Lisa: I know it's hard, Gary. But you're still the only hope to stop these newer terrorists.The character, typically the hero, receives a Call to Adventure but at first refuses for some reason. Events then conspire to force them to accept the call, and in a good number of cases, the events in question hit home in a very tragic fashion. If this is the second (or further) iteration of a Hero's cycle, it isn't uncommon for the Hero to have ''forgotten'' his adventures, given up his Hero powers, or some combination of the two, deliberately or otherwise: this variant of the refusal is Can't Stay Normal. The term comes from anthropologist Joseph Campbell's analysis of heroic sagas; it is a standard feature of such stories. (See The Hero's Journey.) Of course some heroes jump at the chance for adventure. (Others would have if they'd only gotten it!) See also: Achilles in His Tent, "Leave Your Quest" Test and The Drag-Along. Contrast Adventure Rebuff, where the call refuses you, We Are Not Going Through That Again which takes place at the end of a story where the heroes refuse to repeat their adventure when confronted with the possibility, and Can't Refuse the Call Anymore, when circumstances force the hero to accept the call.
Gary: Why me?! Why am I the only one?!
Lisa: Because you're the one with the power to—
Gary: WELL I DON'T WANT THE FUCKING POWER! I don't want the guilt, I don't want the shame, and I don't want the responsibility!
Gary: Why me?! Why am I the only one?!
Lisa: Because you're the one with the power to—
Gary: WELL I DON'T WANT THE FUCKING POWER! I don't want the guilt, I don't want the shame, and I don't want the responsibility!
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Anime & Manga
- The Pretty Cure series is well acquainted with this little trope.
- In the second episode of Yes! Precure 5, when Rin is asked to become the second Pretty Cure, her response is "No thanks, I'll pass." Eventually, she is forced into it when Nozomi is in danger and Rin is the only one around who could save her. Karen, too, refuses to try again when her pinky catch breaks apart.
- It happens in Heart Catch Pretty Cure in the same exact way, except Erika didn't want to because of other responsibilities. She changes her mind when she sees how awesome it is (and when she sees Tsubomi get herself into trouble.)
- Itsuki's the same way - Potpourri chose her to be a Precure, but she didn't feel she was worthy. It isn't until her brother is turned into a monster that she takes it up.
- Then, there's Yuri, the former Cure Moonlight. The first time, Tsubomi's grandma has to remind Tsubomi and Erika that she can't transform. The second time, Potpourri tries to recruit her, but she turns it down. It isn't until the Precure Trials that she's dragged back, kicking and screaming.
- Ellen of Suite Pretty Cure ♪ tries to run away from the call due to the guilt of her actions while with Mephisto. Hummy and the Fairy Tones are very insistent and very forgiving.
- Alice of DokiDoki! Precure refuses to become Cure Rosetta initially due to the fact that she kinda has rage control problems, stemming from the fact that she beat down a few bullies when she was younger.
- Kirara of Go! Princess Pretty Cure refuses to stay Cure Twinkle at first due to her busy lifestyle.
- Homare of Hugtto! Pretty Cure gets hit with this after she has a panic attack trying to get her Mirai Crystal and fails.
- Kouji Kabuto Jumped at the Call in the original Mazinger Z. In the first timeline seen in Shin Mazinger Zero, he refused the call and we got to see the outcome. It was not pretty (unless your definition of pretty includes the planet scorched away and humanity wiped out by Mazinger-Z).
- In AIR, once Yukito realizes that Misuzu's illness is killing her because she's become his friend, he tries to leave and never see her again, but then remembers that he has to try to save her. Also, in the movie, he did not even want to look for the girl in the sky.
- Zakuro in Tokyo Mew Mew. She was already a Mew Mew by this point — her "refusal" concerned joining the team.
- Sailor Moon just loves this trope:
- In her solo series, Minako (Sailor Venus) initially thought it was a prank (admittedly she initially had the call when a talking white tomcat came on her in the shower), and first transformed because she was being actively attacked by the youma she had just stumbled on, and toyed with the idea of retiring for most of the series (and actually did it once-for all of five minutes before a group of youma showed up and she decided to take them down). Considering she's ultimately revealed to be the kind of person who would always choose her duty over happiness, with said duty being Sailor Venus, the Irony is rather amazing.
- Usagi (Sailor Moon) just wanted to be normal, only agreed to get powers in order to save her friend Naru, and even got out of having them once when she died at the end of the original anime's first series. She never got out of it in the manga, though she killed herself after being forced to kill her lover; they were both reborn and she had to fight again immediately afterward.
- Haruka (Sailor Uranus) in the first anime refuses until a daimon is about to kill Michiru (Sailor Neptune), who is wounded trying to protect her. She is warned by Michiru not to say yes just to save them because she can't take it back once she does. She says yes finally anyway.
- Ami (Sailor Mercury) in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon refuses because she believes Usagi only befriended her so that she'd join up. As usual, a battle forces her to make the choice - although afterward, she claims to Usagi that she really does want to fight with her, probably still hoping it will let them become friends.
- Nakajima Youko in The Twelve Kingdoms spends an unusually long portion of the entire first Story Arc of the series refusing the call in various ways.
- This is Jomy's initial reaction in Toward the Terra. Mixed with a great dose of reluctance in accepting his role as a Mu.
- Ginrai in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce initially refuses to get involved in the Autobot/Decepticon war, and only changes his tune when Hydra and Buster kill some of his friends while trying to get to him.
- Asuna of Mahou Sensei Negima! seems to fit this. When she first finds out about magic, she wants nothing to do with it, and seems downright offended by how it's going against her nice and orderly world (the fact that it seems to be losing her crush isn't helping.) She actually falls into the "did this before, but forgot about it" category, having erased her memory ten years prior. Needless to say, given that the principal put Negi (The Call personified as a cute boy) in her room and he won't hang up, she gives in eventually.
- Chisame puts up even more of a fight, and sort of succeeds in getting away from the weirdness...only to realize that now her life is incredibly boring, so she heads back in.
- The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer: Yuuhi gets picked to be the Lizard Knight, protect the princess, save the world, and so forth but flat out refuses to have anything to do with the whole affair and throws his spiritual advisor out the window (several times). That doesn't stop golems from trying to kill him, though, and the Princess's oath to destroy the world herself finally convinces him to participate wholeheartedly.
- Kamina Ayato from RahXephon waffles between this and being willing to fight throughout the show.
- In Prétear, Himeno at first doesn't even believe the Leafe Knights when they tell her she's the titular Magical Girl, thinking they're pulling a prank. When a monster actually shows up, she's rebuffed by the Tall, Dark, and Snarky leader of the knights and runs off—but then returns when she decides she actually does want to help.
- One side hero in Fist of the North Star, name of Jyuza, adhered to his trope. Jyuza is part of the Nanto Five Chariot Stars who defend the Last Nanto General. When Jyuza is sent a note telling him that he must jump into action to stop Raoh from getting to the Last Nanto General....he slices up the note saying "how stupid!", claiming that he'd rather be as free as a cloud. Course, since this is the series where Anyone Can Die, he's gotta answer the call sooner or later. You know what that means...
- This happens in the original Fushigi Yuugi and its associated material:
- Chiriko intially ignores the mark on his foot designating him as a Suzaku warrior because he's terrified of what duties will be placed on him. Quite a natural reaction, considering he's 13 years old; in fact, this is his default state whenever the mark isn't glowing. Which makes it all the more horrific when he's forced to kill himself as a Taking You with Me sacrifice later in the series.
- Tasuki originally tried to refuse the call when Miaka came to find the next warrior. He said that 'Tasuki' was the name of the previous boss and had died, which sent them onto a hunt for a person who was rumored to bring the dead back to life. His companions manage to persuade him to follow his calling as a Suzaku Warrior and simply return as their leader once Kounan had been saved and Suzaku summoned.
- This was a serious matter during the period of Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, where a superstition was placed on the Priestess of Genbu and her Genbu Celestial Warriors. Indicating them as a curse, and by having them around will destroy the country. So whenever the priestess Takiko found one warrior and tries to persuade him to join, that warrior would automatically refuse the calling, simply because being awakened as a Celestial Warrior has already put their own lives into jeopardy for as long as they can remember.
- This is the case for all of the warriors and priestesses. The legend states that the priestess will appear when the country is on the brink of ruin, which many people saw as an ill omen. So most of them were refusing the call in various shades.
- In the first arc of 20th Century Boys, Kenji tries to put the band back to together, with partial results. A few join out of curiosity or loyalty, but at least one initially back out out of duty for family and jobs. Of course, they all join him later on after the timeskips
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji at first refuses to pilot Unit 01, out of a mixture of fear, confusion, and anger over the circumstances that got him to that point, only to have his father essentially guilt him into the task by forcing a very badly injured Rei to try to crawl out of her gurney to take his place. He ultimately agrees to pilot.
- Kinnikuman originally refused to go to Planet Muscle and claim his birthright because... well, he was kind of a wimp.
- In Sgt. Frog, while Fuyuki is wildly enthusiastic about finding a live alien in his house, Natsumi wants to ignore the whole thing. Even long after this proves impossible, she occasionally wishes Keroro and his squad would go away and let her live a normal life.
- Katekyō Hitman Reborn! is basically an endless cycle of Tsuna refusing the call, his friends being put in danger, and him thus being forced to accept the call for just long enough to deal with this new threat. Each arc starts off this way, and several individual battles are sparked by near-identical internal struggles.
- In Nabari no Ou, Miharu completely ignores the call even after being confronted by Thobari-sensei and repeatedly getting attacked by ninjas. When he finally does learn a ninja technique, he uses it to run away from Thobari-sensei.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka, the title character of the show, is understandably resistant in accepting a contract to become a Magical Girl. Which is kind of the point of the series, as it becomes increasingly clear as the series goes on that being a Magical Girl is not a good thing.
- In Silent Möbius (the TV series and films, not so much the Manga) Katsumi Liqueur not only refuses the call, but once she's been forced into answering the call, she makes a break for it with disturbing regularity.
- Kyouya in Demon City Shinjuku is initially uninterested when Old Master Agni Lai asks him to face his father's Rival Turned Evil and save the world from being overrun by demons. Master Lai doesn't exactly help his case by predicting that there's no way Kyouya can win at his current level of skill, which irks Kyouya enough that he refuses the call a second time when it's delivered by Sayaka Rama, whose father was attacked by the Big Bad. Only when Sayaka ventures into danger herself does Kyouya relent and go after her to take up the mission.
- THE iDOLM@STER - Ritsuko really doesn't want to replace Azusa on the Ryuugu Komachi unit when she gets the mumps. Thing is, she doesn't have a choice.
- Tenchi in Tokyo:
- Tenchi's the latest line of protectors of the Earth (instead of the long-lost prince of Jurai that he is in other canons focusing on him) and is given a Transformation Trinket in the form of seven jewels that turn into a BFS. Instead, he'd rather be a normal teenager and gives away one of the jewels to the six alien girls. This turns out to be crucial in Big Bad Yuugi's plans. Ryoko had split the trinket into seven jewels to alleviate Tenchi's guilt from his My God, What Have I Done? moment when the BFS manifested itself, he couldn't control it, and nearly killed her as a result. He was still in no hurry to accept the call though.
- In some of the Light Novels based in an alternate version of the OVA universe, Tenchi's mother (going by the Tenchi Universe-established Achika name), outright refused to be bonded with a Juraian tree while on Earth... while in the middle of the bonding ceremony. This causes her lifespan to be shortened considerably.
- In My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Hachiman Hikigaya is adverse to joining the service club and leaving his self-imposed solitude. Good or bad, the call can make sure he doesn't graduate in only 3 years.
- Bleach: Ryuuken Ishida is a quincy. Not just any quincy, but one powerful enough to curbstomp his very gifted son, Uryuu. However, he utterly refuses to use his power and the only time he was ever asked why, his response consisted of Blatant Lies that left Uryuu angry with him for years. Uryuu's grandfather did once say Ryuuken's refusal to be a quincy resides with some kind of Declaration of Protection but the exact details weren't explained for a long time and they involved the death of Ryuuken's wife/Uryuu's mother, Kanae. With the quincies and shinigami currently at war and Ryuuken apparently wanting nothing to do with either side, the story has made him a clear case of Heroic Neutral and a very strong contender for a Neutral No Longer fate, up until the very end.
- GEAR Fighter Dendoh has one of the most amusing examples ever: Hokuto and Ginga, two grade schoolers, receive the call by being kidnapped by the titular mecha and getting shoved in the cockpit as they tried to escape a Robeast and having Vega (one of the two who had actually trained to pilot Dendoh) explaining them how to move it... At which point they use Dendoh to walk away as fast as they can while they try and figure how to run. They only fight when Vega tricks them in punching the robeast as it flew over Dendoh to report about the encounter.
- In Umi Monogatari, Kanon feels awkward about her powers and would rather not have to use them at all.
- Sei Iori of Gundam Build Fighters is shown to be an awesome Gunpla Battler, but he's so scared of getting a Gunpla he worked on damaged, he relegates the fighting to Reiji. It isn't until he finally gets over it near the end that he finally shows his true potential.
- In Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, Atsushi and En's initial response to being tasked with saving the earth by a talking pink marsupial is to, very wisely, run away.
- In Shoujotachi Wa Kouya O Mezasu, Uguisu tries this at first. But she is eventually convinced to do the artwork after the others praise the drawings she's posted online.
- A rare villainous example from the manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts 1 — the Council of Disney Villains offered a position to the Cheshire Cat. He then immediately started helping Sora.
- Ultimate Spider-Man has Peter Parker mimicking his mainstream counterpart and the results thereof. The second Spider-Man, Miles Morales, refused to do anything with his powers; when Peter died, Miles figured that if he'd embraced his powers earlier, he might have brought aid to New York's hero, since their powers were connected. He decides to make up for it by filling the gap Peter left.
- Watchmen. A major character arc for Silk Spectre and Nite Owl. Laurie Jupiter (Spectre) always felt pushed into being a crime-fighting heroine by her mother and is glad for an excuse to give up the role when the Keene Act is passed. Dan Dreiburg (Nite Owl) is less happy, but accepts that the days of masked vigilantes are over. Over the course of events however they remember just how good it was to fight bad guys and rescue people, and by the end have joined up to become a Battle Couple.
- Sunfire was originally part of the famed All-New, All-Different X-Men, but quit the team after just one issue. A major part of the later Uncanny Avengers series involves Wolverine getting Sunfire to join The Avengers in order to finally live up to his potential.
- During Superman story Kryptonite Nevermore, Superman loses most of his power and wants to quit being Superman because he is sick and tired of being alone, being burdened with responsibilities and being judged and derided every time he makes one mistake. However a friend talks him out ot it.
I-Ching: Your attitude is understandable! But I beg you to reconsider... one does not choose responsibility! It is often thrust upon one! To refuse it is to commit the worst act of cowardice! Look around you... See a world burdened with misery... with untold agonies — a world which has need of you — as you were!
- This Nodwick strip really says it all. Yeagar is prone to this sort of behaviour if there's no profit (or attractive ladies) involved.
- The Authority. In the Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of The Authority mini-series, Jeroen Thornedike's refusal to be the next Doctor is why all the past Doctors think he's perfect for the job. It eventually culminates in Jenny Sparks having to shoot herself in the temple and be revived just for him to answer the Call.
- In issue 50 of W.I.T.C.H., the Oracle shows the Guardians an Alternate Universe where Will rejected the Heart of Kandrakar when Yan Lin offered it (something that really freaked out the girls). Inverted later on in that world as that Heart is very persistent...
- Also, Cornelia refused at first, believing it a prank from Yan Lin and only accepting after accidentally using her powers (proving it wasn't a prank) and realizing that her best friend Elyon was in trouble. Later in the series Cornelia is the only one happy when they get temporarily Depowered at the start of the New Power arc (and is downright pissed when the titular power-up shows up, even getting an Oh, Crap! face when she sees the incoming power), staying in only out of her sense of responsibility, and in the final story arc she's the one who wants to quit instead than facing the tasks to stay Guardians and acquire another power up.
- A humorous example in an old issue of Thunderstrike: Loki is up to his usual tricks, and the situation escalates to the point where Thunderstrike, War Machine, She-Hulk, and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) end up banding together to stop him. The issue was a Whole Plot Reference to the first issue of The Avengers, with each of the heroes standing in for one of the original members (War Machine for Iron Man, She-Hulk for The Hulk, Thunderstrike for Thor, and Scott Lang for the original Ant-Man), and even ended with Ant-Man suggesting that they could stay together and form a new team of heroes. However, they humorously said no and went their separate ways.
- He gets asked to stop a thief and literally refuses the call; his uncle is killed by that same thief. He quits a number of times as an ongoing refusal of the Call, only to find out that the Call has unlimited minutes. Oftentimes, he's made to remember why he got the call.
- JMS' Spider-Man revealed that many of the challenges Spidey has faced are caused because Ezekiel, the previous Chosen One and Spider-Man's mentor figure, refused the call out of fear and selfishness. He was the one who was meant to fight evil and save New York, but because he refused to use his powers for the greater good it fell to Spider-Man. By the time of the comic he's pretty remorseful and decides to aid Spider-Man as best he can.
- Inverted in Avengers vs. X-Men. Hope accidentally Missed the Call when she panics at the initial bonding of the Phoenix Force, leading to Iron Man accidentally breaking the Phoenix Force and empowering five X-Men with it. Near the end of the story, Hope confronts one of the last remaining X-Men with it, Cyclops, and tells him she's ready. Instead, Cyclops turns her down, telling her that she had her chance and she blew it. It was his turn now.
- After discovering that he has a brother (a biological one at that), younger brother Tony Stark offered an armor to Arno Stark, but was turned down. He later shows up with brand-spanking new, tank-like Mk. MMXX (that's 2020), saying that he wanted an armor; he just didn't want Tony to make it.
- After the War of Kings event killed off Queen Lilandra, Gladiator refused to take the throne until the threat of civil war forced him to do so. Given that the Shi'ar empire was in ruins, and had just come out of a brutal war with the Kree, you can't really blame him.
- Maddie Sullivan of Astro City is a telekinetic who prefers to work in in the entertainment industry, using her powers to manipulate models and aid in stunt work. She networks with other super-powered normals, and they don't take kindly when would-be villains try to recruit them into their schemes.
- Kyon: Big Damn Hero has Kyon's reluctant admission that he remembered seeing his family's ancestral samurai sword in storage and ignoring it. Haruhi then accused him of this.
Haruhi: You are actively trying to pretend you don't hear the call.
- In Ultimate Spider Woman, Mary Jane Watson's best friend Kitty Pryde refused to join the X-Men, and she also refused to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the Acolytes of Magneto. She considers her phasing powers to be useless, and would really prefer to be free to live her own life and otherwise be left alone.
- Average Joe In Bullet Hell's Ryan Randa receives a series of texts from a stranger on his cell phone, telling him to go someplace and to have his boss give him time off from work. This understandably creeps him out, so he takes precautions to protect himself. Fat lot of good this does him when the caller in question, Yukari Yakumo, eventually tires of texting him and drops him into Gensokyo anyway.
- The four in With Strings Attached really don't want to be bothered restoring the Vasyn and removing the curse on Ketafa, but they have to if they ever want to get home again.
- And in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, they really don't want to be participating in the war against the Black Tower, but again, they have to or they won't be sent home.
- In My Stupid Reality Light refuses to be L's successor. Too bad L doesn't take "no" for an answer...
- In A Child Shall Lead Them, Swoop really doesn't want to be the next Prime, to the point where throws the Matrix of Leadership at someone. He eventually accepts the calling anyway.
- A Piece Of Rebellion: Bad Cop/Good Cop really, really doesn't want to be The Special. Not when they know exactly what Lord Business is up to — because they're his right-hand man!
- Isa of Goddess Reborn Chronicle, which is a very good thing. She was supposed to play the part of Lillith.
- A popular sub-genre of Heralds of Valdemar fics involves the comedic (and tragic) potential of people refusing to be Chosen when their Companion arrives.
- For most of Origin Story, Alex Harris refuses to become a superhero, saying that she only wants to be left alone. She flees every attempt made to engage her in active superheroics. And then one night, she spots a helicopter that is falling out of the sky...
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Empath refuses to permanently deal with Gargamel once and for all when he angrily tells his fellow Smurfs to Stop Worshipping Me. Then Gargamel comes and nearly destroys the village and takes half the Smurfs with him to create his Philosopher's Stone, leading to the moment where he reluctantly accepts his role as their savior.
- Friendship Is Magical Girls: Rarity becomes aware of the Secret War between the mahoushoujo and the Changelings when she first sees Twilight, Rainbow, and Pinkie fight and destroy a Parasprite swarm, then later fights alongside them when Trixie steals their Elements. However, when Spike tries to talk Twilight into giving Rarity an Element of Harmony of her own after the latter, Rarity refuses, as she doesn't want to be involved on a regular basis. This doesn't last long, however, as she gets dragged into the fight again when Princess Pupa attacks the group; seeing that she can't just sits on the sidelines, Rarity accepts the Element of Generosity and becomes one of the team.
- A History of Magic has a number of historical figures that refused to contract with the Incubators and become Puella Magi. Among those named were Cleopatra's maid Charmain, Elizabeth I of England, Teresa of Avila, Queen Victoria, and Alice Liddell. At one point so many girls were refusing the call that the Incubators arranged for the publication of Alice in Wonderland to get them dreaming again.
- Beat the Drums of War: The Alliance tries to get the Vaadwaur to join in the war effort against the Iconians, but Overseer Eldex refuses. Thanks to recent events he barely has enough ships to hold his own territory, and he's still fighting the Borg.
- In Eternity, the shipgirl Yonaga, formerly Enterprise, doesn't answer the initial call to battle against the Abyssals. It is partly out of giving the returned Imperial shipgirls the chance to prove and redeem themselves, and partly out of fear that she will regress to her Pacific War-self of near permanent Roaring Rampage of Revenge (which also alienated her to nearly all US ships at the time) and kill the japanese shipgirls.
- In Powers of Invisibility, Juleka is offered the Turtle Miraculous and the role of Guardian by Master Fu, but she refuses in part because she's seen how Ladybug and Chat Noir keeping their secret identities from each other is tearing them apart. When pushed, she later acknowledges to herself that the reason is that she's afraid of failing, of letting down her friends with disastrous consequences. But by this point, with Adrien, Marinette and Rose incapacitated by Madusa, she knows that she is their best hope, and she accepts the role.
- In Reluctant Hero, Zuko is horrified to learn he's the new Avatar, as the Avatar is decried in the Fire Nation as the supreme enemy to their goal of world domination and has to be killed on sight or locked away for life. Unfortunately for him, the Spirits are desperate for someone bringing balance back and refuse to let him commit suicide to escape his fate. Then the Northern Water Tribe abducts him in order to start his training and he's forced to go along while waiting the moment to escape.
Films — Animation
- Kung Fu Panda plays with this trope: despite his eagerness to watch the tournament in which the new Dragon Warrior is to be chosen, when Po is 'mistakenly' selected by Master Oogway, the panda protests that he can't be the one. Amusingly, but also distressingly, the Furious Five and Master Shifu refuse to accept he's their predestined hero either, and do all in their power to convince, persuade, or downright browbeat him into quitting. (And this is lampshaded by Tigress, who insists he doesn't belong and needs to get out so the real hero can show up.) Yet he continues to keep trying to learn, mostly because he's always dreamed of learning kung fu.
- Once he finds out what he's expected to do, however (defeat Tai Lung all by himself), he literally runs away from the temple. (Perhaps it should be Fleeing from the Call?) Luckily for the moral of the story, Shifu stops him and convinces him he can be trained and finds a way to do it. Although Po's hometown isn't doomed, it is put in danger, and this as well as a pep talk from his Dad and a flash of insight into the Dragon Scroll convince him to accept after all.
- Ultra Magnus in Transformers: The Movie initially believes he is "not worthy" to keep the Matrix of Leadership and become Autobot leader, but Optimus Prime convinces him to do it. At the end of the movie, Hot Rod gets it.
- In Titan A.E. the lead Cale Tucker is approached early on by Capt. Joseph Korso to join him on a mission to find the ship called the Titan that is supposed to be the key to saving the human race. Korso putting it, "I want you to risk your life, I want you give up everything you have, to join me on a mission where you'll face terror, and torture, and possibly gruesome death...Because it's worth it. Because the human race needs you." Cale however refuses and only subsequently goes with him when the Drej find and try to capture him.
- In The Lion King Simba's call to action actually comes further into the film than usual when Nala finds him alive and tries to convince him to return to the Pride Lands in order to oust Scar from power and take his place as the rightful king. Because of his guilt over what he thinks he did to his father as well as him having embraced living a life with, "No worries, for the rest of your days" he initially refuses. However after meeting with Rafiki and the spirit of his father, Simba reconsiders it and finds the courage and will to put his past behind him and return to the Pride Lands to accept his responsibility.
- In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo's prominent call to action for direct participation in the over-arching conflict and official picking a side, similarly to Simba's, comes further in to the story when Phoebus asks him to help reach the Court of Miracles in order to warn them of an impending attack that Frollo claimed to have prepared. However, afraid of incurring the wrath of his "master" Frollo as well as having thoughts like, "What am I supposed to do? Go out there and rescue the girl from the jaws of death and the whole town will cheer like I'm some kind of a hero? She already has her knight in shining armor and it's not me," he initially refuses. But because of the weight of his conscience and encouraging from the gargoyles he relents on this decision.
- Happens in BIONICLE: Mask of Light. Takua is apparently chosen by the Mask of Light, but he frames events so it appears that it's his friend Jaller instead to the village. Takua promptly gets volunteered to go on The Quest to find the seventh Toa with Jaller anyway. Takua finally stops refusing the call after Jaller makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save him and puts on the Mask of Light, becoming the Toa of Light.
Films — Live-Action
- In Aliens, Ripley initially refuses to join the team being sent to see why the colony has stopped communicating and whether it really has been overtaken by aliens. Then, she realises that facing her terror is the only way to stop the nightmares.
- In Lockout the leading man, Snow, initially refuses the call to save the president's daughter with the line "I'd rather castrate myself with blunt rocks."
- Star Wars:
- In The Phantom Menace as communicated via her decoy Padme initially plans to stay on the Trade Federation occupied Naboo, feeling it is her duty to stay with her people. However after some convincing by Qui-Gon Jinn and Sio Bibble she gives the signal to her double with the line, "We are brave your highness" to allow them to go on the journey with the Jedi.
- Later on in the movie Anakin Skywalker although enthusiastic about the prospect of being freed from slavery and becoming a Jedi has trepidation about leaving his still enslaved behind. As he and Qui-Gon are walking away from his childhood home he runs back to his mother and claims, "I can't do it mom. I just can't do it." However with some encouragement by Shmi he ultimately does manage to walk away and begin his new path.
- In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker expresses a wish to get off Tatooine but refuses the call due to his current situation ("Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to go home; it's late, I'm in for it as it is!"). He's later forced into it when his uncle and aunt are killed; with them gone, "There's nothing here for me now."
- Later in the same film, as the Rebels are preparing to assault the Death Star, Han Solo refuses to take part in the attack, feeling it would just be suicide. (He shows up in the nick of time, though.)
- In The Force Awakens, Finn and Rey hang up on The Call for various reasons. Finn is an ex-Stormtrooper who's adamant on getting as far away from the First Order as possible; Rey wants to help, but is also compelled to return to Jakku as soon as possible - specially after experiencing a distressing Force-induced vision. Then the planet where they're on is attacked by the First Order, forcing both to fight (and in Rey's case, she even ends up captured by the villain Kylo Ren).
- In Escape from New York, the Anti-Hero Snake Plissken is offered a pardon for his past crimes if he'll rescue the President and a lost tape. He initially refuses, but changes his mind because he thinks he can use the opportunity to escape altogether.
- The Golden Child. Chandler Jarrow absolutely refuses to accept that he's The Chosen One, but helps the good guys anyway because he wants to save the title character. By the end he grudgingly accepts his fate, mainly due to his love for the heroine Kee.
- In The Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan finds his favourite videogame is a military recruitment tool that got him inducted into The Star League. However, whatever interest he has vanishes when the villain Xur has a spy tortured to death on video and Alex instantly demands to be taken home, now!
- However, when Xur learns about him and sends assassins after him, Alex realizes that his only chance of survival is as a starfighter.
- The Matrix is (re)loaded with this one.
- Neo literally receives a cell phone call to adventure at work from Morpheus.
- Neo refuses the call by dropping it, figuratively and literally. He wimps out in escaping the agents hunting for him, refusing to go out on a scaffold, while dropping Morpheus' phone several stories below.
- He's later given a second chance, by way of another phone call at home, again from Morpheus, to finally discover what is the Matrix.
- Neo's belief that he's not the One is dangled nicely by the Oracle, who gives him a choice to save himself or Morpheus. This choice bites him in the ass.
- He finally stops refusing the call when he fights Agent Smith. More chases ensue...all of Neo intently rushing to find a call anywhere he can get one.
- After a dramatic buildup, Gary in Team America: World Police abruptly decides not to join Team America. Of course, after a montage sequence of visiting American monuments and listening to a hilarious satire of patriotic country musicnote , he eventually changes his mind.
- Played very straight in the troperiffic The Mummy Returns:
Ardeth Bay: If I was to say to you, "I am a stranger traveling from the east, seeking that which was lost," what would you say?
Rick O'Connell: Then I would reply, "I am a stranger traveling from the West, and it is I who you seek."
Ardeth Bay: Then it is true. You have the sacred mark. [points to tattoo]
Rick O'Connell: That? No, that got slapped on me when I was in an orphanage in Cairo.
Ardeth Bay: The mark means you're a protector of man, a warrior for God, a Magi.
Rick O'Connell: Sorry, you've got the wrong guy. [lightning strikes]
- From The Terminator franchise:
- In The Terminator, Sarah Connor tells Reese how she is not up to the level of the woman who will someday give birth to the savior of humanity, she can't be, and she doesn't want the job. Later she realizes that whether she wanted it or not she has to take the responsibility.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John Connor refuses to be the leader of the resistance against Skynet and even at one point threatened to commit suicide in front of the T-800. This is mostly because he knows that his being leader of the resistance means that billions of people will die to nuclear holocaust. By the end of the film, he takes up this responsibility one way or another.
- In both Braveheart and The Patriot (a.k.a. Braveheart recycled IN AMERICA) Mel Gibson plays an influential but unambitious farmer who is asked by his countrymen to help in a rebellion against their oppressive king. He refuses to take up arms because he'd rather live a simple life than go to war. Then the king's soldiers kill one his his loved ones and leave him no choice.
- Transformers Film Series:
- In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and to a lesser extent Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sam actively tries to avoid getting involved with the Cybertronian Wars; in the novelization of the former, he even cites chronic pains from the climax of the first movie. Unfortunately, The Call Knows Where You Live and he's got an overwhelming sense of duty.
- In Transformers: Age of Extinction, Optimus Prime himself isn't exactly fond of the idea of helping the humans again, as even after saving Earth three times, Transformers (Even Autobots) are still treated like a threat, and are being hunted down by the very same race they have saved. He even has abandoned his rule of never hurting humans, but still only fights back in self-defense, and doesn't hurt innocents. He however mellows down during the course of the film, with only one confirmed human casualty, which was required to save another human.
- In Serenity, Mal's first reaction to River's sudden bout of insanity and ludicrous martial-arts skill is to hide. Unfortunately, The Operative has already burned down his destination on Haven and killed everyone there, causing Mal to snap. It goes poorly for all sides. (One of the themes of the movie is that if the Alliance knew to leave well enough alone, everything would go more smoothly.)
- In Jumper, David is watching the news while reporters detail severe flooding which has trapped multiple people on their roofs. The reporter even questions what will happen to them. Saved by a mysterious teleporter? Nope, he was busy banging some British chick.
- Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey initially wanted nothing to do with Gandalf or the Dwarves, simply wanting to be left in peace. But he eventually Jumped at the Call when he woke up the next morning and realized his normal life just wouldn't be enough if he didn't do it.
- In the 2010 film version of Alice in Wonderland (2010), a prophecy says that the Jabberwock (a beast that serves the Red Queen which she uses to intimidate her subjects into submission, and pretty much the one way she keeps a hold on power) can only be slain by the Vorpal Sword, and that Alice is the only one capable of using it. However, Alice spends most of the film denying that she is capable of it, going so far as to insist to the creatures who tell her this that they have the wrong person. (The film seems to be a Coming-of-Age Story, more or less, so Alice has to do a lot of Character Development before she comes to her senses and accepts the call.)
- Dogma takes this and runs the whole nine yards. Bethany doesn't take her job in trying to stop Loki and Bartleby from getting back into Heaven seriously, despite being told by Metatron and meeting "prophets" Jay and Silent Bob, the 13th Apostle Rufus and the muse Serendipity. It isn't until they meet the two and Rufus reveals that she's a descendant of Jesus Christ that Bethany outright walks off from the group and begins ranting and raving as to why she's suddenly being thrust into all of this. Metatron shows up again to comfort her and even says that Jesus Himself pulled this when he found out about his heritage (it's hinted that he went into a Heroic B.S.O.D. when he found out, explaining the large time gap in The Bible.)
- Inverted at the end of The Avengers; when Agent Hill asks Directory Fury if the Avengers will return, he says they will. When she asks how does he know, he responds, "We'll need them to."
- Zefram Cochrane doesn't want to be a statue.
- Our Man Flint. Superspy Flint is called on repeatedly by his erstwhile boss Kramden to save the world, but brushes him off disinterestedly. It's only when Kramden is hit in an assassination attempt meant for him that he figures he's in whether he likes it or not (and saves Kramden, naturally.)
- In Gladiator when first approached by his mentor and father figure Marcus Aurelius with the task of taking power and saving Rome, Maximus initially refuses but by the end of the conversation says that he needs to think about it. Somewhat similarly to two previous examples (Braveheart and The Patriot) it is in large part because he wants to return home to live a simple and peaceful life as a farmer and family man. Though he also implies to Marcus that he doubts his capabilities to carry out the task. Later on after much thought however, as well as a meaningful exchange with his servant Cicero concerning how, "Sometimes I do what I want to do. But the rest of time, I do what I have to", Maximus changes his mind on this decision. However it ultimately comes a little too late, as Commodus discovers what his father has planned before Maximus could accept it and thus before it could be announced to those including the Senators brought into attendance. Leading to Marcus being murdered by him, Maximus ironically enough refusing a "call" from Commodus himself to become his enforcer, and thus leading to Commodus attempting to have Maximus as well as his family executed.
- In Kingdom of Heaven Balian is approached by his estranged biological father Godfrey to join him in the Holy Land where he plans on giving him a new start and a living. (Potentially considering making him a knight, but that isn't made clear at the start) Godfrey needing an heir, and wanting to set things right for his conscience's sake. Balian declines however, and only winds up joining them after he kills his brother for desecrating his deceased wife's body. Having a need to get away as well as deciding to take the opportunity to try and redeem he and his wife's souls.
- In Troy Achilles from the start resents King Agamemnon. And thus his friend Odysseus is sent to persuade him in leading the Myrmidions to join the rest of the Greeks into going to war with the Trojans. Playing up things like loyalty, honor, and his pride in order to try and convince him. Achilles refuses however, though subsequently changes his mind after a talk with his mother Thetis who asserts that the Trojan War is his ticket to glory and immortality, though also his doom.
- Condorman: When Harry asks Woody, a comic book writer, to undertake a CIA courier mission to Istanbul that the two sides have mutually agreed will be done by civilians in order to reduce tensions, he initially refuses because he is "not a spy." It takes Harry playing on Woody's vanity and his desire to prove that his Condorman character is realistic to get him to go along.
- Species II: Preston Lennox, having retired from freelance hunting to making a counter-terrorism security firm. He basically doesn't want to do anything if the government became idiots by making another Sil (though the writers didn't think he'd be affected by Fitch and Arden dying by Sil's hands and being nearly killed himself with Dan and Laura), and only gets talked into dealing with the new threat by being offered a million dollars.
- In the Dresden Files novels, we find out, of all people Charity refused to use her magical gifts. In the Dresdenverse, magical ability is "if you don't use it in your youth, you lose it." Molly made the call not long before the same thing would happen, but incurred the wrath of the White Council for the type of magic used —- Mind Rape breaking one of the Seven Laws of Magic.
- Unlike her Legends counterpart, Princess Leia refuses the prospect of becoming a Jedi, as clarified in the novel Bloodline, in order to focus her energy in the political state of the world.
- In Dragon Queen, Trava is adamant that she won't be going on an adventure with the old man.
- Matt from The Power of Five tries this in every book; unfortunately, the call either finds him or he's coerced into it.
- Same thing goes with Alex Rider as well, except it's a situation of "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word, rather than The Call Knows Where You Live / being The Drag-Along.
- In President's Vampire Zach is, at first, less than thrilled at the prospect of abandoning his career path and becoming a liaison to a vampire. However, he's sternly told that it's a job for life and he can either comply or die by knowing too much. By the end of the story, though, he flat-out refuses to abandon Cade.
- Rincewind always refuses the call, being a complete and utter coward; however, he invariably ends up being forced by the plot into following it. This is subverted in The Last Hero, where he actually volunteers for a space mission, having realized that he's bound to be chosen for it anyway.
Rincewind: I do not wish to volunteer for this mission.
Vetinari: I beg your pardon?
Rincewind: I do not wish to volunteer, sir.
Vetinari: No one was asking you to.
Rincewind: [wagging a weary finger] Oh, but they will, sir. they will. Someone will say: hey, that Rincewind fella, he's the adventurous sort, he knows the Horde, Cohen seems to like him, he knows all there is to know about cruel and unusual geography, he'd be just the job for something like this. [sigh] And then I'll run away, and probably hide in a crate somewhere that'll be loaded on to the flying machine in any case.
Vetinari: Will you?
Rincewind: Probably, sir. Or there'll be a whole string of accidents that end up causing the same thing. Trust me. sir, I know how my life works. So I thought I'd better cut through the whole tedious business and come along and tell you I don't wish to volunteer.
Vetinari: I think you've left out a logical step somewhere...
Rincewind: No, sir. It's very simple. I'm volunteering. I just don't wish to. But, after all, when did that ever have anything to do with anything?
Ridcully: He's got a point... He seems to come back from all sorts of things.
Rincewind: You see? [gives Lord Vetinari a jaded smile]
- Also, Susan Sto Helit in Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time. She is so sensible that she refuses to believe in the existence of anything supernatural. Unfortunately, this proves to be difficult when Death is your grandfather, and you're the substitute anthropomorphic personification of Death whenever your grandfather is unable to perform his duties (which seems to happen often). Even after being thrust into such supernatural occurrences, she immediately resets to a "I just want to be normal" frame of mind after aforementioned occurrence is resolved.
- Rincewind always refuses the call, being a complete and utter coward; however, he invariably ends up being forced by the plot into following it. This is subverted in The Last Hero, where he actually volunteers for a space mission, having realized that he's bound to be chosen for it anyway.
- All of the major characters in the Wheel of Time series have "refused the call" at least once. Except Moraine, who Jumped at the Call.
- When Thomas Covenant finds himself Trapped in Another World, he's convinced it's All Just a Dream and refuses to do anything. This changes in the second and third novels.
- Otah Machi in The Long Price Quartet amazingly succeeds at ditching his poet masters and running off. He later becomes Emperor, of course.
- There was a Transformers Choose Your Own Adventure book where at the first choice, you could refuse the call. The adventure promptly ended, with the note that you occasionally wonder what might have happened.
- Elli Winter was supposed to be the Traveler from Quillan in The Pendragon Adventure. Press offered her the position, knowing she had what it took. Elli refused, though, because she felt she wasn't up to it, and asked that the Traveler position be given to her daughter Nevva. That didn't work out so well.
- The Hobbit:
- Bilbo Baggins, but Gandalf decides his hidden Tookish nature craves adventure (and he needs him for his complicated plan) so ensures he goes anyway.
- Interestingly enough, according to Tolkien's notes Gandalf himself didn't exactly Jump at The Call: when the Valar decided to send some emissaries to Middle-earth to help defeat Sauron, only a couple actually volunteered. The Maia later known as Gandalf was asked to go but declined, saying that he was too weak to fight Sauron. In the end Manwë, the high king of the Valar, had to order him to go. His humility in declining to accept the task citing his unworthiness was actually one of the reasons the Valar thought he was the right one for the job.
- Mercedes Lackey had Diana Tregarde, a witch of astounding power and a Guardian, which apparently means even more power and the responsibility to use it to protect people. Her grandmother taught her, but after said grandmother died Di tried to stay away from all that and live without the supernatural. This didn't work out, mostly because supernatural creatures and people could still feel her potential, and trying to ignore them meant that they ran into her on their terms.
- Peter Waylock of the War of the Dreaming doesn't want to guard the family legacy, doesn't believe in magic, and could care less about the Ancient Tradition. Until his son wakes up from a coma and something's wrong.
- Marco from Animorphs was at first very reluctant to fight with the others until he discovered his mother was alive and under the control of Visser One. He was literally going to quit, but Jake asked him for just one mission more. It wound up being this one. This may or may not be a coincidence.
- Karigan from Kristen Britain's First Rider's Call turns down Rider employment after her first adventure, choosing to become a merchant like her father. But the ghost of the Riders' founder keeps trying to summon her in her dreams, and Karigan ends up sleep-riding riding halfway to the capital city in her nightgown, with humiliating consequences. At that point, she decides she'd better give up and join the service.
- In The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Rose's father avoids hospitals because he fears a power like his own father's will manifest there.
- Miras Vara in the Terok Nor books from the Star Trek Novel Verse. When Vara is exposed to an Orb artifact, the spirit lifeform Oralius, leader of the old gods, makes Herself known and insists Vara is the next Astraea (leader of the church and vessel for Oralius). Vara doesn't want to give up her career and her home to live on the run as leader of an outlawed faith. Knowing that Oralius will send her psychic dreams, Vara tries to avoid sleep. This is of course futile. Eventually she gives in and accepts her new destiny. She certainly makes a good effort at refusing the call, though.
- In Sunshine, Rae really does not want to be a vampire-slaying magic-wielder. But she's really good at it, and the humans and Con need all the help they can get.
- Johnny in The Truth of Rock and Roll has a chance to join Jenny in Rock and Roll Heaven and become the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Rich Boy in love with the Rebel Girl. He passes on his chance and becomes the Gray Man.
- In Of Fear and Faith, Kavik refuses August and Noble’s offers to join them on their mysterious and almost certainly epic in some fashion journey. Unfortunately for him, The Call knew where to find him.
- Dave in John Dies at the End frequently tries to escape from the supernatural shenanigans that he's roped into. Perhaps best illustrated in one scene where all the Soy Sauce-related madness starts, when his Evil-Detecting Dog runs off down the street barking at something, trying to get Dave to follow her. Dave just gets in his car and drives off in the opposite direction.
- In Daughter of the Lioness, Sarai and Dove (but mostly Sarai) are The Chosen One of the Copper Isles. Sarai eventually decides that nothing will ever change, so she elopes to Carthak, resulting in panic until Dove reminds him that she has the same credentials. This actually winds up working out for the best for everyone, since Sarai would have been a disaster as queen.
- Bahzell of The War Gods receives the call in the first book, with instructions to head west. By the time he accepts the call, he is fairly close to the eastern edge of inhabited lands.
- In Firefight Calamity attempts to transform David into an Epic. Thankfully, David had overcome his greatest fear just minutes before, which enabled him to remain a human.
- In The Dark Path, Jackie Laperriere is chosen to become the new incarnation of Qu'u, the Zor's quintessential hero, because the galaxy is facing an invasion by horrible monsters and the previous incarnation has already been put in a coma. She initially refuses, wanting nothing to do with the Zor's mystical bullshit, but ultimately relents.
- In Updraft, Kirit isn't interested in using her gift by joining the Singers; she'd much rather be a trader like her mother, which would have averted the whole plot. However, the Singers are quite prepared to ruin her chances of having that life.
- The title character in Eden Green learns that alien needle monsters are invading her city and her best friend is infected with their horrible symbiote. Despite appeals to join the fight and help save the world, she tries several times to refuse the call.
- In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Crippled God is searching for a champion and outfits Barbarian Hero Karsa Orlong, whom he has chosen for the role, with spiritual advisors and some nifty weaponry for his role. But, while Karsa has no problem with going on adventures and raping and pillaging and whatnot, he really resents doing it on the Crippled God's orders and even actively works against him.
- Brenish in Below has longed to see the underground ruins all his life, even planning out what he would do if he ever went in search of treasure. A fake treasure map lands in his lap, giving him the chance to realize his (expensive) plan by bringing investors on board. Instead he gives up his dream, and chooses to get an honest job over the winter so he can save up to marry Cirawyn. He just has One Last Job as a highwayman to do first, and that's where it goes pear-shaped.
- In The Divine Comedy, the protagonist's cowardice gets the better of him in the second canto at the prospect of ascending into the Underworld without the bravery of Aeneas or the divinity of Christ and he questions why he should go on the journey with Virgil at all. Thanks to Virgil's assurance that he works on behalf of our hero's long-lost love, he dismisses his concerns and steps on the path to Hell.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Buffy at first refuses her call as The Chosen One and comes to Sunnydale to get away from her delinquent reputation and Slayer responsibilities, but is forced into it. And frequently during the series, Buffy expresses the desire to quit and turn her back on Slaying.
- Rona, but she embraced it in the end.
- In the second season premiere of 24, Jack Bauer initially refuses to help CTU avert a nuclear bomb threat because he is still grief-stricken over the loss of his wife. A chance sighting of a mother and her child, as well as a few minutes spent in his home mulling, change his mind, and he finally decides to help the counter-terrorist unit.
- He does it again in season 8, even refusing Chloe's pleas to help look into a lead regarding the assassination attempt on Omar Hassan, as understandably every time he has wound up answering the call it's usually left him in a lot worse position than he previously was in at the beginning of a season. It takes Kim's encouragement to get him to agree to help out.
- In the Doctor Who double episode feature "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood", the Doctor is turned human with his memories erased, and is set to live a happy, normal life as John Smith- if it weren't for the possessed scarecrows and the insane maid who thinks he's an alien. At first, Smith refuses the call, but eventually is forced to become the Doctor again - and boy, is he angry.
- In "World War Three," Mickey refuses the call, because the Doctor's life is too dangerous. He changes his mind later and gets stuck in a parallel universe for his troubles.
- In the 1996 film, Grace ultimately chooses not to go with the Eighth Doctor.
- And with the finale of Series 6, answering the call for so long has made the Doctor become truly feared by many, to the point where whole religious orders have sprung up to kill him and many innocents along the way. It reached such a breaking point that the Doctor had to choose between dying to save the universe and faking his own death so the universe will forget him. As a result, it seems he may now be refusing the call after a lifetime of answering it.
- In the Christmas Special "Runaway Bride" Donna, utterly terrified and drained by the events of the day explicitly refuses the Doctor's offer to travel with him. It takes a whole season for her to find him again after changing her mind, and when she does she says- on multiple occasions- that she never wants to leave.
- Game of Thrones:
- Renly initially rejects Loras' suggestion that he should be king in "The Wolf and the Lion", but the idea gradually becomes more appealing after he argues with Robert, and he finally embraces it in "You Win or You Die". By "Fire and Blood" he has already crowned himself king with the help of the Tyrells.
- Jon did this initially. His sister Sansa tries to convince him to aid her in battle against the Boltons to get back Winterfell, but Jon refuses due to be being tired of all the fighting. However, once Jon is informed by Ramsay's threatening letter that he has his brother Rickon captive and is threatening to rape his sister Sansa, he decides to take up arms against Ramsay and aid Sansa.
- Jaye on Wonderfalls has to be verbally harassed by talking tchotchkes for most of the pilot before she "Surrenders to Destiny".
- In Power Rangers S.P.D. and Power Rangers Mystic Force, the eventual Red Rangers initially don't think too highly of risking their lives to defend their personal City of Adventure from the forces of evil. In both cases, It's Personal thanks to their potential teammates/best friends for years past getting the crap beat out of them, which assumedly wouldn't have happened had the Red Ranger been there from the start. Note that this situation is often used as an excuse to give the lead his own dramatic solo Transformation Sequence, as opposed to the combined group one they collectively receive from that point on.
- In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the chosen five get teleported to the Command Centre by Zordon and initially reject his offer to become Power Rangers, having no idea what he's talking about. It's only after a fight with evil putties that they get an idea of what actually might be going on and change their minds.
- From Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, tentative Green Ranger Joel is not happy with being recruited (understandable since he was literally dragged into coming), and the minute he's told they're free to leave, tries to do just that. He changes his mind on seeing what the demons are doing.
- The entire driving force of Smallville is Clark's repeated and continuous Refusal of the Call, despite repeated reminders that not only does The Call (a.k.a. Jor-El) Know Where He Lives, it sleeps on his couch, raids his refrigerator, and carpools with him.
- In the season two finale his refusal of the call leads to a number of unfortunate events and he runs away. It ended rather badly and he fully deserves the load of What the Hell, Hero? Chloe hits him with.
- Not to mention having other characters, most notably Chloe and Oliver, yell at him to pick up the damn phone.
- For example, in Apocalypse, he needs to stop Brainiac or he would be erased from history. He refuses to act, even after Chloe begs him otherwise. Jor-El used a very realistic Bad Future simulation (It's a Wonderful Plot) to convince him.
- In seasons 8 and 9 he finally answered, even to the point where he's the one pointing out to the retired members of the Justice Society that they're not returning their calls. May count as a Gone Horribly Right at the beginning of season 9 when he detaches from humanity and leaves behind a heartbroken Chloe after Jimmy dies and Clark refuses to save him.
- Unlike his brother, 's Sam refused the call so hard that he ran away to college and didn't speak to his family for two years. But like with everyone here, The Call Knows Where He Lives.
- We find out later it's genetic as Mary, the brothers' mother, was a hunter as was her entire family going back generations and she left the life in the hopes of being normal. Unfortunately as above it didn't work.
- Nathan Petrelli initially refuses to acknowledge his flight superpower (and his brother's powers that allowed him to mimic it), even when caught in the act by Hiro Nakamura in the fifth episode of season 1.
Hiro: Destiny is calling!
Ando: I wish destiny would lose our number.
- In Babylon 5 it took Sheridan a fierce dressing-down, a lot of denunciations and even a threat to his own life to drag Kosh down from the Vorlon's Monte Aloof and into the fight with Shadows. To a certain extent practically every race, short for Narns maybe, had to be persuaded, painstackingly negotiated, beseeched or coerced into action. And, the second Kosh gets big-time involved... he's brutally murdered, as he knew would happen. Kosh wanted to delay his Mentor Occupational Hazard as long as possible
- Orphan Black: Sarah seesaws between this and Jumped at the Call in the early episodes.
- In Teen Wolf, Scott doesn't want to be a werewolf, so he ignores the call as long as possible. Unfortunately for him, the call keeps calling, so the choice ends up being: Man up and deal with your new-found werewolfness, or kill your loved ones.
- In the first episode of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the main character utilizes the Artifact of Doom in question to gain musical ability. He is then possessed and is only prevented from destroying his entire high school by his best friend; at the end of the episode, the book is set aflame and it is forced to fly away. When one of his companions tries to convince Todd to go after the book, he says it's now someone else's problem and suggests they go smoke pot instead.
- Melinda Gordon's mother in Ghost Whisperer has the gift (to communicate with ghosts) but refuses to use it.
- On Medium, Allison, her daughter Ariel, and her mother, all tried at some point in their lives to suppress their psychic abilities. Allison's half-brother also does not like to acknowledge his power.
- On The Secret Circle, Cassie, at first.
- Ash initally refuses the call in Ash vs. Evil Dead, having grown old, fat and complacent, but eventually realizes he can't outrun the dead forever.
- In the first part of the Power Rangers Dino Super Charge finale "Eve of Extinction", the Rangers attempt to recruit Heckyl, who has performed something of a Heel–Face Turn, to help them deal with the Greenzilla invasion. Heckyl refuses, claiming that the good Heckyl disappeared when he touched the Dark Energem, but Shelby is unconvinced. He spends most of that episode enjoying what he thinks is the last day on Earth being completely apathetic to its impending destruction, but reconsiders when he helps reunite a little girl with her mother in the panic.
Myths & Religion
- :The Bible:
- Moses initially refuses God's call to go back to Pharaoh's court and demand the Israelites' freedom. His excuse: he's a stutterer — literally, his "lips are sealed" (also, the fact that he's wanted for murder might have something to do with it). More of a downplayed example because God sees right through the lame excuse and states in no uncertain terms that Moses still has to go, but he can bring his brother Aaron along to make the speeches.
- A straighter example would be when Jonah is literally called by God to deliver a message to a city. Jonah doesn't want to do it, so he tries to run away on a ship. Of course, trying to run away from an omnipresent deity doesn't really work so well. God causes a storm to come up at sea that threatens to sink the ship. Jonah knows why the storm is happening and tells the crew to throw him overboard to save themselves. They reluctantly do so. And that's where the giant fish comes in. Making this Older Than Feudalism.
- While the apostle Peter did indeed follow Jesus around everywhere to the point of claiming he would never abandon him, he broke said promise when Jesus was captured by the Pharisees. It was not until the rooster crowed the third time that he realized his mistake and repented of his sins simply because he remembered Jesus prophesying that he would do this.
- This also features in the founding of Islam; some historical traditions hold that Muhammad initially refused to receive The Qur'an because he couldn't read it — and later on, contemplated committing suicide, for fear of becoming a madman.
- In Hunter: The Reckoning, hunters who refuse The Call are known as bystanders; they lose all their briefly-granted powers, but retain a knowledge of the truth behind the setting's Masquerade.
- In Anathema, Kindly shrouds are the reanimated spirits of people who dedicated their lives to helping others and are now tasked with culling the human population on a massive scale. They often refuse the call out of horror or disgust. Any shroud can choose to refuse the call, but doing so too much will result in them being hunted down and killed by other shrouds.
- Angels in America: Prior Walter's immediate reaction to a visitation from an angel and being summoned to be "the Prophet"? "I. WANT. You to go away! I'm tired to death of being done to, walked out on, infected, fucked over and now tortured by some mixed-up reactionary angel—"
- Glinda refuses the call to adventure when Elphaba asks her to join her at the end of Act 1 of Wicked. Unusual in that she refused because accepting would cost her everything, and in the end she pretty much lost everything anyway, it just wasn't due to her refusal of the call.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: In Act I scene V, best friend Le Bret heralds the Call to Adventure to Cyrano: Confess his love to the beautiful Roxane. Cyrano refuses the offer then, and even later when Christian, another of Roxane's suitors, almost forces him to confess in Act IV. Cyrano’s tragedy is that he keeps refusing the call until he is sure that Roxane will not cruelly reject him, and when that happens, it's too late.
- In Assassin's Creed II Ezio initially insists he only wants to protect his family from the main villains, preferably by getting the hell out of the country, but after seeing his uncle fight them he is shamed into helping and joining the cause.
- The title character of Jak 3: Wastelander is approached by Ashlin after he's been moving up the ladder in Spargus to go back to Haven City and help clean up the mess there. Jak responds that he was blamed for the fall of Haven City despite saving it in the second game, and left to die in the desert by the Grand Council. Naturally, he's in no mood to put his neck on the line for them anymore. He eventually goes back anyway, because The Call Knows Where You Live.
- It's possible to avert But Thou Must! in the beginning of Super Paper Mario by refusing to go after the Pure Hearts. All this does, though, is get you a Press Start To Non Standard Game Over.
- Thief: The Dark Project. Garrett.
Garrett: Tell my friends that I don't need their secret book, or their glyph warnings, or their messengers. Tell them I'm through. Tell them it's over. Tell them Garrett is done.
- Of course, this is followed by:
- The story of the canceled Dreamcast game Castlevania: Resurrection had a Belmont named Victor run away from his duties of killing Dracula, although he's eventually forced to take up the whip regardless when he and his ancestor Sonia Belmont are ripped from their respective timelines to fight Dracula in year 1666.
- In Betrayal at Krondor, Owyn is the only one who isn't compelled by duty or has a truly personal stake in stopping the moredhel schemes. He tries to go his separate way again after helping an injured Locklear who stumbles into his camp with a chained Gorath in tow. When they realize afterwards that he could talk to the wrong person and get them all killed if they just let him go, Locklear says he's either coming along with them or getting his throat slit, which would be undesirable for both of them. Later, however, when that part of the mission is done and it's assumed he'll be going home, he goes out of his way to stay with them.
- Lost Odyssey's Kaim doesn't actively refuse the call, but he recognizes that, as an immortal, he has all the time in the world, and so he takes his time. But when it comes to the call of adventure that his lost memories provide, he initially refuses due to the tremendous pain he knows they will bring if he can unlock them again.
- In Fairy Fencer F, after picking up the Fury and listening to Eryn's Info Dump on what a Fencer is, Fang abruptly refuses to collect more Furies and walks away with the sword.
- In Devil Survivor, at a specific point in the game, instead of choosing to keep fighting, you can choose to abandon everything and just try to escape the Hell on Earth scenario you're in, knowingly leaving thousands of innocent civilians to die and the city you're in to go insane and be completely destroyed. But making this choice will cost you dearly. Demons begin spilling out en masse as the barrier between the human world and demon world weakens, and the demons prepare to ravage the human world en masse. Overclocked shows you what happens if you take this choice, as well as gives you the opportunity to fix it.
- In Wario Land II, if you stay asleep long enough at the beginning, you get kicked out of your castle and get to play through an alternate storyline.
- Inverted in The Bard's Tale for the PS2. The Bard does answer the call, but he refuses to be called The Chosen One, and threatens anyone who even thinks to call him that.
- EarthBound: When Buzz-Buzz is telling Ness of the prophecy and what he must do, Pokey thinks he's one of the three boys and backs out from helping. He ends up being involved anyways, but on the wrong side.
- In Phantasy Star IV, when presented with the genesis story of the Algo solar system, some time after Rune has chosen him as Algo's champion, Chaz finds the Great Light to be an extremely hypocritical absent god figure and consciously rejects his "destiny" to fight the Profound Darkness. Once he's calmed down, he asks Rune if blind obedience to the Great Light's intentions would make them any different from the villains who serve the Profound Darkness. He eventually does come around, but chooses to fight to protect the people of Algo who would be harmed if the Profound Darkness wins, rather than just because the Great Light says so.
- Reid Hershel from Tales of Eternia initially refused to have anything to do with stopping the Grand Fall, but was dragged along by his childhood friend Farah, who Jumped at the Call. He's content to let the military of his home world take care of things, but eventually he's forced to do it himself as The Chosen One when the other Chosen One dies saving his life.
- In Final Fantasy VI, General Leo Christophe was the only soldier for The Empire who refused to be infused with Magitek powers, as Celes and Kefka were. Given his sheer strength and abilities alone, it's quite obvious it didn't phase him one bit.
- In some Harvest Moon games it is possible to refuse to take over the farm. This usually results in a Non Standard Game Over.
- In Dragon Age: Origins it is possible to refuse the call to join the Grey Wardens in each of the 6 possible openings, even though in many of them you need to join the Wardens to save your character's life. It doesn't really change anything though, because Duncan will conscript your character regardless of whether you want to go or not.
- In Golden Sun, it's possible to refuse to chase after Saturos and Menardi. This leads to a Non Standard Game Over revealing the world drifted towards it's destruction and a bit of Fridge Brilliance, when you realize the destruction wasn't the lighthouses being lit, but the world withering away without Alchemy. (Or possibly elemental imbalance, given some dialogue in the second game)
- In The Matrix: Path of Neo, it is possible to take the Blue Pill, resulting in a Non Standard Game Over where Morpheus expresses his disappointment at the decision.
- In the second instalment of Penny Arcade Adventures, you have the option to refuse to join Gabe and Tycho after Fruit Fucker Prime destroys your tent. They'll just come back the next day and ask again until you accept. If you refuse enough days in a row, you get an achievement called "The Reluctant Hero."
- In Psychonauts, refusal of the call just makes Ford Cruller slap Raz upside the head and ask angrily "How about now?"
- The cause of the entire plot in Radiant Historia. Heiss was so angry that his incompetent brother got to be king while he was supposed to die to save the world that he didn't just ditch his duty, he outright sabotaged it.
- In Tears to Tiara 2: Hamil plays dumb to prevent a rebellion, and was willing to let the Zaras kill him and the entire Barcid Party and enslave all the people of Hispania if it meant preventing the death and destruction of war. Seeing Tart about to be burnt at the stake that changes his mind.
- In the Dragonborn DLC of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, if you defeated Alduin before confronting Miraak, he will state that when the ancient Nord heroes of old asked him to help them defeat Alduin he ignored them, claiming that while he could have taken him, he simply didn't care enough to.
- In Doraemon: Giga Zombie no Gyakushū, Doraemon comes to the Player Character's home to ask them to help him rescue his crew and defeat the Big Bad. The player is free to tell him "no", and though he'll plead with you, repeating it enough times will lead to Doraemon walking off crying, ending the game.
- In Cartographer Reuben refuses to become his late father's successor as Dragon Slayer because all he wants is to quietly run the inn he owns. Unfortunately, only someone of his heritage can become the Dragon Slayer and he happens to be an only child.
- Persona 5: The Protagonist attempts to delete the Otherworld Navigation app that kicks off the rest of the plot for a good three days before actually using it to willingly enter the Adventure-Friendly World of the Palace.
- World of Warcraft: Numerous blood elves wish to go to Dalaran to aid in the war against the Scourge, enough that the blood elven rulers feel the need to send an official leader of the group to coordinate with Dalaran's own leadership. Grand Magister Rommath is the perfect choice for this duty, as he is a powerful mage with experience in Dalaran politics and an ironclad loyalty to the blood elven people. The problem is, he loathes Dalaran and will have nothing to do with it, requiring the much less capable Aethas Sunreaver to take the reins instead.
- In the PS2 version of Higurashi: When They Cry, it's very possible to refuse the call by carefully avoiding setting off any triggers. It leads to an arc in which "Mion" appears to start going nuts, but Keiichi refuses to get involved, leading to the death of everyone with the actual Mion's death being delayed by ten years while she's catatonic.
- RWBY: Oscar longs for more to life than being a farm-boy on an isolated farm. He initially doesn't know it, but he is born special; in a world where being unique is worth dying for, he mysteriously has an identical Aura and Soul to those of one other extremely enigmatic individual. Ozpin has a responsibility to protect four dangerous, divine Relics from destroying humanity; his Arch-Nemesis, Salem, destroys Beacon Academy in Volume 3, leaving the world thinking Ozpin is dead. However, Ozpin is secretly a body-surfer who merges with special hosts that have his identical Aura and Soul instead of dying. It's implied that Ozpin cannot choose to body-surf when Oscar becomes the new host after the fall of Beacon much to the dismay of both of them. Oscar spends Volume 4 trying to deny Ozpin's existence and refuse the responsibility for protecting the world that has now been dumped on his shoulders.
- In Girl Genius, we get a character who's aware of this trope: Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! He explains it to the heroine, Agatha (emphasis in original). He is wrong in that he thinks she'll become a traditional hero and/or his sidekick, rather than what she really is: a Reluctant Mad Scientist and heir to the Heterodyne family.
Othar: ...something you should remember as you fight evil.
Agatha: I told you. I'm not doing that. You can't make me.
Othar: Make you? [laughs, loudly] You ran straight at that danger without even thinking. That's who and what you are. You say you want a normal life. We all say that at one time or another. You deserve your chance at it. I'll be back in about three months — and we'll see how "normal" you are.
[he leaves]Agatha: He only sees what he wants to see. Which is why he's completely wrong about me.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault laughs at the idea of helping November, until she points out that he's bored.
- In Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, the turtles have such extreme psychological damage that all but Leo take up this trope (and even Leo has some aspects of this). Raph is on a self-destructive path of drinking and self-mutilation, Mikey has moved to the surface and is living the life of a reclusive writer, and Donnie stays in his lab, rarely interacting with anyone. While Raph is still up to a little rough action now and then, Mikey repeatedly breaks down at the thought of combat (even to save loved ones!), and Donnie, who's become disconnected from reality and a cold-blooded True Neutral (perhaps even edging toward Evil), comes within an inch of killing a young child to convince himself that he has nothing to do with the surface world anymore. A far cry from their days of teenage heroism!
- Bob and George:
- In Rusty and Co., Mimic refuses Madeline's proposed quest. But then, when the plot hook is deliverd bu artillery...
- Early on in The Last Halloween, Mona very emphatically (and sensibly, considering that she's an ordinary 10-years-old girl) refuses to embark on a mythical quest through a world overrun by monsters to save humanity. The Hero's Journey is specifically brought up by the Genre Savvy quest-giver, and it ultimately takes a Fourth-Wall breaking to make her agree.
Shirley: Mona, just say yes, this got old six panels ago.
- Princess Chroma: June would love to not be a Magical Girl, but she just can't catch a break.
- Godslave: Edith doesn't want to go around searching for Anpu's ba, but the Blacksmiths just won't leave her alone.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Onni initially refuses to go on the expedition due to outright fearing the Silent World, but intends to keep contact with Lalli via the mage-exclusive dream space. Just a little after the expedition leaves, a danger that is referred to simply as "it" makes magical communication dangerous for Onni and Lalli. A non-magical means of keeping in contact with Lalli however happens to exist: the communication radio that Mission Control is using. Onni ends up joining them and accepting to do grunt work to get access to the radio.
- Phase from the Whateley Universe. He doesn't want to be a superhero, he just wants to be a normal guy, become the CEO of Goodkind International, and live a normal life. Unfortunately, nobody really cares what he wants. Pity he's got into more fights then most of Team Kimba combined... though, at least he has a company to run, which is nice. Marvel.
- Pretty much all five protagonists from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes are uninterested in saving the world, one going so far as to throw his Guardian Band away. Unfortunately, none of them have any choice in the matter.
- This is how Jonas Wharton of LG15: the resistance reacts when the Hymn of None attempts to persuade him to lead the Resistance in the first chapter, "A Call To Arms". In the end, the FBI turn up investigating claims that Jonas has committed acts of terrorism and murder, which forces him into action.
- Limyaael's Fantasy Rants: Limyaael feels very strongly about making good reluctant heroes.
- Pretty much what Living in Oblivion is all about: What happens in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion if the Champion of Cyrodiil prefers to live an ordinary life as an NPC? (Who would want this◊ guy's face on any coins, anyway?)
- Spoofed in this Tumblr comic (nicknamed "Nope: the Anime" by Imgur), about a girl who's obviously destined to be a main character but fights against it tooth and nail: she throws away Transformation Trinkets, ignores Humongous Mecha battles, refuses to make The Promise, and sits in the absolute middle of the classroom to avert Conveniently Seated. The only aspect of it she actually likes is standing on telephone poles. "Also, Dad told me to stop that narrating crap."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang runs away after being informed (prematurely) that he is the new reincarnation of the Avatar. He is then frozen in a iceberg and reawakens to a world in a century-long war that needs the Avatar now more than ever.
- In The Legend of Korra, after Zaheer assassinates the Earth Queen, sending the Earth Kingdom spiraling into anarchy, the world's leaders ask Suyin Beifong to temporarily take control of the region until it is stabilized. She refuses, saying that she's not interested in seizing that kind of power for herself. Unfortunately, her protégé Kuvira didn't take kindly to Suyin not stepping up to lead when a leader was so desperately needed. So she took on the task herself, stabilizing the region by force and creating a new despotic regime in the process.
- Big Hero 6: The Series: This is what everyone but Fred tries to do after the events of the movie, no longer seeing a reason to continue being heroes after beating Callaghan. It ultimately takes an invasion of Baymax-clones caused by the gangster Yama to convince them to keep being heroes.
- South Park:
- This trope is a running joke in the "Woodland Critters" episode.
- Parodied in the "Pandemic" episodes, where Craig's attempts to refuse the call leads him to accidentally fulfilling the prophecy associated with him.
- The episode "Towelie" runs on this. Being told to exchange Towelie to get their "Okama Game Sphere" console back, they end up tied up in a convoluted conspiracy plot; despite this they are totally uninterested in whatever unfolds:
Scientist: Thank you for bringing him to us, boys. You see, this is not an ordinary towel. He is the RG-400 Smart Towel, designed with a computer chip inside the terry cloth
Stan: We don't care.
Scientist: You see, here at Tynacorp, our goal was to make the perfect towel. A towel that would sense how wet or dry the user's skin was and fluff itself accordingly.
Stan: Dude, we don't care.
Scientist: Towelie was our greatest success. Smart enough to beat the average human at chess and absorbent enough to soak up even the toughest spills. But then one day, Towelie got high and just sort of wandered off.
Stan: We... don't... care.
- In Danny Phantom, Danny often tries to Refuse the Call. This never works well, with the result being either just a mundane ghost attack to creating horrific alternate futures where the world is destroyed. One particular example is the episode "Memory Blank" where a powerless Danny with no memories is forced to answer the call anyway.
- In World of Quest, the titular Quest spends most of the first episode actively refusing the call. Actually, more like kicking the call in the butt. Eventually he's tricked into accepting.
- This is a recurring theme in the various Transformers series:
- In "The Burden Hardest to Bear", Rodimus Prime has been growing sick and tired of "being responsible for the preservation of the universe and its outlying suburbs", and takes the opportunity to leave the Autobots when he loses the Matrix. He's eventually Resigned to the Call, though, as he comes to realize that as The Chosen One, the Matrix is intertwined with his own destiny. And then destiny punches him in the face a few episodes later with "The Return of Optimus Prime".
- When Optimus Prime apparently came back from the dead before coming back for real Rodimus immediately returned the Matrix to him and was overjoyed when he reverted to Hot Rod. He had to take the Matrix back when Optimus turned out to be a case of Came Back Wrong.
- Smokescreen of Transformers Prime has almost the exact same reaction as (G1) Ultra Magnus. Despite often speaking of his belief that he was destined for great things earlier on, he adamantly states that he doesn't think he's worthy of replacing Optimus. He even decides to Screw Destiny by using the last of the Forges' energy to resurrect Optimus.
- Batman Beyond goes so far as to have a two-part episode titled The Call, in which Terry is invited to join the Justice League. In the end, he refuses to do so, at least as a full-time member.
- For a time. The Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" reveals that Terry eventually does join the League.
- Lampshaded by Rick and Morty when Rick rejects a call to assemble the Vindicators.
- Rick: I refuse to anwser a literal Call to Adventure let it go to voicemail.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Just like his comics counterpart, no matter the version.
- In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman sees the Crime Syndicate's world as an Expendable Alternate Universe and utterly refuses to participate in saving it until the villains' machinations threaten his own world.
- The two part Origins Episode of Miraculous Ladybug revealed that after messing up her first outing as Ladybug, Marinette, already reluctant about accepting the Call, tried to quit and secretly pass on the Ladybug Miraculous to her friend, Alya. Circumstances and a pep talk from Cat Noir later cause her to reconsider and take up the mantle again.