They must've screwed up big time to deserve this.
"Gerard, take a note. This is the third time this month that the busy Lieutenant Vormoncrief has come to my negative attention in matters touching political concerns. Remind Us to find him a post somewhere in the Empire where he may be less busy."
When a character is transferred to a remote and/or unpleasant outpost as punishment for annoying the higher-ups for some reason (bad job performance, personality conflicts, or perhaps good
job performance that a superior finds threatening
and other characters that are likely to put Honor Before Reason
may be frequently threatened with this sort of reassignment, or will have it really done to them. At best, whoever orders it simply hopes to have a "troublemaker" out of his or her hair. At worst, they're disposing of someone who "knows too much"
by handing them a dangerous posting in the hopes it will lead directly to their death
The others there are often a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
at best, since their Back Story
will always include a reason to have been sent there too. This is often the explanation
of why a response to a new danger which first appeared at such a remote outpost is so feeble, allowing the threat to swell to the proportions it will later assume: the characters there are a mostly useless and rotten lot. Of course, sending The Hero
there almost always guarantees a Reassignment Backfire
Closely related to Punishment Detail
, where an assigned task is the punishment rather than the location.
See also: Kicked Upstairs
, in which the new job appears not to be a punishment to those on the outside, but the hero knows exactly
what's been done to them.
Compare Locked Away in a Monastery
, Place Worse Than Death
, and Snipe Hunt
Can also be a form of Put on a Bus
or The Exile
(Incidentally, the picture shows actual Royal Marines occupying Rockall
, which really is a lump of rock sticking up in the middle of the Atlantic. The UK government claims it because it gives it territorial rights to the sea around it. They didn't have to stay there long though.)
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- The first major ad campaign for the Mercury Villager minivan in the early 90s was centered around a fictional car company whose CEO watched the success of the Villager unfolding with an envious eye. In one commercial, two of the company executives are discussing the situation, and executive #1 mentions how the CEO now wants his company to design a minivan with the same special features as the Villager. Executive #2 jokes that in that case, the CEO should just buy a Villager. Unfortunately, the CEO happens to walk up behind him just as he says it. In the closing scene, the now former executive #2 is answering telephones in the mail room.
Anime and Manga
- Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach in From Eroica with Love likes to threaten his men with a transfer to Alaska should they fail in their job. He follows through on this threat at least once. (But they are eventually forgiven and come back, not to mention that they had it quite easy in Alaska - so maybe it's a subversion?)
- It would be, but for the facts that a) the only reason they were forgiven was that personnel wouldn't give Klaus 25 new men, and b) they hated it there.
- Misha gets sent to Siberia around the same time.
- Chor Tempest in Simoun gets assigned to Messis, a mediocre border patrol Airborne Aircraft Carrier, after failing to properly protect their previous base of operations, Arcus Prima.
- The titular teacher in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is relocated far north in one episode. For some reason his students are already waiting at the new school.
- In the Pokémon anime, Giovanni repeatedly threatens to reassign the Team Rocket trio to Antarctica. At the beginning of Battle Frontier he does. The only reason they're still following Ash is because Giovanni has long since stopped caring about them.
- Until the final episode of Sinnoh League Victors, when he decides that he has a use for them and reassigns them to Unova. They proceed to actually act competent for much of the beginning of Black & White before reverting to their old selves.
- Trigger-happy Small Girl, Big Gun Kome Sawaguchi from Blue Seed points to this trope when the team commander asks here to exercise a little self-control. "If I could control myself, I never would have been assigned to this unit!"
- In Codename: Sailor V Inspector Wakagi ends up being (temporarily) transferred to Siberia (somehow it's within the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Police) by his Superintendent-General for being beaten by Sailor V at solving a case too many times.
- 20th Century Boys features a chapter about Chouno aptly titled "Officer at the End of the Earth."
- The crew of the Irresponsible Captain Tylor's ship gets shipped off to the "galactic boonies" in the second quarter of the series. The series averts Reassignment Backfire though, as almost nothing relevant to the war with the Raalgon occurs until they're on their way back.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, it occurs twice: Mustang's team is scattered to different parts of Amestris, and Olivier Armstrong is transferred to Central after it becomes clear they know a bit too much about the military's inner workings. Both result in major Reassignment Backfire.
- In the 2003 anime version, Roy gets sent to the North between the end of the series and the movie after killing Pride..
- The manga Gundam Legacy (which focuses on Greatest Stories Never Told about Gaiden Game characters) has an almost literal example. In the final story arc, Ford Romfellownote and Agarnote defy their Titans superiors to help stop a plot by Zeon die-hards that would have resulted in the destruction of the Zeon home colony, Zuum. In punishment, they're demoted to Ensigns and shipped off to the ass-end of the world; Ford has an "another fine mess you've gotten me into" attitde, but Agar is surprisingly upbeat — either because he knows they did the right thing, or because their company includes the cute Bridge Bunnies Noel Andersonnote and Miyu Takizawanote .
- This trope is also why Bright Noa (and later on, along with his Londo Bell group, despite his reputation and service to the Earth Federation, is called "the Eternal Captain." The top brass of the EFSF aren't particularly keen on giving greater publicity or promotions to someone associated with (in)famous Newtype Gundam pilots.
- In Tegami Bachi, Lag is reassigned to the Cold Letter division, being forced to deliver letters that have sat a long time without being delivered, because the new director doesn't like his trying to become Head Bee, the position that he also wants.
- The main characters in Sora No Woto appear to have been assigned to an area with very little going on around them, although no real reason is given as to why they were assigned there.
- Happens to Anabuki Tomoko in Strike Witches. For some reason, The Ace and the star of the propaganda movie is transferred to the middle of nowhere in Suomus and then having to raise a squadron out of some misfits. Naturally, she's pissed off.
- In order to protect Naruto from Tobi, the Allied Ninja Army has him sent to an obscure island with the 'mission' of documenting the island's giant animals, as well as taming the 9-tailed fox. It flops when Naruto senses the war going on outside and shows why they had to resort to trickery.
- In One Piece, Smoker did this to himself willingly. Why? Because the base he was being assigned to was at the entrance of the New World, and he wanted to be there when Luffy finally showed up.
- Later on, we learn that the base is a dumping ground for the Navy's least-professional and generally unpleasant sailors.
- Patlabor: This befalls Captains Gotoh and Shinobu, prior to the start of the OVA continuity. Both were assigned duty at SVU's headquarters, which sits on reclaimed land that's practically out in the middle of nowhere.
- Lt. Sonny Fuzz has been reassigned to places in the lines of Antarctica (perhaps literally there, too) a couple of times, though we've never seen him actually end up there.
- It is sometimes implied that General Halftrack was put in charge of Camp Swampy because he's too incompetent to manage anything more important.
- In The Men From The Ministry, the main characters' boss frequently threatens to reassign them to the Outer Hebrides.
- In The Navy Lark, this is pretty much how the crew of HMS Troutbridge was assembled. The Admiralty's apparent thought process was to keep all the screw-ups and schemers in one place — namely one broken-down frigate. Given the mental capacities of some of the admirals, though, this policy has the expected result.
Role Playing Game
- In the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition campaign The Enemy Within, the adventurers at one point save the life of an Imperial Elector Count... and learn a lot of embarrassing secrets about his court. So as a "reward" they get sent to Kislev, which is the fantasy equivalent of Russia...
- In the Planescape campaign, when the devils want to do this, the place they have is a Blood War battlefield called the Stinging Sands of Minethys. This place in Carceri used to have strategic value millennia ago, but since then, both sides of the war have long forgotten why they were fighting over it, and the fighting has degenerated into tedious, grueling trench warfare. The fighting here is pointless, because no progress has been made by either side in over a thousand years, and the devils only persist because pride prevents them from letting the demons have it. Devils send subordinates here as a punishment.
- Marathon 2: Lh'owon, the abandoned homeworld of S'pht, has since become a Pfhor dumping ground for poor officers and brilliant but belligerent ones. This makes the initial invasion of it extremely easy for the player, until he causes so much damage that the Pfhor Empire sends their best fleet, Battle Group Seven, to deal with him.
- A Silph Co Scientist mentions that he got transferred to the Tiksi Branch in Pokémon RBY and FRLG, and implies that this is the reason why he was defecting to Team Rocket during their takeover.
- The backstory for Doom says that the main character was reassigned to Mars for assaulting his superior after the man ordered him to open fire on civilians. The manual makes it clear that Phobos is considered by space marines to be the dullest assignment imaginable, "With no action for fifty million miles, your day consisted of suckin' dust and watchin' restricted flicks in the rec room." Obviously, things didn't go so well.
- In Half-Life 2, Combine soldiers are threatened with "permanent offworld assignment" if they fail to stop Gordon Freeman. It is worth noting that at this point, they trap you in a cell block, and suicidally rush you only to get gunned down. It can be assumed that death was a preferable alternative.
- During the Villain Protagonist campaign of Star Wars Battlefront II, this happens to the narrator when the prisoners on the death star escape and wreak havoc. This seriously pissed off Vader, who consequently then dragged the 501st across the galaxy (to a variety of pretty dire planets) to hunt for the missing Death Star plans. This, however, eventually turns out to be their "salvation", when the death star is destroyed shortly after they leave.
- It is hinted in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion that most or all of the soldiers stationed at Fort Frostmoth are there because of punishment. It's a freezing island filled with werewolves, naked barbarians, tree-women, and undead warriors.
- In Activision's BattleZone, if you fail a particular mission, you are to be reassigned to Mars' polar region.
- In Radiant Historia Viola was reassigned to the Sand Fortress for being to popular.
- In Wing Commander, Christopher Blair gets demoted and Reassigned to Antarctica between the first and second games when nobody believes his claim that Kilrathi stealth fighters destroyed the Tiger's Claw. He's proven right by the end of the second game.
- In a bad ending after failing at a specific mission, Blair can find himself reassigned there *again* and can only sit in despair as news comes in that the Concordia has been destroyed. The Concordia is destroyed anyway at the beginning of Wing Commander III, meaning that it's doomed either way, if that makes you feel better...
- In the adventure game KGB (also known as Conspiracy), this can be your ending if you annoy your higher-ups in the KGB.
- Luminous Arc: It takes a bit of figuring out, but this is apparently what Kingston did to Heath when the latter started to get too suspicious, creating a program to raise war-orphans as child soldiers to get him out of the way for almost a decade. Naturally, he shot himself in the foot by doing this.
- It is implied in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker that Coldman, the CIA Director prior to the aftermath of Operation Snake Eater, being made the CIA Station Chief of Central America was a result of this trope, Exile, and Kicked Upstairs due to his involvement in creating the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater.
- A possible ending for Norman Jayden in Heavy Rain.
- Happens to Cole Phelps in L.A. Noire after his affair with a German singer is brought to the attention of the public. Of course, being the protagonist, it turns into a Reassignment Backfire of epic proportions.
- Suikoden III: It's made clear to Thomas that the Zexen Confederacy has sent him to oversee the struggling Budehuc Castle just to get him out of the way. In his case, the only thing he's really done to warrant this treatment is exist, given that he's the illegitimate son of a Zexen council member.
- Although no one is threatened with reassignment there, Camp Golf is meant to be treated this way in Fallout: New Vegas, as Boone mentions that it's "The only resort in New Vegas that no one wants to get sent to."
- Lyude, from Baten Kaitos was reassigned to Nashira, because he unfortunately was too much of a decent human being.
- In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Hazama has Makoto assigned to Ikaruga to keep her from interfering with his plan to mindrape Noel and Tsubaki. The fallout of this plot is still in the air, but unlike all his other gambits, pulling off his work with those two is all the good he's getting out of this one. The negative fallout starts from one simple fact - she's alive and reunited with Noel! More
- In Mass Effect 2:
- In the opening cutscene, the Normandy is scouting a remote space sector for signs of geth activity—a task that, as Joker comments, was only given to them to keep Shepard's crew and their knowledge of the impending Reaper invasion away from the still-ignorant majority. The geth were never the source of the first game's conflict and Shepard's superiors know that—but they want to keep it under wraps.
- A bit later, due to Shepard's newfound ties to Cerberus and because of their repeated claims about the Reapers, the Citadel Council agree to reinstate Shepard's Spectre status, under the provision that they limit their movements and jurisdiction only to the Terminus Systems. Luckily for Shepard, this is exactly where they need to be to stop the Collectors from attacking human colonies.
- In Mass Effect 3 Listening Post X-19 can be found near what was once the Rachni homeworld and is described as this due to the fact there has been no sentient life in the star cluster for over a thousand years.
- Detective Adachi of Persona 4 was reassigned to Yasoinaba after an unspecified incident. By his account it was a minor slip-up, though considering his actions in-game one can assume that the actual reason was much more serious.
- In Jade Empire, Minister Sheng gets "promoted" to govern Tien's Landing, a small, middle of nowhere, and unimportant town. Sheng claims this is because his superior wanted him out of the way so Sheng couldn't take their job, but it's just as likely to be because he's a whiny Wangst douche.
- In the Justified Tutorial of X: Beyond the Frontier, the flight controller will warn you off if you shoot at the Terran mothership. He'll eventually threaten to send you to a radar station in Alaska. Do it again and you get a Non-Standard Game Over.
- In Skies of Arcadia, Alfonso gets removed from his patrol detail of the bustling Mid-Ocean trade routes and reassigned to a station in the economically-important but extremely isolated Ixa'taka. While Ixa'taka is home to a vibrant society with its own rich history and culture, the Valuan Empire sees it as little more than uncivilized savages living in trees, so it's definitely this trope.
- In Far from Home, the lieutenant made a paper airplane out of a briefing. Hence, the scouting mission.
- Girl Genius had Violetta reassigned into Mechanicsburg because she "wasn't good enough"... supposedly. Actually Tarvek pulled strings to get her put there in order to save her life, because someone had been assassinating the Smoke Knights assigned to protect him, and he didn't want her to die doing a job she hated.
- Castle Heterodyne also serves this purpose for Baron Wulfenbach, albeit more directly lethal than most examples, acting as a work camp/prison for screwup subordinates and dangerous criminals.
- In Misfile Rumisiel is assigned to the 5th Branch of The Celestial Filing Dept, the lowest rung of the heavenly ladder whose job is basically to take files out, read them, and put them back, in the hopes of keeping him from doing any damage. Unfortunately he is such a screw up it backfires.
- Sapphire Guard in The Order of the Stick had a habit of remembering they have Miko whenever they had to send someone far, far away on a months-long mission. Such a representative noticeably harmed their image, though.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Riff was briefly reassigned to Alaska for pissing off his boss; because he'd never previously held down a nine-to-five job, he didn't know that it was possible to just quit without blowing up the factory.
- Besides, it beat being transformed into a gnome.
- In S.S.D.D Tessa was assigned to station E11, orbiting Uranus, for ordering Tin-Head to disassemble her commanding officer's car (while drunk). Earlier (chronologically), when she was considering volunteering for the Super Soldier implants field test she envisioned herself being assigned to: the arctic, a desert, and a really boring post if she refused the offer.
- In Decades of Darkness, an Alternate History timeline, being transferred to the West African colony of Whydah is considered this for members of the American military. The American State Department's equivalent assignment is Liberia.
- In Reds the United American Socialist Republics became Stalin's go to dumping ground for those too popular to kill.
- The SCP Foundation files make occasional use of this. For displaying either egregious stupidity or horrific violations of common decency, (i.e. rearranging the furnishings of a young blind girl for a laugh) someone can be reassigned to Keter duty. Keter is the classification used for objects or beings that show an active, intense hostility towards human life, civilization, or existence itself. As they often have to have incredibly difficult and precise means of containment and can cause significant destruction if they breach their containment, this tends to lead to a dangerous, short lived assignment for many of the people assigned to such duties.
- For the members of the Global Guardians, superheroes who are seen as too aggravating and trouble-making to put up with but who are too effective in the field to fire, tend to be sent to the Guardians embassy in Azerbaijan in the hopes that their time in exile will teach them some discipline. In the Guardians universe, Azerbaijan is notable for having fewer incidences of super-crime per year than any other country... even micro-nations such as Vatican City, Monaco, and Lichtenstein.
- Garfield and Friends, "The Impractical Joker": Roy has played a practical joke on Orson, who vows revenge but is secretly pulling off a Paranoia Gambit. Shortly thereafter, an inspector, who appears to be Orson in a Paper-Thin Disguise, arrives on the farm. Roy just mocks him and begs to be sent to the South Pole, even trying to throw mud on the "inspector". After the inspector falls into Orson's waller, the real Orson walks up. As Roy contemplates this turn of events, the inspector declares that he really will banish Roy. As Roy runs away in panic, the inspector turns out to be Lanolin in disguise.
- How Invader Zim came to Earth, and a running theme in the series. Zim doesn't seem to know or care that this isn't a "good" assignment.
- It's because this reassignment was just a disguised suicide mission. The Tallest sent him there not knowing there was a planet in the vicinity and hoped he would die along the way. They're a little more blunt when it comes to Skoodge, though: "You will be assigned to Blorch, home of the slaughtering rat people."
- Literally what happens to Military Maverick Yuri Stavrogan in Exo Squad: he gets sent to Antarctica right after he gets promoted to an squad commander. Unfortunately for him, the Neosapien breeding facility they are assigned to investigate is, in fact, the highest security Neo installation on the planet at the moment (because it researches Neo Lords), and his entire squad is wiped out.
- Happens once in Johnny Bravo when Johnny is given to a foster family in Antarctica.
- About half of the main cast in Transformers Animated. Bumblebee and Bulkhead were assigned space bridge repair detail as punishment for an incident in boot camp (though Bulkhead didn't mind), while Optimus himself was put in as their captain because it was about the highest position he qualified for after the Elita-1 incident.
- Ranger Smith often threatened to send Yogi Bear to either Siberia or the St. Louis zoo if he didn't behave.
- Marvin from Martin Mystery was reassigned to a Center base in Antarctica, largely as an excuse to have a Whole Plot Reference to The Thing (1982).
- The explanation for why the famed Commodore Tolwyn is babysitting a bunch of space cadets in Wing Commander Academy.
- An episode of G.I. Joe: Renegades opens with two hapless Cobra guards standing in front of a remote bunker in the middle of a frozen wasteland. A brief conversation between the two reveals that they both ended up there by failing to prevent the Joes from getting into secure areas. Naturally, the Joes show up again. One wonders where they'll get sent next time...
- In the two-part American Dad! episode "Stan of Arabia", Stan is reassigned to a post in Saudi Arabia after screwing up his supervisor's anniversary roast party, and naturally his family goes with him. It doesn't go well.
- In an episode of the Dilbert cartoon, two teams within Dilbert's company (his team and that of the one-off villain Lena) are pitted against each other to finish a task, with the team that fails being reassigned to Albany, New York (cue an image of a desolate, snowy waste).
- Lena's newly-decapitated head: "Well, better this than Albany."
- The trope is subverted in the Private Snafu cartoon, The Outpost, which was intended to teach US soldiers that being assigned to remote locations is not a punishment, but a chance to participate in an important part of the United States' vital worldwide observation network to help win World War II.
- In the third season of Archer, Nikolai Jackov, head of the KGB is transferred to SIBERIA when cyborg Barry takes over. Jackov defects to ISIS instead.
- Brock Samson's assignment as the Ventures' bodyguard in The Venture Bros. is one of these, for asking too many questions about the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Hunter Gathers was reassigned to Guam for the same reason.
- It's important to note that this all happens in a flashback. In the present, Brock is content in his job as bodyguard, Gathers went rogue, and the Guild is basically a club that lets eccentrics pretend to be supervillains. In Season 4, both Brock and Gathers work for SPHINX and take care of the actual threats to the public.
- A 1980s episode of The Jetsons had Mr. Spacely threaten to (and almost) reassign George to "Outer Moongolia"note