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It Sucks to Be the Chosen One
Tevye: I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But once in a while can't You choose someone else?

So you're The Chosen One. The Messianic Archetype. The one foretold by prophecy, that everyone has been waiting for. Secret knowledge and power awaits! The world will change, and it's all because of you, baby.

But wait! The Chosen One does not have it easy, oh no. Far from it. There are rules to be followed and intense training to undergo, and danger lurks around every corner. The Big Bad and The Dragon are out there, actively searching for you, trying to hunt you down before you grow too powerful. In fact, if they haven't already tracked down and killed everyone you ever knew, you may have to leave it forever behind anyways to fulfill your destiny.

And sometimes your destiny isn't all that it's cracked up to be either. A Messianic Archetype must always remember that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. A hero may find himself with a Wound That Will Not Heal, discover that his unique power has a ''terrible'' price (Especially if he can't control it!), a Sadistic Choice presented by the villains, or he may even be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. Even if he survives, he may end up with serious mental issues relating to his work. The list goes on and on. Simply put, it sucks to be the Chosen One. Often presented as a deconstruction of the standard Messianic Archetype/Chosen One tropes.

Named for this Basic Instructions strip. Strongly related to Being Good Sucks, and often leads to I Just Want to Be Normal, or even Refusal of the Call. More positive works and reconstructions might use this to allow a Chosen One to earn a happy ending, but this is relatively rare. When others can see how much being the chosen one sucks, they may express Sympathy for the Hero.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fist of the North Star, being a good guy SUCKS. The world is such a cruel, dark place that the only ones who truly enjoy their lot are the rotten ones, while the heroes must fight their own despair as well as the bad guys. Part of the reasons so many Manly and Tender Tears are shed in the series. In particular, being the chosen heir of Hokuto Shinken dooms you to a life of hardship, and in Kenshiro's time, there are THREE men, including him, worthy of succession.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion shows this in Shinji Ikari, who pretty much hates his role as the savior of Tokyo 3 throughout the series. The few times he does get a little bit cocky about it, he is swiftly and cruelly brought back down to earth.
  • The magical girls of Puella Magi Madoka Magica are not happy. They have traded their freedom for a lifetime of fighting witches for a single wish, which may not even be worth it anymore. Fighting the witches systematically tears apart their social lives. And if a puella magi dies in the witch's other world, her body never appears in the real world. They're missing. Forever.
    • To add insult to the injury, anyone who becomes a Magical Girl is already dead by the time they make the contract. To be precise, a walking Empty Shell unless they have their Soul Gems with them at least 100 meters.
      • And it turns out that the Witches they were fighting this whole time? They used to be magical girls just like them. Turns out that to accept a contract and become a magical girl, you're also damning yourself to become an Eldritch Abomination and be killed by another girl later—there's no way around it, it is inevitable, unless you die in battle first. Thus, any magical girl killed in action and proclaimed missing is lucky.
      • There's also the fact that Kyuubey mentions that a puella magi's potential strength comes from her hardships (hence why Madoka's potential baffled him). In practice this means you're taking a Broken Bird, granting them one wish, and then making them suffer horribly.
  • Fushigi Yuugi. If you're the priestess, sure everyone bows down to you, you get to make any wishes you want, and you have a harem of bishounen at your beck and call. But, you have to use your wishes for the good of others (not yourself, with the possible exception of a wish to get home safely). Everyone expects you to know what you're doing, when you don't. You can't have sex or even a relationship with any member of your bishie harem as long as you're the priestess (because Sex Is Evil and will destroy your Virgin Power, and Love Makes You Stupid, or at least distracted and biased.) And worst of all, you are a Virgin Sacrifice to be Fed to the Beast; the very god who grants your wishes will devour your soul unless you can pass the Secret Test of Character. Only the most Genre Savvy should even attempt this role!
  • Kagerou-Nostalgia sucks for everyone, including our reincarnated heroes. So far they haven't actually managed to save anyone, while losing their leader and sufferring betrayal from one of their own.
  • Chikane of Kannazuki no Miko was tired of her and her beloved being caught in a continual reincarnation loop, so she decided to subvert it and set up a Batman Gambit to make sure it never happens again. Sure, they get reincarnated again, but it's not as bad as before.
  • Usagi of Sailor Moon considered her being Sailor Moon this, especially during the latter half of the first season and the first half of R. When she finds out she's the long lost Moon Princess, Princess Serenity, it's just after finding out her crush had just been possibly killed and was just kidnapped by the enemy. By the time the first season reaches its end, she makes a dying wish to be normal again and she gets it... only to lose it when new foes appear.
  • In Pokemon2000 Ash flat out states this after they find out the legend states "and the world will turn to Ash".
    Ash: I am wishing my mom named me Bob.

    Comic Books 
  • Optimus Prime in IDW's run of The Transformers has a bad case of this. The first true matrix bearer in millions of years, he often laments the burden he carries and the responsability he feels he has in the war that devastated their world. Add that when the Matrix of Leadership joined with him - it hurt. He interpreted it as the Matrix warning him of the burden he was accepting.

    Fanfiction 
  • Defied in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
    Harry: "A lot of children have to grow up too early, though, not just me; and most children like that would probably trade places with me in five seconds. I'm not going to pity myself, Professor McGonagall, not when there are people out there in real trouble and I'm not one of them."
  • In The Successors, Princess Aurora is frustrated that she her sister were chosen to rule Equestria due to the enormous responsibility it brings, and the burden it puts on her to keep the nation together.
    Aurora: "I'm worried that Equestria won't accept us as leaders. I'm worried some other noble will call us inept or inadequate, and try to seize power for him or herself. There's…there's just such a huge burden on my shoulders now. It's like nothing I've ever had to deal with before."
  • Takato from the Tamers Forever Series can strongly attest to this. At first he's happy in his role as the OmniTamer, but soon comes to realise that being the vessel of Chaos comes at a terrible cost.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Midori laments having to send Mai, Natsuki and Nao back in time to ensure that the greatest tragedies in their lives happen in order to avert a Temporal Paradox without any help, understanding how difficult it is. She wonders why the fate of the world rests solely in the hands of the Himes, who are not the ideal people for the job, but later wonders if they were chosen because they were imperfect.
  • A Protector's Pride: Ichigo is not amused that the fate of the world is always in his hands.
    "Saving Rukia, killing Kariya, stopping Aizen. (sighs) When does it all end? I'm tired of always being the hero."
  • With Strings Attached. Ya think, with a title like that?

    Film - Animation 
  • The Prince of Egypt: Moses really wished that God choose someone else to "free his people", as he watches his home Egypt crumble by the 10 plagues, and he has stand against his adopted brother.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Star Wars:
  • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She's a scared young girl who just wants to get home, and the task of saving Oz ends up falling on her just so the Wizard doesn't have to do it himself. note 
    • In the books, she gets over it later when she's able to go between Oz and Kansas as she pleases, and even more so when she is brought to Oz for good. Em and Henry are put up with a nice farm in Munchkin Country while Dorothy becomes Ozma's champion, heir, and possibly girlfriend.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian
  • Dogma. For Bethany, being Jesus Christ's ultimate descendant requires that you (a) contract a condition that leaves you barren (b) have your husband leave you (c) hang around with two stoners who want to get into your pants, and ultimately (d) become a single mom as a result of immaculate conception.
  • Neo should've been more careful for what he wished to know about The Matrix. He gets his computer hacked, he's chased about and violated by Agents. Shortly being forcefully and painfully ejected from the Matrix, he learns the truth about the Matrix and completely loses it for a bit. He gets a little fun when learning how to bend the rules of virtual reality, but when Agent Smith and others put them to the ultimate test, he's bludgeoned silly before being shot. Even after getting Enlightenment Superpowers, he realizes they have a limit. He can hardly get a moment's peace with his girlfriend because of all the hero worship he gets. His purpose eludes him until he realizes that Smith, a fatalistic abomination, must kill him to save everyone in and out of the Matrix. He learned, literally, that you You Can't Fight Fate, but you can trick it.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter. He gets to be a wizard! Yay! Unfortunately for him, he doesn't get to be a normal wizard. As "the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord", the fight against Voldemort systematically gets him ostracized by his school and society, makes him face traumatic tasks pretty much every year, and kills his godfather, his grandfather-substitute, one of his favorite teachers, his future brother-in-law, several of his classmates and his pet owl. Oh, and himself, almost.
  • The NeverEnding Story
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • Though it only sucks for Frodo. Things turn out pretty well for Aragorn - after he spends some sixty-seven years Wandering the Earth separated from his lady love.
  • The Silmarillion
    • Turin as well is the The Chosen One. He is prophesied to be the one to finally kill Morgath in the final battle, however most readers would probably conclude that it isn't worth it. The quick summary of everything bad that happened to him was(in some close semblance of order) his father and all his fathers friends marched off to a war in which almost all died, and he never saw or heard from his father again, his sister and many of the people he knew who were still there died in a plague, he got sent away from his mother to a kingdom with no humans and never sees his mother again, he banishes himself from said kingdom, he gets a band of friends/subordinates who all die, he accidentally kills his best friend, he gets his new home city-state sacked and his love raped and killed, he marries and gets pregnant his new sister he doesn't know about, who he thinks dies just after he found out she was his sister, following which he kills himself in despair after possibly going insane and talking to his sword. And that isn't even going into what happened to the rest of his family.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Dragon Reborn is the Chosen One, destined to wield massive power and battle the Dark One in the Last Battle. Unfortunately, he's doomed to go insane and destroy the world, too. A lot of people aren't exactly looking forward to his appearance. He'd be perfectly happy to go home and not fulfill his destiny, except the pattern of fate is literally woven around him, so there's no escape. And lots of people think he's a fake and want to kill him, or think he's real and want to kill him, or at least control him. And that's just the good guys, we haven't even gotten to the actual villains of the series, who include his past incarnation's Psycho Ex-Girlfriend and a dozen other extremely powerful sorcerers who hate his guts. Being the Chosen One really, really sucks.
    • Specifically, he's fated to die in the Last Battle. He goes from struggling to find a way around that destiny to realizing he's done so many terrible things that he doesn't deserve to, or want to. Being the Chosen One involves some miserable realpolitik.
  • Thomas Covenant - who actually felt and acted this way long before things actually started to suck for him.
  • The Bible: Let's see: Job is a literal Cosmic Plaything, Abraham is asked to kill his own son, Moses never actually lives to see the promised land, and then there's Jesus... In fact one possible interpretation of The Bible is that the meaning of life is Died Happily Ever After.
    • "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." is a quote from an actual prayer of Jesus (Luke 22:42). One interpretation believes Jesus felt dying impaled as a criminal and a blasphemer was a heavy load to bear and an affront to God. The gospel states in the next few verses that God sent an angel to comfort him. So really, even God knew It Sucks to Be the Chosen One and tried to make it a little easier on him. Another interpretation believes that Jesus simply understands that being in human form and slated to die a gruesome death is just going to suck, despite being God himself. But his Heroic Willpower is quite strong, as noted in "(Dad's) will be done," not his own.
    • Knowledge of this trope is why Moses did his best to talk his way out of becoming The Leader of the Chosen People, burbling excuses as fast as they occur to him - "but I don't speak Hebrew", "but they won't believe me", "but Pharaoh won't listen" - until he's this close to getting smited. But he sure was right about Pharaoh, after all he'd grown up with the guy.
    • The Virgin Mary has to watch her Son be humiliated and killed... and there's not a damned thing she can do about it.
    • Hosea is chosen by God to speak to the Israelites, who have descended into corruption and idolatry. Part of this entails marrying a prostitute who runs away from him and has to be bought back from some other dude (as an object lesson from God to His people), and giving a "World of Cardboard" Speech to people who just won't listen.
    • Then there's Jeremiah, whose namesake book, besides being a collection of his messages, chronicles the hardships a prophet of God has to go through. He has been jeered on, humiliated, imprisoned, and disrespected throughout his career. As much as he wanted to vent his frustrations at God for giving him so sordid a task, ultimately he decides to man up and carry on, because somebody had to warn the Jews against moral decadence.
  • Garion in the Belgariad complains about this so often, "Why me" is practically his catchphrase. It's even lampshaded multiple times. Ironically, the Prophecy driving the whole Chosen One business sets out to make sure that its instruments get rewarded, and so Garion picks up a kingship, a loving wife, and Babies Ever After. The "why me" part is mainly adolescent angst, which his friends tell him repeatedly to get over.
  • The real name of Alfred Montbank in The Death Gate Cycle is Coren, which is Sartan for 'Chosen' or 'To Choose'. The day he emerges from suspended animation and realizes that every other member of his community died while he was asleep - that he was chosen to live when everyone else was not - he comes to hate that name very, very much.
  • Tahniya Dogoro in The Path to War. Being the chosen one left her isolated, emotionally stunted and with more than a few serious regrets due to the things she did to "prove herself." She doesn't take well to being called 'Chosen One' either, refused an elaborate home and angrily rebuffed the idea of her sister's twins being given names themed after her own. It's a wonder she never says "I just want to be normal."
  • Life has gotten progressively worse for each successive generation of Ohmsfords and Leahs in the Shannara series. Bonus points to Walker Boh, of The Heritage of Shannara who's attempted Refusal of the Call totally destroys his life and sees him railroaded into serving as the chosen one.
  • Gregor in The Underland Chronicles has a bad case of this. He's fated to fulfill several prophecies which make the series go from mildly darker than standard High Fantasy to bad. Really bad.
  • The DeMarian royal line in Tales of the Branion Realm. Roughly half the monarchs in its history have gone insane, died young, committed suicide, been assassinated or switched religions. Also the fate of some of their supporters.
  • In Heralds of Valdemar, Vanyel Ashkevron summed this trope up very nicely when he said "A glorious destiny will get you a glorious funeral". Of course, despite having a glorious destiny, he didn't get a glorious funeral, or any funeral for that matter. There wasn't enough left of him to bury.
  • This is without a doubt the belief of Discworld's most inept wizard, Rincewind.
  • Basically all the novels in Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series (including what is probably its most famous incarnation, The Elric Saga) feature this trope prominently.
  • Animorphs: Congratulations, plucky pre-teens! You've been given the ability to shape shift into any animal! Sounds like fun, right? Just make sure you don't accidentally get trapped as a bird or caterpillar or something. Oh, and you have to fight alien invaders, but you can't tell anybody, not even your parents or the cops, because they might actually be under alien control. So enjoy risking life and limb fighting an increasingly violent guerrilla war as your innocence is shattered and you question your every moral.
    • By the end of it, every one of the animorphs- at least those who got out alive- were hardened soldiers up to their neck in PTSD. Yay.
    • The alien who gave them the morphing powers and the knowledge of the invasion felt bad about saddling them with this burden, but he believed that humanity deserved a fighting chance and knew from past experience that human children could accomplish a lot. Said alien was also chosen by the same godlike being who chose the Animorphs to be his gamepieces in a cosmic chess game with an Eldritch Abomination. The alien was forced to abandon a happy and peaceful life, spent the rest of it in a war, and suffered an excruciating death. All so that he would be in the right place and time to meet the future Animorphs.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, it becomes increasingly clear that Bran Stark was chosen for something by the supernatural powers up North. To actually get him there, destiny has robbed him of his ability to walk (and with it his dreams of knighthood), his home, his family, and likely his very humanity.
  • In Murderess, the protagonist Lu definitely thinks so, enough to help Hallwad, a boy she meets on the Myles Mountains about halfway to the Refugee Camp, resuce his sister and even simply stop her journey in the middle to move in with Cleareye Fullmoonnight, a Moondaughter she meets in the Myles Forest after crossing the mountains. Her Trickster Mentor ‘Hat Lad’ calls her out on this, emphasising in no uncertain terms how incredibly important her mission is.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the ten years of Smallville, Clark never seemed to be happy even for a moment regarding his destiny.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy would be an obvious example, especially in season one. As early as the first episode she knows how much it sucks to be the Slayer: kicked out of school, losing friends, going out behind her mother's back, etc.
    • By season seven, however, she and Faith conclude that being hot chicks with superpowers does take the edge off it.
  • Ben in Carnivŕle is an avatar of Light, but he doesn't really like or trust most of the people around him (and vice versa). Also not helping him is the fact that his healing touch power has to be offset by other things/people dying.
  • Heroes has multiple Chosen Ones across the series and none of them are happy about getting superpowers. Well, except one, but he got over it after some laser-guided Deus Angst Machina. Joy.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Connor definitely seems to fit this - he and his family are constantly in danger, and he has intermittent bouts of I Just Want to Be Normal, plus at least one possible suicide attempt.
  • Chloe, from The Nine Lives of Chloe King is a good example. Like Buffy, she just wants to be normal.
  • Allie, from Steven Spielberg's Taken, who just wants to be a normal little girl.
  • Arthur clearly feels this way in Merlin, and is constantly telling Merlin that he has no idea what it feels like. While he does have good reason to take this viewpoint, (and to be fair the trope does apply to him), it applies to Merlin much, much more.
  • Both Joy AND Nina from House of Anubis both discover this.
    • Joy was kidnapped and kept locked up as prisoner in her own house because she was thought to be the Chosen One in season 1, and as a result lost her normal life almost completely.
      • For Nina, the ACTUAL Chosen One, she and her friends were cursed, her grandmother was nearly killed off, she started hearing voices, saw ghosts, and was almost taken to the afterlife with an evil spirit, all because of her identity as the Chosen One.
  • Supernatural:
    • Those who are capable of being angelic vessels can expect to be hijacked, leaving everyone they love, if they consent to possession by an angel. If they are possessed by a powerful angel, they will be left an empty damaged husk unless the angel bothers to heal them (which they generally aren't inclined to do).
    • Being a prophet seems to involve upsetting visions of the future and, in Kevin Tran's case, a lot of unwanted attention from angels, demons and Leviathan.
    Dean: I don't know, man, what can I say? You've been chosen. And it sucks. Believe me.

    Music 
  • The song "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five For Fighting.
  • The eponymous song from Black Sabbath is about a guy who gets chosen...to go to Hell!
  • "Rosetta Stoned" from Tool briefly touches on this issue, though given the entire song is a drug-induced stream-of-consciousness train of thought it's obviously not the focus of it.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Classical Mythology, a number of heroes have less than idyllic lives. Odysseus ends up taking over 10 years to travel back home. After being driven insane, Heracles kills his own family and as The Atoner the guy chosen to choose the twelve tasks is doing a Uriah Gambit.
  • Many, many from The Bible.
    • Most notably, Jesus Christ, who begs God "let this cup pass (him) by", basically saying he doesn't want to be a martyr, but will be if required.
  • As The Chosen One of Celtic Mythology, Cu Chulainn was prophesized to die very early in life. He Jumped at the Call anyway, deciding that being immortalized after death was worth the short life.

    Video Games 
  • Yuna from Final Fantasy X. She very subtle about it yet goes on thinking it's the right thing to do.
    • Tidus for that matter is too. Especially when he finds out permanently killing Sin means he dies too. He however is extremely subtle to the point that only the player (even then you have pay attention to his behaviour) is aware of it.
    • But, At least in the sequel he gets revived and gets a happy ending with Yuna.
  • A lot of games in the Tales Series fit this trope. Even when it's played straight in that it's not entirely a bad thing, there's still a catch:
    • Colette in Tales of Symphonia. Chosen at birth for her genetic compatibility with the Big Bad's dead big sister, she goes through one painful transformation after another, in between kidnappings which are also connected to her status. Not to mention the psychological trauma and self-esteem issues that come from knowing since about age six that she'd one day be expected to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world.
      • Zelos has most of Colette's psychological issues, compounded by Parental Abandonment - his father, the previous Chosen One of his world, committed suicide, and his mother was murdered in front of his eyes when he was about eight. Her last words to him were "You should never have been born", after which he decided that being the Chosen One was the only reason his life had value at all. And then the reveal comes that Martel isn't a real goddess...is it any wonder he's a Death Seeker unless Lloyd can convince him he's worthwhile?
    • Shirley in Tales of Legendia. Has no friends, spends most of the game getting kidnapped, her first friend takes the bullet for her, and then she turns out to be a kind of Dark Messiah, is brainwashed by the entire ocean and almost commits genocide on land-dwelling humans.
    • In Tales of Eternia, Reid is a chosen one in that he can bear Fibril... but he's not the only one who can do so. Ras, Shizel, and Meredy (albeit not integrated into the gameplay or fully explained in text) can, too. Unfortunately? Nereid's Fibril can make you possessed by Nereid himself, and invoking Seyfert's Fibril before undergoing all of the trials? You die.
    • Estelle is the Child of the Full Moon in Tales of Vesperia. Must be neat to have powerful healing artes, right? Well, Phaeroh wants her dead and views her as a poison to the world, and using her powers on an Entelixea will cause them to go crazy and eventually kill them. Even if she can turn them into spirits.
    • Veigue didn't know how to control his Ice Force in Tales of Rebirth when he was "chosen" to gain its powers. So during an outburst of yelling "CLAAAAIIIIRRRREEE!", he froze her. (This actually became somewhat of a running gag; a Tales DVD shows him shouting, "CLAAAAIIIRRRREEEE!" and covering the screen in ice; and several fans were disappointed this wasn't integrated into Tales of Graces.)
    • So you're a reincarnation of a heavenly being in Tales of Innocence? Your past life is literally going to come back to haunt you.
    • Tales of the Abyss has Luke fon Fabre (both original and replica models), who is informed that he is a chosen hero Because Destiny Says So, but not what the consequences of his actions will be. Because of his ignorance, he destroys a city and starts a war, all in accordance with the ancient prophecy that controls the world, and he has to deal with the consequences for the rest of the game.
  • Final Fantasy XIII. So you're a Pulse l'Cie? Congratulations - the government of Cocoon hates you. You have to fulfill your Focus, or else you'll be turned into a Cie'th, Body Horror personified, and will be unable to think of anything but your task...or you might even turn into a living tombstone. And your reward should you complete that Focus? Immortality...as a crystalline statue. Unless, that is, the fal'Cie need you, in which case you can be continuously de-crystallized and crystallized again to complete whatever Focuses they want you to do...Focuses which are never fully explained to you. Have fun.
    • Especially for poor Fang and Vanille, who were given a rather terrible Focus. It was so bad, Vanille couldn't even bring herself to do it!
  • The Trow from The Bard's Tale have a few songs about how much it sucks to be the chosen one. And considering the situations in which they sing themOne Two , it's appropriate.
    • Though played around with for the Bard himself — he is also a Chosen One, yet despite the repeated insistence of the Trow Band he actually ends up in the position to fulfil the prophecy, not die and get riches or alternatively stop a demon princess from ravaging the world and end up no worse off than he was at the start of the story, thanks to having more combat competence than farmboys and having the power of the save function on his side.
  • Ted in Suikoden I preceded everyone in the above trope. He acquires the Soul Eater Rune, is forced to runaway from the witch Windy for the next 300 years, gets his rune stolen from him 150 years after he fled from his village, and commands the Soul Eater to eat his soul just so that he won't accidentally command the soul to return the Rune back to him.
  • Zanik from RuneScape is the goblin war god Bandos' Chosen Commander, the goblin who will lead all the goblins to victory in a huge war. There's just one catch: Zanik is of the Dorgeshuun, a group of pacifist cave goblins who renounced Bandos after he ordered them to partake in a battle they had no chance of winning for no reason. There's an entire quest series devoted to Zanik basically telling Bandos to fuck off.
  • Similar to above, the Protagonist from Devil Survivor. For him, being The Chosen One means being fated to fight a series of terrifyingly powerful demons in a contest for power that will make him a target of Heaven and the demons if he goes too far out of line... not to mention being personally responsible for the lives of everybody in the lockdown.
  • The protagonist of Persona 3 also has it pretty bad. After finding out about the Dark Hour, he/she joins a group dedicated to stopping it. Only to find out that they were unwittingly played in order to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. Also, thanks to being at the wrong place at the wrong time, the harbinger of this end turned out to be locked inside of him/her. This results in him/her having to make a sadistic choice. The first option is to erase everyone's memories of the fact that the end of the world is coming, but allowing all of them to live their last days happily. The other option is to keep everyone's memories intact allowing them to futilely fight against the coming end. This first leads to a Nonstandard Game Over/Bad End. The protagonist only succeeds with the second option by performing a Heroic Sacrifice that results in him/her becoming a Barrier Maiden.
  • Isaac, the player character of the first Golden Sun game, is chosen directly by The Wise One to make the hard decision of whether Alchemy is restored to the world or not, which isn't the black-and-white situation it initially seems to be. And the fate of his Disappeared Dad hangs in the balance... and Isaac is nearly forced to knowingly murder him himself to confirm a choice that he can't ever be sure was the right one.
    • Ivan was given up by his family as an infant to ensure he would be in the correct place to join Isaac and Garet on their quest. He was raised by non-Adepts in Kalay, and was considered a Creepy Child for his powers. Ivan finds out about his destiny when his foster-father is held for ransom in the local Wretched Hive and his foster-mother forbids him from helping so he will go fulfill the prophecy instead (if you rescue Hammet anyway, Layana yells at Ivan for disobeying her orders and jeopardizing the prophecy). When Ivan reaches Contigo in the second game, he learns that his birth mother died of a broken heart over giving him up, and his only blood relative refuses to get close to him because that prophecy's not fulfilled yet.
    • A stealth example: in The Lost Age, there are certain dungeon inscriptions and books suggesting that Piers is the Mercury Adept destined to bring about the return of Alchemy to Weyard. Piers gets branded a criminal and permanently exiled from his homeland for this.
  • Sometimes being The Chosen One in an Elder Scrolls game can really suck.
    • The Nerevarine in Morrowind definitely gets the cosmic short end of the stick. While all of the Chosen Ones in The Elder Scrolls series have to endure many hardships to accomplish their goals, none of the others get infected with a horrible mutating disease as part of their divine mission (though the Nerevarine is able to eventually remove the negative aspects of it). It also sucks because everyone around the Nerevarine is trying to manipulate him/her: the Emperor, the Tribunal, Azura, Dagoth Ur, everyone. And in the end, the Nerevarine saves Tamriel from the threat of Dagoth Ur, but at the same time unintentionally sets in motion Morrowind's destruction. It's also mentioned that the Nerevarine apparently vanished in Akavir. The Nerevarine's story ends with him/her an immortal mutated freak, most of his/her accomplishments rendered utterly moot, and vanishing off the face of Tamriel.
    • The Champion of Cyrodiil in Oblivion doesn't have it much better. The Champion actually fails his/her mission to stop the Mehrunes Dagon's invasion and has to watch as the other Chosen One whom s/he has been helping and protecting throughout the main questline sacrifices himself to save the world. The Champion is later tapped to be the successor of the Daedric Prince of Madness Sheogorath, which entails leaving Cyrodiil behind and gradually going insane as mad gods are wont to do. YMMV on how bad it is being a god of madness.
  • This is probably the most prominent trope in Dark Souls because Continuing Is Painful. Sure, you're effectively immortal and will return to life after being killed, but all this means is that you will be dying repeatedly, each time horribly. You'll also watch as your friends and allies die and go hollow one by one.
  • Ark from Terranigma. It turns out that returning life to the surface world requires the destruction of his own, himself included. The real kick to the balls is the implication that his past incarnations have been doing this since the dawn of time.
  • Duran from Agarest Senki. To the point he's a cynical Death Seeker and Deadpan Snarker. Avoids being Wangst because he doesn't advertise it to the world and he's already resigned to his fate.
  • Gabriel Belmont from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Gabriel loses everything and everyone important to him in the course of fulfilling his God given destiny. Even after becoming Dracula to spite God, God still considers him his chosen champion so he can't even find escape in death. To emphasize how much it sucks for him, he spends most of the sequel trying to get his hands on the one weapon that can permanently kill him just so he can stop being the chosen one.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Sasha in Greek Ninja is definitely not thrilled with her fate...

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang has enormous pressure put on him at the age of twelve. Because he was unable to handle the responsibility of being the Avatar and ran away, his entire race got wiped out, and the Evil Overlord terrorized the world for 100 years. In addition to that, he blames himself for two more crushing defeats. Basically, his entire life was planned out for him, and even his closest friends and past lives take it for granted that he's going to forsake his values and kill the Fire Lord. He doesn't, in the end, but still.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson experiences this in the episode "Homer the Great". At first it's nice being the Chosen One of the Stonecutters, but then he gets bored with it due to the lack of any challenge-everyone constantly sucks up to him and lets him win whatever games they play.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper is chosen as her generation's Te Xuan Ze: the magical protector of the barrier between the human and monster world. At first its a job she takes in stride even though she has to occasionally ditch her friends and keep it a secret from them. But then comes the real rub; she can't leave her hometown ever as there is a barrier keeping her from leaving. The only way out is for her successor to take the reigns. And as Juniper is still a child, it'll be awhile before that happens. Say the least, she doesn't take this discovery well.
  • American Dragon Jake Long has a dragon assigned to protect every country. And our hero is, uh...the American one. And it leads to getting chased by a dragon-crazy teacher, training taking most of his childhood, nearly getting killed multiple times, and losing his Dragon-hunting girlfriend through a time change.
    • One episode has him shifting the burden to his little sister, who is initially very eager to accept it. In one week she's a stressed out bundle of nerves because she's sleep deprived and falling behind in school. Jake, on the other hand, is having the time of his life as a normal kid.
  • In the Imaginationland story, in South Park, Butters is the key to stop the evil characters. He doesn't care for the role.

    Real Life 
  • Human sacrifices were (of course) chosen by their gods, and in many cultures saw it as quite an honor.
  • Redvers Buller in command in South Africa in the Boer War and Elphinstone in Afghanistan in 1842. Both protested vociferously at being given a job they knew they were not competent to handle.
  • Ambrose Burnside is famous for refusing command of the Union Army during the American Civil War, fearing he lacked the competence. The Battle of Fredericksburg proved him right.
  • Tevye's quote above, although in jest, accurately depicts a real-life example of this trope. Jewish tradition says the Jews are the so-called "chosen people of God," but because of that separateness, the Jews have been subject to more persecution and ill treatment than just about any other surviving ethnic group. You could argue that Judaism is a real-life example.

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