Queen Cersei Lannister
: You have served the realm long and faithfully. Every man and woman in the Seven Kingdoms owes you thanks. But it is time to put aside your armor and your sword. It is time to rest and look back with pride on your many years of service. [...] Varys
: We have nothing but gratitude for your long service, good Ser. You shall be given a stout keep beside the sea, with servants to look after your every need. Ser Barristan Selmy
: A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I am a knight. I shall die a knight.
An older character who is still perfectly capable is suddenly faced with mandatory retirement, is despondent at being forced to give up a career and income they enjoy, and is made to feel useless.
The other characters resolve to help the potential retiree and the plot usually concludes with the management cancelling the relevant policy and allow the older character to stay on board for as long as they are capable.
For the opposite of this trope, see Mandatory Unretirement
. Compare and contrast Empty Nest
- Setting aside the workplace theme, this is what happens in Watchmen when all capes except the Comedian and Doctor Manhattan are forcibly retired by the Keene Act. Some are okay with it, some are not.
- And Rorschach, once again proving he's on the extreme of everything, leaves a note on a dead rapist outside a police station which just says "Never".
- Oddly enough for this trope, the only capes forced to retire are the younger ones; the Comedian is in his sixties by the time of the story (making him somewhere in his fifties when the Keene Act was put into place), and Doctor Manhattan is older than that (a year older, but still); all other are in their thirties or forties.
- That's because the Keene act gave two ways for the capes to stop being vigilantes: Either work under government supervision (In which case they are technically no longer vigilantes) or quit. The choice of which option to take was theirs.
- The supervillain Junkman in Astro City has this trope as his Start of Darkness.
Is that it then? It doesn't matter what I can do, what I can think of, what I can create... I'm just suddenly obsolete? Oh, look at the calendar time to throw out all the old men, just like so much junk! They're fools, all of them! They don't realize what they had — What they've thrown away! But I'll show them! Hiram Potterstone will show them all!
- One Golden Age Batman story had Batman and Robin spending a day helping the GCPD Emergency Squad. It was also the squad's sergeant's last day on the job as he had reached mandatory retirement age. At the end of the story, Commissioner Gordon says that due to a shortage of manpower because of the number of young men in the military (the story was written during World War II), they have decided to let the sergeant stay in command of the squad till the war ends.
- Subverted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Bruce Wayne retired from being Batman ten years earlier under pressure from the federal government, and claims that he's perfectly happy to be out of the superhero game. But if his dreams are any indication, his subconscious mind does not agree. Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Jim Gordon is facing mandatory retirement, and isn't shy about saying how much he resents it. As the crime and gangs in Gotham spin out of control, Bruce eventually stops deceiving himself and becomes Batman again.
- Subverted in Kingdom Come. Years earlier, Superman and the rest of the original Justice League chose to retire when the American people stopped supporting them in favor of Nineties Anti-Heroes who were willing to kill the villains. When most of the villains had been exterminated, the anti-heroes turned on each other and began fighting pitched battles across the country, with no regard for the collateral damage they were inflicting. After a Curbstomp Battle in Kansas goes horribly wrong and turns much of the Midwest into a radioactive desert, the original Leaguers come out of retirement to set things right. The anti-heroes don't go quietly.
- Sgt. Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment was past retirement age, but for constant changes of birth year in the records (and superior officers happy to claim no such person was there to receive discharge papers).
- Captain Vimes in Men at Arms is retiring to get married. Since even his wife feels that not being a copper takes away his Vimesness, he instead becomes Commander Vimes.
- A Star Trek Strange New Worlds short story makes Boothby, the Academy groundskeeper, the reluctant retiree. In the end, his job is saved by the cadet who would've been his replacement.
- Ser Barristan Selmy of A Song of Ice and Fire (and the TV adaptation) does not take it well when he's dismissed from the Kingsguard, who traditionally serve for life. He essentially declares "you can't fire me, I quit!", strips off his sword and armour there and then, and marches off to find a king worthy of guarding.
- George Smiley from several of John le Carré's spy novels actually manages to combine this with Mandatory Unretirement: his marriage is a disaster and he's at a complete loose end without spy work to do, but at the same time the job is utterly thankless. He's repeatedly forced out by backroom politics, brought back under protest to fix other people's screwups, and never seems happy or fulfilled either way.
- Night Court episode "Flo's Retirement." Ironically, Flo only appeared in one more episode because Florence Halop died of cancer.
- Richard's forced early retirement is a recurring theme in the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, although he's more worried about spending more time with his wife than about leaving his career behind.
- One of the jokes in the pilot is people congratulating Richard on his upcoming retirement... only to then immediately switch to condolences as they realize what this will mean for him.
- Subverted in the Are You Being Served? episode "Goodbye Mrs. Slocombe" — in the end, the management expands the policy, sending two other characters to an early retirement (of course, this is all fixed in the Snap Back). The series also used it straight in a separate episode, where Mr. Grainger is terrified of receiving a cuckoo clock - the standard gift for retirees at Grace Brothers.
- The Office (US) did an episode about this, with Michael Scott and Creed rebelling against ageism and forcing their boss, Ryan, to back off.
- Subverted on Scrubs, when Dr. Kelso is forced to retire at 65, but the hospital staff tries to make the board change their minds. With the support of Dr. Cox, they successfully convince the hospital board to alter their policy, but then Dr. Kelso immediately resigns on his own terms.
- Vic Mackey's impending mandatory retirement ends up being a rather significant plot point in the sixth and seventh seasons of The Shield.
- The Tennyson poem Ulysses is made of this trope. Facing the prospect of old age, and missing the life of adventuring that he gave up to reclaim the throne of Ithaca, Ulysses resolves to Put The Band Back Together and set out for one last great adventure.
- Overwatch: Reinhardt was one of the founding members of Overwatch and a dedicated soldier, often acting as The Heart to the team until he was forced out of the force due to his advanced age. Firing him was a bit of a bad idea as without his influence Overwatch quickly became oversaturated in corruption and was shut down in disgrace.
- The Raccoons has a twist to the plot in the de facto Grand Finale where Cyril Sneer has a serious health episode due to overwork and his age and retires in favor of his son, Cedric. Eventually, Cyril still wants to help his son so badly that Cedric is forced to all but physically restrain him lest he kill himself with overexertion. Eventually, the episode ends with Father and Son compromising with Cyril partially coming out of retirement as a partner of Cedric who presumably will carry the bulk of the workload.
- An episode of WordGirl, "Granny's Book Club" had Granny May forced to retire, due to the by-laws of the supervillain union all the villains belong to. However, the rules stated she could stave off retirement if she captured Wordgirl and presented her to the rest of the villains, so she set up the titular book club to capture the word loving hero.
- The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Mean Seasons" had Bruce Wayne trying to force this on an otherwise competent but elderly manager at Wayne Corp. After the episode's plot makes him reconsider the value of experience and his own aging, he lifts the "mandatory" aspect of the company's retirement policy. When he informs the manager of this change, the man is visibly excited that he will be able to continue working until he is ready to make the choice to retire on his own. The man also tosses away his toupee, deciding he doesn't need to hide his aging anymore.
- Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond only retires from being Batman when health troubles make continuing exercise a futility. He is rather bitter about this. It takes having a heart attack during a hostage rescue, forcing him to resort to holding the criminal at gun-point, to drive the point home that he just can't keep being Batman at his age.
- Peter's dad in Family Guy is definitely unhappy about being forced into retirement. Some time later, he sneaks into the factory at night in order to keep working. At the end of the episode, Peter finds him a new job as the Pope's bodyguard.
- An episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series features Robert April, who was the first captain of the Enterprise (NCC-1701), and his wife Sarah, who was the ship's first Chief Medical Officer. Commodore April, now a Federation ambassador, has reached the mandatory retirement age of 75, and is not happy about it. The Aprils are on board as passengers when Enterprise enters a parallel universe where people age backwards at an accelerated rate, and they save the ship by taking command after everyone else has regressed to childhood or infancy. In recognition of this, Federation officials agree to review his mandatory retirement and consider letting him continue to serve as ambassador.