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Screw Your Ultimatum!
Tomalak: First, Captain, you will return the traitor Jarok. Then you and your crew will surrender as prisoners of war.
Picard: Do you seriously expect me to accept those terms?
Tomalak: No, Captain Picard, I expect you won't. You have thirty seconds to decide.
Picard: I do not require one, Tomalak.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Defector"

The villain has the upper hand, and is being particularly smug and verbose. He may be outlining his plan, demanding the hero's surrender, his cooperation, or even offering a chance to join him. A typical villain gives the hero time (never much) to consider this proposal. But this is not always necessary.

There are cases where the hero replies to the villain's ultimatum without missing a beat.

This can work one of two ways:

A: Usually in the form of a Shut Up, Hannibal!, a Get It Over With, or simply a giant "Fuck you," the hero tells the villain exactly where he can stick his ultimatum. Bonus points for offering a counter-ultimatum.

B: The villain offers what he believes to be some sort of Sadistic Choice, which the hero makes without any thought whatsoever. (A third option may or may not be involved.)

Reasons for this may vary. The hero may have come to their conclusion before the villain was even finished speaking, or even before even getting in his current predicament, and was simply being polite in letting him finish. Or he may find the villain completely batshit and was just waiting to see if what he was hearing would get any worse. He may not be the type to think before speaking, or his situation may not be so hopeless as it seems. One way or another, the villain isn't going to get the satisfaction of watching the hero squirm.

A Sister Trope to Defiant to the End. See Defiant Stone Throw, when it's an Innocent Bystander doing it. Contrast I'm Thinking It Over!.

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Luffy does this in One Piece by accident. Boa Hancock offers him a Sadistic Choice: either save two Amazon women he's befriended but lose his only chance of escape, or get a ship to leave but leave the women to their fate. Hancock, being a woman who believes all men to be cruel without exception, assumes he'll choose the latter after some time, but Luffy immediately chooses to save the two women, and even bows to Hancock in thanks. Hancock's shock is what ends up starting her Heel-Face Turn.
  • In Naruto, Madara is explaining his "Moon's Eye Plan", threatening the Five Kage with war if they do not cooperate and surrender the remaining two jinchuriki. The Raikage's response is exactly what one would expect.
    Madara: That is my goal, my "Moon's Eye Plan!"
    Raikage: *about a millisecond later* DON'T FUCK AROUND!
  • Crimson Spell:
    Gile: I asked you to come to me because—
    Vald: I refuse.
    Gile: I haven't told you what I want yet.
    Vald: You cannot possibly be up to any good. I have no intentions of helping you with your plans.
  • In the "Into the Blue" arc of Full Metal Panic!, Kurz Weber answers Guen Bien Bo's 'join us in our mutiny or die' ultimatum by explaining that he has a much better plan: "I'll kill you, ask Tessa for a picture of herself in a swimsuit as a reward, then make copies of the picture and sell them to the other guys on the ship for twenty bucks apiece!" Then he brains Bo with a fire extinguisher.
  • In the finale of Inuyasha, Naraku tries to dissuade the group from attacking him when it's clear he's lost by pointing out that Kaede's village is right beneath them: if he is killed here, his body will turn into miasma and kill everything below. This does cause them to hesitate, but unfortunately for Naraku, Sesshoumaru is among his foes: "Who cares?" *swings Bakusaiga*

Comic Books
  • In The Superman Adventures, Brainiac captures Lois and demands the globe containing Krypton's memories. Superman responds with his own demand — let Lois go or he smashes the ball. Superman won.

Film
  • Lockout. Alex (the big bad) tells Emilie to order her father (the president of the USA) to call off his attack on the space-jail that they are inside of, otherwise he'll sic his psychotic rapist brother onto her. Without missing a beat Emilie tells her father to blow the space-jail — including herself — out of the sky.
  • Men In Black. The Bug has taken Laurel hostage and is threatening her.
    Bug: Put your weapons down!
    Agent K: [Without missing a beat] Never gonna happen, insect.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark has been captured by terrorists who are demanding that he reproduce his newest weapon for them. Tony responds with a blunt "I refuse".
    • He accepts later... but only after he's subconsciously begun to form an escape plan.
    • A compressed version happens later, during his One-Man Army rampage in Gulmira. Several of the terrorists try to take villagers as hostages in order to hinder his ability to repulsor-blast them. Except his suit AI is fast and accurate enough to shoot them all dead in a matter of seconds.
  • In The Princess Bride, when Westley and Buttercup come out from the Fire Swamp and are caught by Humperdinck and his men, Humperdinck yells "Surrender!". Westley's response: "You wish to surrender? Very well, I accept."
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, the Big Bad decides to capture McClane's daughter. McClane immediately calls his bluff saying that the Big Bad only did that because he was afraid of McClane and therefore too afraid to hurt her.
  • In A Bridge Too Far the German commander, hoping to prevent any further pointless bloodshed, sends an offer to discuss a surrender with the surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered British Paras.
    Major Carlyle: Shall I answer him, sir?
    Colonel Frost: Tell him to go to Hell.
    Major Carlyle: (to the German messenger) We haven't the proper facilities to take you all prisoner. Sorry.
    German Messenger: What?
  • In Back to the Future: Part III, Marty gets challenged to a duel by Buford Tannen, Biff's great-grandfather. He accepts, but eventually realizes from the photograph of Doc's tombstone that he will die from the duel. Trapped in the local saloon by Buford and his gang, he gets a count to ten to come outside and duel. The patrons also try to tell Marty to fight, but Marty eventually refuses.
    Buford: Ten! You hear me, runt?! I said ten, you gutless yellow pie-slinger!
    Marty: He's an asshole''! I don't care what Tannen says, and I don't care what anybody else says, either!

Literature
  • A priceless example, combining both Shut Up, Hannibal! and Take a Third Option from Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire II: Black Blood. Also a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Sita, considering that the Ax-Crazy bad guy is a lot more powerful than she is, and a Crowning Moment of Funny too.
    Eddie: Let's cut to the chase. I want you to meet me at Santa Monica Pier in thirty minutes. If you are not there by then, I will begin to kill your friend. I will do so slowly in case a flat tire has delayed your arrival. It's possible that you still might be able to recognise him if you're less than twenty minutes late. My mother, of course, is to be left in her home unharmed. Do you understand these instructions?
    Sita: Oh, gimme a break. I don't jump when you say jump. You have nothing with which to threaten me. Such a thing does not exist on this planet. You want to talk to me, you get here within thirty minutes. If not, I will hang your mother's head on the front door in place of a Christmas wreath. The red colour will be in keeping with the holiday spirit. Do you understand my instructions, you foul-mouthed pervert?
  • In the Left Behind book Armageddon, Carpathia issues the following to the defenders of Jerusalem: by the count of three, if there is silence for fifteen seconds, then that means that the defenders will surrender to the GC. The defenders' response: shooting their guns into the air, Tsion and Buck included.
  • The protagonist in the Stephen King short story "Battleground" does this when battling a troop of enchanted plastic army men; it's pretty clearly a Shout-Out to General Anthony McAuliffe, as mentioned below in the Real Life section.

Live-Action TV
  • Variation in the third episode of Sherlock. Moriarty would give an ultimatum, but doesn't even bother, because he knows Sherlock wouldn't accept it.
    Moriarty: I would try to convince you, but everything I have to say has already crossed your mind.
    Sherlock: Then possibly my answer has crossed yours. (points gun at the bomb jacket)
  • The page quote comes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector," where Picard's Enterprise is staring down three Romulan Warbirds after extracting a defector out of Romulan space.
    • With good reason in this case, Picard was Crazy-Prepared with 3 cloaked Klingon Birds of Prey holding a surround on the Romulans
    • In "Reunion", as Worf fights Duras to avenge the murder of K'Ehleyr, Duras tells him that if he gets killed, Worf will never get his family honor back after having lost it in "Sins of the Father". Worf responds "Then that is the way it shall be!", before driving his Bat'leth into him.
  • We see a double example in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Extreme Risk," the captain of a Malon freighter holds Voyager responsible for the destruction of another of their ships and announces that they're taking Voyager's new probe as compensation and demands that they immediately leave orbit of the gas giant in which it's currently trapped (presumably under threat of violence). Janeway, never one to take anyone's crap, reminds him that the other ship tried to steal their probe and was destroyed going into the gas giant after it, against Voyager's warnings. When he continues to press the matter, insisting that their people are salvage experts and Voyager has little chance of getting to the probe first in any event, Janeway just smirks and busts out this little gem:
    "We have a little expertise of our own; we're a very determined crew, so my suggestion is that you leave orbit, and in the future, if you come across anything that bears the insignia of the USS Voyager, head in the other direction."
  • LOST offers a non-heroic version. Season 3 "I Do" sees Ben on the operating table, with Jack warning the Others not to pursue Kate and Sawyer or else he'll let Ben bleed out. Juliet immediately calls his bluff and orders the hunt.
    • In another episode, a mercenary is holding Ben's adopted daughter hostage. He offers the simple "do as I say or she dies" ultimatum. Ben, never one to back down, decides to call the merc's bluff. Turns out he wasn't bluffing.
  • An example in Firefly, when Zoe tries to buy back her captain and her husband, who are both held hostage. She then uses Wash's piloting skills to launch a surprise attack on Niska's base and rescue the captain.
    Niska: But, this is only enough for one! Ah, now you have to—
    Zoe: (points to Wash) Him.
    (Beat)
    Zoe: Oh, I'm sorry, you were gonna ask me to choose, right? Did you want to finish?
  • In an episode of Castle, Detectives Ryan and Esposito are captured by the Villain of the Week and are given an Ultimatum: Tell the bad guys what they want to know and die a quick painless death or "Jerk us around, and by tomorrow, you will wish you were." They take one look at each other and respond.
    Esposito: Yeah, we're going to go with option B.
    Ryan: Yeah, we're totally gonna jerk you around.
  • In the first revival season of Doctor Who, Rose has been captured by the Daleks:
    Dalek: We have your associate. You will obey or she will be exterminated.
    The Doctor: No.
    Dalek: Explain yourself.
    The Doctor: I said no. ... Cause here's what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna rescue her. I'm gonna save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek Fleet, and then I'm gonna save the Earth, and then just to finish off, I'm gonna wipe every last stinking Dalek outta the sky!
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II" an alien ship appears and demands that Babylon 5 and the EarthForce cruiser EAS Hyperion grant them access to the Great Machine on the planet Epsilon III within ten hours or be destroyed. The captain of the Hyperion shoots back that they have no authority here, and tells them to GTFO within nine hours or they will be destroyed.

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Daffy Duck (as the title character) sends Marvin the Martian an ultimatum via some sort of bullet-like device which reads "surrender or be blown to 17,670,002 micro-cells". Marvin's reply (via a similar device) is a Trick Bullet that opens and fires a second bullet.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Amon offers to let Lin keep her bending if she reveals Korra's location. She responds by all but spitting in his face.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart and Todd Flanders void Homer's bet on a minigolf final by declaring a draw.
  • In South Park, the boys have hit on an idea of making money by stealing tooth fairy money from kids who have just lost teeth. They end up running into an organization that does the same, and after a brief period of cooperation, their partnership sours. The gang kidnaps Kenny and calls Cartman, telling him that they'll kill Kenny if he doesn't get out of the racket. Cartman being who he is, all he has to say is "I ain't givin' you crap! Kenny's not afraid of you!" before hanging up the phone.

Real Life
  • WWII General Anthony McAuliffe's one-word response ("Nuts!") to a surrender ultimatum.
  • In 1940, Benito Mussolini demanded that Greece open her borders to allow Axis force occupation or face war. Allegedly, the Prime Minister/dictator Ioannis Metaxas' reply was just one word: "No."note  Although Hitler's invasion of Poland, one year before Greece's denial, is generally accepted to be the official start of WWII, this got them involved.
    • He was operating in the grand tradition of laconic Greek replies to surrender demands there; the Spartans reportedly responded to Phillip of Macedon's message "If I enter Laconia I shall burn it to the ground." with "If."


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alternative title(s): Instant Ultimatum Denial; Not-So-Sadistic Choice
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