about how much she hates California, decides to stay there, even after being given a chance to return to her New England home.
  • Raymond Rambert in The Plague is a journalist from out of town, who finds himself imprisoned when the city of Oran undergoes a quarantine due the the plague. Initially he goes to great lengths—first speaking with officials, then coming in contact with the shady underworld—to get out of the city, but at the last moment he changes his mind and decides to stay behind and help the other protagonists in fighting the plague, because he couldn't be happy outside with the consciousness that others are still suffering behind the city walls.
  • In the bittersweet story Laura and the Silver Wolf, the Ill Girl Laura fullfills her Quest in Iceland, after which she is pulled into the real world and even feels better than before. The she Decides to go back to Iceland and stay there. This counts as Too Dumb to Live until You understand that She doesn't actually have much choice. The fact that she is suddenly 100% healthy and not stopped by a nurse can only mean that she is not actually in the real world. This is likely a way for her to choose her Afterlife and she chooses the happier variant Assuming of course this isn't just a Dying Dream.
  • Eileen/Merope in Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis stays behind in 1941 while the rest of the team return to the future. She had previously promised to never leave the children for whom she became a Parental Substitute, and she keeps her word. It's implied she becomes an ancestor of Colin Templar, despite being born less than ten years before him.
  • In one Warrior Cats book, Jayfeather goes back in time to the ancient incarnation of himself. He first sees it just as part of his duty, to make sure he sets certain events in motion so that they affect the future, but then he falls in love. He wants to stay in that time period, but isn't allowed to because he's still needed in the present day.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, both Father Simon and Aubery, for very different reasons.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Freckles choses not to go with his uncle and aunt to Ireland but stay with McLean, his Parental Substitute.
  • In Summer Celebration, the Doctor, after having given birth to Mr. Katan’s wife, chose to stay in the settlement where he and Tsiva live.
  • When deciding whether to stay Trapped on Draconica or go home Ben tries to Take a Third Option and go home but use his power to travel between worlds to visit Draconica, but Dronor says he has to take that power away. After thinking about his worried sick mother and encouragement from Erowin he decides to go home.
  • Jon-Tom, the titular Spellsinger, finds a permanent way home in the sixth book, but finds life on mundane Earth boring, so he loads up on music books and chocolate-chip cookies, and returns.
  • In The Guns of the South, Colonel Henry Pleasants of the Union Army misses the train he was supposed to take back to Pennsylvania after being released from Andersonville Prison. He decides to stay in the Confederate States, convinced that a talented engineer like himself would be in high demand. Later in the book, he tells his friend Nate Caudell that the other reason he stayed is that he lost his wife just before the war and became something of a Death Seeker; coming to the South gave him a new purpose in life.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space saga, the Wunderland War between Humans and the Kzinti (so named because it was fought primarily on the planet Wunderland, a human colony) lasted for just over a century. At the war's conclusion, the human victors offer to repatriate several thousands of Kzinti prisoners of war. Most of them refuse to leave Wunderland because, as the kzinti character Rauragh-Sergeant explains, "This is our homeworld, too. We were born here. Our kit were born and raised here. Why should we want to go to a planet none of us have ever seen?"
  • The Rifter: Subverted — because John finds out that he can’t go home from Basawar to Earth, or rather that if he did open the gate between the worlds, it would destroy Basawar, which he would never consider doing. Laurie, however, intends to open the gate; she doesn’t care about destroying the world which has brought her great suffering.
  • The children in Pamela Dean's The Secret Country books make various decisions at the end. This is a world that they fervently love, but not all of them want to stay there forever. Any who make the decision will have to stay forever. Three do stay, and two bring their parents with them.
  • At the end of Going Postal, Moist sees an opportunity to return to his old life, and has a vision of how that would work out for him. In his own mind, however, he doesn't choose to stay, but instead decides that as long as he never chooses at all, he can stay as long as he likes.

    Live Action TV 
  • Lost in Austen: Amanda and Elizabeth Bennet changed places; Amanda going to Regency England and Elizabeth to modern-day London in the New Tens. Both decided to stay in the new place.
  • The most prominent example probably comes from the M*A*S*H series finale, where Max Klinger, after spending the entire series trying to get discharged from the Army to return home from Korea, elects to stay with his new bride. Klinger wasn't staying to stay in Korea forever. He was staying so that he and his war bride Soon-Lee (Star Trek alum Rosalind Chao) could find her family, if they were even still alive. In the sequel they found them living in, no surprise, deplorable conditions, helped them out a bit, and when they came to the US, sent money back and tried to arrange for immigration status. The shock came not from Klinger moving to Korea for good. It came from him not bolting back to Toledo the instant the war ended.
    • In "The Late Captain Pierce", Hawkeye gets an opportunity to leave when the Army declares him officially dead. He nearly does so, but at the last minute changes his mind. (Although, to be fair, this is depicted as owing to Hawkeye's sense of duty as a physician rather than any newly-discovered affection for his surroundings.) And the fact that the army would have charged him with desertion, once they got their paperwork straightened out, had nothing to do with it.
  • In a rather excellent episode of Star Trek: Enterprise named "Carbon Creek", a group of Vulcans get trapped on Earth in the 1950's, specifically in a Pennsylvania mining town. While the other two Vulcans cannot wait to get off this primitive and backward rock, the third Vulcan becomes enamored of the planet, developing a fondness for baseball, I Love Lucy, and even getting something of a human girlfriend. Of course, by the time the Vulcans send a ship to retrieve them, he claims this trope.
  • Played very straight: Neverwhere, where after getting his life back in London Above, Richard decides to go back to London Below. To be fair, there's a certain amount of ambiguity as to whether Richard really went back or just totally lost it.
  • Jonas Quinn from Stargate SG-1. He later undoes this with a But Now I Must Go.
  • On ALF, ALF had the opportunity to leave Earth and be with his friends from his home planet, but it would mean having to miss Brian's upcoming birthday, so he stayed.
    • The second time, he fully intended to leave, but the authorities intercepted his message and captured him just as the Melmacian ship was landing. By the wrap-up movie, he once again has no intention of leaving Earth.
  • Quantum Leap: In the final episode, Sam is told he could go back home anytime he wanted to, but the last words of the show reveal that he never did.
  • In the Stargate Universe episode "Twin Destinies", when the crew of Destiny are about to go home, Rush asks for 10 people to join him and Young in staying behind. Most of the main cast elect to do so. Of course, it was an Alternate Universe, and they all ended up on a random planet 2000 years in the past.
  • In Doctor Who, a number of the Doctor's companions leave the TARDIS by choosing to stay somewhere they visit on their travels (though not necessarily hating it when they first get there) instead of going home again, including:
    • Mickey Smith in "The Age of Steel". Justified in that in the alternate reality Mickey he replaced wasn't an aimless loser, and his beloved Gran was still alive. He had a lot more to live for there than in normal reality. He later did return to our world after the alternate Gran died.
    • Susan (Earth in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, bearing in mind that Earth isn't her home planet, though arguably the Doctor makes the decision for her)
    • Vicki (ancient Troy in The Myth Makers)
    • Victoria (with the Harris family in 20th century Earth in Fury From the Deep)
    • Leela (Gallifrey in The Invasion of Time)
    • Romana (E-Space in Warriors' Gate Though this is her official departure on-screen, it is well-chronicled in the Expanded Universe that she eventually comes back and becomes Lady President of Gallifrey.)
    • Nyssa (Terminus in Terminus, although she doesn't have a home to go back to anyway.)
    • Mel (Iceworld in Dragonfire)
  • Lots of characters on LOST choose to stay on the island, and some of those who've left want to go back. The first to declare that they're going to stay (before the Jack/Locke split) are Rose and Bernard, who join Jack's group but have no interest in leaving because Rose's cancer is cured on the Island and she would die if she left. Eventually, they "retire" to a cabin in the jungle. In the Grand Finale, Jack, Hurley, and Ben choose to stay behind to save the Island from the Man in Black's Evil Plan. Jack dies heroically and Hurley and Ben choose to stay behind and take up his charge as the caretakers of the Island. And then in the "flash-sideways" afterlife, everyone decides to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence except for Ben, who decides he's going to stay behind and work things out with Alex and Danielle before he joins everyone else in wherever they all end up.
  • In the final episode of Life On Mars, Sam finally gets back to 2006 - but finds himself bored and unsatisfied there, so returns to rescue his friends in 1973. By jumping off a building and killing himself.
  • In The Invisible Man, after Darien has the Quicksilver gland implanted in his brain, he's forced to work for the Agency because the gland has the inconvenient side effect of causing insanity and eventual death, and they have the only antidote, which needs to be administered regularly. He spends two seasons trying to find a way to either have the gland removed (which they can't do without killing him) or fix the (deliberate) design flaw. Then, in the series finale, the gland is fixed and he doesn't need the antidote anymore, so he leaves to work for the FBI. Then he realizes the FBI are woefully inadequate at dealing with the unbelievable threats he's accustomed to, so he agrees to come back to the Agency and his partner at the end, albeit with some demands.
  • Subverted in one episode of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Series. Amy develops a boyfriend after she time travels into the '60s. However her time watch has a fail safe that'll activate and transport her home after a given time. After a bit of this, Amy decides to stay in the past permanently, sending her watch back in the process. However we find out that the fail-safe was due to the fact that anyone who stayed in the past for too long would be frozen and combust (sorta the timeline's own failsafe). Wanye is force to go back into the past and retrieve her before that happens.
  • The first 3 1/2 seasons of Farscape are all about John's efforts to get back to Earth. However, when he finally gets there, he realizes that A) he's changed too much to stick around and B) the bad guys aren't going to stop going after him so he has to leave to protect Earth. He takes it a step further in the series finale when he closes the wormhole to Earth permanently so the bad guys can't get there...but that means he can never go back.
  • In Elementary, Joan at the end of "M" calls Sherlock's father to ask for an extension after her six weeks with Sherlock was over. Her request is denied but she continues to stay without pay anyways. She lies to Sherlock that his father granted her extension, but he figures out the truth and offers her to stay on as his apprentice.
  • In Free Spirit, Winnie comes to Earth solely to perform "public service" by helping Gene Harper win a bowling tournament. However, after he wins the tournament, she decides to stick around as a Magical Nanny and housekeeper.
  • In The 10th Kingdom, Virginia chooses to go back to New York (with Wolf, who is from the Nine Kingdoms), but her dad Tony decides to stay in the Nine Kingdoms. Considering the fact that he's a national hero who is good friends with King Wendell in the Nine Kingdoms and a janitor who's wanted for armed robbery in New York, it was probably a wise decision.

    Machinima 
  • Dutchmiller makes this choice at the end of The Strangerhood to stay with Catherine and raise their child.
    Dutchmiller: I'm not going. My place is here now.
    Catherine: Oh Dutch, do you really mean that?
    Dutchmiller: Are we still in danger of being burned alive?
    Catherine: No.
    Dutchmiller: Then absolutely.

    Music 
  • Dr Steel, "Land of the Lost":
    In the Land of the Lost
    In the Land of the Lost I rock
    And I’m never going back, never going back
    Cause now I rock in the Land of the Lost

    Theater 
  • In Brigadoon, it is explained that people from the outside world are not trapped in Brigadoon, unlike its inhabitants. But if they really desire to live there forever, The Power of Love will let them stay. And so Tommy ultimately decides to go back to Scotland rather than settling down with his Disposable Fiancée.

    Video Games 
  • Fatal Frame 1 in an ending her brother realizing that the only thing keeping hell on earth from being reality is a ghost woman whose bound to use her body as a lock for all eternity chooses to stay with her for both her sake and to keep her bipolar evil side from threatening the mansion anymore.
  • Happens to the main character at the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team. S/he is literally able to keep from returning to the human world just by wishing hard enough. The decision is also justified by them having no memory of their human existence.
  • In Riviera: The Promised Land, Ein will choose to stay in Riviera if the love meter of any of the girls is high enough. Otherwise, he will return to Asgard with Rose.
  • After the events of The Longest Journey, April Ryan has developed the ability to shift between Stark (her home) and Arcadia at will. But she becomes so embroiled in a war in Arcadia that she never returns to Stark and eventually loses the ability to. She is still there, with no regrets, in the sequel Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. In Stark, April was a poor art student with few prospects and many daddy issues. In Arcadia, she was a savior to many and is still a major figure in La Résistance. The only thing left for her in Stark are two friends, and those have long ago moved on with their lives.
  • The suboptimal good ending of Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of the Betrayer has the player forced to stay in the city of the dead to stop the spirit eater curse from passing on. Your Love Interest will stay too (which leads to a really very heartwarming moment if the character is female and completed the romance with Gann).
  • Ninian in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, if you get her to A support with Eliwood. Even knowing her lifespan will be greatly shortened by staying on Elibe.
  • Tales of Hearts does a "normal" variation sometime in the middle of the game. The quest passes through the hometown of party mage Beryl, who has every reason to stay: the quest is outrageously dangerous, she wants to be with her Gramma, she wants to protect said hometown, etc — and yet she finds she can't just let her True Companions walk out of her life.
  • Happens in spades in Super Robot Wars Advance. Both protagonists Axel Almer or Lamia Loveless infiltrated the enemy group, one that supports peace instead of eternal war as their former group Shadow Mirror wished, but due to other circumstances, they end up unwittingly molding with the community and agreeing with their ideals, thus when the Shadow Mirror calls them to betray the old party and return to them, they chose to stay on the new group, having agreeing to the new ideals and betray the Shadow Mirror.
  • The narrator of the Saladin campaign in Age of Empires II who was captive for 20 years decides to stay and explore the Middle East after the 3rd crusade ends.
  • Thomas of Suikoden III was kind of forced to become the master of a castle. But when he finds out he can no longer stay at the castle, he decides to stay despite the consequences.
  • Saber in UBW Good End and Rider in HF True End in Fate/stay night, the first more so than than the latter because up until that point we constantly heard that it was not going to happen. Archer was sort of tempted to in the UBW endings, but only because he didn't want to make Tohsaka sad. But there was no place for him, and even one Servant is hard enough to support without the Grail. It didn't stop her from trying to get him to stay, but stops and realizes that if even if he did stay that he couldn't be saved from the ideal that ultimately betrayed him.
    • Tsukihime does this as well with Ciel. Despite the implication or perhaps statement that she was going to leave/already had left in the closest-to-canon ending, she's still around in Kagetsu Tohya. Apparently, she has to go stamp out the evil Dead roaming around. You know, the ones that are completely mindless mooks and barely a threat to muggles when the Church doesn't care about them anyway. Apparently it just wouldn't be safe unless she stayed for at least a full year after Roa is gone. *Cough*
  • Inverted in Final Fantasy X, in that Tidus would choose to stay but (depending on how you take the sequel) must leave along with the Aeons.
    • Also totally averted with Auron. As Yuna is preforming the ceremony to send Sin's corpse to the Farplane she stops when she sees Auron disappearing too. He makes her to keep going telling her "This...is your world now."
  • At the end of the second Jak and Daxter game, everone decides to stay in the Bad Future because it's actually the present and young Jak has to go back in time anyway.
  • Brutal Legend has perhaps the fastest use of this trope ever. Eddie Riggs finds himself sucked into a world based entirely off of heavy metal, full of blood, fire, noise and metal, and he loves it. Someone asks him about fifteen minutes into the game if he shouldn't be focusing on getting back to his own world and he dismissively snorts at the notion without a second thought.
  • Kyouko and Kouin in Eien no Aselia choose to stay at the end, though Kaori decides to go home without her brother, who is neither staying or returning, exactly.
  • In chapter 1 of Dragon Age II, Ferelden is being rebuilt after the end of the Blight, and Aveline and Fenris both wonder whether Hawke might return home instead of staying on in Kirkwall.
  • Tezkhra in The Reconstruction.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: in the end, the Hero of the Goddess/Hylia/Legend/Rebirth/the Master Sword and the Zelda of that era decide to stay on the surface rather than returning to Skyloft. It's a Foregone Conclusion, considering this game's place on the timeline.
  • Rika in Phantasy Star IV chooses to stay with Chaz at the end of the game, and is warned that life will be painful and difficult but that she is their hope. Ultimately, that is because she was created to give humanity a chance to survive through her genetically-enhanced bloodline, in anticipation of the remaining climate control systems from the Mother Brain-era failing. In effect, Rika and Chaz are part of an Adam and Eve Plot, sort of.
  • Tarnum in Heroes of Might and Magic damned his soul in the first episode of the Chronicles series, and spent the rest of his now immortal existence righting wrongs in an attempt to redeem himself. In the Might campaign of Heroes IV, Tarnum finally proves himself worthy to enter paradise after he helps a young barbarian reunite the scattered Barbarian tribes without repeating Tarnum's past mistakes. Tarnum refuses the afterlife and stays to provide further guidance for his people.
  • Implied for future plans in BlazBlue. At the end of one of her story branches in Calamity Trigger, Litchi Faye-Ling is asked that if she ever finds the cure for Arakune, she'll just go back being a scientist in Sector Seven. Her response? She already chose to settle at Orient Town permanently once it's over, people needed her there.
  • A line during the ending video for Return To Zork implies that the player character has come to see the Great Underground Empire as their home and intends to stay there.

    Webcomics 
  • Word of God says that the Sluggy Freelance Story Arc "Aylee" was originally supposed to end with Aylee choosing to remain behind in the alternate dimension. But when the time actually came to do it, the author realized that the decision just wouldn't have fit Aylee's character, so he had her return home with Torg instead.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The pilot of Captain N: The Game Master. After saving the day, Kevin is offered the choice to return to Earth. He chooses to remain in Videoland, where he is a superhero hanging out with a hot princess and his favorite videogame characters, rather than go back to Earth, where he is a normal boy having to deal with chores, school, and a nagging mother.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Grandpa Max chooses to stay in the Null Void and help the inhabitants recover from the depredations of D'Void aka Dr. Animo.
    • In Ultimate Alien, Charmcaster stays behind in her home dimension, sealed off from the outside world forever, in hopes of finally freeing it from it's evil ruler.
  • In the "Den" story in Heavy Metal, the title character chooses to stay in Neverwhere saying "On Earth, I'm nobody, but here, I'm Den!" It helps that back home, he was a scrawny, nerdy virgin, but when he arrived in that world, he had a statuesque physique and hot chicks were throwing themselves at him.
  • In an episode of Justice League Unlimited, Supergirl, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow are abducted into the future to team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Supergirl elects to stay in the future afterward, thus pulling a Prophecy Twist, since the Legion's records said she disappeared from the present, which they had previously interpreted to mean she'd die.
  • At the end of Leroy & Stitch, Stitch, Pleakly and Jumba decide to forgo the chance to leave Earth and stay as members of Lilo's True Companions.
  • In the last episode of Blackstar, a rescue ship from Earth (piloted by Blackstar's beautiful girlfriend, no less) navigates the black hole, finds John Blackstar on Sagar, and offers to take him home. He very nearly takes her up on it, but he finally decides that he's too important to the natives' rebellion against the Overlord, and he chooses to stay. The last scene is her returning to Earth, and sending a message ahead that she wants to come back with proper military forces to help John defeat the Overlord.
  • In the 2-part series premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Twilight Sparkle goes from thinking all the other ponies in Ponyville are crazy and wanting nothing more than to finish her job and return to Canterlot, to wanting to stay where all her newfound friends are.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Queen Marlena was once an astronaut from Earth who crash-landed on Eternia. When her ship was repaired, she decided to stay, because she and King Randor had fallen in love. She married him and became his Queen. In the episode "Visitors From Earth", astronauts from Earth crash-land on Eternia. When their ship was repaired, they offered to take Marlena back with them, but she said her place was with her beloved family.
  • Ratchet opts to remain on Earth, helping humanity reverse engineer Cybertronian technology to defend against Decepticons, after Cybertron is restored to habitable status at the end of Transformers Prime.

    Real Life 
  • As described in An Anthropologist On Mars, a painter received a concussion from a car accident. Afterwards, he was unable to see in colors, and couldn't read written words. Though he recovered his ability to read, he remained completely colorblind. Not only that, but he was unable to remember color; he knew what colors things originally were, but he could not see them in his mind. The whole world resembled a "dirty" ashen world to him, and he fell into a depression for a while. After a year or two, though, he saw his vision as being "more refined" than "normal" vision. When a suggestion was made at this time about a surgery that could possibly restore his color vision, he turned it down, preferring to stay in the world he had grown used to rather than to readjust to the old world.
  • British criminals were once often exiled to Australia. Many chose to stay, leading to their modern descendants.
  • In the 1960s, Fred Rogers hired Ernie Coombs to work as his understudy in Canada to do an early version of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on the CBC TV network. After three years, Rogers decided to return to the US, but Coombs decided to stay in Canada and created his own landmark children's TV series, Mr. Dressup.


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